What’s the Purpose?

Why? Why? But why? Why? Why? Why? Why? But why? Why?…

Anyone who has been around an inquisitive toddler has heard the continual questions of why that seem to go on and on and on. I think at times we sound that way to God, but thankfully God does not get tired or irritated by our questions. So, let’s ask the question why pray?

There are many explanations of why we should pray. A few of the reasons that we at Bible Study Journey came up with are because we are told to, to be in communication with God, it’s a privilege, to be imitators of Jesus, to be a part of God’s workings, to develop humility and to have power over evil. I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into the Bible to discover what God has to say about prayer. Please join me on this journey to discover why we pray.

Christians are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), faithfully (Romans 12:12), devoted (Colossians 4:2), to praying for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1)–even our enemies (Matthew 5:44)–and on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18). Does that seem overwhelming? Just take it slow and remember that learning new things and developing new habits takes time. With confidence I can say that God will bless you richly when you devote yourself to strengthening your prayer life.

I became devoted to prayer when I learned that Jesus himself prayed for us. It was early in my Christian walk during a women’s Bible study when we discussed John 17:20-25. In verses 24 and 25, Jesus said this prayer to God: 

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
      “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” 

If Jesus prayed for me, then why should I not pray for him and for God’s glory to shine above all?

If you are anything like me, you struggled at the thought of praying for everyone, all the time, and for those who attack us. That is where humility comes in as shown in Proverbs 11:2, “with humility comes wisdom” and in 22:4, “Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.” It is amazing when you humble yourself and truly pray in God’s will for goodness to those who have done you wrong. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

I believe the most humbling reason to pray is to be a part of God’s plan. When I think of who in the Bible (outside of Jesus) brought glory to God by his actions and his prayers, I think of the Prophet Elijah (You can find his story in 1 Kings 17-18:14). Elijah stood up for his beliefs in God. He prayed for God’s interventions even when they would be tremendously hard to endure. I see a man who showed us that the Christian life is not always easy. He wavered from time to time, even trying to hide from God when he felt like a failure. Just because you profess to believe in God, it does not mean that all troubles will be washed away and life will be one happy party. However, if we stay dedicated, humble, and steadfast in prayer, we can find the joy in the trials of life. Better yet, we are a witness to others, and the family of God will grow.

God shared with Elijah how his life had affected the Kingdom of God in Romans 11:4, “and what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'” 7,000! WOW! Elijah had no clue that his life had such an impact and the same goes for us. We have no way to know how a stranger’s life is impacted by our own. Just think, if someone sees you be extraordinarily gracious during a time of trial where you give God the glory for being able to endure, they may share what they saw with someone else, who will share it with someone else, and so on and so on.

I invite you to download the printable prayer journal (here) and other resources (here) we have available. Use these to commit to increasing your love for communicating with God through devoted prayer. I will conclude with a prayer:

Dear Lord,
Your gracious love for us is unfathomable. You say you will not leave those who believe in you. You give a way through any and all trials we come across here on earth. For this I thank you. I pray that my selfish desires are extinguished by the living water that flows through me from your Holy Spirit. Please use my life to strengthen your kingdom. Thank you for not turning your back on me. I thank you for the hope that comes from believing in your promise of returning to earth to redeem the world. Until that time I will continue to praise your good works. I speak all of this in the precious name of Jesus,
Amen.

 

Visit here to enter the Project Prayer Giveaway.

Download all the Project Prayer extras here.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Announcing:
Project Prayer Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Bible Study Journey contributor and photographer, Cindy Snyder, we have 2 prizes to give away! Each prize will contain a set of 6 blank inspirational note cards and an 8″ x 10″ framed print, featuring Cindy’s beautiful photos and God’s Words (with a total prize value of $ 30 each).

The Project Prayer Giveaway will open on September 19, 2018, and will close on October 31, 2018 at 11:59 pm. Two people will receive one of the packages shown above.

For more details, terms and conditions, and to enter, visit Project Prayer Giveaway.

30 Day Prayer Challenge

We have created the 30 Day Prayer Challenge and the 30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal, because we wanted to provide you with tools to begin, help, or challenge you on your personal prayer journey. You can start the challenge at any time but plan to commit to 30 days of prayer.

Start by downloading the 30 Day Prayer Challenge (hereor use the 30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal (here) as a tangible guide and memento of your personal 30 days of prayer.

Each page of this journal includes quotes about the day’s theme, suggested music to listen to, and a passage of scripture to help you focus on the theme for the day, but feel free to use other verses (and record them). Then, we begin a prayer to get you started. What you pray about and how you do it are totally up to you.

You can use the journal as a place to write your prayers or to record your insights for each day or to create a visual prayer. If you need more room, you can easily download and print extra pages (here).

Unless you choose to share your journey with someone else, you will be the only one to see these pages. The prayers, insights, and visual prayers you record in the Journal are between you and God.

Regardless of whether or not you use the Journal, the 30 Day Prayer Challenge will help you to focus your daily prayer time on a particular topic and provide you with a 30 day prayer plan. You can use the Challenge for your own personal time or use it as a guide for yourself and a friend (or group of friends). Combine this Challenge with a reading of the blog posts during Project Prayer for an even deeper prayer journey. But, don’t stop there. Continue your prayer journey by going through the 30 Day Prayer Challenge more than once or using the Prayer Checklist (here) or by following your own method. Whatever you do, pray!

May you be richly blessed as you focus on prayer over the next 30 days!

We would  love to hear about your experience in the comments:
How did it work for you?
What did you find the most challenging part?
What was the best thing about your personal 30 days of prayer?

Links to downloads:
30 Day Prayer Challenge
30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal
30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal blank page
Prayer Checklist

Let’s Pray?

Prayer. What is it? What importance does it serve in our lives? Why pray? Does God even hear and answer our prayers anyway? I’m not that important. Why would God want me to talk to Him? How do I pray? Sometimes I don’t feel like my prayers go any higher than the ceiling. I tried praying once, but God didn’t give me what I asked for.

Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Have you ever questioned prayer? Have you ever made any of those statements?

We are so very excited to introduce you to a site-wide project on prayer. We will be exploring some of these questions and so much more. We will be exploring the prayers of Jesus, why pray, different prayer models, visual prayer, praying for those who minister, and more. There will even be a prayer challenge.

We are thankful to have you join this journey with us. Like any journey, it will be quite the adventure. Please feel free to share your questions on prayer and your answers to prayer as we take this journey together. We want to hear from you.

Our prayer for you is that, whether you are a prayer warrior, a casual pray-er, a novice in prayer or someone who questions whether prayer is a real thing, that you will grow in your prayer life. We pray that prayer will become a priority for you and that you will draw closer in your relationship to God.

Peter Deyneka, founder of Slavic Gospel Association, started the mission, ministered daily, and lived his life based on the concept of “Much Prayer, Much Power.” To this day (over 80 years later), this is still the basis of the ministry of SGA. Does prayer have this kind of impact in your life? Do people see you as a prayer warrior? Come, let’s go on this adventure together.

Finding Your Way with GPS

Are you a GPS user, or do you just figure out where you’re going on your own? In the 80’s when my siblings and I got our driver’s licenses, gasoline was pretty inexpensive. Living in a rural town, we would often go cruising for our entertainment. Just driving around with nowhere to go; just taking an adventure to see if you could find your way back. We always found our way home and had a blast exploring the countryside.

One of the funniest trips was years later though. My sister and I loved cable TV decorating shows and really enjoyed a local show called Decorating Cents. They had a segment called “Trash to Treasure,” where the host would go to a resale shop called Sticks and Stones in Minneapolis, MN.  My sister lived within in an hour of there, so one day we took a road trip to visit the store. At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, we thought, “Huh, how hard could it be to find?” Well…let me tell you.

She had one of the first-generation, dash-mounted GPS units so we thought it would be a piece of cake to find the store. If you ever tried to use one of these units, you know that they were not always the most accurate (to say the least). She followed its instructions to the T—turn left, turn right, continue forward; and before we know it, we found ourselves on a dead end street. Well, that was obviously the wrong path! So, we turned around and tried again.

Just about the time we’re thinking we might not find the place, we saw a library sign. We pulled over to hopefully look up resale shops in the yellow pages. I got out of the car and got the address—only to find out that we’d been close and didn’t even know it. We went just a bit further, and she said, “THAT’S IT!” She whipped into an off-street parking spot, I jumped out and went up to the door, only to see a sign that said, “CLOSED FOR THE MONTH OF JULY.” What?! NO WAY!!! You are kidding me! I got in the car, told my sister, and we cracked up! Only we would get into the car to go to a town of 350,000 people looking for a small resale shop having no idea where it was. We still laugh about it today.

Do you ever feel your life is like being on a road trip and you don’t know the destination or which way to go? God doesn’t give us a map with a big X showing us our full journey with road blocks, construction, and other obstacles clearly marked. How are we supposed to know what journey he wants us on? Does our path ever change? How do we get where he wants us?

May I suggest using GPS–God’s Provision Steering. Jesus has gone ahead of us and prepared all we need to arrive in the Glory of God. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I can only know what God wants for me, if I am in communication with Him. We communicate with God by prayer and reading His word. I verify my understandings of what God is showing me by seeking counsel from biblically-sound pastors, elders, and siblings in Christ.

Our paths and purpose do change from time to time. It is rare that our journeys are on a single, long straight road with no turns, hills, valleys, or obstacles. For each season of our lives, we may have a different route and purpose. Each of these routes have something in common with the others. That commonality is our specific gifts that God has given us.

Each of us have been blessed with a gift or an ability that shines God’s presence through it. For me, it’s a passion for people, a great sense of joy and laughter, and a discerning eye. As I go through each day making decisions and interacting with others, I try to concentrate on living life for God, using my gifts to shine His grace through me. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There have been many times in my life when I have not stayed on the path God had set before me. There were times I stopped going to church, stopped studying God’s word, and stopped engaging with other believers. At those times, I found myself struggling as if I was fighting with someone all the time. Each time I wandered, God so gently guided me back. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11) I didn’t always realize it as it was happening; but once back in his arms, I knew it was where I needed to be. It becomes easier to stay on the righteous path as I mature in my relationship with Christ. The temptations to live in the world that are all around us each day bring speed bumps, potholes, construction zones, and detours in our lives and break down our efforts to live in Christ publicly.

Just as you need to make sure your car has what it needs for a road trip, you need to make sure you have what it takes to endure life’s journey. We need to have the daily fuel of God’s word, using his GPS to find the path he has laid down before us. We need regular maintenance checks to make sure we are running as we were designed to. And, we need to make sure we are ready to be used at all times.

As I pondered the subject of life’s journey, I studied God’s word and found comfort in these truths:

• “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11)
• “My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.” (Proverbs 1:15)
• “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
• “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and please to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
• “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
• “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Where does your journey lead? Is it the path you are called to be on? Seek God, and you will find where you are to be. Set yourself on studying the Bible to see where God is leading you. If you need help in this, you can send us a message, seek counsel from elders or Pastors of your local church, talk with brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray. Let’s join together on a journey with God.

What are some verses you have found helpful as you try to follow God’s path for your life? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Where Does Your Journey End?

What is life’s journey? Do the events in our lives matter? Does life just end?

These questions came to me when more than one person I knew passed away in the first couple weeks of June. As I drove the 45 minutes to my brother’s home the day his dear wife passed away, I saw these questions as clear as day. I had to stop and capture the scene pictured here. I knew then that God wanted me to share my thoughts with you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Some think that this refers to focusing on our lives instead of where we are once we pass away. Others think it’s a bit smaller and say that each event in your life doesn’t matter nor does where you end up. They believe it’s the fun you have while meandering through life, living in response to events instead of living purposefully to obtain an end goal. I’ve lived both. Prior to being a Christian, I was in it for me. Now I live my life for Christ. It changed my perspective on why we are on this earth and where we go when we die.

“May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn, in which we sup and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.”
–Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon said, “May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn, in which we sup and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.” Using Hebrews 13:14 as my basis, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come,” I think that Spurgeon is NOT telling us to be strangers among ourselves but telling us to not make this world our home.

If this world is not our permanent home then there must be another that is. God has created a place for each of us to spend eternity. A glorious home at his right side. But entry into this home is not granted just because you pass away. There are requirements that grant you entry:

  • The first of which is humbly realizing that God is the Creator of all.
  • Believing that he sent his son to be a sacrifice for our iniquities, leading the way for our own redemption and entry into an eternal life with Christ. But you have to do more than just believe.
  • The key to life with Christ is to ask our Father to cleanse you of your sins, replace it with his love, and be the LORD of all in your life. Once you have done this, you have access to the Holy Spirit who guides you on the path that God has made for you. You now are able to see your iniquities, ask for forgiveness, turn from those ways and live a purposeful life glorifying God through it all.

These scriptures tell us that there is life after death and life on earth has a purpose, a goal:

  • John 14:1-4: “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.'” 
  • Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
  • Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Have you secured your relationship with Jesus?

Our life here on earth is like dew on a lawn, lasting such a short time, then gone with the morning dawn. You can plan for your eternity now. Have you secured your relationship with Jesus? If not, I hope these passages have encouraged you to invite him into your life. God has created a place for you in heaven. Jesus is waiting there for you. If you need more help to connect with God, send us a message or reach out to your local church.

#journey #story #life #road
#lifesjourneywithjesus

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Be a Sonflower

I recently learned about sunflowers and it got me thinking about how they reflect the relationship we should have with God. Let me explain.

Sunflowers need the sun to display all their beauty. When it is not sunny they droop. When it is sunny, they perk up and shine their faces for all to see. They are a happy flower. It is amazing to see a whole field of happy sunflowers. As the earth rotates around the sun, these happy flowers follow the sun. Their heads are focused on the sun, not hanging down focusing on the ground and what is around them.

So, my friend, it is for us. In order for us to shine for God we need to focus on Him. We need to follow the Son and not get dragged down by all that is around us pulling us down. I like the amplified version of Hebrews 12:2:

“[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

Did you catch that? We are to look and focus our eyes on Jesus. It is a command. Like Peter, when he jumped out of the boat to walk toward Jesus. While he kept his eyes focused on the Son, he did great. Once his eyes came off of the Son, he started to sink. We need to keep our eyes focused on the Son. We need to follow Him continuously.

Isaiah 26:3 (AMP) reads “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You-in both inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

Sunflowers need the sun to help them stay upright and beautiful. They are totally dependent on that. We need the Son to help us stay on the right path and shine beautifully for Him. See, we have a major advantage that the sunflowers do not. Our advantage: Jesus is always there for us. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) We can always follow Him. He is always there.

Are you walking down a dark path of despair, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, change or any other hard times? Remember, He promised He won’t leave us. He wants us to stay focused on Him. Like the happy little sunflowers focus on the sun, stay focused on the Son and be a Sonflower for Him.

 

Scripture taken from the AMPLIFIED® BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation Used by Permission. (www.Lockman.org)

 

In Weakness and Fear

Photo by Talen de St. Croix on Unsplash

I can’t do that! I don’t have what it takes! My knees are shaking, my hands are sweating, and the butterflies in my stomach feel the size of elephants. I can’t do it! 

That’s how I feel every time I step out and do something new for God, especially when I teach a group of women for the first time. When I stand up in front of those lovely women, suddenly my knees begin to shake, I feel totally inadequate, and I can no longer remember what I wanted to say.

Does that happen to you when you try to share Jesus with others (even with only one other)?

When I [Paul] came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (bold mine)

Paul’s first trip to Corinth was immediately after his trip to Athens (Acts 17:16-34). The Athenians loved to reason (aka debate) so Paul had reasoned with them about Jesus. Paul was good at what he did, and he probably knew it. His education had included a healthy dose of public reasoning. Despite his best efforts, only “a few men became followers of Paul and believed.” It is interesting first of all that only a few believed and second that they followed Paul.

A Few Believed

Despite Paul’s well-reasoned, educated, and probably confident teaching, he had little impact. Such a poor response to his message probably shook his confidence and would have surely depressed him. At the very least, it would have made him evaluate what he was doing and why he was doing it.

Followed Paul

As Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians he chastised them for the way they were following the teachers and causing division. He wanted them to follow Jesus, not men. He must have wondered if the people at Athens were following his reasoning or following Jesus. He wanted to make sure the Corinthians were following Jesus.

Shaken Confidence

Paul took an emotional and spiritual hit in Athens. His confidence was shaken. His walk to Corinth that first time gave him plenty of time to think about whose wisdom and power were needed and who he wanted the people to follow. By the time he arrived in Corinth, Paul had wrestled with the realization that he wasn’t as wise as he thought. He had received a lesson in humility and been reminded of who he wanted people to follow.

The Wisdom and Power of God

When Paul arrive in Corinth, his confidence was shaken, and he was leaning more heavily upon the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit; consequently, the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit is what the people in Corinth saw.

That is my prayer every time I teach (or write). I always feel weak, afraid, and ill-equipped. I tremble inside when I think of what I’m doing. But that forces me to rely on the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit. The result is that (hopefully) people see God, not me!

As you talk to others about Jesus, may you each be weak enough and afraid enough to lean on God’s wisdom and Spirit power! As a result, may others see “a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” and place their faith in God’s power.

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Prayer

Our prayers may be awkward.
Our attempts may be feeble.
But since the power of prayer
is in the one who hears it
and not in the one who says it,
our prayers do make a difference.

(Max Lucado)

 

What are your favorite Bible verses on prayer?