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I am learning that God is very good at giving us opportunities to put our ‘faith applications” in place. What I mean is, we often go around in our daily lives saying cliques like “I have faith” and “God is in control”. What is really interesting is when we get life lessons and whether or not the things that we say, and believe line up with our life experiences. This week I had my annual mammogram, the one that I usually dread and put off until the last possible moment. This year was no different. After my appointment last Monday, I received a call from the Radiologist’s Assistant asking me to come back in this week for additional diagnostic testing. She stated that it appeared the new mammogram showed something “new” that was not on the last few that they used in comparison. The reason for the uneasiness is that my mother had Breast Cancer at the age of thirty.
Can I be real with you? Cancer scares me to death! This is the one thing in my life that makes me so uneasy! I have seen the tragic and horrible destruction that it has left on my loved ones! It has been very upsetting wondering what my life would be like if I was not in good health. I believe the hardest part for me is not knowing the outcome.
I also know that God is in control of every aspect of my life, and all those around me. I must believe, even when I don’t feel like it. It takes more courage to trust in God, and I truly mean trusting in Him when the outcome is not always favorable/ I am reading again Kay Warren’s book, “Choose Joy”
Fast forward to the morning of my diagnostic test; I had been up since about 430 am. No matter how hard I tried to get into a deep sleep, it seemed God has something important to tell me. In my dream his message was clear today, “no matter what the circumstances are today, and no matter how it appears to look regarding test results, that I must trust him on this. It is a deeper movement into trusting him, and allowing him to work out all the details for his good. He has a higher purpose in all of this, and no matter what He is in control always. As I sit here on my porch rocking, I am reminded through the cloud of his power and presence. It appears as if today it is getting ready to rain, but through the clouds just a minute ago, a burst of sunlight just appeared, warming the side of my face. I had never felt the sun’s presence so bright at eight o’ clock in the morning. It is funny sometimes God uses opportunities like we go through to help others as well. This may be nothing on my end medically, but to someone who is reading this, or another person that I will talk too, a medical message for them or a small reminder for them to take care of themselves.
I do not know the outcome, not really going to worry about it today, all I know is that I have a God who loves me, will never leave me nor forsake me, and always takes the opportunity to turn something negative into something positive.
Leadership is Influence
J. Oswald Sanders said, “Since leadership is the ability to move and influence people, the spiritual leader will be alert to discover the most effective way of doings this. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them.”
Key term: Leadership is Influence. One of the most powerful ways to influence others spiritually is through prayer. To lead effectively by influencing others for God, Christian Leaders must pray. If leaders want to lead well, they MUST pray well.
Prayer is a timeless and often overlooked, secret to high impact spiritual leadership. Prayer is the ageless act of highly effective Christian leaders. Prayer must be prioritized and practiced to achieve maximum impact.
You will not find a maximally effective spiritual leader in the Bible or in history who was not a person of prayer.
Henry Blackaby states, “More than any other single thing leaders do, it is their prayer life that will determine their effectiveness.”
Charles Swindoll stated, “Prayer is… absolutely essential in the life of a leader.”
Andrew Murray, (1828-1917) stated, “Prayer in the life of the leader should be regarded as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work.. There is nothing we need to study and practice as the art of praying alright.”
J.C Ryle (1816-1900) another nineteenth century Christian leader wrote, “I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since Bible days. Some of them, I see where rich, and some poor. Some were learned, some unlearned… some were Calvinists, and some were Armenians. But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They all had been men of prayer.”
E.M Bounds (1835-1913) wrote, “Great praying is the sign of God’s great leaders.
Dave Earley in his goal for writing Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders commented, “My goal to writing this book is simple, I hope to motivate Christian leaders to pray more fervently, more frequently, more effectively, and more contagiously than ever before. I want to stretch their prayer life.”
He ended by also stating this, “If you have a greater prayer life, you can have greater Kingdom influence for God.
There is a link between prayer and impact. The more you pray, the more impact on God’s people you will have. Prayer is the dialogue and pathway to lessons for you to learn not only more about God and His Word, but to become more effective on how to communicate and discern the message that He has for His people.
Nine Prayer Disciplines of High-Impact Spiritual Leaders.
(Taken from Dave Earley’s Prayer: The Timeless Secrets of High-Impact Leaders Book.)
To be effective in your prayer life, the most important factor is being disciplined with your time. Making time each day to sit and pray and spend time with the Lord. Like here on Earth, it is only possible to get to know someone more intimately unless you spend time with that person, getting to know all about him or her. The same concept in drawing closer to God, you must take time to get to know Him better. Prayer, Praise and Worship, and Studying His Word is the way to draw closer to Him. The Holy Spirit is a vital part of your prayer life, for He is the one who becomes the intercessor between you and God. You must establish a daily prayer time, and pray several times a day. The more you get in the habit of praying, the more you will find yourself taking with the Lord throughout the day. Jesus prayed first thing in the morning, (Mark 1:35), he also prayed late at night, (Mark 6:46, Luke 6:13).
Martin Luther said, “It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night.” In the Bible, “King David mentioned there were at least one season of his life he cried out to God in payer three times during the day, morning, noon and evening. (Psalms 55:17).
Another important aspect of establishing your consistent, daily prayer time with God is finding a regular place for prayer. Some people have prayer closets, the late Jerry Falwell as a college student, “went to the dean of students to obtain the key to the third floor administration building, and prayed their daily often four hours or more a day. “ It can be any place that you are most comfortable, and spend the most time there; some use the car on long commutes as their place of prayer. It doesn’t really matter the place, as long as you can get there consistently and that it is quiet, so you will be able to hear from the Lord. Dave Earley spoke of a time while he was in college that he would take an hour each day alone with God. During this hour he took a notebook, and for the first hour he stated, “I let God speak to me through His Word. The second half hour I spoke with God, using a plan called the “ACTS” plan of prayer. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and recorded my requests in a notebook.” (We will go over ACTS, later on.)
Words often take on new meaning when you experience them personally first hand. What I am referring to is the difference between being happy and having joy. I always thought of them as the same, a temporary emotion or feeling that often changes with our circumstances. I guess that is why I never could truly experience either one of them on a consistent basis. Let’s be real here, being happy and having true joy can be very difficult if your preconceived notions of the meaning of either word do not line up with your life experiences. For this article, I am going to talk about joy. In the process of finding joy on a consistent basis, I wanted to get a true understanding of what the word even meant. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defined joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (delight) the expression or exhibition of such emotion : (gaiety) a state of happiness or felicity (bliss) a source or cause of delight . I don’t know about you, but if I were really sold on the notion of the word joy based on the meanings above, it would still sound temporary, and superficial. I guess I wanted more, and knew with God I could expect to experience Joy on a much deeper, satisfactory level.
I love how Kay Warren defined Joy in her book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness isn’t Enough when she wrote that Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
I love that, it means so much more to me emotionally. It doesn’t say that everything is always going to be good, or pleasant in my life, it means to me that no matter what, God loves me, and is in total control of all situations. That the Faith I have in God in knowing that He Is, who He says He Is! The words “quiet confidence” to me means peace, safety, hope and strength. The most important part is when she says “the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” The key word is choice, and I choose God, I choose to love Him, and I choose to trust Him!
Can I be honest and vulnerable with you? It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life. It has never been this peaceful, and I like many others use to tie my “emotions and experiences” in defining my level of joy. That is a scary notion to have, because experiences are often summed up with unreliable and inconsistent emotions. There was a time in my life after my younger brother passed away, that joy was a thing of the past. I was very angry with God, and turned away from Him. In my infinite wisdom maybe I thought I was trying to get back at God for taking someone so treasured by me, I do not know, It does not make a lot of logical sense, that I know. Thank goodness that God is so patient, and kind, and unconditional in His love for all of us, for I would have really been in a permanent mess! The reason I mention that experience is a few months ago, I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law, and it was during one of the saddest moments, that the most amazing opportunity to glorify and worship God in the midst of pain is almost unexplainable!
So to help others in their journey of obtaining joy, I will leave the wisest words, Scripture
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
2 John 1:12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This was taken from a great article that I will attach so that you can read more on joy.
In conclusion, my favorite verse on Joy is found in James 1:2-4
New International Version (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
May you find the peace and joy that you are looking for!