Darkness & Boldness

by Logan Henderson

1 John 3:19-23
As I read this Scripture I began a self-assessment. It’s good to stop and reflect sometimes when you’re reading Scripture, because His Word often clarifies the deepest mysteries and doubts of our hearts. God will sometimes use these moments to illuminate something about you you didn’t even know. Anyway, I’m reading this and I look in the metaphorical mirror. And I ask myself “Am I abiding in truth by this definition? Do I have a clear conscience before God?” And my answer was no. Let me tell you why. I have been walking around lately with so much shame drilled into my shoulders and the weight was killing me. I didn’t look my Savior in the face and I ran from Him, so my heart grew cold and calloused to His love. And as I read this and as I write this now, I feel that burden lifted, because I see now what the Enemy wants to take from me. It’s not just my confidence tomorrow as I go to classes and talk to people. The stakes are much higher. He wants to take away our confidence before our God. Not to humble us, but to belittle and imprison us. As long as we are ashamed and walking around downcast and distracted, we are not pursuing Christ, we are not living into our potential. Jesus wants more for us than this! Though our hearts condemn us of sin, the Spirit convicts us and guides us back to Himself, welcoming us with love and rejoicing at our eyes being opened. What a God, that pursues us and brings us back to Him. He is truly relentless in His desire for our hearts. When we’re with Him, He gives us strength and intensifies the beauty in the world around us. Lust has lost its luster, and shame its weight. Christ bore the penalty and wants us to leave that weight behind. So chase Him boldly, as He commands us.

Livin’ On A Prayer (Thursday)

I find prayer a little daunting sometimes.  I always feel like I never know quite what to say or if I’m doing it wrong. And, logically, I know that there’s no wrong way to pray, but still I sometimes find myself with a little bit of ‘pray’er’s-block per se. So, for advice and inspiration I like to look to some people who are considered experts in the field.  Take David for example.  He is often lauded as a great man of God and prayer and, in fact, has a whole book of prayers (aka Psalms) often credited to him, so, clearly, he’s killin’ the praying game.  One way I like to use the Bible in my prayer life is to take an in depth look at what the author is saying and then interpret and pray that message for my own life.  Over the years, I’ve used Psalms 5 more than once because in my Bible it’s listed as the “Morning Prayer.”  I love how the author starts his morning with a focus on being with the Lord, which means being away from everything evil and asking for guidance towards the good God given stuff.  Below, I have included the verses from the chapter and, when I am feeling a little stuck, I like to use them to kick start my day.  How can each verse apply to my life – maybe it inspires prayer for a specific class or group of people or internal hurt that I’m struggling with.  Maybe, if nothing else, it just starts off my morning with a minute of thinking about how great God is. Prayer’s-block can hit any time, but when we recognize Satan’s attempt to get between us and Jesus and simply turn to the scriptures, we are able to employ the one weapon that is able to defeat him every time.

 

Psalms 5

Give ear to my words, O Lord;

   consider my groaning.

2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,

   my King and my God,

   for to you do I pray.

3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;

   in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

   evil may not dwell with you.

5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

   you hate all evildoers.

6 You destroy those who speak lies;

   the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

   will enter your house.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

   in the fear of you.

8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness

   because of my enemies;

   make your way straight before me.

9 For there is no truth in their mouth;

   their inmost self is destruction;

their throat is an open grave;

   they flatter with their tongue.

10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;

   let them fall by their own counsels;

because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,

   for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

   let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them,

   that those who love your name may exult in you.

12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;

   you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Livin’ On A Prayer (Wednesday)

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by Haley Smith

I strive every day to improve my prayer life (and fail most days honestly). But a practical application on how to live a prayerful life that has worked wonders for me is actually writing down my prayers. Prayer journaling takes all kinds of forms. If you like a lot of structure, just google prayer journal guide or something along those lines- so many options out there. Otherwise, leave it up to your own style and whatever works for you. My personal preference is just listing the things that are on my mind. Whether that’s personal, the prayer requests I hear from others or just prayers for the world around me. I don’t write it as a letter or anything, just a list. There are so many benefits to prayer journaling. First of all, it makes them more than just a fleeting thought. Instead they’re something I’ve taken time and effort to record and that puts them at the forefront of my mind way more often. I also start to see trends in my prayers and sometimes I need to alter the way my prayers are going (for example, if I notice they’re too selfish- very common issue of mine). I have also had the joy of seeing answered prayers. All because I wrote them down. It can be that simple. However, I’ve found that the longer I keep up with my journal, the more in-depth my writing becomes. It starts to include praises to God and about what’s going on around me. It starts to include confessions and helps me keep better track of, specifically, where I am falling short. Writing/journaling is not an activity I absolutely love like it is for some people but to me it is so practical and I truly see changes in my prayer life. I would encourage you to try it out for at least a week or two and see he kinda of changes it can create for you.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

Ephesians 6:18 ESV

Livin’ On A Prayer (Monday)

by Ruth Hallstead

Prayer is one of the best ways we can talk to God—whether it is to give praise, confess, ask for help or simply talk. If you grew up in a house where God was a more distant figure, or prayer was treated very formally, or for numerous other reasons, it can be very difficult to come to the Lord as if you’re talking to a parent or a friend. But because of the cross, we get to have a personal relationship with God. We can pray whenever and wherever—head bowed in church, a silent conversation before going to bed, even a whispered sentence as you walk into class for a big exam. The temple curtain was torn in two, allowing us to walk right into the tabernacle where God lives! For most of us though, it’s not easy to make prayer the first option; instead we like to do it ourselves. This does not work–it’s a hard and lonely path to follow. In the Father Tim series of books by Jan Karon (if you haven’t read them I highly recommend checking them out), one of the characters likes to say “Philippians 4:13, for Heaven’s sake!”. Philippians 4:13 reads “I can do all things through God who strengthens me”. All things! How amazing is that?! When we live a prayerful life, when we take everything to the Lord in prayer, we are never alone. No matter how isolated, broken, sinful, sad, or overwhelmed we feel, prayer is the answer. Remembering, “Philippians 4:13 for Heaven’s sake” can be a tangible reminder that God is on our side. We can do all things through God who strengthens us! Whatever you’re facing right now, or whatever comes up tomorrow, you can do it. God is with you, God is for you, and He loves you. He wants to hear your pain, your struggles, your joy, your everything. Bring it to Him in prayer.

Livin’ On a Prayer (Tuesday)

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by Hannah Alford

Often times in life, we find ourselves praying selfishly, to God. “Dear God help me make an ‘A’, “Hey God, if you make this person like me, that’d be great”, and in a way, that’s what Jesus wants. Matthew 11: 28-30 states, “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Instead of just asking God for favors though, when you pray, come to him humbled, ready for his teachings. When you are stressed and feeling overwhelmed, Jesus wants you to share your burdens with him, because by sharing your life with Christ, you let Christ into your life. It’s not a switch of a lightbulb, but instead the light that you gain from praying is comfort in the Lord, security that you are not alone, and hope that someone up above is rooting for you. So try talking to God as a friend, because like a friend, he’s there for you and is always there to listen to your troubles and lift you into the light.

We Are Never Getting Back Together (Friday)

By Logan Henderson
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running away from the dark and towards the light like…

“Coming into the Light”

1 John 2

Imagine creation. Form coming from chaos, and life from lifelessness. Breath into dust. God did all of that, and what power must He have to have done it. Tonight, a couple things struck me as I read this Scripture. First, how totally opposite from each other Dark and Light are. As we read this passage, John draws a clear line between light and darkness. In other words, there is no grey area. How do we deal with this in a world that craves to blur the line between good and bad? I think the most profound solution is stated very simply by pastor Matt Chandler: “Find the things (or people) that stir your affections for Christ and saturate your life in them. Find the things that rob you of that affection and walk away from them. That’s the Christian life as easy as I can make it for you.” What’s so beautiful about this is the clear line in the sand. It either helps you love God more, or distracts you from Him. Another thing that struck me is the confidence that we have as believers. As we run from darkness, soaking our lives in the things that bring us closer to Him, we know that when we come into His presence, we can do so shamelessly. When Adam and Eve came out of hiding, they came out carrying the weight of shame from choosing fruit over the God who made it and them. It’s not hard to imagine the shame of leaving the Creator for His creation. We do it daily whether it’s lies, anger, cockiness, lust, or fear. All of those things want to entrap us in guilt so heavy that we never even leave our dark, comfy hiding place to be vulnerable to a God who loves us. The Enemy and our sinful hearts would love that. But instead, because of Jesus tearing the veil, we get unhindered access to Him, and He forgives us, breaking the shackles of shame and pursuing us even when we don’t want Him. As we go further in darkness, He still shows us a way to His light. So I’ll end by reminding you of the hope of knowing Him: “That when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame.”