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I am Thirsty to be More Fearless!

  • By Alvin Jones
  • 03 Mar, 2016

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalms 34:4-6

As I shared last week, I believe one of the biggest struggles in the Christian life is fear. I also believe fear is a natural emotion designed by God. However, fearfulness is not designed by God, for fearfulness suggests living in a state of fear.

Today, I want to deal with how to conquer our fears. What are some things we can do to help overcome these fears in our lives? I want to take you to a couple verses that have helped me tremendously. It's found in 1Thessalonians 5:23-24. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

‭Here's the good news, God is actually the One who does what He calls us to do because He is the One who enables us to do it. What God requires from us is to refuse to focus on the fear you feel and choose instead, to step out in the faith you possess. Each time you step out in faith, facing your fear-producing situation, your faith increases. I'm reminded of my first three minute speech for speech class I had to give in college. I was scared to death. Every fear imaginable comes my way, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, fear of being laughed at, and fear of failure and on and on. As I stepped out in faith and trusted my Lord to help me, He was faithful. I have come to love Philippians 4:13, the context of this verse is based on whatever your situation may be "you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you." Of course, since then, God has allowed me to speak to multitudes at a time. And each time, I remember my faith in the LORD is the strength I need to accomplish whatever He calls me to. I know I am not a mighty, courageous person. But I have learned I have a Mighty, Courageous, King living within me. Take any situation you face in life and this principle works.

He gives us the victory because we walk both fearfully with God by faith and fearlessly with God by faith. Sometimes He chooses a specific person to walk with us who needs more faith. There is no shame in that. We were made to be interdependent. If God has delivered you from a certain fear, you are a prime candidate to help another brother or sister get set free.

Now on the physical side of things, there are some practical things you can do to help you physically and emotionally. Here a few suggestions; Get a medical check up and ask your doctor to evaluate you. Get an appropriate amount of rest, exercise and recreation. Eat healthier. Listen to some good Christian music. You see we are not just a Spirit being. We are a spirit, soul and body being. God will help you in whatever adjustment you need to make. He wants you healthy for the express purpose of using you to help others get free from their bondage. Finally, be around encouraging people as much as you can, and remove yourself from negative people as best you can. Our responsibility is to respond in faith to the ability of God. Remember the Word of God says, "You are more than a conqueror".

What fear are you facing right now?

Look to the Mighty King who lives in you and focus on Him and His ability.

Shouts of Freedom

By Alvin Jones 20 Jul, 2017
Jesus told His disciples in John 6:38, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." He had a passion to accomplish the Father's will for His life. So much so, that we find Him in much anguish in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as He was sweating drops like blood. The thought of carrying the burden of the sins of the whole world upon Him was heavy and yet, He said, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

God has a purpose for each of His children. The Lord Jesus is more interested in us finding His will for our lives than we ourselves are. On many of the issues of our lives, God's will is quite clear. Jesus said, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life" (John 6:40).  It's very straightforward that those who believe in Jesus will have everlasting life. Yet, what about other issues of life? How do we go about finding His will? I want to give you some important steps we can take toward knowing His will.

KNOW THE SAVIOR
If you are going to know God's will, it makes sense that you first know Him as your personal Lord and Savior. The initial step in finding God's will is to be sure you know the Savior. Without a saving knowledge of Christ and His abiding life within, a person cannot discern the things of God. For Paul says these things are "spiritually discerned" 1 Corinthians 2:14.

KNOW THE SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit comes into your life the moment you receive Him as your Savior. He is there with you and in you to empower you to know and do all the will of God. Paul said, in Ephesians 5, this is the will of God, "to be filled with Spirit." The Spirit of God helps us to witness, pray, discern and serve the Lord Jesus on this earth. To be filled means to be controlled by His Spirit. He becomes our teacher to guide us in all the truth of God. Are you sensitive to His Spirit in your life?

KNOW THE SCRIPTURE
We can't know the will of God apart from the Word of God. The better I know the Scriptures, the more certain I will know the way in which to walk. The Word will never lead me to do something contrary to the Scriptures. That is why Paul exhorted the Colossians "to let the Word of God dwell in you richly, with all wisdom" Colossians 3:16. When we know Christ, when we are being controlled by His Spirit and when we are abiding in His word, the Psalmist said in Psalms 16:11, "He will make known to us the path of life". The first step in really knowing God's will is desire. God won't call you to something and not give you a desire to do that very thing. Ask Him to give you His desire for your life. Then, may you join Jesus in praying, "Not My will… but Yours be done."
By Alvin Jones 01 Dec, 2016
Have you ever asked, “Do I have what it takes to handle the trials, troubles and tests of life?” As a believer in God, we are called to express and experience the glory of Jesus Christ. That simply means magnify who Jesus is in our lives and display the picture of Christ among others. How do we act when going through afflictions, uncomfortable situations, or spiritual battles?

Be confident! You have every resource you need to be victorious in life right now.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”                          
 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

This passage of Scripture has kept me grounded in my life, and I believe can encourage you. These verses reveal what a life that glorifies God and overcomes life’s difficulties looks like. I don’t know what battles you face or what kind of storms the enemy may be taking you through. However, I can assure you that with God’s resources you can conquer them.

Dwell on these two truths:

1)The Revelation of Christ in His Word
“We all….beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” USE NIV The previous 16 verses contrast the revelation of the Old covenant with the New covenant. Paul discovered his capability to handle any trial within the revelation of Christ in His word. James speaks of the mirror as a reflection of His Word (James 1:22-23). Every victory starts, continues, and rests in the revelation of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

“Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:9

When you dwell in the Word, you begin to get a clear view of God as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Knowing the person of Christ in His word reveals how powerful He is and how He handled the burdens and battles in His life. The apostle Paul demonstrates his approach to victory over life’s trials by beholding the mirror of God’s glory in Christ. Thus meaning, keep putting your faith in Jesus’ power and promises.

2) The Reality of Christ’s life in you
Yes, Christ’s life is in you. The One, who lived, died, was raised from the dead, and ascended is in you - in the person of the Holy Spirit. The same resource Jesus depended on to live the Christian life is living within you. Hallelujah! God never expected us to live out the Christian life with our own weapons and resources. The awesome realization about these two truths is, as you reflect upon the revelation of God’s word and the reality of Christ’s life in you. You then build an intimate love relationship with Him that reproduces Jesus’ life and character in you.

You say, great, how does that help me with relational problems? How does this help me with financial pressures? How does it help me with family problems? Glad you asked! As you are Christ-focused instead of self-focused, God provides the strength, provision, wisdom and/or protection you need. The entire Christian life is consumed with “beholding” the revelation and reality of Christ’s word and life to enable you to be triumphant over every pressure, temptation and doubt in life.

When people and circumstances become overwhelming to you, get your eyes on Jesus. He will cause you to reign over every battle you face. Remember in Matthew 14:22-33, there is a tumultuous storm when the disciples are in a boat during the middle of the night. They saw Jesus coming to them - walking on the water. They thought it was a ghost until Jesus spoke and told them He was the Lord. “Peter then asked if it is you Lord bid me to come. Jesus says, Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began walking on water, until he took his eyes off Jesus and began to focus on the waves and winds of the storm. Then he began to sink. Learn from Peter, no matter the storms of life, if you keep your focus on Jesus you will overcome. This doesn’t mean you won’t have difficulties in life - Paul expresses in this chapter we will. However, he reveals that Christ will deliver you through the trials of life as you keep your eyes on Jesus - the Author and Perfecter of your faith.

What are you beholding? Is it Christ or circumstances?
By Alvin Jones 17 Nov, 2016
Do you get excited about your weaknesses or do you constantly fret and try to hide them?

God designed you and me with weaknesses. Just the thought of that statement causes something within all of us to rise up and want to fight it - doesn’t it? The facts are: we inherently possess mental weaknesses, emotional weaknesses, physical weaknesses and spiritual weaknesses. But, why would God design us this way?
  
                              I believe the answer is found in Ephesians 2:7

                     “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

God delights in displaying His powerful grace. Thus, a way we can experience His grace is to acknowledge our weakness and turn to Him for guidance. God’s desire and design is that we become dependent upon Him for life.

The apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth, “…in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  
As believers, we have a tendency to hide or blame others for our weakness. We never confess them and surely won’t boast about them. - Geez, no way! - But when you realize God created you this way on purpose , you can seek Him and He meets all your needs. We experience freedom in life as we begin to grasp this principle. Let me show you in three areas.

                          God created us with a need for daily dependency - think about the relationships in life. A wife is dependent upon her husband for specific needs and the husband is to be dependent on his wife for specific needs. A child is dependent upon the mother or father to meet their needs. When the apostle Paul learned this truth, he expressed sincere adoration for his weakness. Why? Because he knew he didn’t have the capability to carry out God’s will in life within himself, without His supernatural grace. You see, God’s grace made Paul capable of doing mighty deeds. 2Corinthians 12:12 - “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.”

                         Every aspect of life is touched with this principle of weakness. Mentally , we don’t know all things, therefore we are dependent upon others to teach us and help us. Emotionally , we are damaged and need Pastors, Counselors, Psychologists, therapists and others to help bring healing to our hearts. Physically , we are inept. I recall a story in John chapter 9 telling of a man born blind. Our text tells us, God made him this way! Why?

So He could display His powerful grace. John 9:3 describes the disciples asking Jesus who sinned in this man’s life to cause him to be this way. Jesus said, “It was neither that this man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) Spiritually , the Bible says we are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:5) Until we admit our lack of His Spirit and place our faith in Jesus Christ, we will never see the grace of God manifested in our lives.

                              God created us with a need for direction , but what do we do when we are lost? “I’ll never ask a soul. I’ll find it on my own.” Until we admit we are lost and ask for help, we don’t see grace. God made us for a purpose. Remember when God called Moses to deliver His people from bondage. Moses pointed out his own weaknesses: “who am I…, they won’t believe me…, I am not eloquent…, slow of speech and stutter.” What did God do? God gave him His supernatural grace to carry out His assignment. Admit your weakness and ask for God’s grace. I believe one of the greatest blessings of my life is to admit I am weak. Only then do I turn to the One who is strong and receive His daily grace to fulfill His will for my life.
  
Are you resting in God’s grace or are you running to something or someone else?
By Alvin Jones 03 Nov, 2016
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured,...others experienced mocking and scourging, yes also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword….being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated….. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us,…” Hebrews 11:30-40

Growing up I was exposed to my dad’s love of trains since he had several types of train sets. When he passed away, my brothers received the trains and set them up in their homes. I wasn't as attached with the sets as my brothers, so he gave the trains to them. The other day, I saw one of my brothers and he was on the way to get some new pieces of track for his set. He showed me how the track had broken and needed a new piece. As I looked at the track, it dawned on me how the railroad tracks were a picture of a life of faith. Just like the tracks, we have two types of faith.

On one track, there is what I call the “exciting childlike faith” that we all begin with. We repent of our sin and receive Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. We experience a transformation in our lives and begin to see God show Himself in many wonderful and moving ways. He supernaturally provides. He heals. He answers prayer. He gives us clear insight. He gives boldness to witness and on and on it goes. God guides us and supplies us with everything we need. As our text tells us He tears down walls, protects us from our enemies, and women receive their children back from the dead. Wow! Exciting! Wonderful! We live our lives by simply trusting God to be who He is.
I’m mindful of the exciting time in the life of a retired Colonel I met and had the privilege to introduce to Christ. When I met him he had been told by his doctors, “you don’t have long to live.” The cancer you have is the very aggressive kind and it looks at best you have about 6 weeks to live. Devastated by the news, I encouraged him that God is able to heal and sustain his life. Let’s pray and ask God to bring glory to His name in this situation no matter what the outcome. I can testify God was gracious, for he is still growing strong 12 years later, since the diagnosis. The doctors are dumbfounded! He is rejoicing in the Lord and testifying to anyone who will listen! God is glorified! Hallelujah!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20a) That is one aspect of our faith.
Then, the second track is what I call the “enduring covenant faith.” This is produced when life brings its difficulties, discouragements, death, and defeat. The writer of Hebrews tells us there were others who were in the hall of faith – the Bible’s heroes – that we often don’t think about or want to think about. Those who were tortured, mocked, put in prison, stoned, sawed in two, persecuted and mistreated. Yet, the Bible says, “These were all commended for their faith.”

We get to enjoy the exciting adventure of “exciting childlike faith,” but we also experience the “enduring covenant faith.” As we walk with God, we don't always get what we pray for. Instead, we experience unexpected suffering in order for God to teach us another aspect of our faith. For example, I was recently with a 22 year old man who learned he had brain cancer. I visited him to remind him that God loves him, and He is with him through his trial. We prayed together asking God for mercy and, perhaps in His sovereign power, heal him. With incredible sadness, I disclose he passed away two months later, though I believe God did have mercy on him. I must admit that was not the outcome I wanted for him. My faith was challenged to endure the outcome I hadn’t prayed for.

Over a year ago, I lost my daughter in love. I recall my wife and I fervently praying that God would deliver her. But, the outcome was the exact opposite of what we desired. What do you do when life presents unexpected hardships? I have learned you must lean on that “enduring covenant faith” relationship. You discover, as you go through those moments of disappointment in life, that God is building a deeper kind of relationship with you. If you are not cautious, you will believe the lies in your head saying, “I will follow you, Lord, as long as I am treated the way I think I should be.” This thought process is a contract faith not a covenant faith.
  
How did those before us handle the hardships of life that came their way?

The followers of Jesus held on to their “enduring covenant faith” relationship with God that withstands any difficulty. This may shock you, but God never promises that we won’t experience suffering, pain or problems. On the contrary, He promises the exact opposite. Jesus is the supreme example as He endured the cross, despising the shame of it. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3
Throughout my walk with God over the past 30 years - through several of ups and downs -there is one truth that has kept me confident through it all.

                                                               “God is Faithful!”

“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” Deuteronomy‬ 7:9‬ NASB‬‬

God never promised easy lives or easy deaths. BUT He does promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
As I lean closer to Him during the times I don't understand, He grows my faith leading to a deeper walk with Him. In those times, He has strengthened me. He has sympathized with me. He has suffered with me, and He has saved me in many ways and times. He has delivered me from going back to my old ways of handling stress. He has helped me change my Stinkin' THINKIN' concerning trials and troubles I face. God is good!

Where are you in your journey of faith? Are you enjoying the exciting childlike faith or are you in a phase of covenant enduring faith?

My prayer for you and me is we will grow thirstier for a closer walk with Him.
By Alvin Jones 30 Jun, 2016
Growing up in life you have heard it said, “There are only two sure things in life, death and taxes.” I have come to the realization that statement is incomplete. I would like to add pain as another sure thing in this life. The reason I say that is one, personal experience and two, because the whole world is under the fall of sin. Therefore, we are subjected to suffering and pain. As I shared last week, God has a purpose for our pain and wants to use it to glorify Himself.
  
Today, I want to present two purposes in how God uses our pain.
   
1. God designs our pain to deepen our love for Christ.

The hardest thing for us in the midst of pain is to reject the lie of Satan that God doesn’t love you. The rationale goes: if God loves you, you wouldn’t be in pain. Satan always attacks the goodness of God. He has been doing it since the beginning with Adam and Eve. He put doubt in Eve’s mind that God is not good. (Genesis 3:5) Ever since when the trial of pain comes our way we question, “Does God love me?” The Apostle Paul took a different approach to his pain. He took an account of his painful situations and said, “I count all things to be loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) He also said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”(Phil. 1:21) In Romans 8:18, he says, “Therefore, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” God used Paul’s painful circumstances to cause him to know Christ in a deeper way.

2. God designs our pain to grow our relationships with others.
  
Many times pain has a tendency to isolate us and drive us to a place of solitude. Solitude is okay for a time, but you can’t stay there. Pain is a relational thing because everyone identifies with it. Our natural response to pain is to retreat into ourselves. God wants to use our suffering in order to experience deep, affectionate love from and for others. In Philippians 2:26-27, Paul tells the Philippians, Epaphroditus – a man from Philippi – became very sick and almost died. “He was longing for them and has been distressed (watch this) because they heard that he was ill.” WOW! It didn’t say they were distressed that he was sick, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill. That is the fervent caring kind of heart God desires to create in all of us.

Are you letting God redeem your pain for the glory of His name?
By Alvin Jones 23 Jun, 2016
Did you see that? I am purposefully designed not for the wrath of God but to live with Christ. Sometimes when we go through pain in our lives we have a tendency to forget that. I believe the Bible teaches all suffering and pain comes due to the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. God subjected the world to futility because of that disobedience. (Romans 8:20) I have come to know all suffering is judgment. But, for believers Christ bore our judgment. Therefore God has a different purpose for our pain. God uses our pain for the glory of His name. “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter‬ ‭4:16‬)

‭Scripture has taught me that our pain means a couple of things. One, "sin is awful." Second, "Something glorious is coming." Here are some examples; in creation ; the bible says, the whole creation groans and suffers awaiting eagerly for the redemption. (Romans 8:22-23) Another example is childbirth . The mother who is in pain, sometimes throughout the nine month ordeal, longs for the glorious cry of a baby. And then yet another way all of us can identify with, is God uses our pain in the circumstances of life. Nothing is so sweet to God than when we are going through trials and troubles that He uses those times to draw us closer to Him. His goal is that we know Him in a deeper way and love Him more intimately. God ultimately uses our pain to get us to trust Him with our life now and forever. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” God never wastes our pain. He uses it to honor His holy name and to get us to know Him better.

Pain reveals my weakness that can only be met in Christ. Paul said, "He boasts about his weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest on him." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Pain is an opportunity to express to the world you believe in God. Jesus told his disciples, "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves;” (Luke‬ ‭21:12-14‬) ‭

God has purposed to use your pain to glorify and honor His name. God doesn't bring you to something without planning to bring you through something. He loves us and is forever trying to communicate to us life is all about Him. Remember, even death is not the end, but the continuation of an eternal life with Jesus. With God the best is yet to come!

Glorify God in your pain!
By Alvin Jones 09 Jun, 2016
Luke 24:45-47 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

If someone were to ask, “What is the gospel?” how would you define it? I ask this question because I am deeply concerned more and more that the church is not sure what the Gospel is. Recently, I was in a church where they had a banner that read, “Our purpose is to love God and love others.” (Nothing wrong with the banner by the way.) But when I read that, I asked myself, “How many people in this church and other churches believe that is the Gospel?” So, I went on a little adventure and began asking different folks in the church what they think the Gospel is. To my amazement, most of the answers I received were, you guessed it, “Love God and Love Others.” I thought to myself, Wow! No wonder so many of God’s people are frustrated, ticked off and beaten down. A builder told me once; “If the foundation is bad eventually the whole building will begin to show it.”

So, let’s look at this for a moment. What goodhearted people are doing is using Jesus’ response to a Lawyer’s question about God’s Law to answer the wrong question. He asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus said, in essence, Love God and the second is like it, Love others. But remember the question, what is the greatest commandment? He is saying the Law is Love God and Love others. These two commandments are the compilation of the 10 commandments. The Law can never save anyone. Why? Because no one has ever kept the whole Law perfectly except Jesus Christ. The Law was given so you would know God’s standard. While realizing your inability to keep the Law, God did, by sending His Son to fulfill the Law we could not attain.

In America, it is so hard to get this across because we are a “performing people.” We think we can do anything and no matter how hard it is we can do it. After all, Nike promotes the mind set in our nation, “Just Do It.” But the Gospel is not about us “doing.” The Gospel is the Good News of what God has DONE in and through the life of Jesus Christ. He, then, could redeem lost and sinful mankind through His death, burial, and resurrection. He is our substitutionary, death that satisfies the just and righteous wrath of a Holy God. There is no other way for sinners to be delivered.
    
You see the Gospel is about the Love God has for us, not the love we have for God. God’s ultimate purpose for all mankind is that they will receive and experience His Amazing Love for them and to them. So let me ask you, have you received the Gospel?
  
In closing, let me mention briefly about the phrase, “love God and love others.” The Gospel is God loves you period. Then as a result of God’s love for us, we should want to love God and love others. Loving God and loving others is never the good news, it is the response to God loving us first. Jesus said it this way, “For God so loved (in this way) the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Got it! Go make much of Jesus!!!
By Alvin Jones 12 May, 2016
Last week, I shared with you the attitude of prayer. I showed you many stories, situations, and struggles of people in the Bible. Each one had one thing in common, desperation. I said desperation is not something human beings enjoy. As a matter of fact, we hate it at times. Until we are desperate in our inability to fix or control the outcome, we won’t turn to Him. Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5) Wow! The starting point of real prayer is admitting my helplessness to change anything or anyone.

Today, I want to share with you the second aspect of true prayer, the act of prayer. The act of prayer is dependent upon faith while real prayer is both attitude and action. Desperation united with dependent faith in Jesus Christ produces true prayer.

{DESPERATION + DEPENDENT FAITH = TRUE PRAYER}

Without faith, our desperation would be simply an unproductive cry of anguish in the night. Faith is probably our biggest struggle in our prayer life. The reason being – man naturally does the opposite of believing – he doubts. He doubts before he prays, while he prays and after he prays. James chapter one says, “This causes him to be unstable in all his ways.” Honestly, the pressures of life have caused us all to doubt at times. So here's the query of today, how do I know I have faith? Unfortunately, prayer and faith have been made complicated by the enemy of God. Faith is simply, coming to Jesus. Prayer is bringing your desperate situation or struggle to Jesus. You come into the presence of Christ with all your sin and distress. He has promised never to reject you. (John 6:37)

Doubt is one thing, but unbelief is something different all together. You see, unbelief is a characteristic of man’s will and consists in a man's refusal to believe. It's his refusal to see his own need of powerlessness and go to Jesus to speak openly with Him about his sin and/or sorrow.

In Mark chapter nine, a loving father gives us an example of the affect of doubt and faith. First of all, he is a desperate father. He has a son who is possessed with an evil spirit. He has tried everything in his power and wisdom to fix him, but can't. Second, He brings him to Jesus. (Dependent faith) He proceeds to tell Jesus about the struggle of his son's ongoing suffering. Then he says, " If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us." Jesus confronts the heart of this prayer. " If You can! " All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately, the boy's father cried out and began saying, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:22-24) The desperate father was not sure Jesus could do it, since his disciples could not. Jesus being so merciful receives this man's honest heartfelt prayer. Desperation becomes prayer the moment you go to Jesus and share your heart of helplessness to believe Him. This story is an example of true prayer. As we’ve seen, real prayer is a fruit of desperation and dependent faith in Jesus. Are you desperate enough to turn to Jesus to meet your needs? As you read the rest of the story, Jesus responds to this father’s desperate, dependent cry of faith by delivering the evil spirit from his son.

Watch this! In prayer, if you would take your attitude of desperation coupled with your act of dependent faith in Jesus Christ, it can produce God honoring deliverance!
By Alvin Jones 05 May, 2016
Your best prayer is your desperation. What do these various stories, situations and struggles have in common? I believe, if we can get this it can change our prayer life.
                               
In John 2, the drama of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is at a wedding with a dear close friend. She gets wind of the news at the reception; they have run out of wine. Now, you have to understand they didn’t have a Jerusalem Walmart open 24 hours a day for them to run to the store and get some more wine.

In Mark 5, we have a synagogue official named Jairus. He came up to Jesus and said, “My little daughter is at the point of death,…” Later in that same chapter, we find a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years and had endured much at the hands of many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse.

In Matthew 15, there is a Syrophoencian woman with a daughter who is cruelly demon possessed. In Mark 10, we have the distress and desire of a man named Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar sitting by the road. Now I could have given you many more just like these. But I think you get the point.

Their dramas and distresses of life have one thing in common. They are all DESPERATE ! Webster gives one definition of desperate as, “Done with all of your strength or energy and with little hope of succeeding”. Let me ask you, Are you in a situation like that right now?

I believe this is the attitude we must have if we are going to see any chance at deliverance. Matter of fact, prayer is for the desperate. One of our great privileges of desperation is for us to be brought into an intimate, love relationship with God. God uses our desperation many times to draw us closer to Him, so that you can know Him better. Prayer is a great means to do that.

I have learned prayer is just telling God how helpless I am without Him. Have you realized how impotent you are to just believe, to love, to sacrifice, to read your bible, to suffer and to battle against your sinful passions? Watch this, as long as we keep the mindset of our desperateness, we will not be overcome by any difficulty, distraught by any distress, or afraid of any hindrance. Why? Because we will expect nothing of ourselves and therefore bring all our distresses, difficulties and doubts to God in prayer, who is able to deliver us.
  
I have found that desperation in prayer is like the condition of a person who is lame or some difficult condition they can’t fix. I have to admit at first, it is painful and unbearable. But as time goes on, you resign yourself to it and it becomes a part of yourself and all your attitudes. Let me explain.

I have a dear friend and mentor of mine who is a mighty man of God. He was faithfully serving the Lord with his gift of teaching in various settings, such as, college, church and oversees in Guam. Unexpectedly one day, he has a stroke. This changed everything for him. He was a man of self reliance and able to do many things. He has an engineer’s mindset. What he learned and is learning was he must be helped in everything! All his thinking and all his planning have been conditioned by his helplessness. He said as he began his recovery, “He had to be dependent in all things upon those who cared for him”, which became a blessing in disguise. What that did for him was create an incredible bond of sympathy between others, which is a blessing in itself. As God strengthened him and restored some of his abilities, he realized how God was teaching him to be more dependent upon Him for everything not just the major things.
  
Just like the bond of attachment that was created with others in his life, our desperation should make us attached to God and make us more strongly dependent upon Him. God often uses what we would consider an awful thing, and shows us it can become the greatest revelation of our life, I need God for everything.
  
Only when we admit we are desperate shall we then cry out to God in dependent faith in Jesus will we see deliverance. Are you embracing your feelings of desperation, helplessness or powerlessness?
By Alvin Jones 28 Apr, 2016
On May 5, 2016, we, as a nation, have set aside this day as a National Day of Prayer. I think this is wonderful! If there is anything that is going to change this nation, I believe it will be God honored prayer. Only when God’s people acknowledge their powerlessness to fix this nation will they see change. Then, in their desperation turn to the All-Powerful God will any transformation take place. I’m convinced we don’t need more ability, more methods, more money or more laws. We need God’s people humbling themselves, with dependent faith in Jesus Christ, to cry out for His mercy and wisdom. Not until we do, will we see any alteration happen.
  
As I think about praying for our nation, I must admit it seems to be a daunting task. When I think about all the different areas that need prayer, it seems like mountains, and it is. But I’m reminded of Scripture that says, “Whoever speaks to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you. (Mark 11:23-24)

For our time today, I just want to deal with one mountain that I feel can transform our nation faster than any of the others. That mountain is the family. I remember Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn, New York say, “People in our nation are frustrated because we can’t get prayer back into our schools.” He said, “Shoot, we can’t get prayer in our churches”. Ouch! He said, “If we can’t get the churches praying, how in the world are we going to get prayer back in schools?” As a preacher I say, amen brother!

But then I began to think about why the church was so prayer less? God began to open my eyes. The Churches are made up of families. Soon I realized prayer starts in the home. Is your family a praying family? Better yet is there Anyone in your home that prays? This taught me that we don’t need to point our finger at prayer not being in schools because we have three fingers pointing back at us. Dad, are you praying? Mom, are you praying? Children, are you praying?

I’m of the belief if our nation is going to be changed, it starts in the home! It starts as we choose to come to the altar of grace. When the altar of grace is activated, then our families will be altered. Then you can watch the effect it will have on our churches, our states and our nation. God is waiting on us! If I am going to move this mountain in my home, I must start doing things differently.

It begins with the husband and wife relationship. Husbands, I challenge you to take your wife’s hand and lead her in prayer. It will feel awkward at first, but continue doing it and God will transform your relationship. Then, He will change your children. Oh, the longing of my heart as a pastor is to see each family in our church to have homes with Mom and Dad’s praying together. The axiom, “the family that prays together, stays together” is true.

I encourage you to start today . Make prayer the priority of your relationship and you can expect to see God do great things, beginning in your family and extending throughout this country and even the world!
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