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21 Day Experiment-Day 18

Jesus talks a lot about His heavenly kingdom. This kingdom dwells within us, He tells us. I’ve heard the caution that we shouldn’t be “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.” Yet Jesus tells us to set our mind on things above. To be absorbed with His kingdom.

Our challenge is to dwell in Jesus’ kingdom, while also living as temporary citizens of earth. God must have thought we could inhabit both kingdoms, or He would have simply taken us to heaven the minute we accepted Jesus.

Welcome to day 18 of our 21-Day Experiment. We’re near the finish line—so hold on tight!

Biblically, the word kingdom describes the royal dominion and eternal sovereignty of God.  Jesus knew this, and when interrogated by Pilate, He said simply, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

Think about it: We live on earth and in heaven. Sometimes the two clash. So how do we respond?  I’m sure the disciples wrestled with this “dual citizenship.”

Let’s look at what Jesus taught them:

It all begins with prayer.  His disciples had watched Him wage kingdom battles. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons.  The forces of darkness had to bow before this Savior. Yet the only thing the disciples ever specifically asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray (Luke 11:1).

Jesus gave them a short tutorial—what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” He teaches them to pray from a kingdom vantage point: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

We’re to pray for God’s kingdom to be brought to earth. In heaven, God’s will is done perfectly. So when we pray for His kingdom, we are praying for His will.

In the original Greek, this verse is in the imperative tense—more of a command than a request.  It’s as if we are to pray, Kingdom come!  Will be done on earth!”  I sometimes think Jesus wants us to stamp our feet, shake our fist, and shout a bit as we speak God’s Word into a fallen world that is still crawling with enemies.

Spiritual victories don’t come without a fight. Without God’s Word as our authority.  But the Bible calls it a “good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18).  Jesus wants us to have a heavenly perspective to our prayers, but a watchful eye toward earth for our results.

Prayer: Lord, I declare that Your kingdom will come and Your will is to be done. In heaven, on earth and in my own life.  Help me to be “kingdom-minded” as I go about my day. And give me open eyes to see Your results here on earth!

21 Day Experiment-Day 12

Who doesn’t like to be affirmed? I know I do. And I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t respond better to praise than criticism.  But the desire for praise can sometimes be a liability when it comes to our faith.

My commitment to follow Jesus sometimes brings me face-to-face with a choice.  Will I speak and act in ways that win praise from people or from God?  Sometimes, it’s impossible to have the respect and admiration of both.

Praise comes from the Greek word doxa, which means “honor, respect, prestige, fame, or approval.”

In John 12, we see that despite the controversy surrounding Jesus, many religious leaders had come to believe in Him.  But they wouldn’t openly acknowledge their faith to the religious “in-crowd,” for fear they would be put out of the synagogue (John 12:42).

The next verse challenges me to take a look at my motives. It’s my watchword today:

They loved human praise more than praise from God (John 12:43). The Message Bible puts it this way: When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.  

Ouch! Any approval-addicts out there?  Do I say or do things that make me look good in the eyes of those around me or in the eyes of God?

Some time ago, I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to approach the topic of abortion with a good friend.  She’s intelligent and has strong opinions—but we have very different views on this volatile subject.

So I prayed and took the risk. I shared with her how my beliefs about the sanctity of life are grounded in the Bible. Jesus is called “the author of life” (Acts 3:15).  Since we didn’t create life, I explained, I don’t believe we have the right to take life…even in the womb.

She listened and paused to think about what I had shared.  Silently, I continued to pray. I sensed the Lord’s presence—the conversation did not turn hostile. What’s more, doors were quietly opened to further conversations with her about my faith. God is truly at work!

Prayer: I pray for those of you following along in the 21 Day Experiment. I sense the Lord is giving someone the courage to speak truth in love today. He is putting someone on your heart right at this very moment. I pray for open doors…and for just the right words. May the Holy Spirit be present in a powerful way! And may you hear the quiet whisper of His approval—the best kind of praise of all!

21 Day Experiment-Day 8

Has anyone ever told you to “get real?”  Take off the mask. Let go of pretense. Be authentic.

Sadly, we live in an age where people will do almost anything to create a good image.  Much more time, attention, and money is spent on our outer self than on our inner soul. We end up comparing our insides with everyone’s outsides. It’s not surprising that research tells us the main emotion people experience when they get on social media is envy.

Jesus is all about the truth—authenticity over image.  In John Chapter 8, He shakes up the religious leaders by claiming He has been sent by God.  But many Jews put their faith in Him (John 8:30). To those who believed, He made this promise:

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31,32 ESV).

The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia.  It means “genuine, authentic, real.”  This Jesus-kind-of-truth is real. It sets us free. But the promise of freedom is conditional.

If I abide in His word, then I’m His disciple.  There’s a direct correlation between spending time in God’s Word and knowing the truth that sets me free.  In my busy, noisy world, I have to be intentional to abide in His word.

That’s why we’re doing the 21 Day Experiment. It helps us learn to abide. If you’re following along, that means you’re committing at least fifteen minutes a day to reading a chapter of John’s Gospel. Then a few minutes praying for specific needs that are on your heart.

I encourage you to stick with this experiment until the very end. Don’t evaluate whether it works until the END of the 21 days. You can even say to yourself, “Well, nothing seems to be happening today, but I’ll postpone judging its impact until after 21 days.”

Over the years, I’ve had friends tell me that they’re glad they stuck it out—sometimes God’s message for them came on the 21st day.

Being a doer of God’s Word sometimes means that we simply abide. The purpose of abiding is for Jesus to become more real. For His Word to come alive. And to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit within.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the reminder in John 8 that it’s all about my relationship with you. Everything—even answers to prayer—come out of abiding in You. That’s the real secret to freedom. I pray for that same freedom today for those I love.

21 Day Experiment-Day 4

I’ve heard it said that talk is cheap. But words are the mysterious raw material of God’s creative activity.  He spoke the world into existence. I have always loved words.  I’m intrigued by their power both for good and evil.

Welcome to the 21 Day Experiment in Prayer.  In today’s reading, John 4 brings us to Jesus’ second miracle.  This time, a little more is at stake than a bridegroom running out of wine at his wedding party.  A royal official’s son is sick and close to death (John 4:46-54).

The official swallows any pride that went with his title and begs Jesus to come with him to heal his son.  “You may go,” Jesus tells him.  “Your son will live.”  But Jesus tells him to go home alone–without Him.   I can only imagine the leap of faith it took for this father to return home with only Jesus’ promise. His Word, but not His actual presence.

The father’s response is one of great faith.  I’m so inspired I’ve made it my watchword for today: The man took Jesus at His word and departed (John 4:50).

The phrase “took him at his word” comes from the Greek word pisteuo, which means “to trust.” While the man was still on the way home, his servants met him with the news that the boy was alive!  What’s more, he got better at the precise time Jesus spoke His promise.Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed” (John 4:53 NIV).

I seem to be bumping into this trust theme a lot lately. It’s tempting to focus more on the problem than on God’s ability to solve it.  But as a friend of mine reminds me, we should “glance at the problem but gaze on the promise.”

Has Jesus spoken a promise to your heart?  It can require great faith to take Him at His Word and walk away from your problem–without worrying. Sometimes being a doer of the Word simply means holding onto your faith and refusing to fear.

Prayer:  Lord, You know the problem that weighs heavy on my heart today.  I ask you to give me complete confidence in Your Word.  Help me to fully trust You.  Empower me to turn my back on this problem and keep my eyes on Your Promise. No more fear!


Keep Watch!

So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42 NLT).

Keep watch.  According to Jesus, “keeping watch” is my daily job description. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But in our busy, noisy world, keeping watch can get lost in the shuffle. I have to be alert.  Attentive.  Mindful that Jesus is present. Constantly aware that His Holy Spirit is at always at work…in and around me.

Nobody talks more than the Holy Spirit.  No one acts with greater power.  But I will blow right past the invisible world of the Spirit if I am not alert. Watchful. Spiritual lethargy is a roadblock to effective prayer.

Here are three simple tips that help me keep watch on a daily basis: Continue reading