Category Archives: Wake Up and Pray! Be Alert

Deceived!

Have you ever trusted someone only to be deceived?  Deception is as old as—well—as time itself.  A deceiver works his magic by flashing one set of motives, while armed with another.

Deceivers are cunning.  Their tricks work for a reason.  But in order for deception to work, we first have to believe the deceiver’s lie.  Take the Garden of Eden, for example:

The devil appeared to Eve in an irresistible package. He presented a temptation tailor-made to her secret longings.   “You won’t die when you eat the fruit from the forbidden tree,” soothed the serpent.  “God knows that if you eat the fruit, you’ll be like Him…knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-13).

Eve “saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.”  Turning a deaf ear to her heavenly Father’s warning, she “took some of the fruit and ate it” (Genesis 1:6).  She gave a bite to Adam, their eyes were opened, and they “suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”

Horrors.  Eve had wanted to be like God only to realize she was not dressed for the job. She and Adam were stricken by deception, shamed at their utter inadequacy. Sin was downloaded into their DNA. Humanity has wrestled with our fallen condition ever since.

The most deadly deception, however, was the devil’s attack on God’s character.  “God’s motives are not pure,” he lied.  “His rules are not from a heart of love…He just wants to keep you from being all you can be.”  Sound familiar? Satan found a strategy that works, so he uses it again and again. When will we ever learn?

James gives us a moment to ponder the heart of our loving heavenly Father:

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows  (James 1:16,17).

Think about it. Everything good thing that has ever happened to you is from your loving, heavenly Father. Even His boundaries are for your good. And the bad stuff?  Suffering will always be something of a mystery, but James challenges us to greet the hard places with joy (James 1:2). Throw a counter-attack, he urges. Trust God to use those very trials to grow our faith roots deep.

Make no mistake about it. You do have an enemy, but it’s not God. Don’t let anyone tell you that God is not for you! He is all loving, infinitely good, and in complete control.  Grasp that one, dear friend, and you’ll resist the deceiver when he comes knocking.


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 1

Welcome to Day 1 of the 21 Day Experiment in Prayer.  In prayer as in life, it helps to begin with the end in mind. What’s your goal? What do you hope will happen?

My goal is simple: I want to hear God’s voice. Why? So I can pray His will. Remember the second part of our Lord’s prayer , “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.”  Just think.  Our prayers are part of the way God gets His work done here on earth!

I also want to hear God’s voice so I can do His will.  I want to follow his instructions, gain His insight, be protected from unseen snares, and delivered from the devil’s messes.

My short answer on how to know the voice of God is this:  “Read his words”. No kidding. God spent about 1469 pages (in my Bible) revealing His power, His plan, His pattern for living, and best of all, His promises.

But we must give God time to speak to us. A few minutes each day to read and reflect on His Word sharpens our “inner hearing.” Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Each time I perform this 21 Day Experiment, God speaks in special ways.  More often a whisper than a shout, but always personal, just for me. I use a simple prayer method to go along with my daily reading in the Gospel of John.

My tools include a Bible, a fine point Sharpie, and an ordinary, wire-bound booklet of 3×5 cards, which I call my Chubby Book.  Now you’re set to go!

Ground rules:

  1. Set aside fifteen minutes each day to read one chapter of John’s Gospel.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to impress one verse upon your mind for that day. Write the verse on a 3×5 card in your Chubby Book.
  3. List your prayers on the adjacent card.  I take my Chubby Book with me throughout the day.  I like to pray while going for a run or walk, waiting for an appointment, folding clothes.
  4. Ask God for practical ways to be a doer of His Word.

This morning, while reading John Chapter One, I was struck by Andrew’s reaction when he realized that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah:

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who…followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus (John 1:40-41 NIV)

Did you catch that?  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him about Jesus.

Be a doer of the Word:  Today, I’m prompted to pray for those in my own neighborhood–especially the young moms–who don’t  know the Lord:  Lord, show me some practical ways to “bring them to Jesus.” And like Andrew, may it be the first thing on my mind.


21 Day Experiment in Prayer

It’s one thing to talk to God.  But what do you do when He talks back? It’s a question I ask myself every day.

If you want to pray with power, you do need to talk to God.  But you also need to listen.  So how do we find time to listen to God in such a busy, noisy world? I’ve learned that if you truly commit to listening to God’s voice, amazing things can happen.

Now I’m just an ordinary wife and mother. I married the love of my life—a kind-hearted, basketball player-turned-preacher—over forty years ago. David and I have shared four awesome decades of marriage and ministry.  But my journey is not the one I originally planned for myself.

Years ago when I was in college, I vowed I would never become a Christian.  And most certainly, I would never, ever marry a minister.   Funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

Over the years, I’ve learned that listening to God is not simply a matter of hearing His voice. It’s also about doing His will.  One day I realized that my life was either a “so what?” or a “so that!” If listening to God took me no further than my own little world, then so what?

The whole point of hearing God’s voice is so that I’ll do His will.

So I told God I would devote myself to listening to Him and doing His will.  And I would pray not just for my own little world, but also for His larger world.  That’s when the real adventure began!

When you begin to be a listener and doer of God’s Word, you could end up traveling to genocide-torn regions in Africa as I did. Or you might come face-to-face with the needs of your neighbor next door. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll meet people and go places you never knew existed—starting within your own neighborhood.

I invite you to join me in a 21-Day Experiment in Prayer:

Starting tomorrow, let’s read through the Gospel of John together.  It’s one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Plus, it has helped me learn to hear from the Holy Spirit.

Plan to devote fifteen minutes to reading one chapter each day.  John has exactly twenty one chapters so this works well.  Read slowly and thoughtfully, praying for God to help you understand what you’re reading.

Next, ask the Holy Spirit to impress one verse from that chapter on your mind.  I like to copy that verse on a 3×5 card in my Chubby Book (more about the Chubby Book tomorrow).  I simply ask God to show me one way to be a doer of His Word that day.  I  also list people and places that are on my heart  for prayer and carry the card with me.

This 21-Day Experiment sounds simple.  But I’ve discovered it can energize your prayers–and your life.  I know of no better way to learn to hear God’s voice than to read His words.   Something mysterious happens when we read and obey God’s Word.

Everyone’s journey will look different.  But I truly believe that if you listen to God and follow His leading right where you are, your ordinary days will no longer feel ordinary. I invite you to come journey with me!


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