One Powerful Prayer for Spiritual Growth for the Church

Ephesians 3:14-21 Prayer for Spiritual Growth

About 15 years ago, while attending Central Christian College of the Bible, I was part of a worship band called Three Days Under (don’t worry, you can’t find us on Google, but can find our songs on allmusic.com). We’d travel around across Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska leading worship for church events, conventions and camps. It was a really neat experience for me and I’ve learned a lot about worship and leading through those worship concerts we used to do. Many times after the sets were over we’d get asked to sign autographs on our CD and t-shirts. I hated that. It’s natural to dislike what we don’t understand, and I didn’t understand why anyone would want my autograph. (Unless of course I’m promising to pay money for something I bought, like my house…) I wasn’t famous. People didn’t know me. I was the guitar player and didn’t really ever sing.

Then Jesse and Scott, our band leaders, gave me some interesting advice. “Why don’t you turn it into a ministry by giving them a Scripture verse when you sign your name?” they said.

That one comment made the difference for me. So I picked up my Bible and searched for something that I could write down with my name. This is the passage I found:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

~ Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)

When I read this it became clear to me that I needed to pray for spiritual growth for each person in their relationship with God, to grow to a level in which they’d be able to experience all the fullness of God. That’s a lot of full! And yet, even though there’s so much of who He is that He’d like to show us as we grow in our relationship with Him, His mighty power at work within us can accomplish even more than what we even ask for…or even think about! Imagine the greatest thing possible…God can do infinitely more. (my mind is so small) So I prayed for each person as I wrote my name on their shirt.

It’s still my prayer today. For you, for me, for Meridian Point. I pray for us that we will tap into the unlimited resources of God and His power to keep us strong, to transform our minds and hearts, for us to continue to move toward Him instead of distractions that might cause us to not trust in His goodness and grace. I want God to make my heart and yours His home. And apparently the love of God is something we can have the power to understand, even though it’s so much greater than my words can describe. I guess that’s what makes His love something you can experience personally…daily. Praise Him for His amazing grace toward us! And let us echo with Paul, AMEN!

Worship with me: We Will Not Be Shaken

We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel Music

Sometimes people ask where I get the music we use for worship services. If at any time you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll gladly share with you who wrote them and where you can find them. I always print out a couple more set lists just in case we need them, and I can give you one after services are over so you can see the list of songs we’ve used.

Have you ever had an album that you liked so much that you couldn’t stop playing it over and over again? You keep telling yourself that you need to branch out and listen to something else but for some reason the cd never leaves the player, or the iPod never moves to another album. I’ve found a worship album that I can’t stop listening to: We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel Music. It was released in 2015, but I think this is one of Bethel’s best albums! (They have a lot of good music) The music inspires me, and the lyrics ring true and resonate with my heart. I turn it on while I work at the office, and at some moments I have to stop everything I’m doing and fall down and worship the Lord. The lyrics grab me and I find my heart screaming them and my voice singing them! This album ministers to me and I’m sure it will to you too.

If you have a streaming subscription with iTunes or Spotify, add this album to your list. I can guarantee that we’ll be using some of these songs in the future! Here’s a few of the songs that have really impacted me, but all of them are fantastic:

I hope that by sharing this music with you, you will be ministered to and worship along with me.

God-wisdom

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 NASB)

James is a book we tend to dissect into pieces. It can be kind of difficult to find a constant train of thought. This passage comes to us right after all the words about the tongue. I’ve had a bad habit of overlooking this passage. But it fits so well with learning to tame the tongue.

We all give advice whether someone wants it or not. I lean toward a view of advice that may be a little different than most. Advice is a gift. What the listener does with it is completely up to them. I can’t get upset if they decide to take my “gift” and set it on the shelf for awhile. Maybe they’ll take it when they need it later. I only think this way because I have to distance myself from the advice I give if someone chooses not to take it. I can’t take it personally if they choose not to listen to me. It’s difficult sometimes, but it helps them learn by consequence if they choose not to listen. But if they take it and use it, it’s dangerous for me if it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, then I’m in trouble because they’ve listened to me. I need to be sure I understand what true wisdom looks like, what wisdom from above is so I can only give that. But they can choose to do what they want after I give it.

What we need to understand is that advice is only needed when someone asks for it, unless they’re putting themselves in true jeopardy. I’ll tell you why I think this way…the passage above.

Sometimes the wisdom we have to give may not be wisdom from above but rather a preference or opinion on personal taste. What we want to say we truly believe is right. But how we deliver wisdom could be wrong. Let me ask you something, is the wisdom you give based on personal experience? Does that mean you stand to gain something when you impart wisdom to someone? What are you going to get out of imparting your wisdom? What are you looking for? How are you going to say it?

This passage is eye-opening to me. What I’m beginning to realize is that any wisdom I give toward others that has any other motivation outside of bringing glory to God is purely selfish. That kind of wisdom actually lies against the truth. It’s a wisdom that sounds good and seems good, but it’s lying. Wisdom from above seeks first the glory of God above all other things. What it tells me is that how we respond to life’s dealings is one more step in which we can take closer to God or away from Him. Wisdom is action-based, not simply knowledge. It’s movement in the direction of God. Wisdom from above moves us upward.

There are ways we can tell whether or not we are using wisdom from above or from the earth. The first one is selfish ambition. A majority of the time we look to ourselves for just about everything. What we do is bent on building our own kingdom or making ourselves seem better than others or feel good. But that kind of wisdom is not just dangerous, it contains every evil thing. So a selfish wisdom is the complete opposite of God-wisdom. It’s demonic. That’s a hard pill to swallow because we’ve lived our lives with a wisdom that mostly looks out for self.

Our delivery of wisdom says a lot about where the wisdom has come from as well. Are we more concerned about being right and making sure everyone knows our side of the story, or are we careful to pursue peace, to be gentle with no ulterior motives, showing mercy, and having a history of past experience to back it up? Really, what are you known for? Do you blow up at people when things don’t seem right, or are you quick to extend grace and mercy? Do you pursue peace or do people have to know your side of the story or what you think? Do you require everyone else to follow you in what you say while not applying your words to yourself? (For example, telling your kids to come to you immediately when you call them, but when they need you, you tell them to wait.) Is what you have to say reasonable and pure?

This is the kicker of the whole thing. Wisdom from above doesn’t lack one of those things. It contains them all. Let me submit to you that any wisdom that excuses one part isn’t truly wisdom from above. God is concerned just as much about the delivery of the wisdom as He is the principles themselves. If we’re not careful to deliver wisdom with gentleness, we won’t “win them over.”

Let’s say someone comes to us and explains a difficult situation or a choice they’ve made. We tend to react harshly in the moment or blow it off as something unimportant, which means we’re in it for ourselves to make sure we’re heard or that our point gets across (we tell them what they should’ve done or act like you don’t care). And we’re writing it off thinking we’re helping them while in reality, we’re withholding mercy and bringing judgment. It only causes them to resist or feel completely helpless. They don’t listen. It goes in one ear and out the other. And we get upset and take it personally, which then isn’t reasonable because their problem wasn’t ours to begin with, and yet somehow we’ve made it our problem too! If they don’t listen, we get jealous about it and want our words of wisdom back to make sure they’ve heard it and understood it…”I told you so. Didn’t I tell you? Why didn’t you listen?”

Wisdom from above seeks peace. That means grace heavily influences it. Wisdom from above is pure. It comes from God and is meant to develop a deeper relationship with Him which will bring Him glory. It makes sense to the one who hears because there’s no judgment on their end against you, the deliverer. It’s completely consistent and doesn’t change, just like God doesn’t change. It doesn’t depend on the situation because the motive isn’t bent on us bringing glory unto ourselves but to God.

So from a “wisdom-giver” standpoint, wisdom from above seeks to encourage the listener’s relationship with God. And from a personal standpoint, wisdom from above is my response toward my condition or situation which involves me humbling myself before God and drawing near to Him in order to deepen my relationship with Him and bring Him glory through it. Wisdom from above moves us upward. It’s action-based. It’s full of fruit. It’s seen.

"Til I See You" – When the song stops…

“As you press in to know His heart, He’ll become more precious than the gifts of His hand.” ~Susie Larson

Today we were led in an amazing song about an amazing life that is lived (only) by loving an Amazing God.  This song has always caught me off-guard.  The melody begins and I don’t always recognize it at first.  It takes me a minute, and if my eyes are closed, it takes until the worship leader(s) begin to sing.  But when they do, when the first “The” comes out, my heart jumps.  I am taken to a sweet, intimate place with my Savior – a place I absolutely do not want to leave!  Forget about the lunch in the oven or the kids who might be crawling under the table or the coffee that might be getting cold or knocked over; forget about the people, the lights, if it’s inappropriate to take my shoes off, or if my arms are aching from being lifted in praise.  Nothing else matters – no one else is there but my Savior and me.  If I could reach even higher, to touch the very finger tips of Jesus, I would!  In those six minutes, Jesus has all of me and it feels like I have all of Him.  For six minutes, I think I can walk out on water or just to my neighbor’s house and spread the love of Christ with someone, with my whole life.  For six minutes, I think I might just never lose this closeness with Jesus ever again.  I want that more than anything – to live with the overflow, the closeness, the height I feel with Him in a song, when the song stops.

 

The greatest love that anyone could ever know

That overcame the cross and grave to find my soul

And till I see You face to face

And grace amazing takes me home, I’ll trust in You

(This verse lifts my heart and face in His hands.  When I think of the depths He went to in order to have me with Him, in order to free me, in order to let nothing keep me from His love, I am broken and healed all at once!  To think of the day I get to see my Jesus face to face, well, let’s just say, I could stay in that vision forever and not get tired of it.  I am undone!)

Will I ever live to see Your kingdom come?

And in my heart I pray, You’d let Your will be done

Till I see You face to face

And grace amazing takes me home, I’ll trust in You

(“Let Your will be done.”  They seem such simple words, but they aren’t to be spoken lightly because there is no way to live them lightly.  Jesus sweat blood over those words; my life will have it no easier.  Never was there a more intentional, raw, sacrificial, and sanctifying prayer; never will there be a more rewarding, real, and authentic life lived.)

And I will live to love You

I will live to bring You praise

I will live a child in awe of You

(When I sing these words, over and over again, I really believe them.  I really want them to be the testimony of my life.  Whatever else that may grasp for my attention, I want to willingly lay it down so that I may fully embrace this living – this life of praise.  To live as a child in awe of her Daddy…of her Savior…of her Jesus.  Not just his Jesus or her Jesus, but my very own!  And He has done much to deserve such wonder!)

IMG_0424

You are the voice that called the universe to be

You are the whisper in my heart that speaks to me

And till I see You face to face

Grace amazing takes me home, I’ll trust in You

(He is The God of the BIG!  He created the world and all it’s grandeur and splendor.  He is The God of the LITTLE!  He created every line of color in the petal of a flower.  He is OMNIPRESENT – everywhere, with everyone!  He is VERY PRESENT – everywhere I am, with little ole’ me.  He roars like a lion, and He whispers like the tremble of a leaf in the morning breeze.  He puts words of Truth in my mouth, and He takes my very breath away.)

‘Cause You alone are God of all

You alone are worthy, Lord

And with all I am

My soul will bless Your name

(He is so worthy!  Worthy of more than I can comprehend.  Worthy of more than my finite being can express thanks for, but for all eternity, all I am will seek to do just that!)

The greatest love that anyone could ever know

That overcame the cross and grave to find my soul

Till I see You face to face

Grace amazing takes me home, I’ll trust in You

And I will live to love You

I will live to bring You praise

I will live a child in awe of You

 

(Hillsong – Till I See You Lyrics | MetroLyrics)