Daily Devotional 5-22-20

Pleasing Prayers V
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16b

Faith plays an important role in the ministry of prayer. If prayers will be answered, it has to be made from a place of faith. Jesus taught many lessons on the dynamic relationship between faith and prayer. Look at this amazing story about faith:

When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman army captain came and pled with him to come to his home and heal his servant boy who was in bed paralyzed and racked with pain. “Yes,” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” Then the officer said, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you in my home; and it isn’t necessary for you to come. If you will only stand here and say, ‘Be healed,’ my servant will get well! I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave boy, ‘Do this or that,’ and he does it. And I know you have authority to tell his sickness to go—and it will go!” Jesus stood there amazed! Turning to the crowd he said, “I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! Matthew 8:5-10

This story almost sounds too good to be true, but it is coming from an eyewitness so it can be accepted. It demonstrates the power of faith in Jesus Christ. The captain mesmerized Jesus with his faith. No wonder Jesus stood there amazed. Jesus did not have to go the captain’s home to pray. He stood in the middle of the journey and commanded the servant to be healed and it was so. Why did the captain send for Jesus? Faith! Why did he tell Jesus to stand where He was and tell the sickness to leave? Faith! Faith is everything in prayer. The double-minded person does not receive anything from God. Fear and unbelief rob people of blessings in prayer. 

So, how does scripture come into play in this conversation? Scripture induces faith. It is the foundation of our faith in Christ. We’ve all come into faith in Jesus because we have access to the word of God. Thus, through the means of scripture, the Holy Spirit produces faith in Christ in our heart. The word of God produces faith. Therefore, if we need faith in prayer, we need to have scripture in our hearts. When scripture that speaks about your situation, it produces faith in you to pray with confidence and boldness. 

Do you want to have faith to pray about something? Get into the word of God.

PRAYER:  Help me love your word that I may have faith to commune with you in prayer.



Daily Devotional 5-21-20

Pleasing Prayers IV
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16

A loving Christian is a praying Christian. And, a praying Christian is a powerful Christian. Prayer is a spiritual privilege given for our communion with God. In prayer, we partner with God so that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer transcends space. That is why we pray for God’s intervention in distance places far from us. We can pray to influence a decision in places of authority without physically being present. There is military power, economic power, political power, etc., but the greatest of them all is the power of prayer. And, if that is the case, then the Church is the most powerful body in the world that can create “heaven” on earth through its ministry of prayer.

Effective and fervent prayer is never wasted. When a prayer is made right, with the right motives and right attitudes, the power of God is released to bless. And, sometimes, we may not necessarily feel or see the results, but with faith we know effective prayers are never wasted before God. So, how do we make effective prayers? We will spend three days exploring this question.

Praying the scriptures is very powerful and effective. Scripture informs prayer! This is vital and crucial. Scripture reveals the mind, character, and will of the Father to us. None of us has ever seen God physically. So, how did we come to know God? It is only through the scriptures that God has revealed Himself to us in a greater measure. Nature also reveals God, but not in the way scripture does. Therefore, when we pray the scriptures, we pray according to the mind and the will of God. Scripture is so sufficient that it will say something directly or indirectly about any situation you would ever encounter. It will provide you a direct response or offer wisdom and understanding about a particular situation. Therefore, we have the business of knowing the scriptures that talk about various subjects, so that we can read, quote and meditate on them in prayer.

So, I want to encourage you to “let the word of God dwell in you richly,” (Col. 3:16) so that you can always pray the scripture. Praying the scripture puts you on the same page with God; it aligns you and positions you in agreement with God.

For he/she who prays the scriptures, prays the mind and will of the Father.

PRAYER: Teach me, Lord, how to talk with you through your word. Open my eyes, mind, and heart to know your will as I listen, read, and meditate on your word. And, help me to take them into prayer.



Daily Devotional 5-20-20

Pleasing Prayer III 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

When I was very young in my faith, I did not like praying, “Father let your will be done for me.” I had things I wanted for myself. I had plans. I wanted God to sponsor my interests, so I could be “happy.” The concept of the will of God was outside the frame of my Christian thought. I don’t know about you, but I’m still growing in learning to accept and allowing His will for me. I am learning how to die to myself.

As far the flesh was concerned, Jesus was a dead man. He died to Himself in the garden of Gethsemane, before the cross. The crucifixion led to His physical death and climaxed the death of His will in order for the will of the Father to be done. He was God, but had to struggle with His flesh. And, if Jesus experienced tension between His will and that of His Father, then we also, from time to time, will experience this sort of tension.

If God decides to grant us the desires of our will every time, most of us would find ourselves in dire situations we could not handle. Most of the time, God saves us from ourselves. I am sure you have wonderful plans and behind them may be good intentions; however, we must always learn to pray that God’s will be done in all situations.

Praying God’s will is a submission to God. It is recognition that God’s provision is the best for our lives. It offers invitation to Jesus to be Lord in that particular issue being prayed about. And, it takes one who is dead to self to receive the best of God.

PRAYER: Lord, teach me to submit to your will. Amen.



Daily Devotional 5-19-20

Pleasing Prayers II 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:10-14

Through this parable, Jesus reveals another important mark of a prayer that pleases God––humility. The Pharisee in the above story was self-righteous, claiming to have the right to be heard by God because of his religiously legalistic rituals. He was full of himself. He was the focus of his prayer. It was never about God. He brought into the arena of prayer an attitude of self-sufficiency and cockiness. Can you imagine? He even looked down on the tax collector in the temple! Yes, even the proud pray to God, but their prayers are not heard. On the other hand, the tax collector considered the opportunity to pray to God a privilege he did not deserve. He came with a humble attitude. As opposed to the Pharisee, he felt unqualified.  Yet, deep down in his heart he knew of the mercy of God and tapped into it.

As we read yesterday, Solomon, too, approached God from a humble position. He grew up learning palace protocols, diplomatic relations, international policies, etc. He ascended to the throne with some skills and competencies. Yet, he approached God as a child who did not have the capability to serve God’s chosen people. It was his heart of humility that made him see himself as a child before God.

Humility is an important mark of a prayer that pleases God.

With what attitude do you make your prayers?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to humble before you and people, so that my prayers may not be wasted.



Daily Devotional 5-18-20

Pleasing Prayers Part 1  
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

 Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. For who by himself is able to carry such a heavy responsibility?” The Lord was pleased with his reply and was glad that Solomon had asked for wisdom.  So he replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people and haven’t asked for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the defeat of your enemies— yes, I’ll give you what you asked for! I will give you a wiser mind than anyone else has ever had or ever will have!  And I will also give you what you didn’t ask for—riches and honor!  And no one in all the world will be as rich and famous as you for the rest of your life!  I Kings 3:9-13

It happened after Solomon had offered abundant sacrifice; the Lord appeared to him in dream and asked him to make any request. Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and understanding to govern God’s people. Seriously, I don’t know the request I would have made, but I do know it would have been different than Solomon’s. I would have had a very long list of requests.  Solomon surprised God. He did not ask for riches, or the life of his enemies. His request moved God so much that in addition to the requested wisdom, God added riches and honor to Solomon.

The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s prayer. The text reveals some reasons for God’s acceptance of Solomon’s prayer. Solomon made the request with the right motive. He was focused on the task of being a king, with the desire to serve God’s chosen people. He was not selfish in his prayer request. He had no personal attachment or interest in his request. It was from the right place in his heart.

Sometimes our prayers come with wrong motives. James said, “And even when you do ask you don’t get it because your whole aim is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure,” James 4:3. God is more interested in the motive and driving force behind our prayers. We either ask with selfish intentions, or we ask God to sponsor our ego and personal ambitions that has nothing to do with His kingdom. Solomon’s request was tied to the work God had given: to govern His people. His personal interests were laid aside. How often are your prayers focused on the kingdom of God and the wellbeing of others?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to develop the right heart in prayer. Cleanse my thoughts and heart so I may please you in my prayers.


Daily Devotional 5-14-20

Good Question  
by Julie White

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life; whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing…And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here to day and gone tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. So, don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat?  What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers. Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Matthew 6:25-31

Who is in charge of your life? If it’s you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it’s God, then worry is unnecessary and counterproductive; it’s a waste of time.

Often, anxiety comes from asking the wrong question: “If such and such happens, can I handle it?” The true question is not whether you can cope with what happens, but whether you and God together can handle anything that occurs. It is the me-and-God-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully, knowing that you’re not alone.

When you start to worry about something, train your brain to relinquish the situation to God. Back off of it a bit; redirect your focus to Him. One small way to begin is by putting notes in common places like your refrigerator door, the dashboard of your vehicle, or on a mirror in your bathroom. On each note, write a verse that speaks to you, or write something like this: “God, you are in control. You are so much bigger than ___. Thank You for making a way through ___.” He will either take care of the problem Himself or show you how to handle it. Worry confirms your hopelessness; prayer confirms your hope in God.

The same God who gave you your life can be trusted with the details of your life. He loves you. So, pray. Talk to Him. Words of sincere prayer have the quality of being words of commitment. Let your prayer go deep and mold your will so that the will of God comes alive in you. He’s waiting for you to stop worrying and trust Him.  

Will you do it?

 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to pray more deeply and allow You to reprogram my thinking.



Daily Devotional 5-13-20

Attitude of Trust 
by Julie White

Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue?  Isaiah 50:2

Imagine how you might feel if, despite a long history of your faithfulness and devotion, people you loved would not trust you. What if you had always demonstrated great skill and power, but were treated as if you were incapable of handling difficult situations? This kind of slander against your true character would hurt. When someone mistrusts you for no reason, you take it personally.

Yet, this is how we may sometimes treat God. In spite of repeated assurances that He loves us, is taking care of us, keeps His promises, and is mighty to save us, it can take some time for those truths to sink in. People might attribute their difficulty in trusting God to the fact that He’s invisible, but that isn’t the whole story.  We battle with trust because of our old nature and because of our current spiritual enemy. Meanwhile, the most reliable Person in the universe waits for us to have confidence in Him.

He grieves for our self-inflicted wounds and the pain they cause. Having made a move toward us, He anticipates us to make a move toward Him. Not so He can rebuke us, but so He can show His deep love.  And not only does He wait to do so, the sense of the original language is that He longs to do so. He is standing by in anticipation of our response.

God responds to trust. His presence accompanies those who have chosen to have confidence in Him regardless of appearances to the contrary. Even when a desperate situation lingers and tempts you to believe otherwise, He is not too weak to save. Whatever obstacles stand in the way of your trust in God today, choose to trust Him anyway. God takes that attitude personally too, and He loves it.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to respond to you fully. No matter what, I place my confidence and trust in You.



Daily Devotional 5-12-20

Re-Creator 
by Julie White

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

David, king of ancient Israel, found himself in the midst of a confused national situation. Because his country was torn by pervasive internal problems, it stood on the brink of a civil war.

There was too much sin happening and David knew that if the tide of sin continued to rise, his nation would collapse. He also knew that economic depression and moral disintegration would inevitably follow spiritual decline. So, David did what an intelligent person should do in this situation; he turned to God. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that a nation can rise no higher, can be no stronger and can be no better than the individuals that comprise that nation. David realized this truth, and in wisdom, concluded that he should start making things right in himself! He fell on his knees and prayed in utter humility.

He prayed earnestly for God to begin the revival of his nation by kindling the fires of revival in his own heart. Not only did he pray that he might know God, but that God might know him.

If your phone has problems, you don’t take it to a plumber. If your car has problems, you don’t take it to a dentist. Spiritual problems can be solved only by God, who originally created you; and by the grace of His Son, He can re-create you into the likeness of His resurrection. You have to want it, and David surely did.

David’s prayer was a turning point in his life. By sincerely confessing his feelings, God came to his rescue. And because of his rescue, his nation was also rescued. David’s transformation as a result of this prayer, was full and complete. Israel was brought into harmony with God; and David’s son Solomon brought to Israel one of the most prosperous reigns Israel had ever known.

All salvation (social, political and national) begins with the spiritual salvation of the individual.

PRAYER: Lord, please search me, know me, cleanse me, and direct me. Keep me true to You always, and continue to lead me forward along the path of everlasting life.



Daily Devotional 5-11-20

The Secret 5/11/20
by Julie White

…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty of little.  For I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.              Philippians 4:11-13

The Apostle Paul knew how to be satisfied, whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. His secret was in calling on the power of Christ for strength. God’s promises and Christ’s power can help you be content, when you choose to rely on them. He will supply all your needs, but in a way that He knows is best for you.

Paul could get along happily because he could see things from God’s viewpoint. He discovered that the joy of the Lord was his strength. He focused on what he was supposed to do as a disciple of Christ, not on what he felt he should have. Paul had his priorities straight and he was grateful for what God had given him. He had detached himself from certain nonessentials so that he could concentrate more on the eternal.  To what are you drawn when you feel discontentment? Where do you turn? The answer lies in your perspective, your priorities, and the source of your power.

Can we really do everything as this scripture states? The power we receive in union with Christ is sufficient to do His will and to face the challenges that arise from our commitment to doing it. He does not grant us a superhuman ability to accomplish anything we can imagine without regard to His interests. As we live in faith, we will face troubles, pressures, and trials. We all know this. But the secret is out! To face these challenges victoriously, internalize the sufficiency of God’s grace, ask Him to strengthen you, and believe that He will. Trust Him. Then, stand alert; ready for the power of the Holy Spirit to move through you in ways you cannot imagine.

The secret’s out alright; and that secret also lives in you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be consumed by you, the Creator, rather than with things created. Out of love for You, help me be content in all things.