A Life-Changing Secret :: By Holly Spate

Prayer and Praise
Do you want in on an open secret that can change your life for the better? Do you want to know a key component to being joyful no matter what life throws your way? Do you desire to be content even when your world seems to be spinning into a mess of chaotic clutter?

As a child of God, you’ve been given key gifts that will help you stay consistently content time and time again. These gifts, if practiced, will bring both peace to your heart and a greater sense of trust in the One who created your heart.

What’s the secret? I have two simple words for you that pack a powerful punch: Prayer and Praise. This dynamic duo can shake things up and change your life. If you haven’t tapped into the power of prayer and praise, you’re missing a key factor in experiencing greater joy and peace.

Prayer and praise are two of the greatest privileges and highest honors we can access as believers. They are given to all of God’s children and they’re yours for the taking. Prayer and praise are very special, precious gifts that will put a lift in your step and add an extra dimension of happy to your heart.

Both can powerfully change perspective. Both can alter attitudes. Both can add a layer of gratitude and compel a more Christ-like nature. Prayer and praise change the way we look at others and can change the way others look at us. When put into practice, the act of both can have a profound effect on changing the way we see personal circumstances, as well as how we address those circumstances outside of ourselves.

Engaging in prayer and praise is always time well spent. Both propel us in the right direction. Both have the ability to put us in a right frame of mind. Both contribute to our witness and walk. Both make us stronger and bring confidence as we face each new day.

Worshipping our Heavenly Father through praise puts us in a more positive place and allows us to be a more effective instrument in God’s orchestra. Praise motivates and uplifts the heart. It takes the focus off self and turns the focus onto the Savior. It lifts to new heights and brings encouragement. It furthers faith and grows grace. It releases joy into the heart that can’t help but overflow into the hearts of others. It strengthens the soul and nourishes the mind. It powerfully reminds how incredibly powerful our Savior is. It is a gift God’s given to open our eyes to His most awesome nature so we can stand in awe of Him and give reverence that’s due Him.

Like praise, prayer draws us closer to our Savior and allows us to fully focus on the very One who deserves our attention. Prayer puts God in the driver’s seat. It draws us in and keeps our heart’s motives in check. It is a beautiful reminder of God’s great love and His desire to draw us closer to Himself. Prayer gives strength, brings comfort, and reminds us Who is in control. Prayer encourages us to slow down and sit in His presence while we wait for His answers. It tightens our relationship and fosters our faith. It beautifully expresses our brokenness in His completeness.

Friend, accepting Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior is the biggest key to changing your life. And once you’ve done that, prayer and praise are key to staying close to your Father so He can prepare you to be a powerful instrument in your witness and walk.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Psalm 150:1-6 beautifully encourage this practice:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”

I encourage you today to make prayer and praise a part of your daily life.

When your focus is praise and prayer, your Heavenly Father is exalted and you are better able to trust, to grow, to appreciate and to see the Savior in all of His awe and majesty. And your Savior is beyond amazing and most worthy of your prayers and your praise!

hspate@verizon.net

Driven to Discipleship? :: By Holly Spate

Discipleship
Do you ever get the feeling that this world is spinning out of control? Does it seem like earth’s clock is ticking and there’s something momentous around the corner? Are you grieved by the depravity that’s celebrated and settled into hearts? Do you feel the urge to get your house in order and your heart prepared while there’s still time?

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us to prepare and ready ourselves, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

1 Peter 1:13 states, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”

Every day, we grow that much nearer to the day of Christ’s return. As believers we are redeemed and promised eternal life with our awesome Creator…forever! We know that whatever trials we endure here and now are just a mere mark in a brief moment of time. We are not yet home.

This knowledge should bring hope to our hearts and peace to our minds. We should wake up each day with joy-filled hearts knowing that one day, maybe very soon, we will see our Savior face to face.

One day we will have the awesome blessing of spending the rest of our lives with Him in the perfect place He’s fashioned and prepared for us. A place like nothing we’ve experienced before. A place where there will be no more shedding of tears, no more setbacks, disappointments, sickness, evil or injustice. A place void of all darkness and sin. A place filled with the light and love of the One who created both.

Revelation 21:3-4 reminds us of this incredible time to come, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

To that day we look forward with great anticipation.

While we rejoice in these truths, our hearts can’t turn a blind eye to those who are still in the darknesswhose eternities are a question markwhose futures are not secure. There are so many who have not yet made the decision to trust in Christ. They are our friends, co-workers, strangers on the streets, and members within our own families. There are so many lost people in our worldpeople trying to fill the void with things that will never truly, never permanently satisfy.

There’s so much confusion, deception, and distraction vying for attention. So many idols soughtso many insignificant things filling hearts and minds. Yet nothing, absolutely nothing this world has to offer, can bring real peace. Nothing can truly change, satisfy, and complete the human heart apart from the One who created it. Only the One who formed it, breathed life into it, and keeps it beating, can save, mend, and complete it.

Sadly, most of us know too many people that have not made the decision to follow Christ. How do they cope with tragedy in their lives if they don’t have the Savior? How do they find forgiveness that settles the soul if they are void of the Only one that can forgive them of their sins? How do they make sense of a world that’s turned upside down? How do they cope with losing a loved one or calm themselves and keep a peaceful heart through all the storms of life?

Even the most moral of individuals, the most mature of believers, can find it hard to cope with all they see in the news and all the perversion and evil that’s invaded society. Now, just imagine if God wasn’t a part of the equation. Even for the believer, life can bear down hard. No one is immune to struggles this side of heaven.

Jesus himself said the following: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We all will have struggles, but believers have a peace and assurance in knowing that Jesus has overcome it all and that a bright future awaits! The Bible also serves as a blueprint, giving believers a clearer glimpse into the future, helping us better understand what’s happening now in our world. But what does the unbeliever have for true peace? What does the unbeliever have other than what the world has to offer that will one day fade away?

The darkness in our world desperately needs the light of truth to shine brightly. The world needs to see believers be effective disciples. Hope needs to be shared, prayers need to be prayed, and love needs to be sown and invested into people’s lives.

1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

We need to prepare ourselves so we can be effective disciples for Christ. We’re never to lose sight of the fact that eternity is FOREVEReveryone’s. Let that truth settle into your soul a bit.

Contemplate on the thought of “forever.’’ It’s actually mind boggling to think about! It’s hard to imagine that when we each breathe our last breath we will spend eternity with God or apart from him FOREVER. There is no decision that can be made after the fact. There is no more mercy given, no new day to start anew, no opportunity to accept Christ after that moment. No ability to turn things around and changeever. When that last breath is taken on earth, it will be settled, once and for all. The decision will be eternal.

John 3:17 makes it clear that God wants all to be saved. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Are you compelled in these dark days to be an effective disciple of the Savior? Are you ready to let God shine through you to a world in desperate need of His light, love and hope?

The need is great. The time is short. Are you ready to make an eternal difference today… tomorrowas long as you have breath?

Is your heart driven to discipleship?

hspate@verizon.net