We are on the home stretch of Anticipate which ends on Easter Sunday.
Over the past several weeks I have been asking you to pray that God would do something special during these Forty Days of Anticipation. Specifically we have been asking God to work in us to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with and then to work through us and use us to introduce someone else to Jesus.
The Scriptures are pretty clear that God wants us to come to Him with confidence and ask Him for the things that are on our hearts. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Ask and believe, sounds simple, but it’s not always that simple.
Sometimes we come to God with the wrong motives and sometimes we come to Him with sin in our lives. Both of these can block our communication with God. But these are not insurmountable blockages. All of us have a sinful nature and many desires. We are filled with pride, selfishness and we have to admit that we all like to have our own way. But God is so good. He continually calls us back to Him. He said that if we confess our sin, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive our sin. So here’s what we need to do to move forward: repent or turn away from our sin and turn back toward God. Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Before we ask God to work through us we need to make sure we have let him work in us.
Once we’ve dealt with the inside, we are ready to ask God what He wants to do through us. In 1 John 5:14 it says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” “Doing things that are according to Gods will”– that’s the challenge. We tend to do things that are according to our will. So what are some of the things that we know are God’s will? Well, we know that God sent Jesus to save the world from sin and death. So, we can have confidence that when we pray for people who don’t yet know God and we ask God to help them turn to Him, we are praying according to His will. God wants people to be restored to a healthy relationship with Him. Here’s my question for you, who have you been praying for? If you don’t have someone in mind, then look around you and see who God has brought into your life. Once you’ve identified someone, ask yourself if you have taken the opportunity to talk with them about God? I know for many of you this is new and you’re scared but when you don’t have the words to say, ask God to give you the words. You can have confidence that God will give you the right things to say because He wants people to come to know Him. God has called us to proclaim Him, so He will give you what you need.
I’m inviting you to join me in praying that God will do a great work this Easter. Many people have already decided to be obedient to God through Baptism. Others have been talking to neighbours and friends and inviting them to the Easter service. What is God calling you to do? What are you Anticipating?
1. Ask God to show you the areas in your life that you need to surrendered to Him.
2. Confess your sins to God, be open and transparent because God already knows, He just wants you to own up.
3. God is already working in the lives of your friends and family so ask Him to show you what his is doing so you can join Him.
4. Ask God to fill you with the same Love for that person that He has.
5. Ask God to give you clarity so that you’ll know when to talk and what to say.
6. Ask God to lead you to someone who you should invite to this Easter service.
Forty Days of Focus
“Forty Days of Anticipation” or maybe we could have called it “Forty Days of Focus”. Have you ever noticed that when you spend any period of time focusing on one specific thing you become much more aware? For example, when you start to look for a new car and you discover the perfect make and model, you begin to notice that exact car everywhere you go. They were always there, but now that you are focusing on them, you have become much more aware and you notice things you just didn’t see before.
That’s what “Forty Days of Anticipation” has been. I have been asking you to pray for two things. First, I have asked you to spend time with God and ask Him what He wants to do in you. Are you as close to Him as you should be? Are there some unresolved issues in your life that God is challenging you to deal with? Has He been nudging you to do something that you have been putting off? Are you giving Him control of your life or is He only an observer looking on from the sidelines? As you’ve been praying and focusing on what God wants to do in you, what has He been telling you? The Second thing I’ve been asking you to pray about is to ask God what He wants to do through you. If you have asked Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord then you have made the decision to give control of your life over to God. So, what does God want you to do with your life? Who has He been bringing to mind? Who should you consider spending more time with? Is there someone who may be waiting for you to tell your story? God has given us the task of introducing Him to the world. Who is in your world that still needs to know Him?
“Anticipate” is taking forty days to focus on God and ask Him what He wants to do in you and through you.
- Ask God to help you focus your thoughts on Him more. To be more aware of what He’s doing.
- Ask God to examine you and make you very aware of what you need to work on or surrender.
- Recommit the control of your life to God. What does God want you to give up that’s been crowding Him out?
- With a focused mind, run through the list of people in your life and ask God which one of these people you should be sharing your story with. If God can work in you He can work in them.
- Ask God to make Himself known to those people and then look for opportunities to share with them. Ask God to prepare their hearts and ask Him to give you courage.
Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
Through the years I have learned that I appreciate people who say what they mean and mean what they say. It’s not always easy to hear those things when it’s about me but at least I know where I stand. I’ve heard it said that if someone always agrees with you, you can never fully trust that they ever agree with you.
Many people are afraid to speak this way. They try hard to be sensitive and not offend. They couch their words and tiptoe around the hard issues. They speak in vague terms or with polite niceties and you never know for sure if they are for something or opposed to it. That’s the problem, knowing what they really think. Sometimes I just want to holler, WHAT DO YOU WANT? Say what you mean and mean what you say so we can deal with the real issues.
People carry this over into their prayers. They talk to God in rehearsed phrases and try to say the correct things. They speak in such generalities that I don’t know what their saying, does God? Of course God knows us completely and He knows what we really mean but I think God must often what to holler, SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.
You might be able to sneak one past me but you can’t sneak anything past God so don’t try. When you pray, be specific and be real. When you ask God to bless all the missionaries you have really said nothing. Which missionaries, what situation, what need are you asking for?
We are approaching the half-way point of “Anticipate”. We have been asking God to do a work in us and through us. It’s time to get specific. What do you need God to do in you? What are you struggling with? What is it that you have tried to change on your own and couldn’t do it? And who do you want God to work in? What friend or family member? Which person are you asking about and what do you want God to do and when do you want Him to do it? God is not our servant doing our bidding, we are His. Yet, He has asked us to pray. He said “we have not because we ask not”. He said that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. We know that it is God’s will that our lives come in line with His so that we honour Him in the things we do. We also know that He wants all men and women to come to know Him. So if you are praying for those things you are praying according to His will.
So when you Pray this week, say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Ask God to show you what areas in your life you need to clean up or turn over to Him.
- When He shows you, ask Him for the strength to do what He asks.
- Pray for those in your circle of influence that don’t yet know Jesus.
- Be specific, if someone needs to hit bottom in order to face God then pray for that.
- If your heart is breaking for someone you care about then tell God that.
- Be specific and be real but Pray.