Joy to the World!

It’s CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN 2013 here on GUWG, where from now until December 25 we’re preparing our hearts for the arrival of the Savior of the World.

As I sat down to write this post, I felt a combination of fear, dread and grumbliness. The (admittedly lame) reason? I suddenly realized that I have approximately 2,894,327 days’ worth of work to finish before the end of the year.

God wants to replace our fear, dread and grumbles with JOY. Here’s what the angel said to the shepherds when he announced Jesus’ birth:

ACTS Now!

This week here on GUWG we focused on prayer for the easily distracted (like me) using the acronym ACTS as a guide.

Here’s a summary of what we covered. Pray through it right now with all your heart, soul and mind.

ACTS Now

When you pray, do you ever find yourself getting distracted?

You know, you start off with a hearty “Our Father” and maybe even a “who art in heaven” but then your mind starts to drift off to all the stuff you gotta do and then maybe some dumb 70s song that’s stuck in your head and then maybe sports and then …

Wait, where was I?

Live Life to the Fullest. Now. Please.

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

I’ve shared this before, but I feel compelled to share it again. Chokes me up every time.

The following essay was written by a twelve-year-old girl named Brooke Bronkowski. Read every word. Please.

Be Careful

Be very careful, then, how you live –
not as unwise, but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity
because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15)

Click here and watch this highly educational video.

Like Charlie’s brother, way too often I make careless, stupid choices that end in pain and regret. Symbolically speaking, I’ll dangle my fingers in places I know I shouldn’t, only to have the mouth of evil clamp down and then laugh in my face. (My apologies to Chompin’ Charlie — he’s actually kind of cute.)

The verse immediately preceding the one quoted above tells us how we can avoid wandering into the mouth of evil. It says:

Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
(Ephesians 5:14)

That’s exactly my problem. I let the world lull me to sleep and then I stumble around in a zombie-like daze making dumb decisions and doing dumb things.

So, what should we do? To avoid getting chomped, it’s time to . . .

WAKE UP

Happy NEW Year!

I am making everything new!
(Revelation 21:5)

I love this day.

A fresh start. A clean slate. Endless possibilities. Everything NEW.

The new year has been very good to me so far. In the 23 minutes that I’ve been awake, I’ve managed to avoid messing anything up too badly.

To help keep that perspective of new-ness as long as possible, I decided to start off the new year by reading every single Bible verse that contains that awesome word — “new.” Here’s a mere sampling of what I found. Pray through each and every word, asking the Holy Spirit to drive these truths deep into your heart, soul and mind as we head into 2010 . . .

New Every Morning. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23)

New Heart and New Spirit. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

New Song. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. (Psalm 98:1)

New Perspective. Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

New Covenant. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20)

New Command. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

New Life. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)

New Way. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)

New Creation. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

New Self. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

New Heavens and New Earth. Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

What should our response be to all this wonderful new-ness? Take it from Jesus’ close friend, Peter:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—
kept in heaven for you.
(1 Peter 1:3-4)

PRASE GOD FOR THE NEW!

Prayer Week Wrap-up

We spent the past week here on GUWG exploring the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW of prayer. But we’ve barely scratched the surface of this vast subject.

Here are some additional resources you might want to check out.

The Bible

As Matthew Henry said: “The Bible is a letter God has sent to us; prayer is a letter we send to him.” Read it, mediate on it, pray through it.

For some of the world’s greatest prayers, turn to:

  • Abraham’s prayer for Sodom (Genesis 18)
  • Moses’ song of thanks (Exodus 15)
  • Solomon’s dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:22-61)
  • Jehoshaphat’s prayer for victory (2 Chronicles 20)
  • Job’s confession (Job 42)
  • A song of praise (Psalm 18)
  • A cry for help (Psalm 22)
  • Praise for God’s enduring love (Psalm 136)
  • Daniel’s prayer for Israel (Daniel 9)
  • Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55)
  • The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6)
  • Jesus’ prayer for his followers (John 17)
  • Jesus’ prayer in the garden (Matthew 26:36-44)
  • Stephen’s prayer at his death (Acts 7:59-60)
  • Paul’s prayer of praise (Ephesians 1)
  • Peter’s prayer of thanks (1 Peter 1:3-5)
  • Prayer for overflowing love (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13)
  • Great prayer closers (Ephesians 3:20-21, Hebrews 13:20-21, Jude 1:24-25)

Other Resources

There are thousands of books on prayer. Here are some of the ones that have helped me become less of a prayer nincompoop:

  • The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer (100+ essays on virtually every imaginable aspect of prayer)
  • Prayer by Phillip Yancey (practical insights into the mystery and practice of prayer)
  • The Pocket Book of Prayers by Jim Palmer (bite-sized prayers from spiritual giants like St. Francis, Martin Luther and Mother Teresa)
  • Praying with the Psalms by Eugene Peterson (daily reflections exploring the beauty and anguish of David’s prayers)
  • All the Prayers in the Bible by Herbert Lockyer (exactly what the title says — a collection of more than 650 prayers straight out of God’s word)
  • Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels (putting God first in today’s frantic world)
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan (love = the key to prayer and our relationship with God)

Thanks for joining us this week!