Epping News
  • An Honest Prayer Life

    I was raised in a Christian household, and had been praying almost since the day I had learned how to talk. But if I were to be completely honest, I'd have to say that I did most of my praying when I was in trouble, and very little praying otherwise. In other words, most of my prayer time was spent praying what the Bible calls "crisis-prayers". The prophet Jeremiah gives an account of a period in Israel's history when God's people were not wholly devoted to Him, and He only heard from them when they were in distress. God tells Jeremiah, "I'm not going to listen to a single syllable of their crisis-prayers." (Jeremiah 11:14 MSG) It saddens me every time I read this verse, because it reminds me of how shallow a relationship I used to have with the Lord myself. As I look back, I realize now why my prayers were, for the most part, anemic and powerless.

    When I made a quality decision to get serious about my relationship with God, I began studying the Scriptures, having a desire to know Him in every way that He could be known. That's when I discovered that our God desires to have a deeply personal relationship with His children, and He expects them to love Him, seek Him, and serve Him with everything we have. When we make this kind of commitment to God, one of the blessings we receive in return is the privilege of getting "ready answers" to our prayers.

    Jesus said: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7 NKJV) One of the reasons why many believers today are not hearing clearly and consistently from God is that they are not "abiding" in Him. Abiding in Christ means that we give Him the best of our time and energy each day. He is the first one we think of and speak to each morning. He is the One we consult about everything, and the One who gets to have the final say in all of our decisions and choices. And He and His Word have first place in our lives.

    Don't be the kind of believer who only prays "crisis-prayers" and gets sorry results. God has so much more for you than that, and He will share it with you if you give Him your best. Right now, make the decision to abide in Him all the rest of your days, and watch what He will do in and through your prayer life!

  • Are you angry?

    “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” - Matthew 5:21-22

    Jesus talks to us about the seriousness of anger, so what are some ways that we can put this into practice?

    Realize in God’s eyes, we are guilty of the worst crime against man:  murder, when we are angry with our brother, when we have a contemptuous attitude, or slander our brother, when we are critical of our brother, this is murder in God’s eyes.

    Realize the times that we are most vulnerable to the sin of anger or contempt for our fellowman.  Here are a few:

    Fatigue.  When we are tired, we tend to get angry a lot easier.

    Discouragement.  How often have we seen great athletes trying their best to win, then everything falls apart near the end of the game.  All of a sudden fights break out. Why? They’re discouraged about how things are going; they lose their cool and fall into the sin of anger.

    Someone you love hurts you.  A spouse finds out their mate has been cheating. Anger rises up and everyone loses his or her cool.

    Fear.  Someone pulls out in front of you on the freeway, and you feel your life is threatened.  We tend to be lose our cool and call that person names.

    Here’s the point. Keep your guard up when going through a time of stress, times of great fatigue, times of great discouragement, or when someone hurts you and you are afraid.

    When you find yourself in a situation and your temper begins to rise, and you want to unload on somebody, ask yourself, “Do I want Jesus to hear this?”  I assure you, He will.  Then say to the Lord, “Father, help me get hold of myself.”  When you blow it – and all of us do – seek God’s forgiveness.  And if you unloaded on someone and they have felt your wrath, always apologize for losing your cool. There is nothing wrong with confronting a person who has done wrong. That is “tough love,” but losing our cool is always wrong in God’s eyes

  • Suffering and Setbacks

    I just recently started to comb through a couple of books I had read. One of them talked about the idea of God having a plan for our life that is greater than any idea we could imagine. The journey toward greater things is almost always marked with setbacks  and suffering. Some of you may be experiencing those setbacks right now. Some may be experiencing some sort of pain or suffering as you have started to move in the direction God has for you. I want to encourage you with this, suffering and setbacks are not and should not be considered a detour... they should be considered a landmark. Often times when negative things creep up, it's an indication that we are doing something positive. Something right.

    In 2 Kings 4, we read about a story of a woman who always showed hospitality to a man named Elisha. Elisha was a man that knew that God was a God that desired for us to experience His greatness. This woman was always showing hospitality to Elisha whenever he went through her town. One day, God wanted to repay her for her generosity over time to Elisha. He noticed she did not have a son which she had longed for her entire life, so Elisha told her that God wanted to bless her with a son. She couldn't believe that God would want to bless her with something like this. She was in awe. Fast forward, the child she was promised had come and is now a young boy, except this boy lay dead on her bed. Her faith shattered.

    She travelled immediately to go and see Elisha and wept at his feet. She asked why he got her hopes up, why did God bless her with something only to have her heart broken. She was experiencing suffering and setbacks. 

    Do you feel like this? Do you feel like you have been following God and feel like you are doing everything He has called you to do? Do you feel like you have experienced His blessing, but when heartache comes you see it as a sign of His blessing be lifted from you? 

    When stuff like this happens, we need to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to have MORE faith in Jesus. To rely on Him and His word EVEN MORE! The story goes on to show us that Elisha went to the house, prayed over the boy, and the boy was raised from the dead. How many of you are seeing the trials you are in as an opportunity to trust God even more? Or are you cursing God because of the situation you may be in? Not one ounce of your faith is being wasted. Trust God through EVERY circumstance, both the blessing and the suffering. He is a God that is full of love and compassion and He wants you to trust Him no matter what you may be facing.

  • Food for thought

    James 1:5 – 8. It says: "If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."

    That last phrase is crucial. Many times when we pray, when we seek God’s direction, we don’t fully commit or move forward with God. We keep our options open.

    We don’t fully invest in generosity, holding back just in case it rains and God doesn’t provide. We don’t fully commit to community or what He has called us to, just in case we got it wrong. This leaves us feeling in control, but it also keeps us from fully experiencing the life God has for us and has called us to.

    NLC'ers, if you are facing a tough decision in your life but feel shackled by your inability to make a decision, remember these words

    Philippians 4:6-7 says this, "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life"

    Bring your concerns to God, allow Him to guide you in your decision. He will give you a peace that surpasses our understanding and give you the courage to make whatever decision you need to make. Try it! Talk to God and see how He comes through for you!

  • The Overflow of the Heart

    “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”  Matthew 12:34, 35 (NIV)

    What is the condition of your heart?  Your heart’s condition depends on the things you allow into it. Your thoughts and attitudes ultimately shape the deepest part of your being.  No matter what your circumstances are, if your heart is right, you’re going to be okay. But if wrong things in your heart go unattended, they will become deeply rooted and harder to deal with. The quicker you can detect a wrong heart condition and get it straightened out, the better off you are.

    Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Notice that it doesn’t say somebody else will guard your heart. It says you’re in charge of guarding your own heart. That is pretty much a full-time job because you don’t know what will arise on any given day. You must be constantly working with the Holy Spirit to keep your heart right.

    Jesus gives our heart condition serious attention in the scriptures.  He is saying, “If you are careless with your tongue—quarrelling, complaining, murmuring, tattling—you have a serious heart problem.”   When your heart condition is not right with God, it goes very deep.

    Whenever I allow something ridiculous to come out of my mouth, I've got to stop and ask, “Do I have anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, or discontentment ruling in my heart?”  Allow God to show you the condition of your heart and then let Him pluck out the roots of pride and selfishness. God wants to get at all the junk in your heart, root it out, and heal you completely.

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