Faith

Examine Me and Know My Heart

Risky prayers. Can prayer really be risky? Is it supposed to be? Any conversation we have with an Almighty and holy God should never be business as usual. An encounter with God should be life-altering and soul-shaping. Most of the time our prayers are fairly casual and safe. “Help me.” “Bless me.” Protect me.” “Give me…”

Risky prayers have consequences. They stretch me and grow me. They change me and change my life. They align me with God’s purposes and bring the adventure, fullness, and results in my life thatGod intends for me. If you really pray these risky prayers, you and everyone your life touches will be impacted because you personally have taken the risky challenge and opportunity to meet with God.

Message Notes

Prayer is risky business.

Risky prayers have consequences.

Three Kinds of Risky Prayers:

  1. Confessional Prayers allow God to breathe into your life and reveal what is hindering your growth and usefulness.

  2. Transformational Prayers allow God to give us insights that shape and mold us.

  3. Missional Prayers align us with God’s purposes.

David prayed a risky, confessional prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24

Search my heart. Show me what is not right.

Pray it. Listen for God to speak. God will draw near and will show you things that are not right—not to condemn you, but to draw you close.

Uncover my fears.

What I fear the most reveals where I trust God the least.

Expose my sins.

Show me anything that is inconsistent with your truth.

What have others been trying to tell me?

What have I rationalized for some time?

Where am I most defensive?

Lead me in the way of everlasting life.

A life that pleases you, builds others, gives me treasure that will not decay, and no regrets.

Bottom Line

The truth sets me free. My heart protects and deceives me; God tells the truth.

Next Steps:

  1. Find a quiet time to spend with God and pray this prayer. Write down what God says.

Dear God,

Examine me. I want to see in me what You see in me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24

I need your grace. Help me find my identity in you.
Amen
— Risky Business Prayers - Examine Me

2. Acknowledge and confess the wrong things he shows you.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you immediately when you drift away so you can live a lifestyle of repentance.

Goodwill Towards Men | Good Will When I Am Afraid of What God is Asking Me to Do

The angels announced it: “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men!”

Goodwill means favor and kindness, and the Infant in the manger was the bridge of favor and kindness between God and man. The Christ Child grew to truly be the Savior of the world, the tangible and literal expression of God’s favor to us.

In the moments we feel most insecure, confused, or needy, through Jesus we can experience the kindness of God. In our moments of joy, he rejoices with us. He is God’s Goodwill toward men.

An angel interrupted a teenage girl named Mary’s world to tell her God had a job for her. The job was so big and incredible that Mary was dazed and confused. She was afraid. But as she decided to respond in obedience despite her fear, she discovered that God was looking on her with favor. The interruption was actually God’s invitation to experience his goodwill. Out of this came significance she never could have imagined.

Message Notes

Why are we so often afraid of God’s plans?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
II Timothy 1:7

Because his interruptions are often inconvenient.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!”
Luke 1:26-29

Because his purpose is often so different than our plans.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israelforever; his Kingdom will never end!
Luke 1:31-33

“But how can this happen?”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.For the word of God will never fail.”

God says. “Outcome is my responsibility. Obedience is your responsibility.”

Mary chose faith over fear.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
Luke 1:38

God is going to interrupt you with an invitation for an inconvenient opportunity to be a part of a really big plan and purpose.

God takes full responsibility for a life completely surrendered to him.

Bottom Line

Outcome is God’s responsibility. Obedience is mine.

Action Step

  1. Identify an area of opportunity/invitation that looks frightening to you.

  2. Pray and ask God for insight on how this is actually his goodwill and to you.

Finding Freedom | Get Up and Go

No one was born to be a slave. Yet slavery takes many forms, and oppression has many flavors. We all have experienced it. It can take only a moment to set a slave free from a slave owner, but years to get the slavery out of the person. Turns out, freedom is a long term work, and it comes from the inside out. Jesus has created a way for us to be truly free. Outside and in. You can find freedom from all that enslaves you

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Moses and the people of Israel tried everything else first before they got the courage to head for freedom. We find ourselves in the same position. But our freedom depends on us wanting to be free deeply enough that we trust God to meet us as we go.

Message Notes

Moses and the people of Israel tried everything else first before they got the courage to head for freedom. We find ourselves in the same position. But our freedom depends on us wanting to be free deeply enough that we trust God to meet us as we go.

The strategy God chooses to use every single time he invites us to confront our bullies is whatever we have.

Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?” Exodus 4:2

Confrontation is key to freedom.

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go…’”Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lordand I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:1-2

You’ll be tempted to choose compromise over confrontation.

Exodus 5:19-23

Fear is the currency of oppression. If you participate in fear, you will either oppress or be oppressed.

Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today.” Exodus 14:13

The only thing that will drive out fear is perfect love.

Perfect love drives out fear. I John 4:18

You will only get up and go to freedom when you believe God will be with you.

God answered, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12

Bottom Line

Coming to the end of ourselves is the first step to freedom—don’t be afraid.

Action Steps

  1. Are you in a situation where there is seemingly no good way out of the mess? Are you stuck? Are you working outside your ability to pull off goals and control situations? Name them.

  2. What do you fear? Name it.

  3. Get up and GO. Actually give an invitation.

Finding Freedom | It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

No one was born to be a slave. Yet slavery takes many forms, and oppression has many flavors. We all have experienced it. It can take only a moment to set a slave free from a slave owner, but years to get the slavery out of the person. Turns out, freedom is a long term work, and it comes from the inside out. Jesus has created a way for us to be truly free. Outside and in. You can find freedom from all that enslaves you

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1


It’s amazing what pain can do—pain wakes us up to our slavery and can make us willing to unlearn the ways of Egypt (our slavery) and agree with God about who we are. But the grip of Egypt is not easily released. Freedom has to come from the inside first. 

Message Notes

Exodus 2:1-10

The pain of slavery is deep within us all.
But we have grown up learning to mask our symptoms.

Pain is intended to wake up us to our situation and to God’s love.
Pain is intended to be redemptive.

Exodus 2:11-21

Moses tried to bring freedom his own way, and he failed miserably.

Before Moses could become the deliverer, he had to unlearn Egypt.

It took a whole lot of pain, desert, and empty for him to unlearn the ways of slavery.

Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.
Exodus 2:23

The God of Abraham invites us to empty ourselves, and learn the way of freedom.

Bottom Line

It’s amazing what pain can do—and it always get worse before it gets better.

Action Step

  1. Identify areas of pain in your life where God might be trying to wake you up.

  2. Identify what you need to “unlearn” in order to leave slavery behind you?

  3. Say the prayer from your heart several times a day:

    “God,
    help me set aside everything I think I know
    about myself, my brokenness,
    my spiritual path, and especially You,
    so I may have an open mind
    and a new experience of freedom.
    Please let me know the truth.
    May it set me free.
    Your will be done.
    Amen.”

Finding Freedom | The Ultimate Exodus

No one was born to be a slave. Yet slavery takes many forms, and oppression has many flavors. We all have experienced it. It can take only a moment to set a slave free from a slave owner, but years to get the slavery out of the person. Turns out, freedom is a long term work, and it comes from the inside out. Jesus has created a way for us to be truly free. Outside and in. You can find freedom from all that enslaves you.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

The Israelites forgot who they were and settled in, exchanging their values slowly but surely for the values of Egypt. For years they thought this was life, and didn’t realize they had become slaves. This is the story of our lives as well. We were created for freedom, but we will always return to slavery unless we remember and hold onto our identity.

Message Notes

How slavery starts

The story of the Exodus (“the going out”) is covered starting in Genesis 47 through the first five books of the Bible.

Slavery is a tricky business. Many people who are trapped in its grip don’t even know it.

“Meanwhile, the people of Israel settled in the region of Goshen in Egypt. There they acquired property, and they were fruitful, and their population grew rapidly.” Genesis 47:27

We were created for freedom, but we will always return to slavery unless we remember and hold onto our identity.

Freedom is a long-term, inside out work.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Guard who you are in Christ.

Watch your values.
Stand firm.

Action Steps

  1. Consider your values over the past years.
    How have you seen values change around you?
    Have you slowly bought into something you should not have?
    Where are you tempted to trade in your identity and “settle in?”

  2. Take a “Who I Am In Christ” card, and affirm it daily (or follow the link below). Let it shape your lifestyle.

Bottom Line

We were created for freedom, but we will always return to slavery unless we remember and hold on to our identity.

Take This Job and Love It!

Having a great attitude toward our job is necessary no matter who we are—
White collar, blue collar, no collar.
Executives, homemakers, retirees, and students. 

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

Message Notes

Having a great attitude toward our jobs applies to everyone—white collar, blue collar, no collar, executives, homemakers, retired, and students. 

What I Have Learned from the Jobs I Have Had:

  • If you’re willing to do anything - that’s not immoral or illegal - you’ll always have a job.

  • Jobs don’t initially come looking for you. You have to go looking for them.

  • Success requires submitting to authority, even if you have a bad boss.

  • When no one will hire you, you can hire yourself.

  • If you care about people, there will be something in every job that makes it worthwhile.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.Colossians 3:23-24

What We Can Learn From Paul:

  • WHO you are is more important than WHAT you do.

  • Expecting appreciation from people will lead to frustration.

  • Change the environment by changing your perspective.

  • Doing what you do well brings honor to God.