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“For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.”  Hosea 6:6 Amplified Version

Hosea speaks of God’s desire to have a deep relationship with us, rooted in God’s love and not in sacrifice made by an individual.  To truly know God means to have that deep relationship with Him, and not merely know about Him.  Prayer is a characteristic of that love.  In fact, it is impossible to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Great Command–Luke 10:27) without an ongoing relationship that is rooted in prayer.  It is not enough to say “I know God will always be there for me.”  While that statement is true of our God who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” such an attitude buries the essence of God’s desired relationship with us.  Prayer provides for that ongoing communication with the Father.  As we listen to the voice of the One who sent His only son to die on our behalf, our desire should be to respond with a heart of service and love.  Desire His love.  Desire a close and ongoing relationship with the Father.  That is His desire for us.

 

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“Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 Amplified Version

The word “pray” as used here in the Greek (deomai) literally means a prayer with urgency. It reflects perseverance and is based on a deep heartfelt need. It is not a casual ask. Likewise, the Amplified Version reflects that urgency by using the Greek word ekballō, meaning to “force out” or “thrust”. As such the prayer is for the Lord to move hard and with urgency on the hearts of believers to force them out into the harvest field. It reflects more than just a casual ask of the Lord to send workers.

Many of us would rather someone else be called into the harvest field to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). But the harvest field is ripe. Time is getting short. Are we praying this prayer? Are we praying with urgency? Are we praying with a listening ear? In Isaiah 6:8, the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? Isaiah replied, “Here am I; send me.”

The harvest field awaits. Are we listening? Are we willing to answer the call?

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“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”  I John 4:13 ESV

God’s desire to know us and for us to know Him is great.  His way is simple and yet we often miss deep times of communion with Him because we neglect the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.  It is through His Spirit that we know we live in Him and He in us.  It is the Holy Spirit who will lead us away from the things that separate us from God and into His presence if we will let Him.  But we cannot be led by the Holy Spirit unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit unless we are willing to spend time with Him in prayer and in listening to His still voice.  A Spirit filled life is a life of power.  That power is a reflection of our prayer.

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The hunger for the Lord’s work in lives and nations was witnessed by us in a recent trip to Burundi.  We currently have three teaching groups of pastors and leaders in this tiny nation and will soon be adding a fourth.  One of our teaching teams represent youth leaders from throughout the nation.  In June, we gathering in Bujumbura for a two day training.  We were amazed when we discovered that three of the youth leaders had ridden their bicycles nearly 220 km over mountainous terrain to reach us.  Their travel was on old one speed bicycles through hot weather and dangerous passes.  They came hungry for the Word of God and to be trained as pastors and Christian leaders.

We know the Holy Spirit led them to us.  They had heard His still small voice saying, “Go,” and they responded.  So great is their love for Christ and for His Word that they were willing to persevere through major obstacles and hardships to reach us.  Our prayers are with each of these and for those many others who traveled many hours on matatus (minibuses) to be taught the Word of God.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

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Rwanda Breakthrough

For over a year we have been praying for a prayer team to cover Grace Extended Ministries International in Rwanda.  The Lord has spoken to our hearts on several occasions reminding us to wait until a prayer team has been extablished in each country where we have been called to do extensive ministry before we proceed with the Lord’s long term call for us in that nation.  The reason is that the spiritual warfare is too great and the pushback too strong.  We know that to operate in the Lord’s plan but away from His timing and in his steps will lead us to unnecessary hardship and struggle. 

We have been waiting to extablish a teaching base in Rwanda similar to the teaching bases we have in several other east Africa nations.  After months of prayer by our intercessory prayer teams, we recently received word that not one but two prayer teams had been formed in different parts of the nation, with two more on the way. 

God has blown us away with this breakthrough in Rwanda.  He not only heard our prayer but multiplied the blessing.  Obviously there is much work to be done in Rwanda through Grace Extended Ministries International.  We are seeking the Lord for next steps while praying for our existing intercessory prayer teams and the two on the way.

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Building the Foundation

“For everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words and does them, I will show you what he is like.  He is like a man building a house, who dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock;  and when a flood arose, the torrent broke against that house and could not shake or move it, because it had been securely built or founded on a rock.  But he who merely hears and does not practice doing My words is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, against which the torrent burst, and immediately it collapsed and fell, and the breaking and ruin of that house was great.”  Luke 7:47-49

God is earnestly calling His people to prayer and to hear His voice and to respond to His instructions.  Many of us claim a deep desire to experience God, but few of us are willing to take the time listen to His voice and follow the Lord’s leading.  Our prayers are often more like an invitation to God to come and be a part and bless what we are doing.  Listening and then reacting to God’s voice in following Him is the prescription to building a strong foundation.  The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spririt.  If we truly believe that, we will want to give that temple a strong foundation.  That foundation is found in listening and obedient prayer. 

In this world we have been told that we will have tribulation (John 16:33).  The question is how will we stand?  Will we stand on the foundation of the rock which is rooted in prayer, or will we seek to stand on our own strength and get blown away by the disrupting torrents that come?  God tells us to listen to His voice and respond to His call in His way.

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Grace Extended Ministries invites you to “Take 5.”  Take 5 involves three major components, but you may discover more as you pray.

1.   List 5 people who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and personally commit to pray for them each day until they ask Jesus into their lives.  Take five minutes each day (one minute for each person) and pray for them.  Ask 5 of your friends to do the same.

2.   Take 5 minutes each day and pray for God’s Holy Spirit to mightily move upon the area in which you live in the weeks and months ahead.  Ask 5 of your friends to do the same.

 3.  Take 5 minutes each day and be silent before the Lord, listening to His heart as He speaks to yours.  Then follow His direction for your life.  Ask 5 of your friends to do the same. 

 As we Take 5 together, our efforts will multiply exponentially.  God is eager to move mountains.  He’s waiting for us to respond to His call.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

 

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