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Once-a-Day Country Faith
By Zondervan Publishing
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Zondervan
All rights reserved.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. MATTHEW 18:19–20
Whether you're on the battlefield with hundreds of others, or there's just two or three of you on the road traveling, wherever you are, you can say a prayer and know you're being heard because that's what Scripture says. It's comforting to me. My daddy always quoted Matthew 18:19–20 so naturally. It's meant a lot to me over the years and still does.
I believe in the power of prayer, especially when two or more are gathered in his name. Every year country artists, along with record company and radio folks gather at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis for a seminar to work on Country Cares for St. Jude Kids®. There are also fundraisers held throughout the year by country radio stations. When I look at the number of children who are alive today because of Country Cares, I think that's the greatest accomplishment of country radio. This year before I went to Memphis, I visited my mother and told her, "I want you to pray for me and pray with me because it's such an important weekend." It's always comforting to me to know we can gather together to pray and God hears us.
Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. MATTHEW 20:32–34
I have many favorite Bible passages. This one is about praying bold prayers. Jesus knew the men were blind. It took bold faith to believe their sight could be restored. They didn't ask for simple happiness, they asked for a miracle—something bold. It reminds me to ask him to help me see his plan during the dark times. Don't ask to just pass the class with a C grade. Ask for an A. God responds to big, bold prayers in a big, bold way. Ask for the faith, the vision, the guidance. Pray beyond your dreams. Pray for God to take it to the supernatural. I believe we should pray for others this way. God doesn't ask for our prayers to be logical and practical. He says just have faith.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38–39
This Scripture says that you are always loved no matter what. I love all the commas in these verses—neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons. It's so powerful. Nothing in the world can separate us and that's so comforting. The thing that draws me to it as an adult is the way it reminds us of God's unconditional love. I love it because it basically says, "You can make a mistake and it's okay." There's nothing that can separate us from God's love. Just knowing that in my heart brings comfort. When I've messed up or when I need to know that I'm loved no matter what, I can think of that Scripture and feel peace.
They are important verses for everyone to hear. I feel like there are probably so many people out there that stay away from God and from God's love because they think: "I'm not good enough." To me, that's the devil talking and getting in your head saying, "You're not good enough. Look at all these things that you do. There's too many things in your past and in your present, too many things in the world that make you not good enough for God's love." That's just NOT true because this Scripture tells us absolutely nothing can separate us. Look at all of the examples that it uses—neither the present, nor future, nor powers, nor height nor depth. It just doesn't matter. It's just knowing that your creator loves you unconditionally.
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? MARK 8:36–37
These have always stood out as very potent words from Jesus. I think they are even more meaningful today in the society and culture we live in. Verse 36 explains the value of the soul and poses the question: "What good will it do for a person to gain the whole world but lose their soul?" This puts a lot of things in perspective in a world that more than ever borders on being totally material, transparent and phony. Verse 37 goes on to ask the question: "What will a man give in exchange for his own soul?" This question is timeless and, depending on how you believe and how you were raised, could be answered many ways. Speaking for myself, I value my soul over possessions even though I am as guilty as anyone of coveting a new truck or some other material thing. I think that's human nature. We just have to reel ourselves back in and read Jesus' words from Mark 8.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. JAMES 1:5–8
This is a favorite passage of mine because it explains asking God to answer your prayers in such a direct way. It also explains how important complete faith is and how God will not tolerate sitting on the fence. As a famous former fence sitter myself, I understand what it's like to go from asking for God's help without committing to staying faithful to trying to stay faithful when asking for God's favor. Like myself, I think most people read the first verse about praying for what they want while trying to overlook the verse about not wavering. But verse six is really the key to the three verses. And then if you go into verse eight, which reads, "Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do," it's fairly plain to see that no prayers are going to be answered without the faith that God demands.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." JEREMIAH 29:11
That Scripture has been my saving grace a lot of times, and I actually have it on a plaque in my house. Just when I think I've got everything figured out, and I know what's next, things will take a turn. I just have to walk by faith and realize that God knows what he is doing—and whatever happens is for my best. That really keeps you sane because nothing is consistent except God's promises and love for us.
Excerpted from Once-a-Day Country Faith by Zondervan Publishing. Copyright © 2013 Zondervan. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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