James 1: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~NLT
Game 5 of the World Series was just crazy. We were traveling and started the game streaming it on our phone. Of course only I, being the passenger, watched it, while Sam kept his eyes glued to the road. When the Astros went down by several runs at the beginning of the game, even the announcers gave bleak odds for winning against the Dodgers pitcher. However, in true Houston Astros fashion, they came back….well, came back, and then gave it up, and came back, and gave it up and so on and so forth until the bottom of the 10th, in which they won on a walk off hit. I was absolutely exhausted after watching such back and forth, but it was then I realized something. As they were jumping on each other, high fiving, and rubbing their heads in disbelief, I realized this is similar to what James 1 talks about. It’s the trouble times, that make the end so much sweeter. It’s looking back to taste victory after such trying circumstances. That is what God calls us to do. The Astros would have taken a win in whatever fashion, but having to push through trials and upsets to get there, made the victory taste that much sweeter. May we as believers remember the same is true for us. Trial and tribulations will come, but when we have persevered, our victory awaits in heaven.
One of the joys of living in the hill country is that your closest neighbors become the deer in your yard. This morning I was doing the "morning get ready rush", and flying down the driveway to take Branson to school. I look up to notice four deer standing between our driveway and the county road we live on. There were three on our side of the fence and one on the county road side of the fence and I saw traffic coming from both directions. I knew if I went any further I would more than likely force the deer to the county road, endangering their lives and potentially causing a wreck. So I slowed and I watched. I waited and waited until both directions were clear and then I went. Three deer ran into our pasture and the one ran across the road safely. Then God just spoke and said, "Kasey, that's what I am to you. I see the big picture and can plan accordingly. I watch the traffic, and the obstacles, and I know when to push you to cross." May we always remember that God has a much larger perspective than our own. Thank you Lord.
Usually when I speak publicly on topics, I give a long introduction about why you should trust me. This may include sharing about my degrees in counseling, or my license as an LPC. It could be an exclusive training I’ve been through, or a new strategy for behavioral management.
The 30 Day Gift is different. It has nothing to do with a degree I earned, a training I attended, or a classroom I managed. I wish I could say that I had 30 years experience and have researched the topic all of my life…but I haven’t. What I’m going to share with you today is a personal journey. A journey God has taken me on in the last two years, which has shifted the course of my spiritual life.
It was a typical morning and I was getting two kids ready and walking out the door, rushing to get to work on time. That morning was no different. Getting to my office was a relief because it meant everyone was accounted for, and that I could have my first literal quiet time of the day. With this quiet time, I usually read a verse of the day, drank my coffee, and reviewed the emails that had already started piling up.
This day, I opened my Bible to Daniel 6…. The satraps and governors, acting out in jealousy of Daniel's favor, had convinced King Darius to set a decree that banned the people from praying to anyone or anything other than the King. Starting in verse 10 “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before.”
We know how this story ends…because Daniel broke the decree set forth by the King, he accepted the punishment of being thrown in the lions' den. However he did not die, and neither did his prayers. God heard him, and the King witnessed the saving power of Daniel's God when he shut the mouths of the lions and spared Daniel's life.
Listen to the King’s new decree starting in verse 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
You know, some quiet times become a more like check-off-the-list homework, than times that really stick in my heart and my mind like they should. However, this one stuck. In fact the next few days, I kept going back to it. What struck me was that Daniel did not hesitate to pray to God, even when facing death by lions. It doesn’t say after the decree was set he pondered his options. No, it says he went to his window and prayed as he always had. Prayer was something he didn’t want to live without, so if it took dying to keep doing it, he was willing to die.
I thought about my generation, and the world today. If the president or other leader set in motion a similar order, I was discouraged to think about how few people it would genuinely impact. Add the threat of being killed by lions and I think even more would give up the gift of prayer. I began to discover that this generation, myself included, had become so self reliant that we didn’t see prayer as a necessity. Somewhere, prayer turned into an option, and need based.
That’s when God went to work in my mind and placed the burden of prayer revival in my heart. Over the next week, the idea of giving the gift of prayer turned into this giant idea. Take the God-given gift of prayer, do it more, and give the present of prayer to others. That is the beginning of this hopefully long and living journey. I eagerly await new directions it takes me, and new people to take the journey with.