Prayer and Action

I say it constantly, that prayer is power, and it is, but too often that is where it stops.

People lift up their troubles and fears with the hopes that God will just suddenly make everything better. What we as Christians need to realize is that a lot of times we must take action in order for our prayers to be answered

If you look through scriptures, this fact is played out time and time again.

In Exodus 17 when the Israelites are battling the Amalekites, Moses must keep the staff of God raised over his head in order for the Israelites to triumph, and when his hands fall, the enemies of God begin to win. In Joshua 6, they are required to march around the city of Jericho seven times and let out a cry of victory before the walls would come crumbling down so God’s promise would be fulfilled. And my personal favorite on this topic is the parting of the Red

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. -Exodus 14:13-17

I could go on and on with examples but I think y’all get where I am going with this. Prayer is indeed power. The fellowship and council of Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon that we can wield. But He is not a magic genie that will just magically whisk our problems.

Look, the bottom line is that we serve an all powerful God who wants to bless us beyond measure, but He expects us to take action, and sometimes yes, the action is to wait or do nothing.
If you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered, ask Him what He wants you to do. The hard part is, when He gives you the answer, and He will, you actually have to do it.

He will not solve all of our problems for us. He wants to use us, to bless us

When we put this fact into practice, we are able to be blessed beyond anything we dared dream.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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I was on my way to work today and I started to think about the disciples. How incredible it must have been to walk with Jesus, knowing that you were being guided by God Himself. These people gave up everything that they had ever known and held dear to follow Jesus, because they knew without a doubt that this Man was the Messiah. I mean the hope and encouragement that these people must have felt and experienced,  knowing that they were walking, talking and learning from God Himself.  Wow!

Then one night…… He is captured, taken into custody and sentenced to be beaten and crucified. I have know idea what must have been going on inside of the disciples as all of this is going on.

The word tells us how scared they all were; they ran, they hid,  and Peter denied even knowing Him while He was still alive. Personally, I like to think that they still had hope, knowing that He was God., and that they were waiting for something amazing to happen…. but it didn’t.

Before everyone’s eyes Jesus took His last breath and died.

Can you image what they must have felt in that moment?

A tidal wave of hopelessness and fear just engulfing them as they gaze at their conquering hero’s body hanging there beaten, broken and lifeless. Their entire world crashing down around them before their very eyes, with the thrust of a spear.

Little did they know at the time, but God was about to change everything in a way that they never could have predicted or even dared dream.

In your darkest hours…… when all hope seems lost and everything in your life seems to be unraveling and falling apart, don’t lose hope…

God is about to change everything, in a way you never saw coming.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” -Psalms 27:14

“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” -Ecclesiastes 8:6

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://njomuad-thebeloved.blogspot.com/

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I had a problem for several months with my bike tires popping on me. It seemed at least once a week my tire would be flat and I was getting really irritated. I just couldn’t figure out why the damn things kept popping, because  I was so careful.  I never even went over a curb because I don’t want to mess up my only means of transportation, which made it even more frustrating.

Then finally, I realized that it was the path that I was taking to work. On this side of the street apparently there is a certain kind of tree that drops little prickly things that are so sharp. Obviously, now that I figured this out I cross the street and taking the opposite sidewalk, problem solved.

The only problem now is on the way home from work sometimes I am not paying attention and I’ll forget to cross the street, and I’ll continue down the wrong sidewalk. I usually realize 15 feet or so after the intersection, and since the prickly things are further up it is easy enough to turn around and avoid them…..

I kid you not people more times than I care to admit, when I realize that I missed the turn, even though I know what very well could happen, I just keep going straight because I want to get home. So I continue going the wrong way, hoping for the best.

The last time this happened as soon as I realized I missed the turn I remember  thinking “Screw it, I’ve already committed to this way, I’m not turning back now.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I find myself beginning to head down the wrong path in my walk with Christ I have the same initial reaction. I know what I should do, but I find myself rationalizing or worse justifying the path that I am on, knowing damn well it’s not heading where I, and more importantly where He wants me to go.

What if after Peter denied Christ he simply continued on the path he was on? Overcome with shame, hurt, fear and who knows how many other emotions. He easily could have let how he felt or what he thought fuel his choice to continue down the path leading to destruction. It seems so clear, so easy of a solution…but it isn’t always.

Speaking for myself, the shift can be so subtle that it isn’t even recognized right away. And once it becomes clear, I feel something pushing me forward, justifying me, telling me I am fine and to just keep going…

We must recognize these thoughts and feelings holding us back and dragging us down as weapon from the enemy and not as truth.

Divide and conquer is his tactic, and it works. We must not continue on….. We must not justify and hope for the best.

Our own head is inexplicably trying to keep us wallowing, keep us down, keep us apart… The reality is that we are in a war, against sin yes, but also against ourselves…. we cannot give up…. we cannot surrender… especially when everything in us justifies the path we somehow ended up on.

I share this with you because with everything going on in my life I had started to veer towards the wrong path and I didn’t even realize it.  The enemy started small, a little corner cut here, a church service skipped there. It appears harmless, at first, but then it snowballs. And just like the frog slowly boiling to death in that pot, we sit, not noticing that we are in serious trouble.

It was brought to my attention by a mighty woman of God who listened to the Spirit’s prompting and was brave enough to act on it. And in doing so God was able to smack me upside my head to show me the truth of my situation.

Without even realizing, I gave the enemy a foothold in the midst of my pain.  I have begun to isolate, then as time went on my old self destruction has started whispering in my ear.

So low key, I didn’t even recognize….

Now I, just like you have a choice. Do I justify and carry on, or do I allow my eyes to be opened to the truth and turn around?

It’s never too late to turn back…. it’s never too much that we should give up…. and we are never strong enough to do it on our own. We need Him, and we need each other.

1 Peter 5:8
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Heb 10:23-25
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-christian-path

 

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God is right here, in the middle of our hurt and our pain shouting that He loves us.

 It was so hard to watch the cancer eat away at my dad. It seemed to be happening so slow, yet so fast at the same time. The range of emotions I experienced I won’t even begin to list. But with everything going on, time and time again, seeing God reaching out to my father was such a faith strengthening and amazing experience.

I found the entire ordeal with my father to be something of a bittersweet experience. Watching him wither away right before my eyes, his body not working, his mind fading fast, and a fear in his eyes that a child never wants to see on their dad’s face… it was just heartbreaking. But in the midst of this sadness, watching God work, by softening my dad’s heart, so I could finally have a relationship with him before the end. My mom drawing close to God because of the pain, and guys, the seemingly random and amazing ways both my wife and I have seen God reaching out to dad, offering His love and salvation… it is just mind blowing. These are just a few of the blessings that have come about because my dad got sick.

This is what we need to recognize and focus on in the midst of the chaos and pain in our lives. If we focus on the pain instead of God, the burden becomes too great. When our focus is on God, the pain is still there, but we are now able to see how God is using the situation for His purpose. And watching Him comfort, love and bless those affected by their trails takes the chaos out of the pain, and that gives us hope.

He is good everyone, always. My prayer for all of us is that we will hold onto that truth and never forget.

Justin Ludwig

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”-Is 41:10

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”.-1Peter 5:7

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jer 29:11-13

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/263460646924388572/

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Without faith how can we ever hope to be blessed to the extent that God desires for us?  Take David for example; God let David know what amazing plans that He had for his life. Then all of a sudden, his life is turned upside down. His path took a drastic turn, much different from what was promised to him. Instead of glory and kingship, he was living in caves and running for his life from the very people he was supposed to rule. How easy it would have been for David to turn his back on God….

What if he had done what so many Christians do now a days and lose hope in the character of God because things are playing out differently than they had envisioned?

As the story plays out we see that all of the chaos, all of the pain and drama was imperative to build David’s character, to prepare him to lead God’s people, God’s way. Simply put, if David had not gone through all of that insanity, he would not have been capable of handling what God wanted to give him. His blessing could have turned on him and become a curse, because he was not ready.

He is working on You, right now…. Right now in your pain, in your boredom, your frustrations and fears, He is working on fulfilling His promises. Don’t lose hope my brothers and sisters, I have seen it and experienced it first hand. He will come through for you. My prayer is that every one of us will never waiver from this truth, and then, and only then can we truly be the followers that He desires instead of just another fan.

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” =2 Thess 3:5

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://www.parkerfordchurch.com/blog/2012/05/02/has-god-been-at-work/

 

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The Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. Mark 5:1-20; Jesus has come across a cursed man. Possessed by not one demon, but a legion of demons.  The hold that they had on this man was so great that he was written off by society, exiled to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man, they tried everything they could think of. Even when in desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful and they would snap their chains. Unable to deal with him, he was exiled to the tombs to suffer in his torment.

  Everyone was terrified of this man….. Jesus sought this man out. Everyone wrote him off as a lost cause. Jesus saw a man who needed to be set free…..

This is such an inspirational model for every one of us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the exiles of this age. We must not confine our ministry to that of our own comfort. There is a large world out there, filled with so many people without hope. Broken, lost, hurting and alone. The people outside of our comfort zone, so different or dare I say, scary to us that are howling in pain like this possessed man.

In so much pain, consumed by their demons…. How will they know what we know, unless we tell them? The homeless man, the convict, the orphan…  Men and women bound and gagged in their sin, their pain or their circumstance.

I am not saying that you should head down some dark alley looking for lost souls. I am just saying that He wants to use you….don’t be afraid or over think how God could possibly use you. With a single smile or a word said from love, the Holy Spirit is capable of changing the heart and life of a person otherwise hopeless.

Jesus has called us not to stand on the sidelines, but to roll up our sleeves and love the unlovable. It is our responsibility to remember the forgotten and give hope to the hopeless, in Jesus name.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matt 28:19-20

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://www.reflectionsforliving.com/reflection/248/in-gods-grip/

 

Stop Doubting the power of God

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I have so much love and devotion to God. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with the eyes to see His hand In my past, present and future. … but that doesn’t always stop my demons and pain from reminding me that the past is not forgotten.
Some days… I wake up overwhelmed by my demons.  Demons whispering in my ear that I am kidding myself. When feelings of cutting myself become such a “perfect solution.” When I desire death with all my heart and am overwhelmed by hate…

Some may ask, where the hell is Jesus in all of this?

When I have the overwhelming urge to drag a blade across my body…. He is there…. When I am convinced I am kidding myself about God, myself and my hope…. He is there…. and when I crave the silence of the grave because all I feel is sadness, pain and anger, He is there.

There is so much pain in this life. We all have our burdens to bear; death, loss, fear, uncertainty, pain, hate, selfishness, addiction, or even the overwhelming desire to destroy ourselves.
I share this raw and honest portrayal of my burdens for one reason……

Stop!!!!!

Stop believing the lie that you are too far gone… Stop pitying yourself because “there is no way anyone understands why it is so hard for me!”

When you  feel so horrible that you feel you cannot take another breath,  and you feel that Jesus may be able to help that other person, but not mu stuff… not me, because my situation is different.  Stop!!!!

These lies not only put God in a box, limiting what You will let Him do for you, with you and most importantly through You.

This “Sunday School” mentality of who people think God is or who He should be must stop….  it as no place in the kingdom of God.

Stop disqualified yourself as the exception and be empowered that God Almighty has your back and won’t leave you hanging.

His ways are so different than what we think they should be.

God has saved so many, so much worse…. so far gone, so hopeless.  Stop thinking or believing that you are different. You are not different, we are all the same…… let Him set You free….. daily.

God comes through, always…. God never lies,  and God will see You through to the very end.

You are not different, we are the same, and He will help you, me and every single person who truly wants His help.

He said “Be still and know that I am God” -Ps 46:10

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” -Job 23:10

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah  43:2

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”-Phil 4:6-7

“He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber -Psalm” 121:3

“For my thoughts are not Your thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah:55:8-9

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/299137600220402669/

 

Warfare

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I was thinking, how easy would it be if the devil’s appearance and tactics were as clear as they are in the movies. A person or creature that just exudes evil. That picture we have in our head of this demonic force that wants to destroy you, and rob you of any happiness that you may have, or may some day have.
Wouldn’t our walk with Christ be so much easier if the devil really did just appear in your face, straight out of hell, horns on his head with the stank of sulfur on his breath with an unquenchable appetite for destruction.
So obvious that anyone would be a fool not to run for their lives….. for their souls.
But the devil is much more cunning than that.  He lurks in the shadows…. the dark corners of our minds and hearts telling us exactly what we want to hear. …”Go ahead,”

Instead of bursting into our lives brutally murdering our family and stealing everything we ever held dear, he takes a different approach. He will send a married man “the woman of his dreams” other than his wife as a co worker. He will remind you that if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will.  He nudges you to look at that person next to you and to judge them…. to judge how they look, what they say, and why we are better than them.
The evil one will remind us that we “deserve” to be happy, and that life is too short to not do what you want to do, when you want to do it, “so go ahead and do it.”

We must learn to see these tactics as weapons against God, His kingdom as well as the body of Christ, and not as truth. If we do not learn to recognize his tactics, we begin to believe them to be truth.
The objective of the enemy is clear and simple. He mission is to kill, steal and destroy, and it is not going to appear to you in a way that is obvious. I kid you not y’all, the devil gets off on pitting us against each other. The devil’s greatest weapon is deception. And he will use fear and doubt to cause strife and turmoil within our lives, and within our relationships with the ultimate goal of separating us from God.

For myself when I am attacked I thank God that I am aware of it. The reason being, when I am being attacked, I begin to doubt everything. My head tells me that I am just kidding myself about God. The self loathing all of a sudden begins to fester in my heart like it used to, when I had no hope. I feel so distant…. in ways that I can’t even begin to describe, or perhaps I just don’t want to.
These feelings are real….so real. The mirage of hopelessness is so thick and if you don’t know where you are going you could get lost.

Seek Jesus…. seek His word. This is the only way to fight the attack. The tripped out thing is, for me, even though I know what I should do and turn to God, everything inside of me will tell me not to do it. .. and it feels so real. I kid you not there have been times I had to force myself to even say the name Jesus…… I did not want to worship, I did not want to open my bible, I didn’t want to talk to God and the last thing I wanted to do was tell somebody how I was feeling……
This is how the devil gets down y’all. If he can isolate us from each other, then he is in a much better position to convince us to begin or continue isolating from God…. and then he’s got us …. or will eventually get us.

We need each other y’all. I tell the truth when I say that spiritual warfare is very real. An battle constantly raging inside of us and all around us. As children of God sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are a target.
This is the reality….. to some this is just a fairy tale or story but I am here to tell you all that this is for real. Our God is real….. the enemy is real and the battle for your soul is a very real one. I have seen and experienced enough things that have shown me that there is a war going on for your soul right now. We desperately, desperately need God, but we also desperately need each other.

We must not let the enemy deceive us in order to divide us, so that he can have us. Stand firm on God’s word and call upon the Holy Spirit and your brothers and sisters when these fears and doubts begin or once they are recognized. Don’t hesitate and talk yourself out of reaching out, because that is him, isolating you. I am telling you, this is for real!!
The enemy is not as powerful as he wants you to believe…. But during the attack if you are not aware of what is happening, the lies seem so true, so real, so final….

Let’s stand fast and stand boldly against the enemy, together.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”

2 Cor 2:10-12
Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Eph 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

James 4:7
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

-Romans 16:17
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://hopevabeach.org/stand-firm/

 

 

 

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As soon as I come to
The familiar dance
Heavy  dread
Instant review
The deafening silence
Awakening doubt
So overwhelming
….. I don’t dare cry out
What has changed, besides the day
…… Nothing
it’s just his way
Stirring the pot
Every chance
Every opportunity
Whispering so eerily
“No, He’s not”
You’re kidding yourself
I know who you are
They’ll all go away
I told you…..
so far
The suffocating reminder
The sickening fact
You’re all alone
You might  as well turn back
First chance their given
One screw up you’ll do
Pack up your shit
I can’t deal with you.
Thoughts of these things, and so many more
Consuming my hope
Affecting my core
If I didn’t know better
I’d think it was me
Whispering the lie
Who are you kidding, you’ll never be free
A tear rolls down
Feelings of utter defeat
Until He reminds me, just trust Me
And then you’ll see

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo by: Google Images

 

 

Declaration of Truth

 

 

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I remember before I knew Jesus, how lost and hurt I felt. I was so desperately looking for answers, but found myself only discovering more questions. I had finally come to the conclusion that I was a lost cause and had no hope. I would hear things like, “You need God in your life” and “You need to put your faith in Jesus,” but those words meant nothing to me. They were hollow, cliché words that people seemed to say to me just because.

Like so many others in this world, I had a tainted view of who God was and what it was to be a Christian. I wanted nothing to do with a God that was going to remind me of how much of a failure I was. I just couldn’t understand how these “holier than thou” people thought embracing a God that I had no ability to obey, or even please, could change anything. Like so many others, I had closed the door on God because I simply didn’t know. I didn’t know that He wasn’t upset with me. I didn’t know how proud He was of me. I simply didn’t know the truth – that the entire reason Christ came is because I was a hopeless failure who couldn’t possibly obey God’s law, and it’s because of this that He died on the cross to save me from myself, simply because He loves me.

You see it everyday, Christians spewing hate in the name of God. The loudest ones seem to be the ones sharing about a God full of hate and vengeance, individuals who push people away from Christ by changing a God of love into a hateful and unloving deity.

This is exactly why it is imperative for us, as believers, to share what we have found. I don’t know if it is shyness or fear of judgment that keeps a believer from sharing about Christ, but it has to stop! The freedom, love, and the incredible hope that God offers is lost on so many people because they don’t understand, or even worse, they think that they understand, but are basing their information on the preaching of the proud, the ignorant, or the downright hateful.

Think about it – right now, this very second, there are countless people hurting, alone, and scared, with absolutely no hope, who want to believe and need God to save them from themselves; but they cannot, nor do they want, to follow this God that they think they know based on the rantings of people who have perverted the message of the unconditional love of God. These people need to know what you know. You don’t need to have scripture memorized or have all of the perfect answers. Just sharing with them the God that you know, the God that you have experienced and felt, the simple story of your life, and of who God is to you, will change lives. I am living proof of that.

Most non believers are firmly against who we are and the God we serve based on inaccurate and twisted information. It is up to each one of us to set the record straight, not by pointing fingers and telling those people they are doing it wrong, or to do it my way, but by simply letting them see firsthand that it is about freedom, not restriction; forgiveness, not condemnation; and, most importantly, that our God is a God of love, not hate.


Justin Ludwig