Be Bold

(Day 23 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

I once heard a story about a man who, when he was a teenager, wanted to ask out a pretty girl he liked. However, he chickened out and did not ever ask her. Years later he found out that the girl’s mother had told her it takes a lot of courage for a young man to ask a girl out and that she should date anyone brave enough to ask at least once (within reason). So if this man had been bold enough to ask this girl on a date she would have said yes, but it was too late by the time he learned that.

Sometimes the idea of being bold scares us to the point of never trying something. And I think that can happen when we pray to God, too. Plus we are always told to “fear” God, to have a deep sense of awe and respect for God above anything else. That can make it easy to think that the God we fear should not be bothered with our little issues, and we should pray for only big things or things we feel safe praying.

The good news is God loves us! He showed His unending love for us when He sent Jesus to save us. When God became a man it also showed us that God is not bothered or inconvenienced by our small issues. He cares about every part of our lives, big and small.

To take it another step further Jesus was very bold, even in death. And we are to be like Jesus. When He died, the curtain to the temple was torn in two, symbolizing that we can come to God at anytime from anywhere. We do not need a priest or pastor to help us, and we do not have to pray only in a temple or a church building. Those things are great but not necessary in order for God to hear you.

The curtain tearing was like God telling us, “Come to me, I am ready to hear it all! So don’t hold back.” God is a big boy, and He can handle anything we can come up with. And all of this together should bring us hope and encourage us to be bold.

God is all-powerful, He loves us each more that we can imagine, and He invites us to talk to Him about anything because He cares about us so much. Whatever you want to pray about, you can pray about. Any struggle, or joy, or confusion, or anything else you want. You can even pray to God when you are mad, even if you are mad at Him for a while. The important thing is that you believe in Him, you are talking to Him, and being honest with Him. When you interact with God that way, great things happen. So go to God with anything you want or need. Be bold!

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:11-12

So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence,we can be very bold. 2 Corinthians 3:11-12

By Frank Welch

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Bold Praying

(Day 22 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

When we pray earnestly and sincerely like a child…

After we’ve put on the full armor of God and prayed the offensive prayer to keep us from temptation and protect us from the enemy…

After we have prayed the submissive prayer, subjugating our own desires and committing ourselves to the perfect will of God…

Then we are ready for the bold Kingdom prayer. “Father, let your kingdom come and your will be done here in my heart, in my home and in my country as it is in heaven.”

The writer of Hebrews encourages us:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

If you had a request to make of the president of the United States, could you just waltz into the Oval Office, or even call him on the phone? Even if you want to talk with the pastor, you must make an appointment. However, as God’s children we have full access to the throne of Heaven. We can approach Him with confidence that He will hear us and answer our petitions. 

Jesus is our great high priest. He made the sacrifice for us so that we could be adopted as heirs in the family of God. He stands at God’s right hand day and night to intercede for us. Because of what He did and who He is and where He is, we have direct access to God to offer our prayers.

It is our privilege to invite heaven to invade earth. We ask God to set up His rule in our hearts. He affects the world around us through His work in us. He only intervenes when we make that request of Him. Therefore, this prayer is our honor, our responsibility and our sacred duty.

We remember who we are as the children of God. We confess our sins and pray for protection from the evil around us. We submit ourselves to the will of God for our lives, even if we don’t understand the path He chooses for us. And then we invite the Kingdom of God into our reality.

Dear Father God, may your perfect plan be executed and may your Kingdom reign on this planet in the same way that it exists in heaven.

Understanding the moral climate in which we live, can there exist any bolder prayer than that?

By Lisa Fulghum

Le Messiah

(Day 21 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

How often do we submit to pray? We should submit ourselves to God more often. It seems we have a hard time humbling ourselves when it comes to prayer.

I also struggle with submitting or humbling myself to God during prayer. I would rush and complete a prayer and expect God to answer that insufficient prayer. I always wonder why I don’t feel God talking to me anymore, because I don’t take the time to actually speak to him. I don’t discipline to humble myself when I’m speaking to my Creator. I don’t submit nor act as if I really want to speak to him. I always give him half-finished prayers. I noticed that I use to only call on God when I’m in trouble and I realized I was in trouble. I notice my prayers weren’t submissive or humbling in any way, shape, or form. I started to do my research on how to submit to God during Prayer.

I realized I had to change this rabid form of prayer. This wasn’t even a Prayer; it was an “I’ll talk to you when I really need something” prayer. I noticed God deserves more respect when it comes to submissive/ submission Prayer. “Submission is not a dirty word; it is a liberating word. We are all under God’s protective authority, and we can only be free if we seek it and submit to it. Coming under authority is your protection. Living free is your opportunity to be all that God created you to be.” (Crosswalk Devotional)

Do you submit to God in other ways than prayers? We need to submit to God in other ways than prayer, like how we live our everyday lives. Do you have trouble submitting/ humbling yourself to God? Sit and talk to God, one on one. Let him know your problems, and he will redeem you. He will show exactly what you need to do. God needs to be in authority of our lives.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. Hebrews 13:17

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

By Shanti M. Washington

Gandhi’s Autobiography


Took me a while to finish this book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m no longer ignorant about M. K. Gandhi.

His writings by no means cover every facet of his life’s history; but they walk you through his thinkings, choices, and beliefs. Christianity was not something he completely embraced, but he shared insights that Christians could endorse or receive challenge. Here are a few:

  • The church did not make a favorable impression on me. The sermons seemed to be uninspiring. The congregation did not strike me as being particularly religious. They were not an assembly of devout souls; they appeared rather to be worldly-minded people, going to church for recreation and a conformity to custom.
  • Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant not the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
  • ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.
  • Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.
  • Human language can but imperfectly describe God’s ways. I am sensible of the fact that they are indescribable and inscrutable. But if mortal man will dare to describe them, he has no better medium that his own inarticulate speech.
  • You can wake a man only if he is really asleep; no effort that you may make will produce any effect upon him if he is merely pretending to sleep.

God Knows Better

(Day 20 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:25-33 

The key to submissive prayer is an understanding that God knows what we need better than we do. We are His children, and He is a good father who is pleased to provide for our needs. Therefore, Jesus instructs us to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness foremost, because those are what we need the most. As we eagerly seek to know Him more, He will provide for our needs. As he promises in the passage above, He will provide for our physical needs, making sure we are fed and clothed; but more importantly, he will provide for our spiritual needs, giving us more of Himself.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” It is not wrong to have desires, and we know that God loves to give good gifts to His children; but we must first delight in Him. As we seek Him more, He will become our heart’s greatest desire; and He will never fail to give us more of Himself, allowing us to know Him and love Him more.

By Kyle Reilly

Difficulty in Submission

(Day 19 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

We often find it difficult to pray. Many times we feel praying is next to impossible. If you really think about it, the very act of true praying is getting over ourselves and coming to the end of our stubborn sinful ways. When we pray, we die to self and engage in a warfare against the flesh that so often wants and seeks its own way.

Many times we find it difficult to pray because we focus on praying itself and not on the God who answers those prayers. We set our own rituals and habits in place when and how we pray and that sometimes keeps us from Him. By God’s grace alone, we know Him, and we know He is there and not only hears us but listens. He is not silent. He always answers our prayers and acts in accord with His perfect will for our good and His glory.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14–15 (ESV)

It is not by prayer pattern or method that we reach God, it is by our submission. When we recognize God’s sovereignty in our prayer life, we are also reminded of His love, grace, holiness, and righteousness, and we are thereby faced with the harsh reality of our own sinfulness in the light of His glory and grace.

People have often said “I believe in the power of prayer” and there is merit to that statement. However, it may be more accurate to say that we believe in the power of God…so we pray. When we pray, we are reminded of our own insufficiency and lack of control. It is through prayer that we daily submit that insufficiency to someone greater than ourselves. God is able!

Think of it this way… God is omniscient (knows all things) and omnipotent (all powerful), and because He has our ultimate good and His glory in mind, we can trust Him with everything. You and I, however, are sinful. We don’t know everything, and can’t control everything. Our submission is a work that should be primary and given daily attention. It is difficult at times but critical to our relationship with God.

We will always to some degree find it difficult to let go and submit, but, nevertheless, we must always desperately seek God. We must also pray for God to help us pray, treating prayer less like a grocery list and more like a relationship.

Lord, help me swallow my pride and submit to your will. I recognize my own sinfulness and ask that you lead me, through your wonderful grace, to a more complete submissive prayer relationship with you.

By Doug Hull

Is Prayer Bargaining with God…or Submitting to Him?

(Day 18 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

“He willingly submitted to death.”- Isaiah 53:12b

“But please, not what I want. What do you want?”- Luke 22:42 (The Message)

Isaiah prophesied that the “Suffering Servant”, the Messiah, would have a submissive attitude in his death. Mark recorded the way Jesus fulfilled this as he prayed in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” – Mark 14:36. Not only did the Savior voice this prayer of submission; he acted on it. He had already said that he would give his life willingly. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” John 10:18. He prayed in submission to His Father and acted in fulfillment.

We too, are to offer prayers of submission to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we express these in song: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “I Surrender All,” “Where You Lead Me, I will follow.” But in our hearts, we may be adding conditions: “as long as it fits my plans,” or “I surrender all except…,” or “if you don’t lead me out of my comfort zone.” Submission is not a bargain with God. It is Unconditional Surrender!

Why do we need to pray – and live – in submission? Many reasons come to mind: Jesus did, and I should too. He is God, and I am not. He has all power, and I am weak. He knows all things, and I am limited. He is sufficient, and I am not. His will and plan for me is perfect, and my will is often self-centered and stubborn. He is my Master, and I am his servant. All glory and praise belong to him – not to me.

We often think of submissive praying in the big matters of life. True, but he also deserves our commitment in everything. I learned this lesson again a few weeks ago. At 9:30 p.m., the thought came, “Where is my wallet?” After looking in the usual places, I realized that I had left it in the restaurant where we had celebrated my friend’s birthday some hours earlier. Credit cards, driver’s license, and more ran through my mind. I felt my anxiety growing, “what if I don’t find it?” I prayed that God would help me get it back. A phone call to the restaurant resulted in the manager’s words, “Sorry, I can’t find it.” Then it was as if the Lord’s voice came to me, “You have me. Am I not enough?” In submission I said, “Yes, Lord, you are enough. You are all that I need.” He calmed my spirit and made me realize that whether my wallet was found or not, it was okay, because he was in control. I went to bed and slept. At 11:30, I was awakened by a phone call, telling me that it had been found.

I received a more valuable lesson in trusting and submitting to Christ.

“Father, help me in all things to pray, and live, in submission to you. Amen.”

By Pat Browning

Embrace God’s Power

(Day 17 in a 28-Day series from First Bradenton)

“Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” – Matt 6:11-13

When I read this section of scripture, where Jesus sets the example for us on how we should pray, I am always amazed by how perfect what He said is for us. Jesus is the Son of God of course, so it would not be any other way. Yet, it still always reminds me of how deep His understanding of our struggles is.

I also realize how much more often I need to remember these words and submit to God’s will over my own. It is not in our human nature to forgive those who have “sin against us.” For that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. We also need the Lord’s help in avoiding giving into temptation. I have found in my own life, as many others have, that if I try and resist temptation on my own the result is always the same. Failure.

I cannot resist the devil in my own power, but that is okay. God is with me. He has promised to always be with us (Hebrews 13), and He is far more powerful than the devil could ever hope to be. Through His power I really can be rescued from the power of the “evil one.” I just have to remember when I am tempted to do what Jesus showed me to-pray.

Sometimes those are the hardest moments to pray-when the temptation is so strong it is hard to think about anything else. And that is not just a coincidence. The devil does not want us to pray, for he knows that God’s power will always be victorious over him if we pray. So embrace that power today, God’s power!

Luke 12:32 tells us:

“Don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

God delights in blessing us and helping us resist evil and embrace His kingdom. So cry out to our loving God today with whatever you are facing in your life. He will embrace you and through His power you will live in victory over sin. This is not a one-time prayer though. Every day, when you face temptation over and over again do not lose heart, but pray! And see the mighty power of God work in and through you.

By Frank Welch

Submissive Praying

(Day 16 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

For just a moment, put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. Imagine the Son of God seated on His throne in heaven right next to His Father. The crystal sea, the golden pavement, the perfect peace, the angel voices… It is incredible, beyond our imagination. Jesus is God. He is one with the Father. Yet, when God asked, Jesus laid aside His authority, His divinity, His rightful place, His glory and His immortality. He willingly submitted to His Father and became a helpless human infant. He grew up and experienced life just as we do, and He willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice. He died a brutal and humiliating death because He was fully surrendered to the will of God.

Jesus is our example. We are told to:

“have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing**by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Most of us will never be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. Rather we are called to daily surrender our lives in service of each other. It’s easy to be nice to a cashier or hold the door open for an older person. But do we follow Jesus’ example and surrender our own will when our spouse is doing that annoying thing again? Do we lay aside our desires when a child needs some one-on-one? Do we help with dishes even when it’s been a very long day? Do we maintain our composure when an unsaved coworker gets under our skin?

Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Can we do the same? The submissive prayer puts our hearts and minds in the proper position before God so that we follow His directive, even when we don’t understand why. If Jesus being God would submit to the Father’s will, and He is our example, then we should do no less.

Hanging on the cross at the very end, Jesus said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) That should be our own battle cry every morning.

“Father, I lay down my life today. I choose to surrender my will to your own. I choose to serve the people you have put into my life. Into Your hands I commit my spirit, my heart and my life.”

By Lisa Fulghum

Dim Opportunities

(Day 15 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

It is one of the most submissive prayers in scripture, yet we don’t know what was said. It wasn’t voiced by just one person; instead it was voiced by an entire people group. Their lives were at stake. Knowingly and unknowingly, they all placed their hope in the submission of one person. Her name was Esther.

No one other than God could have placed Esther in her position. It was a position of opportunity. The opportunity blessed her with many comforts, the comforts of a queen. But while she enjoyed those comforts, she became aware that a bigger opportunity had been given to her. This opportunity required her complete submission.

“Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had commanded him.” Esther 4:13-17

All of our life’s positions have opportunities. Some we see clearly and quickly; others come slowly and dimly. The clear ones normally require less submission; they make sense to us and may even fulfill our desires. The dim ones usually demand much more submission; they challenge our comfort and may even threaten our future.
In the face of the dim opportunities, much like Jesus, we can pray honestly from the depths of our empty hearts,

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…My Father, if it possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 6:10, 26:39