Day Thirty-Four: The Love Test

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – February 9, 2018

Day Thirty-Four: The Love Test

Matthew 5:43-45a; 46; 48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

One true test of how perfect our love is, is how we treat the people who despise us. Jack Hyles said, “You will never really love until you love someone who hates you.” It can be really difficult to love someone who has hurt you. Physically, emotionally or even verbally. How we handle the hurt can be a test in itself. But how we treat the person who has hurt us is a total different test. This is a test to evaluate the perfection or integrity of our love.

The test of love.

Rick Warren said, “God teaches us to love, by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to you.”  It is really easy to love people who have a sweet attitude or someone who is friendly and outgoing. But what about a person who has a hateful disposition? Someone who is bitter and mean-spirited? God may be placing people in your life for a reason. Consider that your love may need to be perfected. Practicing love in unloving situations will perfect your love. Also consider that these are the people who God wants them to experience His love through you. You may be a key to their breakthrough by your response of love toward them.

How to love your enemy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who suffered and was killed in Nazi Germany,  shared his thoughts on Matthew 5:44, “is the supreme demand in all of Scripture, to pray for your enemies.” He said, “By prayer, we go to our enemy’s side and we stand with him and plead for him to God.” You and I probably will not be “BFF’s” or “besties” with our enemies. But two things we can do to show the love of God:

#1. Don’t seek revenge. Don’t retaliate, hate in return or talk about them behind their back. Love speaks louder than hatefulness or revenge.

#2. Pray for them. This is what Jesus is commanding us to do, so our love will be perfect. This is loving like God loves.

The bonus for the reward (Matthew 5:46).

Jesus asked the question. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” To take your love to an even higher level, let’s add a #3. Like on a test, you have a “bonus” question. This is the bonus for your reward:

#3.  Act of Love. For the one who has hurt you, do something nice in return. Give them a gift card or buy them a gift.

God loved us and gave us something we didn’t deserve. This is loving like God loves.

heart leaf sun


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about God’s love and “Being” God’s love, you can listen to Newspring “Love” message series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Love heart

Day Thirty-One: Love Is The Better Way

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – February 6, 2018

Day Thirty-One: Love Is The Better Way

Galatians 5:6b, “…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

WE ARE A BETTER VERSION OF OURSELF WHEN WE LOVE.

To illustrate this principle, let’s think about anger. Anger appears to be opposite of love. Everyone experiences some level of anger. Anger is a justified human emotion. However, we are instructed in the Bible, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Ephesians 4:26).

God doesn’t expect us to never be angry. He does want us to consider how we express our anger. Is it possible to be angry and still love? We can. We just need to carefully choose the right reaction to our emotion of anger.

Keep this in mind, people are not getting the best out of you when you are doing the opposite of love.

  • My anger should motivate me to resolve the situation as quickly as I can and not let it linger for days.
  • Anger should not lead me to seek revenge or hurt someone or personally attack them with my words.
  • Anger should not be permitted to destroy my relationships.
  • I can be angry and still communicate a course of action that brings resolution.

No matter if it’s anger, any other emotion or situation, the better version of you is when you act in love.

WE BRING THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE WHEN WE LOVE.

Someone didn’t give up on you. They believed in you. Someone cared enough to help, correct, encourage and instruct you. Someone demonstrated an action of love and it impacted your life. The action of love always brings positive results.

When you love you bring the best out of people by…

  • seeing the good in them that they may not be able to see.
  • speaking the right words to help their perspective or change their emotion.
  • helping discover solutions to their problems.

When love goes up, everything goes up. Love is always the better way.

Hot air balloon


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about God’s love and “Being” God’s love, you can listen to Newspring “Love” message series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Love heart

Day Twenty-Six: Detours and Delays part 1

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – February 1, 2018

Day Twenty-Six: Detours and Delays part 1

Habakkuk 2:3 (TLB), “ But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient!They will not be overdue a single day!” 

Road Closed Detour Delays

Detours and delays can be very frustrating. For six months I was forced to drive 10 miles out of my way because of a detour. The Ohio Department of Transportation was tearing down a bridge near my house. That extra 10 miles added another 15 minutes to my travel schedule. For the first few weeks I enjoyed the new scenery. Admiring houses and yards I’ve never seen, barns, fields and flowers that were not on my normal route. But after 3 weeks, I didn’t see scenery. I was so frustrated with extra mileage and time wasted, all I seen was red. I was so done with this detour.

After the construction as I was driving over this nice brand-new bridge, it hit me. That old bridge was wearing down. It was rusted, pot holes, concrete sides were crumbling. While I was enduring the detour, someone was working on this new bridge that would serve me and my family well. This new bridge was wider, it was safer and it would last for many years.

A detour means construction is happening.

It’s inevitable, you will experience detours and delays in your life. Your plans will unexpectedly change. The answer to your prayer will appear to be delayed. You must know that detours & delays mean construction is happening somewhere. God is developing you and constructing your future at Construction housethe same time. When you experience a detour or a delay, know that God is working on your future. Instead of a construction sign saying, “Men at Work”, It’s a sign that says, “God at Work”. He is setting things up for you.

God will not place you in a future that you are not prepared for. And He will not send you to a place that is not prepared for you.

A delay does not mean you’re denied.

Every person in history who accomplished great things had two things in common.  #1 They experienced delays. #2 They didn’t let that stop them. They didn’t give up.

  • WINSTON CHURCHILL failed the sixth grade. He was defeated in every public office role he ran for. Then he became the British prime minister at the age of 62.
  • The first time JERRY SEINFELD went onstage, he was booed away by the jeering crowd. Eventually, he became a famous comic with one of the most-loved sitcoms ever.
  • DR. SEUSS’ first book was rejected by 27 different publishers. He’s now the most popular children’s book author ever.

A delay does not mean you’re denied. A detour does not mean God is not able to get you to the breakthrough. You may not enjoy the detour or delay, but you will LOVE what God has been constructing for you when you arrive.

Don’t stop. Keep your trust in God. Keep praying. Continually speak God’s Word over your life and situations. Maintain the right spirit and attitude.

Detour and delay does not mean denied


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

frequency hearing God sermon series

Day Twenty-Five: Don’t Forfeit The Reward

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – January 31, 2018

Day Twenty-Five: Don’t Forfeit The Reward

Galatians 6:9, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Don’t stay weary.

Satan has only one passion, to wear you down so you will quit. He will useeverything he can to discourage and distract you. Your enemy eagerly desires for you to lose heart and lose faith. It’s his strategy. Thoughts and voices of giving up do not come from the people who love you and want to see you succeed. Thoughts like, “what you are doing is not effective”, “it’s not working”, “it’s not making a difference”, do not come from God.

God may redirect your focus. He may reorder your steps, but God will never burden you down to where you feel like giving up and quitting. And He most definitely will not make you feel insignificant.

Don’t fear, resist doubt and refuse to worry are consistent lessons throughout the Bible. Allowing the fear, doubt and worry to have conversations in your head will only lead to weariness, burn out and quitting.

Don’t stop doing good.

Doing good may be difficult, a sacrifice and an inconvenience, but it will always produce good results. When we feel like the task is getting difficult and we are tempted to give up, we must put the situation in proper perspective. Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.” Enduring the struggle is seasonal before the reward comes. But if you give up it’s forever. You forfeit the reward.

Don’t give up on…

  • consistent prayer. Prayer will bring God’s instruction to your breakthrough.
  • applying the Word of God. Daily reading God’s Word will increase your faith and replace the wrong thoughts that bring weariness.
  • persistent worship. Worship will bring you into the presence of God. Satan and darkness will not hang out long in God’s presence.
  • trying to resolve the problem. God is using you to solve problems. God will lead you to the solution.
  • seeking the open door. God will open the door, but you have to be prepared and available to walk through it.

“The only way your reward will not come is if you decide to quit.”

Your time will come.

Keep sowing good seed. Keep being kind, show love, keep sharing Christ, keep teaching, keep coaching, keep parenting the right way, keep pursuing the dream God has placed within you. Your time will come. God is a rewarder. You will reap a good harvest from your good seed.

(Click here for devotion on “Your Coming Out With a Reward)


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

frequency hearing God sermon series

Day Twenty-Two: Worship Magnifies

40 days of prayer devotion

Day Twenty-Two: Worship Magnifies

by David Shannon Wooten – January 28, 2018

Psalms 34:3 (KJV) O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

When we Worship UPWARD toward God, our stress level will come DOWN.

worship hands up beachOur worship reinstates God as Ruler in our life. Worship acknowledges that God deserves to be magnified. We are stating He is the final authority over our situations. Our circumstances don’t rule, God rules.

 

Worship is an action that makes God BIG and your issues small. It is impossible to worry and worship God at the same time. We will either worship God or worship our worries. But we cannot do both.

Worship is a powerful weapon.

Worship becomes a powerful weapon against the pressures of satan. Satan’s strategy is to distract you from worshipping God and place your focus more on you and your problems. Worship redirects our focus. We lift our head UP. Our eyes are looking UP. We lift our hands UP. As our worship is UP we begin to talk UP. We are talking UP to God. Our words are uplifting, filled with faith and hope. This kind of worship and speaking destroys the pressures from your enemy.

Worship was a huge part of David’s life (Most of the book of Psalms is David articulating his worship). This is why he was able to defeat the lions, tigers and bears (oh my). AND… He was a giant slayer! David was a worshipper. See Psalms 100 below. Worshippers are strong people. Worship is a powerful weapon.

Worship Magnifies.

The more you worship God the more confident you become in His love, ability and power. 

Psalms 100, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are hisa ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

What we give attention to, invest in, think about, give our heart to, is what we worship. Live a life that magnifies God and He will breakthrough for you.

Worship Magnifies


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

frequency hearing God sermon series

Day Nineteen: Knocked Down But Not Out

Day Nineteen: Knocked Down But Not Out

by David Shannon Wooten – January 25, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

It is impossible to live without trouble or pain. Disappointments are inevitable. Pressure from situations can cause confusion. And there is a real spiritual enemy that desires to hunt you down and destroy your faith and purpose in God.

But God never leaves you without hope. He will not allow pressure to crush you. When your enemy is all up in your face, God is right there in his face. The battle may cause you to fall flat to the ground. You may be limping through your season, but God promises you that you will not be destroyed.

Don’t let the pressure take you out.

The Apostle Paul exemplifies how to go through stuff that knocks you down, but not allow it take you out.

  1. He doesn’t focus on his ability, but he puts confidence in the power of the risen Christ who is in him (verse 7). This is not only his focus, it is a declaration that comes out of his mouth.
  2. He protects his heart from getting weary (Verse 16). When we begin to lose heart, we become unfocused. Weariness will cause us to focus on the wrong things.
  3. He is determined to keep the right perspective (verse 17 &18). Paul clearly conveys wise perspective that these troubles are creating an eternal reward. He sees these troubles as a temporary nuisance because he sees the bigger picture. Our troubled seasons are a drop in the bucket compared to our entire lifetime. And our lifetime on this earth will be even less than the drop compared to eternity. What matters most is not a comfortable or a trouble-free life; it’s what was accomplished for eternity.

You are a Champion.

Paul understood what an athlete or a solider had to endure to be a champion.

  • Champions will focus on developing character not resumes. God cannot promote us beyond our character. Nothing develops our character more, than going through trouble and straining to keep the right focus and attitude.
  • Champions make decisions that create a desired future; not decisions that create a desired present.
  • Champions focus on HOW they go through hard-times rather than getting through hard-times.
  • Champions get up, not give up. Proverbs 24:16

You will get knocked down, but you don’t have to stay down. Get Up! Keep on! Embrace the power of your risen Christ who is in you.


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Day Fifteen: The Voice You Give Ear To Will Lead You

Day Fifteen: The Voice You Give Ear To Will Lead You

By David Shannon Wooten – January 21, 2018

John 10:3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

The voices we choose to listen to has the potential to lead us. Voices can affect our feelings. Voices can change our mind. They can break our focus. Voices can sow a seed of hurt or bitterness. Voices can sway our beliefs. In a subtle way, they can lead us down the wrong path.

Jesus illustrates the importance of tuning our ear to His voice. His voice will always lead us to the right things for our life. The illustration Jesus used in John 10, is the same description in Psalm 23. The Shepherd leads His flock in a very personal way. “He calls his own sheep by name…” (John 10:3). Jesus’ passion is to personally speak to us and lead us. His voice will lead us through doors that He has opened for us. We can be assured there will be good things beyond the doors He opens for us.

Jesus will lead you through the door of blessing.

  • “He leads me beside peaceful streams”. (Psalm 23:2b)
  • “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”. (Psalm 23:3b)
  • Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you”. (Psalm 25:4-5)
  • “You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger”. (Psalm 31:3)
  • “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground”. (Psalm 143:10)

The most important voice in your life is the voice of your Shepherd. His voice will shape your mind, heart and influence your emotions. The voice of darkness will lead you to disaster. Jesus will always lead us to a life full of blessings. Jesus has already opened the right doors for you. Listen and let Him lead you to the blessings He has prepared for you.


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Day Twelve: God’s Voice Will Direct You

Day Twelve: God’s Voice Will Direct You

by David Shannon Wooten – January 18, 2018

Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Prayer is not a monolog. It is amazing, not only can we express our thankfulness and need to God, we also are able to close our mouths and open the ears of our heart to hear what He has to say to us. When God speaks, He gives direction. His direction will keep us on the path that leads to life. God will give instruction that will  lead us to breakthroughs. His words give wisdom and always lead to life.

There are many ways that God chooses to speak to us. One of the main ways you can hear God’s voice is through His Word. His Word is alive, creates action and gives discernment. God’s voice is in His Word and it provides direction for the season that we are in.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God’s heart is to give you the direction you need. You can hear His voice in His Word. Take a moment to reflect on what He is saying to you.

He sent His Word and…
  • It healed us. Psalm 107:20
  • It delivered us. Psalm 107:20
  • It brought Salvation to humanity. Mark 16:15
  •  It transformed our mind, emotions and heart. Romans 12:2
  • It washed and made us clean. Ephesians 5:26
  • It gave us an entire new and better way to live. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • It increased our faith. Romans 10:17
  • It gave renewed strength. Isaiah 40:31
  •  It nourished us. John 6:35
  •  It became a sword to defeat our enemy. Ephesians 6:17
  • It brought us a 100-fold harvest. Luke 8:15

Whoever has ears, let them hear the voice of God (Mark 4:9).


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Day Ten: Grow Exactly What You Want In Your Heart

Day Ten: Grow Exactly What You Want In Your Heart

by David Shannon Wooten – January 16, 2018

Ephesians 3:17, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

It takes some level of discipline to keep our bodies healthy. Saying “no” and resisting our desires to over-eat or eating too much of the wrong kind of food will help us watch our weight and keep our bodies healthy. Making discipline choices about exercise will help keep our heart, muscles and joints healthy. Living by a budget, not spending more than we earn and sacrificing to pay off debt will eventually reduce stress and position us for a better future. We may not always like making disciplined decisions, but we do enjoy the results.

Our spiritual life requires the same kind of discipline. If we are going to have faith to believe God and resist the negative thoughts from satan, then we will have to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer. A regular routine of reading God’s Word and deciding to apply it to your life will not only produce the right things in your heart, it will produce incredible things in your life.

Consistent prayer, receiving wisdom and direction from God’s Word and making disciplined decisions will help us take control of what we allow to grow in our heart.


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media

Day Five: God Rewards When You Do What Is Right

Day Five: God Rewards When You Do What Is Right

by David Shannon Wooten – January 11, 2018

Always do the right thing and things will eventually turn out right. If we listen, the Holy Spirit will always lead us to the right choice. As you spend time in prayer the Holy Spirit will shine His light on the right path. He helps you discern  what your flesh is desiring and what you should be desiring to bring the right result in your life. Sometimes we want revenge, return unkindness or gossip when someone has wronged us. The Holy Spirit will prompt our heart to remain silent, forgive and pray for them. God promises eventually good things will come your way when you are willing to walk in the right path with God. Your integrity and character is important to God. What you do in private, God will reward in public.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. 
Isaiah 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

“God rewards when you do what is right”


REFLECT:

What is God revealing about Himself through this scripture?

What do you hear God saying to you in this scripture?

How does this apply to your life?

Rephrase this scripture to a personal prayer for you. Give God thanks for how He is revealing Himself through this scripture. Request His help.

For further encouragement about prayer and hearing God’s voice, you can listen to Newspring “Frequency” sermon series at newspringlive.com/watch-read/media