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-Three: Love Made Perfect

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – January 8, 2018

Day Thirty-Three: Love Made Perfect

1 John 4:17, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”

This verse is one major reason why we long to keep our relationship and love for God strong. It is packed with spiritual truth and principles. Reading God’s Word, praying, seeking God through fasting, faithful to worship, serving in ministry, giving to God’s ministry, taking inventory of our attitude and behaviors to ensure we are producing the fruit of the Spirit; all of these things are only a few examples of living in God. Living in God is to not only have a desire to be in God’s presence, but to love the things and people He loves.

Hear God’s heartbeat of love.

First observation from this scripture; we realize our love can grow into perfection. If you feel like you are not able to love like Christ would love, make an effort to come closer to God. If you sense you are being tempted to live a selfish life, come closer to the heart of God. We cannot afford to let our love be exhausted or limited. This will require us to draw from God’s love.

The closer you draw near to God the more you can hear and feel His heartbeat. God’s heart overflows with love. Spend time with Him and you will be a better lover.

Man standing with bible


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-Nine: This Is Unstoppable Love

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – February 4, 2018

Day Twenty-Nine: This Is Unstoppable Love

Romans 5:8, But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

The purest form of giving out of love is giving without expecting anything in return. Giving when it’s not deserved. Giving something that really means a lot to you. I’m sure you have given under similar circumstances. You gave something, because you simply loved. Have you ever not given, because you didn’t think the person would appreciate it? I’ll be honest, I have refrained from giving for that exact reason.

The real definition and standard for love.

God wants us to experience forgiveness and eternal life, He doesn’t just tell uslove stones He loves us. He “showed” His love by giving us His Son, Jesus. This is the kind of GREAT love God is demonstrating to you…

  1. God gave “while we were still sinners”. He gave you Jesus when you were not worthy.
  2. God gave without expecting anything in return. He didn’t wait until He knew for sure you would appreciate and receive Jesus.
  3. God gave His most valuable gift to you. His only Son, Jesus.

God has defined and set the standard for the purest form of love. This is the level of love that is unstoppable in its power to transform the individual heart and humanity. This kind of love spreads like wild fire that can cover families, communities, cities and countries.

When God’s love is accepted and received, Christ comes in to our heart and begins to reset the definition and standard of love in our own life. Because of Christ in us, we are able to give love like God loves.

What if everyone gave love…

  • whether people were worthy of our love or not?
  • even if people did not appreciate or accept our demonstration of love?
  • sacrificially? Gifts that mean something to us.

Unstoppable love started with God. His desire is to see His kind of love cover the entire world. This is the whole point of God sending His Son. He loved the world and wants to reach all humanity with His love. This will only happen as we demonstrate the love that has been given to us. We will be able to love at a higher level when we truly are confident of how God loves us. (1 John 4:9-20)

Heart beach ocean sunset


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-Four: God Never Waste Tears

40 days of prayer devotion

Day Twenty-Four: God Never Waste Tears

by David Shannon Wooten – January 30, 2018

Psalm 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. 

Every one of us can relate to tears associated with pain, disappointment, bad news, tragedy, loss and a broken heart. As we direct our tears in an effort to call out to our Heavenly Father, they are translated into a powerful prayer. Every mom and dad know how the tears of their children grip their heart. Compelling them to respond. We come running to see what we can do to help. Our Heavenly Father knows the sound and language of tears and they have His attention.

Your tears have a voice.

Crying

Each tear has its own voice and identity. We can be confident that our Heavenly Father will not let one tear be wasted. But with careful response He attentively collects and records them. He is promising that each tear will be remembered and a response will follow. God never does anything without a purpose. He will answer by bringing comfort, healing, restoration and resolution.

Someone said, “Tears are prayers too, they travel to God when we can’t speak.” You may be going through a season where you are not able to articulate the prayer. But your tears have a strong voice and God is listening.

Open your heart with your tears.

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” God loves when we open our heart and when we are transparent with Him. Maybe that’s why God loves our tears when we cry in faith, believing He is able and will answer.

If we must shed tears, let them be tears of faith that translate in to prayers. Knowing that God never wastes tears. He will answer.

Direct your tears as a prayer of faith.

Your tears directed to God demonstrate:

  • Confidence He sees what you are going through.
  • You believe He hears you.
  • He has the ability to do something about the situation.
  • He will bring something good out of the situation. (Romans 8:28

(To read Bold Prayers Out of Pain click this link)

In exchange for your tears.

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Jeremiah 31:13,  I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

Tears are never wasted


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-Three: Stretched But Not Strained

40 days of prayer devotion

by David Shannon Wooten – January 29, 2018

Day Twenty-Three: Stretched But Not Strained

Psalm 16:11, You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Stretch Incredible Hulk

I received one of my most favorite and memorable gifts Christmas morning
1979. The Stretch Incredible Hulk! Not only was it cool because it reminded me of my favorite TV show. This toy was begging this 7-year-old to test the limits of how far its arms and legs could be stretched. No matter how far I stretched the arms and legs of this Hulk, they would always go right back to its original form.

What’s Inside?

For those of us who have curious minds, we are thinking, “What’s inside?” Whatever they filled this toy Hulk with, it was durable and “almost” survived a 7-year-old.

Our circumstances, battles and tests of life will stretch us. Sometimes it feels like we are being stretched to the limit. But when we begin to take inventory of what is inside of us, we realize God is helping us to be resilient. What’s inside will determine our resilience. Bad attitude, hatefulness, grouchiness doubt and fear is not fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit. Being full of that type of attitude and mindset will cause us to be stretched out of place and possibly pulled apart. What’s inside us will help us not be “bent out of shape” for long periods of time. We know how to come back to our original form. A disposition of faith.

Be filled with joy.

Prayer and praise is so important, because it brings us into the presence of God. When we are in His presence He promises to fill us with joy (Psalms Joy16:11).

Psalms 28:7, “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

Nehemiah 8:10b, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy makes you resilient. Joy gives you strength for the battle. Prayer and praise will keep your perspective right and will bring you joy.

Protect your joy. Don’t let it slip far from you. When you are filled with joy it builds you up so you can withstand the pressures from what’s around you.

The heat will not break you down.

Our battles will turn up the heat in our life. The heat will try to break you down on the inside. But if we are filled with good substance, we will not be easily melted by the battle.

  • Tin will melt at 449 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Silver will melt at 1763 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • BUT it takes 1948 degrees Fahrenheit to melt GOLD.

When God allows a greater battle, He has something GREAT to bring out of you.

God never allows us to go through tests without a plan and reason. He will never let a battle go wasted. If God allows the battle, He will not only fill you so you can withstand the stretching and pressure, He will bring something great out of it. Promotion comes through the pain and sacrifice.

“Don’t let pressure change you” is a post I shared about God being our Rock. Take a moment to click the link and let it encourage you to stand strong.

The pressure on the inside must be greater than the pressure on the outside. You are filled with “God-Stuff” and  He is very resilient.

1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

sunset on water


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 Sixteen: God’s Whisper Is More Powerful Than Your Enemy’s Roar

Day Sixteen: God’s Whisper Is More Powerful Than Your Enemy’s Roar

By David Shannon Wooten – January 22, 2018

1 Kings 19:11-12, “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

God was demonstrating to Elijah that His whisper was more effective than any dramatic expression. Wind, earthquakes and fires have the ability to leave behind devastation. While Elijah was stricken with depression over a threat from his enemy, God was telling Elijah, you don’t need these powerful forces to respond. All you need is My whisper.

Satan and his darkness likes to roar. The Bible describes him as a roaring lion. 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.” Satan was using Jezebel to roar his threats through her voice. That is exactly what the enemy wants to do to you and me.

At the close of our Sunday morning service (January 21, 2018), our worship team led us in a song as we were praying and reflecting over the message. I heard God whisper to my heart, “Remind my people that my whisper is more powerful than their enemy’s roar”.

God’s Whisper is life changing

Some of the most impactful and life changing moments in my life were when situations were raging, but God chose to speak to me in a gentle whisper. When He whispers, it will hush the winds and calm the raging seas. His words do not leave devastation, they leave peace. God’s whisper gave me direction as father. His whisper brought miraculous healing. God’s whisper called me into the ministry to teach His word. His whisper led me to much needed open doors in my life.

Sometimes we have to quiet our mind so we can hear the life changing whispers of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of God”. God encourages us to be quiet so we can watch Him work. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. It was David’s prayer when He was desperate for a change in his circumstances, “Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you” Psalm 55:2(MSG).

God desires to whisper His promise to you. His whisper will not only cancel out your enemies roar, it will bring incredible change to your circumstances.


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

Fourteen: Can You Hear His Prayers For You

Day Fourteen: Can You Hear His Prayers For You?

by David Shannon Wooten – January 20, 2018

Romans 8:34, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” 

Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” You have THE most powerful prayer warrior interceding for you EVERYDAY. Knowing that Christ is standing next to our Heavenly Father praying for us, should increase our confidence and faith. No reason to fear your enemy or the outcome of your situation. Christ knows the will of the Father for you. He is praying the best prayer anyone could ever pray. Whether it’s the outcome we have hoped for or different than what we expected; He knows how to bring out good in every situation (Romans 8:28).

Do not let fear or intimidation prevent you from following through with the assignments God has given you. Christ has your back. He is praying for you. Hebrews 7:25 informs us that Jesus “lives” to intercede for us. Praying for us is what He LOVES to do.

Hebrews 7:24-26, “ 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

Can you hear His prayers for you?

Your enemy may be on the prowl, looking for ways to discourage you, tempt you and even try to destroy you (Job 1:7; John 10:10). However, we should always remember we have ALL-POWERFUL Christ praying for us.

  • He is praying for your faith to not fail.

When our faith is wavering, we can regain confidence knowing that our Savior is praying for our faith to be renewed and remain strong (Luke 22:32). Jesus knows your faith will bring you the victory.

  • He prays when you sin (1 John 2:1).
  • He prays protection from your enemy and the evil in the world (John 17:5).

“When our enemy is working, Christ is praying.”


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 Seven: The Place God Prepares For You

Day Seven: The Place God Prepares For You

by David Shannon Wooten – January 13, 2018

Your Heavenly Father claims you as His child. He declares it to the world. You are His. To clarify His love for you He uses the example of how a shepherd cares for his sheep. The shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures so they are fed; always protected and always provided for.

Psalm 100:3, “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Don’t ever doubt God’s care for you. He does not abandon His people. This year you may go through some dry seasons, but you never have to doubt that God will leave you in a barren place for a long period of time. In fact, the place that “feels” like barren to us, God is still providing. His promise to you…

There will be more green pastures in your life than barren places. Not only has God prepared some green bountiful places for you this year, Jesus promises to lead you there.

John 10:3-4, “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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Rejoice in His abundance. He is a good Father. He is a good Shepherd that knows how to lead his people.

“We are His people who live in His pasture. God never lets his pasture get barren. He knows how to care 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 Six: You Are Planted Not Buried

Day Six: You Are Planted Not Buried

by David Shannon Wooten – January 12, 2018

God’s growth plan has a mixture of seasons that consist of darkness, sunshine, rain, cold and warm days. You don’t have to be confused about the season when you know you are in God’s care. I remember going through a dark season and thoughts from the enemy flooded my mind. I thought I had seen my best days. Fear came over me about my health and future. I thought I would forever be stuck in certain situations and would never see a breakthrough.  God reminded me that the dark season was just a growing season for me. God was helping  my “roots of faith” to grow deeper and stronger. He assured me, that I wasn’t going to face devastation with these overwhelming feelings of being buried. God reminded me, He planted me and that new life would soon come. I began to say to myself,

“My enemy told me this season of darkness would bury me. God told me I’m not buried, I’m actually planted. This season will pass and life will come again”.

God wants to remind you that He has you in His hand. He is the “Author and Finisher” of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). The good work He began in you, He will complete (Philippians 1:6). A season of life and fruitfulness will soon come again (John 10:10).

John 12:24, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”


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