The Gospel Collective Podcast: The Significance of Slowing Down with Judy Lynch (Episode 06)

This week on the podcast we are introducing a discussion on spiritual disciplines and how intentional time with God can influence the way we experience Him in our lives on a daily basis. Our guest, Judy Lynch is sharing how big moments with God often come in the small moments in our lives when we simple slow down and make room for Him to move.

A special thank you to Bryan Talbott for producing the music on this weeks episode!

how to slow down

I Know Him is ONE!

I can’t believe it but this time LAST year (October 2nd to be exact!), I released my first book ever into the world. I’ve jokingly called it my “book baby” 😆 Friends. The way God has spoken and breathed life into this message has been nothing short of a miracle. He has taken this message and this ministry far and wide, allowing me to issue His charge to the Church to tell their stories of what God has done. For remembrance. For endurance. For GLORY. His, Glory, to be exact. This message redefines the “story” our world wants to tell. It is no longer sequences of events that we have endured, but rather how God has carried us through hills and valleys, and how He has moved in our lives throughout the seasons of deserts and abundance.

This message is the message he set the rhythm of my heart to long before I was born. This message and this book has been used mightily in my own life, as He shaped me a little more into who He really made me to be.

God used countless people in the making of this book to speak to me, shape me, and shine light on all the ways God made me for such a time as this. I am a shepherd of stories. A steward of the Gospel. When people ask me what I do, because of the work God has done the last few years, I get the honor to answer: I invite people to come and see who Jesus is by equipping the Church to tell their stories.

Seeing people experience God in real ways and never being the same is my greatest joy. Watching them speak of what God has done and run into the life they were created for is one of my greatest privileges. This book marks the beginning of a season in my life I lovingly call my “ONLY GOD” season. I’m still living it. I hope it NEVER ends.

Thank you to each of you who read this far, and who have read the book, any of the words God has put on my heart, and have prayed and partnered with me in any way. You guys mean more than the world to me—you are glimpses of heaven.

We are just getting started, friends. Let’s keeps sharing this message with all we’ve got. HE is worth it! To celebrate, we’ve made a FREE lockscreen that you can have as a reminder of what God has done, and we hope it encourages you to overcome darkness with the Blood of the Lamb and the words of your testimony. AND we are giving away a free copy of the book to celebrate! (We will just pull a random email from the entries for the lockscreen so be sure to get yours below!)

Tell one person what God has done for you today, and invite them to be part of the greatest story ever told—it’s what we are here for.

I will never get over what God has done for me or what you have all meant to me in this season of my life. Eternally grateful ,

Rachel Sweatt

Photos from the I Know Him Book Launch Party, photography by Katy Pair Photography.

The Gospel Collective Podcast: Why Submission is Necessary for Compassion with Kali Peddy (Episode 04)

How to Pray for Anyone

Today we are talking with Kali Peddy, who is sharing how God has transformed her perspective on goodness and self-control and how this work God has done in her has been the catalyst for a new lifestyle of compassion and humility. We are talking about the “mistruths” from our pasts and how redefining what we know to be true about God can altar the way we love and pray for others.

Listen to the episode below or find us in iTunes! Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there so future episodes land in your podcast library as soon as they are released!

The Gospel Collective Podcast

How to Pray for Anyone: Gentleness and Self-Control (Part Six)

Well friends, you made it! We are on the last week of our study over what God has to say about the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and how we can use Galatians 5:22-23 as a road map to praying powerful, sincere prayers for ANYONE. 

It is so fitting that we are concluding our time together with two of the most foundational and critical components to our faith. Even if we are pursuing all the other good and holy things, if we do not have these last two we are running in circles. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Gentleness.
Self-control. 

 

Nothing about our nature is gentle. We come into this life angry and sinful. Fearful. We go through our days doing what is required to just survive. Our culture has taught us that only the strong survive. We have to fake our strength to get ahead, and then fight some more to save our spot. 

Our nature is to feed our addictions, our habits, and our own desires. At whatever the costs. 

The problem is that this is the nature of our flesh-- not the nature of our faith. The default way of living a life of faith is dying.

It is dying to our selves. Our sin. Laying down all the reasons we are justified to get what we want, say what we want, have what we want. It is laying down our desire for security and instead picking up vulnerability, by choice. It is laying down our defiance and selfishness and instead choosing the bear the cross of unity for the sake of the Gospel. Unity with the Church for the health of the Church. Unity with countless other selfish and sinful people trying to lay down their own desires so everyone can run faster and more powerfully into their calling. 

Gentleness and self-control go hand in hand, even if it doesn't seem like it at first. If we are not constantly exercising control over what we want, we will never have the margin to see what is best for others. And a life following Jesus is not about getting what you want. It's about laying down what you want for what others need. Which is ironically exactly what you need too. 

If we lack self-control to say no to the things of our flesh, we will leave our sinful nature unchecked, in competition with the nature of our Spirit. But when we say YES to being intentional about every piece of our hearts and our lives, we say YES to being intentional with the tender pieces of other peoples hearts and lives as well. 

The gentleness we have towards others is a direct reflection of the control we have on our own selfishness within. With our time, our resources, and our gifts. If there is evidence of a gentle spirit, it is because we have allowed the cross to do its deadly work in us, putting to death our desires and instead invited the Spirit to cultivate a heart that for others. 

There is no better example than this than Jesus. He was never bothered by interruptions, impatient with people, or selfish with His time. He was so invested in what God was doing in the hearts of others that all His decisions were not based on the urgency of His needs, self-preservation, or even His own longing for solitude or progress. He was constantly dying so that others could live, long before that day at Calvary. 

The greatest evidence of the gratitude we have for what God has done for us is in the way we treat others and pray for others. The evidence we have that the Spirit lives in us is what the Spirit does through us. 

Gentleness // Self-Control
Ephesians 4:2
2 Corinthians 10:1
Galatians 6:1
2 Timothy 2:24-25
Proverbs 25:28
1 Corinthians 9:25
2 Timothy 1:6-7

Who or what is worth it to you today, to extend the extra hand of gentleness? Where is God asking you to lay down your desire for security or control and instead pick up vulnerability for the sake of cultivating a more sincere gentleness with others?

Who or what is worth your time? Where is self-control lacking in your life? In what ways is that hindering unity with others? In what ways are interruptions an opportunity to die to self in your own life? 

Our gentleness and self-control (or lack thereof) may either be the road or the roadblock to someone's repentance, freedom, or discovery of truth. We patiently endure this life with gentleness and self-control at every turn because restoration is WORTH IT.
Our families are WORTH IT.
Our friends are WORTH IT.
Our enemies are WORTH IT. 
Because HE is worth it. 

I am so thankful you went on this journey with me. I pray you have gained new insights about the fruit of the Spirit and what it means for your own lives and how to pray them for others. Keep asking God to cultivate these things in your lives, and interceding intentionally on the behalf of others. Every prayer matters. God gladly accepts every invitation to move in our lives because He says we are worth it. Let's show Him HE is worth it to us with every piece of our lives. 

Please let us know how God has spoken to you over the course of these last few weeks in the Word together! It is so encouraging to share what God has done! 

What was your favorite week/verse(s)? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. 

Once again, thank you so much for trusting me with your time here. I am continually praying for you all and so grateful for the ways you engage with and support this ministry! It is a JOY to run this race with you all! 

Grace and peace, 
Rachel Sweatt

how to pray

How to Pray for Anyone: Faithfulness (Part Five)

Friends, 

We are on our FIFTH week of this study, can you believe it?! We are FIVE weeks into digging into God's Word and inviting it to change our lives, and the lives of OTHERS through our petitions on their behalf. I want to hug every one of you and send you at least 4 cupcakes. Because heart work is HARD work, amen?! 

Before we seek out what God has to say about faithfulness, take a moment and reflect on all that God has showed you over the past few weeks. Ask Him to bring to memory all that He has taught you about these fruits of the Spirit, and evaluate the places you have invited the Spirit to cultivate those things in your life. 

Just tell Him "THANK YOU." 

Ok. Take a deep breath, grab your Bible and your journal and LET'S GO. 

Faithfulness. 

LOOK AT HOW DICTIONARY.COM defined faithful: 
adjective

  1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty:a faithful worker.

  2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.

  3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.

Does that make anyone else just want to cry?! Not only do we see this to be true time and time again of God in the Bible, but I am willing to bet every one of you can immediately think of a time you have experienced God as "faithful" in your life. True to His word. Steady in His friendship towards you. A faithful friend. 

Stunning. 

What's equally as stunning, is that we get the opportunity to be faithful BACK to Him. Because our God is a God of relationship, we get the privilege to either reciprocate our faithfulness, or not. We get the choice to be a faithful worker for the God of the universe. A faithful friend to our Maker.

Whoa. 

A faithful friend to the Lord. I can think of five people right now that are a faithful friend to the Lord. No matter what they have been through, they have been steadfast in their loyalty to God. In their service to Christ this side of heaven. They are ALL IN. Despite circumstances. they are committed. And I think it is safe to say hands down that they are so committed to God because they have seen His commitment to them. When you know someone is willing to do everything for you, its easy to lay it all down in return. 

That is exactly what Jesus did for us. 

And these faithful few, they have seen the hands of God move mountains for them in their lives. They have sensed His nearness in such a stunning, tangible way that all the trials didn't compare to the joy they found in His friendship. In his steadfastness. Because of His sacrifice. 

But what about when you don't know that someone would give it all for you? Have you ever realized that this is what God sees in us every day? Since the exile from Eden, our faithfulness has been uncertain. He knows what He desires us to choose, but in the moment, the choice to be faithful is entirely up to us. And yet...He is unchanged in His love for us. He'll still show up...even when we don't. 

Even when we don't show up to make things right, He shows up to convict and correct and redeem.
Even when our hearts hurt, He shows up for our marriages.
Even when our kids are wandering, He shows up to pursue them with kindness. 
Even when our jobs are unsteady, His providence never waivers. 
Even when our selfishness takes us out of the game, He still shows up to watch and see what we will do next. Faithfulness is hopeful. No matter what. And you know what is encouraging to me today, friend? 

Our unfaithfulness does not deter God's faithfulness.

AMEN?!

Our choices do not change who He is, but they do change us. And these faithful few have seen Him be steadfast in their lives in every way imaginable. Healer. Redeemer. Provider. Friend. Savior. Maybe you've seen Him in similar ways. Do your choices reflect your thankfulness for what He's done for you? 

Because of the faithfulness of God these men and women have seen and experienced, they have been changed. They are all in with God because, like similarly to when the disciples answer Jesus' question when He asks if they are going to leave too, they have answered, "Where else would we go?" (John 6:68) There is no other for them.

There is no other for me. 

What about you?  

Faithfulness
Deuteronomy 32:4
John 24:14
Psalm 91:4
Psalm 91:14-16
Proverbs 3:3
Isaiah 11:5
Lamentation 3:21-25
Romans 3:34

Even when our faith fails, He never does. Yet it is His faithfulness that opens our eyes to see there really is no other. Everything pales in comparison. Our issues. Other people's issues. Where do we need to invite the Spirit in to cultivate some more faithfulness in our lives? Who in your life needs to be reminded that God is faithful no matter what? Ask God to show His faithfulness to them, once more. Ask Him to show you. Then be ready to show Him what that means to you. Are you willing to lay it all down? What is faithfulness looking like in your life right now? Where are you "all in", no matter what the cost?

I can't wait to hear what God is stirring up in your hearts and see what this looks like in the lives of others. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below! 
 

Praying for each of you this week. Be encouraged friends, He is so for you. 
Grace and peace,
Rachel Sweatt 

Faithfulness

 

How to Pray for Anyone: Kindness and Goodness (Part Four)

In these last few years of my life, it is the kindness of God that has been one of my favorite things about Him. Reading these scriptures just affirmed that I have testimony after testimony of the Lord's kindness and goodness in my life. 

I don't say that it's my favorite because of the favor that has come from situations (both good and bad). The reason when I think of the Lord's kindness and goodness my breath catches in my chest is because it is a pure gift. Not just a gift, like from a friend. It's a completely undeserved gift. Not one single day comes to a close with me having earned one ounce of His kindness. His goodness wrecks me in the best way. He had every right to allow my sin to make me his enemy. But instead, he calls me Beloved? 
 

Straight. to. the. heart. 

When the Bible says it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), I know exactly what that means. I have experienced this Scripture in my life the last year more than ever before. His love is so great and unconditional that it makes me want to weep over my sin. My offenses. Knowing full well if someone did things like that to me, we would be DONE. No more chances. But God? 

No. That's not who He is. 

A new chance is gifted with each moment of repentance. New mercies as abundant as the sea. Imagine waking up every morning to a gift on your front porch wrapped up with a note reminding you of just how loved you are that simply says, "Unconditionally."
Love, your Father. 

The kindness and goodness of Jesus is all over the pages of Scripture. Below you'll find verses about God's love for us and how that should radically change the way we treat others and pray for them. 

Have you ever been shown kindness by someone? Have you ever experienced undeserved goodness from a stranger? Maybe someone covered your tab at a restaurant unbeknownst to you. Maybe a friend anonymously delivered flowers to your doorstep. Maybe someone's saved a seat for you at the table or at church or school. 

Jesus has saved a seat for us. It is our choice whether we take it. He not only saved us and raised us--He literally has saved a seat for us. Despite our offenses. Despite our selfishness. THIS is kindness. Immeasurable kindness is saving a seat for those that fail, because His love never will. And when we show kindness to someone else, we are showing them that because God loves us no matter what, we can too. 

God's kindness + goodness is undeserved abundance. It means there's always room for love to be greater. Always a seat at the table. 

We've received it. 
It should be our JOY to give it. 

Kindness
Proverbs 21:21
Hosea 11:4
Zechariah 7:9
Ephesians 2:4-7
Titus 3:3-7

Goodness
Exodus 33:18-19
Ps. 23:6
Zechariah 9:16-17
Titus 3:4

Moses asked to see God's glory and God chose to show him His goodness. God reveals His glory in His goodness. If we want to see His glory, we've got to look for His goodness. If we are not seeing His glory--we are missing His goodness. If we are not seeing His goodness, we are missing His glory. God's goodness is His glory. Where is His goodness being revealed in your life? Share your answer in the comments! Tell your story for His glory. Talk about how the Lord has been kind and good to you. And ask Him to let you know how you can pray for others to experience the same. 

Who in your life needs to know that there is still a seat for them at your table? How can you show the Lord's goodness to your neighbors? Those that serve your community and your church maybe? Maybe someone in your life needs to be reminded of that God loves them unconditionally, no matter what. Ask God to send someone to tell them that they are loved TODAY. The ways to pray for God to cultivate this in the lives of others (and our own) is endless.
 

A Seat at the table

The Gospel Collective Podcast: Remembering what God has Done In the Past While You Wait for Him to Move in Your Future with Lissa Anglin (Episode 03)

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This weeks guest is Lissa Anglin, a West Texas Professional Photographer and she is dropping some major wisdom on what patience means to her and her perspective gives us a front row seat to watch someone who loves God be asked to walk a long road, and her perspective gives us great insight on what people in hard situations really need us to pray over them (or for ourselves while we wait!). She is sharing what her experiences taught her about embracing the raw journey of a faith filled life and how it changed her relationship with God for the better, forever. 

I think it would be SO cool for anyone that listens to leave a prayer for Lissa and her family! I know it would be a HUGE blessing to her so either tag her on social media or leave a comment here to let her know you were encouraged and a leave a little word of encouragement or scripture for her! 

Take a listen below or find us on iTunes! Don't forget to subscribe + leave a review while you're there to help support the ministry and the podcast! 

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Check our Lissa's blog HERE and follow her family and faith adventure! 

How to Pray for Anyone: Patience (Part Three)

Welcome back for week three! I am so hopeful that you are enjoying diving into these scriptures, and that you are feeling God breathe some fresh life into your life in every way. This week we are going to be studying what the Bible has to say about PATIENCE, so we can better know how to cultivate this characteristic in our own life AND be better equipped to pray specific things regarding patience anyone in a season of waiting or trying--whether that is someone else in our life or ourselves. 

When I think of patience, I think of all those older women that warned me (jokingly) growing up: Whatever you do, DON'T PRAY FOR PATIENCE! He'll give you plenty of opportunities to practice! And nothing could prepare me for just how true that was! 😆

But, on a serious level, patience may be one of the most revealing traits about us. About our relationship with the Lord. In our reading this week, I was a little bit sucker punched by the connection between idol worship and patience. It seems like a stretch, but when you dig in you'll soon see that when our trust of God to answer our prayers and keep us begins to fail, our lack of patience leaves from for us to put stock in something else. Someone else. Something else to put on the throne that belongs to God. Our impatience reveals our belief (or lack thereof) that God really is who He says He is. Our impatience dethrones our Maker. 

Over and over in the Bible, we see that patience is cultivated, each time we choose to die to our selves at a time. Our timing. Our plans. The only thing that can change our ability to patient in seasons and with our friends, families, and coworkers is digging our feet down deep in the conviction that God's wisdom is what is best for everyone involved. And friends, that is HARD. 

But it is worth it. Why? Because patience is an essential component to our calling (Eph. 4:1-3). We can't do the things of God with the mind of God on a self-absorbed, intrinsicly motivated time table. Things of God are on eternity's calendar. Oh, the things we don't see right now. The hurts and frustrations that block our view of what is just beyond. We have to remember that just as God is working things out for us, He is working things out for the rest of those that love Him. He's transforming them. We cannot expect people and people's plans to be more perfect than we are. We ALL fall short and our patience (or lack thereof) kindly reminds of that OFTEN. Patience partners with gentleness and humility (which we'll study later) to give us the endurance we need to dig down deep and bear with one another. Patience is pivotal for grace.
 

Think about God's grace for YOU in your life, how many times He has given YOU grace. Undeserved. Think about His patience towards you. Long-suffering compassion. This is the model we have for the peace that we are expected to bear when we invite the Spirit to come in and do His thing in our lives. His patience towards us is an example, a blueprint, so we can be patient and pray patience for others. 

We often get caught up in things we are waiting for and it seems like a thousand years. 1 Peter and 2 Peter both describe God's patience as our deliverance. Can you imagine where we would be if God had thrown in the towel on us? Because we literally CANNOT GET IT TOGETHER, 2000 YEARS LATER? Thank God He said we were worth the wait that day in the garden when humanity chose idolatry in the garden over intimacy with God.

Patience is more than just keeping your cool or waiting until something changes. Patience is gratitude for God not giving up on us revealed in the way we treat our circumstances, our relationships, and our prayers for others. 
 

Take a moment and pray before you dive into these verses. Ask God to make the reality of His love for you real. Ask God to put someone on your heart that needs to be encouraged to be patient because God said they too were worth waiting for. 

PATIENCE
Luke 8:15
Hosea 14:8
Ephesians 4:1-3
1 Timothy 1:16
1 Peter 3:20
2 Peter 3:15

What does patience look like in your life right now? How could you pray patience for someone in your life? Leave us an example of one of your prayers using any of the scripture above in the comments lifting up an (unnamed) person in your life so we can learn from real life examples as well as seek the Lord on your behalf as well for each person. Every willing person here makes an eternal difference! 

How to pray for patience

How To Pray for Anyone: Peace (Part Two)

Welcome to week TWO of our study! I am so prayerful and expectant that God will continue to shed light on the things we are seeking, and will use His Word in our lives in powerful ways. Like last week, I will share the Scriptures for you to seek out on your own. Take notes of what verses stand out to you, who and what comes to mind as you read them. Journal your insights. Finally, pray those specific Scriptures over those people that God stirred your heart about. Think about your family, friends, co-workers, and community. Be intentional about praying peace through the lens of scripture. Write down your prayers with the Holy anticipation you will be back to record the date and ways they were answered. Praying these specific things regarding peace for people could CHANGE LIVES. Legacies. (Don't forget you don't have to get through this all in one day! Take your time. Steep in the scriptures. You have the WHOLE week to meditate on what God has to say about this.) 

Take a few moments before you begin your study today (or each day!) and still your heart and steady you mind. Ask God to make you sensitive to the stirrings of His Spirit and free of distraction. I am praying that as we dive into PEACE today, we all experience HIM in a new way in our lives. I am praying that as week study what God has to say about this ONE thing that we all seem to be chasing, our pursuit of peace leads us to a renewed perspective of who He is and what He longs for us to experience while we each run our race for His glory. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." 
Galatians 5:22-23

Just as pain and suffering unites people across the world, similarly we are all in pursuit of peace. We long for peace in our world, our workplaces. and our homes. The drivenness of our culture pushes out the margin we could have had for stillness, and the consequence of sin continually wreaks havoc on the steadiness our souls long for. Peace has been an exile since Eden. Forced out of our lives by the choices we often make, and some that are seemingly made for us. What does the Bible have to say about peace? What would it look like if we began powerfully petitioning that God BRINGS IT BACK into our lives and the lives of those we love. The Bible is clear that God does not withhold peace, sin prevents it from having its rightful place in our lives. 

PEACE
Numbers 6:24-26
Psalm 85:8
Isaiah 26:3
John 14: 27
Romans 5:1
1 Corinthians 7:15
1 Corinthians 14:33
Philippians 4:7
Colossians 1:19-20
Colossians 3:15
Hebrews 12:14
Hebrews 12:11
James 3:18
1 Peter 3:11

Number 6:24-26 says that peace is a blessing from God Himself. He longs to give it to us. Peace is an effect of experiencing God in our lives. Peace is a result of seeing God in our lives, seeing who He really is--a friend. A steady, loyal friend who never changes, is never surprised or swayed. Just like Moses experienced Him face to face, when we pray for someone to have peace in their lives, we are praying for them to experience God in their lives, face to face. 

One thing I noticed over and over in these scriptures is that His peace is always a benefit of being in HIS will. The peace of God is motivation to stay in His will and His wisdom. Just like a parent, He knows what is best for us because He wants the best for us. I don't know about you, but just to have some peace in my life is well worth committing to doing my very best to following His advice on how to live to an abundance of it. If I don't have peace--it is not because God hasn't given it. His word promises that He keeps us in PERFECT peace. If we follow it. If I don't have peace in my life, it is because I am not TRUSTING Him, I am not trusting that He really knows what it best for me.

At the end of the day, as believers, peace should be our nature--NOT chaos. However, it does not happen in our lives naturally. Peace is sown. A life of peace is intentional, made choice by choice.  It does not matter if we don't feel like making peace at the moment or pursuing it -- we are CALLED to it. When we resist peace, we are potentially hindering others from experiencing God. We cannot be who we are made to be and do what we are made to do if we are resisting the pursuit of peace, because that means we are resistant to His will for us. If we are not doing everything to cultivate peace in our lives and our relationships, we are choosing a life that is not made for us. It's not enough to just look for peace here and there when troubles come our way. 

A pursuit of peace means we've got to run after it like our lives depend on it. Because at the end of the day, they do. There is far too much at stake to live this life without a steady anchor to keep us from going off the deep end. The water around us may be unsettled but we cannot afford to be. 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Do you find that it is easy or difficult to pursue peace in your own life? What verses stood out to you? What did God reveal to you about peace in your own life? How can you pray one (or more) of these verses over people in your life? Share you thoughts in the comment section, we are all in this together! It is SO important that we talk about what we are seeing God do and hearing God say. I can't wait to hear from you! 

Grace and Peace, 
Rachel

how to pray for peace

The Gospel Collective Podcast: Episode One with Shawn Freeby

Podcast guest Shawn Freeby shares his perspective on joy and why that is important continually cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude in our families, our workplaces, and in our faith. 

Listen below or check it out on iTunes and subscribe to get weekly podcast episodes straight to your podcast library. 

Finding Joy

Questions for reflection:

How you cultivate joy in your life? What are some ways you personally create a lifestyle of gratitude in your family, workplace, or hard circumstances? Have you ever prayed for God to cultivate joy in someone's life? What was the result? Let us know your answers in the comment section, we read every comment and can't wait to hear from you! 

How to Pray for Anyone: Love and Joy (Part One)

Hey friends! 

I am so excited to dig into the very first part of our series on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically how we can use Galatians 5:22-23 as a guide to pray boldly and sincerely for anyone in our lives. We are diving this week and we're going to make our way through the various traits, in concordance with the ESV.

Here is the layout for this shin dig 😉:

Every week I'm going to kick off the blog post by sharing the two verses we are building this study around, so we remember where we've been and where we are headed. Since we are only taking this week by week, each post will be composed of two elements at a time. Each week, I will layout specific Scriptures and insights God revealed to me during my own time and study over these topics that I feel are instrumental in our task. My hope is that you spend sometime time over the week, either a little every day or all at once (you do you, boo!). Additionally, my vision for this was that each participant would WRITE down their prayers for their people, using the Scriptures we studied or whatever else God has used in regards to this study. I am going to try to keep my words SHORT (I know--I am just as doubtful as you are, HA!😆 But I am going to TRY) so that the Spirit has room to move and you are equipped to take the material and apply them to your own prayers closets and lives in whatever way the Spirit prompts you to do so. 

Let's dive in! 

 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

I'm going to take a  second to be real here. When I began this study there were some very tender relationships in my life. (As I am assuming are in yours too! At least one if we are honest ;)  When I got into the Scripture we are going to work through today, it made me want to WEEP. Like, ugly cry in my kitchen. God did some tremendous heart-work through these first few verses to remind me who He is and how He feels towards me. Which, in turn, led me to a time of serious repentance on my part. Which supernaturally cultivated a change of perspective for these people and God's heart towards them. My prayer is that you experience the same. It was LIFE CHANGING. And it was only day one! 

LOVE
The Greek word for this specific type of love is "AGAPE". In Strong's Hebrew and Greek dictionary, it is defined as this: "Spoken especially of good will toward other, the love of our neighbor, brotherly affection, which the Lord commands and inspires."
Love that God commands. 
Love that God inspires.


 Colossians 3:14-15
Matt. 5:43, 19:19, 23:39
Luke 6:32
John 15:13, 17:26
Romans 13:10
1 Corinthians 13:1
2 Corinthians 2:4,8
2 Thess. 1:3
Hebrews 6:10
1 Peter 4:8
1 Jn. 4:7

Questions for reflection: 
Is there evidence of the kind of love inspired by Christ in YOUR life? What does that kind love look like? One a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you are doing on loving people well? 

JOY
Mathew 2:10; 13:20, 44; 28:8
Luke 1:14: 15:7-10
John 16:20
1 Peter 1:7-8

(Here are some places that were discussed as the grounds for joy, the occasion for JOY. I found it FASCINATING.) 
Luke 2:10
Philippians 4:1
1 Thess. 2:19, 20
James 1:2
2 John 4

Here's what blew me away about JOY. 
In the Bible, the most intense joy described is often located near a significant point of despair. It also is the one thing that make all else pale in comparison. JOY is the seemingly the key to eternal perspective--it is HOPE for really matters. I think it because of the hope that we have anchored in Jesus, and His victory that is ours by birthright. In JOY we have a tiny taste of heaven, of what our souls were created to dwell in. 

It makes circumstances endurable. Trials worth sustaining. Good things better. Joy is the avenue to eternal perspective. Joy is not the same things as happiness. Happiness is fleeting, circumstantial. Joy is contentment despite circumstances, because of the anchor of hope we have in Jesus. Joy is gratitude for what God has done and what He will do. 


It is JOY that shines the brightest in every dark season. Joy is the security in the promises of God and who He is. Joy has the power to change everything for us now, because Jesus changed everything for us on the cross. 
 

Questions for reflection: 
Where in your life have you experienced the most JOY? What is close to season of heartache? 

How do you cultivate JOY in your life, without relying on happiness? Another way to phrase this would be how do you cultivate joy when circumstances are not "happy"? 

How can you pray LOVE and JOY over people in your life? Write these down in your prayer journals. You don't even have to come up with your own words. PRAY THE SCRIPTURES over the people God has laid on your heart. Your friend. Your sister. Your neighbor. Your enemy. But don't forget to ask God to shine light in your own heart where you need Him to grow these things in your life as well. If you don't have that kind of love in your heart, ASK HIM to give it to you, and teach you to give it freely to others. If you can't muster up an ounce of JOY in your own life, ask God why. And ASK HIM to open the floodgates of heaven to rain joy straight into your soul. He's waiting to do it for you and for those He loves. 

I'm praying for you guys! Let me know what verses guided your prayers this week! I would so love to hear what God is speaking to you throughout this journey. Remember, HIS Word will NOT return void! 

Grace and peace, 
Rachel

Love and Joy

From the Outside Looking In: How to Sincerely Pray for Anyone in Your Life (Introduction)

Four years ago, I was part of a mentor group that changed my life. The things God did in that season have been imperative in where I have found myself today. I hope to never get over what God did for me through that group of wise, authentic, God fearing women. I had prayed for about three years for God to send someone to help me navigate this place, and man did he answer that in my friend and mentor, Judy. From the day I met her I knew she anointed with a wisdom that only comes from the Lord, she had a kindness in her eyes that spoke of compassion and lessons learned but wasted no words or moments with things that were not asked of her by God. 

One evening at one of our monthly meetings, we were discussing how often we find it hard to pray for those around us, especially those that have hurt us. We walked through the notion that we have the desire to pray for them, even forgive them, but in our prayer closets those prayers often would feel hypocritical. We didn't mean it. And that meant we were lying to the Holy Spirit while seeking the presence of God. A BIG no-no.

The more we talked, the more we realized that we often would similarly want to pray big things for those we love, but would get stuck in knowing the most effective way to pray for God to do big and beautiful things in their hearts. So then we would find ourselves settling for half-hearted prayers put together with shallow, common words and phrases of well intentioned wishes (rather than prayers), on behalf of those that have our whole hearts because we weren't up for the work that it takes to figure out to how pray boldly and sincerely. Also a BIG no-no. It's like praying for God to bless your friend with a good day, when in the same time you could have petitioned that God would breathe fresh life into her lungs, show her something new, heal something broken. In both situations, it really just came down to a lot of missed opportunities for power-packed prayer on the behalf of others. 

Then, our mentor offered her experience. What she shared has changed my life in such tangible ways that I was never able to shake it. She looked at us and said, "If I have an enemy, there is no way that I am going to ever be able to sincerely pray for God to bless them financially. I'm just not. And if I say that I am, I am lying to the Holy Spirit. BUT, what I can do sincerely, is pray that God would cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in their life. I can pray that would experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in their life. And I will mean that with my whole heart, every. time." 

BAM. And just like that, she had equipped me with a Biblical perspective that kept my prayers aligned with God's will for not only my enemies, but for those I love. For anyone that God laid on my heart to pray for, regardless of circumstance or situation, I could make the most of my petition for them. 

Fast forward to a few months ago. I was chatting with a close friend and she share that she had found herself not even praying anymore because she was so resistant to praying for this person, she knew that she couldn't do it sincerely so she had been wrestling the temptation to stiff-arm prayer entirely. She told me that she knew that the enemy was the one leveraging this specific relationship, this one hang up, to isolate her from communion with God and others. One of Satan's favorite lies is to tell us is that if we can't do it perfectly, why even try? If we can't do one thing that we know is good for us, or that one thing God is prompting us to do, then we just need to take ourselves out of the game entirely. 

We've all heard it from him. And I would probably be willing to say we've all believed it for a hot minute at least at some point in our lives. 

I can't commit to a full hour of Bible study and prayer in the morning so I'm just not going to do any of it until I can. (LIE--One minute with the Holy Spirit has the power to change more in your life that one million sermons on Sundays.) 

I know I'm not going to be able to serve every single weekend (or I don't want to) so I'm not going to say yes to ANYTHING. (LIE--Serving is not a one size fits all. Just say yes and God will give you opportunities for your availability. ALWAYS.) 

I can't commit to a healthy lifestyle because I have (XYZ) this weekend so I'll just wait until it's a better time. Or a new month. Or a Monday. If it could be the 1st on a Monday that would be GREAT. That's when I'll start. ;)  (LIE--there will never be a better time.)

I can't say yes to pouring into someone else because I don't have time to meet with them every week so I'll just wait until I am RETIRED. (LIE--you don't retire from the Great Commission)

I'll start spending time with God every day when the babies start sleeping, when my shift changes, when life is not so crazy. (LIE--You will never dedicate more time to things that are "optional" than you do now. Even if you are 105 you will fill your time with what is important to you.)  

___________________________________
(Fill in your own excuses here) 

If we can't do it right every single time, why even bother.

That's what he wants us to believe. Thats what he wanted her to believe. She had been wounded. Satan was using her love for this person against her and as a resource for building a wall between her and her intimacy with God. And she was OVER IT. 

So we started talking about how this was actually something SO MANY of us have struggled with at one point or another, if we are honest. The legalistic approach to faith is fatal. Because there is power in just faith every singe way other than legalism. And at the end of the day, if we are not authentic in our faith and in our prayers, we are legalistic. Hypocritical. And we have ALL BEEN THERE. So if you're feeling quilty right now, that isn't from the Lord. But conviction, that feeling that leads us to repentance? That totally is. Lean in. Hear me when I say this: we may be legalistic every once in a while because we are SINNERS. But we are ALWAYS loved by God. And His kindness leads us to repentance. So, like my wise friend shared, that may be the way we are feeling, and maybe for legitimate reasons. But it is not ok to stay there. 

So, how do we get unstuck in our prayers for others? We look inside. We refuse to let the outside symptoms become strongholds in our lives and in our petitions for others. We invite Christ to allow the cross do its work in us and pray for the Spirit to do His thing in all of us. I shared with her what Judy had taught me. and how it had changed my life. We decided together to begin praying and studying through the fruit of the Spirit, and await God's movement. As we were talking, I immediately felt God prompt me to share what we were learning here in this space, as a resource for anyone else looking to take their faith and prayers to the next level.

Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking though a series on the Fruit of the Spirit. We are going to dig deep into God's Word and ask Him to teach us to pray these things over those He puts on our hearts so we can make the most of our prayers and invite Him to cultivate His will in our lives along the way, so as we bear the name of Jesus on our foreheads, we may also bear the fruit of what He has done for us in our lives. 

Are you IN?! Let me know in the comments below so I can be praying for you as we go through this together. ALSO: This is the FIRST EVER group I am inviting to do this specific study with (YAY!) Fun fact: I recently was invited to partner with YouVersion (!!!) and THIS STUDY will be the first Bible plan I offer on the YouVersion app as we conclude! So please, please share what God is showing you, teaching you, and how He is moving in your life throughout this journey. Who knows, maybe your feedback will make it into the study! I think it would be SO COOL to share snippets from you guys that participated this round.  I have a holy anticipation that He is awaiting to hear from us and is ready to do what He does best. 

Here's to powerful prayers, real faith, and changed hearts and lives beginning with US. 

With so much gratitude, 
Rachel

How to Pray for Anyone

ONLY GOD

New Season

Hey friends! 

I am beyond thrilled you are here! I have been waiting so long for you to join me in this journey, and to fill you in on all that God has been doing! Over the last few months, I have been taken some time to pray and ask God to establish our next steps in this ministry. As many of you know, I have been writing for about two years now, released I Know Him last October (eek!) and have since then followed God's leading to host a podcast, deliver radio broadcasting, teaching workshops and speaking engagements. 

In this season of my life, I have said on multiple accounts that if there was a "motto" for my life right now it would be this: ONLY GOD. And friends, I am prayerful and hopeful that this continues to be what my life looks like for this next season. My deepest desire is for anything that God allows me to put my hand to simply be the vehicle that reveals that it is only by His doing, for His glory and for the good of others. So far, He has been answering this prayer in abundantly beautiful, unexpected ways (as is often His way!). 

Over the summer, I have been praying and reading, seeking counsel and asking God to establish our steps. The words God put in my heart for this season are "fruitful" and "sustainable". I am here for the long haul, fully surrendering to the calling He has put on my life and the fire in my bones with which He made me. I have an urgency to preach the Gospel, to see God move, and to see those He loves running hard after Him, experiencing Him at every turn and and forever changed as a result.

I don't know that I've ever share this before, but from the time I was in 5th grade I knew that I was made to share the Gospel with my whole heart and my whole life, even though I never knew what that meant or what that even looked like. Being so young, I kind of just let that happen and moved on, not really knowing what else to do with it. Then when I was 15, God lovingly and kindly snapped me out of what I call "life fog", and through several instrumental people and His Word, He shined His brilliant light straight into my heart and on my purpose and I've never looked back. The verse that God used to affirm what He had done in my heart and changed the direction of my life that year was this: 

"But if I say, “I will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot." Jeremiah 20:9

I remember reading that when I was wondering what in the ever-loving world God was doing and I heard God speak: "THIS IS HOW I MADE YOU. This urgency, this overwhelming desire to make every moment count is not an accident. MY Word will be a fire in your bones, because I AM A CONSUMING fire." 

So with every ounce of passion, every fiber of my being, every wave of conviction, I am brought back to the roots of my mission. His Word is living and active, His presence is in our midst. 

The realization that experiencing God and talking about what He has done is single-handedly the most powerful way we can share the Gospel and overcome darkness has only added fuel to my fire. We live the lives we were created for when we make the most of every single moment in our lives, pursuing nothing but the fullness of God. That is why I spend every moment I have creating resources and sharing messages that equip women to run hard after Jesus for the rest of their lives, for the glory of God and the good of others. 

The Words of our testimony partnered with the blood of the Lamb is our strategy. The Sword of the Spirit is our weapon. The present moment is our advantage. 

This space will be one of the ways I try to do my best for Jesus. In an effort to be wise and better steward the things God has asked me to do, I am streamlining all the different pieces on this site. The blog is where you will find what God is teaching me, and what He has laid on my heart to share with you all! There is also a resources page where you can purchase Bible studies, books, and other resources to equip you in your faith. The podcast will continue to be utilized to talk about what God is doing in the lives of believers around the world, but will additionally go a step further and intentionally equip listeners with tangible, applicable ways to go deeper in their faith, run harder in their race, and experience God in new and powerful ways. 

Here is to a new season full of things only God could do! Thanks for running this race with me. I really would love this to be a place of sharpening, encouraging, and edifying conversation. Let me know you are here and how I can best be praying for you, what God is doing in your life, or maybe even some resources that would be helpful to you! 

Grace and peace, 

Rachel