Living a Life of PRAISE


Pure Devotion

He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”
Matthew 26:39

We have all experienced suffering of some sorts whether its through a death, sickness, marriage problems, kids rebelling, finances, or life not turning out the way we wanted. But our suffering has never and will never come close to the suffering of Christ who in this moment knew of the pain and agony to come. I think of how painful my sin alone would be on Him but to take everyones sin is an unbearable thought.

In His desperation, His devotion is clear. How often do we ask God for things simply because it would benefit us? How often are our prayers for others motivated by jealousy or pride? Here Jesus demonstrates a real yet pure heart. He doesn’t want to go forward (who would) but what He wants more than anything is to please His Father. His goal in life was to complete the task God had for Him, no matter what! He wasn’t going to let pain, fear, or uncertainty dictate His next steps. He relied completely on His Fathers will.

Prayer for Today:
May we remember this selfless act of Jesus today. He has paved the way for us to live lives that are radical for You. May we desire obedience in times of suffering and trials.

Advertisements

Prayerful Friends

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:19, 20

This verse ignites with the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit brings unity between you and another person, there must be immediate prayer. He is bringing you together to unite on a common request or desire or burden. Never ignore this collision. We have been given the gift to be aligned with the living God and see His miracles unfold when we ask accordingly. We need to daily be aware of where the Spirit is leading so we can experience all God has for us.

If you are stuck and want to be in agreement with God, talk to a friend you know will speak truths to you and then pray for change. If you and a friend are in agreement for another friend who is sick or in sin or straddling the fence, don’t just talk about them, pray for them. That eliminates gossip and it allows all of you to rejoice when you see God move in the situation.

Prayer for Today:
God bring people into our life we can trust so that in times of need we have a place to turn. May we be so in tune with You, our prayers are heard and we have the faith to believe they will be answered.


Believe in a Breakthrough

O Lord I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.
Psalm 88:13

Are there things in your life you are constantly bringing to God? Are there issues you are waiting to see resolved? Are you in need of a breakthrough? Then you’re not alone because this psalmist was too.

There is a desperation that wells up from within when we cry out to God but how often do we do this? We need to be real in front of Our God who already knows our thoughts. We need to be honest with those around us about our situations and struggles. If there is urgency in your soul to see God reveal Himself, don’t hesitate. Tell Him now.

Discipline is a wonderful characteristic to have and it’s often birthed when we commit to bringing something to God every time it comes up. We then follow that commitment with obedience. After being honest with God we need to be still and wait for His reply. If we’re easily distracted we need to remove ourselves from the distraction and tell God-I’m not leaving this place until I hear from You.

Prayer for Today:
God many of us are hurting and in desperate need for You to breakthrough. We praise You for all You have done and all You are doing in the unseen. May we open our hearts to You today and have the courage to take the next step.


God First

I’ve been a bit discouraged in not being able to keep up with this blog page as much as I would like so I thought the least I could do was post some devotionals I wrote for our church a few weeks ago. Our pastor was doing a series on prayer so heres the first one:

MY VOICE YOU SHALL HEAR IN THE MORNING, O LORD;
IN THE MORNING I WILL DIRECT IT TO YOU,
AND I WILL LOOK UP.
Psalm 5:3

So many things in life keep us from God like sickness, laziness, busyness, kids, jobs, or even thinking we’re doing okay without Him. When I allow these things to over ride my devotion to God, my life never goes well. I end up frustrated before I even make it downstairs. However, when I do have morning time devoted to God I am filled with peace and excitement for the day.

Another translation says “I wait expectantly” instead of “I will look up”. Isn’t that what waiting expectantly should be like, we look up. Not looking around waiting and wondering how and when things are going to work out, but looking up at the face of God and trusting in His character. He wants our hearts and will allow the times of waiting to draw us in and experience a love encounter with Him.

Prayer for Today:
Lord thank you for drawing us in even when we are looking around. May we see you today as we fix our gaze upon You. May we have a deep desire and burn to be in Your presence today. Thank You for Your unfailing love!


Speechless

I received so many emails and face book comments asking about yesterdays church service as well as people in prayer leading up to it so instead of replying individually I thought I would just write it out. I wouldn’t be able to do God justice by just sending a reply explaining the day and I still won’t by writing this but I’m going to try.

There has been such an excitement leading up to yesterdays first service in the mall and I found myself with butterflies on the way there. I got there early and was surprised to see people already going in. As it got closer to the service beginning I stood in front of the doors to the main auditorium watching masses of people come through the corridor. They were young, old, families, new people, and tons of people I had never seen before. At that moment it felt like something was unhooked from heaven. It was as if favor and blessings came raining down onto and into the place. It was bigger than just our church it was the mall that was surrounded in God’s presence.

As Tim welcomed everyone to Life Community Church a roar and claps erupted. People were excited and ready to worship and encounter Jesus. Tim made it clear we are not to worship this cool facility but simply see it as an opportunity to reach more people on a daily basis and its not about “Life cc”. We are a kingdom minded church meaning we are all about churches all around and we pray and bless them every Sunday. We have awesome relationships with many pastors in town and want to grow in having more.

As Matt began worship I was nervous of how it would go. Our church is normally a church of 250 and we are a worshipping church meaning people are clapping and raising hands and excited to praise God. However with 415 people there yesterday many of whom were new I was skeptical as to how the dynamics would work out. Well you wouldn’t even know because as I looked around people were singing and moving and praising. Of course there are people who are new to it all and those who are just checking it out but for the most part they were in it to win it and you could feel God’s satisfaction in the place.

I had a moment as I watched and listened to Matt lead and tears came flowing down my face. There is no doubt he is gifted and anointed to do what he does. He is able to captivate people and bring them into the presence of God. It doesn’t matter if its an upbeat song or a slow song, if its him and the band or just him and a guitar. But what got me and made me so proud was how far he has come as a man of God in a year.

When we moved back to Wilmington we were broken and distraught. Life had not turned out like we thought and the feeling of being a failure was very heavy. We put all of our belongings into storage living with friends and family for a couple months. Matt did not have a job and our debt was out of control. Our marriage was struggling as financial stress was adding up and trust had been broken. Matt put his music on the back burner to get a 9-5 job to support us as a family. It started off part time and eventually went to full time. What he was making was just covering our bills, not grocery or gas but God always provided for us in miraculous ways. It was a painful time as a wife to see my husband so broken yet the growth that was happening in him was extraordinary. I began to pray Psalm 90:17 daily for him that said, “And may the Lord God show us His approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!” At the time there didn’t seem to be much success but I knew this was a promise of God and I was going to hold fast to it for Matt. He kept doing the next right thing and the bible says we will see a “harvest of blessings at the appropriate time” (Gal. 6:9). In the midst of friendships changing and uncertainties and him beginning to hear the voice of God, I saw both these scriptures come to light in his life. God reminded me of this continuous prayer yesterday morning as I watched him worship freely and speak from a pure heart. God has restored all that was broken just a year ago and far surpassed my prayer requests for our life. He has built Matt back up into a stronger man and I have a new respect and admiration for him as my husband. There is no doubt he is right where he is suppose to be and I’m so thankful God gave us the courage to step out on faith and follow Him when so many people and things were discouraging us to do so.

Our church has a brief time of prayer for healing, breakthrough, marriage struggles, financial issues, whatever someone needs faith for. When we had this time yesterday there were so many people they were wrapped around the front of the stage. I could not believe how quickly people appeared up there. Again, you could feel God at work. Our pastors sermon was filled with hope and encouragement as he challenged us to rise above our messes in life. God wants us to have an abundant life but we often chose to complain or stay stuck. The power of His Word is always evident on Sundays and I feel like it goes straight into my soul bringing back to life the places that were dead. Tim, our pastor, asked those to stand who wanted to commit their lives to Christ or recommit. It was like people were jumping out of their seats. As I looked around it appeared to be 3/4 the congregation! As we closed with another praise song people were singing so loud I’m sure they heard it down at the carousel. Tim sent us off by saying, “when you leave here don’t go being bible thumping christians but instead show that you love your life by tipping well and filling this place with the joy of the Lord.” And they did. When we went out to eat afterwards restaurants were overflowing with people from church and relationships were even made with restaurant managers and staff.

So the day was phenomenal! Personally I was touched by God and heard Him say this is the beginning of a new season for us as a family as well as a church. Today I’ve reflected on our journey and how it would have been impossible to be in this place had we not surrendered to go and do whatever God called. That surrender sent us to the wilderness and brought about much hardship but I would do it all over again to be in the place I am now where all I want is more of Jesus. I see Him growing my husband into a bold and passionate man who is successful in his ways and not afraid of what others may think anymore. I’m seeing friends come to a place of saying-I can’t keep living like this, there must be more! I’m seeing people I don’t even know healed from sicknesses and diseases. And people I do know who have struggled with certain issues for so long are being delivered and brought into an intimate place with God. I’m seeing financial miracles continue to unfold in our lives and those around us who remain faithful. I’m even seeing people come to know the Lord and want to change in order to please Him. Gods Word is true and His promises are for everyone. To see people step into that realization and have an awakening that changes their thoughts and priorities and even how they interact with others is simply incredible!

This is my prayer for myself, my family and everyone else who is seeking God in the midst of what may be a high time or what may be a low time:

I PRAY ALSO THAT THEY EYES OF YOUR HEART MAY BE ENLIGHTENED IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY KNOW THE HOPE TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED YOU, THE RICHES OF HIS GLORIOUS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS, AND HIS INCOMPARABLY GREAT POWER FOR US WHO BELIEVE.
Ephesians 1:17-19


Help support our church and you could win a 2 night stay in 1 of 3 cities!

We are so excited as our church, Life Community Church, will be moving into the mall in July! In order for us to do this move debt free our pastor has encouraged all the adults to raise $1,000. This may sound crazy in today’s economy, considering most of us could use an extra $1,000 for ourselves. However, the vision for our church and the investment we’re making for those to come has led us to believe in this fundraiser. There have already been amazing stories of people selling jewelry, having yard sales, baking bread, and even planning events where all proceeds will go to our building fund. The best story yet is a church here in town hearing what we’re doing and writing us a check for $2,000! To top that off their congregation took up a love offering and another $2,000 was collected. That makes me so excited to see another church help us in order to help this city.

We have an amazing opportunity to be where the people are. Our pastor said it best one service when he said this, “You are being forced into evangelism. Every Sunday when you get out of church you are going to walk into a room of people who are in desperate need of Jesus so tip will, form relationships, and be ready to talk about your love for God.” Matt and I are in awe of how God would see us fit to be a part of this. Our life has thrived and flourished since being a part of this body of believers and now we’re taking it to a new level by serving the community in a way that is unheard of.

In order to raise my $1,000 I will be selling stationary (3 cards for $5-see pictures below for a sample pack). I am also selling $5 raffle tickets that enter you into a drawing to win one of three packages. They are for Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach, SC or an oceanfront condo in Carolina Beach, NC or a stay at The Hampton Inn in Historic Downtown Charleston, SC. These are all two night stays and you can buy as many tickets as you’d like. If you would like to purchase tickets or stationary just send me an email (erin@mattblairmusic.com) and I’ll get them to you. If you live out of town, I can send them in the mail. Please forward this on to anyone you think would be interested. Most importantly please be in prayer for our church as we make this transition and begin many service projects that are going to draw people in from both the mall and the community. May God bless you as you pray for us!

IMG_4615
IMG_4616


Don’t Give Up

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

This scripture is full of an awesome promise but only IF we keep the last half of it: “do not give up.” Life is hard and just when things can be going great, something can throw us off track. It is in that place we see if our faith is real or just talk. Do we persevere or give up? Do we continue to seek God through prayer and His Word or do we occupy our time with other things and allow the bible to collect dust?

Having just come out of pregnancy sickness that sucked the life right out of me, I can say this verse is true and how thankful I am to have not given up. I know what its like to be depressed. I know what its like to not want to get in the Word. I know what its like to be so weak that paying bills or answering the phone or checking email requires more brain power than whats actually in there. Top that off with having 2 little ones running around and my days seemed long and burdensome. Had I not had my faith and clung to it with everything in me, I would have given up. I would have closed myself off to the world. But praise God for the hope we have in Him even in the midst of darkness and uncertainty! It pleases Him when we continuously come to Him, even if its crawling.

If you are in the season of waiting for your harvest, this scripture should be posted all around your house. It is a promise-keep doing good and you will see it pay off. The awesome thing about God is the pay off is normally so much better than we could even imagine!

Prayer for Today:
Thank you God for Your Word that speaks to every circumstance we’re ever in. May You draw us into Your presence even when we don’t want to be there. May we hold fast to the truth, not give up, and put our faith into action. Thank You for these times that teach us what perseverance is all about.


Worship

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness.
Let the whole world know what He has done.
Sing to Him; yes, sing His praises.
Tell everyone about His miracles.
Exult in His holy name,
O worshippers of the Lord, rejoice!
Psalm 104:1-3

Do you live like this? Thanking God all day? Telling everyone what He has done for you? Singing to Him, lifting up His name? Rejoicing? It sounds good to read and may even ignite your soul but are you living it? For me it almost comes natural to live this way when I see God moving and life is good. It’s a choice to praise Him, a discipline, when I feel empty and life is hard. The amazing truth regarding scripture is how direct it is. It doesn’t say when you feel like giving praise… It just says praise Him, sing to Him, exult Him, give thanks, rejoice! These are commands so regardless of what we are going through, the Word is steady and never changing.

I’ve been thinking about worship in the sense of singing lately. My one word Praise goes hand in hand with this. When we have a chance to gather corporately with the body of believers it is a taste of heaven in the sense of many people singing to Jesus. Sometimes I close my eyes and stop singing just to soak in so many believers lifting up His name. There is strength and power when this happens. We have been given a free gift to gather this way. People all over the nations would love for the opportunity to be with just a couple of believers and sing to Him but because of their nations rules on Christianity they can’t. We should never take lightly the freedom we have to worship. We can sing out to Him in our cars as well as our homes. Some of my most intimate times with God are here at my house when I have the computer playing some of my favorite worship songs. As a parent this is something our children need to see. They need to see us free to worship so they will be free to worship. I don’t want my children going to youth thinking they are too cool to worship. If they grow up in an environment where it is natural to praise God, it will be natural for them to go into other settings and be free to express their love for their Maker. This even flows into conversations. If they are only comfortable talking about God when it comes to church or prayers before meals, then how real can their faith be?

Now heres the tough realization I’ve come to. If we really grasp the love of God, why are we not excited to sing to Him? Why do so many look around or check out the stage like it’s a performance or not sing at all? That does not please the heart of God. He wants us to be excited to praise Him! He wants us to jump for joy and throw our hands up. If we can do it at sports arenas and concerts then why can’t we do it for the Maker of the Universe? We are made to praise. When we think about the pain Jesus endured on the cross so we can be with Him forever and be free from sin, how do we just stand there when our mouths have the opportunity to thank Him? When we think about Him being raised from the dead, shouldn’t that make us want to shout and tell others of the hope we have? And when we think of all He has done for us on a daily basis, shouldn’t we want to drop to our knees or better yet face, in humility of how we are not worthy of such love?

When He comes back what kind of Christian is He going to see in us? My biggest fear in life is to be a lukewarm Christian. His Word is clear when it says:

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
Revelations 3:15, 16

In other words it is better for me to not be a believer then to be one who says all the right things and appears to be godly by my involvement in church, but my actions show differently. To truly love God is to truly love others and think of them first from our family to friends to those we don’t even know (people in line at grocery stores/slow drivers). To truly love God is to ask Him daily for people we can testify to about His greatness. To truly love God is to reach out to those others have given up on. To truly love God is to lift up our husbands and children with our words regardless of their actions. To truly love God is to yearn and desire His presence above all else. And to truly love God is to give our money and resources and time even when it doesn’t make sense. Those in my life who live like this worship when it comes time to gather corporately. They don’t care what others think because they’re seeing God. Their worship is simply an overflow of their love for Him and their life matches it. I want to be like that and I want you to be like that. I want us to be a body of believers who are passionate about God and allow His Holy Spirit to move in us as He wants. This is the only place freedom comes from. You can’t have the fullness of God without acknowledging the power of the Holy Spirit. Its why so many Christians are lukewarm and defeated. Lets be different!

Prayer for Today:
God change us. Make us love you so much we are lovesick. May we have a love encounter with You that leaves us wanting more. May we never be satisfied with going through the motions. Examine our hearts. Purify us and set us on fire so we are truly living. Give us purposes for Your Kingdom. Remind us daily we are living for eternity and one day we will stand before you having to give an account of our actions. You have given us the power to rise above and conquer sin through the Holy Spirit so may we call on Him and not grieve Him by ignoring His purpose. Thank you for raising us from the dead and continuing to do so. You are always there.


New Day

Until the time came to fulfill His word,
The Lord tested Joseph’s character.
Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
The ruler of the nation opened his prison door.
Psalm 105:19, 20

Are you stuck right now? Maybe it’s a relationship that’s not growing or you’re waiting for a financial breakthrough. Maybe you feel so far from God. Maybe you’re miserable and hopeless because you see no change in an area you’ve been praying for. Are you tired of struggling with the same thing over and over? Or maybe you’re just frustrated because you don’t understand Gods ways. In other words, do you need a prison door opened? Do you need to be set free? If so, may this devotion lead you to a breakthrough!

Often we get in places in life when we don’t understand what is going on. Maybe one day we were so close with God experiencing all His goodness and the next we seem to be so far and surrounded by turmoil. It doesn’t take much for our world to get turned upside down. It can be a phone call, a sick child, an irritating spouse, a death, something we saw on tv, or something we heard about. These are the times are character is tested. It’s easy to praise God and talk about faith when “the world is all that is should be” but when circumstances happen that are out of our control and leave us in a frenzy or distress, its then we see if we really do have faith and are going to seek God no matter what! Do we sit back or fight? Do we complain or praise? Do we reamain silent or ask for prayer? Tough times bring out desperation and a broken spirit is something God delights in (Psalm 51:17).

We have no control of the time we are in “prison.” It may be a dark day or two or it may be a dark season that seems it will never end. We may feel bound to something or like we’re spiraling in a dark hole with no light to rescue us but it is in this place we must stand firm and hold fast to the Word of God. He wants us to cry out to him. He wants us to say, “You have to come to my rescue!” But so often we get comfortable where we are. We don’t want others to know our struggles so we either cover them up or isolate. We believe lies like, “this is just how I am” or “I don’t believe I’ll ever really be free I just need to maintain this issue.” When we buy into that thinking we are in agreement with the devil and instantly defeated. We have been given the mind of Christ which will bring healing and transformation and an overflow of love into our life but its our choice as to whose voice we will follow.

Joseph had a tough life of being rejected, kidnapped, falsely accused, and left to rot in prison yet his faith was steadfast. He trusted God no matter how bad it got and in His time God restored him and blessed him. He had strong character because of all he endured, which led him to be set free and step into his calling. Joseph had God’s favor and so do you. If you need to be let out of your prison, ask God. Believe in His Word and what you pray. Ask for movement. Ask for His eyes to see your situation with. Ask to be able to breathe again. And most importantly don’t keep it to yourself. Testify! Everywhere you go ask God to bring you someone you can talk to about His goodness. This is what lifts us up above sickness and stress and troubles. May today be a day of chains being broken. What a beautiful sound!

Prayer for Today:
God we come to you today asking in faith and believing in Your Word for the prison door to be opened. May heaven be unleashed in us as we walk free and radiate Your beauty. Set our minds on things that make You smile. May we not look back but move forward excited in how Your love changes everything! Thank You for Your Word that answers every need and is truth that we can stand on when everything else is shaky. You are full of grace and mercy and compassion. As we walk in that may we be examples of the love you pour out on us.


Unforgiveness

The the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”
Matthew 18:32,33

Do you harbor unforgiveness or resentment towards someone or something? Sometimes the truth of this answer only comes out when we still our minds and hearts and allow God to search us. Sometimes the truth comes out as we catch ourselves getting heated when a certain person is mentioned. Sometimes the truth comes out when we can’t sleep because of the hatred that is lurking around in our mind and not allowing us to have peace. And sometimes we just know the truth. We don’t need signs or the voice of God to tell us, we’ll tell anyone who will listen and maybe even cover it up as a “prayer request.”

I love the “secret place” we have with God. It’s so romantic and full of intimacy. But we can’t have that sacred place if we’re venting and complaining to everyone except the One who has the answers. I also love having a friend I can trust. A friend who always speaks truths and is dependable. Shes there to help me sort out my emotions with biblical truths and practical steps to get where God wants me. When I find myself wrestling with God over an issue that is not leading to a breakthrough, I know its time to call her.

So heres the thing I realized this morning. Harboring unforgiveness towards someone (even if its justified) is selfish and a slap in the face of Jesus. Peter had this issue as well. In Matthew 18:21 he asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied,”seventy time seven!” What! Thats my initial response. You mean I’m just suppose to forgive and forgive and forgive? But I’m hurt and mad and want an apology!

But here is where Jesus in His gracious ways breaks it down for us. He tells the story of a king who is going to sell a man, his wife, and children because this man owes him money. The debtor falls down before the king pleading for his life. His exact words are “Oh sir, be patient with me…”. The king felt sorry for him and let him go, forgiven and free of debt. But the debtor was not changed. After he was realeased he went to a man who owed him money and demanded payment. This man pleaded as well saying “Be patient…”. However there was no patience given by the man who was just forgiven. He had him put in jail. The above scripture is the kings response when he finds out what happened.

Isn’t this us? We expect people to “be there” for us. We look for people for answers instead of God and when they don’t measure up we blame them and even worse talk about them to others. Satan is tricky with this because unforgiveness can be hidden and we may not even know its the root to our outbursts or unhealthy mindsets. The importance of a daily heart check is vital!

I challenge all of us to think about this the next time we are wanting justice. God has forgiven us through the death of His son. And He forgives us every time we mess up and if you’re like me you mess up a lot. We can never take His grace and love for granted. It should lead us to praise Him daily. When I stop and think of the patience God has had with me, how can I not have that same patience with others? But I can’t get to this place of pure love if I don’t stop and examine my heart. Then I have to walk in it, stand firm, and chose to rise above. The Word of God is the only hope in our hearts being exposed and changed.

The chapter ends with Jesus words: “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart.” In other words we will live in deadness and darkness and emptiness if we do not forgive. There will be a block between us and the One who created us. Think how that grieves Him! He is Our Maker and wants us to thrive and include Him in all things. When we sin and walk in unforgiveness we are not living out the gospel. The good news sets us free and gives us a light that will radiate and draw others near. Lets choose to be a light to such a dark world by letting go of past hurts that may have been meant to destroy us but because of Jesus, they can be used to free us!

Prayer for Today:
Thank You Jesus for Your love that is unfailing and unconditional and beyond comprehension. Forgive us for allowing things of this world to come in between us and You. Convict us quickly when our hearts become hard. Do whatever it takes to get us to stop and let You examine our heart. In that secret place may we fall in love with You all over again and be captivated by Your goodness. Use our lives to display Your faithfulness so others will want to know about You. Help us to stand out and never fit in. You have called us to be like shining stars so may all the impurities that cause us to be dim be exposed and may we be restored with Your Glorious Light! Praises to You Our Father and King!