PRAYER, FASTING, and THE 10,000 HOUR RULE

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PRAYER, FASTING, & THE 10,000 HOUR RULE

If Misty Edwards was a pop singer she would be the biggest phenomenon in the country. She’s that good. But Misty Edwards doesn’t perform secular music- she’s a worship leader and her albums are praise music- and the music she makes  is some of the best in the world.
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Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has a net worth of $104 billion dollars making him the second wealthiest person on earth. According to Business Insider magazine if the average American spends 1 dollar it’s the equivalent of Bill Gates spending $1.06 million dollars. Last year alone,  Bill Gates became $12 billion dollars richer. (https://www.businessinsider.com/how-rich-is-bill-gates-net-worth-mind-blowing-facts-2019-5)
As strange as it might sound, Misty Edwards and Bill Gates have something in common that could affect the way you pray and fast. In fact, just for fun, you can throw the Beatles into the conversation as well.
One of the most interesting authors today is Malcom Gladwell.
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He has written 5 books that reached #1 on The  New York Times Best Seller list  (https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/). My favorite is Outliers which examines the question of why some people are immensely more successful than the average person. One of his answers Gladwell calls “the 10,000 hour rule.” He argues that 10,000 hours of doing a thing repeatedly gives you a competitive edge and makes you a virtual expert in whatever venture you’ve been willing to devote the time .
Gladwell uses the Beatles as an example. When they met as teenagers they were an average amateur group of mostly self taught musicians. What distinguished them was their early, long term engagements in little clubs in Hamburg, Germany. It was there- where they played week after week in all night sessions for more than two years, that the group became the tight unit of performers who went on to become the legends they are today. They played live for more than 10,000 hours.
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Likewise, Bill Gates grew up with a father who was heavily involved in the early days of the tech industry (https://www.geekwire.com/2015/life-and-times-of-bill-gates-sr-a-giant-impact-on-technology-philanthropy-and-the-seattle-region/). As a result, Bill Gates has had access to computers since he was 13 years old. We assume that is true of most kids now, but Gates was well ahead of his time. As a result, he spent hours a day learning about computers and eventually founded one of the most successful companies in the world. He had spent 10,000 hours learning about computers before anyone had ever heard his name.
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Now, what does any of this have to do with Misty Edwards, or your prayer life? When Misty Edwards was 19 she went to Bible College in Kansas City and at that time could play only 4 chords on the piano. At about that same time the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was starting and needed non-stop worship music playing to support those who came to pray. The little group only had 25 players available to cover 168 hours of non-stop prayer and worship every week. Since Misty Edwards knew some chords, and had grown up singing in church, she spent 6-8 hours a day in the prayer room playing her piano and singing. Soon, the four chords she knew became 8, the 8 became 12, and so on (https://youtu.be/Wf5CoAXnlTE). Today, Misty Edwards is one of the most gifted worship singers with one of the purest sounds in the world. She unknowingly achieved the 10,000 hour rule.
What if you wanted to develop your prayer life beyond the norm? How could you? The answer is arrestingly simple. Pray more. Fast more frequently. Give God more time. Jesus prayed long hours. Luke tells us, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
 I’m planning to pray more during this period of 40 DAYS of Prayer and Fasting. I have committed to a plan for prayer which will include getting up earlier every morning. I know exactly which Bible passages I am going to read each day. I have chosen my days of fasting. I have arranged my schedule to allow much more time in prayer than normal. Why? I am planning ahead to give God my best and make the most of this time in our life as a church.
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Can we really pray 10,000 hours? If you start young enough, say at age 20, you can pray 30 minutes a day and hit 10,000 hours in prayer by age 80. That’s not a bad way to spend 60 years. If you’re older than 20 you might need to get caught up so you better get started. There’s no better time to begin than now if you want to reach your goals. Just ask Bill Gates or Misty Edwards!
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-JKB

YOUR DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING

IMG_2525YOUR DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING 

Congratulations-you’re following the advise of Jesus! One day He was challenged by His critics because His disciples didn’t fast. He reminded them the disciples were with Him and didn’t need to fast. He compared Himself to a Bridegroom at a wedding and His disciples were like the friends of the Bridegroom. That’s not a time to fast-it’s a time to celebrate and rejoice! But Jesus knew He was going back to Heaven soon and things would be different for the disciples at that time. He said, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day” (Mark 2:20). Did you notice Jesus said while He is away, “they WILL fast.” Since He has not returned yet, we live in “that day.” Because we are His disciples, it’s clear we “will fast” in fulfillment of His prediction.
So, let me encourage you in your fast- you’re doing God’s will. He’s going to help you.
Fasting Concept
PRACTICAL TIPS
 
1) While fasting drink a lot of water.
2) During the times when you would normally be eating, spend that time reading the Word and praying. Remember, fasting means the least amount of food and the most amount of prayer! 
3) Fast for a purpose– expect a breakthrough, an answer, a spiritual insight, or direction for a decision you’ve been wrestling with.
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RESOURCES
We have tools to help you achieve your spiritual goals. For instance, you can find multiple prayer guides to help you pray by going to hpbc.org/2418. For encouraging, brief, daily devotionals during the 40 DAYS follow me on Twitter at @KieBowman. I will be posting a new devotion written by 40 different Christian leaders every morning during the 40 Day fast. In addition, I’m going to post an encouraging, practical blog – like this one- at least once a week here at kiebowman.com.
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WHO’S YOUR ONE?
 
One of our reasons for calling the 40 day fast is to increase our effectiveness in prayer for the “one” on our list who is far from God. Pray for your “one” to have an open heart to the Gospel. Pray for other believers to influence their lives at work, school, or home. Pray your “one” attends the Ronnie Hill Harvest September 15-18. Ask God to help you be ready to engage your “one” in spiritual conversations. Be bold when you pray for the lost!
I want to encourage you with one last thing- you’re not alone! Several people have signed up to fast on your day. You CAN do this!
-JKB
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THE RETURN OF CHRIST

 

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THE RETURN OF CHRIST

Jesus is coming again! The promise of His return dominates the pages of the Scripture. His second coming is mentioned at least 300 times in the New Testament. In addition to the promises in the Word of God, due in part to the increase of international distress, the church today is anxiously looking for His return. For instance, the late Billy Graham recently said, “The Bible teaches that Jesus is coming again. And I don’t see any other hope, because we’re heading toward a catastrophe in our world.” (https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/january-2009/the-second-coming-of-christ/)
In the last few days of His life on earth, Jesus addressed an important concern. His disciples had asked Him a pressing question we’re still asking today, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  (Matthew 24:3) Jesus went into explicit detail when He answered their questions.
He promised signs would precede His coming, and those “signs” will obviously help us recognize when His return is getting closer. We would be foolish to predict the day and hour when Christ will return and equally foolish to ignore the signs He left us regarding His return.
One sign I am particularly interested in has to do with evangelism and global missions. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
(Matthew 24:14) No generation in history has been more capable of fulfilling this final sign than our generation.
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As you know, our church is part of a prayer movement-a local expression of a global phenomenon-the likes of which the world has never seen. All over the world Christians are committing to unceasing prayer as never before. Why is this? I believe God is preparing His church for something on a global scale. Could it be a spiritual awakening leading to the greatest evangelistic thrust in history-in order to finally evangelize the entire human race? Could this global army of evangelists be the final surge before the return of Christ? Maybe. I think it’s possible.
Can we be absolutely certain the signs are pointing this way? No, but we are instructed to pay attention to the signs and learn from them. For instance, I recently drove several hours through the night and the closer I got to my destination the more signs I saw announcing the final location. That’s how signs work. They exist to guide us. Christ left us signs of His return and one of those signs- in fact the final sign- is an unstoppable evangelistic push across the entire world.
Scripture and history demonstrate that major movements of God’s power in the earth are preceded by prayer movements. Is God rallying His global community to unceasing prayer to help mobilize the final, global evangelistic saturation of all the nations? Have you ever noticed that the last prayer in the Bible is for His return? “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”  (Revelation 22:20) It’s a simple 4 word prayer-“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
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Someday Jesus will answer that prayer. The final sign before His return will be the mobilization of the church to take the gospel to every region on earth by every means available. You and I have a role to play in this unfolding plan of God. We can join the prayer ministry and “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38)
For 2000 years Christians have eagerly looked for the sign of the times. We may actually be living in the time of the signs! Keep praying and don’t lose hope because Jesus is coming again.
JKB

WELCOME TO REVELATION!

B7085C27-B58B-4D0E-9E7D-DB7FD7E386A2WELCOME TO REVELATION!

There is no other book in the New Testament like Revelation. For centuries credible interpreters of Scripture have wrestled with the best way to understand Revelation. For instance, John Calvin never wrote a commentary on Revelation- even though he wrote commentaries on every other New Testament book, (except the two tiny books  of 2 and 3 John). It’s believed by many that Calvin didn’t write a commentary on Revelation because he didn’t understand it.
Martin Luther was even more confused about Revelation. He recommended taking it out of the New Testament! Fortunately, he was unsuccessful.
Why is Revelation hard to understand? It’s difficult because we aren’t use to apocalyptic literature. Revelation is apocalyptic literature which uses symbols, numbers, and animals which we’ve never seen to do things that seem impossible. It’s truth communicated in a different way than we are used to seeing in the New Testament. Apocalyptic literature is prophecy drenched in highly symbolic language.
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The book is addressed to a group of churches we usually think of as “the seven churches in Asia Minor.” These churches, all located in modern Turkey, were experiencing persecution. John, the last living Apostle, the author of Revelation, looks to the future when God will judge evil and justify His people. The final judgment of the earth as well as the final glory of God’s Kingdom are both described using symbols and vivid imaginative language.
Revelation is the picture of our future when Christ gathers His people into His Kingdom once and for all. It’s a confusing book at times but more importantly it’s an encouraging book for us because it’s filled with promises of our Lord’s final victory.
As you read Revelation be encouraged by what Jesus says and does because His future is the future of every believer! We’re with Him.
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WELCOME TO JUDE!

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WELCOME TO JUDE!

Jude is a brief letter written to spotlight error. The half brother of Jesus and full brother of James is aware of false teachers who deliberately corrupt the church for their own selfish reasons. In verse 12 he uses some of the most picturesque language to describe the heretical intruders. He calls them “… hidden reefs at your love feasts…waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead.”
Jude is unhesitatingly critical and pronounces judgment on the false teachers. This is a message our culture will not immediately accept because it runs contrary to the popular but false view that New Testament Christianity is only a message of love. God’s love is real but so is inevitable judgement.
Jude also urges believers to remain faithful and to take responsibility for their own spiritual safety by  “…building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” and he urges us to “…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (vv.20-21).
The phrase “praying in the Holy Spirit” is intriguing, especially to those who long to seize every advantage in prayer. Clearly we could wish we had more definition about what it means to pray in the Spirit but Jude assumes the readers understand it. Even though little explanation is given about what it means to “pray in the Spirit”, the context suggests it’s part of the process of building ourselves up in the faith and remaining unswayed by false teachers.
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Jude is relevant for us today as a corrective in our culture of false teachers and half truths masquerading as the gospel. When we read Jude we are reminded the reality of God’s grace never eliminates the certainty of God’s judgement. We are also encouraged by the fact God’s grace protects us from His judgment!
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WELCOME TO 1 PETER

748A2E74-E38F-4CC8-8258-FF0D55CD14BFWELCOME TO 1 PETER

The Apostle Peter was clearly the leader of the Apostles when they walked with Jesus for 3 years. He could be impulsive, outspoken and easily intimidated. In some ways, he was the most reluctant Apostle. Yet, after Pentecost he was bold and committed, and the other Apostles acknowledged his leadership. Eventually, according to ancient, and probably reliable church tradition, Peter was martyred for his faith in Christ.
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The book of 1 Peter reflects the Apostle in his spiritual maturity and demonstrates how much God had transformed the man. The letter is addressed to “exiles in the dispersion” in Asia Minor, which we know as modern Turkey. The letter was probably written about 30 years after the resurrection during the reign of Emperor Nero.  The evil emperor had issued an official persecution against Christians, especially in Rome, causing the “dispersion” or “exile” of believers from Rome to other, safer places like Asia Minor.
Peter is therefore writing  to Christians who have been persecuted, displaced, and have experienced significant lifestyle disruption for their faith in Christ. When we read the letter of 1 Peter, even when those factors are not overtly mentioned, they should always be remembered to help us understand better what Peter is saying, and what the letter means.
The letter of 1 Peter is “pastoral” in that it seeks to encourage potentially discouraged Christians in difficult circumstances to remain faithful. Peter reminds them to live holy lives in an unholy world. He urges them to remember Christ is coming again and therefore the suffering of this life will be reversed. Peter helps the persecuted church to see itself in a different way by redefining their identity as Christ sees them, rather than as they see themselves. He also suggests practical ways for the believers to behave as faithful followers of Christ in spite of their troubles.
The letter of 1 Peter still encourages modern believers who are not in exactly the same dilemmas but who nevertheless need encouragement and spiritual growth. In other words, while you are reading 1 Peter, you can receive and apply it’s message to your own life and greatly benefit as a result.
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JKB

WELCOME TO JAMES!

748A2E74-E38F-4CC8-8258-FF0D55CD14BFWELCOME TO JAMES!

James is a unique book. It belongs in the category of an “epistle” but within that familiar category it has some uncommon features.
The special quality of James is it’s structure. At times it seems to be a book filled mostly with one moral instruction after another -almost like the book of Proverbs. In that way, it seems to lack the kind of personal quality of a book like 1 Corinthians, for example, which is loaded with the conversational “back and forth” tone of an actual letter. James is a letter, but at times it feels more like a collection of wise statements without context.
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Fueling that feeling is the grammar itself. The book of James has more imperative commands “per capita” than any book in the New Testament giving it the feel of a stern lecture from a Father or a boss. Still, in spite of it’s authoritative style, James addresses a common pastoral concern- the problem of suffering.
Another unique feature of James has to do with the way the book addresses the relationship of faith and works. At times James appears to directly contradict Paul’s view of faith alone by stating, “faith without works is dead” (2:17). Most evangelicals have concluded James does not advocate a “works gospel” but is instead expressing truth about faith and works from a practical perspective not in contradiction to Paul’s teaching.
James mentions Jesus only twice (once in the first verse of the book where the author identifies himself as the servant of Jesus) so the book never develops doctrines of the cross or the second coming or other specifically Christological doctrines. Instead, Jesus is “heard” rather than “seen” since, at times, James feels like a loose commentary on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, clearly reflecting the language and style of the famous teaching.
James is demanding, straight forward, and instructive for the Christian life. It is definitely truth for our times.
JKB
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Welcome to Hebrews!

IMG_2525Welcome to Hebrews! This wonderful book introduces us to a particular perspective about Jesus, developed in an in-depth manner more pronounced than in any other section of the New Testament. Jesus’ relationship to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament is explored more in Hebrews than anywhere else.

One of the most enduring questions about Hebrews has to do with authorship. No one knows for certain who wrote it. While some claim Paul wrote the book (and it is assumed in most King James Bibles), there are numerous reasons to doubt Pauline authorship.
For one thing, unlike Paul’s known letters, Paul’s name is never mentioned in Hebrews. In addition, one of Paul’s favorite phrases-“in Christ” – found over 125 times in Paul’s letters, is noticeably absent. It never occurs in Hebrews. Furthermore, Gentiles are never mentioned. That’s a strange omission from “the Apostle to the Gentiles”. The title of Jesus as “High Priest” is found no where in Paul’s writings but is central in the theology of Hebrews (4:14). Another issue which contradicts Pauline authorship is the vocabulary and style of Hebrews. It is the most sophisticated use of the Greek language found anywhere in the New Testament, except for Luke’s writings (a fact which leads some to believe Luke wrote Hebrews). Hebrews includes at least 150 words not used anywhere else in the New Testament including 10 that do not appear anywhere else in any Greek writings.
Finally, the writer of Hebrews includes himself in the generation of those who received the Gospel message from others (Hebrews 2:3). Paul consistently stated the opposite, insisting he received the message by direct revelation and not from human messengers (Galatians 1:12).
Whoever wrote Hebrews had an intimate knowledge of the Old Testament and the ministry of the Jewish priesthood. There are about 35 direct quotations from the Old Testament and numerous indirect references. The original audience was clearly Jewish and the complex arguments from the Old Testament make Hebrews appear less relatable to 21st century readers. It is, however, a message we must hear even if it requires more patience on our part.
Hebrews was originally written to a group of people under so much pressure from a hostile culture they were tempted to abandon Christ! Hebrews is both a warning and a strong invitation to remain faithful and not retreat from Jesus due to cultural invectives. That’s a message we need today.
-JKB
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WELCOME TO EPHESIANS!

3FC25E95-65A7-4978-9136-929304C80F0CWELCOME TO EPHESIANS!

Ephesus was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. Today it is an impressive city of ruins and Archeological excavation in Turkey. I’ve been there three times and each time  I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer size and former beauty of Ephesus. In its day, tens of thousands of people lived there and it was a center of education, commerce, and culture.
Ephesus had one of the largest libraries in the ancient world and a huge outdoor theater with a seating capacity of over 25,000, which is still used today for concerts. Once when I was there the rock band Aerosmith was coming for a concert and the stage was being built for them. It is a surreal sight to be standing imagining the origins of Christianity and what Paul must have felt, while starring at a massive Aerosmith logo.
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   Ephesus is mentioned more than 20 times in the New Testament. Paul went there on his third missionary journey and spent 3 years in Ephesus, a long stay in one place for the traveling Apostle (Acts 20:31).
The book of Ephesians is full of doctrinal and practical truth for living the Christian life. The six chapters are nicely divided into 2 sections. The first three chapters are comprised of essential theology and doctrine for the Christian life. The last 3 chapters cover practical Issues of Christian living.
The letter of Ephesians is strikingly devoid of personal references to individuals, which is a surprising omission in a letter written to a group of people known so well to the Apostle. One possible explanation, which seems most likely to me, is that Ephesians is a letter which was intended to be copied and distributed to several churches in several cities in the region. The truth in Ephesians is intended for all believers, for all time. Ephesians is the letter of Paul to you and me.
-JKB
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WELCOME TO ROMANS!

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WELCOME TO ROMANS!

Romans explains salvation. From the opening verses you know you’re reading the explanation of how God justifies sinners and converts them into saints!
As as a result, some of the most well loved passages in the New Testament are found in Romans. For instance, in chapter one Paul writes,  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).
Later, he tells us the love of God was the reason for the cross. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). Perhaps the most well known passage in Romans gives every believer assurances about the purpose of our lives. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (8:28).
The book was written by the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Rome about 25 years after the resurrection of Jesus and provides the most comprehensive view of justification by faith found in the New Testament. The doctrine  of election is also developed in Romans more clearly than in any other New Testament work and has provided endless discussion and debate for theologians and average believers as well for the last 2000 years.
The book of Romans has also played a unique role in the spiritual biographies of some of our most significant Christian leaders through the centuries. For instance, in the 5th century, while in Milan, Augustine was converted by reading a passage from Romans and later became the most influential theologian since the Apostles.
As Martin Luther, the well known German Reformer, studied the book of Romans in the 16tb century, while he was still a Roman Catholic monk and theology professor, it changed his mind about salvation by faith alone and he was saved.  This discovery led to the Protestant Reformation. Later John Wesley, the famous evangelist and founder of Methodism, was saved while hearing someone read the preface to Luther’s commentary on Romans!
As you read the book of Romans ask the Lord to teach you, and reassure you, about Himself and His wonderful plan of salvation. Who knows what God may have planned for you as you read one of the greatest books in the Bible!

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-JKB