Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. (Isaiah 32:1-2)

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This King was promised by the mouth of God through the hands of men. Acting as a herald of the Lord, Isaiah prophesied there would come a king who would “reign in righteousness”. For one in danger, he would act as “a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm”. For the thirsty soul, he would be as “streams of water in a dry place”. And for the laden and wounded “like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” Jesus then is the Savior of body and soul, the temporal life and eternal. Our fears of the present may be eased by the surety of this promise. That when we look to Jesus amidst the grief of life, he will be as cool water in a burning desert. When the tempest rages, with thunder clashing and whirl winds blowing, he will stand unyielding as a strong tower (Psalm 61:3). In his righteous and just reign, he will be the answer in both fears that plague men: fear of today, and the greater fear of tomorrow. As Jonathan Edwards powerfully stated,

The fears of a terrified conscience, the fearful expectation of the dire fruits of sin, and the resentment of an angry God, these are infinitely the most dreadful.

The fear of eternal condemnation is suffocating when realized. If this promised King who is now ruling does in fact reign in justice, then he must deal justly with sin and evil. We ought rightly to fear at this epiphany. But as Edwards continued on,

Christ, by his own free act, has made himself the surety of such, he has voluntarily put himself in their stead; and if justice has anything against them, he has undertaken to answer for them. By his own act, he has engaged to be responsible for them.

Our fears, though at first rightly founded, become as a dead seed planted in our hearts which blossoms to full joy once we are found alive in Christ.

Rejoice today, as Jesus is a strong tower for today, and our surety of salvation for tomorrow.

 

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You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)

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Leaven is a substance, typically yeast, that is added to dough to make it rise. It only takes a small amount and the entire lump of dough has been permeated by the yeast and will begin rising. Throughout the Bible leaven is used as an analogy for evil that creeps into the lives of people. Jesus tells the disciples to watch out for it (Matthew 16:6) and Paul mentions it again in (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). Paul is specifically referencing a legalism that has creeped into the Gospel at the church in Galatia, and has actually twisted it, distorting the Gospel’s truth. Paul’s word were relevant then, and they are applicable to our lives today.

Leaven doesn’t always equal legalism, however. Leaven can refer to any distorted doctrine that is attached to the Gospel. We must be careful as we follow and listen to religious leaders who are great communicators or creative in their presentations. They might be fun to listen to, and they may speak bits of truth once in a while, but if there is a leaven of bad doctrine in their message, it can hinder us from obeying the truth of the Gospel as it creeps into every corner of thought and life. We are no better than the disciples who Jesus warned of this or the churches in Galatia and Corinth who were warned by Paul. So, we must always be on guard as we listen to and follow religious leaders and communicators.

Is there “leaven” spreading in your life?

noHow many Christians have prayed for someone, only to see their prayers go unanswered? How many have prayed and perhaps have “given up” because either they have become discouraged through a weakness of faith or have come to the conclusion that whatever they have been praying for isn’t God’s will? Nevertheless, how we deal with unanswered prayer is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of others as well. When we pray, we are engaging in the most precious and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we are accountable in all our affairs. We have been truly bought at a steep price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and therefore we belong to God.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in Heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. There can be many reasons for this, and the Scriptures suggest why and how our prayers are being dealt with by the One who is so tender and loving, who Himself loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Deuteronomy 28:23; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

prayerNow Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1 ESV)

Jesus, as God was prayed to, yet as a man, he prayed. Rather than walking the earth as the self-sufficient titan of salvation, he walked the quiet path of prayer, often alone yet ever in the Father’s counsel. In fact Luke’s gospel displays this time and again, for instance: at his baptism he was praying (Luke 3:21), he withdrew into a desolate place to pray (Luke 5:16), he went to a mountain and prayed the night through (Luke 6:12), again he prayed alone (Luke 9:18), and upon another mountain journey he prayed and was transfigured (Luke 9:28, 29). He, like David, gave himself to prayer (Psalm 109:4).

Enticingly, when Jesus was here again praying, a disciple asked of him, “Lord, teach us to pray”. With Jesus, the man who is God, standing before him the man didn’t ask, “Lord, teach us to work miracles,” or, “Jesus, teach us to preach with authority!” Though these are certainly noble acts, they were not the chief acts of men and women who know God. Here we may glean that prayer is not simply an important part of Christian ministry and living, but it is the thing from which every other action must flow!

Jesus intimately knew the Father, and in so knowing continually spoke “just as the Father taught [him]” (John 8:28). He and the Father were and are still one (John 10:30), yet Jesus deemed prayer a worthy use of a night. Through this the disciples understood that prayer was more than an act of religion, but the very thing from which God empowers men to work his will.

Do you esteem prayer as you should, or is it just another thing to be checked from your daily “to do” list?

indexHave you ever thought about how limited your knowledge is? Think of all of the books in your school or local library and guess how many of them you have read. Probably not even a shelves worth. There are so many things that go on in science, literature, politics, or mechanics that we can never know a small fraction of what they all do or mean.

Now think about God and his knowledge. He knows everything because he created everything. He is the God who split the Red Sea and brought Lazarus back to life. He is the God who brought the ten plagues on Egypt and healed the paralytic. Not only is he knowledgable, he is powerful. So, why do we come to him in prayer with what we only know in our little box of knowledge or how things should work in our little universe?

Paul tells the church in Ephesus that they can pray big prayers. God can do more than we can even ask or think. He also does it through us and it all brings glory to Jesus. You see, we can pray big prayers because they will point to Jesus and not ourselves. We won’t get the credit, but He will.

As you are praying for this New Year, ask God to help you step out of your comfort zone and to direct you to the big prayers he wants you to pray. Should you be praying for the person who would “never” change their ways and follow Jesus? Should you be praying for God to change a community and that wants nothing to do with him? You get the idea, right?

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

I know that the title of this blog caught a lot of people’s eyes. Everyone wants and needs to know how to solve the issues they’re facing, so here it is….prayer. Yip, it’s that simple.

Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.James 5:13

As James writes, from his pastor‘s heart, to the people of God, his entire letter is full of practical instruction and direct admonition. He does not have a flowery style or a theoretical bent; he is interested only in getting clear, candid counsel into the hands and hearts of believers.

And when he comes to the matter of affliction — gut-wrenching, spirit-pounding, heart-crushing affliction — this practical pastor gives his guidance in only three words: let him pray.

“Is that it?” we might ask. What about formulating an exit strategy? What about checking all our options for circumventing the pain? What about gathering a support group to cheer us up and cheer us on? The greatest therapy, the surest solution, the sweetest healing that we will find, James says, is in fervent and honest and faith-full conversation with God.

James is not suggesting a momentary, fleeting mention of our trial — perhaps in the middle of blessing our breakfast food — as the answer to affliction. The verb he uses is in the present tense: let him, in other words, continually be praying.

Perhaps you know what it is like to be so pressed by a sorrow or pain or trial that you pray, not only as you breath, but in order to be able to keep on breathing. There are times when God’s people truly find Him their only source of strength, of life, of purpose, and of joy. They pray, not because they have to, but because they can’t not pray.

Whether your affliction is earth-shattering or hardly-worth-mentioning, take your trial to God in prayer. And out of the fountain of close communion with your Father, will flow the calming, refreshing, restoring waters of spiritual renewal.

One of the biggest things that keeps people from fulfilling their destiny is what they THINK they can or can’t accomplish.

It’s dangerous to rely on your own strength to bring about change in your life, and pursue your destiny. God needs to be the source of your strength. Yet you need to balance that with taking focused action, being proactive, and moving forward, or you run the risk of getting bogged down and staying stuck.

How do you decide what to focus on at any given time?

There may be periods in your life when God is teaching you lessons to help you grow in spiritual maturity. In those seasons it might seem as though there is a hold up when in reality God is training and maturing you!

You need to learn to recognize those times so that you can work WITH God rather than striving to accomplish something before its appointed time.

There will also be times when God is testing you and wants you to press on and move forward.

And there will be times when you ARE on target but the enemy is opposing you and trying to hold you back from pursuing the next steps. So being able to discern what is happening with timing is crucial.

I hope you know that racing ahead trying to get whatever you want and assuming it is God’s will for your life is unwise and likely to result in great disappointment. Your destiny will unfold over time, and it will happen in God’s timing.

Getting it right isn’t always easy! Trying to rush ahead and make things happen NOW will result in frustration and discontent, YET you need to be sure that you ARE doing your bit by actively pursuing your destiny.

I meet a lot of people who are afraid to move forward because they don’t want to make a mistake or do things outside of God’s timing, so they end up doing NOTHING.

If you ARE afraid to move forward it could be lack of faith, fear of failure, unbelief, or an array of limiting beliefs that are holding you back, or immobilising you by leading you to believe that may be you haven’t really heard God, or you’ve made a mistake, or it isn’t God’s timing.

Dealing with those negative thinking patterns involves work. It’s like training for a sport or learning to play an instrument. You can’t reasonably expect to do it well if you’ve only had a few lessons. To become good at it you need training and lots of practice until it became natural.

Think for a minute about something you want to accomplish or have in your life. Maybe you want a promotion, need a new car, want to train to be a counsellor or coach, feel led to attend a ministry training school, or write a book, or … fill in the blank.

Whatever it is, decide on ONE thing then follow the steps below.

Pray about your ONE THING every day for a month. Ask the Lord what He wants to say to you about it, be sure to listen for His answers, write down what you hear, and put it somewhere you will see it.

Steps to Doing Things God’s Way and in His Timing

  1. Develop your relationship with God through Jesus and regularly spend time with Him in prayer and study. It will be out of your relationship with God that your prayers will be answered.

    Learn to recognize God’s voice when He is speaking to you.

  2. Ask the Lord to show you whether what you are asking for is something that HE wants you to have or do. Ask for wisdom and for His timing.
  3. Once you know that what you want is within God’s will for your life, ask God to show you the way forward, have faith and believe that God will answer you one way or another, He WILL answer your prayers.
  4. Pray and ask God for the things that you want and need. Be sure to watch for answered prayer and keep a record to strengthen your faith.
  5. Be prepared for His answer to come in a variety of ways. God’s answers to your prayers may look different than you expect.

I hope you find this helpful.

Remember

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6