Monday, April 9, 2018

11. Growing in Prayer – Walking With Him

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin (falling short)], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].  I John 1:6-7

I am in a group of women in our church that meet each month for Bible study.  We are studying about why we worry and anxieties.  I personally love the book we are studying; the author writes with passion and interest about things we worry and/or anxious.   She relates experiences with God our Father.  I have found much encouragement in her book.

HOWEVER, she writes, “Faith is walking in the dark with God, holding His hand.”  I may be misunderstanding what she is saying, but my heart screamed out at me, “If I am holding the hand of God, I am in His light” (I John 1:5).  I may not know where He leads me but in faith I believe/trust Him and the light shows the way (I John 1:7).  Rather than walk in darkness . . . . driven by the wind in a sea of doubt.  “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just (righteous) live by his faith”  Habakkuk 2:4

Scripture tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:7).  The very essence of God is light and His love (1 John 4:8).  Psalm 89:14-15 tells us, 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.  15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.”  In believing God’s promises and in faith in His Word, how could we possibly walk in darkness?  I have turned to Isaiah 41:10 many times in my struggles of what God has allowed in my life, but in faith moved to action believing, I find the light of Jesus Christ, and it is that light I walk.  Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

A friend very close to me; I will call her Betty; was going through a divorce….a bitter tearing of the flesh.  She was, resentful, angry, bitter and wanted revenge for the collateral damage to her life.  She lived in doubt, remorse and guilt.  She walked this darkness for five years.  Eventfully in her work place she met a very Godly man and after about two years plus they married.  Beginning in their dating and most especially after marriage this Godly man led her back to her childhood faith and beyond to deep study in God’s Word; he brought her back into God’s light.  She returned to the life of trust and faith and began to walk in God’s light with joy in her heart.  Though many things have not changed in the struggles she faces and she has confessed to me there is a sadness of what she has lost in the collateral damage, choices made, doubt, fear and in her own sinfulness, but the time of darkness is gone.  She believes and trust God will give her the desires of her heart (Psalm37:4), and in Him where He leads she will follow.   She lives by faith (Romans 1:17). 

If you feel you are in darkness now by the traumas of life, I ask you by faith moved to action to put your hand in the Hand of Jesus Christ and develop with Him the discipline of prayer.

The author of the book we are studying redeemed herself in my eyes when she wrote, “The soul worship of God is to be content with what He gives, to be thankful in all things”.  He is in control (I Chronicles 29:11-12).  If we do this, we will not walk in darkness, regardless of the tangle, mess of trauma our making or by others, but in faith walk in God’s light.  The answer is in prayer and the relinquishment of self.  12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  –John 8:12

Thursday, March 29, 2018

10. Growing in Prayer – He Loved Us to Death

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.   --John 3:16

I begin our writing this lovely spring with a quote by Revi Zacharias, an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist,  God gave us the extreme ethnic of love.  It is the peak of all intellectual and emotional alignment.  This thing we call love which places value on the other person of worth and is something to be protected.”

I believe we were given free will to choose to love.  Is love without choice truly the love of which God speaks?  Once God woke me in the night and gave me Leviticus 19:18, Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  Being somewhat puzzled that God would give me this verse; I asked our Pastor what does it mean.  He said, “That is the verse of the Bible.  This general rule summarizes the entire Bible”.

Jesus in the most intimate setting with His Disciples taught them John 14-16 to encourage, give them strength in the days to come, and give the way the truth and the life that only can come from Him.  In John 17 he prayed His heart the most beautiful prayer ever prayed to His Father.  The prayer of unity, v.23, “I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”.

This week we celebrate Maundy Thursday, in remembrance of when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with His disciples. Most notably, that Passover meal was when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in an extraordinary display of humility. He then commanded them to do the same for each other.  Jesus expressed His love in total humility to demonstrate how we should love one another and to go in humility.

The day after is Good Friday, also known as "Holy Friday.”  It is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday.   We traditionally celebrate Good Friday as the day on which Jesus was crucified.

It is overwhelming to me the love that Christ has for us.  It is a love we cannot even comprehend.  I John 4:7-8 tells us, “Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 

Jesus went to the Cross to die for our sins when we are not even worthy because of our sins.  His resurrection and glory fulfills the promise of eternal life.  That is a celebration!

We each go to our churches this Sunday to celebrate this resurrection and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We sing the Hallelujah Chorus with joy and love for the God who loves us so much He gave His only begotten Son so that we will know eternal life with Him.

By means of the atoning death of Christ, God can be merciful to the sinner who believes in Him and reconciliation is affected.

This is our calling to participate and be blessed in the Kingdom of God!  Let us go out in Christ’s passion of love that He demonstrated in His life, death and resurrection that we can lead those in darkness to Christ Jesus. 

Christ is risen; Yes, He is risen indeed . . . . He lives in us!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

9. Growing in Prayer – Prayer of Unity.Part VI

This is the last of our segments into the  Prayer of Unity.  Let us review for a moment.  (1) The Apostils and those who were with them in the upper room received the power of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised.  (2)Those who became Christians on Pentecost were the first fruits of a vast harvest.  (3) Peter and John set out to preach and teach Jesus and His resurrection.  Many disciples were added daily.  (4) The new disciples stayed in close fellowship, sharing, eating and praying.  They were like minded in the Apostils’ teachings.  All of this was the setting when Peter and John went to the new converts.  This is the confidence they had in joining the newly converted disciples.

Upon release Peter and John went to their friends they knew would be together.  They reported to them all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

What was the response of these new disciples?  When they heard this news, they raised their voices to God with one accord and began to praise Him and pray for His intervention. 

They began their prayer of intercession for Peter and John:  29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 

As they prayed together, joined in one accord, with like minds the building in which they gathered began to shake, “…..and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness”. 

I have always wanted to be in a place, praying with others in one accord and feel the building shake!  Wouldn’t that be phenomenal!!  Don’t you think? 

We love Acts 4:33, “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And great grace was upon them”.

I quote Roy Hicks[1], “Grace used in this text (“great grace”) and texts such as Luke 2:40 and Acts 11:23, also refers to “operations of the power of God.”  Just as God in mercy saves us by His grace, so that grace is manifested in great dynamic where the Holy Spirit is at work in power”.

Corporate prayer has its special place of intercession and calling upon the God of Great Grace to intervene in circumstances here on this earth.  To generate a dynamic, penetrating power that will shake the building is well in the scope of immeasurable prayer.  We often ask ourselves how anyone can be too busy to join their brothers and sisters in prayer.  God hears all prayers individual prayer, corporate prayer, prayer on the move, prayer in one’s closet, etc.….PRAYERS from the heart seeking God’s Will.  When we pray, God’s hand moves and we see the Glory of God.  Isaiah 43:7 says that God created us for His glory.  We glorify God with  His magnificent radiance when we are gathered to gather in prayer . . . . a sweet smelling aroma to God (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Corporate prayer is powerful:   Now may the God who gives endurance and who supplies encouragement grant that you be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify and praise and honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans15:5-6).

[1] Roy Hicks, Sr., G.Th., D.D.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

8. Growing in Prayer – Prayer of Unity.Part V

When they had entered the city, they went upstairs to the upper room where they were staying [indefinitely]; that is, Peter, and John and [his brother] James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael) and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (Thaddaeus) the son of James. All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together] along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.  Acts 1:13-14 (AMP)

Our reasoning and power for corporate prayer:

  1. We have discussed Pentecost, receiving the Holy Spirit, the boldness of the Apostles when they were told they could not speak the name of Jesus.  Through the power and authority given them, they had this boldness and lack of fear of the Sanhedrin.  They had truth!  Truth will set you free (John 8:32 NKJ). 
This is the boldness they felt when they told the Sanhedrin, “Judge for yourself” (Acts 4:19 NKJ), we are not able to do anything other than speak the Name of Jesus.  By the great grace of our Lord Jesus Christ they had been given the gift of all gifts (Acts 2:1-4 NKJ), the power of the Holy Spirit.  “The gift of the Holy Spirit must be distinguished from the gifts of the Spirit.  The former is the Holy Spirit Himself, while the latter are special abilities granted by the Spirit to equip believers for service”.
  1. They had confidence in prayer.
The Disciples had spent three years under the teachings of Jesus.  He had taught them to pray.  Through His example and His daily prayer to His Father they had learned prayer.  They learned to seek guidance and direction through prayer.  We believe the disciples learned that prayer was paramount to fulfilling the mission Jesus had given.

  1. If we go back to Acts 2:42 we find the converts also followed the teachings by continuing “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (teaching) and fellowship in the breaking of bread, and in prayers”.  They too had received the power of the Holy Spirit.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, the Apostles knew their companions in Christ would be together.  Being released from the authorities, they went immediately to those who believed.

We feel that our Compass family is there at all times to share in our joys, praises and heartbreak and our friends who are believers that surround us.  It is a comfort to us to know as we gather in prayer in one accord we have that “penetrating power when there’s agreement in prayer.”[2]  This is the confidence that the Apostles had when they went immediately “to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them” (NKJ).

[1] Gary Kinnaman, B.A., M.A.
[2] “The Power of Praying Together”, Jack Hayford

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

7. Growing in Prayer – Prayer of Unity.Part IV

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.  12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  -- John 14:11-13

We just can’t imagine being told you can’t speak or teach in the Name of Jesus.  Especially since my Mother told me “can’t” isn’t in my vocabulary”.  In other words she was saying there is no such word as can’t!  However, our minds automatically think of the Christians all around the world who have died because they spoke the Name of Jesus.  What is more defiling, people are being slaughtered today for their faith in Jesus Christ.

The Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John to not speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus. (Acts 4:18)

Peter’s and John’s immediate response to the Jewish leaders was not what the Sanhedrin wanted to hear.  Peter and John said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge”. (Acts 4:19)  They continued on with a very emphatic statement, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.  “Cannot” refers to the Greek word “able”.

The Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT) translates this verse in Acts 4:20 in this way:  20 For we are not able to not be speaking the things which we saw and heard”.  The word able, Strong’s #1410, dunamai (doo-nam-ahee) Greek; is translated to be able, have power.  The word combines power and willingness, inherent strength, and action.

Peter and John emphatically told the leaders of the Jewish  people we are not able to do any other thing but to teach in the Name above all names and what we have witnessed and heard with our ears.

Remember Pentecost?  Jesus told them to wait!  As they waited the power of the Holy Spirit washed over them with a great wind and tongues of flames.  They received the power and as Jack Hayford so aptly says “one will know when they receive the power of the Holy Spirit”.

As the word “able” is translated they had received this power when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and they had willingness, inherent strength and the ability to act!  They could do nothing else.

We join together in corporate prayer because the inherent strength from the power of the Holy Spirit within us combined with one accord releases the Great Grace of our God Almighty.  We are not saying the individual prayer is not powerful for it is!!

Think of it in this way from the Greek word dunamis.  Dunamis is the power word we derive “dynamite”.  If you have one stick of dynamite that is power, but if you have one ton of dynamite, now that is POWER!  As we join together in one accord we have more than a ton of dynamite!!  We have the power of the Holy Spirit in each of us joined together when two or more come to prayer.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

6. Growing in Prayer – Prayer of Unity.Part III

God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

We left you last week with the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council) in a quandary.  Peter and John were two uneducated and untrained men.  The Sanhedrin viewed the uneducated as those who had not received formal instruction in the rabbinical schools.  Not only were the Disciples uneducated but they were untrained meaning they were considered common laymen, not professional experts.

The quandary for the Sanhedrin was that these men were teaching Jesus Christ and His resurrection.  Had they, (the Religious Leaders of the Jews) not done everything in their power to eliminate this trouble maker, Jesus?  Now Peter and John were teaching and preaching in the Name of Jesus.  Calling Him the Holy One Acts 3:14), the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15).  They feared what was happening to the people…..their numbers were increasing to some 5,000.

The Sanhedrin was limited in what they could do to Peter and John.  It was one of those situations “if you do” your wrong, and “if you don’t” your wrong.  The proof of their miracle was standing before them.  This man blind since birth and now he can see.  They would cause riots if they did anything to harm Peter and John. 

The next morning after much conferring and discussion, the rulers, elders, and scribes as well as Annas the High Priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander began to question Peter and John.  How did you heal this man?

Peter embolden by the Holy Spirit did not attribute the healing to any unique human powers but to faith in the name of Jesus.  Acts 4:11-12 (Amplified Bible), 11 This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which has become the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone]. 12 And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.
The Jewish leaders came to their final decision.  Their decision from now on Peter and John could not speak the name of Jesus.  They severely threatened Peter and John with this decision; it was final.

Can you imagine being told you could never utter the name Jesus?!!  Peter and John couldn’t either. 

In faithful trust and in confidence we can speak the Name of Jesus and we can be confident in our prayers.  God equipped the Disciples through prayer (Acts 4:31 AMP) and He will equip us in the time when we need it.  Jeremiah 1:9; 9Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold (hear Me), I have put My words in your mouth”.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

5. Growing in Prayer – Prayer of Unity.Part II

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit].  Acts 2:2-3 (AMP)

Immediately after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost there were many wonders and signs done by the Apostles.  In Acts 4 the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees became very concerned when Peter healed the lame man.  They were very concerned for these Apostles were teaching and preaching the resurrected Jesus.  The leaders of the Temple became fearful in their heart.  What were they going to do?  People were hearing and believing and their numbers grew about five thousand.

This gathering of officials, the Sanhedrin, a kind of Jewish religious senate and Supreme Court laid hands on Peter and John after the healing of the life-long, lame man and took them into custody.

The next morning the rulers, elders, and scribes as well as Annas the High Priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander began to question Peter and John.  How did you heal this man?

Peter filled with the Holy Spirit did not attribute the healing to no unique human powers but to faith in the name of Jesus.  It must be noted here that Peter identified Jesus as “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.  Peter used the name that was unmistakable; the Christ.

There were many men named Jesus during the time He was here on earth and there are still many men named by the name of Jesus. We are to appeal in our prayers in a way that we identify the Messiah (Christ).  We are not praying to any man named “Jesus”.  We are praying to the Christ!  John 16:23, 23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full”. 

We must always pray in the Name of Jesus Christ identifying Him as Lord (Acts 2:36), Son of God (I John 5:20), the Lord God (John 1:1).  It is not a supposition; it is not just understood or is it a quiet unspoken knowing to the person praying.  It is SPOKEN!  It is proclaiming the identification of the Lord Jesus, i.e., “I lift this prayer in the magnificent Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God”!!!