Wednesday, August 16, 2017

95. Growing in Prayer – The Simplicity of Jesus

But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ. For [you seem willing to allow it] if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted. You tolerate all this beautifully [welcoming the deception].—II Corinthians 11:3-4 (AMP)

 We are very concerned about our Nation.  At our age we see the futility of the human animosity and loathing that is crisscrossing our nation.  It is destruction of a Godly Nation.  We need and strive to reach the hearts of people in prayer.  This is a call to prayer for the Saints to join together in the power of the Holy Spirit to pray for our Nation. 

We, too, join Paul as he warned the Corinthians do not be deceived by the “cunning of the serpent” as Eve was; do not be “corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ”.  Many in our Nation have been led into violence against their fellow man/woman by their intolerance and by the intolerance of people who have been elected to serve the people of this Nation and self-appointed leaders.

We quote Richard J. Foster from his book, “Prayer, Finding the Hearts True Home”.  “God has graciously allowed me to catch a glimpse into His heart, and I want to share with you what I have seen.  Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to Him.  He grieves that we have forgotten Him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence”. 

We have the One, loving, living God who mourns for our sinful nature and our choices. 

The simplicity of our sincere and pure devotion to Christ is in our faith that chooses to believe God’s Word above and beyond the circumstances of the evil that is being perpetuated by the sins of people.  Faith is not in denying the circumstances of our Nation; rather, it is in our faith moved to action believing in the Jesus of simplicity, love, and living in agreement with His Word.

Prayer is not an activity, but a relationship. God has ordained that prayer will be the conduit through which His intervening, earth-changing power flows from heaven to earth.  Prayer is what sets God's will in motion on the earth.[1]

God’s power is always available to us, but if we don’t use the key of prayer, we can’t appropriate this power for our lives[2]; and for God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.

In all truth and reality it is as simple as that.

[1] Jennifer Kennedy Dean, prayer speaker and author
[2] Jack Hayford, The Power of Praying Together

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

94. Growing in Prayer – I. What Hinders Our Prayers?

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you”.  -- Exodus 20:12

We often write how we can pray effective prayers.  How do we prepare ourselves for prayer before going to the Throne of Grace and bow before our Savior.  Recently, I think, we have been writing more regarding the baggage we carry that will hinder our prayers.  King David prays in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”.

In studying the Bible suddenly I was overwhelmed by how important it is for us to honor our father and mother.  It is so important that God made it fifth of the Ten Commandments and the only one that promises long life.  The Jewish Journal states:  “Proper understanding — and living by — this commandment is indispensable to making a good society”.  We have often stated in prayer, we pray in the character of Jesus Christ.  Some of His last words on the cross, He is caring for His Mother.

We realize there are those, whatever the reasons, do not love or honor their Father and Mother.  We would say that hinders effective prayer.  We do not have to determine whether our parents are right or wrong…..God will take care of that (Hebrews 10:30).  The great commandment is to Love the Lord God with all of your heart, mind, soul and all your strength and to love each other as Christ loved us.
We understand from God’s Word that loving Father and Mother equates with the great commandment.  Even Jesus, God the Son, submitted Himself to both His earthly parents (Luke 2:51) and His heavenly Father (Matthew 26:39).

Parents are not perfect. God commands that we honor them.  To honor means being respectful in word and action and having an inward attitude of esteem for their position.  This doesn’t mean we cannot disagree with our parents, but we disagree respectfully.  Honor does not mean blind obedience, but concise, objective thinking and reason in a fruitful exchange.

The most obvious hindrance to our prayers would be our sinful nature.  Any unconfessed sin is a strangle hold on our effective prayers.  “One who abides in Christ and whose words abide in him; who prays in the name of Jesus, that is, in accord with His character and nature; and who is full of faith and righteousness is not inclined to pray anything contrary to His Will.”[1] 

Those who dishonor their parents are compared to those with depraved minds (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  -- Ephesians 6:2-3

[1] Peter E. Prosser, B.A., B.Th., M.A., Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

93. Growing in Prayer – Why Do We Doubt?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  – James 1:5-8

We go before our God and Father and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name and then we ….. Doubt!  Why do we doubt? 

I like the scripture in Matthew 14:25-31 when Jesus walks on the water.  When the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them they cried out in fear.  Jesus responded, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid”.  Jesus still tells us today… joyful; do not be afraid!  God is in control of all things.  It tells us in I Chronicles29:12, “…….In Your (God) hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all”.

Peter took his eyes off the Lord and looked at the waves, wind and stormy sea.  He let his faith fail and fear came in.  Does that tell you anything?  It does me!  When we look at the storms in our life, and we allow fear to remove our faith we become a double-minded person.  We sway back and forth between belief that God will and God won’t.

In Peter’s fear Jesus “stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

God’s plans transcend men; man cannot always accurately read God’s ways.  God’s purpose will overcome and bring fruitfulness to our prayers in faith of Who God is, His Word, and His promises. 

No matter the circumstance, event, government, evil, illness; we will know the joy of God’s completion as it says in Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord”.

We believe with all our hearts the scripture we founded our prayer ministry on, Mark 11:22-25.  “22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain (life’s circumstances), ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt (waver – double minded) in his heart, but believes (faith moved to action) that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says (answered prayer).24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Your prayers will be in God’s timing, in His Will, when He purposes it to His Glory.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

We leave you with this scripture from Jude 20-22.  20 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.22 And have mercy on those who doubt”.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

92. Growing in Prayer – Teach Us to Pray

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying.  As he finished, one of his disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  -- Luke 11:1

One of Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teach us to pray”.  Jesus gave to the disciples a prayer; it was a pattern to pray.  It became what we call today the Lord’s Prayer.  One of the important thoughts to understand regarding the Lord’s Prayer, it was written in the imperative tense.  Why the imperative?

The word imperative used as an adjective means of 1vital importance; crucial: immediate action was imperative, and 2Giving an authoritative command; peremptory.  Used as a noun it means 1an essential or urgent  thing, and 2a factor or influence making something necessary.  The word imperative originated from late Middle English (as a grammatical term): from late Latin imperativus (literally 'specially ordered', translating Greek prostatikÄ“ enklisis 'imperative mood'), from imperare 'to command', from in- 'toward' + parare 'make ready'.[1]

We would acknowledge that prayer is very important to our God and Father.  It is imperative, of vital importance, crucial, an authoritative command and peremptory.  It is not that we order God around.  We must first understand our roll in prayer.  Nothing is going to happen on this planet unless we ask first (Matthew 16:19).  Through God’s Son, conception, birth, life, death and resurrection, we become redeemed people to lift our voices in prayer and change here on earth.  The summons in the Lord’s Prayer is that we walk into prayer with authority given to us.  When we realize the awesome trust God puts in us, we will begin to pray the way God wants us to pray.

What then is effective prayer?  It is prayer prayed in God’s Will.

The word effective in the Greek means a decided, decisive, or desired effect, ready for service or action.  The Synonyms for effective are: capable, able, powerful, and efficient.  Strong’s #1754, effectively, energeo (en-erg-eh-oh); One of the four big energy words; energeo, energes, energeia, and energema.  The words all stem from en, “in”, and ergon, “work” and have to do with the active operation or working of power and its effectual results.  (en-erg-eh-oh) be effectual, be might in, effectual fervent, effectually work, show forth (one’s) self, to do, work, work effectually in.  “….The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man…”[2]

True effective prayer is work. It is a discipline formed over time.  If you expect to go before the Throne of Grace in a laid back state….think again.  Jesus in the garden exemplified the pouring out of His soul before God the Father.  “He agonized until His sweat mingled with His blood dripped to the ground and many have tried to deny this as even being possible.  However, there is "a medical term, Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, which is well documented.  Under great emotional stress of the kind that Jesus suffered, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat which can lead to weakness and shock".  Isn’t it interesting that Luke, the physician, is the only one who documented this fact in the Gospels”[3]?

We ask you are you willing to pour your heart and soul out in prayer….are you willing to “work” at prayer….are you guilty of “cookie cutter prayers”?

[1] Oxford Dictionaries
[2] Greek Lexicon
[3] Dr. C. Truman Davis

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

91. Growing in Prayer – Truth

“1Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?  Who may dwell in Your holy hill?  He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; ……”  Psalm 15:1-5

I can remember as a small child when committing a small infraction if I did not tell the truth about my action, it was sure to get me in more trouble for NOT telling the truth than the original transgression.  One thing my brother and I learned early in life was to tell the truth no matter what we had done.  We learned respect and honesty from our parents and I might add it was taught through God’s Word.

I will have to admit there have been times when being honest and truthful has derived much heart ache in the moment, but in the long run I still have the dignity of truth.

Our dignity is in truth:  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

Mark 7:6 tells us:  He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me

We are hypocrites (play actors) when we do not speak truth.  Jesus seeks those who will worship and pray in truth and in Spirit. We think we hide our feelings, the untruths of the heart, but we only camouflage self.  God looks at the heart.  He wants us to speak truth in our prayers and to worship Him in Spirit and truth.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word unite to satisfy our thirst with Jesus’ living water and make us a fountain of life.

We come to God’s throne of Grace and humbly bow before Him to lift our brothers and sisters, our Nation, our leaders and all the circumstances in life to call upon His might and grace to give what we ask in the Spirit of truth. 

I share words from my last Blog and I add truth to these words:  There is a love and truth that is unmatched; a love and truth that makes us the best we can be, God’s love and truth.  Without His love and truth we fall short of our purpose, the very essence that God made us.  This love and truth makes us the very fragrance of His knowledge and Glory….a radiant splendor like the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

90. Growing in Prayer – One Nation under God

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.  –Psalm 33:12

Our Nation is 240 years old today, July 4, 2017.  Our Nation now is composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. We are a free Nation today because the Second Continental Congress met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 and approved the Declaration of Independence.  The second paragraph of this document begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The Declaration contains five references to God — God as supreme Lawmaker, God as Creator of all men, God as the Source of all rights, God as the world's supreme Judge, and God as our Protector on whom we can rely. The Declaration of Independence declares that each of us is created.  This is a Christian Nation founded on the principles of Christianity.

Benjamin Franklin stated at the First Constitutional Convention in 1776, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?  We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it."  Franklin called for prayer.  I might add this Nation will only stand by the power of God!

I would have to agree with Ronald Reagan, “And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.  If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” – United States Supreme Court, 1892.

We have come a long way, baby, since the days our founding Fathers formed this Christian Nation.  We have fallen short many times, but today, I am asking you to remember this Nation was founded with the Hand of God over us.  Remember we are One Nation under God.  Scripture tells us:   . . . . . . The Lord our God, the Lord is one!   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  7 Impress them on your children. . . .” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). 

There is a love that is unmatched; a love that makes us the best we can be, God’s love.  Without His love we fall short of our purpose, the very essence that God made us.  This love makes us the very fragrance of His knowledge and Glory….a radiant splendor like the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). 

According to President Washington, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” 

The History of this Great Nation will live on in the hearts of God’s children.  It lives in prayer, faith and obedience to His Word.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

88. Growing in Prayer – Hate (IV of Series)

You, who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked.  -- Psalm 97:10 

Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad.  Let God deal with the things they do, because hate in your heart will consume you too”.  --Will Smith
We have learned through Scripture we cannot allow hate to move to the heart (Leviticus 18:17).  We have learned hate is murder (I John3:15).  We also have learned hate is darkness (1 John 2:11).  The Scripture tells us hatred stirs up strife (Proverbs 10:12).  We often see hate in others but we fail to see hate in ourselves.

Hate can control our lives and cause great pain to others but the one who suffers the most is the one who carries hate in their hearts.   Anger, resentment, bitterness, hate are all negatives that bring pain to the one that holds them.   It all boils down to unforgiveness.

I would have to say “The passions of hate” arise from “stinking thinking” and too, as sad as it may seem, there are always those who encourage, support, and add to this “stinking thinking”.  The Scriptures tell us as one thinks there is their heart (Proverbs 23:7).  This toxic thinking includes wanting to assign blame; someone must be held responsible. One has anger against another, one feels disrespect or is treated badly; one must protect self-esteem.    Our thinking is the result of our own perception, judgment, experience, and bias. Our brain distorts reality to increase our self-esteem through self-justification. 

The ability to quickly separate our thinking is essential to having a pure and clean heart (Psalm 51:10).  Applying the positives of concentrated prayer, study of God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and loving each other, we can be faithful to Jesus’ commandments.  Otherwise, one cultivates rich soil providing thoughts, reasons, and origins to walk in darkness of one’s own heart.   Individually and as a community, we find ourselves in today’s culture:  countries that prescribe to an ideology that exudes hate; individuals who prescribe to the unthinkable, families torn apart by hate.

The cure for hate is forgiveness (Matthew 6:15).  How can we not forgive one for their faults when we realize what Christ has done for us? 

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. –John 15:9-12