Saturday, September 14, 2019

24. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – What Do We Do Now?

Hear the word of the Lord, You children of Israel, For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed.  Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.   – Hosea 4

Our Sunday School teacher is teaching on the book of Hosea and as we read chapter by chapter, I couldn’t help but think of Solomon when he said;That which has been is what will be,That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun”.  –Ecclesiastes 1:9

We are in the depths of sin in our Nation.  People are people and we have a sin nature.  It is not new and it high lights the words of Solomon.

As we read Hosea each Sunday, I think to myself this where our country and society is today.  The Ten Commandments are no longer a directional to righteous living.  There is cheating, lying, stealing, murder, sins of the flesh; I could go on and on.  What is more there is no conscience.  Those who do these horrible sinful acts has no conscience; they think they have the right to do “whatever is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  Are they in for an awakening when judgement comes?

We find as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun.  What has happened will happen again in a new setting, fitting to modern times, but the same in structure; good or evil.  As new generations mature, they must make a choice between good or evil.  Paul calls us to put on the armor of God Ephesians 6:10-18.  Our weapons are God’s Word and Prayer.

Yes, God’s Word is a two-edge sword!  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we can find or use against all evil, illness, etc.  When we pray with power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome all adversity.  All things are possible (Matthew 19:26)!!

Hosea 6:1-3, God’s Word reaches out to save those unrighteous folks.  All they must do is repent . . .3Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.

Our Nation, our society even down to our cities, towns, and committees and even our Christian service are in chaos!!  My folks would express it in this way; “we are in one mell of a hess.”  Everyone has an opinion and they do not follow any sort of leadership.  Instead of giving our encouragement we judge one another, and we criticize each other for our thoughts, leadership, character, our very presence.

We have always loved Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19.  We believe if God’s people will pray Paul’s prayer in the power and might of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible

Matthew 3:10 - The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

23. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – Ask and Keep on Asking

Let’s think about Luke 11:5-8

5And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

This scripture is referred to as a ‘prim-er (for teaching) or ‘Pri-mer (to ignite an explosive charge) in prayer.  Jesus was teaching his disciples the very basics and power of prayer.

The Scripture just prior to this Luke 11:1, one of His Disciples said:  teach us to pray.  Jesus gave them what we call today the Lord’s Prayer.  This was not given to us as a prayer, but as a lesson in prayer.

The important thing to understand the Lord’s Prayer was written in the imperative tense.  Why the imperative?  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.  Through God’s Son, birth, life, death and resurrection, we become redeemed people to lift our voices in prayer and change.  The summons in the Lord’s Prayer is that we walk into prayer with authority.  When we realize the awesome trust God puts in us, we will begin to pray the way God wants us to pray~~~In His Will!

Do you say “just” in your prayers, i.e., I just praise you; just call on your name, just bring the people, just thank you for today…?  “Just” implies we feel we are a problem to God.  We are not a problem to God!!  God has given us great dignity and privilege to come before Him to ASK!  He tells us repeatedly, ASK.  The power He has given us is in the Power of Prayer . . . the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  When we ask, God’s moves His hand from Heaven.  His promises are manifested in and through our prayers.

In verse 8, Jesus says, 8I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence (importunity) he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 

Actually the word persistence is importunity which means Troublesome urgency; excessive persistence. In Luke 11:8 importunity results in a favorable response to a midnight request for bread (KJV, RSV). Many modern translations read persistence (NASB, NIV, NRSV, REB).  The literal meaning of the term is shamelessness (NEB; compare TEV: “not ashamed to keep on asking”).  Jesus is telling us to pray to the point, exactly, specifically, and pray with boldness and authority; shamelessly.

Then Jesus says:  Luke 11:9-10, 9So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Nothing will happen unless we pray.  God gives us responsibility, privilege and accountability.  Let us go before the Throne of Grace reverently, worshiping, asking with authority.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

22. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree - (2) Pathway to God’s Glory

11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled [before others], and he who habitually humbles himself (keeps a realistic self-view) will be exalted.”  --Luke 14:11

We continue with the Pathway to God’s Glory that we began last week.  As mentioned, this Blog is a result of Doyle’s writings on this subject. 

“Jesus gives us His holiness and humility.  Receiving Jesus we begin our walk to sanctification.  Jesus growing in us we grow in the desire and thirst to live as He lived.  He suffered and died on the Cross and was glorified.  [He completed His work--John 17:14][1]  We are called to Jesus’ Holiness.  Can we surrender in humility our own worldly passions to be holy as He is holy?  This faith, choice, action [faith moved to action} is the humility that we are called setting us apart from the world.  We are to God the very fragrance of love as we strive to His holiness.  We are imperfect beings here on this earth and the only way we will achieve this Holiness is in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Would it not be incredible if God’s living saints could master the humbleness of Christ as they grow in sanctification?  We, the Church, could put on the beautiful garments and humility of God and this will be seen in her teachers and members as the beauty of holiness. The Lamb of God means two things—meekness (humble) and death (to self). Andrew Murray says:  “Let us seek to receive Him in both forms. In Him, they are inseparable; they must be in us also”. [2]

“We cannot live the life Jesus lived without the power of the Holy Spirit. What a hopeless task if we had to do the work!  We are imperfect, sinners in a World of sinners.  Even God’s grace cannot overcome our free choice.  We are helpless to self without the love of Jesus.  “The death of Jesus, once and forever, is our death to self. And the ascension of Jesus, His entering once and forever into the Holiest has given us the Holy Spirit to communicate to us in power, and makes the power of the death life our very own. As the soul, in the pursuit and practice of humility, follows in the steps of Jesus, its consciousness of the need of something more is awakened”.[3]  We grow in sanctification and in that growth we receive the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus.  In that fullness and total submission of self “we make humility the all-pervading spirit of our life.[4]   Say to the Father as Jesus said, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done”.[5]  In our humility we will see the magnificent, radiance, His visible splendor, His Glory!  Without humility and the submission of self to the resurrected Christ we are nothing.  By our faith, believing to action the life, death and resurrected Jesus we have no hope of the life promised on earth and in heaven.   We commit our spirit with Christ into the Father’s hands and enter His perfect peace.  We submit to that perfect, helpless dependence upon God.”
“Would you please join in repeating this prayer with me?”

“Father we ask that you stop all the former workings of our hearts and mind.  Give us all the strength in our hearts, to continually stand in the humility of Jesus.   Help us always be inwardly longing and earnestly praying this one prayer to You Oh, God.  That of Your great goodness You would make known to us, and take from our hearts, every kind, form, and degree of pride whether it be from evil spirits, or our own corrupt nature.  That You will awaken in us the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make us capable of Your radiant splendor . . . . Your glory.   Let us reject every thought, but that of waiting and praying in this matter from the bottom of our hearts, with truth and earnestness.   We ask in the Holy, magnificent Name of Jesus.  Amen”

[1] All brackets are inserted for clarification
[2] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[3] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[4] Andrew Murray’s book “Humility”
[5] Luke 22:41

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

21. Growing in Prayer –The Learning Tree - (1) Pathway to God’s Glory

So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], 2 with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love[1].  Ephesians 4:1-2

This blog has been writings and studies of my pen.  Doyle and I studied together for years and I have put those studies on paper with my pen.  With age, and some more than others, memories begin to fade.  My precious Doyle is slowly entering that stage of life.  I assure you the meaning of scripture is still alive in him.  He may not remember the verse or quote it accurately, but the meaning is alive in him. Now I would like to introduce to you my loving husband, Doyle.  The next two weeks are from his pen.  My love deepens each day for him and his sweet, spiritual nature that covets God’s Word.   I share with you a devotional he gave to Crown Financial Ministry many years ago.

Doyle’s thoughts.

“A few years back Charlsey and I were putting together our thoughts for The Lenten Season, I had been considering what Jesus had prayed, in John 17:22 “And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.” I realized that Jesus was praying this for all believers. One of the first sermons our Pastor at the time had presented to us was on this [Scriptural] prayer. I asked him to repeat to me the description he stated for glory. He stated, “Visible Splendor.”

“At times since then, I have seen glimpses of “Visible Splendor” in the faces of those in church. It is most visible on the faces of those who are really into God’s Word (especially my wife, Charlsey). I believe we experience this splendor from the choir as they deliver an unusually beautiful song. I do not know your thoughts, but to me, there is splendor in a sermon well delivered, which brings worship for our Lord.”

“Please explore with me this thought. How can you and I experience the glory Jesus has given us through the Father so that we may be one with Him as He is one with the Father?  Humility!  If any prayer is ever answered would not Jesus' prayer for us be answered?Please hear as I read from Andrew Murray’s book “Humility.”[2]

We speak of the Holiness movement in our times, and praise God for it. We hear a great deal about seekers after holiness and professors of holiness, of holiness teaching and holiness meetings. The blessed truths of holiness in Christ, and holiness by faith, are being emphasized as never before. The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us”. “ (The End)

Because of our humanness and imperfection, it is difficult (not impossible) for us to totally humble ourselves.  “Self” gets in the way.  Yet without humility, do we lean to the impossible when we do not humble ourselves? This is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in us and shine through us…. His “Visible Splendor” …… The Glory of God!! 

The problems and savagery of the world would end, if we would each release self and live Ephesians 4:1-2 in total humility.

[1] Ephesians 4:2 The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.

[2] Howard Dayton, Co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries and Founder of Compass – finances God’s way, encouraged the reading of Andrew Murray’s book “Humility.”  Howard Dayton is the epitome of humility.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

20. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) God’s Word Sharper than a Two-Edge Sword

12For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  --Hebrews 4:12

Yes, the Word of God is like a two-edged sword.  Ask anyone who has repented and fallen before the Cross of Jesus and asked for forgiveness of their sins.  I have and it was very painful; God’s Word cut me to the quick.  My soul was penetrated to “both joints and marrow.”  As it says in Romans 3:22-24, “....since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...."

Jack Hayford wrote in a study article, “The absolute authority of the Bible over our lives is based in our conviction that this Book does not merely contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God in its sum and in its parts.”  The mature Christian believes Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless) restoring and refreshing the soul; The statutes of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

Anyone from the 1960s now understand the profound societal change.  Our country changed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  II Timothy 4:3-4 says, “…. they will turn their ears away from the truth…...”  We believe the truth is in God’s Word.

We have often wondered when Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).  Will He?

From an article by Billy Graham long ago, “A revival among Christians could change the whole process of history and reverse the immoral tide.”

We cannot help thinking our enemy (devil, Satan, or whatever you call this fallen angel) is rejoicing that he has us fighting and falling away from the Word of God.

I am one of the fortunate ones; I was raised in a loving home with loving parents and a loving older brother.  They lived God’s Word and I wrote in my Bible beside Proverbs 17:27, “My Daddy.”  It says, “He who has knowledge spares his words; and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

The only way we can stabilize ourselves and this Nation is to receive God’s Word.  God gave us His Great Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 and He went on to say, “These Words, which I (God) am commanding you today, shall be written on your heart and mind.  7You shall teach them diligently to your children….” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

Let us pray that the mature Christian (Luke 8:15) will rise and proclaim (loud and clear) the Word of God, and those who defile the truth of HIS Word (Titus 1:15) will hear the call of God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

19. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1)God’s Word, Perfect in its Accuracy

16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   --2 Timothy 3:16-17

We believe in the infallible Word of God.  That it was God breathed to guide us and direct our paths.  The Word of God is complete and sufficient to completely answer anything we need to know about eternal salvation or practical wisdom concerning relationships, morality, character, finances, and conduct.  The one requirement is obedience.  We have never sought an answer that we did not find the answer in God’s Word.

One Core Value of Compass – finances God’s way, is the obedience of God’s Word.  If we are not obeying God’s Word, we will be unable to accurately understand and apply it and unable to teach others.”  We stand on that truth!

We must realize our faith in God’s Word does not deny the reality of difficult times, circumstances even tragedies, it declares the power of God in the face of all that can happen here on this earth.  I quote Roy Hicks, “When facing great challenges, do not permit your lips to speak unbelieving words.”  “We cannot help what we see and hear, but our refusal to speak doubt and fear will keep our hearts more inclined to what God can do, rather than to what we cannot (Proverbs 30:32).”

We are to live a life exemplifying God’s Word.  We refuse to be led astray by politics, unbelievers, and false gods.  We speak with integrity who we are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus confirms that every word of Scripture is given by God, every truth is to be held in reference, and that the Scriptures are eternal and credible.  We grow as we model God’s Word…...Jesus was conceived by the Spirit; He is the living Word of God.  The Spirit working within Him brought forth the fruit of good character (Luke 2:52).

To confess our faith in God’s Word, we are saying we believe in the promises of God and humbly stand before our God our Father; Your Word is truth, we worship You for your love, goodness, mercy, and kindness.  

Let us pray in thanksgiving for God’s Word.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

18. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) The Heart Is Deceitful

The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?”   --Jeremiah 17:9

We continue with our discussion of the heart.  Last week we discussed the morally good heart.  This week we venture into the deceitful heart.  First, we must understand “deceit”.  Deceit is when we take action or practice deceiving those around us by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.  Many folks even deceive themselves so well they can be convincing to others their own beliefs and actions of the heart.

I use as an example collateral damage.  When others do to you that brings harm, the one harmed reacts to the hurt.  A deceived heart begins to justify their actions to harm the one that did the collateral damage.  The true heart takes responsibility regardless of circumstances for their own actions and turns to Jesus for their hurt (Philippians 4:13).

There are many scriptures defining the heart.  As we mentioned last week the heart is the whole person, thinking, acting, remembering, feeling; all our human activity.  God works within the heart; we may have a tender, soft heart or we may have a heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19).  We must understand how our heart deceives us.

One may say, “I don’t have a hard heart.”  When we reject God’s teachings, we have entered the Harding of our heart.  We do this to ourselves.  For instance if you have unforgiveness in your heart that unforgiveness grows into anger, bitterness, and resentment .  The longer it stays within our heart, our heart begins to harden (Matthew 6:15).

Sometimes God hardens our heart.  I use for example the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 7:3, 9:12).  Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?  Could it be that God uses the hardened heart to show His mighty power; He is God all Glory and Honor to HIM.  Paul had a hard heart toward Christians and God used him to bring the Good News to the Gentiles (Acts 22:19-21).

You may say what has this to do with prayer?  I had rather come to the Thorn of Grace with a true, clean, and pure heart (Psalms 51:6) than a heart of stone, wouldn’t you?

Let us pray for those in darkness and let Christ bring them to the Living Water (John 7:38) and His light (John8:12).