Waiting for the Spirit – Acts 8:14-17

No Believer In Christ Will Walk In Power Until The Holy Spirit Of God Comes Upon Them

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Beginning Believers

There is a debate amongst the bodies of disciples of Christ in various regions as to when the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer in power.  In order to understand this, the Bible must be taken as a whole.  For instance:

These are just a few examples to illustrate the differing circumstances that surrounded the Holy Spirit coming upon someone in power.  The simple fact is, disciples of Christ will NOT BE EFFECTIVE until the Holy Spirit comes upon them in power.

Power of Prayer

Prayer is the most powerful offensive tool that the believer in Christ has in the arsenal.  We are given unfettered access to the Throne Room of God at any time through prayer.  Anything we ask in the name of – the character of – Jesus, God the Father will do so that He may be glorified.

In this case, Peter and John went to Samaria to greet the new believers there.  Notice that the very first thing they did was pray.  John the Apostle was known by the nickname “Camel Knees” because he prayed so much!  Peter and John first prayed that the Holy Spirit would come upon the new believers (in power).  After bathing their requests in prayer, they acted upon their belief.  They laid hands upon the new believers.

Holy Hands

When they laid their hands, bathed in prayer, upon the new believers, the new disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit in power.  They recognized from their own lives, having to wait until Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit, that the new disciples would be ineffective until they had received the Holy Spirit.

The laying on of hands was to designate someone for a specific purpose or task.  When hands were laid upon the new believers, they received the Holy Spirit in power to provide them with the necessary means to be effective in ministry.  Each of us should greatly desire that the Holy Spirit come upon us in power.

If you are not sure if the Holy Spirit has come upon you in power, you should earnestly pray that God would do so.  Examine your life to see if you are living it in a manner that is pleasing to God.  Confess all sins, and repent of them.  Eagerly seek and desire the deeper understanding of the Bible and God’s will in your life.  God greatly desires that His people are ready and prepared to do the works that He has assigned for us to do since before the foundation of the Earth!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s as a question:  Has the Holy Spirit come upon me in power?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and full of grace.  Father, please help me to walk in Your ways.  Forgive me for my sins.  Help me to turn away from them and leave them at the foot of the cross, for Christ has born them already.  Help me to better understand Your word, that I would be able to live this life in line with Your word more and more each day.  May the Holy Spirit come upon me in power, that I would be prepared to do the works that You have prepared in advanced for me to do.  Strengthen me as You did when the apostles laid their hands upon the believers.  May You and You alone be glorified in what You are about to do.  This I ask in the name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

When Prayers Are Hindered – 1 Peter 3:7

The Best, Sure-Fire Way For A Husband To Hinder His Prayers Is…

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Doctorate Degree

Peter counsels men to live with their wives as a family, not as a “tyrant” or “lord of the universe”.  Many men believe that because they are the head of the household, that they are the “dictator-in-chief”.  But God says:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Rather than taking on the role of “overlord of the galaxy”, men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  He DIED for her:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Men should learn their wives, studying them like a student in post-graduate studies takes the time to learn their subject so well that they are eventually awarded a Doctorate Degree.  In the same way, men should study their wives and know them so well that they know just about everything about her.  If you know your wife, you will be better prepared to understand how she will respond to any set of circumstances, and know her likes/dislikes, hot-buttons (the things that trigger a strong, emotional response that should be avoided at ALL costs), and everything else that she responds to.

In other words, live with her in an amicable way, showing deference to her preference whenever possible…

Radical Respect

Do you like to be treated with respect?  What man doesn’t?  If men want to be respected by their wives, should they not respect their wives as well?  How does a man respect his wife?  He lays down his life for her:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For a man to respect his wife, he must love his wife.  Not the way that he thinks of love, but how she thinks of love.  That’s why men must put in the time and effort to get their Doctorate Degree in their wives.  In order to love your wife, you must first understand how she perceives love.

To be sure, romance novels, television, and culture portrays this version of love in such a way that the man somehow has mental telepathy and is able to discern out of thin air the very thoughts of the woman of his affection and then responds with lavish gifts grand entries, always dressed just right,and always saying just the right words to give her that feeling that she is intimately known and cherished.  Good luck with that.  While ideal, the Bible says:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

But that doesn’t mean that a person isn’t able to reasonably guess if they understand how to interpret the clues…  (Ladies, this is a HINT:  Don’t be coy:  Yes means yes, and No means no.  Mixed signals may seem like a good idea to test whether a man truly knows their woman, but is God ever deceitful* to test us?)

Holy Heir

Women are heirs with men in the kingdom of God.  They are to be treated as the weaker vessel, not as inferior.  Silk is strong, soft, luxurious, and great for making sheets, shirts, and other items.  Steel is strong, hard, durable, and bright.  However, most people would never consider wearing steel wire braided into cloth for underwear (except as body armor, and only with something a little more soft underneath that…).  In the same way, silk, although strong (spider silk is at least as strong as steel cable in the same diameter…), is not as durable.  Femininity (not militant feminism, as defined in culture) is to be treasured for its soft, supple, warm embrace.  To despise it because it is “weaker” is foolish.

Gracious Gift

God has given His gracious gift of salvation to both men and women, and makes not distinction of separation between them (with regards to respect, for God is not a respecter of persons):

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Since God has done this, should men not treat women as equal but different?

Powerful Prayers

And here is the consequence.  For men who are married, do not expect that God will listen to your prayers if you are not “being considerate as you live with your wife.”  God will not tolerate a man who professes that he knows God, and then treats his wife in a disrespectful, unloving way.  That is the surest way to slam close the doors of heaven for prayer.

Husbands, if your prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling and bouncing right back down, consider that you may need to re-evaluate your relationship with your wife.

Wives, if your husband is trying to reconcile and show you love, will you forever despise him for his mistakes, never forgiving him for his errors?   Will you spurn him to punish him because you are hurt?  Do you want his prayers to be answered by God (what if he is praying for you…)?  If so let God work in him to change him, and take it upon yourself to help your husband to know you better.  Men are terrible guessers.  Be direct; it may not feel romantic, but it certainly will help your husband to better understand your needs.  (And remember – just because every other woman in the UNIVERSE can understand your needs and desires merely by the way that you ask questions with nuance doesn’t mean that your husband has the God-given ability to discern these things [even if the men riding in shining armor on horses in books and movies appear to be able to do so]…)  Also remember, once your husband starts to submit to you and love you like Christ loves the church, God will answer his prayers, especially if they are to reconcile you to him

A Qualifying Question

Husbands, let’s ask a question:  Am I loving my wife as Christ loved the church?

Wives, let’s ask a question: Am I communicating my needs and desires clearly and concisely in such a way that my husband will be able to  clearly understand them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made men and women different yet equal.  Each have a unique perspective with strengths and weaknesses.  Help me, Father, to fulfill my role in every relationship in a way that shows both love and respect.  Help me to submit to one another in Christ, displaying before the world the peace and servant’s heart that Jesus Christ displayed when he washed the disciples’ feet.  Show me how to better serve and communicate with my family, and the family of the church body.  Help remove any stronghold of thought that the world, the flesh, or the devil has placed in my head and heart that has taken root that may be hindering my relationships with others.  Help me to put Your love on display for all to see.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog has been edited for spell errors and clarity

*Here is a hypothetical situation in the form of a conversation:

Wife: Do you feel like eating out tonight?

(What she REALLY means: “I have had a tough day.  The last thing that I want to do is slave over a hot stove for the next hour or so in order that we can have a morsel of food.  Why don’t we get out and have a romantic night on the town?  I’m going to play the Romantic Guessing Game with you now.  Be on guard – you are being TESTED!  And you better pass if you want me to be affectionate with you later…”)

Husband (response 1):  Not really

(What he REALLY means: “I had a long day at work.  The last thing that I want to do is go home, shower, drive for an hour, wait for an hour, then eat at a restaurant that is over-priced with so many people talking and distractions everywhere…   All I want to do is go home and relax my brain…”)

Husband (response 2): Sure, where would you like to go?

(What he REALLY means: “Sure.  Where would YOU like to go?” BTW, most men won’t turn down the opportunity to eat at a restaurant unless there is something dire going on in their life that is sucking the very life out of them, or they are financially destitute at the time…)

Wife: Oh, anywhere will be fine.

(What she REALLY means: “You know perfectly well where I like to eat.  Pick the romantic restaurant with flowers, music, entertainment, and coziness that I have already picked out in my mind, [restaurant q], so that I can feel loved and appreciated by you.”)

Husband:  OK, how about [restaurant x]?

(What he REALLY means: “OK, how about [restaurant x]? [Wow!  She is letting me pick!  How very gracious of her!]”)

Wife: No, I don’t really want to go there

(What she REALLY means: “OK, it’s time to flex those romantic muscles.  Think REALLY hard, and empathically sense which restaurant I have already picked out in my mind, because we are so emotionally tuned together, and I know you will be able to guess it right because YOU LOVE ME SO MUCH…”)

Husband:  Uh, OK. How about [restaurant y]?

(What he REALLY means: “Uh, OK.  How about [restaurant y]?”)

Wife: (sounding a little dejected) No, I really don’t want to go there.

(What she REALLY means: “I can’t believe you didn’t empathically guess right!  Maybe we aren’t as emotionally close as I thought we were…  I’ll give you another try [deep sigh…]”)

Husband:  All right.  How about [restaurant z]?

(What he REALLY means: “How about [restaurant z]?”

Wife: (Sounding depressed) Never mind.  Let’s just whip something up here at home.

(What she REALLY means: “How could he be such an unfeeling oaf?  Could I have been ANY MORE OBVIOUS that I wanted to go to [restaurant q]?  Does he even know ANYTHING about me?  He NEVER picks the right restaurant when we play Romantic Guessing Game.  He must not really care about me.  I guess I’ll just be the dutiful wife and slave over the oven to feed him, the unromantic buffoon…”)

A better way this conversation could have gone…

Wife: I have had a tough day today.  I would really like to get dressed up and go the that nice, fancy restaurant, you know, [restaurant q].  That would really make me feel loved and appreciated.

(What she REALLY means: “I have had a tough day today.  I would really like to get dressed up and go the that nice, fancy restaurant, you know, [restaurant q].  That would really make me feel loved and appreciated.”)

Husband: Gorgeous, I love you so much!  Of course that would be fine with me!  Let me get showered, shaved, and spruced up for you, my beautiful buttercup!  AS YOU WISH

(What he really means: “I love you so much that I will offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as my spiritual act of worship.  You have shown me your preferences, and given me a deeper understanding into your heart, which I am trying to learn and discern as part of my Doctorate Degree training that I am deeply engaged with you.  Now that I know exactly what you want, I can act on that and make it happen, for I know that it will bring great joy to you, even if I am tired and exhausted.  I want to submit to you, and am willing to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that you feel loved by me.  I look forward to meeting your emotional, relational, and physical needs as you reveal them to me clearly.  Thank you so very much for letting me know!”)

 

 

Building the Body – Colossians 1:9-14

Prayer Is The Fuel For Spiritual Body Building

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Foundational Fuel

Everywhere you look in scripture, people are praying.  They are praying to worship God in praise.  They are praying to petition God for assistance.  They are praying for God’s will to come about.  And here, Paul and Epaphras are praying that the seed that was planted in the church body located at Colossi would flourish.

Prayer is the fuel and only offensive weapon we have in our spiritual warfare:

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Jesus definitively recognized that His disciples should pray.  Notice the words He uses when He talks about prayer:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus doesn’t say, “If you pray…”, or, “Should you decide to pray…”, or, “Perhaps you should pray…”.  Jesus says, “…when you pray…”.  One of the reasons that we are so weak is that we are not doing what our body-building trainer tells us to do – P R A Y!

Body Building

In this passage, there are several tips to successful spiritual body-building.  And just as Earthly body-builders need to practice and have workouts to keep their physical bodies in top shape, spiritual body-builders need to complete their workouts to keep their spiritual lives in top shape.  God is all about relationship.  Prayer is communication, which is a vital part of the relationship process.

Here are some of the tips and tricks provided to us to up our game in spiritual body-building from Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ:

Dominion of Darkness

Before God the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus Christ to us, we were in the dominion of darkness.  Satan was our father, for our deeds were evil and we neither sought out God, nor gave Him glory.  The world, the flesh, and the devil were our constant companions and our advisors.  We were born with a sin nature passed down to us from Adam.  It’s no wonder that we were slaves in bondage to sin.

Crown of Christ

Jesus came to rescue us from our bondage to sin and from sin itself, and reconcile us to the Father.  When we confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, we were moved into the Kingdom of Light.  We have been adopted as children into the family of God.  Jesus is our brother; we are his brothers and sisters.

This seems very basic, but it has profound meaning and implication in our lives.  No longer are we prohibited from experentially and relationally knowing God.  No longer do we look in confusion or bewilderment at who God is; God is revealing Himself to us through His Son in His word and through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

To those who have been given much, much is expected.  How much has God given you?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being faithful in my spiritual body-building exercises?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, the knowledge that You have adopted me into Your family is too wonderful for me to comprehend.  Just as an orphan is stunned after being adopted into a loving family, I am still stunned as I ponder the implications of being adopted into Your family.  You have done great and mighty things on and for my behalf.  You have given me an eternal future with You, access to You in Your throne room any time I need or just want to be there, and you have given me access to the royal treasury by blessing me with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  You have said that to those who have been given much, more is expected.  Father, what do you expect of me?  Show me that I may do all that you desire for me to do and become in gratitude for all that You have done for me.  Help me to remember my brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray fervently for them that they would be built up in Christ.  Give me Your love, so that it will be on display for all to see.  Help me to yield myself to you completely.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Compromising in Fear – 1 Samuel 21:10-15

Fear Drives People To Do Crazy Things

10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

Calamitous Compromise

Compromise has a tendency to lead to our ruination.  In David’s case, it saw him descend into such low depths that he went and camped out in enemy territory, even acting insane because he feared for his life.  It didn’t help that Saul was looking to kill him.  But it bears looking at the life of David to remember why compromise can ruin our lives.

Sometimes difficultly will find its way into our lives.  Saul had sent out the equivalent of the Airborne Rangers and the Navy Seals to go find and eliminate David.  When the best of the best is out to kill you, it can drive a person to fear.  And when we act in fear, we begin to compromise.

Embedded in the Enemy

In an effort to be free of the constant hounding by Saul, the king of Israel, David went to Gath.  The first sign that you are “off the rails” in compromise is when you believe that it is safer in enemy territory than where God has planted you (apart from direct revelation from God that it is time to flee).  Any time we begin to compromise, we set ourselves up to be placed in a situation that will require even GREATER compromise.  Upon hearing that he was recognized, and rightly so for his prowess in battle, David begins to act counter to his heroic nature.  Instead of hiding in caves, he does something worse – he hides in plain sight.

Distasteful Deceit

David begins to act insane.  He knows that he will most likely be left alone if he appears to be a non-threatening, drooling idiot.  Rather than inquire of God for what he should do, David takes it upon himself to try to provide his own protection through compromise.  And while it surely saddened God that David was acting this way, David looked to himself first and took matters into his own hands.

We compromise any and every time that we believe we have a better chance at success than God does.  And while most of us are certainly are in no position to criticize David, God was gracious enough to give us his example so that we could learn from it.  God had successfully hid other people from harm many times in the past:

Careful Consideration

Every time that we take a step in compromise, it leads us down a dark path.  As we walk farther away from the truth, it becomes more murky, and we find that it becomes easier to do things that, under normal circumstances, we would never even consider doing.  People in desperate times have eaten their own children during sieges to stay alive.

So what can we do when we are faced with compromise?

  • Turn our eyes upon Jesus.  He is the one who is our strength and shield.  Not every encounter with the enemy allowed the righteous to live (read the second half of Hebrews Chapter Eleven), but they faced death with dignity and brought great glory and honor to God in how they handled themselves.
  • Pray to God for wisdom.  Oftentimes, we are blind-sided with great difficulty that demands swift and immediate action.  Sometimes, we are so emotionally overwhelmed, that our first instinct is to act and not to ask.  That is when it is most dangerous.  There is certainly a time to act before asking (YES, pull the little girl out of the burning car first…)
  • Pray to God, asking for strength to do what is right.  There will be times when our enemies have backed us into a corner.  They have maneuvered us into what appears to be a no-win situation.  But when we hold steadfast to God, and refuse to compromise, God may yet deliver us from our difficulties.  And when we refuse to compromise (do what is evil in the sight of The Lord God Almighty), no matter the consequences, God is greatly honored and glorified.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When faced with compromise, and possibly terrible consequences, what is my first reaction?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, there is no evil in You.  You do not compromise Your goodness in any way for any reason.  Give me strength as I face the consequences for doing what is right in Your eyes.  Uphold me before my enemies, and let them know that I fear and revere You more than I do anything that they can do to me.  Give me a steadfast heart that always seeks You, Lord God.  Help me to overcome any fear that the enemy is trying to place in my heart, and to boldly step out in faith.  I may not survive, Lord, but I know in my heart that You will be honored and glorified in this.  Help me to have great peace as I face difficulty, and I know, Father, that You will reward faithfulness to You, if not in this life, in the next.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Victory with God – Psalm 60:9-12

God And God Alone Is The One Who Brings Victory

9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

Divine Direction

David asks a very interesting question:  Who will be able to lead David and his men to their objective and goal, and bring them to the fortified city to do battle?  David knows the answer to this question, for it is God and God alone who gives true direction and victory over the enemy.  David’s use of rhetorical questions should comfort us and give us instruction, for we too should ask ourselves questions that help us to remember our training in times of difficulty.

When faced with any type of difficulty, we should always seek God first in prayer.  For it is God and God alone who can answer those prayers, provide the information needed to overcome our difficulties, and provide the strength and resources to be victorious.

Reinforcements Rejected

David acknowledges that God had been withholding his protection and provision because of the sin of the people.  This is very serious, and cannot be overstated enough.  We need to remember that when just ONE member of the body is in pain, the whole body is in pain.  Each and every one of us must do our part to ensure that we are not hindering the progress of the rest of the body.

God has withheld his blessing from His people before just because ONE person was sinning.  Imagine that – the entire nation of Israel was denied victory in battle because ONE person was sinning!  It is important that we remember that sin affects not only us, but those around us as well.  Let us search our hearts daily to see if there is any wrongdoing within us, and ask the Lord God Almighty for His help in overcoming it and to repent of it.  None of us should ever want to be the stumbling block for the rest of the body…

Plea for Progress

David pleads with God for help in overcoming his adversaries.  We need to always go to God with our concerns and needs.  Even though God already knows them, and is preparing the answer to the prayers we have not yet even prayed, we must do our part in this by being obedient to God and submitting ourselves through prayer in humility.  God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.  Let us follow the example of David and humble ourselves before God, asking Him for the victory.  Let us trust in God and God alone for all victory.  And He will lift up our heads.

Recognizing Refuse

David also acknowledges that the help of man is worthless.  When faced with any issue, God greatly desires that we come to Him first, for He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  He desires to bless us with His grace and mercy, and teach us more about His character through our dependence upon Him through our trials and difficulties.  God desires that we deepen our relationship with Him during these times.

When we seek out men for help before God (and God may very well send us to others for advice, strategy, and resources, but only once we have sought Him out earnestly in prayer), we are in effect saying that God cannot help us, so we have chosen to men to help us.  This is greatly disrespectful towards God, given His clear instruction throughout scripture showing us that He desires to be the first consulted.  David recognizes that the help of man without the express prior approval and selection from God is utterly worthless.  One angel of God could wipe out every army on Earth.  Why would we seek out men and their strength when God can bring to bear LEGIONS of angels to assist us in our needs?

Heavenly Help

David now confirms what he already knows – that victory belongs to God and God alone.  It is only with the help of God that we will be truly victorious.  God has brought to bear great and mighty assistance to those in need, and will do so again.  It is God and God alone who can do this.  We cannot remind ourselves enough of this, for the truth shall set us free, and drawing close to God is always beneficial.  It is then that He gives us His peace and opens His storehouses of provision and protection to His people:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When I face difficulties, who or what do I go to first for help?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show me again and again in Your word that You desire that each of us come to You first for all of our needs.  Forgive me Father when I go to others first who are wise.  You have all of the answers, and are sovereign over all creation.  It is You who provide victory and assign wise counselors.  Help me to stop listening to the world, the flesh, and the devil, who want to keep me from You and Your help and rely on myself and others.  Give me the desire to always seek You first in all things.  You have provided wise counsel and leaders to guide us, but it is You who are first in everything.  Blessed be Your name forever and ever, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Prayer with God – Colossians 4:12-13

It’s Time To Wrestle With God

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Selfless Servant

Paul commends his fellow worker in Christ, Epaphras, in this passage.  He  commends this saint in Christ, and tells the Colossian church that he sends greetings.  This was common in Paul’s letters, and was an encouragement to the churches.  In the dark times in which we find ourselves today, it is a blessing to hear from disciples in other church plantings and to know that they are thinking about us.  After all, the church is not any specific group of believers, but rather all disciples taken as a whole.  Let us not forget that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it.

Strenuous Struggle

Epaphras was a prayer warrior.  He was engaged in a type of prayer that we should all be engaged.  He wrestled in prayer.  The Greek word for wrestled is agOnizomenos.  This can be translated as wrestles, struggles, or contends.  We get our English word agonize from it.  Epaphras agonized in prayer for the saints.  The burden on his heart was so great, that he was agonizing over the other disciples, and was noted for his burden with the church in Colossi.

This level of prayer goes way beyond the simple thankfulness prayer, or general request for something.  This is a type of prayer where the heart is deeply moved and dedicated to seeing a specific result.  This is the type of prayer where you are praying for the very life of your child to survive some terrible injury or illness.  Epaphras was gifted with the ability to feel that way about the saints, and was commended by Paul for doing so.  Such prayers can be cathartic, but are very demanding and difficult, and take a lot out of the person.  Epaphras was commended for ALWAYS contending in prayer for the brothers and sisters in Colossi.  That IS commendable.

Sturdy Stand

The first aspect of discipleship that concerned Epaphras was that the church of Colossi stand firm in the will of God.  It is so easy to be distracted by the call of culture and duties that we can take our eyes off of the goal.  We are bombarded daily with the call of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  We need to be focused more upon the will of Almighty God as the day of reckoning approaches.  Each of us needs to fill our lamps with oil, so that we will not be caught unprepared.  We each need to put on our wedding clothes in preparation for the return of the groom so that we may join Him in the wedding celebration.

Made Mature

One of the characteristics missing from Western Christians is maturity in their faith.  We are called to grow in Christ, and to draw close to Him.  However, there are many who believe that they are good where they are.  They are happy with the spiritual progress that they have made so far, and think that this is good enough.

However, even Paul had said that he had not yet arrived.  If the writer of most of the New Testament, martyred in Rome for his faith, stoned to death and resurrected, did not arrive, why should any of us think that we have?  There are Christians (and I am specifically using this word rather than disciples) who say that they are baby Christians.  Some of these “babes in Christ” have been walking with God for more than a decade, but are still only ready for the milk of the word.

Not only are we to eagerly desire the milk of the word, we are meant to grow up and mature, tasting and chewing on the meat of the word.  We are to grow into mature disciples, fully and firmly rooted in the word of God.  Staying a babe in Christ for so long is much like living well into adulthood as a child in your parent’s basement.  There is no impetus to grow – as long as the behavior is coddled or ignored, the person never reaches maturity, and as a result, is not productive in society.

While it should not be taken that extended families are in some way wrong as living arrangements, we should have reasonable expectations for our children to grow up and mature, and be useful, productive members of society.  How does the family benefit when a 35-year-old man sits in a basement playing (the latest version of) Halo, doing nothing else but eating their parents food, buying clothes with their money, and ignoring them and everyone else for the enjoyment of a video game?

Maturation is a difficult, time-consuming, arduous endeavor.  It comes with a lot of bumps and bruises, but also with intentionality, discipline, and purpose.  And discipline is the key.  The child does what pleases the child.  The adult does what is good for the family.  It is time that the “babes in Christ” wake up, and take a serious look at their spiritual lives.  There is much to be done, and the rest of the body is trying to cover for you.

Serious Striving

Paul further commends Epaphras for working hard.  This is a characteristic of the mature Christian disciple.  Jesus tells us that we are not worthy if we look back from the plow at what was left behind.  We are to keep our eyes on the goal, and to strive with great purpose towards the way and will of God.  For the path is straight through the narrow gate to life, and broad is the gate and wide is the road towards destruction.  We each need to choose our path.  Paul urges us in the example of Epaphras to choose whom we will serve this day.  Make that choice, and press on towards the goal.  Set your sights upon hearing these words from your Lord and Savior: Well done, good and faithful servant.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I becoming the person that God has called me to become?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for the examples that You have provided to me in the Bible.  Help me to research and understand the life of Paul and the ministry of Epaphras.  Guide me and instruct me in the ways that I should go.  Help me to be more intensely engaged while I pray to You.  Give me the heart of a servant, that I may be Your bond-slave.  Stir my heart for my own spiritual development, as well as the spiritual development of the rest of the body of Christ.  Give me a burden upon my heart for the awakening of your disciples who have taken their eyes off of You.  Help me to greatly desire their maturity, as well as my own.  Place upon my heart the desire to spend more time with You each and every day in prayer and study of Your word.  This I ask in the precious and holy name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Holiness of God – Matthew 21:12-13

Do Not Profane What Is Holy

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”

Righteous Rebuke

Jesus was not a wimp.  He was gentle and humble of heart.  But when He saw that His Father’s temple courtyard was being used in a manner that was disrespectful and counter to its intended purpose – to provide a space where the people could come to worship His Father, He reacted.  He overturned the money tables and benches of people who changed a place of worship into a place of profit.

To be clear, it is not that Jesus was against people making a profit with their labor.  It was the use of something holy in a profane way that was so egregious to Him.  They had taken a place that was meant for worship and defiled it by selling their wares.  God was to be glorified in this place, and yet the sellers of merchandise dared to use what was dedicated to God to line their own pockets.  God is genuinely jealous of what is His.  He will not allow us to prostitute ourselves to sin when we have been dedicated to His purpose.

Practice Prayer

Jesus had informed the ones who had defiled His Father’s house that they had maligned what God had declared was holy – set apart to him and set apart from the world.  The merchants did not care that the temple was to be used for prayer – for holy communication between man and God.  They only saw the opportunity to make some money providing the service of the easy availability of sacrificial animals to those who would come and worship.

We would do well to remember that we are now the temple of God.  And we are not just the temple courtyard; our bodies are the naos of God – the holy of holies.  God has declared us to be holy through the righteousness of Christ.  It behooves us to use our bodies in a manner that befits its station and purpose.  Otherwise, we will be responsible for defiling what God has made holy.

Design Destroyed

Not only were the merchants impeding the worship of God by their very presence with their wares, they were taking what was holy and making it worldly through their practices.  They had no regard for the things of God nor His holiness.  In making the temple courts their marketplace, they turned what was to be honoring God into profit.  Not only that, they would often have dishonest scales, robbing the people, and charging prices that were absurd for goods.  Rather than even offer their merchandise at a fair price, they sold their items at great cost.  The cost of convenience was steep.

We should be wary of those who seek to profit by using what God has declared as holy to line their own pockets.  And while the workman is worthy of his wages, it is not right to peddle the word of God for the purpose of profit.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I using my body as a temple of God or for some other purpose?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You delight in Your children, and greatly desire for us to seek You in prayer.  Help me to separate myself from the world, and draw close to You.  Keep me from the desires that would use my body in such a way that it would profane Your name.  Guard me against the desires of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that I would reflect Your glory for all to behold.  Watch over me this day, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Famine From God – Amos 8:11-12

Beware A Famine Of The Word Of God

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.”

Famine Foretold

The first great famine occurred after the last prophecy in Malachi.  For over 400 years, no prophetic word had come to the people of Israel.  Generations had passed with no communication from God to His people.

This was very disconcerting to the people of God.  They had, in the past, received blessing and feedback from God through His prophets.  Now they waited in silence.  Famine brings great hunger.  When people are in a desperate place of hunger, it wears on them.  Going hundreds of years without receiving direction from God must have been frustrating to the Israelites.  They had been led by the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night for forty years in the desert.  They could seek out God’s prophets who were among them when they needed individual direction (even though, as a nation, they scorned and persecuted the prophets when their sinful lifestyles were brought to their attention and rebuked).

But isn’t it also true that the teacher is silent when the student is taking the test?

Desire Defeated

We are told to seek the Lord while He can be found.  As God withdraws His sovereign Spirit from a nation, they will soon be given over to their iniquity.  And when they seek the Lord, He may not be found.  The judgement of God may be at hand.  In that day, people will seek direction from God, and they may receive silence.

It is imperative that we seek God every day so that we will not experience a famine of the Word of God.  We choose how much time we spend with God and His Word.  When we don’t spend time in God’s Word and with God in prayer, we are voluntarily entering into a self-made famine.  Don’t be surprised if God doesn’t immediately jump to help you if you don’t spend time with Him.  Draw close to the Lord through His Word and through prayer, and you will never experience a famine of the word.

And if/when God is silent, remember: the just shall live by faith.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I spending enough time every day with God in prayer and in His Word?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me for my many sins.  Show me the path of righteousness.  Help me to draw close to You through Your Word and through prayer.  Strengthen my relationship with You that I would be able to trust You more and more each day.  Father, forgive our nation, for the people are not seeking You and Your Word.  Soften their hearts that they would seek You and return to You.  Only You, Lord God Almighty, are able to break through the hardness of hearts.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Thankfulness for God – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God’s Will For You

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Remember to Rejoice

Rejoicing at all times is not the easiest thing to do.  Pain, misery, and other terrible circumstances can all damper our desire to rejoice.  But we see in the Bible time and time again where God’s people rejoice in times of great difficulty:

Persist in Prayer

Prayer is something that every Christian should be an expert.  We have many examples in scripture to draw upon.  We can openly pour out our hearts to God in praise and petition.  Prayer can be silent or spoken.  The only thing that stops us from praying is ourselves.  We need to take more time to be in the presence of our Almighty God.  As in all things, we need to practice to become good at prayer.  And as we grow, we will notice our prayer life changes from our immediate needs to the needs of others and praise of the One who hears our prayers.

Thoroughly Thankful

Thankfulness is a state of the heart.  It is dependent upon the level of contentment that we experience.  If a person is not content, they will not be inherently thankful.  And when difficulties arise, they will find it even more challenging to be thankful.  It is easy to be content in times of plenty.  Let us practice thankful contentment when we can so that in times of difficulty we can apply ourselves to that difficult task.  Job first set the example:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.

Paul tells us he learned to be content:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I thankfully content, praying continually, with rejoicing?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may my heart be content with my circumstances, and may Your praise be continually on my lips.  Even in my worst circumstances, You are with me, guiding me and providing for me.  Help me to remember that You are constantly involved in my life, regardless of the pain I feel.  Help me to praise Your name, even if it is with tears, for You treasure them.  And when there are terribly long times of difficulty, with no end in sight, give me the strength to continually praise You, pray to You, and be thankful; for this life is very short, no matter how painfully long it feels.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Return to the Lord – Joel 2:12-17

We Need a National Call to Repentance

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”

Regretful Return

God asks that Christians return to Him in mourning, fasting and prayer:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Revival in the Church has been a recurring theme throughout the last two thousand years.  Just as Israel returned to God after He disciplined them, they quickly turned from God again and again.  We have a tendency to do the same.  In UNITY, the body of Christ should gather as God’s people and mourn, fast, and pray to God for His deliverance from the evil that has beset us.  And while we are doing that, we need to remember that the justified shall live by faith.

How must we appear to God when we cannot even put aside our differences and get the local bodies of believers to come out in unison and seek the One we call upon for our deliverance together?  Can we not designate a call to repentance?  Are our egos and pride so great that brothers in Christ cannot come together?  How sad must our God be with us.

Compassionate Care

God IS gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and when we return to Him, He relents from sending calamity.  We are told here that God may even be gracious and restore some of what He has taken so that we may be able to give offerings to Him.

In the time that this passage was written, the locusts had destroyed the crops, and the people were facing great hardship.  God needs to get our attention, and what better way than taking away that which He has already provided?  We are God’s children, and we are disciplined like children.  But God relents because of His Mercy and Grace.  We should always remember that.

Sacred Session

In this passage, everyone is asked to gather, regardless of their station or circumstances.  Even the newlyweds are to interrupt their nuptial bliss to participate.  This is not just the church regulars, but all who are called according to God’s name are to gather at the assembly.

And once the assembly is gathered, we are to be consecrated to the Lord.  We are to shed our desires for the things of this world and seek the One who created all things and desires for us to be with Him eternally in the next.  We are to put on Christ; let us remember our calling and do as we are directed.  Is it not disobedience that causes this issue in the first place?  Does God, when His people are doing His will, not protect and proper them?  For what purpose would God, if His people are living according His will, send in their enemies to overtake and destroy His people?  To bring them closer to Him?  If so, where is the evidence in the Bible?

And lest we forget, He reminds us several times:

but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations

Ardent Appeal

Once we have gathered and have been consecrated, we need to make our impassioned plea to God to spare us lest the nations say, “Where is your God?”  He will not tolerate sin among His people.  He is long-suffering, and waits patiently for us to turn from our sin.  But we should not mistake His patience for a seal of approval.  Let us not give God any reason to display His displeasure at us.

We need to individually and corporately seek out the Lord in tears of repentance, crying out for mercy.  If some of our brothers or sisters won’t join in, we need to pray for them as well, for are we not a royal priesthood?  Where is our longing to be free from sin, united in Christ, seeking the lost sheep, and protecting the flock?  What has happened to harden our hearts so much that we are disconnected from each other and from God?  Let us cry out to Him and beg Him for mercy.  If you hear a voice saying that it is too late, that is not from God;  evaluate everything based on His word, not on your emotions

And the God of mercy will relent and restore what He has taken.  Do not despise His discipline, for all discipline is unpleasant at the time it takes place.  But it will yield a great harvest of righteousness when it has been completed.  Let us seek the Lord for our sanctification and dedicate ourselves to our God in holiness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Why aren’t we able (or willing) to be united with all of the body of Christ in national prayer, fasting, and repentance in accordance with the will of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a Holy God, and You cannot tolerate sin.  Place within the hearts of Your people a desire to return to You.  Begin a revival within Your church, and help me to change my heart attitudes to match Yours.  Please help our leaders to unite together and work for unity within the body.  And remember me as I seek Your face, humbling myself in prayer and fasting, desiring that I would be sanctified and live righteously before you.  This I ask and pray in mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Promise of God – Psalm 1:1-3

God Delights in Those Who Delight in Him

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Powerful Prose

The author of this Psalm uses poetry to indicate that there a three-fold process to spiritual failure when we begin to engage in sin.  These steps will eventually derail any Christian from their walk with God.  But the Psalmist also gives us hope with a promise.

Walking the Walk

The first step in spiritual decline in walking with God is to begin to walk in step with the wicked.  When sin begins to creep into our lives, we veer off the path of righteousness.  The enemy is crafty – they know that if it is a sudden move, people will recognize it and turn from it.  Most people don’t wake up in the morning in agreement with the thought, “You know, I think I’ll just go out and rob a bank and kill everyone there.  It’ll be a load of laughs!”  But when it is slow and gradual, most people won’t even realize it is happening.  We begin to walk in step with the wicked.  Rather than fighting the flow of the world, we begin to turn and walk with it.

This is not to say that we don’t engage with unrepentant sinners – Jesus came to seek and save the lost!  However, we must be sure that when we do so, we don’t start doing the things that they do that we know are contrary to the Word of God.  We engage in humble, compassionate righteousness.  We don’t do what they do to be accepted by them.  We show them God’s way – a better way.

Stop Standing

After we walk with the world, it invites us to stop for a moment to smell the roses.  This second, and even more dangerous step, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect and enjoy the momentary pleasure (or false relief) that sin provides.  We are no longer walking but stationary in what we are doing.  We aren’t growing anymore, but rather have halted ourselves or have been halted by our circumstances.  And that’s when it becomes even more dangerous.

Sabotaged Sitting

After we have stood and participated, we are now in a sitting position.  We have fully embraced sin, and no longer even desire to move.  Sin has grabbed us and we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.  We don’t desire to stand up anymore; we are firmly rooted in our position, and may not even care.  The world, the flesh, and the devil have effectively ensnared us into despair or enslavement to desire, and we do not even think we can get up (or perhaps even want to get up).

Divine Delight

The Psalmist tells us that to avoid all of this, we need to delight in the Word of the Living God.  Delighting in the Word of God is:

  1. Reading the Word
  2. Praying over the Word
  3. Meditating over the Word (filling our mind with the Word of God, and thinking carefully about it with the deliberate intention of understanding its meaning and application in all aspects of our lives)
  4. Living the Word.

When we desire the Word of God more than life itself, the desire to walk, stand, or even sit with the ways of wickedness is overshadowed by the peace that transcends all understanding, and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we strive towards God.

Rooted Righteousness

When we delight in the Word of God, we become rooted like a tree.  The roots grow deep into the Earth, and being so close to the source of Living Water, the tree flourishes regardless of the conditions around it.  And as we flourish, we will bear fruit for God in Gods timing (in season).  We are also called “oaks of righteousness.”  The connotation here is that it is a sturdy, substantial tree that will not be easily moved or swayed from its convictions.  And if God declares it to be so, it must be so; for God cannot lie.

Provident Prosperity

As we become firmly rooted in the Word of God, the Psalmist indicates that we will prosper.  The Word of God is not a prosperity gospel – God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put in a prayer and out pops a blessing.  Rather, the prosperity is spiritual prosperity – experientially knowing the character of God.  We participate in His holy, perfect character, and in doing so, God is able to use us and draw even closer to us.  He will provide for our every need.  We need not worry, for God is sovereign over everything that He has created.   And that is promise that you can take to the bank :).

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we walking, standing, sitting, or delighting?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through it to me.  Father, guide my heart and my mind as I read Your Word that it would transform my mind to be more in alignment with Yours.  Help me to better understand and apply what You teach me in the Word so that I will be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer of it.  Forgive me of all my sin, Lord God.  Help me to turn from those things that so easily entangle me.  Father, I do not want to walk, stand, or sit in wickedness; help me to turn from any wickedness that I cherish in my heart and help me to walk in Your ways.  Guard my heart with Your peace as I suffer the consequences of sin so that I may continue to walk steadfast in righteousness, even and especially when it causes me great pain and loss.  Change is always painful, but discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness.  Help me to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that I will not faint along the way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Prayer to Provide Potentates with Power and Protection

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Petition for Penitence

Paul urges Timothy to pray for those that God has placed in leadership over us. One of the best prayers that we can pray for ungodly leaders is that God bring them to salvation.  Many people who love God and hate evil have been asking the question, “What can I do?  All of our leaders are evil!”

The best thing you can do is to pray that God would soften their hearts, send faithful people to witness to them, and that they would give their lives to Christ.  It is only then that they can be the servant-leaders that God calls them to be and to do what is best for the people that they have been charged with overseeing.  This is the only way to break the cycle of selfishness where those elected by us seek to enrich themselves through laws that are designed to exempt them (or, as they see themselves, the “ruling class”) from the penalties that any one of us (or, as they see us, the “peasant class”) would be thrown in jail with the key thrown away.  Without the fear of God – including accountability to God – they will continue to do what is best for themselves rather than what is best for those entrusted to their care.

But we must pray for repentance of God’s people FIRST:

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Prayer for Protection

As in the terrible recent days of violence in the United States of America, we need to be on our knees begging God for protection of those in authority over us.  The assassination of five police officers is a great example of why we need to pray this.  If, for some reason, a person has been treated poorly by those in authority over them, it is all the more important to pray for their protection, as it is a blessing to them.  And we are instructed:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

If you encounter any message other than what you see above, whether it is from TV, Radio, in person, in a book, on the Internet, or from any other source – know that it is contrary to the Word of God.

The Interruption of Intercession

When we pray for the salvation of others, we are in effect asking God to sovereignly interrupt their life.  This can be quite disconcerting to our leaders, especially if their misdeeds are profiting them greatly, or they have committed acts of treason or treachery against the people.  Imagine what must go through their minds: “I have been sinning!  What will the people think?  How can I salvage my career?  What should I do next?  Should I give back all of the money that I received lawfully but wrongly?  Should I publicly announce my faith?  Will I go to jail for my misdeeds?”  There will be unbelievable pressure on these individuals to either keep quiet about Christ.  If they don’t, they will be eviscerated by the corrupt sycophantic media that not only approve of evil, but cater to the evil whims of the existing corrupt elite.  This will impact their lives for eternity, so any temporary loss now is minuscule compared to the great riches of knowing Christ.

Remember that this will be the most difficult issue they will ever have to face, and they will be doing so as a babe in Christ.  It is incumbent upon us to pray not only for their salvation; not only for their Godliness;  but also for the necessary strength to endure as their lives are turned upside down when they encounter the most cruel and insipid hatred that they will ever have to face.

Thoughtful Thankfulness

And in all things, we are to give thanks to God the Father, for this is His will for us.  Give thanks that God hears our prayers.  Give thanks that God is answering our prayers (in His timing in His way for His purposes for His glory).  Give thanks when our leaders come to repentance before God.  Rejoice as the angels do!  Give thought to your thankfulness so that you can be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself, regardless of who is in authority over us.

The Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I praying for the spiritual success of my leaders or just for their Godly replacements?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are fully just, yet full of mercy and grace.  Please work in the lives of Your people, that we would have revival in the body of Christ.  Help all of us to get on our knees and beg You for forgiveness of our sins.  Help us as a nation to turn from our sins, seek Your face, and confess our wrongdoing to You, so that You can heal our land.  Bless those whom You have placed in authority over us that they would come to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  Father, we know that this may very well not happen until we as Your people turn away from sin and towards You.  Give the faithful among Your people patience, grace, and peace, as we plead for the rest of the body to come back to reason.  Your blessing upon this country has clouded our minds, and like Sampson, we may go on thinking we are OK but not realize that Your Spirit is departing from us.  Bring Salvation to those in authority over us that Your Holy Name may be praised and blessed by all who hear it.  This we ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Praying to God – Luke 18:1-8

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

We live in an instantaneous culture.  Within milliseconds, we can get answers to just about everything on google.com.  We have instant oatmeal, instant rewards in video games, instant hot food with microwave ovens, instant news, instant communications with just about anyone in the world, and we expect results instantly.

Jesus shows us that we should be persistent in prayer to the Father.  Using this parable as an illustration, He also reveals to us that when He comes, people may very well not be persistent in prayer by saying, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”  That should sober us up and give us pause.

This isn’t the only place Jesus exhorts us to be persistent in prayer.  In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says that those who ask will receive.   In the Greek, the verb “ask” is aiteite. There are two interesting qualities about this.  First, it is an imperative command.  We are expected to do this – it is not merely a suggestion.  Secondly, the verb tense is not a passive, one-time thing that we do.  A better translation would be, “Ask, and keep on asking”.  This is true of the other two imperative commands in that sentence – “Seek, and keep on seeking; Knock, and keep on knocking.”

George Müller, a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, prayed for five friends of his to be saved.  It took over 50 years for that to come to pass, and George prayed faithfully for all of them.  The last was saved just after George died.  Persistence in prayer pays off powerfully!

We can pray for anything that we want.  God knows what’s best for us and may not give us something that would impede us, even when it would bless someone else.  But even in that, James tells us something interesting:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Our prayers should be aligned with the will of God.  We shouldn’t pray selfishly or for worldly things (to merely gratify the flesh).  When we become a friend of the world, we are an enemy of God.

Daniel, after having a vision, fasted and prayed for three weeks for an answer.  What the messenger said to him when he arrived should give us pause:

A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

There is a spiritual battle going on, and answers to our prayers may be delayed by them!  We are to be faithful and continue to pray, in full faith that God will answer our prayers.

When we pray, we should have our eyes focused on God and His priorities, not on our own selfish desires.  After all, God is not some cosmic vending machine where you put in a prayer and out pops the blessing of your choice.  He desires relationship with us.  He wants us to desire Him for who He is, not what He can provide to us.  The latter type of relationship is a vendor-customer relationship, where we have no loyalty to the vendor, we just want the best product at the best price.  He wants friendship and trust, for He loves us unconditionally, sacrificially, and volitionally [this last one is an act of the will].

So, let’s ask the question:  In my prayer life, am I asking God for the things that are needed to further His purposes, and am I diligently seeking Him for these things even when there may be great delay in the arrival?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are the giver of great gifts to us.  You shower us with Your love, affection, mercy and grace, when we justly deserve death and separation from You.  Grant Your servants success this day in all that we do, that whatever we do would honor and glorify Your name.  Give us strength when delay is occurring, and help us to be faithful, even until Your Son comes in the clouds in glory.  Let us not grow weary, but be encouraged by Your people of old who show us how to respond to delay.  This we ask in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Mark 9:29

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting (the text in these brackets does not appear in all of the manuscripts)].

Some of the greatest feats in the Bible were done by people who prayed AND fasted.  Fasting is a nearly lost discipline in the American church.  We have been so blessed by God, we truly miss our three square meals (and sometimes snacks in between) each day.  People in Biblical times knew the value of fasting, and its importance.

In Mark 9:14-29, we see a desperate father looking to the disciples for help with his demonically possessed son.  They had tried unsuccessfully to remove the spirit that had seized the boy and tried to kill him.  Luke tells us, however, that Jesus had already given the disciples power and authority to drive out demons and heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).  So what made this so difficult?  Jesus provides us with the clue in His response to the disciples’ question about why they couldn’t drive it out – this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.

It wasn’t the act of prayer, or even fasting, that made it possible.  It was the relationship with the Father that gave Jesus the ability to drive it out.  Prayer is our first go-to for intimacy with God (although some find it through praise worship).  However, we have a sin nature, and our flesh can cause us problems.  The flesh is constantly crying out, “feed me”, “pamper me”, “I don’t want to”, and all other kinds of rebellion towards God.  Paul said he beat his body into submission.

One of the easiest, or hardest – depending on your viewpoint, ways to bring your body back into submission is fasting.  The flesh greatly dislikes being denied its pleasures – food, sexual gratification, comfort, etc.  When we fast, the flesh initially protests.  But after a while, it calms down, and we experience a type of peace that we don’t normally have when we eat.  As our bodies are brought into submission, we are able to draw ever so much closer to God in prayer.

Jesus knew this spiritual discipline, and practiced it often.  When the Holy Spirit let Him out into the desert to be tempted (tested) by the devil, He was fasting.  He was fasting the day that he drove out the spirit from the boy that was brought to Him.  Jesus is our role model.  We should walk as He walked.  And He fasted.  Even the Pharisees fasted, but to outwardly show their piousness, rather than draw close to God.  Daniel, when seeking an answer, fasted by only eating simple food to mourn and draw close to God.

Are you lacking power in your spiritual life?  Do you require answers in order to move on?  Do you seek a more intimate relationship with God?  Be obedient to God’s word, and fast.  Tell God in prayer that it is the desire of your heart to draw close to Him, and when you fast, He will meet with you in a mighty way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is my desire to draw very close to You.  Help me to overcome my flesh, and be obedient to Your word.  Help me to set aside time to fast, that I may experience Your presence and power in a more intimate, satisfying, and joyful way.  Help me to bring my flesh into submission through fasting.  Grant Your servant success that it might bring glory to Your name.  This I humbly pray in the character of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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A Promise of God – Isaiah 54:17

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

The Bible contains many promises of God.  This one is very encouraging.  It is comforting to know that we are being protected by God against all of the weapons of the enemy.  It is also comforting that anyone who says anything against us will be refuted, for we have been forgiven all sin.  This is our HERITAGE!  God will VINDICATE us!

There only appears to be one qualifier – “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Who are the servants of the Lord?

Servants wait upon the master.  They are in His service to do His bidding whenever and wherever He directs them.  They direct their talents to complete the tasks assigned to them.  They are often given guidelines, and are expected to do the work when they see work to do.

There are many gifts given to believers once they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Here are just a few ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11):

  • Wisdom
    • The ability to understand the difference between wise and foolish things (think: King Solomon)
  • Knowledge
    • Are you able to absorb great amounts of information and then process it so that it is understandable by others?
  • Faith
    • Do you trust God to move mountains, trusting Him to do things when other people would normally give up?
  • Healing
    • When you pray, do people get well?
  • Prophecy
    • Do you know things about what is going on and things that will go on, when you have no reason to know them?
    • Does God often let you know something that you should share with a person or people He directs you to share with, even if you don’t understand the message?
  • Distinguishing between spirits
    • Do you know who’s who?
    • Do you sense the presence of angels and demons and their activity in this world?
    • Do you know when, if someone is speaking, whether or not what they are saying is Biblical, even though you don’t know why?
  • Speaking in tongues (languages)
    • Are you able to speak in a known (already existing) language but don’t understand what you are saying?
    • Are you able to speak in an unknown language and don’t know what you are saying?
  • Interpreting tongues (languages)
    • When people speak, do you know what they are saying, even if everyone else around you doesn’t because they don’t speak the language (and you may not know the language either)?

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are many others.  Here are eight more to think about:

  • Craftsmanship
    • Can you make a masterpiece out of nothing?
    • Or, can you take a box of parts and with a few simple tools, put the item back together without any instructions?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Hospitality
    • Are you driven to constantly feed and attend to guests at your home?
    • Do you enjoy throwing parties and events?
    • Are you the first one to get up to pour drinks at an event?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Music
    • Can you play a musical instrument in a way that inspires others to greatness?
    • or, are YOU an instrument (should you audition for “Stomp“)?  You may have this gift.
  • Leadership
    • Do people have a great tendency follow what you say and where you go?  You may have this gift.
  • Teaching
    • Can you take the most difficult subject and explain it to most people so that they have a clear understanding of it?  You may have this gift.
  • Pastoring
    • Do you constantly feel the need to guide and nurture people in their faith and walk with God?  You may have this gift.
  • Service
    • Are you the one who gets great joy from doing the jobs that no one else does, and is content that the job is done and done right, even if no one else notices?  You may have this gift.
  • Prayer
    • Does God wake you up in the middle of the night to pray about something that He then places on your heart?
    • Do you struggle (wrestle) in prayer for individuals, issues, leaders, and/or nations (or other things)?
    • Do you enjoy spending hours communicating with God in prayer about anything and everything?  You may have this gift.

There are over 30 implied and delineated gifts that the Spirit of God gives to us to use to glorify God and help the body.  Are you using the gifts that were provided to you in stewardship by the Spirit of God at the direction of the Spirit of God for God’s Glory?

If not, why do you call yourself a servant?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we all fall short of perfection.  You have saved us from this, and give us the wonderful opportunity to know You, the only One True God.  You have given us great privileges and responsibilities as well.  Show us what gifts the Holy Spirit has provided to us.  Empower us to act in these gifts, and guide us in the way that these gifts should be used.  Father, do not let me be afraid of these gifts, but help me to embrace them that Your kingdom would grow.  I am your servant, Lord God.  Speak to me that I may do Your Will, in Your Way, in Your Time, for Your purposes, that You may be glorified.  This I ask in the the precious name of your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Healing with God – James 5:14-16

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

One of the most effective and visible ministries of Jesus was His healing ministry.  The needs of the people for spiritual and physical healing were immense.  Jesus healed people from demonic possession, disease, and even death itself.  In every case, there was always faith.  In one instance, it is recorded that Jesus was unable to do many miracles because of a lack of faith.  Faith was the key ingredient.  And it wasn’t always the faith of the one being healed:

  • A centurion’s servant was healed.  Who had the faith?  The centurion or the paralyzed servant?
  • The son of a man who was demon possessed was healed by Jesus when the disciples could not drive it out.  Who had the faith?   The man, or the son?
  • A Canaanite woman’s daughter who was demon possessed was healed.  Who had the faith?  The woman or her daughter?
  • A paralyzed man was healed when his friends lowered him through a roof to give him access to Jesus.  Jesus then saw THEIR faith.  Not HIS faith.  It was the faith of the friends that Jesus saw and responded.

In all of these cases, it was the faith of someone other than the recipient of healing whose faith prompted Jesus to respond with healing, and in some cases, even praise their faith!  In that light, let’s take a look at James 5:15

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

In this case, it is the prayer of the elders offered in faith, not the person who is sick.

So, are you sick?  Do you need a healing touch from God?  Be obedient to God’s word: go to a Bible teaching, Bible believing church, and have the elders of that congregation anoint you with oil and pray over you, so that whatever issue you have, spiritual or physical, it will be healed; and if you have sinned, you will be forgiven.  And remember that it is the faith of the elders, not yours, that will heal you.  Since you have gone to them IN FAITH, IN OBEDIENCE to scripture, your faith is noted as well.  And if you are still concerned, pray what the father of the demon possessed son said/prayed, “I believe – help my unbelief!”

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, you respond to faith, for faith is the expression of our belief in You of who You are.  Cleanse me this day of my unrighteousness.  Forgive my sins.  Bolster my faith, and help me to be obedient to Your Word, even if it doesn’t make sense to me.  Father, You healed even Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, when in obedience, he washed himself seven times in the Jordan, and his leprous skin became like the skin of a young boy.  You are sovereign, Lord God, and nothing is impossible for You.  Remember Your servant this day.  In obedience, I come to You and will do as You ask, that You may be glorified.  Prepare the elders’ hearts as I go to seek them out.  For You are forever faithful, doing everything that You promise.  Prepare my heart now, Lord, for I know You will bring this about.  This I ask in the name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Surrender to God – Luke 9:23-24

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

We are given three instructions for discipleship:

  • Deny yourself – Stop acting like the universe revolves around you, see to the needs of others, live according to the Spirit √
  • Take up your cross daily – Bear up under the burdens (responsibilities) of your faith and the responsibilities you have accepted either willingly or as a result of your actions √
  • Follow me – Wait!  What?

How can we follow if we don’t see where the other person is going?  In order to follow Christ, we must walk in His footsteps.  The Greek word for this is akolouthei.  It is an imperative command.  We are expected (commanded) to do it.  The meaning is to walk alongside someone, in lockstep, hips next to each other.  We are to do what Jesus did:

  • Yield every aspect of our lives to the Holy Spirit, regardless of our estimation of our ability to do it by ourselves
  • Depend completely upon God to provide for our every need
  • Spend regular time communicating with our Father in Heaven in prayer
  • Getting direction from God for our daily activities
  • Fast and pray regularly to draw close to our Father in Heaven
  • Study God’s Word to be an approved workman
  • Request that God reveal His calling in our lives, and fulfill that calling, even if it means going to our death

There are others, but this is a good starting point.  To follow Jesus does not mean to walk ahead of Him.  When we do that, we can’t see where He is going, and may miss a critical turn or stop. To walk behind Him at a distance is to miss what He is doing and not being a part of what He has planned.  It is only by akolouthei that we are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, for the right reasons, that the outcome would glorify God.

So, let’s ask the question: where am I in my akolouthei?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come before You to spend time with You today.  Please see to all the needs of Your servant.  Grant me strength to do what You have called me to do today.  Reveal Your will for me as I offer my body as a living sacrifice to You, that I will be able to fulfill it with Your strength, guidance, and discernment.  Help me to walk alongside You as You work in the world today.  Show me where You are working so that I may join You and use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has provided to me to glorify Your Name.  May all praise, glory, honor, strength, and dominion be Yours and Yours alone, forever and ever.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Praying to God – Matthew 6:6

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Recently, a film has come out named “War Room.”  In it, a family seeks help from an older, wiser woman – Miss Clara – when things start to fall apart.  Spoiler Alert – if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the next paragraph.

Miss Clara prayed for someone to pass on the knowledge that God gave to her on how to pray for her life.  God helped Miss Clara to see that she was at war, and helped her to develop a prayer strategy for every area of her life.  One of the strategies was to dedicate a place, a closet in her home, her War Room, where she strategically and faithfully prayed for everything.  This room became her favorite room in the house.  Miss Clara faithfully passed her knowledge on to her protege, Elizabeth Jordan.

In Matthew 5:6-8, Jesus says, “And when you pray” three times.  Anything Jesus repeats is very important, and indicates that we should pay attention.  The intonation is that we are expected to pray.  Not if, but when.  He even gives us an outline of a prayer strategy in the next few verses.

So, let us ask the question:  What area(s) of our life do we NOT have a DAILY prayer strategy?  Do we consider prayer important enough to go to a secluded place (if at all possible) to communicate with our Creator, who provides for all of our needs?  Have you noticed that God didn’t limit prayer in any way?  He didn’t want us to stop communicating with Him for any reason – nothing is out of bounds (check out David’s prayer – Ouch!).  He does say that anything we ask for in the Name of Jesus, or His character – what Jesus would ask for – would be given to us, especially if two or more of us agree on it.  But we are not limited to that.

Let us thank our Creator today for the wonderful opportunity to talk with Him about anything and everything.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You so love us that you have given us access to Your throne room,  What a privilege You have bestowed upon us.  Hear our cries, O Lord; Please do not turn your face from us when we seek you.  Forgive us our sins; help us to allow Your light to shine in every aspect of our lives so that the darkness may be cast out.  I have so many things to bring to You this day, Lord God.  Let my heart be poured out before you like a drink offering, and may the meditations of my heart be upon You and Your Word always.  Guide me that I may write down and address every area of life that, as I gird myself with Your armor, I will be prepared for what you have planned for me this day.  This I ask in the name of the Son of the One True God, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

A Calling of God – 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

What a high calling!  To carry the requests of the people to Almighty God!  A great privilege indeed.  Oh, the needs are great in this wicked generation. What deep and soul-piercing burden has God placed on your heart to deliver to Him in His Throne Room?

Whatever your burden, bring it to God, who has the power to move Heaven and Earth to bring glory to His name.  Have you ever considered that the rainbow, God’s everlasting covenant with the Earth (Genesis 9:13), required Him to utterly change the very fabric of nature, to alter the laws of physics, to make the sign of His covenant (Genesis 9:12-16)?  What will He then do for you, His royal priesthood, out of love, mercy, and grace, to bring Glory to His name?

A short prayer of preparation:

Gracious Father in Heaven, forgive me my many faults.  Cleanse me of all unrighteousness, that with clean hands and a pure heart, I may bring my petitions and praises to you in full confidence of your ability and willingness to answer.  I an grateful that Your Holy Word tells us that you have already prepared an answer.  Grant your servant favor this day, as I bring these requests to You, for there is no request too small that You are unwilling to answer.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Psalm 34:17-19

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Not one, but three promises of God!

When we cry out, God hears our prayers and delivers us from (through) our troubles.  And look how many troubles we have today!  Cast your burdens upon the Lord; He is able to bear up under them.

Oh, toD know that God is close to us when our heart breaks!  A perfect picture of our kind, gentle, compassionate Father gathering his child into His arms comes to mind.  Only He can help us when we are crushed in spirit.

God is our rock, our refuge, our strength, our fortress.  He can move Heaven and Earth for us.  God’s promise to deliver us from ALL of our troubles should bolster our faith and solidify our hope – our sure belief – that God is not only able to do these things, but that He WILL do them.  God’s character is perfect, and He does not renege on His promises (conditional, unconditional, and implied).  Therefore, pray to God and ask Him to fulfill His promises.

A Short Prayer of Preparation

Father in Heaven, You are perfect in all your ways.  You love your children and give them good gifts.  And unlike us, You fulfill Your every promise.  Father, meet me where I am today.  Deliver me through my trials and troubles.  Stay near to me when my heart breaks.  Provide for all of my needs.  Help me through these most difficult times.  Strengthen me this day and give me confidence in what I am about to face.  You, O Lord, have seen all that is to come and know perfectly how to navigate through it.  Transform my pain into trust, and lead me in the way everlasting.  This I ask and pray in the precious name of your most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?