A non-denominational English-speaking church in Haiti

Giving out of your Need

In I Kings 17:7-16 there is the story of the widow at Zarephath. There has been many teachings on this portion of scripture concerning faith, obedience and God’s provision. I myself have read it many a time, but there is one things that I never noticed is that God commanded Elijah to go to the widow that she might supply him with food. Elijah didn’t know that she was destitute, but God did. I find it odd that God knowing this chose a destitute woman to supply Elijah’s need? Why?

I believe it is because God wanted to meet the widows need. He wanted to use Elijah to bless her. I find interesting that God had already commanded her to supply Elijah’s need before he had even talked to Elijah. Had the widow already heard from the Lord on this matter? I don’t think so, but God made her predisposed.

What would have happened if the woman had not received, believed, and acted on the Word of God to her? She would have missed out on God’s provision. Sometimes, God sends people are way who is in need while we are in need ourselves. It would be easy to ignore their need, but sometimes God calls us to supply another person’s need even as we are in need in order that God might meet our need.

The widow shared the little she had according to the command of the Lord. As result, she had enough food for her and the prophet Elijah during three years of drought. Let us be careful to not let our lack hinder us from obeying God and meeting another person’s need. This might be the very thing God chooses to give you a financial break through.

We often teach that God gives proportionally to our giving. The more we give the more we get. This is a biblical truth, but not the whole truth. The widow didn’t give the prophet much, but her return was great. Yet, God gave proportionally to her giving in that what she gave was a lot compared to what she had. God doesn’t look only at the quantity, but takes in consideration the sacrifice made in the giving. A sacrificial giver who obeys the Word of the Lord will always receive a great return on their gift.

In the weeks and months to come when you are presented with a need don’t look at what you don’t have or your need, but hear the voice of the Lord in that situation and obey Him even if it may require great sacrifice.

Have you been set apart by the Holy Spirit? I hope that you have.  If not, you are not a child of God. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to set us aside as children of God.

John 3:3-6 – “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Romans 8:15 – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

We are not born as children of God. We were all born into sin and are, in all honesty, children of Satan. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are able to become children of God. It is not by good works or any other means that we become children of God. It is only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit that we are born again and become spiritual children of God.

The second work of the Holy Spirit is to sets us apart unto holiness.

Galatians 5:16 – “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

The life of holiness and righteousness comes only through the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot live a pleasing life to God without the work of the Holy Spirit. It is as we yield to the Holy Spirit that we will find victory over sin.

Why do we need to be set apart by the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is needed for works of service. The Holy Spirit is needed to accomplish God’s work and His mission. The work of the Lord is spiritual, even though there are many physical aspects, and we need God’s Spirit to accomplish this work.

We see that the Holy Spirit set apart the prophets. We see this with Elijah and Elisha.

2 Kings 2:15 – “Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”

It is this Holy Spirit that enabled the prophets to speak the Word of the Lord and do miracles.

This is confirmed in 2 Peter 1:20-21 – “ But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The leaders and rulers of Israel were anointed for the work of God through the Holy Spirit. Moses and the elders of Israel were set apart by the Holy Spirit.

Numbers 11:16-17 – “The Lord therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.”

It is important to see here that the Spirit was given to the leaders of Israel that they might through the power of God do the work of God. These leaders helped Moses shepherd the people of Israel. The leaders did the work of judging and guiding them in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The judges of the Old Testament were given God’s Spirit to rule the people of God. Two examples of this are Othniel (Judges 3:8-11) and Gideon (Judges 6:33-34).

Certain kings of Israel were given the Spirit of God to rule the people of Israel. We see this with King Saul (I Samuel 9:15-16; 10:1-7). We see this with King David as well (I Samuel 16:13).

Even the Son of God was set apart by the Holy Spirit for ministry (Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 4:17-2)

We can see as well that the Holy Spirit set apart the apostles for ministry. We see this with Paul and         Barnabas.

Acts 13:2-3- “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit \said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

In the same way the Holy Spirit sets apart the overseers of the church.

Acts 20:28 – “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

It is this same Holy Spirit that sets us apart unto Christ, His body.

I Corinthians 12:13- “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

We are set apart and set into the body of Christ to become one even as God is one. We are one with God and one with one another.

The Holy Spirit set apart the Church of God to fulfill His great commission or mission in this world.

Acts 1:4-5 – “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:8 – “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit sets apart and enables believers to function in the spiritual gifts.  I Corinthians 12:7-11

What must we do to be set apart?

We are not able to set ourselves apart. If we try to do this, we will fail. If we work in our own strength, our works are as filthy rags before God. The only thing that is required of us is to trust and obey Him.

In all this, we can see how important the Holy Spirit is in our lives and the life of the church.

SPIRIT LED LIFE #2

CHARACTERISTICS OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

The last article I wrote was on the Spirit led life as an individual in Christ. This time I want to look at the Spirit led life in relation to the church. Is your church Spirit filled? How can we know if a church is Spirit filled? How can we know if a church is led by the Spirit of God?

Like all things, we will know by the work and fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, let us look at some characteristics of a church that is led by the Holy Spirit and Spirit filled.

First and foremost, the church will show the love they have for God and others.

Galatians 5:13-14 – “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love for God and others is the foundation of our faith. If we love, God we will not indulge the flesh. We will live holy lives. If we love others, we will walk humbly. We will not be proud or self-centered.

See to Matthew 22:37-40.

I Corinthians 10:24 – “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

Secondly, a Spirit filled church will put great importance on praise and worship.

Ephesian 5:18-20 – “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This verse is speaking about praise and worship and how through this we are able to encourage one another in Christ. This is the result of a Spirit filled life and congregation. A church that doesn’t give adequate time (large amounts) in worshiping the Lord lacks the Spirit of God in their midst. Of course it must be true worship from the heart, and worship directed by the Holy Spirit.  Heaven will be a place of continual worship. The angels and the heavenly host never cease praising God. Remember, when we speak of the church, we are not only speaking of what happens within the four walls of the church, but also the life the believer lives outside the church. One of the greatest joys of a Spirit filled believer is praising and worshiping God. A church that is fired up about worship is a Spirit filled church.

Thirdly, a Spirit filled church will put great importance on teaching, fellowship, and prayer.

Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

A Spirit filled believer and a Spirit filled church will give priority to solid teaching. It will consider the Bible as the infallible Word of God for us today. Therefore, they will give much place for teaching and studying the Word of God together. Along with anointed teaching, there will be precious fellowship among the saints, not only Sunday fellowship, but fellowship during the week. The saints will covet times of Spirit led fellowship. Last but not least, the believers will put great emphasis on prayer. Prayer will be one of the pillars of the church. A Spirit filled church will love to spend time in prayer, seeking the Lord.

Fourthly, a Spirit filled church will be full of the power of God and function in the spiritual gifts.

Acts 2:17-18 – “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

Prophecy is the key idea in this text. A Spirit filled church will give place for prophecy. What is prophecy? It is simply speaking the Word of God in a given situation under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Often this doesn’t happen in the church because we don’t teach this or give place for it to happen.

Acts 2:43 – “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”

We see the New Testament church was full of the power of God. Many healings and miracles took place. God is able and wants to do the same today.  It is through this display of power that many needs were met and many came to the Lord.

Fifthly, a Spirit filled church will have respect in the community and many will come to Christ through them.

Acts 5:12-16 – “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”

Non-believers will have a holy fear of the church because they will see the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst. As a result, many will come to Christ. A Spirit filled church will be well known in their community, but not through advertising or going door to door. They will be known for God’s power and holiness. A Spirit filled church will have a great sphere of influence.

There are many more characteristics of a Spirit filled church which I will share in our next teaching. I hope these teachings are a blessing to you and help you in your spiritual walk.

SPIRIT LED LIFE #1 (8)

We already talked about the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. This is a continuation but will focus more on our attitudes and life style as Holy Spirit led believers.

When we think of a Spirit led life, we would normally go directly into the New Testament for our study, but I find that Isaiah is a great place to see how one will live when one is full of the Spirit of God. We will look at three passages in Isaiah that are prophesies concerning the Messiah (Christ). These passages describe the characteristics of Christ as the sent One who is anointed by the Holy Spirit to accomplish His Father’s mission on earth. There is no better example in scripture of a Spirit led life than Jesus. Therefore, we should have these same attributes, which are spoken of the Messiah, in our lives as believers.

Let us look at Isaiah 11:1-3 and find some characteristics of a Spirit led life.

One who is full of the Spirit will be full of wisdom & understanding.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

The source of wisdom is God. We can’t find wisdom in education or in this world. It doesn’t matter how educated you are or how much life experience you have. The only place to gain true wisdom is in God and by letting the Holy Spirit direct your life.

The Gospels make reference to Jesus’s wisdom over and over. The people were amazed at his wisdom because it was not like the world’s wisdom. (Matt. 13:53; Mark 6:2; Luke 2:40)

God promises to give us this same kind of wisdom. (Acts 6:10; 7:10)

Luke 21:15 – “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”

God’s wisdom is greater than any supposed wisdom in this world. (Romans 11:33; I Corinthians 1:20, 25)

As a spirit led believer we have great understanding. I look at understanding as practical wisdom. In other words, one who has understanding walks in the wisdom he has received.

Psalms 111:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”

One who is full of the Spirit will give wise counsel. Counsel that is mighty. Mighty counsel is counsel that is outstanding, not the normal run of the mill stuff.

One who is full of the Spirit will have spiritual knowledge which comes from the fear of the Lord. Whenever the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord, it refers to a life of righteousness. One can’t claim to fear the Lord and not live a life of obedience.

One who is full of the Spirit will have spiritual eyes and spiritual ears. He will not look at things through the eyes of the world. He will look at things from a spiritual, Bible based perspective. He will see things in the spiritual realm. Also he will sift what he hears through spiritual ears, and the Word of God. He will be able to distinguish between what is from God and what is from an alternate source.

Let us now look at Isaiah 42:1-4.

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will seek to establish justice on the earth.

Holman Bible dictionary speaks of justice in the following way.

“The nature of justice has two major aspects. First, it is the standard by which penalties are assigned for breaking the obligations of the society. Second, justice is the standard by which the advantages of social life are handed out, including material goods, rights of participation, opportunities, and liberties. It is the standard for both punishment and benefits and thus can be spoken of as a plumb line. “I shall use justice as a plumb-line, and righteousness as a plummet” (Isaiah 28:17, REB).”

In most instances in the Bible, justice is spoken of in the sense of social justices and injustices. The unjust are penalized and the just rewarded. As believers who are led by God’s Spirit we will fight injustices and promote that which is just and right according to God’s standards. This will be spoken of more clearly in the next passage that we will study.

Isaiah 42:2 says of the Lord, “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.”

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will be humble. He will not be argumentative or bring attention to himself. He will be a peace loving person.

Isaiah 42:3 says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will be gentle and full of grace. He will not take advantage of the weak or oppress the weak. Rather, he will help those who are weak spiritually, emotionally, socially or physically.

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will not falter or be discouraged. He will stay true to the course that God has given him. He will not allow discouragement to overwhelm him. He may be discouraged for a time, but will rise to the occasion when needed. He will never lose hope. He will be a person of courage and strength.

The last passage we will look at is in Isaiah is 61:1-3.

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will proclaim good news to the poor. The poor not being only those who are poor materially, but who are poor spiritually. It is the responsibility of every believer to testify about Christ and proclaim the good news of His salvation. He will have boldness to testify about Christ.

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will bind up the broken hearted. He will bring emotional healing to the hurting. He will bring healing and restoration. He will bring encouragement and hope to others. He will live in such a way that others will be built up.

One who is full of the Holy Spirit will set the captives free. There are many who are bound up by all kinds of things. Their thoughts are bound over to wrong or bad thinking. Their emotions are bound by fear and all kinds of other things. They are bound by sin and Satan. A person who is full of the Holy Spirit will help set these people free through the power of the Word and Jesus Christ. One way he will accomplish this is by proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. People need to hear of the goodness of the Lord and the judgment that comes with those who are unwilling to receive His goodness. Ultimately, one who is full of the Holy Spirit will comfort others, and bring out the beauty or good in others. He will promote joy and a spirit of praise in others.

Those who are full of the Holy Spirit will be called oaks of righteousness, and display Christ’s splendor. I like the word “oaks”. An oak is a hard or solid wood. One who is full of the Holy Spirit stands firm in the truths of God and lives a righteous life. He is unmoved (unyielding) by the worlds influences, but lives an upright life. In doing this, he brings glory to God.

It is a great thing when one is full of the Spirit of God and led by Him. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, we make a great positive impact on the lives around us as well as build Christ’s kingdom. We will continue this study in our next article of this series on the Holy Spirit.

A phrase in the book of Daniel really struck me. Three times in the HCSB version of the Bible an angel says to Daniel, “you are a man treasured by God”. (Daniel 9:23; 10:11,19) Wow! I thought to my self, I would sure love God to say that to me. In the NIV, it says, “highly esteemed one”.
Why was Daniel treasured or highly esteemed by God? If I could understand this, then I could seek to be highly esteemed by God. He then could say to me, you are treasured by God.
In general, Daniel was treasured by God because he well represented God. The Bible says we are God’s ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) One of Daniel’s great godly qualities is he would not compromise God principles, but live a holy life. (Daniel 1:8) Even in the midst of severe persecution and possible death, Daniel and his three friends would not compromise their faith. (Daniel 3:17-18) I like to use the word quality because in my mind it denotes something that is developed while characteristic denotes something inherent.
A second quality of Daniel that God definitely approved was his loyalty to God. Daniel would take no credit for himself, but gave God all the glory. (Daniel 2:27-30) Another reason I believe that Daniel was treasured by God is because God’s Spirit was on him. (Daniel 4:9,18)
A third quality that was pleasing to God is the courage Daniel had to speak the truth even when it might not be pleasing to others and may even mean death for him. (Daniel 4:19-20)
A fourth quality is that Daniel did not seek wealth or position, although he had much of both. (Daniel 5:16) Also, Daniel did not serve the Lord for wealth or position.
A fifth, and sixth quality of Daniel is that he was trustworthy and diligent. (Daniel 6:4)
A seventh quality is that Daniel was a man of prayer and spent time in communion with God, and would allow nothing encroach or hinder him from spending this quality time with his Lord. (Daniel 6:10)
A eighth quality, Daniel was a man of the Word. (Daniel 9:2)
A ninth attribute of Daniel is that he was a man of humility, recognized his own sinfulness, and identified with God’s people. (Daniel 9:4-19)
Now many of us may lack these qualities in our lives, but we must not be discouraged. You are still treasured by God despite our lack. David had insight into this idea. (Psalms 83:3; 135:4) David understood that the people of Israel were treasured by God, and we know that it wasn’t because of their godly qualities. They were chosen by God to be his treasured possession. We to who are in Christ are God’s treasured possession, but it has nothing to with us but the work of Christ on the cross. Positionally, all in Christ are treasured by Him.
Yet, let us not use this as an excuse to become lazy in our Christian character and qualities. We need to pursue God and seek to obtain the qualities that Daniel manifested. When we have these qualities, our relationship with God has a new and greater dynamic. We will experience God in a greater way and He will be able to use us in a greater way.

In this study we will look at the Holy Spirit’s work in the New Testament. We have already seen some of the work of the Holy Spirit from studying the Old Testament, His Names and His New Creation Work. Yet, we want to delve further into His many and glorious works.

The Holy Spirit is the One that produces spiritual fruit in our lives as we yield to Him. (Galatians 5:22-26)

The Holy Spirit gives us life and peace.

Romans 8:6 – “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

We already talked about the life giving power of the Holy Spirit in our new birth and making us into a new creation. It is important to note in this verse that peace doesn’t come automatically. Not all Christians have the full peace of God because they have not completely given over their minds to Christ. The battle for peace is in the mind. Peace comes when our emotions are submitted to the mind that is controlled by the Spirit. Many a non-believer has greater peace than a believer because they discipline their minds. Yet, their minds are put under control in their own strength, not in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to His saints. We find nine of them listed in I Corinthians 12:7-11. Each believer who is baptized in the power of the Holy Spirit is given one or more spiritual gifts. These gifts are manifested in our lives as we release them by faith in God’s ability to use us in these ways.

The Holy Spirit guides us as we yield to his direction.

Acts 8:29 – “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Acts 16:6-7 – “ Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

Being led by the Holy Spirit is more than being willing to be led. It requires discipline in training our spirits to listen to the Spirit of God. Learning to know the voice of the Lord (Holy Spirit) comes through prayer, devotional reading, Bible teaching, trail & error, and fellowship with other believers who have already know the voice of the Lord well.

The Holy Spirit puts God’s Word in the mouth of his prophets. (Zechariah 7:12)

I Peter 1:21 – “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit does not only speak to us individually, but He often gives a message for the whole church.

Revelation 2:7 – “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

The Holy Spirit makes us one and equal in God’s eyes. (Ephesians 4:4)

I Corinthians 12:13 – “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

The Holy Spirit helps us proclaim the message of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31 – “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

I Corinthians 2:4 – “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,”

Even as we are timid in nature, we speak boldly and with wisdom under the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit we give us courage to witness to the lost. He will empower our sermons and teachings.

The Holy Spirit sets people apart to Him and the service of the Lord.

Acts 13:2-4 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (see to Acts 20:28)

It is the Holy Spirit who sets us apart unto God and sanctifies us. It is he Holy Spirit who enables us to walk pure and holy lives.

Romans 8:13 – “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

1 Peter 1:2 – “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance

This is not a complete description of the work of the Holy Spirit. We will be delving more into this in another teaching post.

Hindrances to Prayer #2

Here are two more hindrances to prayer.
A lack of knowledge or understanding of the will of God is a hindrance to prayer.
James 4:3 – “3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Many times we pray and don’t receive what we ask for because we are asking what we want, not what God wants. Often we do this in ignorance.
Another hindrance to prayer is pride. Let us look at Luke 18:9-14.
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.14I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Of these two men, the one God heard and gave what he asked for is the one who humbled himself before God. God doesn’t owe us anything, and if we come to Him with this attitude, we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from Him.

Hindrances to Prayer #1

The apostle James speaks of a hindrance to pray, which could be one of our greatest hindrances. Let us look at James 1:5-7.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;”
We see here that God loves to give to all without finding a reason not to give. Yet, James says, our unbelief hinders God’s answer to our prayers. If we doubt, we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Faith is being certain that God will give you what you ask Him. God knows our hearts and minds. He knows if we are asking in full faith. Where does faith come from? Can we talk ourselves into having faith? Not usually, faith comes from God and His Word.
Matt. 13:54-58 says, “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”
They didn’t receive their miracle because of lack of faith. They lacked faith because they looked at the vessel instead of the one who sent the vessel. How true this can be of us. When our eyes are not fixed on God, we will lose faith.

Pray in this Way

I want us to look at the Lord’s prayer which is found in Luke 11:1-4. Although a well known prayer, few look deeply into the truths of this prayer.
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say:” ‘Father,hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ “
It says, “when you pray”. Jesus took it for granted that we are to pray. Also, Jesus is indicating that we are to pray this way every time we pray. He is not saying that we are to pray these words every time we pray, but are to pray in this way. Jesus did not intend for his disciples to recite this prayer. The disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer, but how to pray. Jesus is teaching His disciples the basics of a prayer.
Jesus said, “our Father in heaven”. He is saying we are to pray to the Father. Also, he is indicating where the Father is and what kind of father He is which is our heavenly Father. Who is greater, the one in heaven or the one on earth? The one in heaven. This is why we are to look to the Father. Also, Jesus was showing them the Father and son relationship in prayer.
Rom. 8:15,16 says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
What a privilege we have that we can go before God as our Father and He recognizes us as His sons. The word “Abba” is an endearing term. It is like saying daddy. The Lord wants to have a personal relationship with us. Wow!
Jesus said “hallowed be your name”. In the Bible when they speak of the name of God, they are not directly speaking about the name, but the person and their attributes. Take a brief moment to reflect on the wonderful attributes of God. Hallowed means to make holy, to purify, to consecrate, to regard with respect or reverence, to appreciate, to hold dear. Jesus is teaching them, even though God is our Father, we are to come before Him humbly, with respect and in an honorable way. Jesus is teaching them, to come into God’s presence with praise or exaltation.
Jesus said we are to say, “your kingdom come” What is most important to God? Is that His kingdom be established.What is most important to you, your kingdom or God’s kingdom? How can we know if we are building our kingdom or God’s? By examining our attitudes and thoughts. Are we doing what we are doing for God or ourselves? Are your thoughts directed mostly towards yourself or God? By seeing if our actions line up with God’s purposes and principles in His Word.
The word “come” here in the Greek is “ercomehe” which means to come from over there to over here”. Jesus is saying, call those things that be not as though they were. Jesus is saying, ask that God’s kingdom come from heaven and be established on earth.
Jesus said, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Whose will is more important? God’s
Are we to pray according to our will? NO
Why must we ask God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Because he chooses to use us to accomplish His will on earth. Because by doing this, we align ourselves to God’s will.
One definition of prayer is that prayer is taking a situation before the Lord, hearing His answer, and speaking forth God’s will into the situation. In this way we bring heaven to earth.
We are to pray, “give us our daily bread”.
Does God know we need daily bread? Yes
He knows are every need, but he wants to hear us say them. In this way we show our dependence on God and His provision.
We are to say, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us”. Sin is a hindrance in our relationship with God and a hindrance to effective prayer. Therefore, we need to reconcile with God and others. We see here that God’s response to our prayer of forgiveness is based on our willingness to forgive others. Do you know someone you haven’t forgiven, do it now, go to them and be reconciled.
And we are to say, “And lead us not into temptation”. There are many temptations in this life, and only with God’s help will we be able to resist them. God wants us to live holy and Godly lives.

THE PRAYER LIFE OF JESUS

This article will take a look at the prayer life of Jesus. As in all things, Jesus should be our example, and through studying His prayer life we can learn meany things.

In Mark 1:35, we see Jesus praying early in the morning in a solitary place. Jesus did this often. I believe He chose this time and place because he would be undisturbed. Often we need to get up before others, in order to find a quiet time or look for an isolated place where we can fully center our attention on God. Also for some, this is when they are fresh and their minds are clear. For others, the late riser or one who wakes slowly, this may not be the best time. We do not always have to find a quiet place to pray. We can pray at any time, but there is something special about getting away with God.

In Luke 6:12-13, we see Jesus prayed on a mountain and at night. We see that He prayed all night. Why did Jesus do this? Jesus did this because He was about to make a major decision. He was going to choose His twelve disciples. We always need to pray before we make any decision, but even more so when it is a major decisions.

As we have already mentioned, Jesus often went off to be alone in prayer.

In Luke 5:16-17, Jesus went of to a lonely place to renew himself after healing many that He might go back out in the authority and power of God. We in the same way as ministers of the Gospel, need to find places of prayer where we can refresh ourselves in order that we may continue to minister in His power. (see Mark 6:46)

In John 17:9, we see that Jesus prayed for us. He prayed that His Father would protect us. He prayed that we be one. He prayed that we have the full measure of His joy. He prayed that we be protected from the evil one. He prayed that they be sanctified. He prayed that we might be with Him and see His glory. He prayed that God’s love be shown through them. This prayer shows God’s love and concern for us. Also, it shows God’s will for our lives. We to need to pray one for another in this way.

Let us look at Jesus prayer at Gethsemane. (Matt. 26:36-46)
Why did Jesus go and pray in Gethsemane? Jesus went here to pray and be strengthened because He knew His death was near. In the same way, in times of difficulty we need to go to the Lord in prayer and draw strength from Him.

What did Jesus want his disciples to do while He prayed? He wanted them to be in prayer.

Why do you think the disciples didn’t pray with Jesus? They didn’t know what Jesus knew.

If they knew what Jesus knew, they would have been in prayer. Jesus tells His disciples to pray so that they might have the strength to not fall into temptation. Spending time with the Lord is essential to our spiritual strength and protection from temptation. Yet, prayer in itself is not enough. We need to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and need the help of others to be strong.

I thank the Lord that he not only prayed for us and His disciples back in Bible times, but He is still praying for us today.

Hebrews 7:25 – “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

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