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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Pattern for Prayer


"Pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.' "
—Matthew 6:9-13 WEB*

He said to them, "When you pray, say, 'Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come. May your will be dine on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' "
—Luke 11:2-4 WEB*

Whether you call it the Lord's Prayer, the Disciples' Prayer, the Pater Noster, or the Our Father, it is a prayer given by Jesus to His followers. Jesus was teaching how to pray and gave this example. But how are we to use it? Are we to recite it? We can, but we can also use it as a pattern for our prayers as well as a pattern for our living. So what can we learn?

Worship the Lord God for who and what He is (see 1 Chronicles 29:11-13; Psalms, 8-9; 24; 65; 104; 139; Ephesians 1:3). Thank Him for what He has done in your life and thank Him for His Word (See Psalm 30; 40; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:17).

Pray for God's will and rule in your life, family, business, church, nation, and world. Be willing to submit to Him. (see Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-4).

Make your requests known to the Father. Petition Him for your life's needs and for the needs of those you love. Be specific (see John 14:13-14).

Confession and cleansing are keys to successful prayer (see Exodus 32:30-32; Psalms 51; 139:23-24; 1 John 1:9). Be willing to forgive those who have wronged you (see Hebrew 12:15; James 3).

Ask for and claim victory over temptation (see James 4:7-8). Claim His protection in your life (see 1 John 4:4). Proclaim Him as Lord, Master, and Ruler of your life. Seek to surrender to Him in every area of your life. Ask that His kingdom come and that His creation witness His power and glory. Ask God to send revival and spiritual awakening to your life, your church, your city, your nation, and the world. Pray for the discernment to receive His power and glory.

* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Shepherd, My Host


Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.
—Psalm 23 WEB*

This psalm of David has been described as his most beautiful song of trust. In the psalm, David pictures the Lord as the great Shepherd who provides for, guides and protects His sheep. David goes on to describe the Lord as the gracious Host who protects and provides abundantly for His guests.

David's caring imagery of God as a shepherd is used by others in the Old Testament. In addition to Psalm 23, the most notable passages are Genesis 48:15, Isaiah 49:10, Jeremiah 31:9-10, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 80:1, and Psalm 95:7.

David mentions “still waters,” which is a reference to deep water inlets or ponds where rest and refreshment could be found. David notes that the Lord restores David’s soul through the provisions of food and water — providing for David’s most basic needs. Like a shepherd, God leads David in paths that God knows to be right in His eyes. God chooses these paths because they honor God’s name — the holy person of God. David explains that the shepherd protects his sheep with his “rod” or club, which is used to fight off wild beasts, and He guides straying sheep with his “staff” or crook.

David describes the Lord as a gracious Host. God provides all that we need. David also notes that the Host anoints David with oil, which was a courtesy shown to guests at a banquet. David sees himself as not just a guest of the Host for one meal or one day, but as a recipient of God’s covenant. David describes the Lord’s everlasting love using the Hebrew checed, which is sometimes translated as “mercy” or “lovingkindness.” This is the loyal, long-lasting love of God. And David refers to the house of the Lord, the place where God is, and the place where David will be with his Host forever.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God's Plan



What are you learning about God as you read the Bible; the Word of God? Through reading the Bible, you can discover peace when you are worried...


In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:6-7 WEB*


...or comfort when you are sad.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.
—2 Corinthians 1:3-5 WEB*

One of the greatest discoveries in the Bible is new life — the gift of eternal life with Jesus. The Bible contains God’s plan of salvation and new life. To receive God's plan, you must first accept that God loves you. He loved you so much that He allowed His very own Son, Jesus, to take the blame for your sin.

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

Next, you must accept that Christ died for you and everyone who has sinned against Him.

But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
—Romans 5:8 WEB*

Next, you must recognize that everyone sins. No exceptions!


But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God sent to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance; to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.
—Romans 3:21-26 WEB*


Next, you must recognize that sin separates you from God. The price you should reasonably pay is separation from God; death. But He has another way.


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—Romans 6:23 WEB*


Next you must believe that Jesus is the answer. Believe in Jesus. The Bible says that believing Jesus is God’s Son is the first step toward faith.


They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
—Acts 16:31 WEB*


Then you must admit to God that you are a sinner. Ask God to forgive you and allow you to live with Him forever.


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
—1 John 1:9-10 WEB*


Don’t just say you’re sorry. Ask God to help you change your ways. Do an about-face. Ask God to help you stop doing what you shouldn’t and do what you should.


“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets."
—Acts 3:19-21 WEB*


Tell others about your faith in Jesus. Confess to others what Jesus has done for you and how He has changed your life.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart”; that is, the word of faith, which we preach: that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
—Romans 10:8-10 WEB*

Live in a way that pleases God. God wants us to follow His guidelines for living. This will be your testimony to your new life in Him.

If you love me, keep my commandments.
—John 14:15 WEB*

Take the next step of obedience through baptism. Then grow through fellowship and worship with fellow believers.

 * WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Pray


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. In all and through all, you are called to pray.

“If I shut up the sky so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now my eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive, to the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and made this house holy, that my name may be there forever; and my eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually."
—2 Chronicles 7:13-16 WEB*

Yahweh is near to all those who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
—Psalm 145:18 WEB*

Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it would be done. All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
—Matthew 21:21-22 WEB*

He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What, couldn’t you watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
—Matthew 26:41 WEB*

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:6-7 WEB*

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 WEB*

I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times; to which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth in Christ, not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire therefore that the men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and doubting.
—1 Timothy 2:1-8 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Give


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. One of these is to give of your time, your talents and your treasure.

Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia; how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.
—2 Corinthians 8:1-6 WEB*

Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God.
—2 Corinthians 9:10 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Witness


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. One of these is to witness.

Therefore don’t be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but endure hardship for the Good News according to the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Good News.
—2 Timothy 1:8-10 WEB*

Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
—Matthew 10:32-33 WEB*

"Go,and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
—Matthew 28:19-20 WEB*

He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation."
—Mark 16:15 WEB*

For if I preach the Good News, I have nothing to boast about; for necessity is laid on me; but woe is to me, if I don’t preach the Good News.
—1 Corinthians 9:16 WEB*

For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.
—Romans 1:16 WEB*

Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.
—Colossians 3:17 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Fellowship with Other Believers


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. One of these is to fellowship with other believers.

Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.
—Colossians 3:12-17 WEB*

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
—Hebrews 10:25 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Read the Bible


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. One of these is to read the Bible, the Word of God.

Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.
—Psalm 119:105 WEB*

Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth.
—2 Timothy 2:15 WEB*

Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
—2 Timothy 3:16-17 WEB*

For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
—Hebrews 4:12 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Repent and Be Baptized


If you have been saved by the grace of God, and are a followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called by God to certain tasks. One of these is to repent of your old ways and be baptized as an outward sign to others of your inward change.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John would have hindered him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” But Jesus, answering, said to him, “Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
—Matthew 3:13-6 WEB*
 
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”
—Acts 2:37-39 WEB*
 
But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert.” He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.” Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He begged Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this,
 
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.
As a lamb before his shearer is silent,
so he doesn’t open his mouth.
In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away.
Who will declare His generation?
For his life is taken from the earth.”
 
The eunuch answered Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?” Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus. As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch didn’t see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. Passing through, he preached the Good News to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.
—Acts 8:26-40 WEB*

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin.
—Romans 6:3-6 WEB*

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power; in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
—Colossians 2:15 WEB*


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Ways Before Us



Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand on the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in Yahweh's law. On his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that produces its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper.


The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish.
Psalm 1 WEB*


Open to us are two ways of life: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. One way means blessedness, happiness, and fruitfulness. The other means cursedness, unhappiness, and judgment. Through the compare and contrast of the two ways, we see the importance and absolute necessity of the Bible, and the changed character, stability, and fruitfulness it promises if we make Scripture the core of our lives.


To be blessed and happy and fruitful, we must meditate on the Word of God. The Hebrew is transliterated hagah, meaning "to moan, to growl, to utter, to speak, to muse." This is a constant action. It is a comprehensive term for the study and application of the Word to our life. It involves thinking about what Scripture means and how, when, and where it should be applied. Included with this would be reading, hearing, study, and memorizing so we can accurately think about Scripture and apply it.


There are two ways before us: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The choice is ours.




* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Thanksgiving in Our Prayer


Praise Yahweh, my soul! All that is within me, praise his holy name! Praise Yahweh, my soul, and don’t forget all his benefits; who forgives all your sins; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your desire with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
— Psalm 103:1-5 WEB*


In verses 1 and 2 the Hebrew word used is transliterated barak, meaning to kneel or to bless. In the case of our conferring of blessing on God, it means to praise or glorify God. Verse 2 tells us to remember the things that God does for us. The Hebrew word here is gemul, meaning a dealing, a recompense, or a reward.


Scripture tells us that we should always remember what God has done for us and that we should thank God each time we enter into His presence (Psalm 100:4-6; Psalm 103:1-5; Psalm 107:15; Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).


But what has God done for us? In short, He has done everything. God created the Universe, containing all that we know or can know. God loves us in spite of our sin and forgave us through the death of His Son, Jesus. God gives us family, friends, food, shelter, safety, jobs, health, and healing. God leads us, sustains us and disciplines us. God opens doors of opportunity and closes them, both done in love. God permits us to serve Him and He is faithful to us. Considering all that God has done for us, how can we not thank Him?




* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Are Accountable



Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.
— Proverbs 27:17 WEB*


To be accountable is to be responsible for one’s actions. Accountability is essential in any society or organization. All of us are held accountable in one way or another. For example, if we fail to obey the laws of our society, we risk the consequences set by the officials who hold us accountable.


In the same way, God holds us accountable and he has good reason — we are His. God purchased us with the very dear price of His Son (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In fact, since we are His, we all will give an account of ourselves to Him one day (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). To prepare for this accounting, we should therefore understand the standard by which God will measure us. So what is God’s standard for us?


God’s Word tells us we are to have a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance. We are to bear with one another and forgive each other, just as Christ has forgiven us. We should walk in love, let God’s peace rule in our hearts, and be thankful. The words of Christ should dwell in us richly and should be evident in our teaching and our admonishing of one another. And any teaching or admonishing should come through our praise, our singing and with grace in our hearts to our Lord. Everything that we say or do must be done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with thanksgiving to God (Colossians 3:12-17).


How does God train us in being accountable? He uses our fellow believers. They are His tools not only for bringing the lost to Him, to train His own in His service (Proverbs 27:17).


Why should we yield to this training by our fellow believers? Because we are all part of the Body of Christ and no matter our roles or our gifts, we all are to work well together for His glory (1 Corinthians chapter 12).


We must encourage each other in our faith (Hebrews 3:12-14). If someone does falter, we are to work to restore him or her in a spirit of gentleness, and to remember that we are just as frail as they (Galatians 6:1). We must confess our offenses to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16).


To help us be accountable, every believer should have at least one person in which to confide, pray with, listen to, and encourage. We must seek out those believers who are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). They must not view us with an attitude of judgment (Matthew 7:12). And in addition to their love for God, they must care for us deeply as a brother or sister in Christ (1 John 4:21). Finally, we must not only seek these qualities in others, but we must emulate them ourselves so that others will seek us out as they wish to be held accountable.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prayer is Hard Work


Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 WEB*

In this passage the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, then the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia. The establishment of the church by Paul and Silas is recorded in Acts 17:1-9. The church began under fire, being opposed by several unbelieving Greeks and Jews in positions of great influence, and causing Paul and Silas to flee by night with the assistance of new believers. Even so, it grew to be a strong church. Based upon Paul's recorded travels (Acts 17:10-18:11) and based upon what is written in the letter (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6), many suggest that this letter was written to the church soon after Paul's hasty departure, and may be the oldest of Paul's letters that we have available to us. In the letter, Paul seems to be following up on his first work, teaching the new believers those important things that he did not have time to convey in person.

Paul was quite familiar with opposition and persecution. Before his conversion with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-19), Paul persecuted Christ's followers. In fact, we first meet Paul, then called Saul, when he played a supporting role in the persecution and stoning to death of the disciple Stephen. During the stoning, Saul watched the coats of those who did the dirty work. (Acts 7:54-60).

Now on the receiving end of the persecution, Paul made sure that fellow believers had everything they needed to see them through. He therefore charged them to always rejoice, to always pray and to always give thanks. These were not just Paul's recommendations to them. Paul reinforced his charge by explaining that God wanted them to do these things.

On the surface, these commands seem quite obvious and proper. But as we put them in the perspective of day-to-day living, we realize that this is tough stuff; this is hard work. Consider this: In everything that happens to us, in everything we think about, for every moment of every day, we are to rejoice in it; we are to pray about it; we are to give thanks for it. Wow. That is really hard work. This could be thought of as a spiritual form of multitasking — a process that has become all too commonplace to us.

But how do we begin? Well, like any type of work, we just do it. We take what we know and we use it. As we do the work, we learn how to do it better. We build confidence and we even learn to enjoy it to some extent, depending on the work. We learn from productive fellow workers by listening to their advice or by following their example. And as each new day comes we must begin our work again and again.

This work may come naturally to some believers, but not necessarily to all. There is no question that it is hard work to always rejoice, to always pray and to always give thanks. Maybe that is why God's Word reminds us to do it.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Forgiveness and Persistence in Prayer


"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions."
—Mark 11:25 WEB*

Jesus is talking about standing to pray to God for forgiveness. Scholars suggest that Jesus is referring to the practice of praying before the altar at the temple in Jerusalem. We presume this is when the priest is sacrificing and burning an offering in order for God to forgive the sins of the one who brought the offering and who is now praying before the altar.

For the Christian, there is no longer the need of a recurring sacrifice because Jesus, God's Son, became our sacrifice, dying once for the sins of all. We have only to claim what Jesus has done for us in order to become a child of God and have eternal life with Him. And yet, being human, we will continue to sin, and these new sins must also be recognized and given to God so that we may daily enjoy a relationship with our Heavenly Father that is unhindered by sin.

In this passage the reference to sin is the Greek word transliterated as paraptóma, meaning a false step, a trespass, a transgression, or an offense. In this sense, our sins can be thought of as the things we do, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that go against the laws of God; that offend God. With regard to forgiveness, the passage uses the Greek word aphiémi, meaning to send away, to leave alone, to permit or allow. Since God is God, He cannot forget any sin that we commit, but He can acknowledge that Jesus has paid for the sins that we bring to him, and He can then choose to not hold those sins against us.

But in this passage Jesus warns us that God's forgiveness of sins involves more than just giving our sins to God. We must also acknowledge and forgive the wrongs done to us by others. God knows that the grudges that we create can be as bad for us as the sins we commit ourselves. We must forgive not only to obey God, but also for our own spiritual benefit.

Finally, with regard to the practice of standing to pray, there are other references to this in Scripture (Zechariah 3:1 Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:11 Revelation 11:4). The Greek word used is stékó. This word can mean to stand, but it also can mean to stand firm or to persevere.

While we should not read into Scripture any meaning that may not be intended, this reference gives us a wonderful opportunity to recognize that prayer does require a measure of persistence on our part. It is a valid argument to say that the intensity of our desires is often reflected in the energy and persistence we invest in order to fulfill them. It is, therefore, only natural for us to expect that our prayer life reflect this same energy, persistence and determination as we bring our concerns before our Lord.

Let us praise God and thank Him for his forgiveness of our sin. In obedience to Him and for our own good, let us ask His help in forgiving just as He forgave, and let us pray with persistence.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Go Into Your Closet to Pray


“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
— Matthew 6:5-6 WEB*

Jesus is describing the practice of the religious leaders of the day to pray very openly and loudly in public places. Jesus calls these people hypocrites. The Greek word is transliterated as hupokrités, meaning one who acts, or who performs a role. These people are not being themselves, but are playing a character. Jesus knows that they are not sincere in their prayers. Their public display might be better described as a form of religious street entertainment. Rather than receiving their payment in money, they receive the admiration and respect of those who watch them. The Greek word here is misthos, meaning a reward or payment for services rendered. That is all they truly want from their spectacle, and Jesus tells us that is all they receive.

This is not to say that public prayer is bad. But whether done publicly or privately, our prayer should be genuine and without ulterior motives. When praying on the public stage, it is tempting to forget our intent and to take for ourselves the glory that is intended for God. One way to ensure that our motives are sincere is to pray in secret. The Greek word used here is krypto, meaning something that is hidden, inward, or secret.

To help us, Jesus advises that we go into a hidden place. The King James Version of the Bible describes this place as our “closet,” from which later developed the term “prayer closet.” The Greek word here is tameion, meaning an inner room or a storeroom, and a root of the word tamieion, which means treasury. Jesus wants us to go to that place, whether physically or spiritually, which is not seen by others. This is the place where we pray. Here we worship, here we cry, here we lift our requests, and here we receive God's blessing and comfort. Indeed, this should be a treasured place for us, our special time with God.

Jesus goes on to say that for what we do in secret, God, not man, will reward. The Greek word here is apodidómi, meaning to give up, to give back, to return, or to restore. When we pray as we should, God not only hears and answers our prayers, but he also refreshes and enriches us. Those having a rich prayer life may appear to others as energized. They seem to have something special that others lack, as indeed they do.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When God Answers Our Prayer



When Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I truly know that the Lord has sent out his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from everything the Jewish people were expecting.”
—Acts 12:11 WEB*

When we pray, we do so with the faith that, whatever our request, God will answer our prayers. But why do we sometimes react with disbelief when God actually answers our prayers?

The Scripture passage in Acts 12:1-19 tells an amazing story of disbelief when God answered prayer. King Herod decided to go after the church at Jerusalem during the week of Passover. One of his first major acts was to execute the Apostle James, the brother of John. When Herod noticed how much his popularity increased among the Jews, he was inspired to arrest and imprison the Apostle Peter, surrounding him with four squads of four soldiers. Herod planned a very public execution Peter after Passover.

From the moment that Peter was arrested, the members of the church prayed intensely for his release. Whether Peter lived or died, Peter remained confident in the Lord. And as the time approached for his execution, Peter slept soundly, shackled between the soldiers.

Suddenly, Peter was shaken awake, not by the soldiers, but by an angel. Wondering whether he was still dreaming, Peter followed the angel’s commands. He dressed quickly and followed the angel passed all of the soldiers and out of the prison. When the angel left him in the dark city street, Peter finally realized that God had answered his prayers and that he was really free.

Peter made his way to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, which was packed inside and out with believers who were praying to God for Peter’s release. It actually took a few moments before those in the house believed that Peter was free and standing outside, beating on the door.

When they finally opened the door and saw that it was Peter, all within the house cheered and praised God for answering their prayer. They then helped to quietly transport Peter out of Jerusalem before Herod and the soldiers knew what had happened.

Perhaps Peter and this bothers and sisters in Christ were amazed at the way in which God had answered their prayer. Perhaps they expected that God would have Herod order Peter to be released, or maybe that God would cause an earthquake that would break open the prison and allow Peter to escape during the confusion. But to free Peter in such a way that it left not doubt as to who was responsible? How could they not have seen that coming? We should be careful not to limit God in our prayers. After all, He is God.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Results of Prayer


Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God’s rod in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed. When he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset. Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
—Exodus 17:8-13 WEB*

It has been suggested that this passage, more than any other in the Bible, demonstrates that prayer has significant results. The people of Israel were camped at a desert place known as Rephidim. While there, the army of Amalek — the Amalekites — came near to Israel's camp and communicated its intent to wipe out Israel.

The name Amalek is transliterated from Hebrew as Amaleq. This was a descendant of Esau, the brother of Jacob, whom God had renamed Israel. Though Esau had made peace with his brother during their lifetimes, the descendants of the brothers had become bitter enemies. The Amalekites became the first to oppose the nation of Israel following its Exodus from Egypt (Numbers 24:20).

Moses called Joshua to lead Israel in battle against the Amalekites. He then reviewed with Joshua their battle strategy: While Joshua and the army fought, Moses would be positioned on the hill overlooking the battle, holding the rod of Aaron. Though the text does not elaborate, it is thought that Moses' placement was more than a symbolic gesture. Specifically, it is thought that from this location Moses could pray to God during the battle, asking Him pour out courage, valor, coordination and supernatural protection on their soldiers.

As Moses prayed to God, Joshua's troupes prevailed in battle, fighting with a divine intensity that drove back the enemy. But when Moses grew weary, he dropped his arms and focused his attention on the battle, not on God. At those times Moses saw, to his horror, that the enemy gained the advantage. When Moses again appealed to God, the momentum of the battle shifted to Joshua's army.

Moses soon realized that he must continue in prayer if he wanted God's intervention. He was able to do so with the literal support of his brother Aaron and his friend Hur, and the army of Israel won the day.

Like Moses, we can learn two lessons from these events. First, if we are willing to involve God in our daily challenges, we, too, will experience God's prevailing power. By focusing on God and not our battles, God will be the victor and God will be glorified.

Second, if we are to be successful in prayer, we must rely on others to encourage and support us in our task. Likewise, if we want others to be successful, we must encourage and support them.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Prayer Changes Us



Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 WEB*


In this passage the Apostle Paul reminds us that, as followers of Christ, we should no longer be as the world is, but as God wants us to be — we must be changed.


The Greek word used here is transliterated as metamorphoó, meaning to literally change from one form into another — to transform. Our transformation should come through the renewing of our mind. The word used for our mind is the Greek word nous, which means our mind, our understanding, our reason.


But how do we renew our mind? We do so through the study of God's Word — the Bible — and through prayer.


God not only invites us to pray, but commands that we pray. As we are consistent in this duty, we are going to be changed. A life of prayer is a life of obedience to God.


Our prayer life should be one of supplication with a proper balance of adoration, confession and thanksgiving. As we are consistent in our adoration and our giving of thanks, we become more aware of God’s work in our lives and we grow in our sense of gratitude toward God. As we are consistent in confessing our sins to God, we begin to maintain a focus on the holiness of God and the importance of quickly bringing any new sins to Him for our clensing.


Prayer influences our attitudes and our actions. At its heart, prayer is not praying for what we want, but for what we should want — for what God desires for us. As we regularly ask for God’s will to be done, we begin to seek God’s will in our lives and in the situations we come across. God’s desires become our desires. And our comfort in the knowledge of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, encourages us to act out God’s will in our lives. We become the hands and feet of Jesus that we are intended to be.




* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pray What We Mean


"In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him."
Matthew 6:7-8 WEB*

Do our prayers have meaningless repetition? Do we babble to God?

Reflecting on these words of Jesus may cause us to think of the Old Testament “sacrifice showdown” on Mount Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, in which Elijah challenged the prophets to prove that Baal was the true god (1 Kings 18:20-40). All morning the prophets of Baal prayed and danced, calling out for Baal, again and again, to consume the sacrifice they had prepared for him. When that didn’t work they prayed louder, they danced wilder, and they ritually cut themselves, but still nothing happened. Finally, when it was Elijah’s turn, he looked heavenward and addressed God simply and confidently. So that the surrounding crowd could hear, Elijah reminded God aloud that He, not Elijah, was the one who had ordered this challenge so that God’s power would be demonstrated to the people. Elijah then asked God to consume the sacrifice that was prepared on the altar. Immediately, God sent fire from heaven. And though Elijah had completely soaked the sacrifice and the altar with water, and had filled the surrounding trench with water, both were completely consumed and the water in the trench was vaporized. This is indeed a glorious story. But while it does remind us of the meaningless repetition that pagan worshipers can use, there is more in Jesus’ words than this.

Do we pray without meaning? Are we truly focused when we pray? How often have we asked the Lord to “be with” us or someone else during a time of crisis? If we feel especially moved, we might even ask the Lord to “be with” someone “in a special way,” as if that is more specific and powerful than just “being with” someone.

We should remember that God is always with us. Matthew 28:20 tells us that Jesus is with us always. Deuteronomy 31:6 (and Hebrews 13:5) tells us that God will never leave us or forget us. John 14:18 tells us that Jesus will not leave us as orphans, but that He will come to us. In Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 8:8 we read that one of the names for the child who would be born  the child being Jesus is Emmanuel, which means "God with us." If we are members of God's family, God is always with us. We don’t need to ask for his presence, but perhaps we should pray for God to make us more aware of Him.

In this one example we see how we can, without thinking, trade meaning for meaningless repetition and clichés. The Creator of the Universe desires a relationship with us, but when He has our attention we seem no better than the prophets of Baal. In our own way we dance around and mindlessly babble in the presence of God, not really communing with Him or sharing what is important to us. Of course, God knows. But He wants a relationship with us in which we are comfortable enough to actually tell Him.

Let us talk to God simply and clearly, not using someone else’s words, but our own. And let us pray with meaning.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Priority of Prayer


But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.
—Luke 5:16 WEB*

Jesus knew the importance of prayer during His earthly ministry. He began His days with prayer (Mark 1:35). He used every spare moment to pray (Mark 6:46; Luke 5:16; Luke 22:39). Jesus would pray all night before making significant decisions, such as the choosing of His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12). Jesus prayed in times of great stress, such as prior to His betrayal by Judas (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 17). It was following long periods of prayer that Jesus demonstrated most greatly His authority over the elements (Mark 6:45-52) and over demons (Mark 9:14-29).

His disciples were so convinced of the power in Jesus' prayer that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). And yet, His disciples found it difficult to place the same importance on prayer that Jesus did (Matthew 26:40, 43, 45; Mark 14:37, 40, 42; Luke 22:45).

Like the disciples, we also seem to find it difficult to place the proper importance on prayer. But if Jesus considered prayer to be the basis for everything He said and did, how much more so should we?


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Adoration in Our Prayer


Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
—Psalm 100:4 WEB*

The model for prayer given to us by Jesus (also called the Lord's Prayer, the Disciples Prayer and the Our Father) begins with adoration (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). We should enter God's presence with praise (Psalm 100:4).

We should praise God for several reasons. First, God worthy of our praise. Second, praise sets the proper tone for our prayer. Third, praise reminds us of who God is and His inclination toward us. And fourth, praise purges us of other concerns and softens our hearts for prayer.

Many Scripture passages in the Bible remind us of the importance of praise. For example, we are called to praise God, in recognition of what God has done for us (1 John 3:1; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 John 5:14). Through our praise we show our respect and fear — reverential awe — for God (Psalm 34:11). By our praise we focus the attention of others onto God (Psalm 45:17). Our praise brings us closer to God (Psalm 45:18). We praise because of God's lovingkindness and faithfulness are endless (Psalm 36:5). Even the lonely and destitute are to praise (1 Timothy 5:5). It is important that we cease our daily busyness and exalt God (Psalm 46:10). Waiting on God lifts us up and renews us (Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 90:13-17; Isaiah 40:27-31). We are to continually offer praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).

To help us in our times of praise we may play recorded music, such as favorite hymns or praise and worship songs. We may also read Scripture passages to God, whether silently or aloud, as part of our time of adoration. Here are just some of the possible Scripture passages we might employ: Psalms 8, 19, 23, 46, 95, 98, 84, 100, 103, 145, 148, 150; Isaiah 40; Matthew 22:32-33; Luke 1:46-55, 67-79; Revelation 4:8; 5:12-14, 9-10.


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Supplication in Our Prayer


"I will bring these to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
—Isaiah 56:7 WEB*

The passage in Isaiah 56:3-8 is foretelling of a time, during the Messiah's millennial reign on earth, when God will be openly worshipped by believers from all nations. All will offer to God continual thanksgiving, worship and praise, described here simply as "prayer" (the Hebrew tephillah). These will be the "sacrifice" (the Hebrew zebach) and the "burnt offering" (the Hebrew olah). These will be placed on God's "altar" (the Hebrew mizbeach).

No longer literal sacrifice, but spiritual sacrifice will be offered that is genuine and sincere (Psalm 141:2; 51:17; Malachi 1:11). Jesus quoted from this passage of Isaiah as He cleared the temple of merchants and money changers (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). While Jesus knew what people were like inside (John 3:24-25), He was probably struck to witness in person just how far they were from God's ideal of sincere worship.

Thanks to the love of God, the only things that separate all of us from the Creator of the Universe are our willful sin and our unbelief. Our thanksgiving, our praise and our worship are the very least that we can give in return. Isn't it amazing that these are the very things that God requires of us?


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Confession in Our Prayers


This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:5-10 WEB*

Simply put, sin separates us from God. Before we accept that Jesus Christ, God's Son, died in our place, the barrier is an eternal one. Once we are following Christ, any unconfessed sin prevents a deeper relationship with God and hinders our prayers. These Scripture passages (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2; Proverbs 28:13) tell us that our relationship with God is impaired by the presence of sin.

When we pray we should spend time confessing and repenting of (turning away from) specific sins and accept God's forgiveness and cleansing. God knows our sins before we confess them. But our confession demonstrates that we are aware of them and that we desire to remove those barriers to our relationship with Him.

Our confession does not have to be elaborate, but truthful and to the point. We should ask God to search our heart and show us the areas that displease Him (Psalm 139:23-24). We should then repent of those sins, ask God to forgive us and allow God to cleanse us (Psalm 51:10-13).


* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We Must Hunger for God’s Food


Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work."
—John 4:34 WEB*

Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee and on their way they passed through Samaria. At mid-day they stopped in the Samaritan town of Sychar. Jesus sat down by Jacob's well and the disciples went in search of food. While waiting there, Jesus spoke with a woman who was little-respected in the town because of her past and current life. Through their conversation, Jesus demonstrated that He knew all about her. He also shared with her the good news of the coming of the Messiah and, through her, spread this good news to the entire town. Through these events we are reminded that God sometimes uses very weak and unlikely instruments to perform His work.

When the disciples returned with what food they could find, Jesus explained that He had already eaten and been satisfied. The poor disciples, often unable to think beyond the realm of the physical, wondered where Jesus had gotten His food. Jesus explained that His "food," or his satisfaction, was in completing the work of His Father. In verses 35 through 38 Jesus goes on to explain the significance of this much needed work.

Those that want to know Christ must diligently follow His example. Christ compares the work of God to harvesting. The harvest is an anticipated and expected result of the growing and cultivating process. The same is true for the gospel — the good news of Christ and the kingdom of God. Harvest is a very busy time and all hands are needed for the work. Harvest is also a short period of time and all of the work must be done then, or not at all. The time of the gospel is also a season. Once it is past, it cannot be reclaimed. All around us in our daily lives are crops of sorts — lives that are open to the gospel of Christ and potentially ripe for harvest. But if there is no one to "work the field," to encourage growth and reap the harvest, those crops — those lives — may be forever lost. If we truly want to know Christ, then the work of God should be our desire; our food.




* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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Monday, May 7, 2012

God is Faithful. Are We?



For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it grow and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do.
—Isaiah 55:10-11 WEB*

In Isaiah 55 the prophet explains to us that we cannot truly understand the mind or the methods of God. After all, we are not God. That being said, Isaiah assures us that God is faithful and He will accomplish what He determines to do. A key point is in verse eleven, the Hebrew word transliterated shalach (pronounced "shaw-LAKH"). The word means to cast away or throw away, much like a fisher would cast a net, or like a farmer would cast seeds. At the proper time, the fisher will draw in the net and the farmer will reap the harvest.


As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are instructed to bear witness to the Word of God through our words and through our actions. But to what end? We may have a general idea. We know that our goal is to lead others to God through Christ, and we know we are to further the kingdom of God. We therefore think we understand how God may use us in a given situation. But the truth is that we are not God and the way He uses us may not be the way we expect.


Of course, God may use us to reach a person directly involved in our actions — whatever we may say or do. But God may also use us to reach someone else who witnessed our actions. Or He may use us to reach someone who heard about our actions second hand or third hand.


And the immediate reaction to our use by God may not always be what we expect. The reaction we perceive might be good or it might be bad — so bad that we are offered an excellent opportunity to turn the other cheek. For that matter, we may perceive absolutely no reaction at all.


What's more, we truly don't know when our use by God will have its real and lasting affect. It could come in the moments of what we say or do, but it could also come days, weeks, months, or even years afterward.


In the end, our concern should not be how God uses us, when God uses us, or even what happens as a result of God using us. Our concern should be that we allow God to use us.




* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learn the Secret



I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
--Philippians 4:12-13 WEB*

The Apostle Paul became very familiar with extremes. He was one of the best educated and well respected Jews of his day (Philippians 3:4-6), yet it is his conversion by Christ (Acts 9.3-9; Acts 22.6-11) and his ministry in the cause of Christ that we remember.

Paul once sought out and persecuted Christians on orders from Jerusalem, even playing a supporting role in the stoning to death of Stephen (Acts 7:54–8:1). Yet in the end, as a follower of Jesus, Paul was persecuted, imprisoned and eventually executed.

But at in the closing of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi the extremes of his life are not his focus. Rather, it is the great secret of dealing with these extremes. The Greek word in verse 12 is transliterated mueó (pronounced “moo-EH-o”). It means to be initiated into mysteries, to be instructed. Paul had become a disciple of this secret.

The secret also allowed Paul to enjoy much. The Greek word used is perisseuó (“per-is-SYOO-o”), to abound; to have great abundance. The secret enabled Paul to eat well. The Greek word is chortazó (“khor-TAD-zo”), to eat well, to be fattened, to be satisfied.

But Paul was not only familiar with being in the front of the line. He also knew very well the back of the line. This secret supported Paul through his times of humility. The Greek word is tapeinoó (“tap-i-NO-o”), meaning to be made low or humble. The secret also enabled Paul to cope with hunger. The Greek word is peinaó (“pi-NAH-o”), to be hungry or famished, to crave. The secret even enabled Paul to cope with, as we would say, “not being able to make ends meet.” The Greek word is hustereó (“hoos-ter-EH-o”), which means to come late, to be behind, to come short, to lack.

What was Paul’s great secret to being content in all things? It is the same secret that is available to us today, if we will only accept it — Jesus Christ. The Greek word used is endunamoó (“en-doo-nam-O-o”), meaning to empower, to enable, to increase, to strengthen. Christ can enable us to get through everything that is thrown at us. And when it comes down to it, the secret is not so much the strength and support that Christ offers us. The real secret is learning to lean on Him, to ask for and to accept His enabling power. Our world may crumble around us, as it often does, but He will never leave us or forsake us.



* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

What We Should Think and Be

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things. The things which you learned, received, heard, and saw in me: do these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
--Philippians 4:8-9 WEB*


You have probably heard the computer expression “garbage in, garbage out.” Basically, it means you get out what you put in. This principal is quite appropriate for people as well as computers. What goes into us is what comes out of us. Since God made us, He knows this all too well. God also knows that if we do not keep the right things within us, we are likely to drift away from Him, thereby becoming useless to God, to others and to ourselves. To avoid this, the Apostle Paul gives us some advice that will help us keep to the right path.

Paul tells us what we should think about. The referenced Greek word is transliterated as logizomai (pronounced "log-ID-zom-ahee"), meaning to recon or consider; to take into account. We should always keep these things in our mind and heart, for they will impact what we think, what we do, how we live. We should dwell on these things. But what are they?

Paul lists several qualities that help us identify the things that should occupy our mind and heart. Many Bible translations quantify these things with the word “whatever,” but the referenced Greek word, transliterated hosos ("HOS-os"), can also be translated as “as many as there are," or "all of these things.” In other words, Paul wants us to consider any and every thing that bears these qualities. After all, if we spend our time trying to think about all of the things that we should, we will have no time to think about the things we should not. Let us review Paul’s list of qualities.

First, there is the quality referenced by the Greek word aléthés ("al-ay-THACE"), which is that of being true. This is something that without question is the truth. There is no gray area or doubt. When all else fails around us we can hang on to these things because we know in our heart of hearts that they are true.

The second quality is referenced by the Greek word semnos ("sem-NOS"). This describes something revered, something venerable or serious, even something grave. We often translate this word as honorable. These are things are so important, things that we hold in such high regard and respect that we cannot, or at least should not, bring shame or disrespect to them.

The third quality is referenced by the Greek word dikaios ("DIK-ah-yos"), meaning correct, just, righteous, and by implication innocent. These are things which are in right alignment with God. God has no problem with these things because they are aligned or in agreement with His Word.

The fourth quality is referenced by the Greek word hagnos ("hag-NOS"), which is something clean, undefiled, or chaste; something holy or sacred. This word is often translated as pure.

The fifth quality is referenced by the Greek word prosphilés ("pros-fee-LACE"). These things have the quality of being pleasing or agreeable. Many people could look at something with this quality and they would agree that it is pleasing to them. This word is often translated as lovely.

The sixth quality is referenced by the Greek word euphémos ("YOO-fay-mos"). This is something that people report well of, or something that is commendable; something that is praiseworthy.

Paul reinforces the praiseworthy aspect of these things with the use of the Greek word epainos ("EP-ahee-nos")--praise. These things should cause us to bring forth praise and edification rather than smart remarks and criticisms.

Paul finishes by saying that he has taught these qualities and he also done his best to embody them. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same.



* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Anxiety Helps No One

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
--Philippians 4:6-7 WEB*


When we are anxious about something, whether it is something really good or something really bad, we desire a resolution of that something to the point of distraction of everything else in our lives. Anxiety is very powerful in that way, affecting us mentally, emotionally and physically. Mentally, we tend to focus all our resources on that object, whether they can have an affect or not. Emotionally, we hang all our current and future joys and sorrows on that object. And physically, our bodies take the toll by going along on the highly charged ride that our minds and emotions have created.


Anxiety is different from the mechanism of fear. Fear occurs in the presence of an observed threat, and that fear can trigger specific behaviors of escape and avoidance in order for us to resolve that fear. In contrast, anxiety can often occur without an identifiable trigger and therefore without any possible steps of resolution. Without a plan of action we just sit and spin, and spin, and spin.


Anxiety makes us useless to God. He cannot get our attention because we are simply not listening. When we are calm, when we are at peace, when we are focused on Him rather than ourselves, then He can comfort us and we can be His instruments. Often, the focus of our anxiety is resolved in the process of reconnecting with God. If it is not, we can bring our problems to Him through prayer and thank Him for taking care of us. And if our problem still does not goes away, that’s Okay, too, because God has promised to always be with us and support us.

* WEB - The World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: ebible.org


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