Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our Verse of the Day is a timely refresher as we focus on a life of prayer. This is especially important as we experience higher levels of uncertainty and anxiety in the world at the moment. God calls us to trust Him! He comforts us saying, “Do not be anxious about what is happening; rather, pray to Him and seek Him for the peace of mind that we need.” Indeed, I think about what Jesus shared with His disciples … encouraging them to watch and pray when the tribulations of life on earth accelerate:
Luke 21:25-36 (NIV)
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Yes, Jesus told us to ALWAYS be on the watch … and to pray with a focus on two petitions:
1. That we may be able to escape all that is about to happen
2. That we may be able to stand before the Son of Man
Likewise, Jesus taught us: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Cf. Matthew 26:41) Yes, we need to be on watch and to guard our hearts in preparation for His coming. Through prayer, we are equipped t walk in confidence as we trust Christ Jesus. As Paul admonished, let us all to continue in prayer and let the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Prayer is vital! Prayer is commanded! Indeed, we need to be people of prayer because it will keep us grounded in the truth … protected from deception … and active participants in the spiritual battle between light and darkness that is engulfing our nation and the world.
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~ Cf. Colossians 4:2-6
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Our Verse of the Day continues with the focus on prayer this week … and with good reason. Today is our National Day of Prayer! There is a desperate need for believers to spend more time in prayer, in intercession, and in spiritual warfare. More than most of us realize. When we are admonished to “pray without ceasing” there is a reason: “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Cf.1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). And so, I sense the Spirit is calling us to gather as believers before the throne of heaven in order to align us with the will of God.
I think the context of 2 Chronicles 7 is important for us to review today. Beginning with 2 Chronicles Chapter 1, we learn about the heart of King Solomon and his prayer for wisdom. God granted the request along with wealth, possessions, and honor. Then beginning in Chapter 2, the narrative shifts to preparations for the building of the Temple, and construction begins in Chapter 3. The furnishings are reviewed in Chapter 4, and the entire work was completed in Chapter 5 when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the innermost sanctuary (Holy of Holies) of the temple. There were sacrificial offerings and worship, and the manifested glory of God filled the temple as a cloud…. I invite you to read this historical account when you have the time….
But it is Chapter 6 that sets the stage for our call to prayer. Here, Solomon addresses the assembly to bless them and then offers a public prayer of dedication. He expounds that the Temple cannot contain the God of Heaven; but Solomon asks that God be attentive to the prayers and supplications offered before Him there, and to hear from heaven … to forgive, to judge, to heal, to restore, and to show mercy. What you will note in his prayer, is the acknowledgement that people will sin against God – for there is no one who does not sin. (Verse 36) But the holiness of God has to address the issue of sin. There is an expectation of repentance on the part of people and forgiveness on the part of God. And it is this interaction that occurs during our time of prayer. God judges the sin … but He is sovereign to justify the repentant sinner….
In Chapter 6, as Solomon prayed, there is a list of the judgments or afflictions that he shared as examples:
1. When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath before the altar
2. When the nation is defeated by an enemy because they have sinned
3. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned
4. When famine or plague comes to the land; blight or mildew; locusts or grasshoppers
5. When enemies besiege in the cities; whatever disaster or disease
Solomon goes on praying, asking the Lord God to be responsive to prayers offered:
1. When the foreigner (outsider) come and pray toward the Temple, grant their prayers for Your glory.
2. When the nation goes to war against their enemies; grant their prayers and uphold their cause.
3. When people sin and repent; forgive and restore them.
Beginning in Chapter 7, when Solomon finished praying, the text states that “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple! What a powerful manifestation … revelation of God in response to prayer! The people saw the power of God fall, knelt with their faces to the ground, worshipped, and gave thanks to God. And then an incredible time of sacrifice and worship followed these events for the next seven days. It is this scene that sets the stage for our Verse of the Day:
2 Chronicles 7:11-16 (NIV)
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “WHEN I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
Did you note the word “when” in Verse 13? It indicates that God will engage or allow His natural creation to bring affliction to His people. We could view the ensuing suffering and consequence as judgment for sin; but perhaps, the purpose of God is to recapture our attention. Maybe these things “happen” because of our sinful nature and transgressions. Perhaps, God wants us to recognize we have offended Him; that we have transgressed His commandments and need to repent. He desires us to repent, to seek forgiveness, and to receive restoration. The issue is not about what God allows to happen to us; rather, it is about our response to God’s correction and discipline! It is about the inclinations of our hearts … our sorrow for disobedience … our reverence and love for God and His mercy. Whatever happens … whatever we observe or encounter in our physical life … it should prompt reflection and repentance and restoration in our spiritual life. As Solomon prayed:
2 Chronicles 6:28-31 (NIV)
28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart),31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
On this National Day of Prayer, we need to consider the insight and wisdom that King Solomon offers within the broader context of intimacy with God. What you and I do through prayer, how we respond to God in whatever situation or circumstance He brings into our lives, impacts our relationships with Him and reflects our faith in Him. It means that we should keep a humble spirit and attitude. It means that we should realize we are not perfect and need to repent and confess our sins to Him. God wants us to carefully observe His commands … and to endeavor to fulfill His will in our lives. (Cf. Deuteronomy 4:6; 11:22) And when we fall short, we need to see it! We need to recognize it and respond in humility and transparency. As the Apostle John affirmed: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (Cf. 1 John 1:9)
My friends, Father God wants us to enter His presence and to seek Him. He is willing to hear … willing to forgive … willing to heal. But His response is conditional. It is conditioned upon our willingness to humble ourselves; to pray; to seek His face; and to turn from our sinfulness. I believe this is the key to effectiveness in prayer. God wants the attention and hearts of His people; and it is clear that He will allow adversity to accomplish His desire. Amen.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.
Our Verse of the Day has always intrigued me. It is thought provoking when we consider the question of our prayers being answered by God. Here, John seems to indicate that we can have “whatever we ask” of God in prayer. But if you are like me, it seems that is not always the case in our personal experiences with prayer. God does not always give us exactly what we have asked of Him or answered our prayers in the way we believe He should. There are people that have lost battles with physical illness; people who have experienced separations and broken relationships; people who have suffered devastation or deprivation due to forces of nature; and people who have found themselves in financial distress through the loss of employment. The scenarios of human suffering and experience that we pray for God to spare us or our loved ones is quite diverse; yet, we see them occur even though we have diligently prayed for different outcomes. So, is John being dishonest? Is his assertion contradictory? Does God really hear our prayers? These are understandable questions in light of what we see happening in our human experience in this world.
There is a similar passage recorded in the Gospel of John that can be equally difficult to interpret. Here, Jesus seems to indicate that we can “ask for anything in His name, and He will do it.” I have reprinted the passage here for our reference and further discussion:
John 14:11-14 (NIV)
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Closer examination of the passage from 1 John 5:14-15 might help us better discern what John is affirming about our time in prayer before God. Verse 14 is the key: “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Yes, therein lies the conundrum of our prayers. Sometimes the answers are simply not what we want them to be. Yet, I assure you the outcomes will be what God in His omniscience and sovereignty … in His compassion and love … knows are the best, ultimate outcomes. We are simply not able to see or understand what God already knows and purposes when we pray or intercede for others and their situations.
Likewise, with the statements Jesus made as recorded in John 14, I believe Verse 12 sheds some insight on Verses 13 and 14. The context is focused on “works” … the works which lead people to believe in Jesus and afford creditability to His messianic claims. I think the point of His teaching is to ask Him to empower us to do the works He has been doing. Such works serve to confirm the Word of God; to confirm that Jesus is Lord and Savior; to assure that the Father may be glorified in the Son. I sense that this is the context of His statement in these verses.
Jesus made an astonishing declaration right before He raised Lazarus from the dead:
John 11:40-42 (NIV)
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So, they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Jesus knew that God heard Him … and knew that He would receive what He had asked in prayer. What a confirmation to us that God hears prayer. Yet, the reality we often experience is that we do not receive what we asked of God. What is the difference? Does God have selective hearing? Why is John so confident that God hears our prayers and that we can know that we have what we asked of Him? We pray, and yet, loved ones die of cancer; couples remain childless; children leave the faith; chronic illness continues unabated…. Why does God not answer our prayers the way we want Him to … the way we think He should?
John said God hears us when we ask anything according to His will … not our will. And therein is the challenge for us! How do we ever truly know the will of God in a specific circumstance or situation? In Isaiah 55:8-10 we read, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So, we have to understand that issue and seek the mind of God. And Paul affirms that we can utilize the intercessory power of the Holy Spirit in this regard:
Romans 8:26-29 (NIV)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
So maybe we should consider that in order to pray and ask according to the will of God the Father, we need to grow in the knowledge of His “revealed” will. We can do so through the study of His Word and the life of Jesus. And we have to consider that we may not always see how God works and orchestrates in another person’s life to “work” His will for their good when answering our prayers. In other words, God IS answering the prayers offered up in faith; but He is doing so in His way and on His timetable according to His own purpose and grace. (Cf. Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9-10) I just think we have to realize, and ultimately trust, that God does hear us and does answer us according to His will.
Additional Scriptures for Consideration:
Isaiah 59:1-2 (NIV)
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separatedyou from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you,so that He will not hear.
James 4:1-3 (NASB)
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You desire (lust) and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
I will close with some final thoughts from Paul: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Cf. Romans 12:12) Yes, we are to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) My friends, it is clear that our Lord Jesus wants us to spend intimate time with Him through prayer … asking bold things and being conformed to His image. Indeed, if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us. So, I hope this review has stimulated some thought regarding your views and expectations of prayer. Perhaps it has given you some additional insight and encouragement on how we should view prayer as a spiritual discipline designed to align ourselves with God’s will.
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. ~ Hebrews 5:7-9
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.
Yesterday, our Verse of the Day challenged us with this instruction for prayer: Ask, Seek, and Knock! And we referenced this current Verse of the Day in our study. Jesus taught that prayer is the spiritual gift we have been given to have access – access to Him and access to the Father Himself. Not only did Jesus encourage prayer and teach His disciples how to pray, He modeled a life of prayer and often sought opportunities to spend quiet, intimate time with the Father. As believers, we too should ask, seek, and knock as we kneel before His throne of grace. Indeed, God desires intimate time with each of us and to come before Him in prayer! Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6)
The Word of God teaches us that we should not be afraid to approach God at any time. Indeed, we are encouraged to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Cf. Hebrews 4:16) The Apostle John, to encourage us in prayer, said: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. (Cf. 1 John 5:13-15) But, as we studied yesterday, there is an issue we should consider in this regard – our motives. Sometimes when we ask, we do not receive, because we ask with wrong motives that are self-centered and focused on our own personal gain or pleasures. (Cf. James 4:3) Thus, it is clear that we must ask in accordance with the will of God. Even Jesus taught the disciples to pray in this manner: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven….” (Cf. Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) It is important that we understand prayer is the spiritual mechanism God uses to align our wills with His will.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at our Verse of the Day a little more: “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.” Here we are encouraged to ask God for wisdom to help us make the right decisions. If you are in the process of making a decision concerning your life, your family, your vocation, your location, your relationships, the use of your time, talent, or treasure; you should spend time in prayer before the throne of God. Why? Because there you will receive wisdom … there you will find confidence and assurance for the decisions you need to make. There you will find a compassionate Father who will give you the wisdom and discernment you seek. And note how James states that God will be generous! He will not reproach us for asking Him for wisdom; rather, He will pour it out on those who love Him and seek to do His will here on earth as it is in heaven….
So, I encourage anyone who is struggling with a decision (great or small), to enter their quiet place and kneel before the Father. In fervent prayer, ask God for wisdom. Ask Him for knowledge, ideas, solutions, needs, resources, or anything concerning you. But be sure to ask Him how the decision you need to make will align you with His will for your life. Inquire how the Father and the Son will be glorified by your decision. The answers you receive should fulfill both His will and His glory. And then you will have confidence He has heard you … and know that you have received what you asked. And so, I will close with this passage, because I think it demonstrates the power of prayer:
John 11:38- 45 (NIV)
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” He said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So, they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in Him.
The Father “heard” Jesus because He prayed according to the will of the Father! And God’s will is for people to believe in Jesus. Likewise, His prayer for this incredible miracle was for people to see the glory of God. Indeed, God was glorified through what Jesus prayed to happen through the resurrection of Lazarus – many people came to faith in Jesus and believed in Him! And so, I pray these two specific purposes will be the first thoughts of our hearts when we come before God in prayer. For the Father will give the wisdom and understanding needed for our prayers to be aligned with His will and to bring Him glory. Where we live … where we work … and the relationships we build through life … are just contexts for us to discover what truly matters to God. When you ask, seek, or knock, the wisdom you are requesting is really how to align your decisions with serving God and exalting Him with your life. When our motives in prayer are God centered and focused, I am confident He will hear us.
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king;therefore, wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” ~ 2 Chronicles 1:11-12
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Our Verse of the Day is probably quite familiar to most of you. Jesus is teaching and imparting various spiritual lessons to those gathered and following Him. His “Sermon on the Mount” is found in Matthew Chapters 5-7. If you have the opportunity this week, I would encourage to take some time to read it again.
Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)
Ask and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
The passage is focused on our prayer time and quiet time before God. The key principle is that we “ask” God for our needs, and that He is a loving and faithful Father and will give “good gifts to those who ask Him.” Even the order of the action words in Verse 7 forms an acronym of the word “ASK” as shown:
I believe Jesus is encouraging us to take “action” when in prayer. In prayer we are asking God for His help; seeking wisdom for our questions and concerns; and knocking on the doors of possibilities for answers to be provided. But part of the deal is that we must believe God will answer prayer and do so in a manner that is “good” for us. That might not always be what we think God should do or how He should answer our prayers…. The Apostles, as other inspired writers of Scripture, urge us to ask and seek God in prayer for our needs.
Note some of the insight surrounding prayer that James affords us:
James 1:5-7 (NIV)
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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
James 4:1-3 (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Paul was not afraid to seek God and to ask Him for “good things”. Here are some examples of powerful prayers that serve as models for us:
Ephesians 1:16-19 (NIV)
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep askingthat the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 3:15-21 (NIV)
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually askGod to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
And, of course, John encourages us to trust in the character of the Father and the Son to answer our prayers:
1 John 3:21-23 (NIV)
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He (Jesus) commanded us.
1 John 5:13-15 (NIV)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.
What are some of your take-aways from these passages? Mine are that we should ask in faith; ask according to His revealed will; and have confidence before God that we will receive. We know God is generous and good, but what we ask and how we ask and the intimacy of our personal relationship with God appear to affect answers and outcomes to our prayers. I believe we need to examine ourselves in these areas of our walks. If we ever come to the conclusion that God does not hear, perhaps the problem is not God at all….
Jesus instructed us to simply ASK. If we will keep His commands; do what pleases Him; and ask according to His will – He will hear us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. So, let’s start asking for the conviction to consecrate our lives to God. Let’s start praying for holiness to be the fervent passion of our hearts. Let’s start resisting the devil who lies and deceives and tempts us with unbelief. Indeed, let’s start submitting ourselves to God wholly and completely … knowing that our gracious Father knows how to give good gifts to those who ask Him. Amen!
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” ~ Luke 11:10-13
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…
Our Verse of the Day from the Book of Colossians is just a portion of an overall prayer that Paul offered up for the believers at that local church. I was blessed a few years ago to hear Dr. Charles Stanley preach on this prayer; and it has been one of my favorite passages to organize my thoughts for intercessory prayer ever since. Why I love this “model” prayer is its intent to align us with the will of God no matter what a person is going through. There is nothing contained in this prayer that is contrary to the will of God. As the Apostle John reminds us: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (Cf. 1 John 5:14) So I believe God will always hear this prayer and it will be granted. Let’s take a closer look:
Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
There is so much here to consider, but let me hit the high points for you:
The primary focus of the prayer is for the person “to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Excellent request!
Why do we ask for someone to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? So that they “may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.” Perfect!
How will living worthy and pleasing God be manifested?
Bearing fruit in every good work;
Growing in the knowledge of God;
Being strengthened with all power;
Having great endurance and patience;
Giving of joyful thanks
When you break it down, is there a better construct of intercessory prayer for us to utilize? Regardless of the issue, hardship, struggle, burden, suffering, or trial of faith; you can be sure that praying for your loved one, friend, neighbor, or even a stranger, will be impacted if they are “filled with the knowledge of God’s will.” And because God is Spirit, He communicates His will through the Holy Spirit – who is given to indwell us for this purpose. Paul shares a similar prayer for those in the church at Ephesus:
Ephesians 1:15-21 (NIV)
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 God exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
There are additional Scriptures to confirm what Paul is praying here:
Isaiah 11:1-3 (NIV)
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Daniel 5:11 (NKJV)
I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
Luke 2:40 (NKJV)
And the Child (Jesus) grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Knowing the will of God in any situation we find ourselves affords us greater ability to respond to it as He intends. And being filled with the knowledge of God’s will through His Spirit leads us to walking and operating in His Spirit more consistently … exercising our gifts, services, and works as He determines. All the more reason for us to pray these prayers for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. It is essential for the spiritual well-being of those we love and care about; and it is vital for the effective functioning of the Church … the Body of Christ:
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines (wills).
So, Lord, I pray that you would fill each of us with the knowledge of your will … through all spiritual wisdom and understanding … so that we may live worthy of you … pleasing you … bearing fruit in every good work … through the exercise of those gifts and talents you have given us in the Spirit according to your will. May we joyfully give thanks for all that you have done and continue doing to bring us into fellowship with you and with one another. In Jesus Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Are you going through a time of indecision … feeling uncertain or unsure? Have you been praying about the matter and pouring your heart out before God in the secret place? Do you feel like your faith is weak? You are not alone. We have all been there; and maybe, some of us are in this experience at the current moment. It was a place that King David found himself at times. And I am glad that he “journaled” his experiences and the meditations of his heart for our encouragement. In our Verse of the Day, we see how David turned to God in times of distress. We sense his confidence in the care and compassion of God. He affords us a glimpse of how God worked in his life and blessed him with inner peace and assurance. And so, David reminds us to seek the face of God; to rest in His omniscient wisdom and judgment; and to wait on His will and purposes to prevail in and through our lives.
Psalm 27 (NIV)
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour (slander) me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. 5 For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sanctuary and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; in His sanctuary I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. 7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
This is a recurrent theme in the writings of David, so I want us to be captured by it and let the concept of “waiting” inspire our faith as well:
Psalm 33:10-22 (NIV)
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. 13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth— 15 He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 37:1-9 (NIV)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who wait on the Lord will inherit the land.
Psalm 130:1-8 (NIV)
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. 8 He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
It really does not matter what is bothering or troubling us. God is fully aware of our situations and circumstances. He truly desires for you and me to seek Him … because we do not have His knowledge or understanding. It is His wisdom and counsel we want to access – because we believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6) I think waiting for the answer and the direction to come from God is what stretches and grows our faith the most. We need to be patient with God just as He is with us. It is about our relationship with Him – first and foremost! It is about our trust in His love, goodness, and justice.
Well, I hope we see that watching in hope and waiting in patience are integral to a life of faith. I believe these are the mechanisms through which faith grows and matures. Indeed, I pray that through the maturation of our faith, we will see His Kingdom come and His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Cf. Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2) Yes, waiting on the Lord will strengthen our hearts; increase our trust in Him; impact our confidence and boldness in service to God; improve the godliness of our decisions; and influence our effectiveness as the Body of Christ to establish the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. Those are my thoughts of my heart this morning….
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Here are a few more passages to assure us that waiting on God is the right decision at any given moment:
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong! Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you. (Proverbs 20:22)
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for Him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength. They will soar on with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
“This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is His name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
I love to think about what the Prophet Jeremiah received and shared … this incredible word from our Sovereign Creator. Yes, the Lord (YAH) is His Name! “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Cf. Romans 1:20) It is this Being … God the Father … who says to us: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” How wonderful is that word? I’m like: “Yes, I would like to know great and unsearchable things.” But then I continued to read the passage and its message of restoration … its confirmation of hope and salvation:
Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NIV)
14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.15 “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; He will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
Well, I realize that God the Father has already fulfilled that great and unsearchable thing. His name is Jesus! Who among us can truly comprehend what God has done? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Cf. John 1:1-3; 14) Do we really understand what this means? Is this not the greatest mystery ever told? Indeed, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. (Cf. Psalm 145:3) And so, I feel like Paul who concluded:
Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His ways past finding out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” (Quoting Isaiah 40:13) 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” (Quoting Job 41:11) 36 For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:8-11 (NKJV)
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what isthe dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Mysteries! Hidden in God since the beginning of creation! Yet, His glory and wisdom has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord! God has made known His passionate love for us! Yes, the unsurpassed love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord IS the great and unsearchable thing He has foretold. God has shown us … He has demonstrated to us … His will and purpose! God said, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Well, God wants you and I to know Him! He wants us to know His great love! So the Father sent us His Son … the Word made flesh:
Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)
1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
If we want to know the Father … we need only to know the Son. Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” (Cf. John 14:6-7) Yes, to know Jesus … to have an intimate relationship with Him … is to have fellowship with the Father as well. He is the promise of the Father … fulfilled as declared through the Prophet Jeremiah. So now anyone can know the unsearchable riches found in Jesus Christ! He is the Lord Our Righteous Savior! He is the restoration of all things! And He is worthy of our reverence and adoration!
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15
We have been talking about being faithful in prayer; and this verse reviews some appropriate parameters of prayer….
First of all, we need to realize that asking God for anything must certainly be aligned with His will. For why would God grant anything that is contrary to His will and desire for us? Think about that for a moment. He allows or permits us to have thoughts and to conduct ourselves against His leading, guidance, and the precepts of His Word. But if we ask Him to do so in prayer, it is not something that He will grant us. No, John tells us that we must ask according to His will and He will hear us….
Therein lies the challenge for us. If we want to know if our prayers will be answered … if we want to have confidence when approaching God in prayer … the key will be to know His will! This means we need to have an understanding of what the will of God might be in order to have confidence that we will receive what we ask. So some thoughts arise here as I mediate on this verse. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we learn that God is to be approached with reverence and to acknowledge His authority over heaven and earth:
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Luke 11:1-4 (NIV)
1 One 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.” 2 Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’”
What is the difference between “your kingdom come” and “your will be done?” Is not His kingdom … His sovereign rule in accordance with His will? I sense that asking for His kingdom to come so that His will is done is the point … the application. The kingdom of God must first come to our hearts in order for our thoughts to be changed so that our behaviors (conduct) will change. We know Jesus as Savior but we know Jesus as Lord also. We must surrender all to Jesus if we are to ever to know His will and to ask according to it. So what John shared is consistent with what Jesus taught…. Paul weighs in on this point as well; explaining that the intercessory prayer of the Spirit is in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
So what would be some examples of approaching God according to His will? Do we have anything explicit in the Word of God to guide us in prayer according to His will? Well, the Bible is filled with the will of God – expressed as His commandments, statutes, ordinances, and precepts. And we know that with the law comes the knowledge of sin (Cf. Romans 3:20) because sin is the transgression of God’s law by definition. (Cf. 1 John 3:4) Paul reasoned that whatever is not of faith is sin. (Cf. Romans 14:23) So when we sin, we are not acting in accordance with the will of God. Thus, God will not answer a prayer that leads to sin; rather, His desire is for our obedience … our holiness.
2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not willing that any should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance.
John 6:29 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”
John 6:40 (NIV)
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NIV)
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the unbelievers, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you His Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:15-16 (NRSV)
15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.
So, I am confident that anyone who prays to be obedient … to repent and believe in His Son … to receive salvation through Jesus will receive answered prayer. I am sure that anyone who prays for sanctification will experience that process in their heart. I am certain that God receives our thanksgiving and praise in prayer. And I believe when you pray to do the right thing, God will hear you. But what about prayers and requests that are improper … even asking in opposition to the will of God? The Apostle James addressed this matter when he wrote:
James 4:1-4 (NASB)
1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You desire (lust) and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
It is probable that if we ask anything according to our own will, God will not be inclined to hear. Unless our personal will conforms to the revealed will of God, John indicates that God will not hear that prayer. Silence is the response … the answer. Indeed, James indicates that prayers focused on ourselves or our worldly passions are in opposition to God and offensive to Him. He compares such prayers to infidelity and unfaithfulness. The Prophet Isaiah makes similar commentary:
Isaiah 59:1-3 (NIV)
1Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separatedyou from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you,so that He will not hear. 3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wickedness.
So what is the application here? Confidence in prayer stems from confidence in faith! Anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6) We cannot be double-minded or waiver when we approach God in prayer. James gives us this admonition: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”(Cf. James 1:5-8) Likewise, James instructed: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
As we can see, doubt or unbelief can be as great a hindrance to prayer as any other sin. So, trusting God at His Word … asking according to His Will … and believing you have what you ask are great steps to take when it comes to prayer. This is what Jesus taught as well: “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Indeed, our prayers will be heard when we position ourselves within these parameters of prayer that God has revealed to us. And I hope this study will encourage you in your prayer time. Be bold and courageous … and believe!
So Now You Know….
Have a Blessed Day!
1 John 5
Faith in the Incarnate Son of God
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~ Romans 12:12
Perhaps our verse is a timely word … as events continue to unfold that bring us ever closer to our day of full redemption … complete salvation. Paul urges us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. I cannot think of any greater advice for believers in these days of disorder and darkness. For what we sense in our spirits is very real; and Paul explains these feelings in some detail … that we might understand and find comfort in the love of God who will work all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose:
Romans 8:18-28 (NIV)
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope. 21 For the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, with those who have been called according to His purpose.
While all three of these exhortations are important to practice, I especially want to encourage all of us to be faithful in prayer. Yes, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to pray for you when you are not sure what to pray or how to pray. For the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans … but God understands what is being said and what is in your heart so that your prayer will be in accordance with His will. And His will is to cause all things to work for our good. What has been meant for evil … God Himself will work for good in your life and mine. Yes, the Lord Jesus will bring us through this present darkness and fulfill His promise. He will come! He will return for us! At the right time … when all hope might seem lost … Jesus will appear and we will meet Him in the air. Those who have died will be resurrected … and those who are alive will be changed.
John 14:1-6 (NIV)
1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”
John 11:21-27 (NIV)
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Luke 21:25-36 (NIV)
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Yes, Jesus told us to ALWAYS be on the watch … and to pray two petitions:
1. That we may be able to escape all that is about to happen
2. That we may be able to stand before the Son of Man
Jesus also taught us to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Cf. Matthew 26:41) And Paul urge believers to: “Devote yourselves to prayer – being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message … so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ….” Yes, we need to be faithful in prayer for those who preach the Gospel … for those who will be persecuted and imprisoned for preaching the truth in love … for those who will be sharing the light of God with others … that each will articulate and proclaim it clearly! And we should be wise in the way we act towards non-believers and make the most of every opportunity we have to share the love of God. Our conversation should always be full of grace and seasoned with salt so that we may know how to answer everyone. (Cf. Colossians 4:2-6)
Indeed, the day is approaching. It is a time for faith to triumph over fear. It is a time for us to be faithful in prayer for the prodigals … for the wayward and the lost. It is a time for harvest … for the Word of God to be preached … for the message of Christ to accomplish faith unto salvation. “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (Cf. 1 Peter 4:17) So let us heed these words of Jesus:
Luke 12:35-40 (NIV)
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when He comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for Him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if He comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
So Now You Know….
Have a Blessed Day!
Living Sacrifices to God
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is yourreasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Serve God with Spiritual Gifts
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let usprophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Behave Like a Christian
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Lord. 20 Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.