God Created Us Dependent on Him

September 22nd, 2016

Philippians 4:19   And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Throughout Scripture, God promises the faithful that He will provide for them. Story after story demonstrates the Father’s amazing ability to satisfy His children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. If our requests seemingly go unanswered, we must carefully evaluate ourselves. Why? Without realizing it, we may be hindering the answer to our prayer.


What does the Word of God say?

Scriptural Promises:

1. Jesus told His disciples not to worry about food or clothing (Matt. 6:25-26).

Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater in quality than food, and the body far above and more excellent than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Since the Father watches over even the birds of the air, we can certainly count on Him to take care of us.


God doesn’t withhold any good thing from those who live righteously (Psa. 84:11).   For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows present grace and favor and future glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.


” When we place our trust fully in the Lord, He provides the very best for us (Psalm 81:10, 16).    I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.   16 God would feed Israel now also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock would I satisfy you.

Biblical Examples:

1. Abraham: The Lord allowed the patriarch and his wife to have a son in their old age.

2. Moses: God used Moses to free His people from Egyptian bondage.



Possible Causes of Unmet Needs

We confuse needs with wants. We should evaluate whether our request is a longing or a necessity. Ask the Father to help you discern between desires and essentials. Remember that He knows what we lack, even before we tell Him Matt. 6:8.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.


We claim Scripture—but out of context. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” This promise doesn’t apply to those who live in rebellion against Him. Sometimes the Lord will postpone answering our prayers until He can deal with an area of sin in our life.


We don’t ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). Do you go to the Lord with your requests? If not, you can’t expect to receive those things from Him. But be sure your motives are pure, because the Father will not reward selfishness (James 4:3).


We fail to do our part. God will not do what you are equipped to accomplish yourself. For example, you should work—unless a disability prevents you from holding a job (2 Thess. 3:7-10).


We neglect to wait on God’s timing. Don’t rush into something or try to pressure the Lord. People miss out on wonderful gifts because they refuse to follow God’s schedule.


We aren’t open to the Lord’s methods. Don’t tell Him how to meet your need. Sometimes God will provide through people you don’t know or in ways you least expect.


We lose focus. When you constantly think about your need, it becomes larger in your mind, and as a result, God seems smaller. Jesus told His followers to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). This means our primary goal should be to honor the Lord.


We don’t trust God. Our Savior promised, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” Mark 11:24, If God has confirmed He’ll meet your need, then you can be confident that He will do it.


Conclusion: If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a heavenly Father who is committed to meeting your needs. But what should you do when it seems God isn’t working on your behalf? Fall on your knees before Him and pray, “Lord, show me where I am going wrong, or give me the patience to wait on You if it’s not yet time.”


Even when the Father seems far away, He never stops working in your life. God will be faithful to meet your needs at just the right time and in His perfect way. He is able to do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”


Eph. 3:20Now to Him Who, in consequence of the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams—


 The Lord delights in giving you His very best. Simply obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

 

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Heart is a Meeting Place

September 8th, 2016

“Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).


The duty of God’s children is to hide His Word in their hearts, and in so doing there must be a right end; their knowledge of it and delight in it is to be directed to practice.


One duty and necessary practice of God’s children is to hide the Word in their hearts. See it confirmed by a Scripture or two: “This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate therein day and night” (Josh. 1:8); “Receive, I pray you, the law from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart” (Job 22:22). Lay up His words as we would do choice things, that they may not be lost; and lay them up as a treasure to be used upon all occasions. In the heart let them not swim in the brain or memory only, but let the affections be moved therewith, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16): be so diligent in the study of the Scripture that it may become familiar with us, by frequent hearing, reading, meditating, conferring about it. As a stranger, let it not stand at the door, but receive it into an inner room; be as familiar as those that dwell with you. God complains of His people “I have written to him [Ephraim] the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). To be strangers to the Word of God, and little conversant in it, is a great evil.


What is it to hide the Word in our hearts? (1) To understand it, to get a competent knowledge of it; we take in things into the soul by the understanding: “When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto your soul” (Prov. 2:10). (2) When it is assented unto by faith. The Word is settled in the heart by faith, otherwise it soon vanishes: “The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it “ (Heb. 4:2). (3) When it is kindly entertained. Christ complained “Ye seek to kill Me, because My Word hath no place in you” (John 8:37). Men are so possessed with lust and prejudice, that there is no room for Christ’s Word. Though it break in upon the heart with evidence and power, yet it is not entertained there but cast out again as an unwelcome guest. (4) When it is deeply rooted. Many men have flashes for a time: their affections may be much aloft, and they may have great elevations of joy, but no sound grace: ”ye rejoiced in his light for a season” (John 5:35). The Word must be settled into a standing affection, if we would have comfort and profit from it. We read of “The engrafted Word” (James 1:21): till there be the root of the matter in us, in vain do we expect fruit.


The reasons why this is one great duty and practice of the saints to hide the Word in their heart are two: first, that we may have it ready for our use. We lay up principles that we may lay them out upon all occasions. When the Word is hidden in the heart, it will be ready to break out in the tongue and practice, and be forthcoming to direct us in every duty and exigency. When persons run to the market for every pennyworth, it doth not become good housekeepers. To be seeking of comforts when we should use them, or to run to a book, is not so blessed as to hide it in the heart. “A good scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven...brings forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Matt. 13:52). He hath not only this year’s growth but the last year’s gathering (for so is the allusion): he hath not only from hand to mouth, but a good stock by him. So should it be with the Christian, which is a very great advantage.


First, it will prevent vain thoughts. Why is evil so ready and present with us? Because our stock of spiritual knowledge is so small. A man that hath a pocket with more brass farthings than pieces of silver, will more readily draw out farthings than shillings; his stock is greater. So vain thoughts will be more ready with us, unless the Word dwell richly in our hearts. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bring forth good things” (Matt. 12:35). The workings of our spirits are as our treasure and stock. The mind works upon what it finds in itself, as a mill grinds whatever is put into it—chaff or corn. Therefore, if we would prevent evil thoughts and musings of vanity all the day long, we must hide the Word in our hearts.


Second, when you are alone and without outward helps, your hearts will furnish you with matters of counsel, or comfort, or reproof: “My reins instruct me in the night season” (Psa. 16:7). When we are alone, and there is a veil of darkness drawn upon the world, and we have not the benefit of a Bible, a minister, or Christian friends, our reins will instruct us; we may draw out of our heart that which will be for our refreshing. A Christian is to be a walking Bible: to have a good stock and treasure in himself.


Third, it will supply us in prayer. Barrenness and leanness of soul is a very great defect, which God’s children often complain of. One great reason is because the Word of God does not dwell plenteously in them. If the heart were often exercised in the Word, the promises would hold up our hearts in prayer, enlarge our affections, and we should be better able to pour out our spirits before Him. “My heart is inditing a good matter” (Psa. 45:1). What follows? “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” When the heart is full, the tongue will be loosed and speak freely. What is the reason we are so dumb and tongue-tied in prayer? Because the heart is so barren. When the spring is dry, there will be little water in the stream. “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” then follows “praying with all supplication” (Eph. 6:17, 18). When we have a good store of the Word it will burst out in prayer.


Fourth, it will be a great help to us in all our affairs. Proverbs 6:21, 22, speaking of the precepts of God, “bind them upon your heart; when you go, it shall lead you; when you sleep, it shall keep you; when you awake it shall talk with you.” Upon all occasions the Word will be ready to cast in seasonable thoughts. When we awake, our first thoughts in the morning will begin with God, to season the heart all the day; and as we are about our business, the Word will hold our hearts in the fear of God; and when we sleep, it will guard us from vain dreams and imaginations. In a wicked man sin engrosses all his thoughts: it employs him all the day, plays in his fancy all the night; it solicits him first in the morning, because he is a stranger to the Word of God. But a man that is a Bible to himself, the Word will ever be upon him, urging him to duty, restraining him from sin, directing him in his ways.


Fifth, it is a great relief against temptations to have the Word ready. The Word is called “The Sword of the Spirit.” In spiritual conflicts there is none like it. Those that ride abroad in time of danger will not be without a sword. We are in danger, and had need handle the Sword of the Spirit. The more ready the Scripture is with us, the greater advantage in our conflicts and temptations. When the Devil came to assault Christ, He had Scripture ready for him, whereby He overcame the tempter. The door is barred upon Satan, and he cannot find such easy entrance, when the Word is hid in our hearts, and made use of pertinently. “I write to you, young men, because ye are strong.” Wherein lies their strength? “And the Word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14). O it is a great advantage when we have the Word not only by us, but in us, engrafted in the heart! When it is present with us, we are more able to resist the attacks of Satan. Either a man forgets the Word or has lost his affections to it, before he can be drawn to sin.


Sixth, it is a great relief in afflictions. Our fainting in trouble come from ignorance or forgetfulness: “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you art rebuked of Him” (Heb. 12:5). If we had a herb growing in our garden that would ease our smart, what, are we the better if we know it not? There is no malady but what has its remedy in the Word. To have a comfort ready is a great relief. Seventh, it makes our conference and conversation with others more gracious. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). When we have a great deal of hidden treasure in the soul it will get out at the tongue, for there is a quick intercourse between the heart and the tongue. The tap runs according to the liquor wherewith the vessel is filled. Come to men of an unsavory spirit, pierce them, broach them, give them occasion again and again for discourse, and you get nothing but frothy communication from them and vain talk. But now a man that has stored his heart with the Word is ever and anon interposing for God. Like a bottle filled with wine, he must have vent. As the Spouse’s lips are said to “drop as honeycombs,” they are ever putting forth savory expressions in their converse with others.


Before I go to the second reason, let me anticipate an objection. Is not this to take from the Spirit and give it to the Word? And that to the Word not as written in God’s book, but as it is in our hearts Will not this be to ascribe all to created grace? I answer (1) Without question, it is the office of the Spirit to bring things to our remembrance, and the great help He gives is by suggesting such passages as may be of most seasonable relief to the soul in temptations, in prayer, and in business (John 14:16). But what is ascribed to the Scriptures and grace is not to the robbing of the Spirit, for the Scripture is of His inditing, and grace is of His working; yea, we still reserve the chief honor to the Holy Spirit, for He not only works grace, but works by grace. He not only indites the Scripture, but operates by it; it is He that quickens prayer, and therefore it is ill trusting to our own understanding and memory, for it is the Spirit that is the great Remembrancer, and impresses upon the mind seasonable thoughts.


(2) I grant further, the children of God are subject to much forgetfulness of the Truth that is impressed upon their hearts; partly through the present cloud and mist which the temptation raises. The Psalmist had truths enough to support him, yet he said, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God, I was foolish and ignorant; I was as a beast before You” (73:17, 22). There is so much dullness upon the children of God that they cannot remember seasonable thoughts; as Hagar had a fountain by her, yet she did not see it till God opened her eyes (Gen. 21). So under temptation all are benighted, and the light that is in the understanding is obscured. And partly through the little sense they have for the present need of the comforts which the Word propounds; few are so wise as to lay up for a bad year. And partly through sloth and negligence, being taken up with other things. It is possible sometimes that we may be guided by the Spirit, and act right merely by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without any interposing and concurrence of our own understandings as John 12:13 compared with verse 16:—“They took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him; and cried, Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord...these things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.” Mark they were guided by the Spirit to do that they knew not for the present.


(3) The Holy Spirit makes use of a sanctified memory, bringing Scripture to our remembrance as we have need. It is made their act, because the Holy Spirit made use of their memories: they “remembered that it was written, The zeal of Your house hath eaten Me up” (John 2:17). They that neglect to search and hide the Word in their hearts, have not such seasonable refreshment; for God works more strongly with the strongest graces; there where there is the greater receptivity, there is the greater influence; those that are ignorant cannot expect such help as those having the Word dwelling richly in them.

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Put on the Whole Armor of God

September 6th, 2016

Christ Himself as the Armor of God. Jerome: From what we read of the Lord our Savior throughout the Scriptures, it is manifestly clear that the whole armor of Christ is the Savior himself. It is he whom we are asked to “put on.” It is one and the same thing to say “Put on the whole armor of God” and “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our belt is truth and our breastplate is righteousness. The Savior is also called both “truth” and “righteousness.” So no one can doubt that he himself is that very belt and breastplate. On this principle he is also to be understood as the “preparation of the gospel of peace.” He himself is the “shield of faith” and the “helmet of salvation.” He is the “sword of the Spirit,” because he is the Word of God, living and efficacious, the utterance of which is stronger than any helmet and sharp on both sides. Epistle to the Ephesians 3.6.11.

Who Must Fight in This Battle? Theodoret: In ordinary battles the generals do not arm women or children or the aged. But our general, Christ the Lord, distributes this royal armory to all alike. He then teaches them the stratagems of the devil. This is what he means by the devil’s wiles. Epistle to the Ephesians 6.11.


6:12a Contending Against Principalities

It Is Not Flesh and Blood That Deceive. Jerome: The battle is not against flesh and blood or ordinary temptations. The scene is the war of flesh against spirit. We are being incited to become entrapped in the works of the flesh. … But this is not merely a physical temptation. It is not merely the inward struggle against flesh and blood as such. Rather Satan has cleverly transformed himself into an angel of light. He is striving to persuade us to regard him as a messenger of goodness. This is how he throws his full might into the struggle. He employs deceptive signs and lying omens. He sets before us every possible ruse of evil. Then, when he has so ensnared us that we trust him, he says to us, “Thus says the Lord.” This is not flesh and blood deceiving us. It is not a typical human temptation. It is the work of principalities and powers, the ruler of darkness and spiritual wickedness. Epistle to the Ephesians 3.6.11.

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Good Shepherd

September 5th, 2016

The Shepherd

He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11).

 

I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect (Hebrews 13:20-21).

 

When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away (I Peter 5:4).

To remove the teaching of the shepherdhood of God from the Bible, would rob the Scriptures of one of the greatest disclosures of the divine disposition, and certainly deprive mankind of one of the choicest expressions of assured care and comfort. Through the medium of this gracious ministry God guarantees the maximum of guidance and guardianship, sympathy and security, that is known in any literature. That form of skepticism which attempts to deny revealed truth cannot suggest a substitute that would in any wise replace this beneficent vocation of the divine shepherdhood, which is so interrelated to saviorhood, priesthood, and kinghood in Christ Jesus. The three descriptions that are given of Christ as being the good, great, and chief Shepherd, declare His sympathy as a substitute (John 10:11), His sufficiency as a Sustainer (Hebrews 13:20), and His supremacy as a sovereign (I Peter 5:4). This threefold vocation of the virtuous Savior, which is represented in His cross, His crook and His crown, includes and incorporates all that can be desired of a true Shepherd, as a purchaser to possess, as a proprietor to provide, and as a promoter to perfect.

Christ possesses qualifications which exemplify His absolute fitness to fulfill the functions required of a trustworthy shepherd. The secret of His suitability to surrender His life in sacrifice for the sheep consists in His virtuous character as the good Shepherd. The strength of His sufficiency to safeguard and sustain is signified by His having gained a victorious triumph over death and the destroyer as the great Shepherd of the sheep. The stateliness of His superiority, by virtue of which he sways the scepter of sovereign supremacy over the flock of God, devolves upon His veracious coronation as chief Shepherd, at the right hand of the majesty on High. These three characteristics supply a complete picture of His credentials. Hereby we perceive His boundless goodness and perfect right of claim, His measureless greatness and permanent rule of control, and His matchless genuineness and pre-eminent royalty of character. How is it possible to write of the wisdom of such a Shepherd and the worth of His work, seeing He is from everlasting to everlasting? Who among us is qualified to frame estimates of His excellencies that are eternal, or to appraise the value of His virtues that are age-abiding? The Gospels give us glimpses of the sweetness of His sympathy, as he wept with the sorrowing; the kindness of His care, as He sought the lost sheep; the tenderness of His touch, as He raised the widow of Nain's son; and the gentleness of His grace, as He stood still in answer to the plea of a blind beggar at Jericho; but how little a portion is known of Him (Job 26:14). This Shepherd is perfect in His pity, loftiest in His love, chiefest in His compassion, sturdiest in His support, firmest in His friendship, and comeliest in His constancy.

When our Lord linked the "I am" title to His claim by saying, "I am the good Shepherd," He was declaring Himself to be the continuous one continually, the constant one constantly, and the abiding one abidingly, the One who always is and always will be. This feature bespeaks His omnipresence. His knowledge of the names of the all stars (Isaiah 40:26), as the Shepherd of the same (Isaiah 40:11, 27), and of all His sheep, which is twice affirmed (John 10:3, 14), constitutes a witness to His complete comprehension and betokens His omniscience. His statement concerning the security of His hand and that of His Father, attests His omnipotence. This threefold cord of His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence overwhelmingly assures guidance, sustenance, and maintenance for His sheep everlastingly. He Himself said, "They shall never perish" (John 10:28).

For a preview of the range and resource of this remarkable Shepherd, we need but revert to the pilgrimage of Israel in the wilderness, and consider the provision made for the journeys, the protection given, and the ultimate possession of the inheritance, with its many resting places. "He made His own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And He led them on safely, that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies" (Psalm 78:52-53). The next psalm states, "So we Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture will give Thee thanks for ever: we will show forth Thy praise to all generations (Psalm 79:13). To this is added, Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock" (Psalm 80:1).

In the great panorama of this pilgrimage of life, with its forty-two encampments listed in the book of Numbers, the Lord expressed Himself to the pilgrims variously in forty-two different environments (Numbers 33). Each encampment was in a different setting, which was of set purpose, and the Lord's dealings under these diverse conditions is very instructive. In like manner, when the Good Shepherd tabernacled among men as recorded in John Gospel, we obtain a fresh view of Him at every turn of the way. Of the forty-two given in the twelve chapters of His public ministry, we shall refer to fourteen of them.

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Spirit of the Law of Life in Christ Jesus

August 17th, 2016

What a rest it would be to many of us if we could exchange burdens with Christ and so utterly and irreversibly transfer to Him all our cares and needs that we would no longer feel responsible for them.

God has given us every spiritual blessing, and this means that all our needs are to be met through union with Him, daily study of the scriptures, and prayer. 

Ephesians 1:2-6

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

What a rest it would be to many of us if we could exchange burdens with Christ and so utterly and irreversibly transfer to Him all our cares and needs that we would no longer feel responsible for them. We would have the assurance that He has undertaken all the care, and that He prays, labors and suffers only for us and our interests. In reality, this is what He invites us to do. Come unto me, He says, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, and then He adds, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me (Matthew 11:28-29). He takes our yoke and we take His, and we find it a thousand times easier to carry one of His burdens than to carry our own. mercy sought you, And to all His fullness brought you, By the precious blood that bought you, Pass it on.

He that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his—Hebrews 4:10

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Faith comes by hearing the word of God

August 16th, 2016

How does Faith come to a person? One way Faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit can come to anyone is through the hearing the Word of God. Rom. 10: 17 "So when Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." I know that nature itself and the things that are made by God are clear evidence that there is a God. Rom. 1: 20. This is revealed to us by the Word of God. Holy men spoke these things as they were directed by the Holy Spirit. This is also a Bible fact, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of the human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 11 Pet. 1: 20-21. This Faith, or gospel, is the power of God unto salvation to all who will receive it. By it and by all the writings, we can be made righteous. Rom. 1: 16-17. Galatians 1: 16-17. Galatians 1: 11-12. Paul says, "For I would have you know brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me was not from man, but I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ."

Then in contrasting the Law and the gospel Paul states, "Therefore the Law was our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by Faith." Gal. 3: 23-29. Further, this hearing the Word of God must be united with Faith. The Bible states this as a fact. "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as the rest; but the word they heard did not profit them because it was not united by Faith in those who had heard." Heb. 4: 2. For faith to be acceptable, it must be expressed. Therefore, Acts 6: 7 states, "A great company of the priests were becoming obedient to the Faith." It is a stated fact that obedience and Faith are united in the Word of God. This is further expressed in many passages such as Rom. 1: 5, Rom. 16: 26,

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Asking, Seeking and Knocking, Finding God’s Provision

August 10th, 2016

Matthew 7:7 — “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

We must get it out of our heads that God is stingy or miserly or tight-fisted with His grace and goodness. He delights in showering us with good things—but we have to present Him with our requests.

God did not design you to be anxious or nervous. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the crowds, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow .…” (Matt. 6:31, 34).

All of us have worried about the basics of life. When we reduce most of our anxieties to their lowest terms, we discover they involve fundamental things: where we live, what food we buy, what clothes to wear, what friends we have, what others think about us. In all these concerns, the issue for believers in Jesus Christ comes down to trust.

Do you believe that you are in charge of your life? Or do you acknowledge that God directs and provides? Your answer has everything to do with your anxiety level.

Have you ever watched a mouse running inside a wheel? The faster he runs, the faster the wheel moves—but he doesn’t make the slightest progress. He does not even have the sense to get off the wheel.

That is what anxiety does to you. You run faster and faster, trying harder and harder to meet demands or prevent disaster—and still you do not have control over your circumstances. So when something does not go quite right, your frustration level continues to mount.

There is a way off the wheel, however. God created you. He knows your deepest needs (Ps. 68:19). He longs for you to end the anxiety cycle and let Him lead (Matt. 11:28). First Peter 5:6, 7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” The word “casting” is related to the Greek verb used in Luke 19:35, when on Palm Sunday the people of Jerusalem threw their garments onto a colt for Jesus to ride. The word describes the same motion: a deliberate action of setting something down and leaving it there.

Jesus wants you to throw your cares on Him and leave them there. You depend on Him for life itself, and you acknowledge this reliant relationship by saying, “Here, Jesus. Take my problems. You have the answers! I trust You to show me what to do and to take care of the consequences.”

THE IMPORTANCE AND EFFICACY OF PRAYER


Matt. 7:7, 8. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that ask receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.

WE need not look for a connection in every part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount; because the account of it which we have in this Gospel is nothing more than an epitome, in which only the principal heads, together with some important sayings, are recorded. But, if we suppose the words of our text to arise from what has just preceded them, the connection may easily be found. The commands, to abstain from all uncharitable judgment, and to be intent rather on searching out and removing our own imperfections, and even when the faults of our neighbor are most glaring, to exercise much prudence and caution in reproving him; these commands, I say, are difficult to be obeyed: and therefore our Lord encourages us by the consideration, that we may obtain by prayer whatever wisdom or strength we may stand in need of. The import of the text, however, will be the same, whether we take it as detached from the preceding context, or as connected with it; and it will naturally lead us to set before you the nature, the importance, and the efficacy of prayer.

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God’s Schedule Fits Your Need

August 4th, 2016

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him.   Psalm 91:15

Phil 4:6-7   Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

We come to God with our specific requests, and we have God's promise that our prayers are not in vain.  Our Father knows what we have need of even before we ask Matthew 6:8 tells us, so when we come to Him, it is to allow Him to work in us to will and do of His good pleasure according to Phil 2:13 “Not in your own strength for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you energizing and creating in you the power and desire, both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” Prayer is a means of discerning God’s will specifically, though we may know it in general from the word of God, we may not know the how nor His schedule.  So prayer helps us to align our thoughts and rest in Him.  In the course of prayer we receive guidance as well as assurance of His providential care so we can trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding.  So we come into unity with Him on particular concerns to assure that we are walking with Him and are not drifting off to doing things our own way, or allowing the world to squeeze us into its own mold. He has promised that when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will, He will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15).

Another reason to pray is that God intends prayer to be the means of obtaining His solutions in a number of situations. We pray in preparation for major decisions (Luke 6:12-13); to overcome demonic barriers (Matthew 17:14-21); and to have His power to remove obstacles that threaten us and disturb our peace.  Psalm 56:8,9 You have seen me tossing and turning through the night.  You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle!  You have recorded everyone in your book.  The very day I call for help, the tide of the battle turns.  My enemies flee! This one thing I know: God is for me! 

God’s schedule isn’t always the same as ours, and we often do not understand why it wasn’t here yesterday.  In prayer we learn to trust Him and wait on Him as He answers according to His wisdom and for our benefit. Isaiah 64:4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.  In these situations, we are to be diligent and persistent in prayer (Matthew 7:7)  “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone?   Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven perfect as He is give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!

(Luke 18:1-8) is the story about the unjust judge and the importune woman whose persistence caused me to fulfill her requests. God tells us in this text that He will answer children speedily, so we must remain in prayer and let God commune with us, so that we are trusting in and yielding to Him.  God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2).  God's wisdom far exceeds our own, He has knowledge about our circumstances and the future that are not known to us and as Romans 8:28 says, We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.
God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2). We will never see the results of answered prayer unless we pray.
Hebrews 5:7  In the days of His flesh Jesus offered up definite, special petitions for that which He not only wanted but needed and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was always able to save Him out from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father.

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Revelation Comes in Prayer - Guidance

August 2nd, 2016

The Promise of an Answer (7–8)


Jesus has just spoken in 7:1–6 of two truths. First, He wants His disciples to practice the absence of condemnation, freedom from a judging spirit that censures others in an air of being superior. Second, at the same time He desires balance. They should keep clear of a gullible spirit that will fall for anything and slide into error. So it is wise to activate the art of discrimination in giving His word to those who will receive it and holding back in cases where people stubbornly view the message with contempt.


The latter category includes people with values similar to dogs and hogs. To cast valuable things of God’s Word before certain people is as doomed to savage rejection as throwing holy things in the path of dogs or tossing pearls to swine. Vicious dogs drool for meat and hogs crave grain; finding that the precious things are not what they want, they only trample what is so valuable as if it is dirt. Incensed at not being given what they like, they may turn from what they reject to rip those who did not please them.


Jesus advises disciples to have a discrimination to deal wisely with those who hold precious truth in vehement disdain. It is a waste of time to keep trying to cater to their appetites; those who give the Word will perceptively turn to those they come to see are open to receive the message.


The assurance of receiving that for which one asks can be relevant to 7:1–6 and to the sermon’s context as a whole. How fitting to ask for God-given help in keeping oneself free from an attitude of judgmental hatefulness. And how suitable to ask for God’s wisdom in discriminating between who is open to the “pearls” and who is fiercely antagonistic. A disciple also could ask for a spirit that reflects any of the beatitudes in Matt. 5:3–12, for help to live as salt and light to attract others to God (5:16), for grace to live out the righteousness at the heart of the law (5:20), etc. Asking would be relevant for having the right attitude as regards anger, the adulterous eye, divorce, almsgiving, fasting, anxiety about daily needs, and such things.


Some deny that “ask” relates to prayer; rather they generalize it into asking other people for what is fitting, just as one should do for others (7:12). But a reference meant particularly for asking in prayer, prayer to God, has the most support. (1) Jesus uses immediate illustrations pointing to prayer—the father’s wish to meet a son’s needs, a good picture of the Father in heaven as Jesus shows (v. 11). God the Father gives good to those who ask Him! (2) Luke 11:9–13 uses the same “ask … seek … knock” motif in an unequivocal prayer emphasis. He opens this scenario with a disciple’s request. “Lord, teach us to pray …” (v. 1), then he gives the prayer Jesus taught His disciples (vv. 2–4), next a parable of a man who finally met a neighbor’s request, an illustration, in part, of the heavenly Father’s giving as in vv. 9–13.


But there is more that shows prayer in Matt. 7. (3) The word “receive” is often used for the beneficiary getting things in prayer (Matt. 21:22; John 16:24); (4) the word “ask” often appears for asking in prayer (Matt. 6:8; John 14:13–14; 15:7; 16:23).


Assuming that the asking is in prayer, the use of three different words for prayer raises a question. Are these three words for saying the same thing, or do the three make different emphases in what prayer is to be? A build-up of vividness lies in the three.


To “ask” is simply to request as in a petition or intercession. To “seek” is reasonably wider than strictly in words of prayer, referring to the entire effort in searching for God’s response to prayer. It can embrace diligent seeking of light that bears on a matter of prayer, poring over God’s Word to ascertain His will. Some refer to this as “Scripture praying.” And the seeking can carry on in urging the specific matter before the Lord in prayer words. To “seek” appears to express a quest in prayer with intensity as well.


To “ask” or “knock” also can be with intensity. In knocking, the person praying is emphatic about wanting to summon God to respond. One can visualize a supplicant waiting at a door, rapping to reach the ear of one inside who will open the door, and show his presence.


The idea of “seek” is used in the Bible for a great number of spiritual quests: to seek the Lord, His strength, seek His face (1 Chr. 1:10, 11); seek His help (2 Chr. 20:4); seek a safe journey from Him (Ezra 8:21); seek the one matter of dwelling in His house to behold His beauty (Ps. 27:4); seek peace (Ps. 34:14); seek refuge under God’s protection (Ps. 91:4); seek His Word (Ps. 119:155); seek justice (Isa. 1:17); seek good (Amos 5:14); seek humility (Zeph. 2:3); seek glory, honor, immortality, eternal life (Rom. 2:7); seek to abound to edify others (1 Cor. 14:12).


Seek is also used when one seeks the things that are Christ’s (Phil. 2:21), the spiritual profit of other believers (Phil. 4:17), the things above (Col. 3:1), a heavenly country (Heb. 11:14) or the heavenly city (13:14).


In all of these, prayer could have a vital, permeating role.


The encouragement Jesus gives to prayer is in three stages also. To ask is to receive; to seek is to find; to knock is to have a door opened. Receiving stresses gaining a gift; finding focuses on a discovery, as coming upon a bonanza of gold; having a door opened looks at a welcome, or hospitality as when a host extends cordiality to a guest. This word “knock” (krouo) in the New Testament always is used for knocking on a door or gate to summon a person. It appears for believers knocking in prayer before God, God being the host who opens the door into His presence (Matt. 7:7, 8; Lk. 11:9, 10); unbelievers trying to overcome their former rejection by knocking, but too late, to gain admission into Christ’s kingdom (Lk. 13:25); Christ knocking at the door of believers’ lives when he returns and finds them alertly waiting (Lk. 12:36); Peter knocking to let praying believers know God had set him free from prison (Acts 12:13, 16); and Christ knocking at the heart door of professing believers, giving them opportunity of having fellowship with Him (Rev. 3:20).


Even if the last two words can at times express prayer more widely or intensely than “ask,” in subsequent verses the one word “ask” can represent all three (Matt. 7:9–11; so Lk. 11:11–13), as in Matt. 6:8 and 21:22.


G. Bertram limits the knocking in Matt. 7 to coming for salvation (Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words, ed. G. Kittel, III, 955). The context gives some credence to this, speaking later of the “gate” into salvation (Matt. 7:13–14) and entering the kingdom (7:21). Still, illustrations close by show a wider meaning——loaf and fish as a father’s gifts to meet temporal needs; God giving what is good, even the Spirit (Lk. 11:13). In Matthew’s context, the idea is as broad as 6:31–32 where “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” things that can stir anxiety, such as what a person will eat, drink or wear (vv. 25, 31). Matthew also presents Jesus’ words on prayer entailing a wider sweep than just salvation (6:6–7, 9–15; 9:38; 21:22; 26:41).


The present tenses in “Ask … seek … knock” express a continual need. And while they show that the prayer is to be continuing, the encouragement for expecting an answer is the Father’s goodness beyond all human fathers. Matt. 7 and Luke 11 both emphasize this inducement to pray.


 

The Pictures of an Answer (7:9–10)


These are a human father giving what his son asks—the good and not some substitute that turns the scene bitter. The examples show this: giving a loaf that is requested, not a stone, and giving a fish, not a snake. In both, the gifts are good and they bless, in contrast to the bad that disappoints. A stone would cause pain and anguish due to dismay and its danger if a child bit into it. A snake would bring fear, not fulfillment, and distrust that recoils due to the father’s cruel trick.


 

The Point in the Answer (7:11)


Jesus teaches a lesson by the analogy. Usual human fathers show favor (what is good), not fault. The heavenly Father answers prayer with a display of His favor (“what is good to those who ask Him”), not what is frustrating. The point is to encourage people to pray expecting good. This is based on God being much more aroused to offer what is good than human fathers are.


Principles of prayer are numerous here. First, God wants to answer prayer with a gift, a discovery, and even His hospitality out of His own home. Second, pray continually and expecting God to give what is good. Third, God gives the promise to “everyone” (v. 8) , apparently everyone who has the genuine righteousness the sermon emphasizes (5:20), a true child of God (v. 11).


Fourth, prayer receiving such encouragement from what God is like can relate to matters in verses leading into these prayer verses. But it also can touch any need the sermon, or life, can suggest (cf. Matt. 21:22, “all things you ask … believing, you shall receive”). This is in the spirit of passages explaining that the asking be in accord with God’s will (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14–15). Fifth, God is always the host and provider. Thanksgiving is due Him who wants to make certain that the askers receive, the seekers find, the knockers experience His cordial welcome at an opened door.


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Peter walking on the water

July 29th, 2016

The apostle Peter answers this inquiry in 2 Peter 1:2-11. He introduces his remarks by reminding us of the wonderful blessings that are ours if we do share the divine nature. By having this nature we now receive such blessings as "Grace," "Peace," and "all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:2-3). In short, we receive "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" as our present reward (Ephesians 1:3). Not only this, "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) await us in the future, none greater than that of "eternal life" for which we hope (Titus 1:2). Certainly, then, we should desire to be partakers of the divine nature.

The "divine nature" is simply God-likeness. In one sense all men, even the worst of sinners, are like God. "God created man in his own image." (Genesis 1:27) We bear His image in that He is the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9), which, like Him, are immortal (not subject to death), invisible, rational (capable of reason), and moral (capable of discerning between right and wrong). In this sense, the divine nature is unconditionally possessed by all of Adam's descendants, regardless of race or sex.

But the "divine nature" of our study is conditional. It consists of "the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Ephesians 4:24, NASB). "Righteousness" is the state of being right under law, not guilty. "Holiness of truth" is separation from sin and consecration to God's service. Our character becomes like the very moral nature of God, that we might be fit to dwell with Him throughout eternity.

The Two Processes

How do we obtain this God-like character? Peter mentions two great processes. First, we must escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4)

"Corruption," i.e., "decay," is the consequence of "the world." The term "world" here refers to sin and its allurements (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). We are led into this corruption through lust, i.e., evil desires. Thus, we are to escape the consequence of sin, which is eternal decay or ruin.

How do we make our escape? Two terms are used in 2 Peter 1:2-3 to indicate the means of our deliverance. They are "knowledge" (used twice) and "power." The two words are here interchangeable. Without a knowledge of the first principles of God's will one cannot be saved (John 6:44-45), for the Gospel is "the power of God to salvation." (Romans 1:16) Thus, we escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust" by faith in and obedience to the Gospel (Galatians 3:26-27). This one great process includes five simple steps into Christ: hearing the Gospel, believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, repenting of one's sins, confessing one's faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and being baptized in water for the remission of sins. The result is righteousness and true holiness as the consequence of the forgiveness of sins.

Obtaining God-like character does not end here, though. We must still develop righteousness and holiness by "giving all diligence," i.e., making every effort, to add the seven qualities of character listed in 2 Peter l:5-7. Thus, the second process in acquiring the divine nature is composed of seven steps.

The Seven Steps

Actually, eight qualities are mentioned in 2 Peter 1:5-7, but one, faith, is assumed on the part of the Christian as already a part of his life, for ".... without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

But to our faith we must be add "virtue," i.e., moral excellence. The young man Joseph wonderfully demonstrated virtue when he refused to commit fornication with his master's wife and so "sin against God," even though his refusal caused him to be thrown into prison. (Genesis 39:7-10). Virtue is the courage to do right regardless of the pressure or temptation to sin. How desperately people in our day need this commendable quality, in order that they might not succumb to the immoral enticements in which our society wallows.

Alongside virtue, we must place "knowledge," i.e., having the facts of God's Word. Knowing what the Bible teaches comes only through diligent study. We should desire Bible study "as newborn babes" desire milk (1 Peter 2:2). Use every opportunity you have to learn more about the Word of God.

To knowledge we must add "self-control." This is the quality Paul demanded in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. As the athlete in training strictly disciplines himself to receive the proper diet, exercise, and rest and to have the proper attitude, the Christian must carefully discipline his thoughts, desires, words, and actions to keep them pleasing unto God. One who fails to control himself will soon "become disqualified."

Further, we must add "perseverance," i.e., steadfastness in adversity. We must not give up, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Job is held aloft as an example of this quality (James 5:11), because he maintained his integrity even though Satan buffeted him with horrible calamities (Job 1:20-22; 2:3,10). The life of a Christian is more like the marathon than the one hundred meter dash. One must endure all adversity and temptation, even to the end, not just offer a short-lived burst of clean living.

We must also possess "godliness," the attitude which seeks to please God, not ourselves. The boy Samuel when, by Eli' s instruction and as God called him, replied, "Speak, for Your servant hears." (1 Samuel 3:10) This is godliness. It should be our attitude toward God and His word. If we have godliness, it doesn't matter to us what we think or desire or what any man says. All we want to know is, What does the Bible say?

To godliness the Christian must add "brotherly kindness." This is the love that Christians cherish for each other as brothers. The practical fruit will be kindness and tenderness toward one another and a willingness to forgive our brother's trespasses against us (Ephesians 4:32). How far such a trait of character goes to promote the blessing of peace!

Finally, "love," i.e., active good will, must be a quality of our lives. We must show love for God by sincere and complete obedience to His every command (1 John 5:3). We must demonstrate love toward other people by seeking their good in all we do (1 John 3:17-18).

Conclusion

The one who has "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" and has given "all diligence" to add these noble traits to his own character is a partaker of the divine nature. He is a fruit-bearing disciple, pleasing to his Master (2 Peter 1:8). But, the child of God who fails to add these good qualities to his life is short-sighted, not looking to the eternal goal, and has forgotten the purpose of his calling (2 Peter 1:9).

"Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:10-11

3For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that are requisite and suited to life and godliness, through the full, personal knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

    4By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape by flight from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

    5For this very reason, adding your diligence to the divine promises, employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in exercising virtue develop knowledge (intelligence),

    6And in exercising knowledge develop self-control, and in exercising self-control develop steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in exercising steadfastness develop godliness (piety),

    7And in exercising godliness develop brotherly affection, and in exercising brotherly affection develop Christian love.

    8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful unto the full personal knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

    9For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, spiritually shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins.

 

 

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