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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Father Know What You Need

July 21st, 2016

Matthew 6:11   Give us this day our daily bread 9 Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In addition, this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: we are sure that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 1 John 5:13-15

Jesus tells us in John 15 how to have perfect security and all our needs met, HE SAYS: "I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. 4 Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you.  Live in Me, and I will live in you.  Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me  cut off from vital union with Me  you can do nothing. 6If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a  broken-off  branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. 7If you live in Me  abide vitally united to Me  and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 11I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure, complete, and overflowing. 16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you  I have planted you , that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting  that it may remain, abide , so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name  as presenting all that I AM , He may give it to you. 26 when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He  Himself  will testify regarding Me.

Even as the Father Has Loved Me, I Also Have Loved you-John 15.9

Here Christ leaves the language of parable, and speaks plainly out of the Father. Much as the parable could teach, it could not teach the lesson of love. All that the vine does for the branch, it does under the compulsion of a law of nature: there is no personal living love to the branch. We are in danger of looking to Christ as a Savior and a supplier of every need, appointed by God, accepted and trusted by us, without any sense of the intensity of personal affection in which Christ embraces us, and our life alone can find its true happiness. Christ seeks to point us to this.

And how does He do so? He leads us once again to Himself, to show us how identical His own life is with ours. Even as the Father loved Him, He loves us. His life as vine dependent on the Father was a life in the Father's love; that love was His strength and His joy; in the power of that divine love resting on Him He lived and died. If we are to live like Him, as branches to be truly like our Vine, we must share in this too. Our life must have its breath and being in a heavenly love as much as His. What the Father's love was to Him, His love will be to us. If that love made Him the true Vine, His love can make us true branches. "Even as the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."

Even as the Father hath loved Me-And how did the Father love Him? The infinite desire and delight of God to communicate to the Son all He had Himself, to take the Son into the most complete equality with Himself, to live in the Son and have the Son live in Him-this was the love of God to Christ. It is a mystery of glory of which we can form no conception, we can only bow and worship as we try to think of it. And with such a love, with this very same love, Christ longs in an infinite desire and delight to communicate to us all He is and has, to make us partakers of His own nature and blessedness, to live in us and have us live in Himself.

 

And now, if Christ loves us with such an intense, such an infinite divine love, what is it that hinders it from triumphing over every obstacle and getting full possession of us? The answer is simple. Even as the love of the Father to Christ, so His love to us is a divine mystery, too high for us to comprehend or attain to by any effort of our own. It is only the Holy Spirit who can shed abroad and reveal in its all-conquering power without intermission this wonderful love of God in Christ. It is the vine itself that must give the branch its growth and fruit by sending up its sap. It is Christ Himself WHO must by His Holy Spirit dwell in the heart; then shall we know and have in us the love that passes knowledge.

As the Father loved Me, so have I loved you-Shall we not draw near to the personal living Christ, and trust Him, and yield all to Him, that He may love this love into us? Just as he knew and rejoiced every hour-the Father loveS Me-we too may live in the unceasing consciousness-as the Father loved Him, so He loves me.

As the Father loved Me, so have I loved you. to apprehend how exactly the life of the Vine is to be that of the branch CONSIDER THAT JESUS IS the Vine, because the Father loved HIM, and poured His love through HIM TO YOU, And so YOU love me, and YOUR life as A branch is to be like JESUS, a receiving and a giving out of heavenly love.

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PREVAILING PRAYER

July 20th, 2016

PREVAILING PRAYER   I Appointed You That Ye Should Go and Bear Fruit, and That Your Fruit Should Abide: That Whatsoever Ye Shall Ask of the Father in My Name, He May Give It You—John 15:16

IN the first verse of our parable, Christ revealed Himself as the true Vine, and the Father as the Husbandman, and asked for Himself and the Father a place in the heart. Here, in the closing verse, He sums up all His teaching concerning Himself and the Father in the twofold purpose for which He had chosen them. With reference to Himself, the Vine, the purpose was, that they should bear fruit. With reference to the Father, it was, that whatsoever they should ask in His name, should be done of the Father in Heaven. As fruit is the great proof of the true relation to Christ, so prayer is of our relation to the Father. A fruitful abiding in the Son, and prevailing prayer to the Father, are the two great factors in the true Christian life.

That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These are the closing words of the parable of the Vine. The whole mystery of the Vine and its branches leads up to the other mystery—that whatsoever we ask in His name the Father gives! See here the reason of the lack of prayer, and of the lack of power in prayer. It is because we so little live the true branch life, because we so little lose ourselves in the Vine, abiding in Him entirely, that we feel so little constrained to much prayer, so little confident that we shall be heard, and so do not know how to use His name as the key to God's storehouse. The Vine planted on earth has reached up into Heaven; it is only the soul wholly and intensely abiding in it, can reach into Heaven with power to prevail much. Our faith in the teaching and the truth of the parable, in the truth and the life of the Vine, must prove itself by power in prayer. The life of abiding and obedience, of love and joy, of cleansing and fruit-bearing, will surely lead to the power of prevailing prayer.

Whatsoever ye shall ask. The promise was given to disciples who were ready to give themselves, in the likeness of the true Vine, for their fellow men. This promise was all their provision for their work; they took it literally, they believed it, they used it, and they found it true. Let us give ourselves, as branches of the true Vine, and in His likeness, to the work of saving men, of bringing forth fruit to the glory of God, and we shall find a new urgency and power to pray and to claim the "whatsoever ye ask." We shall waken to our wonderful responsibility of having in such a promise the keys to the King's storehouses given us, and we shall not rest till we have received bread and blessing for the perishing.

"I chose you, that ye may bring forth fruit, and that your fruit may abide; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you." Beloved disciple, seek above everything to be a man of prayer. Here is the highest exercise of your privilege as a branch of the Vine; here is the full proof of your being renewed in the image of God and His Son; here is your power to show how you, like Christ, live not for yourself, but for others; here you enter Heaven to receive gifts for men; here your abiding in Christ has led to His abiding in you, to use you as the channel and instrument of His grace. The power to bear fruit for men has been crowned by power to prevail with God.

"I am the vine, my Father is the Husbandman." Christ's work in you is to bring you so to the Father that His Word may be fulfilled in you: "At that day ye shall ask in my name; and I say not that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you." The power of direct access to the Father for men, the liberty of intercession claiming and receiving blessing for them in faith, is the highest exercise of our union with Christ. Let all who would truly and fully be branches give themselves to the work of intercession. It is the one great work of Christ the Vine in Heaven, the source of power for all His work. Make it your one great work as branch: it will be the power of all your work.

In My name. Yes, Lord, in Thy name, the new name Thou hast given Thyself here, the true Vine. As a branch, abiding in Thee in entire devotion, in full dependence, in perfect conformity, in abiding fruitfulness, I come to the Father, in Thee, and He will give what I ask. Oh, let my life be one of unceasing and prevailing intercession! Amen!

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If God;s Word Abides in You Ask and You Will Receive

July 18th, 2016

Jesus said: I Am the True Vine


John 15I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

 5 I am the vine; you are the branches.

Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

John 15: 1-8I Am the Vine

The true vine and the Branch

 

Jesus now introduces the last ‘I am’ saying: ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15: 1).

The vine, from which wine comes, reminds us immediately of the institution of the Holy Communion in bread and wine in the other gospels, but absent here. This may be a hint for those who are ‘in the know’ to look beyond the words to the deeper spiritual level, as Jesus prepares His disciples for His death.

He gives them another ‘figure’, or mashal, like the door and the shepherd (John 10: 1-6). In the other ‘I am’ sayings, Jesus applied the great Hebrew images of bread, light, shepherds and so forth, usually used for the law, to himself. Here he takes the vine — the supreme image, not just of the law or faith, but the very people of God themselves. Israel was a ‘vine brought out of Egypt’ and planted by God (Psa. 80: 8) . Regrettably, most references suggest a lack of fruitfulness. Isaiah speaks of a ‘vineyard on a very fertile hill … which only yielded wild grapes’ (Isa. 5: 1-4; see also Jer. 2:21). None the less, the vine was an emblem on the coins of the Maccabean leaders, which recalls the good and bad shepherds (see on John 10:22).

In contrast, Jesus is the ‘true vine’. The Eucharistic discourse after the miraculous feeding said that His flesh is ‘true food’ and His blood ‘true drink’ (John 6:55). He has been called the ‘true light’ and the ‘true bread from heaven’ (John 1: 9; John 6:32), other key Jewish images. Now, as the ‘true vine’, he is nothing less than the ‘real’ Israel. God His Father is the vine grower, (Greek: georgos), the farmer who planted the vine. Again, Jesus is dependent on His Father: as the one who sends precedes the one who is sent, so the vine grower precedes the vine. And it is the farmer, ‘George’, who prunes the barren branches from the vine (John 15: 2). He ‘cleans out’ the small shoots budding with growth and using up precious nutrients, but not producing fruit. To have something ‘nipped in the bud’ can be painful, but it is the only way to promote healthy growth. The verb used for ‘pruning’, (Greek:  kathairo), means to ‘clean out’; so Jesus remarks that the disciples need not fear since they have been ‘made clean’, katharos, by His word (John 15: 3). This refers back to the foot washing when they were all made ‘clean’, katharos, except for Judas, who, like a dead branch, has fallen away (John 13:10).

Abide in me

B

ranches can only survive as an intimate part of the vine. So Jesus tells them, ‘abide in me as I abide in you’ (John 15: 4). The word ‘abide,’ (Greek: meno), links us to the ‘abodes’ in the Father’s house and the way the Father and the Son dwell in each other and make their home in believers (John 14: 2, 10, 23). Now this word occurs ten times in these few verses. The lesson is applied both negatively, that branches cannot bear fruit by themselves (John 15: 4) and positively, that branches remaining on the vine bear ‘much fruit’ (John 15: 5). When branches are pruned from a fruit tree, they can remain lodged in the tree, looking as healthy as the others; but as time goes by they turn brown, fall out and are fit only for the bonfire (John 15: 6). Christians who have severed their connection with Christ may remain caught up in the church, but eventually they fall away, fruitless. To keep our life rooted in Christ’s, we must protect time for prayer and worship. If we do this, we will so abide in Jesus that we will only pray that which is His will (John 15: 7; see John 14:13-14). When such prayers from our abiding in Christ are answered, they produce not just fruit, but also glorify God the Father (John 15: 8; see John 13:31-32; John 14:13).

Prayer

You are the vine and we are the branches; keep us abiding in you and prune us clean that we might bear much fruit to your glory.

 

PSALM 3:1-8

1LORD, HOW they are increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.   2Many are saying of me, There is no help for him in God. Selah

 

3But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

4 With my voice I cry to the Lord, and He hears and answers me out of His holy hill. Selah  5I lay down and slept; I wakened again, for the Lord sustains me.     6I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.     7Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.    8Salvation belongs to the Lord; May Your blessing be upon Your people. Selah

 

~ PRAYER ~

 

Father, I know that You are faithful. You do not leave me at the mercy of others. You are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head. You never fail to answer me when I call out to You. You are with me at all times and in every circumstance. You sustain me through the night hours, and I awake refreshed and ready to meet a new day. I have no fear, Father, for You are always with me. I am not afraid no matter how many people rise against me. No matter how strong they are, they are no match for You. You break their teeth and take them out of the equation. Their weapons are useless against me because You are the God of my salvation. Blessings are upon me and curses cannot cling to me, for You have commanded that I be blessed! 

 

DECLARATION OF FAITH

When many rise against me to trouble me, saying, “There is no help for him/her in God,” I will not throw down my faith. My heavenly Father is faithful. He is my shield against all trouble and persecution. He lifts my head in honor and covers me with His glory as a testimony to all of my enemies. I stretch myself out to sleep in perfect peace, free of all anxiety. When my rest is complete, I awake again and find the Lord at my side, keeping guard over my life. He is an ever-present sentinel who never fails to protect me from the attacks of my enemies. I will not fear events of thousands drawn up against me, for I am never alone. The Lord of Hosts is my companion and ally. He strikes my enemies down in a fierce display of His power. His mighty fist shatters their teeth. So let the enemy bark all he wants. His bite is nothing to me.

(Leviticus 26:6,13; Psalm 4:8;9:13; 23:4; 27:3,6; 121; 127:2; Hebrews 10:35;

Romans 1:16; 8:30-37;2 Timothy 3:12; Exodus 23:20-30; 1 John 4:1-4)

DEUTERONOMY 8:11-18

Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

DECLARATION OF FAITH

I am careful to keep my Father in my mind at all times. I am resolved to be God-inside minded. When I build magnificent dwellings to live in, I remember Him. As my silver and gold multiplies, I recognize Him. As all that I have increases, I give Him credit. As I dwell in the realm of abundance that He has provided for me, I praise Him.

I always take notice of my Provider and recognize that it is He who has brought me out of bondage. He has led me through the wilderness, trampling down the fiery serpents and scorpions along the way. He has brought me water from the rock and fed me with the manna of heaven. All that He does for me, or to me, is for good. He is good to His children. He is good to me.

I know that it is not my own power that has brought me into the land of abundance. It is God who has given me power and supernatural ability to create wealth in order that He may establish His covenant with me. I am a wealth creator. Day and night I am given unfailing ideas for the production of wealth in my life.

God expects me to take part in His gracious provision. He wants me to have material things. It is the way I’m supposed to live.

 

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PREVAILING PRAYER

July 9th, 2016

Faith is giving substance to things hoped for.”  Hebrews 11:1

Faith is grasping the unrealities of hope and bringing them into the realm of reality. 

Faith grows out of the Word of God. 

It is the warranty deed that the thing for which you have fondly hoped is at last yours.

It is the “evidence of things not seen.”

 

You hope for finances for the needs of your life, faith gives assurance that you will have the money when you need it.

 

The greatest need of Christian life is to know God and His resources. The Bible is a revelation of the all-sufficiency for every need in our life.  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.”

 

Christians are defeated in their finances because they believe and confess the circumstances instead of God’s Word.  That is speaking the words and arrangements of the enemy, and that will hold you in bondage.  If you confess your circumstances, and your fears, that is what you will have, as you are not connecting with the power to change them, which is God’s word.  There is a negative force connecting you to the curse when you say the negative circumstances in your life.  If you believe the circumstances which are contrary to God’s word, and you confess and pray them, you keep yourself focused on the negative force and system that is destroying you.  Satan is the god of this world, and when you rehearse what is happening instead of God’s word, you will have lack, sickness and disease broken relationships, etc.  When you look at the circumstances, your begin to have faith that negative things are happening, that you don’t have enough money, that certain disaster is inevitable.  However, if you look into God’s word and you meditate on it, you begin to believe that God will supply all your needs.

 

 

 

When you focus on lack or sickness and disease, or anything negative in your life, your thoughts and emotions begin to speculate, and you move into the grip of that negative cycle.  If you keep dwelling on it, you will be held in bondage to it.  However, you can focus on God’s word, and if you keep that in your mind you will move into the life cycle, where all your needs are met.  If you look at lack, you will talk lack, if you talk lack to people, you will feel more and more defeated.  If you feel defeated, you will begin to fear, if you fear, you will become irrational and act on the circumstances instead of doing anything about them.  You will see lack in everything around you, and when you hear the news on T.V. or read it in the newspaper; you will associate that with your circumstances and feel more defeated and helpless. You will then become more alarmed, and focus more on lack and affirm to your friends that you have lack and get yourself in bondage. With each step you become more and more defeated, and spiral down and lock yourself into lack.  When you talk lack, and listen to everything about lack as you are in fear and identify with lack, etc. you are being swept along in the current of defeat.  You set off a chain of events though your thoughts and words which lock you into lack, or sickness, or whatever is your circumstance.  However, if you keep in the Word of God, and focus on what God says, and the power of God and His love for you, and that Jesus is your shepherd, then you can say with Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not lack.  When you turn your attention to the Good Shepherd you begin to see that you have what you need because you have a good shepherd.  If He is your good shepherd, and having Him means no lack, you will attract prosperity through prayer and more Bible study.  The Holy Spirit will speak to your spirit, and you will develop confidence in Him.  As you put your trust in God, His power steers you to prosperity, or whatever else you needs. You will have faith in whatever you focus on, and what you focus on affects how you think, when you think negative, you attract everything that takes you down that path.  Therefore, you must have the scriptures before you, and just read through them, and read through them, meditate on them and pray the scriptures, not the problem.  God knows your situation, so you do not need to pray the problem but the solution.  You can begin by just reading the scriptures and that will create a vibration between you and God, and He will lead you step-by-step.  It is good to have resources, like prayer cards, as they are designed to move you to faith. 

 

When God begins to move in your life, He speaks to your spirit.  Your mind can be very busy churning over the circumstances, as sense data is being fed into it by the circumstances.  You will have a hard time believing the circumstances and the voice of God at the same time.  Therefore, you will have to make a decision on what and Who you will believe, and begin to move in that direction.  If you do not adhere to the voice of God, if you do not move your thoughts to get in line with His voice, you will be wavering. James 1:6-8  It must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.

 

    7For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything he asks for from the Lord, for being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), he is unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything he thinks, feels, decides.”

 

You can ask in faith, when you know God’s word.  This is why it is good to look to the scriptures and personalize them as your confession over your circumstances.  Step-by-step you will become firm in your faith.  Begin to make a list from the scriptures as to why your prayer should be answered, like God loves me, He has made full provision for my every need, He has paid the price for all my sin and will with Christ freely give me all things.  When you have these thoughts which are faith connections with God’s will and power, you will walk out of defeat and problems and see God’s miraculous power manifest where lack, sickness and disease or any other malady existed.

 

God is always in control, even when there is a sudden crisis.  Matthew 6:8 “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  God knows in advance everything that would happen, and He is prepared to take care of you and fulfill His promises.  He is ready to provide for everyday of your life. 

 

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Confidence In Him Pray with Scripture

July 7th, 2016

'He has said unto me, My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore will I glory in my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Cor. 12:9, 10

 

 There is almost no word that is so imperfectly understood in the Christian life as the word weakness. Sin and shortcoming, sluggishness and disobedience, are set to the account of our weakness. With this appeal to weakness, the true feeling of guilt and the sincere endeavour after progress are impossible. How, pray, can I be guilty, when I do not do what it is not in my power to do?  The Father cannot demand of His child what He can certainly do independently. That, indeed, was done by the law under the Old Covenant; but that the Father, under the New Covenant, does not do. He requires of us nothing more than what He has prepared for us power to do in His Holy Spirit. The new life is a life in the power of Christ through the Spirit.

 

The error of this mode of thinking is that people estimate their weakness, not too highly, but too meanly. They would still do something by the exercise of all their powers, and with the help of God. They know not that they must be nothing before God. (Romans 4:4, 5; Romans 11:6; 1 Cor. 1:27, 28) You think that you have still a little strength, and that the Father must help you by adding something of His own power to your feeble energy. This thought is wrong. Your weakness appears in the fact that you can do nothing. It is better to speak of utter inability -- that is what the Scriptures understand by the word 'weakness.'  'Apart from me ye can do nothing.'  'In us is no power.' (2 Chron. 16:9; 2 Chron. 20:12; John 5:19; John 15:5; 2 Cor. 1:9)

 

Whenever the young Christian acknowledges and assents to this his weakness, then he learns to understand the secret of the power of Jesus. He then sees that he is not to wait and pray to become stronger, to feel stronger. No: in his inability, he is to have the power of Jesus. By faith he is to receive it; he is to reckon that it is for him, and that Jesus Himself will work in and by him. (John 15:5; 1 Cor 1:24; 1 Cor 15:10; Ephes. 1:18, 19; Col. 1:11) It then becomes clear to him what the Lord means when He says, 'My power is made perfect in your weakness.'  He knows to return the answer, 'When I am weak, then am I -- yea, then am I -- strong.'  Yea, the weaker I am, the stronger I become. And he learns to sing with Paul, 'I shall glory in my weaknesses.'  'I take pleasure in weaknesses.'  'We rejoice when we are weak.' (2 Cor. 11:30; 2 Cor. 12:9, 11; 2 Cor. 13:4, 9)

 

It is wonderful how glorious that life of faith becomes for him who is content to have nothing, or feel nothing, in himself, and always to live on the power of his Lord. He learns to understand what a joyful thing it is to know God as his strength. 'The Lord is my strength and song.' (Psalm 89:18; Psalm 118:14; Jeremiah 12:2) He lives in what the Psalms so often express: 'I love Thee, O Lord, my strength;'  'I will sing of Thy strength: unto Thee, O my strength, will I sing praises.' (Psalm 18:2; Psalm 28:7, 8; Psalm 31:5; Psalm 43:2; Psalm 46:2; Psalm 59:16, 17; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 81:2) He understands what is meant when a psalm says, 'Give strength to the Lord: the Lord will give strength to His people;' and when another says, 'Give strength to God: the God of Israel, He giveth strength and power to His people.' (Psalm 29:1, 11; Psalm 68:34, 35) When we give or ascribe all the power to God, then He gives it to us again.

 

"I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the Evil One."  The Christian is strong in his Lord: (Psalm 71:16; 1 John 2:14) not sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but always weak, and therefore always strong. He has merely to know and use his strength trustfully. To be strong is a command, a behest that must be obeyed. On obedience there comes more strength. 'Be strong ... and He shall strengthen thine heart.'  In faith the Christian must simply obey the command, 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.' (Psalm 27:14; Psalm 31:24; Isaiah 40:31; Ephes. 6:10)


 The God of the Lord Jesus, the Father of glory give unto us the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, that we may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe. Amen.


So long as the Christian thinks of the service of God or of sanctification as something that is hard and difficult, he will make no progress in it. He must see that this very thing is for him impossible. Then he will cease still endeavoring to do something; he will surrender himself that Christ may work all in him. 


The complaint about weakness is often nothing else than an apology for our idleness. There is power to be obtained in Christ for those who will take the pains to have it.


'Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.'  Mind that. I must abide in the Lord and in the power of His might, then I become strong. To have His power I must have Himself. The strength is His, and continues His; the weakness continues mine. He, the Strong, works in me, the weak; I, the weak, abide by faith in Him, the Strong; so that I, in the self-same moment, know myself to be weak and strong.


 Strength is for work. He who would be strong simply to be pious, will not be so. He who in his weakness begins to work for the Lord, shall become strong.

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Holy Spirit Prays With Us

July 6th, 2016

Romans 8:26-27   “So too the Holy Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance

 

27  And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the Holy Spirit, what His intent is, because the Spirit intercedes and pleads before God in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God's will.”  If “the Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirits that we are the sons of God,” and the glorious sequence follows, “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” no less do we need to be reminded further of the condition underlying the victory--prayer is really the Christian’s vital breath.  Our weakness is helped primarily by the Spirit through his editing our prayers for us.   Perhaps this will not seem strange to us if we will fitly consider what the Christian life is, in its dependence on God; and what prayer is, in its attitude of dependence on God.


 “We know not what we should pray for,” in each time of need, according that is, to the needs of each occasion.  And now, how does the Spirit thus aid us in praying according to the will of God?  It is a making of intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; making intercession for us and in addition to us.  It is clear from the whole passage that this is not an objective intercession in our behalf--made in heaven as Christ our mediator intercedes for us.  That the Spirit makes intercession for us is known to God not as God in heaven, but as “searcher of hearts.”  it is equally clear that it is not an intercession through us as mere conduits , unengaged in the intercession ourselves; it is an intercession made by the Spirit as our helper and not as our substitute.  §It is equally clear that it is not merely in our natural powers that the Spirit speaks; it is a groaning of which  the Spirit is the author and over and above our own praying.   It is clear then that it is subjective and yet not to be confused with our own praying.  Due to the Spirit’s working in our hearts we conceive what we need in each hour of need and ask God for it with unutterable strength of desire.  §The Spirit intercedes for us then by working in us right desires for each time of need; and by deepening these  desires into unutterable groans.  They are our desires and our groans.  But not apart from the Spirit.  They are his; wrought in us by him.  And God, who searches the heart, sees these unutterable desires and “knows the mind of the Spirit that he is making intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”


 Thus, then, the Spirit helps our weakness. By his hidden, inner influences he quickens us to the perception of our real need; he frames in us an infinite desire for this needed thing; he leads us to bring this desire in all its unutterable strength before God; who, seeing it within our hearts, cannot  but grant it, as accordant with his will.  Is not this a very present help in time of trouble?  As prevalent a help as if we were miraculously rescued from any danger?  And yet a help wrought through the means of God’s own appointment, that is, our attitude of constant dependence on him and our prayer to him for his aid?  


Romans 8:32   He who did not withhold or spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all other things?

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Prayer is The Way

July 1st, 2016

Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-4

I. Introduction: In order to grow as believers, you and I must learn to wait on the Lord. When we surrender to His timing, He does mighty things in and for us, according to His will and His timing. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (Life Principle #14). In other words, we must allow His timing—not our own agenda—to guide our lives. That way, we can experience His very best.


II. Waiting on God

A. What is God’s role in our waiting?

1. The Father’s reveals His will.

2. He also guides our choices and protects the outcome of our obedience.

3. When we obey Him, we are shielded from all kinds of damaging circumstances.

4. As we wait, the Lord heals, comforts, teaches, and empowers us.

5. He encourages, answers prayers, and gives peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

B. What does it mean to wait on God?

1. Resting in the Lord requires patience, which is simply the will to wait.

2. You and I must also listen for further instruction, instead of rushing ahead with our solution or agenda.

3. Waiting requires that we calmly accept the Lord’s work in our lives.

4. Some of us may have to surrender what seems like an immediate need and resist the temptation to set our own timeline.

5. Waiting on Him is purposeful anticipation that God will accomplish what He promises.

C. The Psalms speak of waiting on God.

1. The Psalms speak of waiting on God.

2. Those who obey Him ultimately won’t suffer shame (Ps. 25:3).

3. Resting in the Lord is not passive, but active (Ps. 37:7).

4. As a result of surrendering to His timing in faith, we can expect His very best (Ps. 37:34).


D. Why do we have to wait? God is…

1. Arranging circumstances (e.g., Israelites marching numerous times around Jericho; David waiting to be made king).

2. Purifying our motives. Rather than act out of lust, greed, or pride, we should be stirred by love, service, and obedience.

3. Teaching us to rely on Him. If every prayer were answered immediately, we might never learn to trust God.

4. Protecting us from unseen danger. Those who rush ahead of the Father run into unexpected difficulties.

5. Preparing us to impact others. When you wait on God’s timing, you can be an awesome testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness.

E. What are our choices?

1. We can manipulate circumstances. Doing this will forfeit the Lord’s best and may even result in disaster.

2. We can walk away from Him. In other words, we can allow disappointment to destroy our fellowship with the Father.

3. We can wait on the Lord, watch Him work, and reap the reward.

F. The Requirements

1. Faith: Can you trust Him when things get difficult?

2. Patience: We must set aside our own agenda and allow Him to work.

3. Humility: Prideful people often disobey God. They might believe their plans are better than His, or perhaps they worry too much about what others will think.

4. Courage: This is necessary if we are to resist the temptation to do things our way, disregard negative peer pressure, and stand firm against the fear of failure.

G. The Consequences of Failing to Wait

1. We experience disappointment.

2. We step outside of God’s will.

3. We miss out on His best.

4. We bring hurt, pressure, and suffering upon ourselves. Resisting Him always has negative consequences.

III. Conclusion: When believers grow impatient, it is easy to rush ahead of God’s work. My prayer is that we would learn to wait on His answer—and do it joyfully. Why? God’s Word says that He acts on behalf of those who trust in Him. No, He doesn’t promise to give us everything we want. But when you and I watch for His provision, it will come—every time.

Wait passionately for God,

      don't leave the path.
   He'll give you your place in the sun
      while you watch the wicked lose it

 

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God’s Masterplan for Your LIfe

June 28th, 2016

YOUR DESTINY


I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.     John 10:10


God has a master plan for your life, and that plan does not change. It is a plan designed specifically for you. It is a plan that God intends for you to live out fully, beginning at the moment of your birth and continuing until the moment of your death. God’s plan for you has a purpose, a blueprint for your particular life, a character-development plan, a communication plan, a call to service, a guidance plan, and a blessing plan.… Your destiny is to be the person God has created you to be
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