The Plague of Unbelief

A short study on the danger of not taking the Lord at His word.
Infidelity. Immorality. Violence. No matter what the sin is, it cannot send an individual to hell. There is no one particular sin that a person can commit that will send them there–except one. All of these other things are just byproducts of thid one sin. That sin is unbelief.
What are some of the fruit of unbelief? And what are some of the consequences arising from this state of life? Certainly nothing good can come from unbelief, so here are several things that are a direct result of it:
  • DIVINE STILLNESS (Jesus was unable to do miracles in His home town)
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
 
  • DESTRUCTIVE APATHY (a lack of care for their own soul, because of counting themselves unworthy of eternal life)
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46
 
  • DEMONIC FAVOR (Satan is pleased any time we opt for rebellion over obedience; unbelief plays into his hands and brings to him a level of twisted joy)
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2Timothy 2:26
 
  • DECEPTIVE PEACE (unbelief breeds a false sense of security)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
 
  • DAILY PRESSURE (the world loves it’s own and will do all it can to keep you entrenched in unbelief)
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15:19
 
  • DENIED REST(the one who does not believe will not be able to enter in to the rest that God has promised)
And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:18‭-‬19
 
So we see that unbelief is very dangerous. For the child of God, it lurks just beneath the surface of every difficulty we face. Will we choose to believe His word, or allow this enemy to stand between our peace and our rest in the Lord? For the unsaved, this enemy of unbelief is a confirmed lifestyle that will prevent them from ever experiencing the freedom, joy and peace that is only found in Christ.

The Heart of Sanctification

Let’s get right to it. By definition, sanctification means to be set apart. This setting apart happens the moment we get saved and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:17) This sanctification is ‘automatic’. By virtue of my spiritual union with Christ, His Spirit now lives in me. This union is both consistent and perpetual; it is my position. But there is another side to sanctification. This is where the rubber meets the road. Based on all Christ did for me at the Cross, I must now live according to the new creation that I am. Daily, I must choose to live out my sanctification. So while my position never changes, my condition may fluctuate. This is progressive sanctification; and this will continue to be my state for as long as I live. I will not be entirely sanctified until I reach heaven.

It is important to note that Old Testament sanctification or consecration, was strictly ceremonial. It consisted of washing ones’ clothes and body, and staying away from sexual activity (Exodus 19). All this was because the presenting of oneself before the Lord was a serious matter. If today’s Christian goes about trying to gain or produce sanctification via ceremony (wearing white, removal of shoes, prayer shawls, etc.), they digress; they go back under law, which scripture plainly states we are no longer under. ‘For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.’ (Romans 6:14)

The natural argument arising from this truth is, ‘But I do not keep the law, because I’m under grace.’ Here’s the sobering fact: if you are attempting to live the Christian life by keeping a slew of rules and regulations (which do amount to laws), then you are living under law and not grace; you have fallen from it. Once again Paul makes a statement that brings it all into perspective. He says, ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; he are fallen from grace’ (Galatians 5:4). The staggering truth of these words should hit us between the eyes. He says as long as I continue to seek righteousness by my works, Christ Himself, is doing me no good; I have actually fallen from my position of grace. Chilling words.

The heart of sanctification, at the center of it, is the Cross. It’s about what Jesus did there. It is His death on the Cross that made possible our justification (being made right with God), our sanctification (being separated unto God), and makes possible our glorification (our ultimate state in the presence of God). Do I believe this? The fact is, if I do not trust what He accomplished for me there, I will resort to a works based righteousness. So instead of trusting in my works, that is, what I do, I should trust in what He has already done on my behalf.

What it boils down to is this: you show me your white robe, I’ll show you the Cross; you show me your Passover, I’ll show you the Cross; you show me your 40 day fast, I’ll show you the Cross; you show me your church attendance, I’ll show you the Cross. you show me your prayer shawl, I’ll show you the Cross. If we could get right with God or get sanctified simply based on the things we do, then Christ’s death on the cross was pointless. Paul the apostle stated: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21). Please note the full meaning of his words. He says that we effectively frustrate, nullify, and set aside, the grace of God when we opt to try and obtain righteousness through what we do. He also wrote on this matter: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:1-3‬). That last phrase, ‘having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh’, speaks volumes. It says in essence, ‘Are you so foolish as to think that your working and doing things to accomplish righteousness is going to get you anywhere?’ Finally, in Romans 3:20 he makes it very plain when he speaks: ‭”Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”‭‭ There it is. He says that the things we do (which we ultimately turn into law), do not bring about the righteousness that God accepts. It is the law that makes us aware of our sin.

Let me conclude by saying that not only is the Cross at the heart of our sanctification, it is at the heart of all we do for Him and all we are in Him; that is, our service and our identity. This is because the Cross makes everything possible. Have you made the Cross your center?

Servanthood and the Saint: The Problem of the Self-Life

Grabbed Frame 170 (2)

Acts 20:18-21
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Servant ‘Par Excellence’
Do you merely serve, or are you a servant? These verses more than any others, point out and demonstrate the absolute single-minded attitude and total unselfish nature that Paul the apostle possessed. He was truly a servant of God, ‘par excellence’ (better or more than all others of the same kind). Not that he was without sin or fault in his life but, that he was totally sold out for the cause of Christ. There was no wiggle room in his life. He was determined to fulfill the call of God on his life by, serving the Lord with gladness (Psa.100:2), and, serving the people of God with humility, faithfulness and integrity. Though Christ is our greatest example of servanthood, we can learn much and gain valuable insight from the life of Paul the apostle.

Remember that the servant of God has 4 enemies:
1. Sin
2. Satan
3. The System of this world
4. Self
Each enemy presents its own set of problems, however the self-life intrudes and interferes with the flow of true servanthood. There are three main forms of the self-life. They are:

self-will – which says, ‘I initiate, I decide, I am the king of my day.
self-effort – says, ‘I will accomplish God’s work through my own efforts, and my own schemes.’ It naturally follows that what begins with me, must be done by me.
self-glory – this is wanting to have people think we are ‘someone’ by doing things – good things, even great things for God, but really for our own glory and the praise of men.

Servanthood Defined

Servanthood is the condition or state of being a servant to others, of ministry to others rather than the service of self. It means willingly giving of oneself to minister for and to others and to do whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for another. When speaking of servanthood, we are speaking of ministry; and I love Warren Wiersbe’s definition of it. He states that, ‘Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving vessels to the glory of God.’

Selfishness vs. Servanthood

We live in a world filled with people with needs of every kind. They can be emotional, spiritual, mental, or even financial; and we can choose to respond to these needs in one of several ways. We can:

1. Choose to be blind to them and live our own lives. This would be opposite of how Jesus would have us live. Read Philippians 2:3-4:
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

2. Take advantage of people’s needs to benefit ourselves. Yes, unfortunately this happens all the time. Wolves in sheep’s clothing abound, and their aim is to fleece and take advantage of those in weakened conditions. These are the vulnerable and unsuspecting, and they are easy prey for those who would choose to exploit others difficulties for their own gain.
3. Know about the need and do nothing. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Lu.10:25-37), we see the priest and the Levite passing by on the other side after seeing a bruised and battered Jew on the road to Jericho.

All said and done, selfishness says, ‘What will I get?’ Service says, ‘But such as I have give I thee.’ (Acts 3:6)

Requirements of Servanthood (using the example of Zaccheus in Lu.19:1-10)

What does servanthood require? As servants we need to begin to prayerfully incorporate these things into our lives:
1. Awareness
Our spiritual senses need to be sharp. Jesus stopped under the sycamore tree because He knew Zaccheus was up there. How many opportunities to serve have we missed because we were unaware of people with needs in the trees, and never bothered to look up?
2. Availability
When Jesus spotted him, He could have dismissed him, and made an appointment to see him later; in some cases this will do, but with Jesus, being available was such a priority that He stopped whatever agenda He may have had and attended to Zaccheus by inviting Himself to his house.
3. Acceptance
Jesus didn’t wait until Zaccheus fixed himself or his house up before He would deal with him. Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t wait until you ‘got yourself together’ before He dealt with you? Jesus embraces us where we are and as you, filthy rags and all.
4. Abiding
When we became saved, we become grafted into the vine. Jesus said, ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abusers in me and I in him, the same bringers forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 14:4-5) Abiding in Him is the only way to receive the resources we need to serve others in the way they need to be served. We must, as the psalmist said, ‘follow hard’ after Him. (Psalm 63:8)
5. Abandonment
As the Lord’s servants, He calls us to abandon our own selfish desires. The ‘do you’ and ‘me, myself and I’ mindset must take a backseat. A verse from an old song we used to sing says:

So send I you, to leave your life’s ambition
To die to dear desire, self-will resign
To labor long, and love where men revile you
So send I you, to lose your life in mine

Did you read that? Leave your life’s ambition? To die to my own desire? Really? This is the life of a true servant. It’s no longer about my needs; it’s about fulfilling the needs of the God I serve.

The Servant and Religion

The servant of God must guard against religion. Religion is the most powerful narcotic there is. Through it we go about doing and going and being, all the while believing we are meriting some big pat on the back and a hearty ‘Well done’ from the Lord. We feel that the more we do, the more God approves. Too many times we go, and do and become, to make ourselves feel better. That is bondage. A familiar acrostic goes like this:

Jesus first
Others second
Yourself third

This is not religion.  Religion thinks of self, first. You will find that the joy and satisfaction of servanthood will flow from you when you allow ministry to flow in this order. A popular song says:

Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayer of my heart always be
Make me a servant, make me a servant
Make me a servant, today

The ‘Souled Out’ Servant

In closing, I would like to submit to you something that was written many years ago. The author is unknown, but is believed to be a young pastor in Zimbabwe who was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. It was found in his study. As I read it, I am struck by the fact that these words are not the ramblings of some wavering Christian, unable to pinpoint who they are in Christ, but a firm declaration of someone who was a totally ‘souled out’ servant of the Lord. It reads like this:

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made — I’m a disciple of his. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.”
“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in his presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.”
“My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.”
“I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me … my banner will be clear.”

So, after having read this, do you just serve, or are you a servant? Think about it.

Authentic Worship

AuthenticWorship_ban1

Worship. Underrated and undervalued. How does it happen? Can anyone engage in it? Is there a wrong way to do it? One thing is for certain: worship needs to be real. Authentic.

However, before entering into a larger discussion concerning our topic, I’d like to first offer an explanation of terms. Those two terms are: 1) Praise and, 2) Worship.

I believe sometimes we make the mistake of using the two terms interchangeably. However they are not the same. While there may be elements of each within both of them, let’s take a closer look at the differences.

There are several words for praise in the bible, and without getting bogged down in the original languages, suffice it to say that the definitions range from blessing and thanking Him with our mouth, to lifting and spreading the hands to bowing the knee, or even dancing. Having said that, let’s take a look at several scriptures.
Psa.33:2 Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Psa.149:1 Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
Heb.13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

According to these scriptures, praise can consist of song, music, or words, and should be done consistently, even when it is a sacrifice.
Depending on which version of the bible you use, where the word praise is seen in the KJV, you may read ‘rejoice’, ‘thanksgiving’ or ‘declare’, among others. These words are all reflections of what praise is.

Here’s one more great verse concerning the power of praise:

2 Chr.20:22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
This is a great truth! When we praise, it not only serves to fend off the enemy, but also enables us to walk in His power and protection. There is victory through praise!

Worship, on the other hand is defined as, ‘to make obeisance, do reverence to; to serve, or give homage.’  Take a look at these verses:

1 Chr.16:29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psa.95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
Psa.96:9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

As we see in these verses and in so many others, worship is not necessarily singing and such (though of course it can be), but it is more of an action taken in acknowledging the Lord in who He is.
Worship goes beyond praise; it is an act of bowing down and honoring Him. Worship is also an act, for example in our daily work or our giving. We even serve others as a way of worshiping the Lord. Our lives should be an act of worship.
The difference between praise and worship can be stated this way: praise is about what God has done; but worship is about who God is.

This subject is much to exhaustive to be treated here, and I am by no means an expert–but I am a participator. Please allow me to offer a few thoughts on this important matter.

So how do I worship God authentically?
I’m going to make a startling statement. Anyone can praise. Anyone can shout, dance, or lift their hands. Praise can also be fickle. To be fickle is to constantly change loyalties or affections. At Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the praises went up, and the garments went down. There were no doubt genuine praisers in the crowd. But among them were many who would shout, less than a week later, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ This is not meant in any way to demean praise, and place it on a par below worship. Both worship and praise are absolutely essential elements of every Christian’s life, and both need to be authentic. But because of the nature of worship, it being a way of life, authentic worship can only flow from authentic people of God.

Jo.4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

According to this pivotal verse, God is not seeking authentic worship; He is seeking authentic worshipers–if God gets this, He will get the other.

What does it take to be an authentic worshiper who offers authentic worship? Several things must be in place:

Authentic worship is dependent upon authentic relationship
As stated earlier, authentic relationship cannot happen apart from salvation. I must know Him, serve Him, and appreciate His goodness in order to worship Him.

Authentic worship must be in response to God’s awesomeness
When I am confronted with God’s greatness, I am filled a desire to honor Him. Worship has to with the worth of its object. Worship is ‘worth’ship. He is worthy!

Rev.4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Psa.145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
One version translates a portion of this verse as: ‘and most worthy to be praised’

Authentic worship should have the heart as its source
Mat.15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (also Isa.29:13)
Worshipping the Lord with our heart is synonymous with worshipping Him ‘in Spirit’

Authentic worship must be transparent
We must come to Him as we are, not trying to be who we’re not. In John 4, the woman at the well was never going to enter into proper worship of God until she came clean about who she was.

The Binding Tie

The final thing that ties all this together is the fact that worship is sacrifice. Read these crowning words from scripture:

Rom.12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom.12:1 (Expanded Bible) So [Therefore] brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I ·beg [urge; appeal to] you to offer your ·lives [selves; L bodies] as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be ·only for God [holy] and pleasing to him, which is the ·spiritual [or authentic; true; or appropriate; fitting; or rational; reasonable] way for you to worship.
This verse makes it plain that authentic worship is to be:

An offering of ourselves
This statement lines up with Jo.4:24. It states that we are to worship ‘in spirit’. This means that we are to worship God with all that we have: mind, body, soul and spirit.

Exclusive to God
Only God is deserving of and is worthy of this type of worship.
Isa.42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
God does not share His glory with another, and neither should we.

Pleasing to God
Our main goal as Christians, as it pertains to God, is to please Him. This means obedience. Jesus said ‘…why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’
When it comes to authentic worship, you cannot be a member of the ‘eighteen inch club’. Eighteen inches is the approximate distance between the brain and the heart. To worship Him authentically, I must not just know Him: I must know Him.

Listen to David’s heartfelt cry:
Psa.27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Psa.27:4 (Amplified Version) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

Is this where I am? To please Him, to dwell in His presence and simply gaze upon the greatness of who he is? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the attitude of authentic worship. We all fall short because we are all still wrapped in this flesh; yet God sees graciously sees our hearts. Even now, let us begin to enter in to his presence by lifting up holy hands. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Ti.2:8)

Foundations in Prayer: Pt.4-Prayer Changes Things

Grabbed Frame 91 (2)

PRAYER CHANGES THINGS

This familiar and often repeated phrase has reached cliche status. But make no mistake, the words are no less true. However, should we look at prayer itself as a sort of ‘magical cure all’? I think not. What is it that makes prayer so powerful? It is the God we trust, that makes prayer so powerful. Understanding this simple truth, we should look at the type of prayer that changes things.

• Prayer coupled with Faith
 Ja..5:14-16 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Once again, and it cannot be stressed enough, faith is the gasoline that makes the engine of prayer go.

• Prayer coupled with Thanksgiving
Phi.4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Whatever the reason we come to pray, we should never overlook the aspect of giving thanks. Even before we make our requests, we ought to thank Him for what He has done.

• Prayer coupled with Confidence
1 Jo.5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
This word confidence basically means boldness. Here is the biblical meaning:
Freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech openly, frankly, i.e without concealment.
We should come to God without fear, or apprehension. We should be able to tell God whatever is on our heart. We can’t always tell people everything; but we can tell God anything.

• Prayer coupled with Earnestness
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
The phrase ‘without ceasing’, is actually one word in the original language. It’s a word that means: earnest, resolute, tense, strenuous; with hands outstretched.

There are three other types of prayer deserve mention here. These prayers don’t change anything because they don’t even make it into the throne room.

• Prayer that Hides Sin
Psa.66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
We must not cherish or treasure sin. When this happens, it shows an absolute unwillingness to let it go.

• Prayer with Wrong Motives
Ja.4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Asking and praying with wrong motives will get us nothing and nowhere.
Sometimes we pray for all the wrong reasons.

• Prayers without Humility
Lu.18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Of these two men, only one of them went away having been heard and responded to by God.

The Principle of One Accord

What does it mean to be in one accord? It’s a phrase found multiple times in the book of Acts. It means to be of one mind and purpose, unanimous; to be in agreement; united–in faith, praise, perseverance, etc. When prayer went up in one accord, there were great results; things changed!
Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…
Result: being prepared for what was to come
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…
Result: a mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost
Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple…
Result: many were saved
Acts 4:23-24 And being let go, they went into their own company and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord…
Result: a shaking (Holy Ghost earthquake), another mighty outpouring, boldness for service

In the final analysis, amongst all the things that prayer changes, most important of all—it changes me.

Foundations in Prayer: Part 3-Prayer Is The Key

Grabbed Frame 91 (2)

PRAYER IS THE KEY

Prayer is a multifaceted dynamic given to us that we might touch God, enter into His presence, and receive those things which we need from Him.
As previously discussed, prayer is a dialogue and should be viewed as such. In addition, we should not see God as a heavenly genie; praying just to get things from Him. When we do this only, we become no better than those who followed our Lord simply for the loaves and fishes. (Jo.6:26)

The Magnificence of Prayer

Prayer is the thing we forget to do; it’s the thing we neglect to do; it’s the thing we intend to do, it’s the thing we put off doing–and yet it’s the thing we need to do most; and in some cases, never gets done. Rather than engage in it, we overlook the sheer magnificence of it. Think of it: being able to spend time in His presence of the Creator of the universe! And He invites me to do so! Isn’t that magnificent? We should be running to Him! In the words of Corrie ten Boom, ‘Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?’

Good Reasons or Bad Excuses?

Explanations abound as to why God’s people don’t pray with consistency. There are those who are called to it; those whose ministry it is to stand in the gap. But what about the rest? We will do it in church, amongst one another. We’ll do it when we’re called upon to do it, but what happens when we leave? We get caught up in life and it just takes a back seat. In the scheme of things, everything else seems more important. If I took a survey and asked, ‘Name the top three reasons why Christians don’t pray’, what would you say? I’ll give you my list:
• Busyness
‘I just don’t have time’, is the familiar refrain, ‘if you only knew my schedule’. We manage to find time for everything we want to find time for, but prayer is not everything else. As we will discuss, it is the key. We ought not to find time for prayer-we should make time for it.
• Fatigue
Here we have the result of being caught up and overwhelmed by the cares of this life. We’ve all been here. But if my fatigue is from spending several hours in front of a television, or engaged in some other leisure activity, and I’m ‘too tired to pray when I’m done, then that time could have been better spent with the Lord in prayer. Will a man rob God? (Mal.3:8)
• Apathy
I don’t believe this is a malicious apathy, the ‘I just don’t care, I have no feeling toward it at all’ type; but apathy nonetheless. A true Christian cannot thrive thinking that they can get by without a constant and consistent prayer life. ‘Oh, I pray, I get by’, some say. Do you mean that quick prayer just before you rush out to work or school? Or those few words of ‘grace’ over your meal? Or maybe that prayer before you go to bed that you wind up falling asleep on? God doesn’t want us to get by–He wants us to get serious. We must not forget that we are a house of prayer.

The Many Sides of Prayer

By way of review, we’ve said that prayer is:
• a privilege
• full of possibilities
warfare
Finally, we said that prayer is a portal.

The Key

As it is clear that prayer is many things, at the same time, it is one thing. It is the key. I do not contradict myself, because while prayer is all those things and more, we should also view prayer as the key that opens the door to God’s vast resources. Let’ s take a look at some of the things that prayer taps us into:

• The Heart of God
The heart of God avails us to at least four things:
1. Mercy
2 Cor.1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2. Grace
1 Pe.5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
3. Peace
2 Thes.3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
4. Comfort
2 Cor.1:3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
No matter what you’ve been through, or are currently going through, any or all of these things will manifest themselves as you pray.
Prayer, as the key, also taps us into:

• The Storehouse of God

It is through God’s storehouse, that we are supplied with our every physical, material and financial need.
Prayer is the key to His riches in glory. The scriptures bear this out:
Phi.4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
When we pray, God responds and He supplies. But how should we pray? And what else is needed?

The Main Ingredient

Understanding that prayer is the key is only the first step. We receive nothing from the Lord apart from faith. And while we rightfully pontificate on the glories of prayer, it’s wise to remember that we do not put faith in the act of prayer; faith is placed in Christ who makes all things possible.
Heb.11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When we settle in our hearts and minds that prayer is the key that we cannot live without and that faith in Christ is the dynamic that makes it work, we easily come to the conclusion that prayer changes things.

Foundations in Prayer: Part 2-Unstoppable Prayer

Grabbed Frame 91 (2)

UNSTOPPABLE PRAYER

Prayer is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life, yet it may, arguably, be the most difficult to do. I found this out for myself, firsthand, many years ago.
I was young then, about seventeen or eighteen, to be exact. I was a bit naive, but I didn’t imagine it. It was not a dream and it was not a vision. It is also true that once I tell you what happened to me, it will sound like something hatched straight from the mind of Edgar Allan Poe himself. It’s all still so very fresh in my mind…

The night was still, in the early summer as I recall. My friend and brother in the Lord and I were all set to spend the evening in and around that trailer we called, ‘the shanty’. We had volunteered to keep watch at our church which at the time was in the midst of a building project. The trailer was in the parking lot of the church’s property. My friend suggested that we pray. He was a young man also, very serious in the things of the Lord, but older than I. We grabbed two chairs, knelt down and began to pray. To the left of us there was a window looking out onto the lot.  There was a light post in the middle of the lot, but it was dark outside. As we prayed, the Spirit of God began to move. I could sense the presence of the Lord in a mighty way. But something else began to happen. While I continued to pray, I could sense another presence. With my eyes closed, I saw that window to my left, and what I saw in it I will never forget. A head, a face; uglier than I’ve ever seen, uglier than anything one would see in any movie, rose up slowly and was peering at us through that window. I was more than startled. What I felt was approaching fear. I knew it was the window of the trailer, and I knew this demonic looking creature was staring at us. What to do? I could hear my friend beside me praying louder, so I persevered. Finally, after several minutes, I opened my eyes and quickly, and I do mean quickly, jerked my head to the left so as to catch this thing in the act. But when I did, the window was empty. Nothing was there. My friend had already put his head up, so I turned and looked at him, stunned. He looked at me and said, ‘You saw that too, didn’t you?’ Silence.

Through my testimony and personal experience, I am able to draw several conclusions:
Prayer is an excursion into the supernatural.
From the smallest and shortest prayer, to the more grandiose prayer; whether you’re just saying, ‘Thank you Jesus’, or a plea for help, all prayer brings you out of the world that is seen, and into the world that is unseen; from the natural to the supernatural
Prayer is warfare.
This is true because Satan knows that prayer will:
-bring you into God’s presence
-open the windows of heaven
-cause you to give God glory (worship & praise)
Because of these things, Satan will fight us.
Satan seeks to hinder our prayers.
He seeks to use demonic strategies that resist the will and kingdom of God. He will do this primarily through:
-intimidation
-infiltration
-deviation

These things in turn can lead us into frustration, causing us to give up, cut our prayers short, and walk away defeated, having accomplished nothing. We’ve all heard of writers’ block. This happens when a writer is unable get anything of substance on paper. The same thing can happen in prayer. After settling in to pray, all of a sudden, the words won’t come due to a lack of focus. A sort of prayers’ block. The enemy throws everything but the kitchen at us in an effort to derail our prayers. But in spite of all the enemy may put in our way as we pray, we are told expressly in 1 Thes.5:17, to pray without ceasing.  This means to always be ready to pray. Live in an attitude of prayer and watchfulness. These powers of resistance and demonic strategies can be broken through the finished work of Christ on the Cross (Col.2:15)

In light of this, our prayers should be:
Passionate
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Bold
Heb.4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Persistent
persist-to continue firmly in a course of action in spite difficulty, obstacles or opposition.

Gen.32:24-26 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Here, from Jacob, we learn a lesson in persistence; persistent prayer yields great blessing. This is why we must never give up. We do well to take heed to the popular acronym: P.ray U.ntil S.omething H.appens.
Prayer is a deliberate, powerful action and resource given to us that we may touch God, enter into His presence and receive that which need from Him. As you engage in it , you will find that it is the key to the awesomeness of God.