Tag: Hope

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 3

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 3

While in the Army, I had the distinct honor of being an Infantry Squad Leader.  A Squad Leader is responsible for 2-3 teams that equal  from 9-12 men.  The size is generally 9 men, but can bolster up to 11 or 12 with the addition of  a weapons team, augmented to the squad.  Routinely, a Platoon Leader or Company Commander would select such squad for special missions that would separate the squad from the main company for days at a time.

This limited the team on resources and causes special security considerations.  In order to properly function and successfully complete the mission, with all personal alive and well, a lot of planning had to go into effect.  All of the resources, including; Ammo, food, water, transportation, medical emergencies and other contingencies, came from the resources of the Company Commander.  A squad by themselves would be left dependent on the resupply and emergency coordination’s planned out, prior to the separation of the units.  Failure to make these coordination’s, and the necessary planning involved, could be fatal to both units.

Squad Leaders and their team leaders take the orders of the commander and analyze his intent.  They then study the terrain, perform risk assessments and measure up the possibilities of success and failure.  They inventory their on-hand equipment, ammunitions, and weapons.  They look at the mission’s risk assessment and identify specialized equipment that may be needed to overcome obstacles and to give the squad the necessary tools needed in order minimize the risk, and to ensure mission success.  Then they present these finds to the commander and request the supplies and resources needed that the squad does not have.  The commander looks over the plan, and the requests and provides needed feedback and resources.  The commander does this to protect the squad and to ensure their best possible chance of success.  A good commander will not hold back anything that the squad needs in order to minimize friendly casualties, and ensure success.  However, the Squad Leader must make the request.

Coming from a military background, this is the importance of Luke 11:3.

Give us day by day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3)

This is more than just asking God for food.  This is a recognition that everything we need is supplied through His grace.  He is the source of our existence.  Without his provisions in life we would not be successful in our mission for His kingdom.  Just like a soldier needs daily provisions of food, water, and routine ammunitions and medical supplies, so to do we, as children of God need our daily provision.

We should not wait until we have an emergency.  We should analyze what our needs are and request the spiritual and physical resources we need on a daily basis.  Recognition of our needs keep us humble and submissive to the Spirit.  Matthew 6:33 tells us that we should seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. What things?  The things are your daily needs and provisions like food, and water, and shelter.  These are the things that are provided to everyone.  “That ye may be the children of your Father which in in heaven:  for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just an on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45).  What we should be seeking are the things that are not provided to just everyone.  We should be looking in to our communities and into our surroundings.

How do we fulfill the mission that was given to us for the Kingdom?  What do you need to be successful in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to those who are around you?  What provisions do you need to be a good and faithful servant?  What do you need to overcome to provide a good witness to those who are watching and listening to you and your life?  What daily nourishment do you need?  Some provisions I know we all need are:

  • Guidance of the Holy Spirit
  • Spiritual Disciple
    • Prayer
    • Fasting
    • Daily Reading of Scripture
    • Teaching in Scripture
  • Personal Relationship growth with Jesus
  • Fellowship
  • Encouragement

These are just a few off the top of my head.  I am sure that as you sit and analyze your lifestyle, that you can get a more detailed and personalized list.  These are the things you need to be successful. These are the things you need to be asking for.  Yes you can still ask for healings, and financial security and all of the other things that we need to survive while here in this earth.  However; the focus of your prayers should not be selfishly motivated.  The focus on your prayers should be on things on the kingdom of Heaven.

We are just passing though.  In truth we do not know if we will be here the next day or not.  Psalm 144:4 puts it this way, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”  We should be mindful that our days here are numbered and that we only have a little bit of time to perform out tasks here on this earth.

More importantly, the days of those who are lost are numbered also.  They are like a vapor that is here one moment and then gone.  How selfish are we to spend this little bit of time seeking to pray for only our own needs when so many are dying all around us?  You see our Father knows the importance of our mission.  He wants us to be successful.  The Lord wants all men to come to repentance.  He does not want anyone to die.  He is patient and long suffering for our benefit.  Everything He does is oriented to saving the lost.  Shouldn’t we have the same heart?

We can also be secure in knowing that the provisions we ask for will be provided.  While Jesus was here on the earth, he never turned anyone away who needed his provisions.  He did not measure by race, religion, ethnic background, gender, or age.  In fact if you look back at the Old Testament, you will see how God continuously provided for his people.  He provided them security to grow to a nation, even under bondage in Egypt.  He provided food and water to a rebellious people in the wilderness.  He gave them strength and resources to conquer the promised land.  He led them throughout their history by:

  • A pillar of fire
  • His voice
  • His commandments
  • Prophets
  • Judges
  • Kings
  • The Messiah

God has always provided.  Even in the Christian faith the Lord has provided.  He has led the church to overcome.

  • Martyrdom
  • Infighting
  • Scandals
  • Genocides
  • False Doctrines

We can have confidence in looking back in what He has done for us.  We have been delivered from sicknesses, addictions, diseases, natural disasters, other hazardous events and relationships, even death itself, in some cases. The Lord provides what we need every day.

So we pray for our daily bread knowing that the one we ask is who provides our daily bread.  We then have a greater understanding of the goodness of our Father, that even though in times past, when we did not ask for it he gave it.  We know that even though we were His enemy, that he loved us so much that he provided not only the daily things we needed to live, but; He did so to give us the chance to receive the salvation that he already provided for us in Jesus Christ.  We ask because we seek Him, of whom all blessings flow from.  We ask because we believe in Him, and in his Son.   We ask because we understand that our very existence is dependent upon His grace.

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Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 2

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 2

The closest disciples to Jesus had witnessed miracles.  They had seen the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the lepers healed.  Scripture tells us repeatedly; Jesus healed all who came to him.  The early disciples were eyewitnesses to these things, and many more.  The closeness of their relationship to Jesus gave them an insider’s view.

They must have noticed the way Jesus prepared himself each day.  They would have seen his dedicated prayer life.  They would have heard the prayers that Jesus prayed for healing. They herd the prayers of thanksgiving that rolled from his lips.  In hearing these and seeing the wonders wrought through this prayer fed lifestyle they were forced to examine their own prayer life.

In doing so, they could see that they fell short.  With all of their religious efforts, all of their sacrifices, all of their Hebrew upbringing, they had somehow missed this important lesson. It felt like the doors to heaven itself were sealed closed. In seeing Jesus’ prayer life and the results of his prayers on his ministry, then knew that they needed to know more.  So they asked him the same question that many of us ask today, “Lord teach us to pray”….

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)

Now we see Jesus beginning his teaching of what an effectual prayer should be like.  He said, “When ye pray say”. There are allot of individuals who miss understand this phrase.  Some have mistakenly taken this to mean that what Jesus is about to say, should be said verbatim.  That is that is should be repeated word-for-word, or else you have not said a prayer.

Some believe that there is some supernatural binding to this prayer when recited exactly as written, God himself has to answer whatever follows. Some think that you have earned some special audience with God as a result of reciting this prayer.  There are thousands who believe that atonement can be made by reciting this prayer over and over.  This is not the case.  God cannot be invoked. You cannot summon him like some ethereal game piece. He is the Almighty, the creator of the universe who has all autonomous authority.  Meaning that God as God is self sufficient and answers to no one.

Luke is not saying to repeat identically each word and stanza that Jesus said.  The Greek words usage, in this phrase, infers that Jesus wanted them to “say” in the same manner or way; not implying an obligation to repeat the exact verbiage. Repeating the Lord’s Prayer line-by-line, or even over and over again does not bring salvation and is not a means of penance.

It is probably better to look at the translation in Matthew’s recording of the same teachings in order to give us another disciple’s point of view of this important message.  Matthew records, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9).  In this catalog of the event, Matthew clearly states that we should pray in the same manner, or “in this way” (Strong’s, 3778,3779) that Jesus then instructs his disciples to pray. So when you pray, pray something like this…

Our Father which art in heaven… I do not know if you know this, but the carnal minded cannot please God.  In all honesty there are some people praying, that really don’t have any faith that God exists.  There are those that believe God exists but that he doesn’t care and is uninvolved in men’s lives.  They are just throwing up their hands and speaking to the clouds and hoping that “if” there is a God, he will prove it in answering their prayer.

The Word of God tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, and those that come to him must first believe that He IS.  Secondly the scriptures tell that God rewards those who seek him persistently. In addition, scripture tells us that those who believe on Jesus have been adopted into the family of God, as his children. Romans 8:14-16 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”

So then, since we have already believed that He is and that He rewards those who seek him, and believe that He has already adopted us as children through Jesus Christ, we can then boldly come to him.  Seeking him ourselves.  We can call him Father, because he literally is our Father. I am getting excited already!

Jesus further clarifies the importance of this relationship later in the chapter when he explains the nature of the Father.  Jesus explains, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13) WOW! Nail on the head!  Did you see that! Jesus said that even though we are evil, we still know how to give good things, then he said… that God is Good! So- if God is Good, then how much more does he have the ability and will to give good things to those who ask?

Jesus asked a rhetorical question, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those (his children) who ask of him?  I love my children and I can honestly tell you that one of the most heartbreaking things that a father has to face is when one of his children ask him for something that he cannot provide.  It never gets easier, and it does not matter which child asks.  You see as a father, I want to give all kinds of good gifts to my children because I love them, and I love being able to provide for them. I love being able to protect them. I love for them to look to me when they are in trouble, or even when they just need someone to listen.  I love being a confident to each and everyone of my children.  But you know, there are times when I can provide for them, but I don’t, because; they do not ask for me to.  If they don’t ask for my help, knowing that I want to help. I cannot help them though, if they don’t ask me to.  Why? Because it is their choice to make, not mine.

So first we must ask, then he will give.  Now he did specify what he would give, that is the Holy Spirit, but look he also said how much more… this means how much more willing is he to give the Holy Spirit.  It is like he is just there waiting for you to ask, and BAM! It is on the way! Now this is not a teaching on the Holy Spirit, but since it was brought up.  What good does that do?  The Holy Spirit does many things for the believer, just as a quick list; he is our comforter, he is a teacher, he is a counselor, he is an encourager, and many more things to us.  The Holy Spirit is the seal of God on our lives.  The Father gives the Holy Spirit whole heartedly, in fact scripture says that the Spirit of God indwells those who follow Jesus Christ.

Which art in heaven… The Creator of the universe exists outside of normal time and space, He is not hindered by laws of physics or the limits of mans imagination.  He does not dwell in little wooden crucifixes or crosses for that matter.  Those things are made my man, and cannot contain God.  The earth as a whole cannot contain God.  If the universe could contain God then what kind of a God would He be?  No God is above all powers and principalities.  God exists outside of our universe.  In scripture the heavens are referred to in three different arenas.  The first arena of the heavens referred to is the atmosphere of the earth.  This covers what we breath, the ozone which includes the clouds and weather.  The second spectrum that the heavens refers to is our universe.  This convers from the atmosphere on our into the area we call space.  Where the universe with it’s multiple galaxies spin and collide.  The third area that scripture refers to heaven is the place that is outside of time and space, the area where God resides.  This is Gods place from which He over sees all of creation.  Creation includes, the universe, the multiple galaxies, and the earth.

“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)

We now begin to see that when we come to the Lord God Almighty, we need to have an understanding of who He is.  We need to know that “he IS”.  We need to know that he is above all other things in existence.  If we don’t believe this about God, then why should we waste our time in seeking Him out? This then is where faith begins.

Faith doesn’t start with a warm fuzzy feeling, or some emotional high after a revival.  Faith begins with a proper understanding of God.  A proper understanding of God comes from scripture.  There are NO secular authorities on God.  There are no scientific rules that can determine that God does not exist.

Scripture tells us that the very design of creation points to the fact that God exists, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:1-6).  There is no excuse under heaven to NOT believe in God.

Hallowed be thy name… Hallowed means to be sanctified or set apart. This term set apart means to be unique, or different than anything else.  The manner that this refers to in saying hallowed be thy name is to mentally set his name apart in such a manner to bring honor to his name, by counting Him as holy. Acknowledging that God alone is holy. God is unique. God alone is good.  We need to have an understanding of the reverence that God deserves.  My children have an open door to me at any time.  We play around and kid one another.  We also pull pranks on one another from time to time.  We tell jokes, we fish, we camp.  We do all the informal things that fathers and their children do.  Do you know with all of that familiarity, they still address me as “sir”?  Why is that?  Because with everything we share, there is one thing we do not share… we are not peers. My children respect me as their father, and as an elder.

We should respect God in the same manner, as one who is our Father, and one who is Holy. In fact scripture says that we should mimic our Father, just like sons do to their earthly fathers. Peter wrote, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” (1 Peter1:15).  See if you believe that God is holy, and that you are called by his name, then you should honor him by being Holy in your behavior.  Faith breeds action.

Not so long ago, a man’s name was his reputation.  This is because everyone knows that you actually can judge a book by its cover.  Now I know this is contrary to the whole “why can’t we all just get along” politically correct stance that has paralyzed the entire human race.  What was meant as a good thing about not being to hard on someone who has fallen on hard times, has now gone to the extreme.  This saying and many others like “who are you to judge me?”, while many claim to be bible based, are twisted doctrines straight from the enemy.  Scripture in no manner ever says that a man should be lazy, if he can work.

If a man has shown himself untrustworthy, unsafe to be around, or in need of being imprisoned then that is the reputation of the man, that he has earned by his actions.  Not because someone judged him.  That man’s name is dirt.  Not so long ago, people understood that.  I know you think I have gotten off topic, but take a look again at the verse… thy name.  See I am still here.  The other part to “hallowed by thy name” is being able to trust in that “name”.  This is more important than you realize.  Being able to trust in that name is more than just getting your prayers answered.  It is the key to life itself.  In Acts 4:12 we read;

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

This was the Apostle Peter talking about Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by the Romans at the behest of the Jews.  This Jesus rose from the grave and is now in the presence of the Father where he makes intercessory prayers for us.  This intercessory prayer is the true “Lords Prayer”, which goes up continuously on our behalf.  What have we to fear?

If we do not believe these simple truths about God then we need not go any further.  You see in order to ask God anything and expect that He will answer we must at a minimum believe:

  • God Exists
  • He is unique in any and every way
  • He is our Heavenly Father
  • He has all authority
  • He is willing to listen to us and to answer us
  • He is good and desires good things for his children
  • Jesus is the only way to the Father

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth…  We also see in this opening that prayer is about our relationship to God.  Knowing who He is, accepting of Jesus and Lord and Savior and seeking His guidance.  Prayer is foremost an acknowledgement of our responsibilities to God. Prayer is not about getting mans will done in heaven, but getting God’s will done on earth.  Prayer is asking God to use us in a manner that is pleasing to Him to accomplish what He needs done.  God is the one who is to be glorified in our lives, not us. We pray for His kingdom to be expanded and strengthened.  You see we are wanting his kingdom to come because we understand that no one can make peace here on earth, but God.  On one can make us whole, but God.  No one can take away our pains and fears, but God himself.

James says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3).  That is when you do ask, you ask for the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.  Selfish desires are not what prayer is for.  Here is another way to look at it.  What heavenly good does it really do for my little league team to win the ballgame?   Or how does my getting a new car further the advancement of the gospel?  Am I really praying for what I need to be walk in the spirit of God?  Notice I did not include prayers for legitimate needs.  Needs like deliverance from addictions, sicknesses, disease, or even financial burdens.  These prayers can affect your spiritual maturity and the furtherance of the gospel.  These are legitimate prayer needs.  These types of prayers should be done for ourselves and for one another.  These prayers show love and concern for one another.

Prayers for those in authority are also legitimate prayers that we are actually commanded we should pray.  We should pray for those who use you and persecute you for Christ’s namesake.  Prayers should be offered for all men everywhere.  We should pray for the widows, and orphans.  We should pray for the blind, that they may see.  We should pray for the lost, that they may seek and find Jesus.  This is the will of God.  These prayers bring the kingdom of God here to the earth where men live and breathe.  By praying these sorts of prayer and inviting God to take part in our governments, and in our schools, and in our neighborhoods, and churches we are seeking God in a manner that is pleasing to him.  These are unselfish prayers.

The challenge this week if to set some time apart to tell God that you do believe in Him, and his Son.  Pray for the Spirit to teach you what you should know.  Pray for someone else, that God may reveal Himself to them.  Pray that God will show you how to further His kingdom in your neighborhood.  Go  and be His ambassador, and his child.

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 1

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 1

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“Is there something more? Am I missing something?” Came the question from a young man, whose name I will keep for my own treasure chest.  The reference was for what most people refer to as, “The Lord’s Prayer”.  This young man asked a very serious question, much like the disciples did of Jesus.  In 1st Thessalonians it tells us that we should pray without ceasing.  How can we indeed pray without ceasing is we do not know how to pray.  How do we talk to God?  What does a proper prayer life look like?  Is there some secret formula?

I hear all of these kinds of thoughts in the questions that I receive.  Is God listening? Does God even care?  How do I talk to God and get an answer?  Do I offend God with the way that I pray?  Does God love me? I told him yes, there is more to it, than it just being a model for prayer.

The significance of the teaching to pray itself is proof of the importance of prayer.  Especially if you take in consideration that it is God, himself that is giving the lesson.  Imagine that, the creator of the universe wants to communicate with us.  In the “Lord’s Prayer” we can see the benevolence of God towards man.  The Almighty God came down to earth and gave a special class on prayer.  We should probably study what Jesus was trying to tell us about the Father and how we should address the One Living God.

We as a people, who claim Christ as our Lord, have no idea how to talk to him.  I think that in the Lord’s Prayer we can find the answer to these questions.  We can not only use this model for how to pray, if we look closer, but also get an understanding of God in a very personal manner.

Examination of this model shows us the importance of prayer.  Looking at this model also gives us an attitude in prayer that expects results.  We can be confident in God’s hearing of our prayer and his timely answers. Jesus said in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  Then again, Jesus told Peter as they passed a withered fig tree, “Therefor I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].”(Mark 11:24)  As we see we are to pray expecting results, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

Now let us move into our verses with an open eye; considering what Jesus is trying to tell us, and how we should apply it to our lives.

1 And it came to pass, that , as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as john also taught his disciples.

How important is prayer?  Jesus, the Son of God, who was the Word in the flesh prayed on a regular basis.  Jewish custom is to pray a minimum of three times a day, although I don’t know of any commandment to do so, it would seem that the custom comes from the Book of Daniel.  Daniel was one of the Hebrews that were taken to serve in the king Darius’ palace when the Persians overtook Jerusalem.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10)

Something that might also catch our attention here that will lend to our latter discussion is that Daniel was kneeling.  Later in the New Testament, we see that Jesus also knelt.  Tradition has it that James the brother of Jesus knelt when he prayed, and prayed so often; that he developed callouses on his knees.  This is of great significance.  The posture of kneeling is unique in the world of religion at his time.  Pagan religious practices involved prayers that were offered while standing with the palms facing upward. Pagan prayers were done in public and associated with sacrifices made to idols.[i]  Here in our model, we see that they were kneeling, and in private.  Showing a level of humility and respect.  This also shows an intimacy with God, that others do not have. Notice that no sacrifice was necessary, even at this time, to speak with Jehovah.

King David in his Psalm 119:164 exclaims, “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgements.”  This gives us another reference to frequency, motivation, and purpose

Some times when scripture noted Jesus prayed:

  • Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
  • Matthew 11:25-26 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
  • Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  • Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
  • John 17:1-26 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
  • Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
  • Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
  • Luke 22:41-44 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
  • Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
  • Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
  • Luke 9:29 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This may be a direct reference to 1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”

Note the phrase “he was praying in a certain place”.  “He” is in reference to Jesus.  Jesus was praying in a certain place.  This would give the idea that it was a specific place.  Whether it was a common spot for prayer, or not in not clear, but it is clear that the location was picked specifically to pray.  Jesus taught that prayer should be a time spent alone with the God the Father.  We should not seek to be seen by others, so that they can “see how holier than thou” we are. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6).  Jesus often would withdraw to be by himself to pray.  He separated himself from the crowds and even his disciples.

When I was a youth, I use to have a closet that I would pray in.  My closet was a walk-in closet that was in our 2-room apartment that my dad and I shared.  I put all my clothing on one side, moved a desk into the closet along the other side.  I had a stool that I would sit upon and there I would read scripture and journal my prayers.  Now, I have an office in my home that I use for study, and for prayer.  I get up early in the morning, read my scriptures, and I journal and pray.  God Himself proclaims, I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” (Proverbs 8:17).  Praying the first thing in the morning demonstrates love and affection towards God.

Imagine if you were to get up in the morning, and your spouse gets up with you.  You both go about your morning routine to get ready for work.  You shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and grab the keys to go to work.  Then you realize, hey, I don’t have my lunch.  So the first thing you say to your spouse is, “would you make me lunch for work?”  No- “good morning”, no- “I love you”, no- “I will miss you today”… Does this show that you value your spouse?  Does it show that you love your spouse?  No, it only shows your selfishness, arrogance, and lack of consideration.  Your love of God should not be second hand either.  I mean after all, he did sustain your life while you slept…

Sometimes I will burn frankincense oil or incents.  Yes, I know that we are not required to offer up sacrifices, but I just like the smell of frankincense and apparently, God does not mind it either.  It is just something that helps me address my mood in prayers, in addition, when I walk by the room later and smell the incense; it reminds me to pray.  Let’s face it, we all get busy and mismanage our time every now and then.  Having a reminder to just be still and know the Lord IS, is a great way to say, Thanks Lord.

when he ceased…

Do not overlook this phrase, “when he ceased”.  Prayer with the Lord should be our highest priority.  I mean this is Old Testament kind of stuff.  Take a look at Deuteronomy, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find [him], if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”(v. 4:29). When we speak with God, He should have our attention.  Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to talk to someone, and as you talk, you notice that whatever is on his or her phone is more important than what you are saying?  Therefore, when we pray we should not have other distractions.  This is probably the best reason for a “certain place” to pray.  Having as much as possible a place to be quiet and alone with the Father shows honor and respect.  Turn off the phone, the TV, and the radio.  Give the Lord your full attention; he deserves at least that much.  Now the flip side, notice the disciples waited.  They understood how important prayer is to Jesus.  They did not barge in and interrupt His communion with the Father.  Do others know the importance of prayer in your life?  If they do not, then you demonstrate that by prayer being important in your life, it should be a priority.  You do not need to tell everyone that it is important; they can observe it by our life of prayer.  Our prayer life can actually teach others the importance and manner of prayer.

That leads us to the last point in this verse, teaching others.  Discipleship is of utmost importance.  The primary thing a new disciple needs to know, is how to pray.  In Alcoholics Anonymous and new person getting sober is assigned a sponsor to help them I there new life of sobriety.  Unfortunately, this step is missing from Christianity.  We expect the new Christian to immediately be able to stand on their own, and be able to know how to talk to God.  What a terrible situation, we tell them that God will supply all their needs, and walk out of their lives without showing them how to talk with God.  That is like handing the keys to your car over to a 5 year old and telling them, “I will see you when you get there.” No one in his or her right mind would so such an irresponsible thing.  It is dangerous to the child, and anyone else along the way.

The problem is that, most of us have been treated the same way.  We were given the keys to the car with no instruction on how to drive it. Now we have a generation of disciples trying to disciple the next generation without proper experience or training themselves.  We should be teaching one another and encouraging one another.  Scripture says that the devil has come to seek and destroy.  We need to look out for one another.  Teaching how to study the scriptures and how to pray should be discipleship 101.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

1 Peter 4:10 – As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

In evidence of the few items we have covered, I believe it is safe to say that we should pray on a consistent and frequent basis.  With a primary motivation of praising God. Prayer should in private, as both evidenced and commanded by Jesus.  Prayer should have priority in our lives.  Prayer is so important to our walk with God that we should spend time in prayer throughout the day.  We must also bring up the new convert in this crucial instruction on communicating with God.

 

 

References:

“Prayer Practices in Daniel by Judith H. Newman.” Covenant in the Hebrew Bible, http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/prayer-practices-in-daniel.

 

[i] Why does Daniel get down on his knees to pray three times a day with his windows opened toward Jerusalem (Dan 6:10)? The reason is that prayerful bodies matter in the book of Daniel. Though supposedly serving in the Persian king Darius’s government, in this tale Daniel disobeys the king’s law to worship him. Instead, Daniel follows his own religious law, developing habitual practices that involve his body. His posture of kneeling is unique in the book and offers a strong contrast to pagan religious practice in the Babylonian and Persian Empires, as well as the Greek Seleucid Empire, which threatened the Jerusalem temple at the time of the book’s composition. In Greek religion, praying individuals stood with hands outstretched, palms facing upward. Prayers were recited aloud in public accompanied by a sacrifice. In contrast, Daniel prays in isolation in an upper room, kneeling down in “service.” Daniel’s prayer signals his resistance to empire and his radically alternative allegiance. Rather than offer honor and praise to King Darius in a public space, he seeks mercy by confessing sin, praying, and praising his own God. “Prayer Practices in Daniel by Judith H. Newman.” Covenant in the Hebrew Bible, http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/prayer-practices-in-daniel.

 

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

John 14:13-14

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Radio Alleluia 

When most people pray they are really just praying and hoping.  That is when we pray we are saying some words, hoping that we said is correctly; hoping that we used the proper syntax and keywords, like some Google search.  We hope that God is even listening and that when He gets around to it that He will answer if he feels like we deserve and answer the way we want him to for our benefit.  But this is not what prayer is like in scripture.  When the patriarchs and the apostles prayed, they expected results.

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When we pray we should believe and be expecting results.  Scripture approached prayer with an expectation that it is heard, and will be answered.  Why would Jesus tell us the whatsoever ye shall ask, that I will do?  Twice in these two verses Jesus says, “I will do”.  That is a fully loaded promise.  So why don’t we experience this kind of prayer life?

Looking here at verse 13 we see that Jesus first says, “ask in my name”.  Whatever you need, ask in my name.  I heard a story recently of a conversation between two believers.  One was struggling with his prayer life and did not feel as if God was listening to him.  He had been praying earnestly over and over and was not seeing an answer to his prayers.  The other Christian, in an attempt to help him resolve the issue, told the first Christian that he was praying incorrectly.  The encourager told him he was using the wrong name to call to upon God, and because he was using the wrong pronunciation of Jesus (Yeshua), that God would not answer him.

I can see the logic in his argument.  I mean right here in this very text is says to ask in his name.  Does this mean that if I don’t use the correct pronunciation or dialect of the name of Jesus, or worse, that I don’t even say, “In Jesus name”, that God won’t hear me and answer my prayer?  No, God Forbid.

There are some groups that say that we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we will not have our prayers answered, these groups have a false doctrine that even says that it is a sin to pronounce the name of the Son of God incorrectly.

Some say that we must use:

  • The original Greek in which the New Testament was written: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced Há-soos´);
  • The Hebrew (pronounced <Joshua>Yeh-hah shoo´ah or Yeh-shoo´ah);
  • The Aramaic Yêšû` (pronounced Yá-soo´);
  • The Greek Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus);
  • English Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus´).

We need to understand that if there are no original texts from the Hebrew, and the Greek and Aramaic texts are not believed to be the originals either.  The Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are our references for the modern day translations of the bible.  There the Greek translation is Jesus Christ which comes to mean “Yahweh is Salvation” in the Hebrew name of Joshua. Now we can see how vain an argument over Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus, any other dialect issue is over the pronunciation of the Son of God.

In the Bible there are over 955 names and titles that are given for reference to God.  Most of these are actually descriptive of God’s character or his attributes. Some of these are:

Abba – Greek: Father

Abba- Aramaic: Daddy

Abir (Abhir)- Hebrew: The Mighty One

YHWH (Jehovah) Hebrew: Lord, in fact in the King James Version when you see the capitalized “LORD” it is in reference to this term.

El Shaddiah – Hebrew: Almighty One

Bara – Hebrew: Creator

El – Hebrew: Which is a borrowed term from Canaan which means “God”

You see the Hebrews believe that the name of God is so sacred that you cannot even pronounce it, or even write it in its completion.  So when Orthodox Jews write out even reference to God they leave out a letter for example writing Lord would be “L_rd”.

In truth we must ask ourselves, first, are we a Christian?  You see it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God that we can receive his offer of Salvation, believing He has the power and authority that only the Son of God has, and that His Word is trustworthy, and that He committed Himself to become a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and then conquered death in His resurrection.  His name, however pronounced, still speaks of the Son of God.  My name is Harvey, but some people call me Havier. I don’t ignore them, I understand that they are speaking to me from a Latin perspective.  I still respond to their calling me.

So what does it mean to “Ask in My Name”?  It means to ask in his weight. That is to ask in his merit.  Or in the provision that he has made.  We come before God in Christ’s standing.  This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) (John 14:6). No man can approach God the Father in his own merit.  Of ourselves, there is no reason why God should hear any or our prayers, much less to answer them.  God does not owe any of us anything.

Still we come before God thinking that if we review our memory verses, or if we recite enough scripture, or even if we have done enough Bible study to show God how good a Christian we are, then! He will hear us!  We feel all spiritual and even invoke the name of Jesus in the proper context and then God has to hear and give us what we prayed for.  WOW! What arrogance we have!  We forget the warning of James that says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

Jesus did not put a bunch of conditions on the prayer.  He didn’t say:

  • If you sin, don’t come pray to me
  • If you stumble, don’t ask me for help
  • If you fall, I wont be the one picking you up
  • If you didn’t read your bible today, don’t even bother to approach me.
  • He did not say, if you call me by my proper name, or #IN JESUS NAME, then I will answer you.

No he did not say any of that foolishness.  He said, if you know me, and who I am, that I am the Son of God.  That I am your way to the Father.  I you believe in me, then trust me. So then “in his name” means to come in the merit of his righteousness.

We can also come as his representative.  We are ambassadors.  When an ambassador comes to another country they do not go in their own name, they go representing the country from which they came, and they act accordingly with the authority granted to them by their own leader.

We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have authority on behalf of the Kingdom, through Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah).  See Jesus came to do the will of his Father.  He came on behalf of His Father and acted in his Father’s authority.  He did not step out of his Father’s will, nor the authority granted in that will.

So, when we pray, are we praying in the will of Jesus and in the Authority given in his name?  Are we acting on behalf of Jesus? We are praying for his will, not ours.  Now don’t miss hear me.  Listen to this, just because we are to pray in his authority for his will to be done, it does not mean we cannot intercede for our loved ones, or ask for ourselves.

The example that Jesus gave us in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father” shows us how a prayer should be prayed in faith.  It should first give glory to God.  How can you ask something of someone without having an understanding that they can and are willing perform what you ask.  Then we are to pray for the things that we need in order to continue the work of faith that he has wrought in us.  Recognizing that all things are given to us, even our daily sustenance.  The Holy, Creator of the universe and all that is within it, the one who stands from before time began, and will be here after time is ended cares about your individual needs, especially with regards to sustaining you in all matters of grace. Not enough praying “in his name” is in real acknowledgement of full dependence on His righteousness for access to the throne of God and seeking His glorification and His will to be done.

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in Matthew 6:8 you can find Jesus telling us, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  God knows what we need and is willing to give us abundantly.  The ability to speak to God is given directly to each individual believer in Jesus Christ.  We have this gift because the Lord wants real fellowship with us.

God gives us opportunities to exercise our faith in him by our dependence on his grace.

He said that he will supply everything we need, but we do have to come to him.  He wants to hear your prayers, he wants that acknowledgement that you understand who he is and where all good things come from.  God will do his part in your life.  We need to pray and believe that the things we seek in him, for his glory… He will do.  He has promised it, and what he has promised he will perform.  Not because he is a Djinni. But because he is a God of love, and it makes him happy to give to us.

In closing I want to read to you John 17:20-26, this is Jesus’ prayer for his followers.  In particular this portion speaks to you and me.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. 

Pray in the Right Attitude

There are a lot of books and study packages and helpful hints on prayer that are readily available throughout the United States and the Internet. The way that they present themselves are like some kind of magic remedying, or sometimes special invocation used to get what we want out of God. It is clear by looking in the book of Matthew chapter 6 that the shoes always been a misunderstanding on how we should approach God in prayer. I think that is of special note, that the Lord himself thinks it’s a is so important that we understand how to pray, and how to seek the Lord, that he left as an example. This example is what we often referred to as the Lord’s prayer or the our father. We can find is prayer located in Matthew chapter 6 starting in verse 9.

 

Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this Day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Laura clearly leaves this prayer as an example of how we should praise, the type of praise and offering the should be offered in prayer, and one of our attitude in prayer. Something that we should also consider, is this prayer closely models the prayer that was prayed by King David, as he will made ready to relinquish his throne to his son Solomon. When David prayed he prayed in this manner.

1 Chronicles 29:10 – 13 (KJV)

“wherefore David bless the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Nine, oh Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in the years is thine; thine is the kingdom, oh Lord, and thou art exalted as head of all. Both riches and honor come to the of the, and out rainiest overall; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength into all. Now therefore, our God, we think the, and praise thy glorious name.”

It is no accident, that the Lord chose the model of prayer given in Matthew after the prayer of David given Chronicles. It is often said that David was a man after God’s own heart. This prayer shows how much David understood the Lord, and understood his place in the Lord’s will. First of all David in his heart knew that only God deserves the blessings of all creation. He understood that all power and all glory anything that we could ever achieve is done through God the father. He understood the relationship that God had with Israel. The relationship between God and Israel, God and King David, was very unique and was one built on love. If you look back through the histories of other cultures and their gods, you’ll see quite a different relationship. Other cultures and other religions do not have a loving God who provides everything for them for their benefit out of his good pleasure. This same unique relationship is carried over to us as believers in Christ. This love relationship is demonstrated in the death and the burial in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So then first we must understand that everything that we have is actually a gift from God. Everything that we own in reality belongs to God. When we speak of everything we are talking about our finances, livelihoods, health, and even the very breath we breathe. If we approach our prayer in the correct attitude, and we give God to credit is due to God, then we find ourselves not asking for petty little things that God already provides for us. Instead we enter into true worship with an understanding of the provisions that are already made by God. In seeking God in prayer, we should seek to return the love that he showed us.

Looking back at Matthew chapter 6 we can also see Jesus was very concerned about our attitude in prayer and why we choose to pray. That we should be seeking the father with all earnestness all sincerity in our heart. Jesus said, “take heed that you do not you’re on before men, to be seen of them”. He also said that we should not present ourselves out before meant just to be seen of men to be doing good things for God but we should be sincere and we should pray secretly in private because God once a one-on-one relationship with us and he once us to really spend time with him. The father does not want us to be superficial in our actions and our hopes and in our love for him. While the our father is a good model and learning how to pray it should not be a repetitious prayer. Instead the model of the Lord’s prayer shows we should love the Lord our God with all of our hearts. The our father also shows that we should have respect for God for the provisions he makes. We should be submissive to his will in our lives by actively seeking his will. We should be living a life that shows that we are his children, because he is a good father who provides far daily needs before we even ask. We do this by forgiving others like he forgave us. We should also acknowledge the fact that it is he who guides us and leads us to our daily lives protecting us from temptations and from the evil things there are around us those who seek to harm us.

Because he does all these things we can with joy in our hearts give praise to our heavenly father because he is the ultimate authority in the universe. He has all authority, provides everything we need, and he does it because he loves us like a good father should. Those of you who have children know that there’s nothing that you would not do for your children to provide for their safety for their health for their financial support, and even for the little toys that they want Christmas. Knowing this then, that your heavenly father who created everything, who owns everything, who wants to give everything to you, can and will provide everything you need if you’ll just come to him. There is no invocation there is no secret formula there is no special prayer. Instead there is a recognition of God for who he is, an understanding that he loves you, and that he is willing to give you good gifts. But of these gifts, the greatest gift that he wants to give you is eternal life in fellowship with him. This was provided the sacrifice that was made by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross to redeem your who and your whole life to the Father.  So the question is, if God love you so much to sacrifice his own son, how much more will he give you if seek him first, and you ask in faith, believing he can do whatever you ask.

So go to your closet, get on your knees, give credit where credit is do.  Be sincere with your Heavenly Father, seek his will, and when He answers, be faithful.

 

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – You Cannot Believe in Just Half the Gospel and Be Saved.

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – You Cannot Believe in Just Half the Gospel and Be Saved.

This letter of Corinthians was written by the apostle Paul.  It is believed that the letter was written around 55 AD.  The letter deals with spiritual and moral issues that had arose in the church since Paul’s preaching there in 50 AD.  The main emphasis on this of Chapter 15 verses 12-20 deals with the Athenian philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic beliefs concerning death and the resurrection, and their influence on the church.

The Epicurean believed that when one dies, they simply no longer exist.  The Stoic believe that when we die, our soul is absorbed into the soul of the universe, there in no individual conscience.  These two philosophies originated between 341-313 BC. These two philosophies are still very prevalent in today’s one world philosophy.

They are portrayed in popular writings and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars.  Among the other thoughts in these philosophies are man’s oneness with the energy of the universe, the end justifies the means, and that everything that happens to a man is a cause and effect relationship, man has no real will of his own, or Kharma. For this selection in Corinthians we are concerned with the beliefs of what happens after one dies and the resurrection beliefs in modern churches.

There are many Christians today that don’t believe that a body can be resurrected out of the grave.  They make silly arguments about the condition of the body, the decay, or it the person was mutilated or burned to death.  This becomes their basis to say that the physical body cannot be raised.  The dead will not come out of the grave.

In 2006 a poll released by the Scripps Howard News Service and posed on the Ohio University Survey Research Center website stated that only 65% of professing “Born Again” Christians believe in the physical resurrection of Christ.

A more recent poll released in 2014, by Thomas D. Williams, PH.D., showed that 3 out of 4 Americans believe in some sort of life after death, but only 37% believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead.  This is from Americans who have some sort of “religious affiliation”. What seems to be an odd trend is that those with higher educations are more likely to believe in life after death of some sort.

The frightening aspect is that those who call themselves “Followers of Christ”, and “Born Again” in increasing numbers do not believe in the resurrection of the body, and do not believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead.  Christians are rejecting one of the fundamental beliefs of their own religion because of improper discipleship and ignorance of the full gospel. For an answer to this heresy we turn to Paul’s writings to the Corinthians.

Paul tells us that it is necessary to believe in the resurrection of the body.  You have to believe in the whole gospel or none of it.  The resurrection is not just a fable made up to give us a false since of security.

Let us begin at verse 12 in 1st Corinthians chapter 15.

V12. Now it Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is not resurrection of the dead?

Paul is saying here that this is essential to the gospel.  Remember he is speaking to believers.  Paul says if you have believed on Jesus, that you have then been baptized as an outward showing of your faith, then how can you deny the resurrection?  This is inconceivable to Paul.

Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

I can hear Paul saying, don’t you remember what we preached to you?  Don’t you remember how we told you that even the Apostle Thomas had his doubts because he did not see what the others saw?  Don’t you remember how we testified to you that Jesus appeared again to the disciples and told Thomas, and I quote;

“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27)

So this is what we preach, that Christ died and is risen again, because you cannot be saved unless you believe that He is risen.  This being so, if you confess that Christ is risen, then how can you not believe there is a resurrection of the dead?  The Greeks looked at themselves as very logical and philosophical people, Paul appeals to this reasoning they were so proud of.  It is illogical to say you believe that Jesus rose from the dead so you could have eternal life, but don’t believe you will be resurrected.

V13. But if there is not resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

Here Paul starts his logical argument.  He says, “OK. Let’s say that there is not resurrection of the dead.”  Let us say that a dead body cannot rise from the grave.  Let’s forget about the story of Lazarus, and how Jesus raised him from the dead.  If when a man dies he simply ceases to exist, or he is absorbed into the cosmos, then it is impossible for Jesus to have risen from the grave.  If this is what you believe concerning death, then you cannot believe that Jesus arose, it is not logical.  Even though there were other examples that we have been told about.  The scriptures tell us about a resurrection and a judgment to come.

Let’s forget about how Psalm 19:9-10 prophesies about Jesus and says, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.  For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

Let’s even forget how the scriptures of Daniel tell us in 12:2 about a general resurrection of the body where it is written, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

If there is no resurrection of the dead…. Then Christ did not rise either…. That is the first argument.  If you don’t believe in the dead rising from the grave, then you cannot believe that Jesus rose from the grave.  Why….?  Because Christ, while being the Son of God, was also human.  He died and was as dead as any other human.  Yes he was sinless, a sacrifice.  Stay with me now, in order for a sacrifice of death to be complete, something has to die in it’s place.  You see, Jesus was, “dead as a doornail.” As we say in south-east Texas.

How do we know that Jesus was a man?  The scriptures testify to it:

  • Acts 2:22 “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God…”
  • Galatians 4:4 says Jesus was born of a woman
  • 1 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only mediator between God and Man and that HE is the Man Christ Jesus

There are at least 12 other references in the New Testament that describe how Jesus, wept, felt tired, slept, spit, breathed and so on, testifying that he was not some ethereal presence, but a real flesh and blood human being.

V14. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

So in following that thought process, the deeper reality would begin to sink in.  If there is no resurrection of the dead, and Jesus therefor did not rise from the grave, because it is impossible for a man to be raised from the dead.  Then there is no basis for what we preach.

The whole of the apostolic preaching was the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That was the whole point of the message! Therefore, if you believed our preaching, and it was not based on fact, then you have believed in nothing.  Christianity itself is empty.

There was never a claim that Mohammed rose from the grave.  There was never a claim that Buddha rose from the grave.  In fact neither of them said they were the Son of God.  But Jesus said he was the Son of God.  In fact in Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus says that a sign of Him being the Son of God would be His resurrection.

V15. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up_ if in fact the dead do not rise.

Paul goes farther, he says that if you do not believe in the resurrection of the Dead, and by extension do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and we have testified that we have seen his resurrection… then we are liars, and false witnesses.  You cannot believe anything we say.  If you cannot believe in the simple doctrine we put forward to you, then you cannot believe anything else.

V16. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.

Truth be told, if it is not possible for the dead to rise, then Christ did not rise.  If a man cannot come back from the dead, then Christ could not have come back from the dead either.

V17. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

Now Paul shows why it is so important to believe in the resurrection of life.  The physical resurrection of Jesus.  IF Jesus is not risen, then Jesus is not alive and with the Father, then you have believed a lie.  So your faith is unfounded, and there is no forgiveness of sins.  You have not mediator for men.  Death is still inescapable.  Now you have a real problem to fear.  You have to enter into eternity within your fallen, unforgiven state.  You will be condemned.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6.32)

V18. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

This means that those who have been martyred for the cause of Christ have died in vain.  Those who believed and have passed on, are lost forever.  This also means all of the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs have also died in vain, because they prophesied about Jesus and His resurrection. The prophets of old looked forward to the resurrection. If a man cannot be resurrected, then Jesus could not have been resurrected.  If Jesus was not resurrected and the whole thing was made up.  If it was all made up then you cannot believe in a lie. If it is a lie, then there is no hope for mankind in Jesus. If the resurrection was a lie then so is the rest of the gospel, and all who have died, have died in sin.  That means that the war in Heaven is over and that God lost.  Everyone is doomed.  If Jesus did not accomplish our salvation, then no one can.

V19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

If all this has been a lie, and we have believed in vain, then we are the stupidest people on Earth.  If we live a life to show love toward one another, and selfless sacrifice in gratitude for the hope of life we have in Jesus, and there is no basis for this belief, then we have been fools.  If we have put others first, and been beaten, and tortured, lost our homes, jobs, and even family ties for Christ sake, and it is a lie, then we are the most miserable people on the face of the earth.  It is right for others to call us stupid and mistreat us, because we deserve it.  We have purposely made ourselves a victim.  If the only benefit to believing in Jesus, in this life, is to be a good person, then we have wasted our lives.  Because we don’t believe in Jesus just to live a good life.

  • The scriptures tell us that none is good! (Matthew 19.17)
  • There is none righteous (Romans 3.10)
  • Everyone, altogether has become filthy and can do no good, NO NOT ONE! (Psalm 53.3)

V20. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

How do we know Jesus was resurrected?  We have witnesses; that is how know he was resurrected.

”For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once,…” 1 Cor 15:3-6a. 

Paul tells us, Hey, I myself have seen Him, Peter has seen him, the scriptures testify to God’s plan, and even 500 believers have seen him… All at the same time!  This is not made up, there are too many witnesses.

Jesus himself told us that the sign of His being the Son of God would be “the sign of Jonah”.  How Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 day, so would the Son of Man be in the ground for 3 days, then he would rise.  This is God’s testimony of Jesus.  This is His Word fulfilled! – Amen

Jesus rose from the dead, he physically came out of the grave!  This is a sign that we are forgiven.  This is God’s signature at the end of the letter! He is saying, “Here is the guarantee!

If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, then sin killed him.  If sin killed him then death was not subdued. But… scripture tell us that the resurrection of the dead out of the grave is not only possible, but that it will occur for everyone.  You do not need to believe it is possible for you to be resurrected.  But you do need to believe that Jesus was resurrected in order to avoid being condemned by your own lack of belief, not God’s. Listen to John 5:28-29.

John 5: 28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

Therefore, we know that the resurrection of the dead is possible.  Therefore we know that the resurrection of Jesus is not only possible, but that it did occur.  It occurred as a testimony of the forgiveness of sins, and of the resurrection of life.

We also know that there is a day coming when everyone will be called up out of the grave and brought to judgment.  Those who have believed in Jesus will be rewarded.  Those who have not believed, those who were filled with how intellectually important they were, will be brought to face their condemnation.   But there is hope!  There is hope in Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was slain for the remission of sin.

By God raising Jesus from the dead it means that God was satisfied with the sin offering made by Jesus.  In Romans 4 the scriptures tell us about how Abraham’s faith in God being able to do what He said he would do was enough for God to impute righteousness to Abraham.  Having faith in God to do what he said He would do concerning Jesus, also imputes righteousness to us.

“It shall be imputed to use who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4: 24-25)

 

The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony from God that the sacrifice Jesus made for our sin, is acceptable to God, and that believing in this is how righteousness is imparted to us

Romans 5:8-10 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The grace of God is that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ, the proof of that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Because Jesus was resurrected, we will also be resurrected to eternal life.

How do we know that Jesus physically arose?

  • John 20.17 – Jesus tells Mary not to touch him yet because He still has to ascend to the Father.
  • Acts 20.11 – Tells us that Jesus ate with the disciples
  • Luke 24.38-39 – “Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthians explaining, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15.20-22)

So I ask you today.  Do you believe that there is life after death? Do you believe that a man can be brought back from the dead?  Do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead as a sign, that as the scripture records, and even Jesus himself told, that the sign of Jonah would be the only sign given concerning his atonement?

If you do then you need to confess it.

Acknowledge to God and to man, that Jesus was resurrected and that He is the only mediator between the Father and man.

He is because he lives. – Amen

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step 

Moses is dead- then what? Was God’s plan ruined?

No man is indispensable. God’s work does not go unfinished just because there is a change in servants. The same as the carpenter who changes tools while building a house. First he uses a shovel, then a ruler, then a saw, and then a hammer. The tribes were not lost with the death of Moses. Instead the change in leaders rang in a new phase of God’s plan. “Therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Is what God commanded.

Now this does not mean that Moses was forgotten or that he was not honored and missed. The scripture refers to Moses as “the servant of the Lord”; clearly this is an honored title. Let’s take a second to look at this man’s life. He was at one time an oppressor of his own people, then a murderer. By his own admission he was not a cleaver or charismatic speaker. Yet the Lord used him, because he was obedient. Now in his death he is remembered by the scriptures as the Lord’s Servant.

His life was redeemed by the Lord. Moses heard the voice of God and was obedient, and the Lord changed his life. I look back on things I have done and wonder how God could ever love me, but in this simple scripture I gain hope. Because I hold faith in Jesus, he had redeemed me from my previous life. Because Jesus died and shed His blood for an atonement for my rebellious and self-serving immoral life, I have been made a new creature in Christ. I can think of no greater honor then to be found, by God, to be faithful. To be referred to as the Servant of the Lord, is something I don’t deserve, but bless God He enables me to be. – Amen!

Joshua had some big shoes to fill. I certainly don’t envy him on this. He received the same great promise the Lord gave to Moses, he had to obey the same Law the Lord gave to Moses, he was assured of the same presence from God that Moses had. There was a change in leaders, but nothing else changed in the circumstances. God was still God and God was still in charge.

In verse 2 Joshua receives his first test. “Go over this Jordan”. This seems like a simple charge. However; this was an immediate test of Joshua’s faith in God. God had already found out that Joshua was a good servant to Moses. In verse one it says “the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister”. Joshua has served Moses faithfully for over 40 years. He was a great soldier, and dedicated to the Law of Moses. But sometimes when there is a change in management, subordinates do not react well.

Sometimes when a subordinate is promoted, they lose perspective, and their egos inflate beyond what is helpful. So the Lord had to check Joshua to see if he would remain a good servant. So he gave him a small test. In addition this tests his leadership skills. Some soldiers, even officers are great at taking orders, but do not know how to actually lead. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time.

In the corporate world, business owners and CEOs give tests to new managers in order to develop their skills and confidence. Successful accomplishment of smaller tasks leads to an increase in responsibilities and instills faithfulness and confidence. The process of being lead through difficult tasks and challenging circumstances builds a unique bond between mentor and student.

In Joshua 3.15 we read that the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua, “build an ark”, like He did Noah. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua to “stretch forth his staff over the waters” like he did to Moses. No the Lord at first didn’t give Joshua any indications on how this feat should be approached. Let us consider also the enemy situation. This situation was not like when God parted the Red Sea for Moses so that the tribes could get away from Pharaoh’s army. They weren’t escaping an enemy. The tribes were crossing over into enemy territory, probably being observed doing so. Later we can read that the crossing was in broad daylight. This was not some secret thing that God was doing.

When I was in the Army, we did not cross a river in daylight if it could be helped. We would wait until nightfall and cross under the cover of darkness. In addition, we would send scouts to ensure that the enemy was not able to observe us crossing. We called these linear danger areas, and many lives could be lost if the enemy attacked you while crossing a linear danger area, especially one that took as much time to cross as a flowing river. This was an extremely dangerous and time consuming maneuver to undertake.

So maybe now you can understand what a test of faith this was. Joshua was to cross the entire nation over the river Jordan, and had not received any indication of how this was possible. Joshua had seen what God had done for Moses. Joshua had been trained by Moses to trust in the Lord. Joshua had seen with his own eyes the penalty of unbelief in God. Joshua know the penalty for murmuring against God, and how much it displeased God. Joshua did not display any of these things. In turn Joshua commanded the people. He did not question God.

What Joshua had was a command and a promise from God. We also have some tasks that God has commanded us to do. We sometimes cannot see how God would expect us to complete. We cannot see how to carry through, but if we do, it we obey, it we take that first step in faith, God responds to our faith. God is faithful and we begin to see a path through the waters. We find a trail in the wilderness, a step up the mountain. It might be narrow, and dangerous, but it is enough to let you through – Amen! That’s what God means when He says, “My grace is sufficient.”

The Lord told Joshua in verse 3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” The lord has given us the victory. His word is a lamp unto our feet. We are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Jesus said in Matthew 28 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Joshua 1:5 says, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee:” Does this sound familiar?

This is the same command and promise we have today. “Go” and “I am with thee” are what Jesus reaffirms to us who believe. The promise in verse four is almost verbatim of the promise given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2.24. Now these boundaries as outlined in the text were not actually achieved until late in history, but they were achieved. Does this mean that God failed Joshua? No, the promises were conditional. In verses, 6-9 the Lord laid out the conditions to Joshua. The Lord told him to be strong and of good courage, and also to not let the Law depart from out of his mouth, but to meditate on them daily. The Israeli’s failure to keep the directives of God had a direct consequence on their receiving the promises of God.

God always has more good in store for us than we can ever realize. The problem is that we turn away from God. Following the Law does not give us salvation. Faith in the atonement provided through the blood of Jesus does. However, adherence to the principles of the Law will have positive effects on our lives. For instance if you commit adultery you stand to lose out on a lifelong relationship with a spouse that would have otherwise been committed to you the rest of your life. Someone who would have enriched your life and grew with you daily in love and given you peace in your heart and mind. In addition, adultery opens you and your spouse up to sexually transmitted diseases, and health related issues. In addition, even if you don’t lose your spouse, you lose the sacred bond of trust with your spouse, friends and family members.

Your testimony becomes worthless, and you become useless to God for your intended purposes. The spiritual ramifications to everyone involved are immeasurable. Unbelief and sin turn a great evangelical Christian into an eyesore and a point of shame. That is why God gave Joshua encouragement. That is why God gives us encouragement. That is why Paul tells us over and over in his epistles to encourage one another.

Jesus told his disciples while they were in a boat, in a storm in the middle of the night, “It is I, be not afraid”. He told Joshua, “be strong and of good courage.” So we know that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God’s nature does not change. Knowing this we know that Jesus is with us, we too can be strong and of good courage. We are not in the storm, in the middle of the darkness, all alone. When the waters of stress and fear are rising up and trying to choke the light out of us, He says, “be not afraid.” – Amen.

Be strong! Be courageous! Our strength is the fruit of our faith. That is why Ephesians 6.10 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Christ has given us Himself and thus supplied everything we need. His Word will prove to be definitive, and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it to our lives. – Amen