Tag: Love

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 4

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 4

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:4) 

Forgive as we forgive.  We must realize that we are broken from our own sin.  It is a natural condition.  Romans 5:12 explains to us that sin came into the world and was passed down to every single man, woman, and child through the sin of one man.  This sin separated God from man and produced death in man.  In this manner, death has moved through all the generations of man, through one common ancestor.  Our sinfulness is more than that.

Not only do we have inherent sin, but; we also commit sin of our own.  You can try to say, “The Devil made me do it”, however; it was your own sinful nature.  This sin nature is driven out of selfishness.  Just as Adam chose to disobey God, so do we choose to disobey God.  This sin makes a separation between you and God (Isaiah 59.2).  WE forgive in recognition that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).

We must recognize that just as we needed forgiveness, so do others around us.  We cannot hold ourselves to one standard, and hold all others to another.  We are all in the same boat, as it were.  If we have been forgiven, of all that we have done. Forgiveness that includes the sin that was on us from generations past, and those of our own seeking.  In recognizing then, we are truly and completely clean of sin, and that we could not have cleansed ourselves no more than a pig can clean itself in the pen.  Knowing that we did not earn this cleansing by our own merit, because we cannot be good enough.  We cannot be good enough because even at our best, we are still in sin from Adam.  We have come to the understanding that without this forgiveness our sin is punishable by death. (Romans 5:12).

Even though we deserve the death penalty, we have been forgiven of all sin in Jesus Christ our Lord.  This was a gift from the Father, and is witnesses in the sealing of the Holy Spirit.  Through this grace, we have been justified by God, in the faith we have in Jesus.  (Galatians 3:11). In having a true understanding of this in our hearts, we cannot approach the Lord with our petitions if we are holding something against another.

To be unforgiving, especially after we received such a gift ourselves, is hypocrisy. This attitude is contrary to the heart of God, who wishes that all should come to repentance and not die (2 Peter 3:8-10).  Jesus himself said that you come to the altar and remember that someone has something against you, or it you have something against someone else; leave the altar.  Jesus said, leave your gift where it is and make things right between you and them.  Once you have addressed the issue with whom you have offended or who has offended you, then come back to the altar.  With a clean heart, offer your gift.  Do not offer a vain gift to the Lord.

We must come to the Lord with the right heart, motivated by love and gratitude.  We cannot hold animosity.  To hold animosity means that we have judges ourselves to be more important than someone else.  We think too highly of ourselves in thinking that we deserve forgiveness but someone else does not.  In truth, no one DESERVES forgiveness, not you, not I.  Hypocrisy is as it’s heights in an unforgiving Christian. In fear and understanding, we humble ourselves before God.  We recognize that we needed his forgiveness, and so do others.  How can we who have been forgiven, not forgive other?  You may say, but I have not done the terrible things that they did to me, or to so and so.  That is not true.  Your sin had someone else tortured.  Your sin caused a mother to lose her child.  In fact she watched him being tortured, and beaten, and mocked.  She watched him shamed in public, and stung up to die.  Your sin caused a man to die.  How much worse can someone else do, then to kill someone either by malice of forethought or even by happenstance?

Forgiveness also does some other things.  Forgiveness sets the one who was wronged free from anger and resentment.  Forgiveness relieves victimization.  Forgiveness gives one the chance to renew their life.  Forgiveness causes a person to be stuck in the offence.  Forgiveness also reveals the nature of our own heart.  In order to love God with our whole heart, we must be able to love one another.  We are incapable of loving one another without being able to forgive one another.

And lead us not into temptation…

Part of this salvation provided by the Lord is Justification, which we covered already.  Now we move into the next portion, that of Sanctification.  Justification happened when we first believed on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Justification is passed to us through faith in the gospel message concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God sees our faith in Jesus and is pleased with this faith.  We are then given a legal righteousness imputed to us for all time, which delivers us from the penalty of sin.

Sanctification is a present experiential or progressive work performed in us by the Holy Spirit, keeping us holy until the final phase of salvation.  Sanctification is then a process of spiritual growth in the Christian life where we are delivered from the power of sin in daily life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Looking again at this portion of the prayer recorded in Luke 11 where is says, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, in this context, we see a great hope in living for Christ in our daily lives.  This is not some vain wish or aspiration, but; a real living hope!  This is voicing and expectation in dependency.  This statement gives recognition that we are dependent upon the very Spirit of God not only as a provider, but as a protector.

This is pleas has specific connotations. I am sure that you recall, if you have had a child, or know someone who has a toddler.  When the child gets old enough to walk, but not old enough to know better, which for some of us can last until the 40s. (LOL) The very safe environment of the family home can become a living hazard to the exploring babe.  A parent must safeguard the environment with outlet covers, door latches, and the sort.  Even then with all of those precautions, a parent must be ever vigilant for where the child is and what they are doing, especially if they are to quiet.  The attentive parent must from time to time, correct or avert the attention of the young one from things that may cause them harm.

This is the plea made here.  God keep a watch out for me God!  Keep me from the things that would harm me.  Even if I really think I want them.  Protect me not only from the temptation out there that is in this sinful age, but also from the lure to sin that I create in myself.  Don’t let me sin against you, safeguard me!  We must also realize that we are in a real spiritual battle.

There is a war going on in the spiritual realm.  In that realm, just as there are angels that are aligned with the Heavenly Father, there are fallen angels who fight against his will.  These fallen angels, known as demons, have a leader we know by the name of Satan, the devil, the Evil One. They make war against the lamb of God, Jesus. Since you are in the will of God and in the family of God the enemy will make war against you.

This evil is real and is powerful. Alone we cannot stand against such power.  However, our God is all-powerful, and in Him, we can stand against the Devil and his demons.  You see God is our salvation, and our protector from this present age and all the evil that it contains.  There is no enemy that can stand against us, because we can call on the name of Jesus.  This prayer is a seeking of the will of God in our lives.  Jesus then says in his model of prayer, that we should seek first the kingdom of heaven.

We should seek to do what is the will of God the Father in recognition of who He is, and what he had provided for us.  We must never forget that He did these things because of His great love for us as mankind and as individuals. We glorify Him, but in actuality we do this because He has glorified us first.  Not only that there is a future glorification to come that we cannot understand.

The final stage of salvation is glorification.  For a lot of us this happens when we die.  But there are some of us who may yet see the rapture of the church.  I say this because we are in the last days, and he is standing at the door ready to open it wide.  In this final glorification we will put on immortality.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:53-55 KJV).

Death shall be finally defeated.  We will have moral perfection and a resurrected body.  This is a promise made by God and this promise will be deliverance from the presence of sin.  You see we will be in the presence of God himself, and sin cannot enter into His presence.  There are allot more things that can be written, concerning this prayer.  I think to answer the question, is there more to this prayer than just being a model for prayer can be answered with a loud, resounding “YES!”  Thanks God! YES!

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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.

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.

 

Leave the Pig Pen Behind

In the gospel of Luke we find a story about a son who had taken his inheritance from the family and went away to a far land.  While there he wasted the inheritance on unwise and questionable living.  Much like many of us do when we first leave home.  When he had run out of money, there was a famine in the land and he was caught with no money, no job, and no way to come home.  Stranded in the this foreign land he took a job as a servant to an unrighteous man who took advantage of him.  After some time of this the young man, out of desperation decided to swallow his pride and return home.

The time away had beaten the young man in more than one way.  His heart was broken and his life was in shambles.  He had no hope, he only wanted to get home and beg his father for mercy and help.  I can think of times in my life when I had ruined all the opportunities that youth had given me, and squandered my money and eventually was left with nothing but burned bridges.  Shamefully I turned to family for help.  Not knowing if they would help, but desperately needing it.

Some of you are very familiar with this story, but I want to concentrate on this one aspect.  When the father saw the young man in the distance, he ran to him.  Then he called his servants and told them to put a robe on him, and a ring on his finger.  This is what I want us to see.  The son had travelled a far way.  His previous job had him living with pigs, and eating the leftovers of what the pigs did not eat.  He was malnourished, unclean, smelling.  Yet his father loved him anyway.  His father did not say, “Oh my, go get a bath, and put on some perfume before you hug me!”  No his father instead ran to him, and kissed him passionately over and over again.

This is the love that God has for us.  He loved us before we were cleansed.  We did not have to clean ourselves up and be presentable before he embraced us.  A lot of Christians will tell you that God loves me just the way I am, and that is true.  He does love us, just the way we are.  But if we look closer at this parable, we see that his father loved his son so much that he did not let him remain unclean.  This is the way our heavenly Father also loves us.  He loves us so much that he cannot leave us in the mire and stench that Jesus saved us from.  He renews our minds and transforms us into his image.

Psalm 3:3 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap”.  In other places in scripture it describes how the Lord brought the writer out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set his feet upon a rock making his footsteps firm (Psalm 40:2).  The Lord wants better for us than to just be saved from hell.  He wants us to be what we were meant to be in Him.

Romans 8:37 explains how that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. We are more than victorious, more than vanquishers, more than subjugators. Christians need to study scripture and awaken to the truths that God has given us.  We do not need to be sheepish and tied to the things that kept us bound before.  When the son in this story had returned home to his father’s embrace, he had also left the pig pen behind.  He was not living in that filth anymore.  -Amen

1 John 1:1-4 What Have Your Heard?

1 John 1:1-4 What Have You Heard?

  1. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
  2. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
  3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
  4. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

John was so overwhelmed with the importance of his message that he dispensed with normal salutations and introductions what would normally arrive in such a letter. During the time of the writing of this epistle the church was being influenced with by the acceptance of Gnosticism.

The Gnostics were marked with a philosophy that had a variety of views, one such basic view is that the spirit is good and matter is inherently evil, and the two constantly war against one another.  So then the one who is more knowledgeable or of a strong enough will, could overcome the weaknesses of the flesh. As a result Gnosticism held two major thoughts on Christ.

Docetic Gnosticism held that the humanity of Christ was ethereal, and that he only appeared to have a body. That is that Jesus was just a phantom force, which appeared and had no real physical substance.

Cerinthus Gnosticism held that the man Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary was not the “Christ” until is was bestowed upon him at his baptism and then the Spirit empowered his ministry, and then it left him before the crucifixion.

Now you may ask, who cares if they believed this?  What does it matter?  Well either view of Jesus in this manner removes the incarnation of Christ, and the atonement of his sacrifice.  The word “incarnation” simply means “the act of being made flesh”.  In other words, Jesus was indeed the Son of God and became man through his divine intervention and as such remained both God and man.

The Gospel of John puts it this way.  “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1).

If Jesus was not “Christ” from before his birth, through his death, and resurrection then he would have been just a man.  As a man, he could not have escaped the original sin of Adam. Jesus could not have brought atonement because he would have had sin.  It doesn’t matter how enlightened he may have been.  Knowledge does not relieve us of sin, knowledge exposes sin.

You see Adam (man) was created by God.  In fact man was singled out from all of God’s creation to be made in the likeness of God.  As part of this likeness of God man was created with a free will.  When man was created and set in the world he was given dominion over all the earth and man was without sin.  In fact when God finished creation He looked at it and said that it was “good”.

But man rebelled against God, of his own free will, and then sin entered into man, and a curse has since followed man.  Now that man was in sin and darkness, he was separated from God, because God is pure and righteous.  His presence would destroy man.  Romans 5:12 tells us, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered in to the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.

So you see a man cannot save man, because he is already tainted with sin.  Only God can save man, through a sinless sacrifice that would only be made once, one that could cover all of man’s sin, past, present and future.  There could only be one way to bridge the gap between man (creation) and God (Creator), God would have to provide the sacrifice.  This shows the necessity of God becoming man.

God had compassion on man.  God in his grace, had a plan to redeem man, from the very beginning.

The whole bible from beginning to end is a revelation of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.  In Genesis 3:15 God tells the serpent that deceived Adam and Eve into rebellion that, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This is the first prophecy concerning the salvation that would come through Jesus.  There are over 300 prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus in his short life here on earth, and there are still more prophecies yet to be fulfilled upon his return.

The author of this letter claims to be an eye witness to the ministry of Christ.  This makes the author and authority on who Jesus is and what he is doing. We must not ever forget the importance of having a witness.  John is telling his readers of this epistle that the things that they have been taught concerning Jesus is the truth and has been witnesses by them.  The witnesses are in what they have heard, both in the scriptures and in the words of Jesus.

  • Your testimony of what Jesus has done in your life is your witness of the truth of Jesus.
  • No one else can stand up and proclaim what you have seen and what you have heard from God.
  • No one else can explain how the love of Jesus has changed your heart.
  • No one else can explain the release of the guilt and the shame that you have suffered.

There is an old saying that people love to use.  “Who are you to judge me?” This is a true statement.  Who are you?  To many Christians get saved and in their enthusiasm to have others convert, forget that they were once lost and in rebellion.  They forget that it took someone who in genuine concern reached out and connected with them.

And you know how they did that?

  • They shared who they were, and who they are now.
  • They shared how Jesus made that difference and they shared the love that was given to them – freely.

It does not matter how much time we spend in church, Sunday school, or in memorizing bible scriptures.  It doesn’t even matter if we speak in tongues, or if we can heal others at a touch.  What matters is if we can reach out in love.  We have to love others enough to overcome the fear and insecurity of sharing our testimony.

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one to another.” (John 13:35).  He also said that I speak that which I have heard of the father.  Jesus led by example.

He didn’t talk about things he didn’t know.

  • He talked about things of heaven.
  • He explained the things that pertained to the Kingdom of God.
  • He gave examples and illustrations.
  • He testified of things he knew, that he had seen, and he had heard.

How?

  • Because he is God.
  • He existed before creation.
  • He was the creator.

So what do you know? What have you seen?  What have you heard?

You know the truth

  • Jesus is the Son of God
  • Jesus is faithful
  • Jesus loves you
  • Jesus forgave you
  • Jesus provided atonement for you
  • Jesus released you from your bondage
  • From sexual immortality
  • From lies
  • From disease
  • From the bondage of sin
  • Jesus gave you a choice again
  • You are no longer a slave
  • You have eternal life

These are the things that are in your testimony.  Henry Clay Trumbull (1830-1903) is considered one of God’s pioneers in soul-winning evangelism.  In fact he wrote the first books ever devoted strictly to the principles of personal evangelism.  He was a renowned expositor of scripture, missionary, organizer and lecturer.  He was the editor of the Civil War era publication. “The Sunday School Times”.  He was the author of 38 books in total.  He lectured at Yale University and traveled relentlessly spreading and teaching the gospel.  Yet here is what he said concerning personal evangelism.

“Looking back upon my work in all these years I can see more direct results of good through my individual efforts with individuals that I can know of through all my spoken words to thousands upon thousands of persons in religious assemblies, or all my written words on the pages of periodicals or of books.  Reaching one person at a time is the BEST way of reaching all the world in time.”

When Jesus said no man lights a candle and puts it under a table, but he puts in on top of the table so that all who enter the house can see the light, he was talking about you.  You are the light of Christ!  Don’t put it under a table and hide it!  Tell somebody what Jesus has done for you. –Amen!

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Mark 12:28-31 The First Commandment

Mark 12:28-31 The First Commandment

If I were to ask 100 different Christians what they thought was the most important part of Christianity I would undoubtable get many different answers.  Some would say it is Faith, others study of the Bible, or Prayer.  Even others would say the Holy Spirit, or service in the church.  I am of the persuasion that while all of these are important, they are merely manifestations that come out of the most important aspect of your belief in Christ.

*******************Read the Passage Mark 12:28-31********************

In Mark 12:28-33 Jesus is asked this very question.  Jesus said that the first thing we should have is a directed love towards God.  We should be careful, that we don’t misunderstand this word love.  It is not a general kind of love.  It is not like when we say, “Oh I just love that dress, or I love this new car!”  It is not even like a when we say that we should “love all mankind”.

Jesus didn’t say that the most important commandment is to love God and to second, love animals.  Had he said that then we could take away that he was talking about a general kind of love, where we should express love for everything, love people, love animals, love the planet, love everything.  But “love” in itself is not the main topic Jesus is speaking of.

Even when he goes on to say that the second commandment is like it, to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Instead he is still stressing the importance of the first command.  Jesus is saying the main point is to LOVE GOD!  The second is like it because it is still loving God, man was made in the image of God.

1 John 4:20 says that if a man says he loves God and hates his brother, then he is a liar!

James 3:9-10 says, “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessings and cursing.  My brethren this ought not so to be.”

This love Jesus is speaking of is not a blanket that we throw over our shoulders and sing warm little campfire songs for.  It is a more specific kind of love.  It is even more specific than a love for a spouse, or a child.  Instead it is a living love directed explicitly at God above all other things, places, or persons.

You see, God is Love (1 John 4.8 ”He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”).  So then whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16).

How do we then love God?  Jesus tells us this also.  We love with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.  We demonstrate this with our love for one another.  This is all simple words and easy to say, but how do we put this in action?

Our natural state as fallen creatures is not to love God, but rather to regard him with suspicion and resist his authority.  Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to enter heaven you must be born again.  You have to know that you are fallen and in danger of judgement, and in danger of eternal separation from God.  Matthew 25:41 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

But also as apostle Paul told us in the Colossians 1:20-22, that even though we were enemies with God, he had mercy on us and provided a sacrifice for our sins, in Jesus’ blood, to that we could be reconciled to God the Father.  So we were once alienated from God because of our evil nature.  But God Himself made a way for us to be with him.

“The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.” (Deuteronomy 30.6)

God himself gave us the way to love him, buy wiping out our record of sin.  By this I mean past, present, and future… This gives us the ability to love God with a pure heart and in good conscience, having a sincere faith.  Jesus has set us free, “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Tutus 1.15)

God knows that we cannot love him of ourselves.  He provided the way through Jesus Christ.  Jesus suffered so that we would not have to suffer in our sin and bondage.

Psalms  22: 14-16 records a portion of his suffering, “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death.  For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation if the wicked has enclosed Me.  They pierced My hands and My feet;”

So knowing these things we desire to please him.  The question is not “What would Jesus do”, but “What would please Him?”  We put Him first in all things.  The psalmist said “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73.25)

We love the Lord with our all in all; as a result of salvation through Jesus.  This is the starting point, without this relationship with Jesus, we cannot love God.  The love of Jesus must be the key feature in our lives.

We love the Lord by eliminating competing loves.  Loving God must become the key feature in our lives.  Don’t compartmentalize God into on little piece of your life. 

Each one of us have 168 hours in a week.  In that week the average Christian devotes 7 hours in Church, Sunday School, and a small group devotion or study.  During each week if you sleep 8 hours a day, every day then you spend another 56 hours in sleep.  That leaves 105 hours that are spent in eating, school, work, shopping, social events, or other leisure activities.  The question is how much of that 105 hours is spent demonstrating an active love for God?(Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, 4/25/2017)

This isn’t just a temporary fasting. Not just a time where we skip a meal or that we don’t eat red meat for few weeks.  It is not even a deprivation of sleep from an all-night prayer meeting, or a week of revival.  It is instead a way of living for God. 

In fact the Lord said in Isaiah 58:6-7 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and hot hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone were to ask your best friend, or your wife, or husband, or your children, “Tell me one thing about so-in-so…” and they could say, “That you really love God.”  Shouldn’t your life SHOW others that you truly love God!

This is a conscious choice.  We purpose ourselves for his service (Romans 12:11 says that we should be passionate in spirit, serving the Lord).  We do everything in life as if we are performing it whole heartedly for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).  In short we live “all out” for Him.  We hold nothing back from Him.  We are fully dedicated to His purposes.  We have to be wholehearted in our devotion to Him.  We are not ashamed of Him. 

Do you know that God knows that we are not perfect?  Do you know that he knows that sometimes, even on the way to church some of us have terrible arguments in the car?  Then we put on a smile and walk in the church like we just love everybody.  Then as soon as we walk out and start the car, our argument picks right back up from where it was.  Do you know that is wrong?  Sure we do.

We need to pray, and seek the Lord.  You know that as we humble ourselves and understand that we are not perfect, and hey no one else is either, and we realize again that Jesus still loves us.  He forgave us.  You know we can forgive others too.  We can love God by loving those around us.

We can even be so radical in our love for Him… that “We Love Our Neighbors, as we Love Ourselves!” (Mark 12:31) Do you know the best thing you can do for someone else is to let them see you LOVE God with all you have to love Him with?

In Matthew 25:34-40  we read “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have don’t it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

If someone asked that question, if the asked about you… today… if they asked “tell me about so-in-so”; and they were pointing the finger at you… Could who they were asking say, “They really love God”?  Does your life show your love for God?  Does your language show that your love God?  Do your neighbors even know that you know who Jesus is?  If not, maybe you need to make a commitment today. 

Get things right with God today.  Come to the alter of his mercy and tell him.  Lord I have not been living like I love you.  I have not been doing the things that I should, or speaking up for you.  Lord people have no idea that you’re my God or my savior by the way I act, speak, or how I treat other people, not even other believers.  I want to make that right with you today.

Or maybe you’re here and you have never even considered the sacrifice that Jesus made for you; how he poured out his blood to make restitution for your wrong doings.  Maybe you need to come and tell him you believe in Him.  You believe that he sacrificed himself for you, so that you could learn how to truly live in love.