This Psalm is such an amazing song of relief and hope. It is credited as a psalm of David. Many believe that it is written when David and his men were delivered from Achish the king of Gath in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. In this situation that David found himself in; David was on the run from King Saul. He ran to the Gath. Why he would do this? I am not sure. Gath is where Goliath was from. If you recall when David was still a boy, he killed Goliath from Gath when King Saul confronted the intruding Philistine armies. In this story in 1st Samuel, David had went to the Philistines for a place to hide. When David understood that they Philistines knew who he was he fear they would kill him and his men, so he acted like he was insane. The king wanted nothing to do with him and kicked him out.
Thus David saw this as protection from the Lord, and from this we get this Psalm. But really this Psalm comes from a culmination of a life that has been delivered over and over by the Lord God. God had made David victorious over a lion, a bear, and over the giant Goliath when David was just a youth. Then the Lord brought David into the palace of the king. The Lord protected David through many battles and gave him great fame and glory. When King Saul became jealous of David the Lord protected David from the entrapment of the king. He protected him, and fed him while he evaded Saul. Then here God protected David from his own foolishness and delivered him from his enemies.
David opens this Psalm like so many others. He starts by declaring that he has chosen to praise the Lord, and that he will continue in such a manner. David says that he will continue to boast on the Lord. David is not being quiet. He is proud of God who had delivered him from death. David knows by the past events that God is truly with him. He can have confidence that when he proclaims the name of the Lord, he will not be ashamed for doing it. The Lord is his protector. David calls for others who believe on the Lord to magnify the name of the Lord. This is a calling for others to expand upon the name of the Lord wherever they are, and in whatever situation they find themselves in. David calls others who believe on the Lord to give a loud witness, and glorify God.
Then David testifies on the faithfulness of God towards those that love him. He says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (v.4) What a great thing it is to remember the things the Lord has done for us and to give thanks. So much better is it for us to give open praise to the Lord for his deliverances. David said that he “sought the Lord and he heard me”. That would indicate that the Lord was already listening for David’s cry for help. What an awesome God we love. He loves us so much the when we are in trouble, he is standing by for us to call out to him. He waits to hear us seeking him. The prophet Isaiah said, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6).
What a great reassurance. The Lord tells us in his scripture to seek him while he may be found. He has a sense of urgency. The Lord is expectant of you calling to him in your time of need. Isn’t that awesome? David then tells us that those who call on the name of the Lord; they were lightened and were not ashamed. They were relieved and blessed by the presence of the Lord and were not let down. (v.5) The poor cry and the Lord hears them and saves them out of their troubles. (v.6) David even goes further and tell us that the angel of the Lord makes his camp around, and delivers those who fear the Lord; and he fulfills their needs. (v.7)
Who are those who fear the Lord? Those who listen to instruction (v.11); those who keep their tongue from evil; those who seek peace, and to do good. It is these whose the Lords ears are open to, to hear their cry. (v.16) We are blessed who love the Lord and who seek to do what is right in his eyes. “Evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate” (V.20) The redemption of the soul of the righteous is a promise made by God and fulfilled in the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Since he is God, nothing can separate us from his love. Not failure, death, or even an illness like the Corona Virus. We too can sing out to the Lord without being ashamed. We have no need of fear. The Lord God who has delivered us in the past will deliver us again. We are not alone. He is waiting for you to cry to him. He is waiting for you to seek him. He is waiting to hear you declare your faith in him, that he is faithful, that he is love, that he loves you also. Make your boast in the Lord and call on others to be so proud, not of themselves, but in the Lord who delivers them. Give praise to the Most High! Give praise to the God who heals! Give praise to the God who encamps his angle about you, to keep watch over you, and to deliver you! Give praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Pasadena Texas there used to be a huge Baptist Church on Vista Blvd. This is the church that I made my public confession of faith in. The attendance there was probably close to 200 on a Sunday morning, and at least half of that on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services. Later I moved to the state of Washington and attended a Baptist church in Roy. This little country church was packed every service, and even had a radio tower that they used to broadcast their services our over the radio station. A few year later I moved back to Texas and wound up briefly attending several churches that also had high attendance and great outreaches and ties into the surrounding communities. In between these churches, I attended several other churches, as I tended to move quite a bit. I have also had the opportunity to preach at several different churches of various sizes. In looking back over these churches I could see something that seems insignificant to most, but stands out to me. There was a difference in the churches that were growing and involved in the community and those who were dying, or at least in peaceful slumber. The churches that had a fervent men’s ministry were the ones that were growing.
When we look at what makes a church not only survive, but to thrive in an area, we can look at a lot of different factors. Many studies go into looking at the local demographics of the area. What is the income level? What is the major ethnic population? What is the major health or poverty driven issue? What is the current and projected economic climate? Are jobs on the increase or the decrease? How many children per home? How many single mother homes are in the populace? All of these are good questions, and can help to develop outreach opportunities and meet the needs of the people surrounding the church. However; this information does little to spur the motivation of the church to do anything. We often look at aging churches and try to find ways to get youth programs off the ground. The idea is that without youth in the church, the church will silently die of old age. This is true in more than one way. But what I am speaking of is something more fundamental. We need men in the church to have a heart for, and to be, active in sharing the Gospel of Christ.
I heard a story one time concerning Charles Spurgeon and his boiler room. The story goes that some college students came to see Charles Spurgeon preach. They had arrived early and as they waited, a man from the church offered to give them a tour. The guide took them into one room, referred to as the “heating plant”. In this room were an estimated 700 saints praying. The guide, who turned out to be Charles Spurgeon himself, explained that the secret to his success is not him at all. Mr. Spurgeon explained that the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in answering the prayers of these saints that desire another soul would be saved. The secret to these successful churches was the presence of an active, praying Men’s Ministry.
I want to make something clear. Men’s Ministry is not an event driven service. It is great to have the Men’s Ministry around to do all of the heavy lifting at an events like VBS or at a Kid’s Festival or a Fall Festival, however; that is not the only way the men should be of value in the church ministry. They should be intimately involved in every aspect of the ministry of the local church and their families.
Each of these churches I attended that were growing had an active men’s ministry that prayed before, during, and after every service. They arrived hours ahead of time, and remained as long as needed. They painted, moved furniture, worked the plumbing, cut the grass and did many other things. In fact, in the church in Roy, Washington we all met one Saturday morning and worked all day spreading truckloads of rocks around to make a new parking lot and did other landscaping items. We were there from before the sun came up, until the sun went down. The ladies brought us food and water as we worked. In all of these churched, men were subject to the Spirit of God and had a desire to see one more soul saved. Men are the leaders in the church. When I was in the Army, I learned that Leaders lead by example, and from the front, not the rear. A leader does not sit in an office and dictate to others what needs to be done. A leader teaches, demonstrates, and then supervises what needs to be accomplished. A leader takes personal responsibility in the accomplishment of the mission. This is what an effective Men’s Ministry does.
These men, of the Men’s Ministry, lead by active service. John 13:12-15 says, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” This shows us how important this principle of leadership in the church is to Christ. He himself made a point to ensure the disciples understood that in order to be a leader in the kingdom they must lead in service of the kingdom. We forget that Jesus actively disciple all of these men. I know what you’re saying, “Of course he did, that’s why we call them ’the disciples’”. However, when we get a young man in the church we do not grow them into elders. Instead we just hope that they will eventually figure it out, stay long enough, or the Lord will instruct them himself. We forget that we, as men have been given a ministry towards other men. Men need to be disciple in the church. Men need to be held to a standard and accountability. These effective Men’s Ministries that I witness did not wait for some young or new male church member to approach them. These men actively recruited all men in attendance at the church. To be honest, most did not even care if you were a member of the church, they just wanted to get you active in spiritual growth.
I showed up at one of these churches early one morning. While waiting for the rest of my family to arrive, an elder from the church came up and asked me my name. I told him, and he smiled and said, “Well, Mr. Harvey, you’re just in time for the prayer meeting.” Then he conducted me to an upstairs room where 12 other men were already praying. The Pastor ducked his head in right before the door closed and told them some names to add to the list and disappeared. Just like that I was in the Men’s Ministry. I joined the church that service. That was all it took.
Men’s ministry assists the church, as the men in the church are disciple to mature faith and understanding of the scriptures, their roles in the family, local church, the Kingdom of God, and community. The Men’s Ministry is the place where this close discipleship can occur through fellowship, study, accountability, counsel. Most of all the Men’s Ministry servers through men fervently praying for their families, the church, community, and one another in the unity of group prayer meetings. There is nothing the devil can defeat a church with that has a group of righteous men praying in earnest for the spreading of the gospel.
Men, the apostle James tell us in his epistle that we should confess our sins to one another. We should also pray for one another. Then James tell us that the powerful passionate prayer of a righteous man is very advantageous to the plea being made. (James 5:16) Wow! Now imagine how powerful a whole group of such men praying together in agreement before the Almighty God would be, especially with the Spirit of God praying right along beside them, in perfect communion with the God, the Creator of the universe. Prayer then is the foundation of the men’s ministry. However, it also includes mentorship in Christ. Group study of the Word, and proper fellowship.
Fellowship in scripture is not just having coffee before services, or having a lunch after Sunday morning services. I includes, but is not limited to Men’s Breakfasts, prayer groups, and bible studies. The word for fellowship in the Greek has a deeper meaning. It means to share on one’s self. This means that we should be living in fellowship. We should be involved in one another’s lives. We should be giving towards one another. We should be living with one another on a daily basis. Giving time, money, food, encouragement, advice, and emotional and spiritual support to one another. This is what happened in the early church, they gave sacrificially to one another, even to other churches. Another thing to consider is spiritual leadership.
The man is to be a spiritual leader in the church and in the home. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong”. This means that we should be like men of wisdom who have understanding. We should act like mature men, not like children. We should be strong in doctrine, not carried away by every spirit. We should search the scriptures to test what we have been told and what we interpret concerning scripture. We should be proficient and able to identify truth from error. We, men, should be able to instruct others on the meaning of the scriptures. We should have the backbone to stand up for what is good and right before God. In this age of effeminized men we need men who can show themselves as men. Men who set the example of righteousness, no matter what the cost. Men who lead. If a woman goes to church, she will undoubtable drag her children with her. The husband may not go. She has no authority to make him. The children, especially the boys will have a divided desire.
The boys will develop a resentment with one parent or the other, and the church. This is because, boys want to be like their fathers. The hidden message in their heart will be on of, “If dad doesn’t have to go, why should I?” In all honesty, that is a very good question. If the father does not put any emphasis on church attendance then their children will fail to realize the importance of the church, Sunday school, or even Christ himself. However; if the father goes to church then everyone goes to church. He has that authority. The wife who wishes to please her husband will go. The children who see that both parents are in attendance will desire to go, because the importance of the church is recognized by both parents. More so if the father is actively involved in the church. Then the children see that a relationship with Christ is of most importance. The child who understands the importance of a relationship with Christ will tell their friends, and invite them to church to meet Christ. A family who worships Christ together, grows in love towards one another, the church, and in Christ Jesus.
The Church does not need to change its culture to make themselves more attractive to society. To much of that nonsense has already happened. We don’t need men that are effeminate, unsure of scripture, afraid to confront evil, or not daring enough to step on a few toes for Christ. What the church needs is a culture where men are righteous, caring, and active in their families, the church and community. Men that are bold in their profession of faith. Men that stand up for what is right. Men who confront evil no matter what the personal cost. Men who would rather step on a toe or two in love, rather than see someone waist their life and die and go to hell.
When God made mankind, he first made a male and put him to have dominion over all of his creation. When Jesus selected his apostles, out of thousands of men, women, and children; he chose men. When the disciples gathered together to replace Judas Iscariot, out of over a hundred men and women gathered together, the Holy Spirit chose a man. When the first deacons for the church were chosen, the Holy Spirit of God chose men. The first recorded martyr was also a man. The Holy Spirit moves through righteous men. I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not use women also, however; there seems to be no shortage of active women in the church today. That being said, this is why scripture encourages men saying, “if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1 Timothy 3:1) You see the Lord wants men to desire to be of service. He says that it is a good thing to have a desire to be of service; teaching, preaching, caring for the flock. Then he gives some criteria.
I know what you are most likely thinking. This is the criteria that he gives for pastors and deacons, however; shouldn’t all Christian men strive for these? He says that a man of God should be blameless. There should be no cause for accusation in his life. He should have a clean witness both in and out of the church. He should be the husband of one wife. This man should have no eyes for any other woman than his wife. He should have no mistresses, or practice polygamy. He should be vigilant. This means he should be aware of his surroundings. Attentive to the needs of others. Aware of the dangers of the enemy about him. He should be sober. He should be of a good nature and not into mischief. He is temperate, not into brawling, or striking others. He does not boast or throw his weight around trying to impress himself. The list goes on, and then includes some very specific things for the bishop. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9)
These are the things that we should be shepherding and disciplining young men in the way. This is the culture that we should seek to have in the men of our churches. Real men who stand up for God and that do not let anything stop them from seeking the will of the Lord. Men like this who pray together have a great effect on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a church. In Ezekiel 34 we can read that there are dire consequences for Israel because the shepherds of Israel failed their duties. Israel became scattered having no leadership. The people became the victims of wolves and beasts of prey. They were weak and sickly. This sounds like some churches you may know, does it not?
Something else to be aware of in Ezekiel 34:1-10, the Lord says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock”. Now let us move to Revelation chapter 3. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-17) Remember the Lord is talking to the members of the church. He says that they have become self-sufficient and think that they have everything and that they have lost their zeal. They are not doing the things of the Lord. Because of this they are worthless to him, and he will spew them out. Ever wonder if a church closed because God wished them to close? They had become slipshod and non-responsive to the Spirit and the Lord simply pulled their charter.
Men of God you must understand that you are important to the ministry of your local Church. In fact, you are an invaluable asset to your church. Your skills and craftsmanship are a great asset to the church, but your leadership and compassion for others has a far more reaching effect. You have knowledge and understanding that some young man needs to tap into to see the working of Christ in his life. We need men of God engaged in the fight for what is good, and right, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8) These are the things that we should be doing. We should learn to do well, seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, and protect the orphans and widows. (Isaiah 1:17) This is the work that God has for men.
It is Good Friday! A day that Christians around the world hold holy and dear, a day that we remember the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the day of our dear Savior’s death, but we call it ‘Good’ Friday… how could anyone call the day of someone’s death good unless they were talking of a merciless dictator like Hitler or Stalin? Christ is recognized by the world as being the first real equal rights activist, and one of the first nonviolence practitioners (Funny they forget He took a whip to people, John 2:15), as well as model for most philosophers and philanthropists to follow, so how can we call the death of this overall respected and trusted being to be a good day? This is a day where our Lord suffered through the worst punishment the human body could take, and is described here:
Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews. Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.
At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. (Dr. C. Truman Davis, 2018)
But that was not the only thing Christ endured before finally dying! Christ carried the cross to Mount Calvary a staggering 650-yard journey with a 75 lbs. weight affixed to His back. Pushing his muscles beyond the point of failure, Christ is recorded to have stumbled 3 times before the Centurion loses his patience and orders a denizen to help Christ with the weight. How can any of this be considered good? How? Even further the death on the cross is regarded as one of the cruelest forms by which to die. Not only are there nails in your wrists and feet, but you are slowly suffocating. To which to breathe you must pull by the nails in your wrists and push yourself up by the nail in your feet, causing even more pain just to breathe and live a little longer. So, again, I ask how can any of this be good? Let me remind you of the prophecy from Isaiah found in Isaiah 53:
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12, KJV)
This is where we begin to see why it is a Good Friday, as Christ was put through all of this to bear our iniquities. But let us read in Romans 5 to get the full picture.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11, KJV)
Christ died for us, while were enemies of Him! And we were justified by His blood. By His death, we were forgiven. Christ presented Himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of our sins! By this we have JOY in knowing that our sins are no more and we no longer have to fear the day of judgement or what comes after death for those who believe. This is why it is Good Friday! Because a good thing has been done, the remission of sins by the shedding of His blood. No one else could fill the sacrifice as God alone could.
If you are in a stage of doubt as to believing that Christ died for you, because you are a good person, we have to remember that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), and that where sin is God cannot be (1 John 1:5), and to be without God is death (Romans 2:1-11). Here is the good news, Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to this world to die for our sins because He loved us and all you have to do is believe that He is who He is (John 3:16-17, 1 John 1:9). To accept this free gift of salvation all you have to do is believe in your heart and confess it with your mouth (Romans 10:9-11)! I would encourage you not to wait, because tomorrow is never promised, and there is no better time than the present to begin your walk with God than now (2 Cor. 6:2). This means so much more than just a religion, it begins a relationship with God almighty (1 John 1:3-4). If you have any questions or are interested in finding a good church to be a part of, reach out to us via our contact link or through email at email@example.com ! God Bless you, go in peace!
The Prayer of Intercession is probably my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. This prayer is an intimate conversation between Christ and the Father on our behalf that we may know His heart and how much He cares and loves for us. Beyond anything else, save His crucifixion, this prayer shows how much Christ truly felt our emotions, of love, longing, loss, heartache, and joy. Through this, we can see that He truly experienced the human condition. While He certainly holds true to His divinity, He also remains humble and makes requests for us, who He counts as a part of Him.
Following the Last Supper, and a whole lot of divine revelations to His disciples they begin to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along this walk Christ begins to pray in the middle of the night. His prayer is said aloud for His disciples to hear and that they may be filled with the same spirit that He has in these final moments. As a soldier and his unit preparing for combat, He says this prayer to fill His team with confidence in the things to come. It is His last battle cry, His rally to arms. Though, it was not for combat, it was for love and the work of the ministry. Let’s read this powerful prayer. John 17 holds the entirety.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:1-5, KJV)
This first part of this prayer is Christ acknowledging His Father’s will that He has fulfilled already and asking for the strength to bring it to completion that He (Christ) may glorify His Father even more. He even says that God has given eternal life, and that eternal life is found in the truth that God is God alone who sent Jesus (who is God, the Son ref. John 1:1-4, Rev. 1:8). It is simple, and plain, yet profound and a centerpiece to our faith. To call yourself Christian is to believe in the fact that Christ is both the Son of God and God, himself. Carrying on in verse 6:
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. (John 17:6-8, KJV)
These verses are Christ acknowledging His Father’s will. He says that His disciples were chosen by the Father and that everything that He taught and said was His Father’s will. Christ says that everything that was given to Him, He turned and gave it to His disciples. Like a band of brothers, He kept no secret from those He loved most, all the words and lessons that God had, He gave them to His friends, disciples, and his most trusted followers that they might be fully equipped for the work of the ministry after He left. Now, He gets personal starting in verse 9.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:9-12, KJV)
Here we see Christ begin praying specifically for His apostles. Because they are special to Him, He says those that are given to Him, as our most treasured friends are, so were these men to Him. God grants friendship, kinship to be the bonds by which we learn how to love one another and it was something that He felt Himself. Christ asks that God keeps His friends, as in keep them in His will that they may be one in the spirit of God and fellowship. Jesus knows the hard times that are going to ensue following this prayer and He wants them to be kept together despite what they would do (Judas’ betrayal and suicide, Peter’s denial, the general cowardice in the face of controversy). Christ wants them to hear this also, because He knows that it is important that they hear how He prays for them that they might know how to pray for one another. We get to go even deeper with what comes next in verse 13.
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:13-19, KJV)
This is one of my favorite parts of His prayer, here this is where Christ prays for their protection, but not as we might pray for one another’s protection. See, I normally hear in prayers, and have prayed myself before, that God keep people from danger, or from death, but Christ does not. More rather Christ says that He prays aloud (these things I speak in the world) that they may have JOY despite the hate that this world shows them. He even goes as far as to say, do not take them from the world, instead keep satan away from them and sanctify them in Your Word that they might be filled with joy and strength. That is just beautiful! He knows this world will turn against them and so instead of trying to keep them out of it, He prays that they be filled with joy because they are doing what is right and when the world hates on them it is because they are doing what is right! The only protective thing He asks is that Satan be kept away from them. And that is who we truly fight against in this world, not people, but Satan and his many schemes and deceptions. Now, let us see what Christ prayed for us! Beginning in verse 20:
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. (John 17:20-23, KJV)
All right, now we are getting into why the prayer of Intercession is so important for us! Here we see Christ change from just His present disciples, and begins to pray for all those who would believe by the accounts, testimonies, and witness bore by His apostles, and that is everyone else who ever became a Christian, i.e. YOU and ME! Christ prays for our salvation here, prays that all those who should believe in the testimony of other disciples that we would be made one with God! And this is to honor and glorify God, because the world will see when we begin to act as believers and our lives change, as they should, that there is no denying that we are followers of Christ. As we talked about yesterday, that the world should know we are Christians by our love! Because as He said that “the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them” (John 17:23, KJV), that is what we are to embody as a unified body of believers. It does not matter what you think of another believer, because you cannot claim to love God and hate your brother (1 John 4:7-21). This is so important as a believer, it is beyond an imperative, that it is so important that God, Jesus, made certain to make it not only His final command before dying, but also prayed for it that we may know just how important it is to Him.
In closing, Christ turns back to His praying for His disciples that are with Him beginning in verse 24:
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. (John 17:24-26, KJV).
In closing for His prayer, He returns His focus on His disciples. He prays that they would be able to truly bear witness to the glory of God that they may have a full understanding that God is who He says He is. And lastly, that they may have the same love that the Father has for the Son. Again, it is a beautiful picture of how real Jesus was. He had friends that He wanted to know just how awesome His Dad was, and He would stop at nothing to prove to not only them that God loved them and was all powerful, but He did not want to rest until the entire world has heard this! Shortly after this prayer Christ and His apostles arrive in the Garden Gethsemane where Christ begins to pray for strength to fulfill His Father’s will by going to the death of the cross. But all of that, and more we will cover tomorrow.
Fasting, for most of us this word means little more than just not eating or some trendy diet to try. Yet, when we look into the purpose and ideology behind fasting, we get a much deeper image and a truer sense of what it is to truly fast. The practice in the Hebrew tongue is read as ta’anit (pronounced ta’anith) and it holds a deep root in their traditions in remembrance for God delivering them.
The practice of fasting originates with Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) as we can read in Leviticus 23:26-32
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also, on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (King James Version)
The word says we are to afflict our souls… the word afflict is defined as to cause pain or suffering. We are to atone or repay for our sin by afflicting our souls with how we live for the day, and if you did not follow you were cut out from the people. This affliction is done by not eating or drinking (to include water), not wearing shoes, no bathing, no wearing or perfumes or oils and additionally not working as on the sabbath. And this day was always followed by the observance of the sabbath day, so it would be 2 full days before anything was done. This was done as a direct commandment from God to honor Him and remember His will for His people, and as to make ourselves a living sacrifice for our own sins as this was done under the Law still.
The next earnest and voluntary example of fasting we find comes from David in 2 Samuel 12:15-21
And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. (KJV)
Here David has multiple reasons as to why he fasts. At first it is to plead for his son’s life, but then he begins to mature spiritually and he begins to seek God’s will in it all. He mourns for his son, but becomes obsessed with atoning for his sin that caused this situation in the first place (2 Samuel 12:13). Upon receiving news of his son’s death, the first thing he does before eating is clean himself and go praise the Lord in open worship before eating. David’s fast was again an atonement for his sins and in seeking of the will of God as was the purpose of the day of atonement that was set out in Leviticus.
Now, the way Christ fasted was on the complete next level… in the book of Matthew we see Christ venture into the woods for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4)
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (KJV)
Christ denied himself any contact with others and prayed to strengthen His spirit for the things to come (not just the devil’s temptations). This is the first thing Christ does as part of His ministry. He got baptized by John and then goes straight way to the wilderness to fast, to prepare His spirit to meet the will of God for the ministry that His Father had ordained for Him. Christ later talks about fasting, and reminds us for whom we should be fasting. Reading Matthew 6:16-18 we see we aren’t to fast for others to know that our pride might grow, but rather that we might humble ourselves to God.
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18,KJV)
So, what is the big deal with people coming out and saying I am doing the Daniel ‘fast’ and coming out trying to lose weight through intermittent fasting? Well, none, however it is not truly fasting as is described biblically. For one, the Daniel fast is based off of Daniel abstaining from delicacies to express his mournful state (Daniel 10:1-3) in addition to living out the Proverb 23:6, where it is said we should not eat even the bread of a miser (defined as someone who holds much wealth). When you do not eat because of a diet, you are not fasting, rather you are regimenting your diet or food intake to help lose weight, not abstaining from the world to seek God first. That is what a fast is all about. Giving God glory by truly denying oneself.
Let us look at what each example of fasting has in common, first and foremost, they were each done in response to, or in seeking God’s will. Yom Kippur was a commandment, while David and Jesus were preparing to accept the will of God. When you fast, you should seek God’s will first, no matter what it is that you are giving up, or abstaining from, your purpose should be to seek God’s perfect will and to put Him first with denial of yourself. When you fast you should truly live out as Christ said we are to do, deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). The entire fast should be focused on reminding yourself of who God is, what He has done, is doing, and will do for you. God is an awesome, and powerful being, there is no one like Him, when you fast, your spiritual eyes should open up and take in just how awesome our God is! Your days of fasting should be filled with His praise and worship, also spent studying His word and perfect ways. A huge part of fasting is just pondering the endless aspects of God.
Secondly, it should be a true denial of yourself. When you fast, you aim to build dependency on God. Not eating or drinking is the baseline for a fast, not the be all or end all of a fast. With Yom Kippur, they did not even bathe or wear shoes! They were humbled to the point where they took no pride in their appearance, smell, and they even endured walking without protection for their feet. And its not like they had sidewalks or paved roads to walk on, they had the desert (they were still wondering the desert with Moses at this point), so often this meant great pain from the sand and rocks drying, cutting, and cracking their feet.
Which brings me to the final part of fasting, it should not be easy. When you fast, it should be a great burden on you. A large part of fasting is enduring by reliance on God. You cannot rely on when it is something that is within your normal capabilities. For example, as a soldier I am used to traveling and being alone, so isolating myself is not a good way to increase reliance on God, however giving up video games, social media, exercise and other things that would strain myself and increase my dependence on him. Remember, all of those are done in addition to the not eating or drinking, not just the other activities being abstained from.
In short, your fast is about God, not you. You should fast in order to prepare yourself for the will of God, not to seek the favor of God. Fasting is done in direct submission to God and His will for you. A fast is not some light hearted diet or trend, it is a lifestyle of worship to God. It is worshiping through sacrificing your self and honoring God with the true recognition He deserves and that is with everything you are.
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!
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
Daily Reading of Scripture
Teaching in Scripture
Personal Relationship growth with Jesus
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
God has always provided. Even in the Christian faith the Lord has provided. He has led the church to overcome.
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.