Focused Prayer

Hebrews 5.7 observes He was heard because of His devotion.

The Lord Jesus prayed often, carving large blocks of time from His schedule to talk to His Father. This section of Scripture says He made both requests and supplications with loud cries and tears when He prayed.

The prayers of Jesus were the prayers of a faithful servant requesting assets and investment in order to fulfill his duty.

The prayers of Jesus were the reports to a Superior of the condition of the situation and the necessary provisions for correcting it.

The prayers of Jesus were not for the comfort or pleasure of Himself, things that would soon perish but powerful resources to be used through Him for making God known to men and for reconciling men to God.

These prayers were received, welcomed and responded to by God because they came from His faithful servant Whose object was not His own comfort and pleasure but God’s glory on the earth.

Jesus saw Himself as a servant of God, a sacrificial lamb for the salvation of the world and so His prayers reflected the necessary requirements for fulfilling God’s purpose on the earth.

Nearly all men pray but few are praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Nearly all men pray but few are doing so while their hands are firmly fixed to the plow, eyes toward the fields, seeking God to bear much fruit in the ripe harvest before him.

If our prayers would be a delight to God and cause Him to move swiftly toward us then we must live as Jesus did servants of God with requests made not for ourselves but for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

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Why Obey God

Psalm 37.27 commands turn away from evil and do what is right. Simple instructions really.

However two questions are necessary for us to answer if we will be successful in obeying God.

First we must know what is evil and what is right. Most of us define these things through our experience and what we learn from our environment.

God defines right and wrong by His character and His will.

Therefore God has given people His written will and history of His ways so that we can know Who He is and what He commands. This means we are without excuse when that day arrives when He calls us to account for how well we obeyed His commands.

When we ignore the Scriptures we become confused about what is right and wrong which explains why so many so called Christians support abortion, homosexual behavior and divorce. If we would correctly obey God we must diligently seek God to know what He requires and this will mean daily studying the Scriptures.

The second question we must answer for ourselves is why should we obey God?

This answer has two parts. First God has recorded that He will judge all people for every deed, every word and every thought we committed in this life.

Abject failure to obey God will result in condemnation from God which is eternal punishment where people are forever tormented in hell.

Second those who obey God will be rewarded by God.

God is not a communist, people will live differently in heaven for He has recorded that people will receive different rewards based upon their faithfulness to Him.

While this is all true, the greatest reason to obey God is because we love God and He is so wonderful that doing anything else doesn’t make sense.

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Strong in the Lord

Psalm 31.10 laments my strength fails me because of my sin.

The Bible regularly encourages God’s people to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His Name.

Strength for serving God and glorifying His Name in this world is found in direct correlation to our obedience to His Word.

As David noted in today’s psalm, sin ruins our strength in God and for God but obedience increases our strength in God and for God.

This simple truth explains much about the current impact and influence the church is making upon our world today.

The first reason the church is weak is that not many have as their goal being strong in the Lord. Few Christians are dreaming about and seeking to accomplish great things for God.

How shallow is our love for Him that we seek to do so little to glorify Him upon the earth. It seems the majority of the Christians are focused mostly upon their own pleasures and purposes.

Like physical fitness, spiritual strength is developed through certain disciplines that are exercised daily.

Christian disciplines are Bible reading and prayer. It is impossible to know what God requires of us unless we are regularly engaged in His revealed will found in the Scriptures. Prayer is where the general word of God is made specific by the Holy Spirit to hearts and minds.

These two things are as fundamental to spiritual development as putting on running shoes and going to the gym are to the physically fit.

Finally, it is dogged, daily obedience where we exercise our spiritual disciplines developing our spiritual strength so that we are effective and productive in God’s work upon the earth.

If we would be strong in the Lord we must be doers of the Word of God.

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Trusting God

Psalm 27.14 commands God’s people to rely upon the Lord, to be strong and confident in Him. David had great faith in God and so God had great delight in David.

God wants to be trusted, to be relied upon, to be sought after and loved.

These things David did in good times and bad. David had many challenges in his life, some he brought upon himself through poor choices but many were not his fault. From his youth, when the lion and the bear sought to destroy his sheep, David learned to depend upon the Lord’s strength to help him with the responsibilities of his life.

David acted to solve his problems but always in concert with the will and strength of God.

This kind of living is what Christian men today must learn to do.

Our propensity is to seek solutions through our own wisdom, finances and strength. On occasion we seek the counsel of others but generally only after we have essentially decided our course of action. We seek God to bless our conduct not to lead us in our conduct.

David heard clearly from God he was to be king of Israel but he patiently followed God through the fourteen year process of realizing God’s promise.

David was confident in God because his view of God was big.

David saw God as all powerful and all loving therefore David believed God cared about him and his specific issues and had the power and will to do something about them.

God has not changed. He is still all powerful and all loving.

Our challenge, if we would experience God and His delight, is to seek Him diligently and to trust Him completely to act with good will upon our behalf in His time and in His way.

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Earth day Response

Psalm 24.1 reminds us the Lord owns the earth and all it contains.

Monday was earth day, celebrated by increasing the awareness globally of environmental concerns.

What should be the Christian response to earth day?

First, Christians should recognize that godless men originated this day. Men who ignore God worship the created rather than the Creator thus elevating, in this case, the earth, to the status of God and men.

Because of this elevated status Christians should be weary of much of the propaganda concerning the issues espoused by these people for in some instances they are in direct conflict with God’s commands.

Earth day proponents believe the planet is overcrowded whereas God has commanded people to be fruitful and multiply; to have as many children as their faith in God will allow. This is just one of many conflicts between those who worship the created and those who worship the Creator.

Second, Christians must recognize that humanity is God’s highest order of creation. Men are not the same as the earth or the beasts but men and women are created in the image of God and thus are to be valued more greatly than all other aspects of creation.

Third, the earth and all it contains has been given to men to supply all their needs. Christians are to care for the earth as a farmer his garden for its purpose is to provide not to be worshiped by setting aside and left unused.

Finally, Christians must remember that as men die and their bodies are replaced with new eternal bodies so too the earth will one day be destroyed by God then recreated by Him for God to dwell on the new earth among all those who love Him and worshiped Him alone through Jesus the Christ.

Always Christians are to worship the Creator and never the created.

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Recognizable Behavior

Titus 2.1 commends demonstrating Christian behavior that goes with sound teaching.

When Martin Luther mass marketed salvation by grace through faith it was good and necessary for Christians were overwhelmed by the impossibility of ever getting into heaven by good works.

Certainly the Bible is clear that God’s gift of forgiveness and pardon so that people can live forever together with Him comes through faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However the pendulum of salvation by grace alone through faith alone has swung so far that doing good works to prove that we have been saved is almost completely ignored.

Just as a heavy person who has successfully lost much weight is obvious to everyone so too a person should be obvious to everyone that they are a lover and servant of Jesus.

What are the behaviors in keeping with being a Christian?

Love for all humanity evidenced by kindness, gentleness and service especially toward those who are evil, unkind and cruel.

Forgiveness for all those who do wrong to the Christian for the Christian has been forgiven by God for everything they have done against Him.

Generosity that is extravagant for they received God’s most precious gift: the blood of His Son. Christians now understand that they came into the world with nothing and will depart the same way.

Service for the welfare of humanity but especially for their reconciliation to God through Jesus because Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for all.

Christians are to live just as Jesus did, that is the behavior God requires from His children.

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serving God

Titus 1.16 proclaims they profess to know God but with their deeds they deny Him.

Knowing and doing are not the same, while we understand this and apply it to sports, academics and work we fail to hold either ourselves or others to this standard in our spiritual development.

Those who know the Bible, and they are few, are considered deeply religious and the very best among us in the Church. They teach our classes, lead our small groups and take positions of authority within our church.

Yet God measures the application of such knowledge rather than the knowledge itself. Certainly we must know God and what He commands in order to obey Him but obedience is the standard by which God measures our love for Him.

Jesus told us this when He taught if we love Him we will obey His commands.

Christianity is not a ‘knowing’ business but a ‘doing’ business. God ‘did’ by dying on the cross. The Apostles ‘did’ by proclaiming and suffering in order to further the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.

The expectation of God is that His current people will ‘do’ by continuing the work of Christ modeled by the Apostles; that is the winning and discipling of the nations.

God is in the business of saving people and transforming them into the image of His first born Son Jesus.

Those who are truly workers of His are those engaged in this activity. While there are numerous means for spreading the gospel in the end people must come to Jesus as Savior for our work to be rewarded by God.

Knowing God means understanding His heart and His ways and our purpose as His crated servants for doing His will.

If we are not giving our best effort at seeing His kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven we are living in denial about what we say we believe.

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Finding Meaning to Life

Ecclesiastes 6.9 observes this continual longing we have is futile. From the man who could buy anything, he warns having everything is never enough.

No matter how much we have we always want more. Discontent runs rampant in the heart of man.

Much time and fortune is spent upon ourselves trying to fill this vacuum that will not be satisfied.

Increasingly people are unhappy with their lives frustrated at their lack of significant meaning and contentment.

Why is this so? Because we have been removed from Eden!

People were created by God for God to serve God but when we rebelled against God we were physically removed from our place of peace and God removed Himself from physically walking with men creating a vacuum in our hearts.

Until the restoration and the creation of the new heavens and earth a chasm exists between God and man.

Yet God has built a bridge over this chasm: Jesus Christ the Lord.

Those who recognize Him as their Savior and surrender their time, talent and treasure to Him as Lord can have the peace, joy and contentment they crave.

This is practically possible by losing our lives in Christ instead of constantly trying to gain our lives through position and possessions. When we give ourselves to God as His slaves we give ourselves completely to His purposes and when His purpose consumes our soul we enter His peace and find real purpose for our lives.

God’s purpose is the reconciliation of all people to Himself.

God gave His greatest resource to reconcile people to Himself: the blood of Jesus the Son.

Those who would know freedom from want and significant meaning for their lives will commit all their resources of time, talent and treasure to people and their reconciliation to God.

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The world needs a Savior

John 3.16 records that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to become its Savior. The world certainly needs a Savior.

The bombing in Boston is just another of a proliferation of evidences that the world is broken and desperately in need of help.

In these times men cry out asking where God is and why does He allow such evil to exist. God gets blamed for not stopping such events but man rarely blames himself for causing such events.

Man wants freedom to do as he pleases until he encounters a situation beyond his control then he wants God to fix it. God doesn’t work that way.

Man in rebellion against God becomes man responsible for the consequences of his rebellion both in this life and in the life to come.

But this evil and pain does grieve God like the parent whose wayward child continues to bring pain into their life through their consistently bad choices.

So God came to earth to reconcile people to Himself and to give us hope and help as we struggle through this life in anticipation of the life to come where He will rule as He is recognized as the Sovereign King and Lord of all.

But the Church must start working at winning people to God’s point-of-view. Evil increases as evil men increase and we are certainly on the increase.

Evil is checked only as righteousness increases and righteousness is only possible through reconciliation with God.

The Church is the only moral agent in the world to properly teach the nations all that God has commanded.

The Church must stop hiding and start working to bring hope and healing to the world through Jesus Christ.

The Church, me and you, must start praying for people, sharing the gospel with people and giving as much of our resources as possible to this work of restoring people to God through Jesus Christ.

Unless we start working at saving people, evil will increase and people will continue to be destroyed in the process.

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Set Apart for God

Leviticus 20.26 observes I have set you apart from the other peoples to be Mine. God created humanity to love Him, to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever.

Almost immediately humanity chose to worship ourselves rather than worship God resulting in death, emptiness and brokenness. Nevertheless God in His love, grace and mercy has been pursuing humanity in order to reconcile everyone back to Himself.

Those who have been restored to Him are required to live lives pleasing to God proving His wisdom, power and love. This battle within ourselves for allegiance to either God or self is manifest in whom we seek to please.

All humans have a strong need to be accepted, this manifestation becomes most obvious when we are young teenagers. Originally in our design it was to focus on God as we near adulthood to begin our responsibility to serve and worship Him.

In our rebellion this natural tendency has been corrupted so that we seek to please men and ourselves instead of God causing us to compromise and rebel against His will and His ways even to our own or others destruction.

The Christian must understand that through Jesus Christ they have been restored to God, adopted by God and paid for by the blood of God in Jesus Christ. This restoration is to result in a new life lived for the pleasure and glory of God.

No longer are Christians to look like the rest of the world whose desires are self-fulfillment and self-gratification but rather as children of God we are to reflect the character and ways of our Father Who is good, loving, humble and giving.

Christians should be obvious in the world for they are those who reflect the true image of God in service, sacrifice and love for the restoration of the world.

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