Prayerful Mindset

Col 4 prayer2One of the things I find most intriguing is that God loves to hear me pray which then brings me to a question as to why I am “disobedient” to be in unceasing prayer mode throughout my day. Perhaps it is best understood by seeing what Jesus did for the disciples. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray He began with honoring the Father in heaven, followed by seeking God’s favor in the practical needs for others as well as self; followed by seeking God’s help in walking circumspectly—that is being prudent and discreet. [See Matt 6]

In Colossians 4, Paul asks that we utilize this as a principle in our time of prayer and it begins with a mindset to be devoted or steadfast and courageously persistent. We must beware of the tools of the enemy and be on the alert to his devious ways to distract us. And then our prayer life must include thanksgiving. Note that as Paul is writing he does not seek relief from his prison cell but rather that he may be faithful and prepared to proclaim the mystery of Christ which is the pure gospel message. Is this our prayer for the persecuted church today? Is this our prayer for those who need to be steadfast in their walk and talk? When we rise from prayer is there a change in our walk and talk as we interact with “outsiders,” that is unbelievers? Do we purposefully act and respond remembering that our actions and responses affect another’s acceptance or rejection of the gospel message? Do we consciously respond with words of that are gracious?

As we close our prayer time may we implore God as Solomon did: O Father, “be attentive to your servant’s and your people Israel’s requests for help and may you respond to all their prayers to you.”(1Kings 8)

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Come and join us as we wade through the NT, Psalms and Proverbs each day. Tomorrow is Psalm 50 with its wise counsel to be discerning about.

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Compassionate Warning

col 2 complete in him2

Paul’s compassionate heart is revealed in ch 1 for two women who are struggling. Now in ch 2 he reveals his “soft side” once again but it is for the church as a whole and not just the Colossian church but also the Laodicean church. Paul notes that they are currently living Christ-like lives but he warns that danger is ahead. It is in Revelation ch 3 and the letter to the Laodicean church that we find out what happens when we fail to obey the warning signs.

What was Paul warning these precious new believers about? It appears that there were those who were lurking in the church that wanted to captivate these believers with empty deceitful philosophy which was nothing more than “self-imposed worship and false humility.” Paul reminded these precious believers that all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ. Beware of those who come seeking to lead you astray by wanting to add elemental spirits of the world, mystical visions and ecstatic experiences to the simple gospel message! They are much like Timothy Leary who advocated psychedelic drugs so one could “know God.” They seek to “deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.” Beloved, we must be Bereans! We must examine the scriptures to see if what they are saying is truth so we can be discerning!

Sadly, the Laodicean church failed to heed the warning signs; Christ noted that they were negligent and found wanting. Beloved cling to this; in Him you have been made complete. Therefore, remain firm in your faith, discerning truth from error, loving the brethren, bearing fruit, and growing.

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The Question is this…

Psalm 48 God is2Let me ask you; Do you know God? Let me tell you about my God because He can be your God too! He is “great and certainly worthy of praise,” He is the defender of both the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, the young and the old. You may have heard about his mighty deeds, but have you seen them? Observe His fingerprint of lovingkindness upon the lives of those he calls his own. It is because of this that we are to “go and tell” that the next generation may also know and be known as children of the Almighty God.

Are you rich? Are you poor? It matters not your station in life. What matters is that you are certain about your future destiny. If you fail to listen and heed, your destiny will be the same as fools whose shepherd is death and separation from the Almighty God. But if you listen, heed and accept the Living Word, your destiny will be in the eternal heaven and you will be guided on your journey by the Good Shepherd whose voice you hear and know saying this is the way walk ye in it. [Is 30]

Are you Jew? Are you Gentile? Are you male? Are you female? Are you slave or free? In this present world we make distinctions but “there is no partiality with God.” [Rom 2:11] Those who hear his voice and follow, to them the promise is this: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[ Rom 8:14]

Are the mountains your habitat, the ocean, the desert or the cityscape? Wherever you are—God is there too.  Stop to praise and worship him today.

The question before us is this: Do  you know HIM?

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Responding with Optimism!

What temperament are you? Are you an optimistic person or are you easily defeated? Today’s post also found here: https://www.facebook.com/bible.org is all about being optimistic even in dire circumstances. How do we live in a world that has gone astray or prepare ourselves for the inevitable persecution? How I love my dear friend JoAnn I. who taught me a wise principle and it is this: learn the lesson God wants you to learn or you may have to do another lap around the wilderness. And when we have learned the lesson we can respond appropriately in any circumstance.

phil 1 began a good work in you2Many of us, if truth be known, are prone to whine and beg God to reverse our fortune when we find ourselves in unfortunate circumstances. We forget that the gospel message is far more important than our comfort and fail to see it as part of God’s plan whether we like it or understand it. Therefore we should be praising not whining! Do those who threaten us see that we are convinced so strongly of a glorious afterlife that they too are convicted to accept Christ? Each of us is part and parcel of the plan that God will one day reveal for “the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t it ironic! Here is Paul in prison and yet God has brought the unsaved to him! Even the imperial guards are chained to him so that they have to listen to him pray! Don’t you just love it when you can see God’s sense of humor in using what the enemy means for evil to turn it to good! This is why Paul can be optimistic about the future. It matters not if he is released or remains imprisoned—what matters is that God’s gospel message is being sent forth. And that is why he pours out his joy for all of these precious believers back in Philippi as his way of encouraging them to stand firm, be blameless and sincere.

Are you optimistic or defeated? Oh Beloved—Pray and ask the Spirit to open your eyes to see God at work.

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What Sustains You?

Psalm 25 is 30 following god2aIt has been said that if we don’t know God in times of peace we will not recognize Him in times of trouble. Also, if we are the Martha’s rather than the Mary’s we will be just too busy to hear the Master say “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!” I am the God who can be your refuge in trouble as well as in peace. I am the Mighty God Almighty who rules over all, for I the Lord am king and I will be exalted. My promise to you the believer is this: “ If you remain in me and my words remain in you,” [Joh 15:7] I will abide with you so that you can go forth and bear the Fruit of the Spirit after being filled and nourished from Me, the Vine.

So what sustains each of us in times of peril or cosmic upheavals? It is this; we are never alone! He is our ever present help in times of trouble or times of peace for He is dependable. We will know who God is when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Just as the Living Water for which the Samaritan woman longed He will be our satisfaction. He will be the voice speaking behind us saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,”[Is 30 paraphrase]

Do you know Him?

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The Power of Prayer

acts 19 crossOne of the subscriptions I get monthly is “Voice of the Martyrs.” It encourages and challenges me to be more Christ-like in a world that seems to have gone astray from the biblical teachings of our Lord. We are being bombarded by the voices of the deceiver seeking to draw us away from the truth of the gospel message. But, in times like this our character is revealed when we are not deceived but remain fixed upon Christ even when persecuted. It is then that we prove more than ever that we are as those who  the deceived mockingly call  us “the people of the cross.” What they mean as derogatory is really a badge of honor. For that we should be most grateful. They have coined a phrase that we can honor by our lifestyle, our character, our words and actions. However,  we who reside in the west are being told we are being persecuted which is far from the truth. It is those that are living in the “east” or “middle east”, or even “far east” who are the ones revealing to us what true persecution is and how we are to respond to it if it should reach our shores. We who are free ought to be praying diligently for those who are experiencing true persecution. When they are asked what can we do for you their immediate reply is this: “pray for us”. Paul shares with us in his letter to the Thessalonians how to actually do this. The following post is what I wrote on this for today’s reading in 2Thessalonians chapter 1. You can read it here along with the other posts I have done: https://www.facebook.com/bible.org  My goal is to walk with you day by day encouraging you to be strong no matter what comes your way and to encourage you to pray and pray some more and then pray again for those undergoing persecution.

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2Thess 1 pray 4 persecuteda“talent is formed in solitude, but character in the storms of life” [Goethe] How true those words are and evidenced as we watch from the sidelines those who are persevering in the midst of affliction. What was true in the time of Paul, in the time of Nazism, and in our present age is this; the arrows of evil seek to divide and conquer but what is meant for evil is used by God to bring about a harvest of new souls. In doing so the character of our brethren’s flourishing transformation not only humbles us but challenges us to join in partnership with them.

We accomplish this through the avenue and the privilege of prayer because it is our spiritual weapon against the powers of darkness. Paul never prayed what one author called “Father Christmas prayers for health, wealth and happiness.” Instead he prayed for these who were facing persecution to faithfully endure under fire so that they may be made worthy of God’s calling. He prayed that they reflect the truth that God who began a good work in them will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. He prayed that the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit would assist them in enduring under pressure. Lastly he prayed that they seek to glorify the name of Jesus. This is how we too can voice our prayers before God for our persecuted brethren.

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1Thess 4 “Practical Holiness”

1thess 4 holy living3a“Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God.” [Jn Murry]. We can recoil but how do we stay on top of this desire for holiness and then live it out practically? Even though Paul received word that the new babes in Christ were standing firm he knew that the wiles of the devil would not fade away for he is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Therefore, we need some practical ammunition to withstand his work and Paul outlines it in three simple steps which if applied will help us to be “more persistent [in our] yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus…”

First step is to recognize that this step towards is holiness is attainable because we have been anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we can live it as we minister to the brethren by living a quiet life, minding our own business because the unbelievers are watching and taking note of the change within us. Thirdly there is no reason to fret about the Lord’s return for even Jesus while in his humanity told the disciples it was not for them nor him to know but only the Father. When the catching away happens we will be suddenly without warning be caught up to be with Jesus and our loved ones in the clouds. From that point on we will assuredly be with the Lord forevermore.

Beloved, “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…” [Mt 24]

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Edification of the Believer

1thess 2 edify2.One of the most pleasing of attributes of the believer is how he/she edifies others. Upon receipt of the news that the Thessalonians had weathered the storms of the Judaizers attempts to thwart their new faith in Christ, Paul blessed the Lord and blessed these new believers for their steadfastness. They had become model believers for the entire region. Taking a step out of our comfort zone often is difficult but it reaps huge rewards whether we find ourselves in a hostile or peaceful environment. Their work of faith, their labor of love and their endurance of hope was their mark of being a new believer and so it should be of us. We can know that we ‘shine light or cast a shadow on God; we can be a path or an obstacle’ to others who are seeking. [Prof H. Hearon]

It is because of this that Paul reminds these precious Thessalonians how he modeled the Christ-like life before them “exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God…” This is how a mature disciple disciples a new believer in Christ. Paul now encourages these new babes in Christ to be as he said to the Corinthians “be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” [1Cor 15] and to the Ephesians “be imitators of God.” As we follow these admonitions we are edifying one another in the body and outside the body.

Today may we be models of edification for those in the faith so as to build them up as they walk and talk.

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Jesus-Believer’s Transformation

1Thess 1 transformation3In Thessalonica Paul preached the truth of the gospel from the scriptures “explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” [Acts 17] But his stay was short lived and as Paul left hurriedly he had visions that his work was of no value as it seemed that the word of the Lord had fallen upon deaf ears. How often do we proclaim and think that what we have shared has done the same? It is then that we must remember it is NOT about you or me, but it is the power of the gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit that changes lives. It must have been almost more than Paul could take when he heard that the Thessalonians not only heard but received and now were living as Jesus-Believers. They were transformed!

Three things stood out in the lives of the Thessalonians that we can take to heart. First their transformation was evident to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia so much so that the message of the power of the gospel was echoing everywhere. Does our transformation by Jesus do the same? It was evident in three ways: ‘work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope.’ They put faith; words and their belief into action. The world is looking for the reality of transformed lives. Are we living out the gospel so much so that even our “trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold –“?

How does your life and my life look to the outside world?

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And There was LIGHT!

Ps 43 jesus2May 8th Ps 43 “Light”

The psalmist prayed “O send out your light and your truth” and God answered. He sent the Light of the World to illumine the darkness of men’s souls that they might be see and be redeemed. God sent forth the Way, the Truth and the Life that men might come to Him, the Messiah Jesus Christ. Again the psalmist said ‘light is sown like seed for the righteous’ reminding us of the parable Jesus taught on the soils. The seed lies waiting in the darkness for the abundance of rain to soften its hull. And when the light/seed finds entrance into our soul it germinates and grows it produces a crop 100 fold… if the soil is fertile. That is God’s promise to the children of light who have received and are being enlightened and are growing in maturity with his truth.

The psalmist who wrote: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”[ Psalm 27] prayed that God’s light and truth might lead him to God’s holy hill, his dwelling place. Jesus promised that the Iluminator of Light, the Holy Spirit would come to reveal all truth to us and lead us into everlasting life. Jesus said I am the Light of the World, believe in me so you may become sons of light. The promise is given; He who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. To those who have received the gospel message it is required that a man be found faithful so that when the Master returns we may hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant. Go forth and share the gospel message.

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