Prayer & Faith

Prayer & Faith

Prayer that arises from faith in Jesus in our hearts accomplishes wonderful and mighty blessings.  Another beneficial tool that believers have is anointing people with oil, and laying hands on them in prayer.  In the Scriptures, oil represents the Holy Spirit.  In the New Testament the laying on of hands was associated with Christ healing the sick (Luke 4:40)

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  (Jas 5:14-15 NIV)  In this case, we are encouraged to ask the elders of the church to pray for the sick after anointing them with oil.

And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mk 6:13)  This passage is referring to the apostles’ doing good works, including casting out demons, anointing the sick with oil and healing them.  Praise God!

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.  (Ac 28:8)  The Apostle Paul laid hands on Publius after praying for him, and healed Publius.

These are procedures that the apostles used, because they had seen Jesus Christ (our example) using them.  Modern believers should use these same methods and practices in order to see the same results.

Remember, all signs, wonders and miracles are a result of faith in Jesus Christ and in focusing upon Him and His love and mercy.  Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8) and we should cherish it, value it, and thank and praise God for it. Hallelujah!

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

Why do some believers hear things and see things that others do not hear and see? 

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’  (Ac 22:9-10) 

In the above instance, the people who were traveling with Saul (who later became Paul, the apostle) saw the supernatural light that appeared to Saul but they did not hear God’s voice speaking to him.  God was giving Saul directions to follows. So the only one who needed to hear the Lord was Saul.

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  (Ac 9:7)

In this verse, those who accompanied Saul heard the Lord’s voice speaking to Saul but they didn’t see anything.  In Acts 9:7, Saul was again being told what to do next but we don’t know why God allowed the others to hear God’s voice in this instance.

“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.”  (Ac 26:12-13)

This account in the Bible is where Paul is telling King Agrippa about the heavenly light, brighter than the sun, which he and his friends saw on the road to Damascus.  This was a genuine physical AND spiritual encounter that Paul had with the Lord.

As we diligently work to serve the Lord, and spend time studying the Word and drawing near to God’s presence, we may experience God-ordained sights and sounds which other people don’t experience.  Such things are out of the ordinary for most believers, but they are clearly controlled by God. 

Ask God to give you His wisdom and insight into understanding such an event if it should happen to you.  Don’t be afraid of it, but diligently seek the Scriptures and God’s wisdom to make sure that it lines up with the teachings of the Lord in the New Testament.  Determine what God’s wants you to do or to change as a result of your experience.  If it does not agree with Biblical teachings, then simply put it out of your mind and heart.

For those of us who do not experience these types of incidents, it doesn’t mean that we are any less of a follower of Jesus Christ than any other believer.  It simply means that every individual person’s relationship with the Lord is unique and special.  Value your relationship with the Lord and draw near to Him through prayer, Bible reading, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with other believers.  You are blessed!

Be Steadfast

Be Steadfast

Be steadfast in your spiritual life.  Steadfast means unwavering, unfaltering, loyal, devoted, or constant.  So how can we be steadfast and in what ways?

. . . rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer . . .  (Rom 12:12)  Continue in daily prayer interceding for yourself and for other people and for our leaders—both spiritual and national.

For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  (Gal 5:5)  As we eagerly wait for the return of Jesus (or to arrive in heaven ourselves), wait with a sense of anticipation, eagerness and joy. 

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Joh 16:33)  The Lord warns us that we’ll experience tribulation somehow, at some point in our lives, but that we should be cheered up knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world.  So be loyal and stalwart in believing the truth of this Scripture.  Remember that the Lord is with you and that He fights FOR you.  (Deu 3:22; Josh 23:10)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  (1 Cor 15:58)  Be devoted to thriving in the work of the Lord, knowing that one day you WILL receive your reward.  The “work of the Lord” involves ministering to others (by prayer, service, or helps); sharing the gospel with others; and baptizing new believers or bringing them to church so that they can be baptized in water.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Ac 2:42)  Be unwavering in having fellowship with other believers; in sharing meals with them; in taking communion with other believers, and in prayers with them and for them. 

Above all, rejoice in hope! 

An Everlasting Covenant

An Everlasting Covenant

Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  (Ezek 37:26 NKJV)

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.  I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.  (Jer 30:19 NIV)

For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.  (Zech 2:5 KJV)

A covenant is an agreement, pledge, bond, or contract.  The Bible reminds us that God cannot lie (Tit 1:2) and that His Word is tested and true.  (Ps 119:140, 142)

God’s promises to His people, based upon the passages above, are that:

  • He will establish us;
  • He multiplies us;
  • He gives us His peace;
  • He lives within us;
  • He will bring us honor;
  • He guarantees that we won’t be disdained;
  • He protects us as a wall of fire; and
  • He is the glory within us.

He will establish us by confirming that our faith us genuine and that our relationship with Him is legitimate.

He multiplies us by adding other believers to our numbers, and by giving us literal children of our own, as well as spiritual children whom we parent as spiritual mentors.

He gives us peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7) because He is the Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)

He lives with every believer because we are individually (and collectively) the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19)

How does God bring honor to any believer?  Some of the ways He will honor us is by hearing and answering our prayers for other people.  When we lead people to accept Jesus as their own personal Savior, we are being honored by God.  When God performs signs and wonders in response to our prayers for someone, he is honoring us.  He is responding to the genuine faith that we are using by praying on behalf of other people.  Hallelujah!

The final three promises are that we won’t be disdained; that He protects us; and that His glory is within each of us.  These are things that we have to simply trust Him to perform.  We don’t need to do anything about them; we just need to continue in our relationship with Jesus Christ and keep on serving our Savior, who is a Covenant-Keeping God.  Glory to God!

The Message of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18 NIV, underlining and emphasis added) 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16, emphasis added)

 . . .  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  (1 Cor 1:23-25, emphasis added)

. . . because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)

The message of the cross is sometimes referred to as the:

  • Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)
  • Good News (1 Thes 3:6)
  • Power of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Resurrection Gospel (1 Cor 15, entire chapter)

What is the message of the cross?  It is that God LOVES the world, and desires to be in RELATIONSHIP with each and every one of us.  Thanks to this truth, the Father God provided salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ.

Jesus humbled himself in coming to earth as a newborn baby.  He grew up as a normal, human boy and learned the trade of carpentry.  He lived a sinless, perfect life serving His heavenly Father.  Jesus preached Good News, and demonstrated the love of His heavenly Father by performing signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Jesus displayed the need for continuous fellowship with His Father, as well as drawing apart for prayer.  He modeled forgiveness, wisdom, and walking in the Spirit for us all.

The symbol of the cross is an icon of grim human suffering and public humiliation.  Jesus’ suffering and subsequent death and resurrection are all part of the message of the cross.  In the light of Christ’s resurrection, there is restoration of hope, complete joy, and utter triumph.  Hallelujah!

Notice that the preaching of this gospel of salvation is always accompanied by the POWER of God.

The message of the cross proves the magnitude of the love that God has for mankind.

Watch for the Master!

Watch for the Master!

This is a message for EVERYONE!  We are taught by the Scriptures to keep a watch for the coming of the Master.  Jesus is the “Master of the house” of each person who has accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. 

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”  (Mark 13:35-37, emphasis added)

Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion.  (Isa 52:8)

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night.  You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent . . . (Isa 62:6)

In the Christian community, our watchmen are the prophets and pastors who teach us and lead us in our daily walk.  The prophets give us timely insights from the Lord and we should pay attention to them.  The pastors are under-shepherds who are supposed to follow the example of Jesus, the Shepherd of all believers, by living exemplary lives of faith and love.  Pastors also lead their flocks in right paths and teach us about God’s nature and the Bible to enable us to live righteous, upright lives.

We are also told to “watch and pray” lest we enter into temptation.  (Mt 26:41)  This is a spiritual watching coupled with prayer that gives each one of us the strength to survive temptations and the difficult situations of life.

When the New Testament instructs us to “watch,” it means to stay alert, awake, and attentive.  This is a spiritual instruction to be spiritually perceptive, on guard, and to examine every teaching closely so that we do not allow ourselves to be lead into error or false doctrine.

As we study our Bibles daily and meditate upon them faithfully, the Holy Spirit will bring to our minds the Scriptures that we have learned.  (Joh 14:25-26)  He will lead each of His children wherever He wants each person to go.  Praise the Lord!

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and wisdom are two attributes that are praised in the Scriptures.  Blessings are frequently mentioned in connection with them.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  (Pro 11:2 NIV)  Humility and wisdom are frequent companions!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  (Jas 3:13 NIV)  This verse informs us that humility comes from wisdom.  As a matter of fact, a person with humility coupled with the fear of the Lord will experience riches, honor, and life.  (Pro 22:4)

Toward the scorners He is scornful, but to the humble He gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.  (Pro 3:34-35 ESV)  To people who are humble, the Lord gives favor; and the Lord bestows honor upon the wise.

Only we are capable of humbling ourselves; no one else can do it for us.  When we humble ourselves, the Lord promises to exalt us.  (Jas 4:10 NKJV)  The Bible reminds us that if we don’t humble ourselves, the Lord will do it for us.  (Mt 23:12 ESV)

James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it because He will generously answer our prayer.  Scriptures state repeatedly the many blessings that God bestows upon those who are wise.  See Ps 111:10; Pro 3:13-18; 4:6-7; 14:16; 16:16; 24:3-7; Lk 21:15; Jas 3:17.

Because the end of the ages is approaching, all believers must live carefully and intentionally for the Lord.  Let us each take inventory of our strengths and our weaknesses; and if we are lacking in wisdom or humility, take steps to mend our ways. 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  (Eph 5:15-16 ESV)

Be Watchful

Be Watchful

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (2 Tim 4:5)

. . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—  (Eph 6:18)

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.  (1 Pet 4:7)

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.  (1 Cor 16:13)

Often the Bible urges us to watch as well as to pray.  (Mk 13:33; 14:38; Lk 21:36; Eph 6:18)  It’s important that these two actions go hand in hand. 

Watch means to stay awake; to be sleepless.  We need to take this command literally as well as spiritually.  We are meant to be vigilant, on guard, alert, and intently aware.  Spiritual watching combined with prayer will give us the strength we need to resist temptation and to overcome difficult situations in life.

Staying awake is connected with righteousness.  (1 Cor 15:34)  If ever there has been a time to stay alert and focused, it is NOW.  Many scholars believe that we are living in what is called the “end times.”  We must focus on strengthening our relationship with Jesus Christ and living a holy life, by the grace which He imparts to us.

Believers must be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ; we must guard against temptation; and we should pray without ceasing.  We should prepare for the completion (conclusion) of our salvation!

“Vigilant watchfulness is a manifestation of genuine spiritual life.” ~ Billy Graham

It’s Far Better to Trust God than Man

It’s Far Better to Trust God than Man

The Bible says outright that it is immeasurably better to put our trust in God than to rely upon any human being.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.  (Ps 118:8)

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.  (Jer 17:5)

The Lord shares His wisdom with us from His Word.  It’s simply a matter of believing and trusting in what we read there!  The scriptures tell us that the one who trusts man more than God is cursed.  May that never be the case!

The Word reminds us to trust in the Lord completely and not to rely upon human reasoning or understanding.  As we look to our Savior and trust in Him, He’ll give us direction and guidance, as well as miraculous answers to prayer.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  (Pro 3:5-6)

He will bring us through to victory.  (1 Cor 15:57)

There are a number of good, practical reasons to trust God completely rather than man.  I’ll share some of them with you.

  • God doesn’t lie. (Nbrs 23:19)
  • God cannot fail. (Josh 23:14)
  • God has limitless power. (Job 36:22 TLB; Ps 147:5 ESV)
  • God never forgets a promise. (2 Pet 3:9 AMP)
  • God doesn’t change. (Mal 3:6 KJV; Heb 13:8)
  • God is all-knowing. (Isa 40:13-14; 28 ESV; Job 28:24 ESV; Ps 147:5 ESV; Col 2:3)

When you’re facing a difficult or frightening situation, especially when there seems like no way out and no one capable of helping, put your hope, trust, and faith in the Lord and in His Word. 

The Weapons of our Warfare

The Weapons of our Warfare

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  (2 Cor 10:4 – emphasis added)

. . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim 3:14)  As we study the Bible, the Lord helps us to become mature and to equip us for every good work.

Weak men we may be; but it is not as such that we fight our battles. (2 Cor 10:3 NEB)  We don’t have the mindset of being weak; but rather, we fight because we have a supernaturally mighty friend in Jesus, our Savior. 

What are our weapons?  Our weapons are the Word of God; prayer; preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word of God to all who are hungry.

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, and He accesses the power of God on our behalf. (Zech 4:6)

Paul did not use violence; psychological maneuvering; a crusade of lies against his enemies; political power; money; or denominational loyalty as weapons.  Paul used the spiritual weapons that were at his disposal, revealed to Him by God.

The same weapons that were available to the apostle Paul are available to each one of us today.  Pick up the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) and study to show yourself approved as one who “rightly divides the word of truth.”  (2 Tim 2:15)