Apr 152016
 

loving your enemiesYou have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44)

We have read some pretty tough statements by Jesus over the last few weeks and they certainly aren’t getting any easier. Today’s passage must be one of the hardest things to do. It’s not always easy loving the ones closest to us, but loving our enemies is one of the hardest things to accept and actually do. It is just not natural. Our normal nature (the sinful one) wants retribution. It wants to fight back and get even with all those people that oppose us. But if we want to be followers of Jesus and true children of our father in heaven, then love we must, even the most unlovely.

Let’s just start with the passage before us today. Notice that Jesus states “You have heard that it was said” This is important. He is not talking about what is written, i.e. scripture. He is once again addressing the Pharisees and exposing their man-made traditions. They loved to add bits to scripture and make it different to what was intended. God had plans for dealing with Israel’s enemies at the time of the occupation of Canaan, but His long term goal was that His people’s enemies would be won over by love and not hate. The first part of the phrase is from the bible. In Leviticus 19:18 it says “love your neighbour as yourself.” The Pharisees were so narrow minded that they assumed God was talking about other Israelites as their neighbours. He surely couldn’t be speaking about the Gentiles. Surely they were to be hated and discarded. They had not even bothered to read on for another 16 verses of the same chapter in Leviticus where it said “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). God’s plan has always been all encompassing. He has an expansive heart and He wants His children to be like Him and have one too. He wants us to reach out to the foreigners, the despised, the unlovely, the sinful. In fact, people just like we were before He got hold of us!

This is especially true at this moment in history, as thousands of precious souls are being driven from their countries and have become refugees. The father is sending them to our countries so that we can bless them and show them His love.

Let’s examine who our enemies actually are. They are very rarely now people from a foreign country, but people we live and work with. People who have hurt us in some way, or people we don’t see ‘eye to eye’ with. They could be people that oppose us because they don’t like what we stand for or even just the way we are. They could be jealous of our lifestyle or our intelligence or anything that they might consider a threat. We probably all have people we take an instant dislike to and oftentimes we have no real idea why. There are hundreds of reasons why we have enemies, the main reason being we live in a ‘sin sick’ world. They could range from people we have a mild dislike for to people we absolutely hate.

We should all have enemies, even the most virtuous of us. In fact the most virtuous will have more enemies than most! Jesus was perfect and He had enemies, very real enemies, those that were desperate to kill Him. Don’t get me wrong, He never hated anybody, but living the life he did, He naturally attracted people who hated Him. The Apostle Paul knew this more than most as he sought to spread the gospel with boldness and without fear. From experience he said “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12)

If we have no enemies or opponents, we probably are not living the gospel out as we should be. Again, we are not looking for trouble, but a Holy lifestyle should naturally invite opposition. In fact Jesus said “Woe to you when all people speak well of you.” (Luke 6:26)

So how are we to love our enemies?

This is the hard part. Even forgiving people is easy compared to this. In some cases you can forgive and move on. It’s dealt with, you don’t necessarily have to encounter that person again. Loving someone who hates you is a commitment. You may work with them on a daily basis and have to show love to them in the face of constant antagonism and hatred.

Often the only way we can love our enemies is to pray for them, simply because we can’t get close enough to them to do anything else! They may hate you so much that they won’t even speak to you. Praying may be the only way you can fulfil this command, but a committed heartfelt prayer for your enemies proves that you love them.

How do we pray?

This is an important question because we could just pray “get them Lord, pay them back for how nasty they have been to me!” I don’t believe that is the way Jesus is telling us to pray. In His radical kingdom, Jesus is asking us to pray a blessing over our enemies, a heartfelt one. How would you feel if you prayed a blessing over your enemy and God actually answered it? That is the test, that is what will reveal what is really in our hearts. That is what Jesus is demanding of us and that is why it is so difficult. Jesus gave us the perfect example at the cross where he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) That sort of prayer is so powerful that we could well see the very people who crucified Jesus in heaven!

This subject is so important that I’m going to explore it some more over the next few weeks. I’ve said it before, that this subject is one of the hardest things to do in the Christian life, but if you can overcome the resistance you are probably feeling right now and do what Jesus is asking you to do, you will receive release and freedom in your life more than you had ever thought possible.

 April 15, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Apr 252014
 

Rabboni “11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:11-18)

Last week we finished with the ‘I am’ names of Jesus, but continuing with the Easter theme I want to touch on another name Jesus was called: Rabboni.

The name Rabboni is only used twice in the bible (also Mark 10:51). The meaning is not fully clear but it is generally translated as ‘beloved teacher’. It seems funny to me to put those two words together because I don’t think I thought of any of my teachers like that at school! I tolerated a few of them, but no more than that.

Jesus of course is altogether different. Jesus was also called ‘Rabbi’ on a number of occasions which is the usual title for a spiritual teacher. However Rabboni means a bit more than that. A Rabboni was someone who didn’t simply teach but also produced teachers. Jesus was a great teacher, but more than that, His whole mission was to pass on His teaching to His disciples and then on and on throughout the generations. I think we can safely say He has achieved that mission.

Another aspect of this name is that it came from the lips of Mary Magdalene, a woman who had been constantly scorned and rejected throughout most of her life. She had a chequered past but Jesus had forgiven and accepted her and now she experienced the unbelievable privilege of going to the disciples as the first witness, ‘teaching’ them what Jesus had said to her. This would have been highly unusual in that society and further shows the value and trust that Jesus places on women.

I don’t know if you are a person who easily disqualifies yourself, but take heart from this example of Mary Magdelene, a person who had every reason to disqualify herself but was wonderfully taught and discipled by Jesus. Many would have thought “why is Jesus wasting His time teaching her?’. But Jesus didn’t consider it a waste of time at all and it would seem she went on to grow into a leader of women amongst Jesus’ disciples.

There has been plenty of nonsense written about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, with suggestions made that they were lovers etc. The above verse I think clearly says otherwise. Lovers don’t refer to each other as teachers, especially using this formal term. There was clearly love between them but a pure sort of love that I sometimes think the world is incapable of understanding. She loved Him dearly as her teacher but that’s as far as it would ever go.

The lesson that I think we should take from this passage of scripture is to not disqualify ourselves, but rather to continue learning from the greatest teacher who ever lived and whose words are still available today. Let us make the most of them.

 April 25, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Names of Jesus, Resurrection No Responses »
Oct 032013
 

Battle for personal holinessLast week we started to look at the subject of Personal Holiness. If you have ever sought to be more holy you will have realised just how much of a battle it is. We very soon see that it is not a task we can complete on our own and as I mentioned last week, we are fully reliant on the Holy Spirit’s power and help to get us through.

There are so many things that prevent us from being effective, sins such as; greed, idolatry, lust, drunkenness, gambling, anger, gossip and laziness to name just a few.

We all have our struggles with any one or more of the above weaknesses which can cause us to regularly trip up. It may start off with our thought life, for example daydreaming about a certain person you may find attractive, and before you know it you have got totally carried away with your dreaming. Or you may become angry with another driver who cuts you up in traffic, inducing “roadrage”. Or it may be that you hear a morsel of juicy gossip and find yourself dying to share it with someone. These thoughts, if left unchecked, can lead to sin.

As we saw in the Romans 12 passage last week the battle nearly always starts in our minds. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

And in 1 Peter 1:13-16:

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”.”

God would not have given us the command to be holy if He hadn’t equipped us for the task. Holiness is within our grasp if we are prepared to stand and fight for it.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the armour we are given to fight this battle we find ourselves in:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Some people make it a daily discipline to imagine putting on each piece of armour in turn and saying things like; “Lord I thank You that You are my righteousness, that I am not righteous on my own. I put on the breastplate of righteousness right now in Jesus name”.

That is really not a bad way to start each day – have a regular ‘armour’ check!

 October 3, 2013  Posted by at 9:50 pm Holiness 3 Responses »
Sep 262013
 

Personal holinessI hope you have been finding my series on having a relationship with God useful. We have looked at prayer and bible study and more recently, worship. These are all excellent ways to develop our relationship with God.

This week I am going to look at how our personal holiness helps us to connect with God in a wonderfully personal way, as we pray, read our bibles and worship.

We have been created in God’s image and likeness. As His ambassadors to the world He wants us to reflect His image to all those we come into contact with.

As we get to know God and understand the impact of His grace on our lives, our desires change and we want to become more like Him. We want to ‘take off’ the things that He doesn’t like and ‘put on’ the things that please Him.

Personal holiness can be described as being set apart and devoted to God. It is the determination and commitment to allow these disciplines of prayer, bible study and worship to change us to become more like Him.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

God’s desire is that we grow in holiness. He commands in Leviticus 11:45:

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.

He doesn’t ask us to do anything we are unable to do. He has given us His Holy Spirit. The consecration process happens as we willingly follow His ways and rely on Him to make us holy.

Devotion requires effort, not in order to win His favour or any other such thing, but out of a desire to please Him and give Him glory.

There are 3 things to consider when we look at the subject of “Personal Holiness”:

  • Personal holiness is a choice.
  • Personal holiness requires commitment.
  • Personal holiness is a lifestyle.

It’s a Battle

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The world is vying for our attention. Having become Christians we still find ourselves struggling against sin and temptation. In fact when you gave your life to Christ you entered into a war zone. (Take heart- you are on the winning side!)

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

We also see the warning that Jesus gives to Peter: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

Reading these verses it is obvious that God holds us responsible to make the effort to be holy, but it is comforting to know that Jesus is praying for us and will help us, and of course as I have mentioned before, He has given us His precious Holy Spirit. Let’s invite Him this week to fill us and help us as we draw ever closer into this wonderful relationship with Him.

 September 26, 2013  Posted by at 10:33 pm Holiness, Holy Spirit No Responses »
Sep 192013
 

Worship-In-Spirit-And-In-TruthOver quite a number of weeks now we have been looking at how we can have an intimate relationship with God. We have looked at prayer and bible reading and this week I am going to continue with the whole subject of worship. I could talk for a long time on this topic, however I am going to simply highlight a few points to help us as we draw near to God.

Worship is a direct expression of our ultimate purpose for living. The Westminster shorter catechism says that ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’

Because God is perfect, it is the most loving thing for Him to do to allow us to worship Him. The more we worship the more we are blessed. We become more complete as we worship and become to an ever increasing degree more like the one we are worshipping. We can’t of course ever reach His heights but we can take on more and more of His character as we spend more time with Him.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Worship has two key components, as we see in John 4:

■ Spirit

■ Truth

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24 NIV)

Worship is not just a good idea or a nice thing to do, it is actually commanded in scripture. When Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness to worship him, Jesus replied swiftly:

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Not only does He command us to worship Him but He forbids us from worshipping anything or anyone else. Not obeying God’s command to worship Him is idolatry because the rejection of God as ruler stands at the base of every sin: we are by default rejecting God and lifting up something lesser in His place.

There are a great many worship CD’s that you can listen to and sing along to. You can download songs onto an MP3 player and worship in your lunch break, or play in the car when travelling to and from work.

(If you are not sure what music is good to help you worship, please contact me in the box below and I will send you some suggestions.)

You don’t have to be able to play an instrument or even to sing particularly well to be a worshipper; simply sing out to God what is in your heart. You will connect with Him like never before because that is what you were created for.

There is more healing joy in five minutes of worship than there is in five nights of revelry” (AW Tozer)

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose” (William Temple)

 September 19, 2013  Posted by at 11:34 pm Worship No Responses »
Sep 122013
 

Intimacy with God through worshipThis week in my series on developing a relationship with God, I will be looking at the whole subject of worship. This is a huge topic so I won’t be able to cover everything, but I hope to reveal how important worship is if we want to go deeper with God and know Him more intimately.

When you think about it, everybody can be considered to be a worshipper, whether they are religious or not. Everyone has something or someone they worship.

The object of peoples’ worship can be fairly obvious when we observe the tell-tale signs:

· What do they talk about most often?

· What do they spend most of their time doing?

· What do they spend all their money on?

The answers to those questions tell us what is being worshipped. It could literally be anything; a family pet, a car, a sports team, sex, even a political philosophy or something equally abstract.

Worship is in our DNA, we were made for it.

We were made to worship God. Worshipping God brings the greatest fulfilment, but conversely, worshipping other things will ultimately not satisfy. We can never get enough of what we are worshipping. We can spend ever more time, resources and energy pursuing personal satisfaction but if God is not the object of our affections there will always be something missing.

Growing in intimacy

For the Christian, worshipping God should be the natural inclination for a soul who has experienced overwhelming grace and mercy. Our response is to worship this great God who loves us, has pursued us and saved us, even though He knows what we are like.

In past weeks we have looked at the importance of prayer and bible study and worship can come out of these things. We can sometimes read something in the bible that in the moment takes our breath away and the logical and natural thing is to start to worship.

The place in the bible to start reading if we want to be drawn into worship is the book of Psalms. They follow the full gamut of human emotions, from despair to ecstatic joy, and they all teach us about God and His ways and how we can come to Him whatever situation we may find ourselves in.

Much more than just singing

We can quite easily have the idea that worship is mainly singing songs, however the bible is clear that it is so much more than that. We worship with our voices, yes, but also with our bodies, our hearts, our attitudes and our thoughts. We are worshipping God just as much when we are making honourable decisions that please God, when we resist temptation, act in a kindly way etc. as when we sing in church on Sunday.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:16, 17 NIV)

 September 12, 2013  Posted by at 9:35 pm Worship No Responses »
Sep 042013
 

Mistakes when reading the bibleThroughout the summer we have been looking at the subject of having a relationship with God. If you have been reading these posts, I hope you have been freshly inspired to a relationship with God, which actually is the purpose of our lives and the reason we were created.

We have spent some time on the subject of prayer, last week exploring the idea of reading our bibles as a way to find out what God wants to say to us, hence deepening His relationship with us.

The bible is a very big book and large parts of it can be difficult to understand. I wonder if you have ever started reading from the beginning and by the time you have reached the book of Leviticus, really started to struggle? There are a number of hurdles we can face, along with mistakes we can make while approaching and reading the bible. Allow me to address some of these mistakes here:

1. Reading the Bible without prayer.

The bible is a spiritual book, so it is a mistake to read it like any other book. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to properly understand it, and to accurately apply it. Therefore praying for God’s help and understanding is vital and a good habit to get into both before we read, enabling us to hear God speak to us, and after we have finished reading, to help us apply His truth to our lives.

2. Getting tripped up by the things we don’t understand.

While we’re reading the Bible, it is very common to come across passages or verses that we simply don’t understand. The best thing to do is to read the whole passage through and try to get the gist of what is being said. If you are still struggling, have a look through a good commentary or ask a friend. I would avoid ‘googling’, especially initially as there are some really whacky ideas on the internet. Get your small group leader or someone you trust in the church to point you in the right direction.

We must remember that the bible was written a very long time ago and we need to understand the historical and cultural context.

3. Don’t read too fast.

You shouldn’t read the bible quickly, as you would a novel. However, some parts you can, for example when a story is being told. Other parts need to be read slowly. I have known people spend weeks on just a couple of verses. If you combine your reading with prayer (as mentioned in point 1 above) you will be amazed at what God will reveal to you, sometimes through passages you’ve read many times before.

4. Applying Old Testament laws personally.

The bible is a book where God’s plans have been given greater clarity over time and so we need to be aware of which laws are still relevant now and which have been superseded, for example, the 10 commandments are still very much relevant to today. However, many of the dietary laws, such as not eating pork, have been done away with. We are now in a new covenant. As in point number 2, if you are unsure, ask someone you trust in your church or read a good commentary.

5. Reading the Bible out of context.

This has been a huge problem throughout church history. The problem arises when people approach the bible with their own agenda. A classic example is the Jehovah’s witnesses who seem unable to come to terms with the fact that God is one and yet three distinct persons, thereby re-interpreting parts to fit what they want the bible to say. It is important that we take time to read the context and the historical setting of every book of the bible before we actually begin, in order to have an understanding of who the book was written to, when it was written, and what the surrounding context of the writing of that book was. This will go a long way to understanding what is actually being said. There will always be minor disagreements when we are not quite sure what the writer meant, but if we take the passage in the context of other passages (as long as they don’t disagree) we should be ok.

And finally . . .

6. Reading the Bible without taking it personally.

Sometimes I can read the bible in the same way I do other non-fiction books – in order to gain information. But if I start with the first point of praying before and after I read, I will be much more likely to discern what God is telling me right now. The bible describes the word of God as living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). If I come to it knowing that God’s desire is to communicate with me through it, I will be a lot more likely to take it personally.

I believe that if we take into consideration the above points we will experience far greater depths of revelation and insight as we delve into the delights that our Father is waiting to share with us through His word. Enjoy!

 September 4, 2013  Posted by at 10:37 pm Bible 1 Response »
Aug 292013
 

Reading the bibleSo far in this mini-series on having a relationship with God we have focussed on our prayer life. We have looked at many aspects of this. If you missed any, click on any of the links on the left hand side.

This week we are going to have a brief look at how the bible can help us in our relationship with God.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will be aware that I am constantly quoting scripture. I want ‘the word of God’ to be central in my life. It is not just a book with some good ideas; it contains the living, breathing words of God. The bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.

I am sure you will agree that this is a bold statement and one which can be understood in the context of the gospels and the epistles. But what about Leviticus, or indeed some of the more obscure Old Testament books?

God can use any part of the bible to teach us about His character, His plans or anything He wants to communicate.

If we want a relationship with God we need to know what He thinks about everything. This will help us follow and serve Him. We need to open our bibles daily and allow God to speak to us. The bible is God’s love letter to us, it is the maker’s handbook. Without it we are floundering around in the dark. We need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Some while back in this blog I did a whole series about the bible. Below are some links if you would like to explore further.

How reliable is the bible?

The Canon of scripture

The authority of the bible

The sufficiency of the bible

Can you trust the bible?

Bible contradictions

Interpreting the bible

Bible versions

Memorising the bible

Helpful links

If you would like any help to get started please feel free to contact me (see tab at the top) and I will do my best to help you.

 August 29, 2013  Posted by at 8:38 pm Bible No Responses »
Aug 162013
 

lords prayerOver the last few weeks we have been looking at the subject of prayer as part of the wider theme of having a relationship with God. As Christians we all know how important prayer is but we are often unsure how to start. We have looked at how we can come to God boldly and at any time, and last week we looked at what we could say in our prayers.

This week we shall look at one of the most famous prayers of all: ‘The Lord’s prayer’. We probably all learned it at school. The fuller version is in Matthew 6:9-13:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Jesus Himself taught this prayer to His disciples as they saw what an effective prayer life He had with His father.

The idea is not that we simply quote and repeat verbatim the words of the Lord’s prayer (as so many do), but rather that we use it as a template. For example:

Our Father in heaven Start thanking God that He has revealed himself as our father with all the comfort and protection that brings. He is for us and we are in His family, we can come to Him boldly.
hallowed be your name Hallowed means Holy. We begin to move into worshipful prayer as we remember His name as He has revealed it throughout the bible, for example “the Lord our Shepherd” (for guidance and care); “the Lord our Provider”; “the Lord our righteousness”, etc.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven His Kingdom comes where there is evidence of His presence and love as He touches people with healing or salvation. We pray for our friends and family here who we want to see touched by God’s kingdom. There is a stark difference between heaven and the earth and we are praying for more of heaven to invade earth. More light, more power, more righteousness, more peace.
Give us this day our daily bread Do we need provision today? Not just physical but maybe emotional? God wants to provide for us. If we don’t need anything at the moment, then we should thank Him for what He has already given us. It is always good to have a thankful heart.
and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. Is there any sin we are holding onto? Release it to God now and ask for His forgiveness, and then accept His forgiveness. We should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us anyone we are holding a grudge against or have not forgiven. We should ask Him to help us to forgive them, to make the choice to forgive them (even though we may not “feel” that forgiveness), then wait on God for our feelings to change.
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil We ask God to guide us along whichever path we go on today. We resolve to not go to places that may cause us to be tempted. We ask for God’s protection over us, our family and our friends.

If you go through each stage of this prayer slowly as I have shown, you could easily pray for 15 to 20 minutes without even thinking about it. Why not give it a try now? Ask God to help you and you will find it gets easier. I can’t stress enough how much God loves it when we spend time with Him and share with Him the things that are happening in our lives.

 August 16, 2013  Posted by at 1:37 pm Prayer 1 Response »
Aug 012013
 

What do you say to GodIn last week’s post we looked at the fact that we can come to God boldly and at any time. This is because Jesus has made a way possible for us to enter into a relationship with God through his sacrifice on the cross.

What do we say?

I think that the majority of us understand the fact that we can approach God boldly and at any time. The problem arises when we get there: What do we say? How do we speak to God?

Firstly, we don’t have to use ‘King James English’. We are not required to use “thee’s” and “thou’s” and speak in lofty tones.

Secondly, we don’t have to recite great long eloquent prayers. I believe that God likes a chat. He knows what we are thinking about and He knows the answer before we have even formulated the question. God likes to be consulted. There is an amazing mystery in the character of God in that He loves to hear our prayers and responds accordingly, especially when we pray with faith.

Different types of prayer

When thinking about what to say and how to say it, it is really useful to go to the bible where many examples of different types of prayer can be found. I have listed just a few below to help us:

  • Petition – This is simply another word for a request. In Philippians 4:6 it says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  • Thanksgiving – It is always good to go back to God and tell Him how thankful you are. None of us like to be taken for granted. It is a good idea to get into the habit of thankfulness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks”.
  • Adoration – Telling God how good He is. Just doing this helps us to lift our gaze out of our own troubles and get everything into a right perspective. When we adore, magnify and love God our faith rises, as we remember how strong, loving, kind, merciful and good He is. The Psalms are packed with passages of adoration which can be used in our prayer times.
  • Confession – These are prayers we pray after we have messed up. We come to Him confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. We then receive that forgiveness according to his word. A great example of a confessional prayer is Psalm 51.
  • Intercession – This is when we pray on behalf of others. These kinds of prayers are seen throughout the bible. One example is when Abraham intercedes for the city of Sodom in Genesis 18:20-33.

Times of intercessory prayer can be wonderful occasions when God really uses us to meet the needs of others. True intercessors are faithful and persistent and are often unknown. They are heaven’s secret warriors who do battle in the heavenlies and see mighty victories accomplished.

Next time we will look at ways we can pray through verses in the bible. We will also look at the model that Jesus himself gave us.

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:28 pm Prayer No Responses »