Thursday, January 30, 2014

Helping To Support Others Through Prayer

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon! Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
Luke 22:31, 32 (NKJV)

The Bible is very clear about the fact that we have an enemy, the devil.  The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that "the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour"; the devil is actively seeking people to attack.  There are some different methods that he will use to try to attack us but his goal is always the same, to separate us from God and His Word.  If the devil can separate us from these things we are going to be easy prey for deception and destruction.  The good news is that Jesus has already defeated the devil and we can do something about the devil's tactics.

In Luke 22 Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples.  Jesus began to explain how He was going to be betrayed and put to death.  He also said something very interesting to Peter that we can learn an important lesson from.  Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to "sift him as wheat".  This is referring to the process of separating the wheat from the chaff by shaking it.  This is a picture of what the devil tries to do in the lives of believers today; the devil wants to shake people loose from their connection to God, His Word, their local church, and other believers.

Many Christians, especially when they are "young" believers, do not yet have a solid foundation in God's Word and they are easily shaken by trials, temptations, offense, and problems.  Just like a child in the natural needs support from their older siblings and adults so do spiritual children.  Just like Jesus did with Peter, we need to pray for the stability of believers and support them with our prayers. We can pray that God would help these believers to keep the truth in mind and not yield to the pressure they may be facing. Through our prayers we can help believers to be stable and strong in the face of temptations, tests, and trials.  Jesus did it for Peter and we can do it too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

God's Favorite Child

"For there is no partiality with God."
Romans 2:11 (NKJV)

There are some situations in life where one person is preferred above another.  Someone may have access to a place because they either work there or they have been granted special permission by someone else.  Another example is how a person who is someone's friend will be allowed to do some things that another person is not, just because of that friendship.  While these things do happen in life it is good to know that with God there is no special access or privilege for one person over another.

God loves and cares the same for all of His children.  Many Christians read stories in the Bible about some man or woman who did great things for God and think that this man or woman was in some special relationship with God.  Sometimes Christians look at Jesus and think that because He was and is God's only begotten Son that Jesus was God's favorite child and God loves Jesus more than anyone.  But, Jesus Himself said in His prayer in John 17 that God loves all of His children just as much as He loved Jesus!

So why is it that some believers have things working better in their lives than others?  It is not because some Christians have a special relationship with God and they are His favorite child, but because these believers have learned the truth of who God is and what He provided through Jesus.  We have favor and access to God because of Jesus and not based on who we are or what we have done.  The reason that Jesus and others people in the Bible did great things for God is because those people understood their relationship to God and knew that God would honor His Word when someone acted on it in faith.  God is our Father and we are all His favorite child and His Word works the same for all of us!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We Need To Know The Whole Counsel Of God

"Jesus answered and said to them, You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Matthew 22:29 (NKJV)

There is an interesting story in Matthew 22 about a group of people who came to ask Jesus a question.  These people, called the Sadducees, were part of a religious group that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, but they were asking Jesus a question about what happens to people after the resurrection.  What a strange topic for them to bring up.  But, they did not really want to learn anything or have an actual answer to a real question; they were only trying to justify themselves and their beliefs while putting Jesus down.

These Sadducees were more well versed in their beliefs and opinions than what God had actually said.  They did not really have an understanding of the Word of God.  If they had been as informed about the entire Old Testament as they were about their own group's beliefs and opinions about the Old Testament they would not have said what they said.  Jesus told them they were mistaken because they did not know the Scriptures.  They knew part of the Scripture, the part that fit their beliefs, but they did not know the whole counsel of God, as Paul called it in Acts 20:27.

Just like the Sadducees, too many believers only know small portions of the Bible and those are usually the parts they like the best, they don't know the whole counsel of God.  Too few Christians have a regular time of reading and studying the Word for themselves, they don't really know the Scriptures.  We need to be people who know the Word of God for ourselves and are well acquainted with it from having spent time with it on a regular basis.  We should all make it a habit to spent time with God through His Word, this will help us in our life and we will avoid making mistakes like the Sadducees did.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It Will Make Sense Later On

"His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him."
John 12:16 (NKJV)

In John 12 we see Jesus talking with His disciples about things that they did not completely understand at the time.  During Jesus ministry on the earth, when He was arrested, crucified and buried, the disciples and other people around Jesus did not always understand was He was talking about or what was happening, but it all made sense later on.  We can see a parallel in our own life in how God guides us and directs us; everything God is telling us and everywhere He is leading us does not always make sense at the time, but it will later on.

So often we try to live our life based on what we know and we usually resist what we don't understand.  If we limit where God can direct us in our life based on what we know and understand we will miss some of what God is trying to work in us.  In my own life I can look back at several different situations that I thought were unnecessary and just a waste of time and effort.  But, as I continued in my walk with God I could look back and see exactly how these seemingly random things all fit into what God had planned for me and how God used them prepared me for my future.

We need to develop in our relationship with God to where we are obediently following His direction, no matter what He might lead us to do.  We need to learn to trust God and realize that what He is leading us to do today is preparing us for what we will face tomorrow.  Now I am not saying that God will bring tragedy or some dreadful disease into our life to teach us some mysterious lesson.  What I am saying is that God knows the best course for our life and He knows what lies ahead.  God is always at work in our life developing us and preparing us for the future.  If we trust God to guide us in the present then we will reap benefits now and especially in the future.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Run Your Race, With Endurance

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

When I was in high school I was on the track team.  Our school would compete against other schools in various events, including different running events, during regular track meets.  I usually ran the one and two mile races, but one time the coach had me run the quarter mile race.  Although I did not finish last in that race it was not my best race; I had a hard time running the right pace because I was used to running longer distances.  I was so used to running a certain way that when I had to change I struggled, this is similar to the kind of spiritual problem that a lot of Christians are having today.

Many people are so used to doing things at a fast pace that they have a hard time doing something that takes a longer amount of time.  This kind of thing is often seen around the New Year when people make all kinds of resolutions with good intentions and a lot of zeal.  However, after a month or two, and possibly even after only a few weeks, when things don't happen as fast as they had hoped people give up and don't pursue that resolution any more.  It is not that what they wanted to do was wrong but they expected something to happen quicker than it did, and that is where the problem is.

The Christian life is compared to a race, but it is more like a marathon than a 100 meter dash because our race for God happens over the course of our entire life.  In Hebrews 12:1 we are told to run our race with endurance; we have to be consistent and persistent with the right attitude, moving forward no matter how fast or slow things seem to go.  We keep on going, staying focused on what the Bible says about our life and knowing that God by the Holy Spirit will help us and direct us in the things we are doing.  That is how we run our race with endurance and finish the race with success!