Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Forgiving Others.



Forgiving Others


“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
Today’s blog will be a group of scriptures to think and meditate on about this hard subject of forgiveness.

1. We must forgive our debtors. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
2. Forgiving others is an absolute necessity.  “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15-15
3. Jesus says we must forgive often. “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
4. Read the parable of the unmerciful servant showing how sinful it is not to forgive; God sends judgment on sin. Matthew 18-23-25
5. Put away bitterness and anger; forgive as God forgives.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Eph.4:31-32
6. Be imitators of God.  “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Eph. 5:1-2
7. The father of the prodigal son forgave him and accepted him as completely as if he had not sinned. Luke 15:20-24
8. Jesus commands us to forgive others. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:25
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs.  “[love] keeps no record of wrongs.”  1 Cor. 13:5
10. Love covers (overlooks) a multitude of sins.  “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8
11. Restore with gentleness one who has fallen into sin.  “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
12. Paul tells us we must forgive and restore one who has sinned against us.  2Cor. 2:5-11
13. Forgive a repentant sinner and affirm your love.  “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Cor. 2:7-8
14. When we forgive others, we outwit Satan.  “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  2 Cor. 2:10-11
15. Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery and treated them kindly.  Gen 45-50
This comes from the book “Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling by John G. Kruis.  I highly recommend everyone get a copy.  God bless!

Source:
“Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling”, John G. Kruis, copywrite 1994 published by Baker Books, Grand Rapids.
Scripture from “The New American Standard Bible” copywrite 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra 
Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Daily Bread



Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Mat. 6:11

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:17

            Many people take time to pray over their meals to say thank you for the meal that the Lord has provided them.  Some at the end to the day will say a prayer of thanks for some blessing that they feel came from the Lord.  A child might say thanks for parents or grandparents and maybe for some toy that they have gotten.  When we say thanks to God we are acknowledging where these things come from.  God gives us our daily bread and so we need to look at praying for what we need.
            The Life Application Bible says, “When you pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are acknowledging that God is our sustainer and provider.  It is a misconception to think that we provide for our needs ourselves. We must trust God daily to provide what He knows we need.” Acknowledging God as our provider is seen later in chapter six when Jesus talks about worrying about food and clothes.  Jesus says: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). By seeking Christ, we will by default acknowledge that it is God who is our provider.
            Praying for what we need is to be for this day. We are given today and today should be the focus, or most of our prayer.  Jesus would say in verse 34 of chapter 6 that, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Today, we need food to eat we need to be sustained today.  If the Lord wills us to have tomorrow, we will need to pray for what we need when we get there.  This being said, we don’t take steps to prepare for tomorrow, but our main focus should be on today. Tomorrow will have its own worry and so to focus more attention on that we forget to live today, and we can miss out on the needs we have today.
            Now when asking God to give us our daily bread, does not mean that we don’t work.  God has given us abilities that are also gifts from above.  This gives and abilities are to be used, to the glory of God.  When you think about this, it is to God’s glory that our work provides the things we need to sustain us.  The book of Proverbs talks about the lazy man going hungry (Proverbs 19:15).  Work has always been part of Gods plan, just read Genesis Chapter 2 where man was to attend to the garden that God had planned.  We are to work, and our work provides us food, but all that does come from God.
            Lastly, we need to pray for what sustains us, not to spend time praying like God is a genie that grants us wishes. Now, God gives us beyond what we ask or even imagine, but we aren’t to be greedy people.  Our focus is always to be on God and His righteousness.  We are to seek His kingdom as well.  As we grow we need to pray and seek the will of God for our lives.  That in turn should be reflected in our prayers.
            Prayer is a reflection of us knowing and loving God.  As we grow in our walk with God it will be reflected in how we pray.  We learn to pray and our prayer should be to have God teach us His will, so that our prayers will be a better reflection of our walk with God and what we need from God.  It should be a prayer of our hearts that God would teach us to pray.


All Scripture is from New American Standard Bible.  Copyright 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA

Life Application Study Bible.  Copyright 2000 by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Prayer and the Will of God



Prayer and the Will of God

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.”  Matthew 6:10

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

            We have been looking at the subject of prayer in the last few blogs, and that continues in today’s as well.  Many people say they do not know how to pray, and so it’s important to look at what the Bible says about it.  Jesus taught his Apostles to pray, in Matthew 6:9-13, with an example of prayer.  This week let’s look at the meaning of, “your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 
            Selfishness and our own desire for control, dominates a lot of our lives.  The world tells us to look out for number one   We have big sections in books stores on self-help and self-esteem, and most teach that you are number one.  There are some good things in those books too, but we need look to the scripture for direction on how to live.  God’s will might not line up with our will, and that can make our walk with God difficult. Following our will can cause us to sin.  We will battle self and flesh our whole life (Romans 7:21-25) and that should be present in your prayers.
            This scripture is deeper than praying for the future kingdom of Christ to come here on earth, though we should pray for that too.  We need to ready our lives for the kingdom of Christ by seeking the will of God.  It starts by us aligning our lives to that of Christ.  Then we must seek the will of Christ to be done in our lives.  Jesus gave us an example of aligning to the will of God, even when it was hard.  In Luke 22:42, Jesus was facing the cross and a horrible death.  He was also facing, for the first time, a separation from The Father.  The flesh was weak, but Jesus still submitted to the will of God and used prayer to seek it.  Prayer is where we can find help to seek and align our self with God’s will.
            Obedience is the outcome of us seeking the will of God for our life.  We are to be obedient to God.  He desires it more than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22).  Did you know that it is even a sin to not do the good you know you should do?  That means that if it’s the right thing to do and don’t do it, you sin (James 4:17).  Sometimes doing God’s will does not come easy, and it does come in conflict with what we want to do.  That means we need to go to God in prayer about it.
            Remember that Gods will is, “good, pleasing, and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  The devil will want you to hate God’s will.  He will want you to think there are problems with it, and it is intrusive.  Yet, we know that it’s anything but that, once we are aligned with it.  Romans 12:1, tells us to go as far as offering our lives as living sacrifices to God, and not to conform to the patterns of this world. In doing so, we can be transformed to the will of God, as our minds are renewed.  We need to have our minds renewed, and that will begin by seeking it through prayer. 
            Jesus, in the prayer, says the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven.  We need to pray that what is done here on earth to be like that in heaven.  Heaven on earth will truly happen when Christ comes back to earth, but we can always seek revival to take place in our lives, and in Christ’s Church.  We could see a glimpse of heaven on earth through a church that is walking in the will of God.  It is hard, even for a church like it is for people at times, to align with God’s will.  Church is made up of people and so, if the people aren’t aligned to God’s will, then the church will not be too.
            This prayer may be simply written, but it has powerful and deep meaning.  I have only covered the surface of what it says.  There are books written on this subject.  I hope that we all truly take time daily to seek God’s will for our lives, our church, our families, our nation and we start that in prayer.  The Holy Spirit will guide us, help us pray and help us to find the answers in God’s word.  Seek God’s will today!

All scripture is from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA

Photo by Thomas G Carter

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kingdom Prayers


Kingdom Prayers

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

“He who testifies to these things say, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  Revelation 22:20

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” Psalm 122:6

            We are looking at the example of prayer the Lord Jesus gave us as He taught us to pray.  The next part is to pray for the Kingdom to come.  This phrase I think is skipped by many, I would guess, because we don’t fully understand what Jesus is teaching us here.  When we come to something we don’t understand we should dig in and find out what it means, because it could be important, and we might miss something that could change our lives.  “Your Kingdom come” is one of those things that is important, and we need to examine what Jesus means by this.
            Jesus’ message was, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mat. 3:2; 4:7) Jesus is the rightful king of the nation of Israel!  He is the only one to sit on the throne of David.  Anytime Christ is walking on the earth, then the Kingdom of God is at hand.  With that knowledge, when Jesus is teaching the apostles and those around Him to pray, it would make sense that He would say pray that the Kingdom would come!  We celebrated Palm Sunday or the “Triumphal Entry”, that is when Jesus entered Jerusalem as the King (Mat. 21:1-11).  We do know though, He was rejected by the people as the king.
            Even though Jesus was rejected by the people and crucified, we know that He rose again, and so the King lives (Mat. 28:1-7; John 20:11-18).  Although Jesus went to be with the father and to prepare a place for us, He will be back for us (John 14:2-3).  Jesus will someday not just come back for us, but will also rule over His kingdom here on earth (Rev. 20:4-6).  This will be exciting times for all the earth and is yet to come.
            This as we know is not our home and is full of pain, suffering and evil.  As a believer we know that Jesus is coming back, so we can pray that He would come back and come back soon.  There are more than 63 scriptures about the kingdom of God coming, and so it is an important part of our prayer life.  It should affect even how we pray for others as well.  We don’t want our friends to miss the kingdom, so we need to pray that they come to know Jesus.  For those suffering we need to pray for them in light of the kingdom to come as well.
            The last scripture I have listed above says to pray for Jerusalem.  Israel will be the center and place of Christ earthly kingdom (Rev. 20).  Even though we know that the Jewish people are back in their land we know that peace has not yet happened there.  Where the great temple of the LORD was in the city, there is a Muslim mosque.  The only part left of the great temple is a wall called the Wailing Wall.  The Jewish people want their temple back and they will in the end, when Christ comes back to rule.  For this to take place there will need to be peace in that city.  When praying for the kingdom to come, we need to pray for peace in the city of God.
            This is only skimming the surface of this subject on the Kingdom of God, but I hope it causes you to dig deeper into this subject.  Adrian Rodgers gives us a few things to think about on this subject of praying thy kingdom come.  He says  we are to learn of His coming, long for that day to come, pray that it would come, and pray that there would be peace in Jerusalem that there might be peace on earth. (Rodgers)  Do you look forward to that day?  I hope so.
Come, Lord Jesus!

References

Rodgers, Adrian. https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/can-we-hasten-the-second-coming-of-christ-15204.html. 2018. 10 April 2018.

All Scripture from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA


Photo by Thomas Carter

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Prayer Begins With Adoration


Prayer Begins With Adoration

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is heaven, Hallowed be Your name.’”  Matthew 6:9

            Many people today ask the question: “How do I pray?”  There are also people that pray, but they pray in the wrong way.  Some even view prayer as a selfish way to get what they want.  They view prayer as though God is some cosmic Santa Clause and He will give them everything they want.  When people view God as someone who gives only what we want, they often walk away from God when they don’t get what they want.  The person who doesn’t pray because they don’t know how to pray, so they don’t, miss out on all that God has for them (John 16:24).  These next few blogs I want to spend some time talking about prayer, so that you can be confident in your prayer life and will revolutionize your walk with the Lord.
            When Jesus was on the earth He set an awesome example of prayer.  He would pray often and at times all night long (Lk.6:12).  Jesus also taught how to pray.  The Sermon on the Mount was one of the most important teachings of Christ on prayer (Mat. 6:5-15).  The Bible is full of prayers, but Jesus spent some time teaching us how to pray and so it’s important to pay attention to what he tells us about prayer and how to do it.  When you see this model, you can see it play out in effective prayer throughout scripture.  What is called the Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer, it is not necessarily a prayer we need to pray, but it is an example we need to follow when we pray.
            Jesus starts this example of prayer by acknowledging who you are talking to.  We must call on the name of the Lord.  Address the Lord and address Him with praise.  The name of the Lord is holy.  God is Holy, and His name is to be held in the highest regard.  Sometimes I think we overdo the word holy and so it loses some of its meaning.  How do we hold the Name of the Lord?  In the Ten Commandments we are told not to take the Lord’s name in vain (Ex.20:7).  We are told that we are to keep the name of the Lord sacred and hold it in highest esteem, yet when I walk around I hear it used all the time.  When we say things like “Oh my god” are we not taking down the name of God.  If we say “Good God” when we are not talking about something good that God has done, are we not losing the meaning of God?
            If you read your Bible much you have heard about scribes.  Scribes were the people who copied the scriptures by hand so that we would have them today.  They worked so carefully that we find no real error in their works.  They took the most holy name for God very seriously.  We see it in our Bibles in all caps as “LORD”.  They held the name in such high honor that they would do things like wash their hands before writing it.  They would write it and break the pencil so that it could not be used again.  To make sure their thoughts were pure they would write it without the vowels to help ensure they didn’t take the name in vain.  Yet today Lord and God are used as though they are nothing and meaningless.
            Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Pr.1:7).  This fear is more than just an awe fear, but also the fear that the LORD could do great and powerful judgements to me and others.  Take time and look at the Old Testament and even at the transfiguration of Christ and see how people reacted in the presence of the LORD.  When we add this all together with what the Lord Jesus taught when He said pray, “Our Father who are in heaven, Hollowed be YOUR NAME” it will change everything we know about prayer.  It puts the focus on the Lord and not on us. 
            This week take time to think about the LORD and who He is and value His name when you pray.  Maybe take time to pray a prayer that asks for nothing.  Just take time to acknowledge the LORD and who he is.  I have done this, and it is powerfully humbling to see who God is and who we are in comparison.  Prayer starts with the Name of the LORD and is about Him!

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All scripture is from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by the Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 

Photo by Thomas G Carter


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jesus Is Anointed By Mary



Jesus Is Anointed By Mary

“Therefore Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.’” John 12:7

            We are coming up on what is known as Holy Week.  Holy Week is the week-long celebration of the work Christ did for us on the cross.  It will end on Easter Sunday the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  There is a lot written about this week in the four gospels.  Many churches will have things going on to remember the works and teaching of Christ each of the days of Holy Week.  The day before the week began Jesus is in Bethany at Lazarus’ house.  This is the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead.  Martha is there serving the people and Mary will take some perfume and anoint Jesus’ feet with it.
            As we examine the story we see that the perfume is pure nard.  Scripture in verse 3 tells us that it was a pound, or about 12 ounces.  Pure nard is an extract from India and at the time was very costly.  Mary is taking this perfume and putting it on Jesus’ feet while he is reclining at the table.  What an act of humility on her part.  The smell would have filled the whole house, and everyone would be aware of what Mary was doing.
            Judas knows that it was worth lots of money.  He was the keeper of the money for the Apostles and was also a thief.  The love of money, as everyone knows, can be the root of evil and for Judas he loves money.  Judas will stir up the apostles about the value of this perfume and how it is being wasted when there are poor people who need food and things.  Judas doesn’t care about the poor people only the money, but he does get the people around Jesus to talking about what was going on.
            Jesus will correct those in the crowd around Him.  What she is doing is preparing Him for what is going to come by the end of the week.  There are always going to be poor people, but Jesus would not always be on the earth and she is preparing him for His burial.  Money is temporary, but what Jesus was about to do was going to be everlasting.  The Apostles don’t now understand what is going to come, even though Jesus did teach that He was going to die and be raised to life again.
            Sometimes when people are put into their place it can lead to bitterness and even anger.  This can lead us to do things that are not good.  Everyone needs to learn to deal with correction and rejection, because if we don’t we can end up doing damage that goes beyond ourselves.  Judas does not handle this correction well.  He wanted Jesus to make Him rich and because Jesus does not elevate making money from this perfume, Judas will go for money another way.  Judas will sell Jesus to the Chief Priests for 30 pieces of silver.
            The Chief Priests are looking to put Lazarus or Jesus to death because they are losing the people to Jesus.  They, like Judas, want a Jesus to elevate and give them glory.  But Jesus instead has been driving a change that does not drive people to them and elevate the good works that they do.  Jesus even teaches them to love the people that they do not love.  We all need to have ourselves checked in how we view Jesus.  Selfishness is something we all can struggle with, as well as the desire to be the one in control instead of Christ.  It should always be about Jesus, not about ourselves and we should all be about Jesus’ will, not our own.
            As we come to Easter let us examine our lives as to how we serve Jesus.  It was Jesus’ plan to come and die for us, yet His Apostles and those around Him had other plans for Jesus.  We need to live our lives by the word of God.  If we want to be what Christ wants us to be, that means following His word through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Love for how Christ loves needs to dominate our lives.  Too many times we make God and Jesus as a Santa Claus that we can somehow control to get our way and then we leave the faith when it doesn’t go our way.  If we want to be blessed, we should always seek Christ’s will for our lives through the Bible.  Easter is all about Jesus and the work of the cross not about ourselves.

All Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Ca.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Make Decisions In Prayer



Make Decisions In Prayer

“It was at this time He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”  Luke 6:12

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

            In life we have many forks in the road and big choices that we will have to make.  Sometimes those choices can be hard and have far reaching consequences.  Many a time, though we have all probably made these decisions without prayer or only a short prayer, to seek guidance of the Lord.  Yet, Jesus set an example for us in how he made decisions. We should seek to follow that in our lives.  Even though Jesus was fully God, He was also fully man and being in that form spent many a time in prayer before making any big decisions.  Let’s examine one case of this from Luke chapter 6.
            Jesus has come to the point in His ministry that He needs to appoint apostles to train, to later build His Church.  At this point opposition has been growing to His ministry that will climax with Jesus being crucified and so this was not a decision to be taken lightly.  He felt it was time to get the guidance of the Father in the selection of the 12 Apostles and the future of the church.  Are you coming up on some big decisions in your life?  Do you plan to seek wisdom from God?
            Prayer, as it has been pointed out, was a big part in the decisions of Jesus.  It was not just here, but has been seen elsewhere in the life of Jesus. (Lk. 3;21; 5:16; 9:18, 28, 29; 11:1; 22:32, 40-46).  In Jesus’ example here, we can see some important things to add to our prayer time.  Jesus withdrew to a desolate, lonely place to pray.  This was a place that He could have uninterrupted communication with God.  In Matthew 6:6, Jesus teaches us to pray in secret and here we see that is what Jesus did.  We need a place of prayer where we can go, that it is just us and the Father, where we are free from distraction and we can just focus on the Lord.  We all need to find that place we can pray.
            Prayer time is as long as it needs to be.  For Jesus this decision was not something to be made by a short prayer.  Here he prayed all night long.  As a young Christian I was amazed at people who could pray that long.  I was puzzled about the scriptures that said to pray without ceasing (1Thes. 5:17).  When you grow in Christ you will see, as I have, more what this passage means. In relation to Christ’s example here, we need to pray about our decisions as long as it takes to get the peace and wisdom about the choices we need to make.
            Wisdom in making hard decisions will come when we ask for it.  James the brother of Jesus taught, through the Holy Spirit, that when we lack wisdom we need to ask God for it.  God will give wisdom generously without holding it back when we ask it in faith.  Jesus told us that with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains (Lk 17:6).  Why then don’t we seek that wisdom when we make difficult decisions?  Even more important what about all decisions?  We know that God’s wisdom is greater than ours and yet often we don’t seek that great wisdom.  Jesus was fully God and He still went to the Father for wisdom.
            It is okay to admit to God if we don’t know how to pray.  When we do ask Him to teach us how to pray and look to scripture for the answers on how to pray.  It is so important to pray.  God wants us to talk to Him!  He is our Father and He loves to hear from His Children.  Just like if we have good earthly parents we seek advice from them, we need to seek it from our Heavenly father.  Don’t forget just how much He loves you and will answer your prayers and sometimes we need to seek out that wisdom and not do just do it in passing.  Like with any person we might need to go through the whole decision process with Him.  That does take time, but doing so will strengthen your walk with God and your wisdom from the Father will grow.  Jesus Loves to hear from His people!

All Scriptures are from The New American Standard Bible, copyright 1996 by the Lockman Foundation; La Habra, CA

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash