The Power of a Simple Prayer

Prayer is something very personal to those who do it. Where they choose to do it is not of consequence except if they are doing it for the wrong reasons. Religious leaders in Jesus’ day loved to make a spectacle of their praying by praying in areas where they could be seen and heard. Their motivation for such prayer was the admiration and respect they received from those around them. I think you would agree their purposes fall short of what God really wants from us in our prayers.

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and He will reward you.” Jesus’ audience were simple farmers and trades people. They couldn’t enter the temple like the religious leaders described here but they did have access to Almighty God through their prayers.

What was the point that Jesus was making here about prayer? Simply this—Jesus is low on fancy but wants to be as accessible as possible to the believer. You don’t need to woo him with location or wow him with eloquence.

It’s the power of a simple prayer!


Compromise. A Flaw In Our Testimony.

As Christians our life style transmits a loud message to the unsaved. If we are constantly involving ourselves in things of the world, like I stated a couple of days ago, we make ourselves an enemy of God. And, our outward worldly actions are perceived as hypocritical by the unsaved. How did we get there to begin with? A series of compromises led us down the wrong path.

We compromise for a variety of reasons. Many do so from a fear of rejection or of being unappreciated. Some choose this route to avoid conflict. Still others may begin to doubt God’s trustworthiness or goodness; as a result, they give up on Him, compromising their basic beliefs and undermining their reason for assurance.

To be men and women who are strong enough to resist making concessions, we need to develop some essential armor. First, we must have strong convictions about the Bible and depend on it as a guide for daily living. Next, we need to have faith in God’s promise to supply all of our needs. Finally, we must find the courage to trust in Him, even when we are misunderstood, persecuted, or falsely accused.

When we surrender our life to God, He replaces enslavement to compromise with security in Him.

How Can I Know If Something Is Sin?

Have you ever had the experience of getting ready to do something but then get a check in your spirit or conscience? An example of this might be when you turn on your computer and you get ready to click on a link that you know will take you to a site with some questionable content. That is a pretty obvious example. What about those times when you’re not sure and you ask yourself the question, “How can I know if something is sin?”

The more difficult issue is in determining what is sinful in areas that the Bible does not directly address.

There are two issues involved in this question, the things that the Bible specifically mentions and declares to be sin and those the Bible does not directly address. Scriptural lists of various sins include Proverbs 6:16-19, Galatians 5:19-21, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. There can be no doubt that these passages present the activities as sinful, things God does not approve of. Murder, adultery, lying, stealing, etc.—there is no doubt the Bible presents such things as sin. The more difficult issue is in determining what is sinful in areas that the Bible does not directly address. When the Bible does not cover a certain subject, we have some general principles in His Word to guide us.

First, when there is no specific scriptural reference, it is good to ask not whether a certain thing is wrong, but, rather, if it is definitely good. The Bible says, for example, that we are to “make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Our few days here on earth are so short and precious in relation to eternity that we ought never to waste time on selfish things, but to use it only on “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29).

A good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use the particular activity for His own good purposes. We must evaluate our actions not only in relation to God, but also in relation to their effect on our family, our friends, and other people in general. Even if a particular thing may not hurt us personally, if it harmfully influences or affects someone else, it is a sin.

Finally, remember that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and nothing else can be allowed to take priority over our conformity to His will. No habit or recreation or ambition can be allowed to have undue control over our lives; only Christ has that authority.

New Testament Authors and the 12 Disciples

Recently I was reading an article on a popular wordpress blog written by an individual I know to be a biblical scholar. In the article he mentions that Luke was not one of the 12 disciples. When I read that it threw me as I thought I had a handle on the written history of the bible and who the 12 disciples were. So, let me ask you a question. How confident are you that you know the authors and disciples within the New Testament?

I did some research on both topics and found the following. I present this information for your edification in hopes it will help you increase in your knowledge of God’s Word the bible.

The twelve apostles/disciples in no certain order were.

Simon Peter
James Zebedee
John Zebedee
Matthew Levi
Thomas Didymus
James and Judas Alpheus
Simon the Zealot
Judas Iscariot

After reading this list you will discover like I did that not all of the apostles mentioned above were responsible for writing the books of the New Testament. To help expand your knowledge in this area, the following is a list of the new testament books and their authors.

Matthew – Matthew the tax collector

Mark – Mark the evangelist and companion of Peter

Luke & Acts – Luke the evangelist (not an apostle)

John – John the son of Zebedee

Romans, First & Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon – all of these books are works by Paul.

Ephesians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians – there is some support among biblical scholars that the author was Paul.

First & Second Timothy and Titus – some historians think the author was Paul but there are some who think otherwise.

Hebrews – author is unknown

James – author is James

First & Second Peter – written by the apostle Peter

First, Second, & Third John – written by John the apostle when he was advanced in age.

Jude – written by Jude, who was a brother of James & also James the just.

Revelation – written by John, the apostle of Jesus

Any serious student of the bible probably already knew all of this information but as I said in the beginning I thought I knew this information but didn’t. Why do I think this is important? I believe having this knowledge is one more way of showing God how much we love Him and want to know Him through His word, its authors and the well-known disciples.

May I suggest you take some time to commit this information to memory as it will help you two ways. You will have a closer walk with the Lord and you will be prepared as an evangelist in telling others about God’s word, Jesus and the road to salvation.

May God richly bless you as you reach out to others in the name of Jesus Christ.

Developing A Fear of the Lord

In order to develop a fear of the Lord, we must recognize God for who He is. We must glimpse with our spirits the power, might, beauty, and brilliance of the Lord God Almighty. Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him, and sincere commitment to obey Him.

The Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move.

Until our hearts are in a right relationship with God, we are unable to have the “wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). Without the fear of the Lord, we may gain knowledge of earthly things and make some practical choices for this life, but we are missing the one ingredient that defines a wise person. In the parable of the rich farmer, the rich man had a “wise” and practical plan for his profits, but God said to him, “You fool!” because the farmer’s plans were made with no thought of God and eternity (Luke 12:16–21).

Without the fear of the Lord, we make final decisions based on our faulty human understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). When we incorporate the fear of the Lord into every moment of our lives, we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him (Psalm 139:1–4).

What Is Your Contentment Level?

How often do you find yourself dissatisfied with your life? Do you get depressed or frustrated that you don’t have very much to show for where you are in life? It’s easy to fall into the trap the enemy sets for us. He deceives us with desires like wanting a bigger house, faster car, more money or any other object that gets our attention. It’s important to remember that if we spend a lot of time thinking about or pursuing these things then we are making them our idols. I think you would agree that’s dangerous ground to be on. Especially when God’s word says we are not to have idols. (Read the 10 commandments & Leviticus 19:1-4).

As I’ve gotten older and in a closer walk with my Lord I’ve come to realize I was going down the path of idolatry. I just had to have a corvette. I just needed a huge TV so I could watch sports. And of course my current house wasn’t fitting the bill. As I’ve studied scripture, attended bible studies and church, the Lord has helped me recognize the error of my thinking and desires.

Some would argue that just having Jesus is not enough. Really? When you have Jesus then all else shrinks in comparison. You lose that hunger for what the world considers to be important. Your focus of love and attention is now showered on Jesus, our Lord and savior. You will find yourself constantly seeking the Lord so as to have an intimate relationship with Him. This intimacy is crucial to our walk with the Lord as it shows itself in a loving, kind and compassionate way to those around us.

Anything and everything comes from God. All that you have right now comes from God. He is the owner of the cattle on 1,000 hills. In other words, what you have belongs to God because He made it and gave it to you. He can just as easily take it away if it becomes more important to you than He is.

In the end your contentment and peace in life should rest on the living God who provides everything we will ever need to be happy in this life. Turn away from your “have to’s” and “I wants” and go for those apples of gold that are in Jesus Christ our Lord. When you do that you will have the peace that passes all understanding. Guaranteed.

As God’s Children We Matter To Him

What matters to you matters to God! You probably think that’s true when it comes to the big stuff like death, disease, sin, and disaster. But what about the smaller things? What about grouchy bosses or flat tires? What about broken dishes, late flights, toothaches, or a crashed hard drive? Do these matter to God?

Let me tell you who you are! In fact, let me proclaim who you are! The Bible says you are an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. You have a crown that will last forever. You were chosen before the creation of the world. But more than anything else is the simple fact—you are God’s child. 1 John 3:4 says we are called children of God. And we really are His children. I love that we really are His children! And if something is important to you—it’s important to God!

When You Have A Problem

If I have a problem? What do you mean if I have a problem, you are the problem.” Have you ever had a conversation with yourself or with a friend who was willing to tell you the truth about yourself? Accepting the truth about yourself is a hard pill to swallow but think about this. The problem(s) you are experiencing are of your own doing.

The choices you make on a daily basis or even minute by minute effect where your life is going. There is a saying in the bible that states, “you reap what you sow.” That is the absolute truth. Just think about your current situation and where you are today. Some of your decisions and choices in the past might cause you to feel the way you do in the present. Your internal talk probably says something like, “If only I would have…..”

None of us like having problems, they are a fact of life, however, you can prevent most if not all of your own problems. How you might ask? It’s simple really.

God’s word, the Bible, gives us all an outline or road map on how to go about our daily living. God is very specific sometimes like what you find in Exodus and Leviticus. He says, “If you do this, then I will do that.” What is required of us is doing the right things according to God’s word. He is then faithful to fulfill His promises to us.

You might argue that God’s word applies to those of the past but nothing could be further from the truth. Everything in God’s word is applicable to us in some way today. We have to be willing to explore and study what the Father says and then simply do it.

Like the ad for Nike shoes says, “Just do it.”

Wipe Your Fears Away

One possible response to the truth that our anxiety is rooted in unbelief goes like this: “I have to deal with feelings of anxiety almost every day; and so I feel like my faith in God’s grace must be totally inadequate. So I wonder if I can have any assurance of being saved at all.”

My response to this concern is: Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy, who doesn’t want you to finish the race, throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve does not mean that you are going to quit the race.

And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong racetrack. Otherwise, the enemy wouldn’t bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers.

When anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God’s glory and the greatness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faithless, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked.

At first blow, our belief in God’s promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether, by grace, we set in motion a process of resistance — whether we fight back against the unbelief of anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield wipers?

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Notice: it does not say, “I never struggle with fear.” Fear strikes, and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead, the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.

Weeping and Wailing That is Everlasting

Do you look at politicians, high paid sports figures and other rich people with an envious heart? What about those that win the lottery? Are you happy for them? Most likely not, as you wish it were you that had won. God’s word is a great tool for measuring our level of contentedness or discontent.

By reading the bible you’ll find that we are cautioned against discontent at the prosperity and success of evil-doers (Ps. 37:1, 2): Fret not thyself, neither be thou envious. We may suppose that David speaks this to himself first, and preaches it to his own heart, for the suppressing of those corrupt passions which he found working there, and then leaves it in writing for instruction to others that might be in similar temptation.

When we look around we see the world full of evil-doers and workers of iniquity, that flourish and prosper, that have what they will and do what they will, that live in ease and pomp themselves and have power in their hands to do mischief to those about them. So it was in David’s time; and therefore, if it is so still, let us not marvel at the matter, as though it were some new or strange thing.

When we look within we find ourselves tempted to fret at this, and to be envious against these scandals and burdens, these blemishes and common nuisances, of this earth. We are apt to fret at God, as if he were unkind to the world and unkind to his church in permitting such men to live, and prosper, and prevail, as they do. We are apt to fret ourselves with vexation at their success in their evil projects. We are apt to envy them the liberty they take in getting wealth, and perhaps by unlawful means, and in the indulgence of their lusts, and to wish that we could shake off the restraints of conscience and do so too.

We are tempted to think them the only happy people, and are inclined to imitate them, and to join ourselves with them, that we may share in their gains and eat of their dainties; and this is what we are warned against: Fret not thyself, neither be thou envious. Fretfulness and envy are sins that are their own punishments; they are the uneasiness of the spirit and the rottenness of the bones; it is therefore in kindness to ourselves that we are warned against them.

Yet that is not all; When we look forward with an eye of faith we shall see no reason to envy wicked people their prosperity, for their ruin is at the door and they are ripening to receive it, Ps. 37:2. They flourish, but as the grass, and as the green herb, which nobody envies nor frets at.

The flourishing of a godly man is like that of a fruitful tree (Ps. 1:3), but that of the wicked man is like grass and herbs, which are very short-lived. (1.) They will soon wither of themselves. Outward prosperity is a fading thing, and so is the life itself to which it is confined. (2.) They will soon be cut down by the judgments of God. Their triumphing is short, but their weeping and wailing will be everlasting because they chose the wealth of the world instead of the wealth in God.

Examine your heart. Do you have any envy? Ask God to remove it from your life that you might not fret thyself or be thou envious but instead live forever in His kingdom.