The Power of Prayer

Prayer is very powerful. God loves to hear us pray, and in fact, we are instructed to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

For the next few weeks, I will be talking and sharing articles about the importance of prayer. The quote in the image above is from Pat Knight, who shared it with me in an email a few years ago when we were talking about prayer. 

Simply put, prayer is an ongoing conversation with God.

There are many things we can pray about. We can praise God in our prayers. We can thank Him for who He is, for His provision, and for His love, mercy, grace, and other attributes. We can just simply talk to Him about our day and tell Him how much we love Him, and we can ask Him for help with anything in our lives because nothing is to small for Him to handle.

Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that Jesus, our great high priest, completely understands what we go through because He experienced the same things when He lived on earth as a human being:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
 
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,

so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help us understand the importance of prayer because it is what You tell us to do. We long to be closer to You in every way, and we know that will happen as we learn the mighty power of prayer. Guide us through Your Spirit as we study this important part of being Your children. We trust in You in all things, and so we thank You in advance for what You will reveal to us in the coming weeks. We pray these things in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Savior. Amen.

The Irreplaceable Holy Spirit

Sharing today from Decision Magazine.

 

The Irreplaceable Holy Spirit

By F.B. Meyer

Nothing can compensate the church, or the individual Christian, for the lack of the Holy Spirit. What the full stream is to the mill wheel, the Holy Spirit is to the church. What the principle of life is to the body, the Holy Spirit is to the individual. We shall stand powerless and abashed in the presence of our difficulties and our foes until we learn what He can be, as a mighty tide of love and power in the hearts of His saints.

By analogies drawn from the Word of God, may we not reverently say that the ministry of our blessed Lord owed much of its marvelous power to that moment when, although filled with the Holy Spirit from His birth, He was afresh anointed at the waters of baptism? With marked emphasis it was said he was filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1), and returned in the power of the Spirit unto Galilee (Luke 4:14), and stood up in the synagogue of His native town, claiming the ancient prophecy, and declaring that the Spirit of God was upon Him (Luke 4:18). His wondrous words and works are directly traced to the marvelous operation of the Holy Ghost upon His human life (Acts 10:38).

My Friend Sammy

Image credit

My Friend Sammy

By Pat Knight

Our four-year-old grandson informed his mother he was sure he was a boy because “girls have square heads and mine is round.” And how did he discover this morsel of childhood truth? “Because Sammy told me!” Of course, the logic of childhood has conquered another subject.

In allotting some of my thought to this physical inequity between boy and girl, it did occur to me that a square head might be useful. The brain could occupy the main part of the box-shaped head. Then, tucked away in the corners could be all those important dates and lifelong trivia we long to recall instantly. No longer would I forget birthdays. The dates would be squeezed into a corner, perhaps attached by a sticky note on a permanent brain corkboard. Appointment dates for the entire family at times require a filing system all their own. There would be another head corner available for those remembrances. It is a daunting task to remember clothing sizes for everyone in a growing family. The shoe and sock sizes, shirts and jackets, pants and gloves, hats (square) and boots; all could be neatly catalogued in another corner of the square skull. The remaining corner could be delegated to lists, those aggravating necessities of daily living. What a possibility for superior organization and efficiency, with every thought and job catalogued in corners of our boxy heads!

The square head might be a little top heavy with all of the informative corners assigned.  Perhaps it would be wise if we kept the original mold, after all. God knew how to configure people for optimum function and fulfillment. There are parts of our brain used exclusively for empowering the body with its mechanical prowess. All of our senses are neatly provided a unique section. Reasoning, learning, memorization, problem solving, wisdom; all have been compartmentalized.

God designed us long ago with His plan that has never outdated. The human body and mind must be one of only a few items in this world that have not been altered or improved over time. God alone possesses the pattern for creation of Homo sapiens and He is not likely to release it. We are children of God, made in His image. Who would want to tamper with that relationship? “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Notice the triple repetition of being made in God’s image, a fact He doesn’t want us to take lightly.

With the reasoning minds God constructed, we are capable of grasping the enormous gift of fellowship with Him. God could have built the most palatial residence in heaven for His abiding place. After all, He is the One, Exalted, Supreme God of the universe, mighty in power and riches. God could live anywhere He chooses, but miraculously, He has chosen our hearts! God will reside in each individual heart and mind of the person who invites Him inside.

God not only created us, but He knows every intimate detail of our lives. He didn’t leave us to our own fickle devices. As our heavenly Father, Lord, and Savior, He is deeply involved in our lives and lifestyles. “You preserve my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:2-3).

Adam and Eve tried hiding from God in the Garden of Eden after they deliberately disobeyed His command. They recognized their perilous error which they had been warned was punishable by death. Imagine hearing God’s voice call to you as He did to Adam and Eve after they hid among the trees. They were afraid, embarrassed, and for the first time, guilty. But God was merciful and spared their lives, just as He has saves us from our sins and the required death to atone for them.

God also stands ready to protect us. “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him’” (Psalm 91:14-15). God loves His creations, taking personal responsibility for us, as our earthly fathers have learned to do.  God is a loving, sensitive Father who provides for all of our needs.

Many are the times God protects us from harm, times of which we are unaware. When we complain because our plans are interrupted or detained, God may be protecting us from danger. His plans and timing are always perfect. God maintains personal peace in each of our lives.

Our Lord also offers comfort and healing from suffering. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). God cares for our total being, physically and emotionally. He responds to our cries for help. “So we can say with confidence, “‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:6).

In His mercy, God daily pours out His love for us. In place of death, God provides for our eternal life. To adjust for the sins we commit, God continually forgives when we confess. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Who can even speak of God’s eternal and faithful love? It is impossible to comprehend His love completely unless He reveals it in small portions. In faith we accept it; in trust we rely upon it; in obedience we share. “ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 From the beginning God created us in His image. We have evidence from when Jesus’ lived on earth that His physical attributes resemble ours. That tells us something about the square head theory—let boys be boys and let girls have the same shaped head!

No Good, No More

No Good, No More  

 By Pat Knight

It is a familiar sight during the spring clean-up season in Maine to observe small trailers bumping and squeaking along behind personal vehicles, transporting fallen tree and yard debris to the local compactor site. From the monumental piles of deteriorating natural matter, gardeners will eventually back their trailers up for a load of rich, composted material to be used as organic fertilizer. 

In our disposable world-view, there is little that has not been discarded for a superior model. Vehicles, houses, and large equipment depreciate with time until they are trashed, torn down, or sold for scrap metal. Although most communities have embraced a vigorous recycling program, it will take many more decades of reduce/recycle/reuse efforts to clean our environment and find beneficial solutions for all cast away materials. 

To believe unborn humans are disposable is undefendable. God creates each person in His own image, setting the birth and death dates in advance. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). Men have chosen to disregard their Creator’s authority by promoting abortion and physician-assisted suicide.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me where written in your book before they came to be” (Psalm 139:13, 15- 16). The combination of facts is not happenstance. God alone sovereignly creates and perpetuates our lives.

That which God has revered, man has despised. God appoints the length of each person’s life; mankind has struggled to capture the decision-making. As humans place a stranglehold on determining life span, we are rejecting God’s omnipotence; ignoring God’s supreme power and authority. God knows all things before they happen. He knew us before we were born; all our days were ordained before conception.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you;
before you were born I set you apart”
(Jeremiah 1:5).

God creates all life on earth. From one cell to a complex organism equipped to maintain life independently, God oversees our growth and development. He establishes physical and emotional life and breathes a soul into our being. When a life is devalued and destroyed by man before birth, there is rarely justification for the action. God grieves when His children are cast aside or thrown away. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We are God’s dwelling place where He resides in our hearts as an integral part of our lives. To destroy life is an offense that is punishable by God.

“You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race” (Psalm 12:7-8). God clearly calls men wicked who distort His laws and purposes. “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8b). Our lives are not our own; we are children of the living, loving God. “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’  They are corrupt, their deeds are vile. Do these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord” (Psalm 14:1, 4). It is unconscionable to disdain the exalted.

Oh, how depraved the human heart that guides hands to scrape a fetus from inside its protected, warm, life-sustaining womb, tossing the body parts aside with an arrogant attitude toward God who has assigned life! “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).

The growing perceived need to legally allow suffering people to end their lives prematurely is a dangerous movement. God is actively involved in every aspect of our lives, desiring what is best for us. He loves us beyond measure. He promises safety and protection for believers, but nowhere in God’s Word is the believer promised an easy life. We are told to expect hardship, suffering, and persecution. At times God allows us to experience trials to teach us to lean upon Him for strength; silencing our motors of everyday activity; setting us aside for a period of time so we can best hear His voice and focus on a closer walk with Him. 

Eliminating a life to assuage pain is not the answer to physical or emotional agony. God promises His presence, His help, and His comfort. Jude tells us that there are “‘Ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4). Wickedness prevails where God does not reside in hearts.

We will face no affliction that Jesus did not experience when He ministered on earth. Our Savior prayed so earnestly and agonized so completely the night before His crucifixion that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). An angel appeared from heaven to lavish Jesus with the strength to suffer humiliation, abuse, and pain to redeem mankind on the cross. Now our Savior advocates for us during our trials.

Just as God sent an angel to empower Jesus, He promises to exchange our weakness for His strength, interceding for us in the same manner in which He did for His Son. Unlimited power and strength are available simply by asking. A call to God for help brings answers every time. His angels still minister to us today.

Though it will require a collaborative effort to clean up the environment by recycling disposables, the human body need not be among them. In spite of pain or inconvenience we may experience, we serve a God who loves and cares for us, who promises to provide spiritual victory to comfort suffering. “He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lamentations 3:32-33). What a resource and a safety net for us when we are hurting! Pray for God’s help, for He will always provide that which He promises.

Press On Toward the Goal

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on so that I may lay hold of that
for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind
and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude;
and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

—Philippians 4:12-16

Cultivating Joy

Today I’m sharing an article by that was published recently on FaithGateway.

Cultivating Joy

When I was young, I thought that following God and being a Christian would lead to a life that was kind of easy, filled only with happiness and free from pain and sorrow. Silly me. I’m not even sure where I got that idea, except maybe from teachings spouted by TV evangelists who espoused a prosperity “name it and claim it” doctrine that was popular when I first chose to follow Jesus. It tickles the ears, doesn’t it? It’s so appealing, this thought that if you are a true believer you are spared suffering and gifted only with a positive existence.

It is also completely contrary to what the Scriptures teach.

If Jesus was perfected through His suffering, who are we to think we won’t be perfected through the same means? (Hebrews 2:10).

Now, don’t get me wrong, Jesus came that we might have life and life to the full (John 10:10), and it’s the joy of the Lord that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). It’s just that this promised joy and life come to us in the midst of the easy and the hard, the triumphs and the travails.

The key, then, is to intentionally cultivate that joy in our hearts — to choose it — no matter what season we’re in, the easy or the hard.

And life is hard a lot of the time. This world we live in is not Eden. We are not in Heaven. Not yet. But, in the middle of this often difficult journey, God “has taken great measures to preserve our freedom of choice.”1 We have the freedom to choose to grow in joy or to retreat from it.

Said another way, life will inevitably be hard, and as maturing believers with our eyes set on Jesus, we will constantly be presented with opportunities to make choices that will either lead to a deeper joy or not. Here’s what I mean:

It’s hard to stand up against the group when they are going the wrong direction — spiritually or any other way. But it’s also hard on our consciences afterward if we don’t. That Jiminy Cricket won’t be quiet.

It’s hard to be kind to the mean, curmudgeonly neighbor. It’s hard as well to be convicted later of being unloving. It’s hard to not spend the money on the item we so desire.

It’s hard to save money. It’s also hard to be in debt.

It’s hard to have a loving but tough confrontational conversation with a friend. It’s also hard to not have one and then have offense and distance creep into that friendship.