Friday, April 23, 2010

Does Prayer Increase Our Faith?

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:5-8

What is prayer? What purpose does God have in mind in urging us to pray? What are we doing when we pray? These questions will hopefully cause us to think about our prayer life and strengthen our daily walk with Him to increase our faith.
What is prayer? 
Prayer is a great privilege that God has given to us through the death of His Son on the cross. When the veil of the temple was rent in two we, at that moment, had full access to God as Believers. Coming boldly to the throne of God is a great honor and because of Jesus’ extreme sacrifice, we have liberty and freedom to come before Him. What an immense and unsurpassable price He paid for us that we might have the privilege of coming to Him freely in prayer.
What purpose does God have in mind in urging us to pray?
Prayer brings us to a state of humility before God. (Quote by Robert Murray M’Cheyne 1813-1843 ‘What a man is, is what he is on his knees before God, and no more.’) Prayer is not a quick list of wants and desires or a shopping list of requests without first giving God praise and adoration for who He is. We, as His children, need to humble ourselves before Almighty God and recognize His greatness and His acts of grace and mercy towards us. Urging us to pray causes us to face our sins and to confess our offenses before Him cleansing and purifying our hearts.
What are we doing when we pray?
When we come to God in prayer we are building our faith. When we focus on the purpose of prayer, which is humbling ourselves before God and coming before Him with praise, thanksgiving and confession of sins, in this process, we are strengthening our faith. (I Chronicles 29:10-13) Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

When you read the prayers of the men in the Bible, you will find that they prayed giving praise and adoration which caused them to gain confidence in God’s ability and willingness to grant their requests. David spoke of God’s attributes which pleases Him and was consumed with His power, majesty, and greatness. This vision of God in His victory, power and strength encouraged David and confirmed his faith in what God could do.
Thought: Does prayer really make a difference in our faith in God? When you have humbled yourself before a Holy God confessing, praising and thanking Him for all that He is and all that He has done and you’ve remembered His attributes of strength, power and victory, the answer to that question is, “Yes.” Prayer will bring the experience of renewing faith as you humble yourself in the sight of the Lord realizing that it is He who will lift you up. (James 4:6-8,10)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Put to Death, the Flesh

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
When you try to break a sinful habit or even a thought pattern, you discover that the chains of that habit have rested so lightly you didn’t even feel them until now. Sin does not seem to be irresistible--until you want to be free from it. The moment you confront your sin, it surprises you with its hidden power. Now the chains are so strong you are unable to break them. You begin to feel like a man who tried to drain a pond, not realizing that the pond was fed by an underground source.
We want to attack our bad habits and learn to curb them or develop new methods to say no to sinful impulses. The end results will be discouraging and you will be bitterly disappointed, because all of these dealings are outside behaviors rather than the inside issue, the heart. We can even put sins into categories, “less sinful” or “more sinful” than others. A person might remark, “I have a bad temper, but you will never find me using drugs.” A woman may say, “I do struggle with jealousy, but I’d never commit adultery.”
Some sins do have greater consequences than others but all sins originate from the same source, “the flesh.” The flesh is the habitual desire to put our interests above God’s which expresses itself in rebellion against Him. We enjoy the works of the flesh for the moment, but later hate ourselves for what we have done. We want to change, yet crave the same old sins. What do we do? How do we break these habits?  
  • Begin by confessing your sin and receiving God’s forgiveness. 
  I John 1:7-9
  • Let the Holy Spirit be in control of your life. If you ask Him to control you, believe that He will. (You must be a Christian to ask the Holy Spirit to control you). 

. Galatians 5:16-18 
  • “Put off” the old man and make no provision for the flesh. Put away those things that tempt you and keep you from doing what God wants you to do. Those of you who are Christians, take heed, the Lord will chastise those whom He loves that are given over to the lust of their flesh.
 Colossians 3:1-10; Hebrews 12:11

  • Be thankful We can be thankful for what God is allowing in our lives knowing it is the will of God for us.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, April 9, 2010

In the Garden

Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11

When Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew He would be arrested, put through a series of trials and humiliated. All of the gospel writers made it clear that Jesus [knew] all things that would come upon Him. Nothing was a surprise or out of His and the Father’s control. 
This same Jesus understood fully all that His dying would entail. He knew what pain he would bear before He ever set foot in the garden. There in the garden He prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” During Jesus prayer that night, every sorrow He had ever known seemed to attack Him all at once. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony or the terror of divine wrath the way that He did that night.
The disciples were familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane they had gone there with Jesus ofttimes before (John 18:2). On this particular night, the disciples had all been instructed to, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” Luke 22:40. Jesus had told them of the awful trial they were about to witness and yet they fell asleep leaving Jesus to bear His anguish alone.
Why was Jesus feeling such agony? Was He dreading the physical pain of the cross among the tortures of the scourging? Would He be fearful of what man could do to Him? He could not. He Himself taught: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28. What Christ dreaded most was the outpouring of divine wrath He would have to endure from the Father. His cry of anguish in Matthew 27:46: “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” expresses Christ’s human expression of passion (suffering).

Thought:
The Gethsemane prayer gives us a window into the heart of Christ as He surrenders to the complete supreme sacrifice on our behalf. The Holy Son of God who had never known even the most insignificant sin would become sin for us. The thought of this undertaking literally made Him sweat drops of blood. When Christ finished praying that night in the garden, He had the victory He had sought. He would go to the cross in perfect harmony with the will of His Father.