Tag: prayer

Miserable comforters?

Scripture reading for May 22: Job 15-17

Isn’t it amazing how we can see the faults of another person and feel that we know the answer to their problems and the cause!  Theologians and students of the Bible can get proud about what they know and forget that they are studying God’s heart and His way.   Job’s friends again attack his character and accuse him of a lack of understanding of God.  (Job 15:3-5)  Job was told that his sin has caused his mouth to be crafty and deceitful.  He was accused of being impure and therefore under God’s wrath. (Job 15:30) They were ‘miserable comforters’ and took the role of ‘accuser’ of their brother!

Job’s response to these new accusations was to label his friends “miserable comforters”.  (Job 16:2)  Job needed encouragement and understanding.  He needed someone to pray with him and seek God’s help and answers.  Job was in despair over these latest accusations and the trouble he was experiencing.  He wondered why God had broken and crushed him.  He was depressed but in faith stated that his Advocate was also on high and his Witness was in heaven.  (Job 16:19)  Job seemed to know that although his physical body was broken, God still knew him, loved him, and would help him.

As I think on this passage, I realize that I have been the “miserable comforter” to some.  Sometimes it is easy to have glib answers and quote standard Bible texts.  God wants us to have His heart of compassion for the hurting and downcast.  We must listen to them and hear their heart.  Sometimes this alone is the best thing we can do.  We must seek to let the Holy Spirit speak through us and address the real needs.  What is on the surface is not always the real issue.  My prayer today is that I would be sensitive to each hurting person that I encounter and that God would use me to be a true friend!

James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,”

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Sunday rest and reflection: prayer

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, our coming King and eternal Savior!  “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)   It is a choice to rejoice in the Lord each and every day!  Each day is a new day with new understanding of how great our God is!  As we begin another week, set aside time to reflect on God Himself.  Take time to commune with Him!  Take time to be with others of like-precious faith who gather to worship, study, and thank Him in community!  We especially need this as we see the day of the Lord approaching!  (Hebrews 10:25)

We have been reading this past week about Ezra and Nehemiah, two great men in the history of Israel who relied on God and lived lives of prayer and obedience.  Ezra offered praise and thanks to the Lord for granting him favor to rebuild the temple.  (Ezra 7:27-28)  Ezra prayed for traveling mercies for his party with all the gold and silver articles for the temple. (Ezra 8:21-23)  After God brought them safely to Jerusalem, they met with others and offered sacrifices and thanked the Lord.  Ezra heard about the unfaithfulness of those who had married outside of the faith and he again humbled himself to pray and fast and confess the sins of his countrymen.  (Ezra 9:5-15)  Others gathered with him and they sought the Lord.  God brought repentance and cleansing as they prayed together.

Nehemiah carried a burden for Jerusalem and it’s broken walls.  He began to pray to the Lord about his burden.  (Nehemiah 1:5-11)  God gave him opportunity to speak with the Persian king, Artaxerxes, and he prayed again.  (Nehemiah 2:4) God granted him favor and he was sent by this pagan king to rebuild the walls, along with materials and money as well as workers!  As he arrived, God gave him a vision to put the people to work by families, assigning them personal responsibility near their own homes.  Prayer was offered to combat discouragement and stop opposing forces. (Nehemiah 4:4-5)   Nehemiah armed the workers and encouraged them to work and fight for their own children, homes and families!  (Nehemiah 4:14)  He had a trumpeter near him at all times to sound a call to fight (or pray) when an attack might come.  (Nehemiah 4:20) 

Take time today to praise the Lord, thank Him for Who He is.  Do this for yourself and for your family!  Meet with God’s people and worship in community!  He is coming soon! In His Love, Pastor John

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Leaving a legacy!

Scripture reading for May 11th: Nehemiah 11-13

Would you like to be remembered by God for the good works you accomplish?  It would be a great honor to have God’s smiling approval recorded for all to read and know.  Nehemiah is one to have this honor and his prayers for God’s approval are examples of a godly leader and their legacy!

“Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.” Nehemiah 13:14

Nehemiah was asking to be remembered for cleansing the temple.  Nehemiah threw out Tobiah the Ammonite and cleansed the room he had been given. (Nehemiah 13:1-2,7-9)  Nehemiah also found that the Levites had not received their portion of the tithes and therefore had neglected the temple.  He rebuked the officials who had allowed this and ordered the Levites back to work in the temple. He reminded the people to bring their tithes.   Nehemiah did this because he loved the Lord’s house.  

“Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.” Nehemiah 13:22

Nehemiah rebuked the people for doing business on the Sabbath, closed the gates, and warned those bringing goods to remove them on the Sabbath.  (Nehemiah 13:12-18)  He was concerned that God’s wrath would come upon the people for their disrespect of God’s commandment.   

“Remember them, O my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.” Nehemiah 13:29  “Remember me with favor, O my God.” Nehemiah 13:30b

The last recorded deed of Nehemiah was his dealing with mixed marriages in Judah and the priesthood.  This greatly disturbed this man of prayer and he rebuked the offenders strongly, even beating and pulling out the hair of some of them!  (Nehemiah 13:25)  He made them swear not to give their daughters or allow their sons to marry outside the nation of faith.  He reminded them of Solomon’s sin.  Wise leaders take action!  They are “remembered with favor” by the Lord!  Would that be your prayer today?

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Faith and prayer

Scripture reading for April 13: 2 Kings 18-21

In 1980,  my wife and I were caught in a financial crisis beyond our ability to handle or fix.  We had borrowed money to buy land and equipment and build our farming business and interest rates had more than doubled.  Many neighbors had lost farms to the banks and creditors because they were unable to pay and our situation looked bad.  We had rededicated our lives to the Lord just a few years earlier and as we studied the Word of God, we knew we needed to humble ourselves, repent, and ask God for His mercy.  Mary and I knelt by our bed and did just that in an act of faith and humility.

Hezekiah, one of the kings of Judah, was a man of faith.  Scripture says that he “held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.”  (2nd Kings 18:5-6)  Because he trusted the Lord, the Lord was with him and he was successful in all he did.  One of his first moves was to destroy the bronze snake that Moses had built to stop the plague of serpents in the desert.  God’s people had made an idol of it and were burning incense to it!  (2nd Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah was tested by the Assyrians.  He rebelled against the king of Assyria, the military power of that day, and would not serve him.  Assyria captured Samaria and Israel (the ten tribes) in Hezekiah’s sixth year.  In Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, Sennacherib, king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. (2nd Kings 18:13)  Hezekiah tried to buy off the king of Assyria with gold from the temple, but a large army showed up surrounding Jerusalem.  Hezekiah was told of this situation and he immediately went to the temple in a humbled posture to seek the help of God.  As he prayed for help, God sent word by the prophet Isaiah that God would intervene and deliver them!  (2nd Kings 19:6-7) Hezekiah’s faith lead him to a humble appeal to the Lord of Heaven.  Solomon had prayed earlier at the dedication of the temple for people who were at war and would cry out to God that God would hear and answer!  (1st Kings 8:44-45) 

What are you facing today that seems like a mountain?  Go to God in prayer!  Let your faith move you to prayer.  Go humbly to confess how your own sinful actions led to the trouble.  Go expecting God to hear and answer you!  The answer is already on the way!  By the way, eight years after we prayed, my wife and I were debt-free!  Faith and prayer gives direction and patience!

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Learning to rely on God

Scripture reading for August 23rd: 2nd Corinthians 1, Psalm 18, Proverbs 13

2nd Corinthians 1: 8-11 “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God Who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

As believers, we don’t get a pass on suffering or persecution. Paul and his ministry team went through a trial where they despaired of life itself. They felt under the sentence of death and that there was no escape. However, God strengthened them and delivered them from the deadly peril. It was Paul’s faith in God that caused him to declare that God would do it again as well. But Paul encouraged the believers to pray for them and bring help as many agreed together. This would bring thanksgiving from those helped through the prayers. Prayer is an amazing help and comfort to those in despairing trials. God is faithful to hear and answer us and those praying for us and with us. To Him be all glory in heaven and on earth!

Psalm 18:4-6 “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the testimony of these who have gone before me and have suffered in great despair. Your promise of hearing our prayers and delivering us brings comfort and faith. I pray for those in my life that I know are going through despairing trials and what looks hopeless. Use me to pray for them and to encourage them that You are faithful. Thank You for Your amazing faithfulness to us!

Proverbs 13:21 “Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good.”

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Forgiveness of others not optional!

Scripture reading for April 13th: Matthew 6, Psalm 74, Proverbs 12

Matthew 6: 7-13 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, Your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will Your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus continued to teach His disciples about how to live the blessed life of His kingdom, beginning now on earth and continuing forever. He was the Way to the Father and He taught His disciples how to approach the Father and seek Him for their daily needs, forgiveness of sins, and protection from their adversary, Satan and his schemes. He gave them a simple pattern of prayer, approaching God through a relationship of child to Father. It was a humble attitude of worship, dependence and faith in His kingdom, power and provision. He cautioned them about one possible trap, that of forgiving others. If they wanted their sins forgiven by God’s grace, they must give grace to those offending them. If this request from the merciful Father was ignored or refused, their own forgiveness could not happen!

Psalm 74:12-13 “Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your might; You broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.”

Prayer: Father God, in heaven, You are Holy, Holy, Holy! I humbly acknowledge my need of daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and protection from the evil one and his schemes. You are my Father and King, working salvation among all the lost. Help me to demonstrate Your grace to others who have offended me. I want nothing to block Your mercy in my life and to keep me from the path of eternal life.

Proverbs 12:28 “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.”

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Blessing sowed–blessings reaped!

Scripture reading for March 2nd: Acts 28, Psalm 44, Proverbs 13

Acts 28:7-10 “Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.”

Paul and the 275 on board the ship were all safe on an island and wintered there. Soon after escaping the shipwreck, the chief man of this island took Paul and several from his party into his house and showed them hospitality for three days. During this time, Paul found out Publius had a sick father. He asked to go pray for him and God healed him. This brought people from all over the island to receive prayer and God healed them. When they were ready to set sail after winter, these islanders loaded Paul and those of his party with all they needed for their journey! The law of sowing and reaping is demonstrated here! Bless and you will be blessed–abundantly! We give You thanks forever and ever!

Psalm 44:7-8 “But You have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your Name forever.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for showing such love for the lost that You would even send one of Your servants to them through such a manner as this: a prisoner on a ship that wrecked! Thank You for the healings and many who were blessed with the Gospel message in that remote place. Thank You that the law of sowing and reaping holds true. May I always sow blessings and our Lord bring in a harvest!

Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

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The power of Faith in God

Scripture reading for January 16th: Mark 11, Psalm 11, Proverbs 11

Mark 11: 21-25 “And Peter remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Jesus taught His disciples the power of prayer and the power of our mouth and tongue to bless or curse. He used His own cursing of the fig tree that had no fruit but only leaves to illustrate the power of faith and of our words. Like the disciples of old, we face many mountains and obstacles during our pilgrimage on earth. We often fail to ask God for help or to believe His Word and speak in faith to the mountains. Jesus used an illustration visible right there to these disciples in that Herod had literally moved a mountain over about 10 years with many slaves to build his palace. Jesus likely referred to this human feat and the Dead Sea glittering in the distance to impress a vital truth on the hearts of his disciples.

Proverbs11:11-12 “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

Prayer: Father God, I choose again today to ask for Your forgiveness for my lack of faith and sometimes my failure to forgive others and belittling them. Fill me with grace and faith in Your Word that I may ask You for strength to remove and move mountains of difficulty, bitterness, and unforgiveness. May they all be cast into the sea of Your grace! May my mouth bring blessings to my family or help me remain silent!

Psalm 11:7 “For the Lord is righteous; He loves the righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face!”

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Don’t lose heart!

Scripture reading for April 5th: Joshua 18-21, Psalm 15, Luke 18

Luke 18:1-8 “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Many times in our world it looks like the ‘bad guys’ always win. The circumstances of life are stacked against us. We look for an advocate, but they are few and far between. The woman in this parable of Jesus’ may have felt that way, but her faith caused her to appeal to the ‘unjust’ judge. She did this again and again and got his attention. The ‘unjust’ judge finally granted her justice just to get some peace. Now Jesus turned this parable around for us. God is not ‘unjust’ but the all-powerful Just and True Judge. We have been given access through prayer to His throne. Like the woman, we should be crying out day and night in faith, not fainting under the load of fear or trouble. Jesus promises a speedy answer! Why not believe Him and begin asking in faith?

Psalm 15:1-2 “O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; . .”

Prayer: Father God, the times we live in are filled with injustice and Your people are often mistreated. Give us more grace to pray instead of fainting. Help us to live by faith, despite hostile circumstances and persecution. We desire a ‘full inheritance’ and want to be found with faith when You return.

Joshua 19:49-50 “When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. By command of the Lord they gave him Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it.”

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Prayer and the abundant life!

Scripture reading for February 2nd: Exodus 7-9, Psalm 105, Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:16-20 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, . . .’

As Paul began his letter to the Ephesian church, he recited to them the great blessings of salvation and then broke into prayer for them. Paul knew that prayer brought the Lord’s attention and action from heaven on earth. He did not ask for their temporal needs, however. He prayed for the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He prayed for deeper understanding of God’s plans and purposes for them. He prayed for greater release of God’s power in their lives to bring transformation and the abundant life God provides. It was deeper thinking than Pharaoh’s pleading with Moses to have God remove the thunder and hail. Paul prayed for the life of joy and faith that results in eternal riches beyond our current understanding! He believed that God heard him and would act.

Exodus 9:27-28 “Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”

Prayer: Father of Glory, Thank You for those in the Church family that you have used to pray for me and help me to grow in experiencing the joy and peace of the abundant life. Fill me again today with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. I offer my body to be used to share this knowledge and the power of the resurrection of Jesus to bring new life and transformation to those under God’s judgment.

Psalm 105:37, 43-44 Then He brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among His tribes that stumbled. ” . . “So He brought His people out with joy, His chosen ones with singing. And He gave them the lands of the nations.”

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