Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pray for All People, Including Those in Authority

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession  and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Do you pray for your leaders in government as much as you complain about them? In fact, we should pray, instead of complaining. Every time you're tempted to complain about them, pause to pray for them. God wants us to pray for all people, even those whom we disagree with. "Paul's command to pray for kings was remarkable considering that Nero, a notoriously cruel ruler, was emperor at this time (A.D. 54-68). When Paul wrote this letter, persecution was a growing threat to believers. Later, when Nero needed a scapegoat for the great fire that destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64, he blamed the Roman Christians so as to take the focus off himself. Then persecution erupted throughout the Roman empire. Not only were Christians denied certain privileges in society, some were even publicly butchered, burned, or fed to animals." (commentary from Life Application Study Bible) This shows that we should pray for evil leaders as well as good leaders.
The purpose is that believers may lead a quiet and peaceful life (this doesn't mean compromising your moral standards/Biblical principles), which is instrumental to the greater purpose of bringing the Gospel of salvation to all people. Not all will be saved but salvation by grace through faith in Christ is offered to all. We must remember to pray for all people, including unbelievers.... yes, even the ISIS. God desires that through the Church's witness, all people may be saved and may come to the knowledge of the truth (verse 3-4). When we choose to honor God and His Word by obeying Him even when it's difficult and/or unpopular or even when we don't feel like it, the world will take notice and we will have an opportunity to point them to God. Be a light in this world of darkness. Be a reflection of Christ. Display the love and grace of God for all to see/experience. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pray for the Body of Christ

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people." (Colossians 1:3-4)

Every letter written by Paul (except Galatians) begins with thanks or praise. Here Paul gave thanks to God for the Colossians' faith in Christ and their love for all the saints. God is the Source of these virtues.

Faith and love are gifts from God that we all should thank God for. Agape love flows from genuine faith in Jesus. In other words, the Colossians' love for all God's people proved their authentic belief in Christ.

How often do we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world? I know I don't do enough. If you like to get some ideas about what to pray for, check these links out: , , .

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the Body of Christ, for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Please protect the persecuted church around the world and help them to stand firm in the faith no matter what. Please provide for all their needs. Please help us all to keep growing in faith and love. Please remind us to take our job as ambassadors of Christ seriously since it is Your will for us. Please empower us to faithfully and boldly spread the Gospel and be effective in our ministry of reconciliation. I pray for unity among Your children that we may love one another and work together to further Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Watch and Pray

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
The prevention for falling into temptation is being watchful (alert/aware) and prayerful (pray unceasingly). We humans are weak; therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to stand strong against temptation. If we don't stay alert and pray continually, we'll be more vulnerable to Satan's attacks, lies, & temptations and to succumb to our fleshly desires/sinful pleasures. When we start thinking that we're doing fine on our own and ignore spending time with God, we put ourselves in a dangerous position. Pride is an open door inviting Satan to have a field day. God promises to give us everything we need to live a victorious, godly life. Let us never take this wonderful promise and our prayer privilege for granted!

Be constantly watchful over yourselves and be aware of how the Enemy works. Guard your eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, mind, and above all, heart! "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23) Different people are tempted by different things (foods, drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, greed/money, power, fame, etc.) Avoid/get rid of anything that is not good for you (physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally). Pray and ask God to give you the courage and power to do so.

Effective prayer takes alertness and self-discipline. Our mind tends to wander. Stay focused. A prayerful life is a powerful life! Be alert and ask God for the strength to resist temptations and for wisdom & discernment to know "the way out". "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

"Prayer does not take our trials away--but it puts our life into the hands of God--so that in His keeping, we shall be kept from harm while we pass through our trials. It brings God's grace into our heart--to preserve us from falling into sin; and God's strength into our life--that we may be victorious over our enemies. Not to pray as we go into the day's dangers and trials--is to meet them without the help of Christ, and surely to suffer hurt, and possibly to fall into sin!" (J.R. Miller)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pray for Divine Wisdom, Revelation, Knowledge, and Understanding

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Ephesians 1:17 NIV)
- This (verses 17-19) is one of Paul's most beautiful prayers for the churches. It's one of my favorite prayers I pray for my children.

- "
I keep asking"--shows persistence in prayer. It reminds me of Luke 18:1-8, the parable of the persistent widow. "Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)

- Paul prays that God will give believers wisdom and revelation through His Holy Spirit so that they may know Him better. Biblically speaking, Who you know is more important than what you know. To know God more must be our top priority. Christianity is about relationship, not rules. It is God's desire for us to know Him and it should be our desire to know Him more intimately. "
Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." (Philippians 3:7-10) Know Christ. Imitate Christ.

- "
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10) "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6) The greatest wisdom of all is knowing God...knowing His heart and His will...knowing Christ. "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)

- Revelation--God reveals Himself to us through Jesus, the Holy Spirit, His Word, His creation, His people, and circumstances. "'
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed--I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,' declared the Lord, 'that I am God.'" (Isaiah 43:11-12)

- Paul also prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened (in verse 18). In the Bible, the heart is the very core of life and the eyes of heart refers to true understanding. One can have a head knowledge of the Bible yet his/her heart remains dark and dead. There is such thing as empty intellectual knowledge of Scripture. Satan knows the Scriptures. Most atheists know the Scriptures. Pharisees and false teachers know the Scriptures. What do they all have in common? The lack of the renewed mind and transformed heart! We need the Holy Spirit to shine the light on the truth of Scripture in our heart and mind. Only then we can actually understand what God wants us to understand. It's like a light bulb being turned on inside of us so that we're able to fully see/know the benefits of the Gospel and grasp & appreciate the spiritual treasures/blessings that God gives us.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pray in Faith

Faith in God is the key to effective, powerful, prevailing prayers. When you pray, believe and don't doubt. "When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." (James 1:6-8) Another important requirement for prayer is that we must forgive others (verse 25). And love others with agape. "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2b) We cannot pray effectively if our unforgiving spirit and/or unloving heart have broken our fellowship with God.

A prayer of faith is a test of faith. Pray with confidence/certainty as if you've already received it and you shall receive whatever you ask (according to God's will). No obstacle, no matter how impossible it may seem ("mountain") is able to stand before a vibrant, childlike faith in God.
"Prayer is as natural as expression of faith as breathing is of life." (Jonathan Edwards)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Persist in Prayer

"Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up...And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?" (Luke 18:1, 7)

The reason for this parable is to show us that we should always pray and not give up. God will honor patient, persistent, persevering prayer. God wants us to present our requests to Him without becoming discouraged if there's delay in the answers. Delay does not imply a lack of concern. His delays always have good purposes. God will surely respond to injustice done to His children.

Keep praying, surrendering all to God, and trusting Him that He will answer according to His will and His timing. Faith is the key! "Everything is possible for one who believes." (Mark 9:23) "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27) If an unconcerned judge responds to the continual requests from the persistent widow, how much more will a just, loving, caring God respond to the continual prayers of His beloved children! Unlike this judge, God does not mind answering prayer/giving us help. He loves it when we come to Him pouring our hearts to Him. This is the heart of Abba Father. Jesus tells this parable because He wants us to not lose heart but to stay prayerful always.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Do Not Fret

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil." (Psalm 37:7-8)
I call Psalm 37 "Jealousy Buster" :). David shared his insights and wisdom that he had gleaned from years of walking with God. When you see immoral people and/or God-haters succeed and flourish, are you upset, annoyed, or jealous? Do not be so. Their success is brief (they will perish) but our blessings in the Lord are everlasting. Keep enjoying God (delighting in Him) and He will give you the desires of your heart which will be aligned with His (see verse 4 of this same chapter). Be still (rapha = be weak) before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. Why weak? God wants us to cease striving on our own strength and instead, submit to Him, lean on Him & His strength. He knows & wants what's best for us and his timing is perfect. It's hard for our human nature to wait and to be patient. Waiting period is a learning and preparing period. God has a purpose for us to wait patiently for Him, rely on Him, and rest in Him (be content in Him) completely. Let us make the most of our waiting time by knowing Him better and honoring Him by trusting & obeying Him no matter what!

"Do not fret" is mentioned 3 times in this chapter (in verses 7 & 8 above and in verse 1) "Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will son wither, like green plants they will soon die away." (Psalm 37:1-2) "The Hebrew word (for "fret") means to burn. The verb is in the Hebrew reflexive stem which could be translated, “Don’t work yourself into a slow burn” when you see evil men prospering. Don’t let it get under your skin; it will only lead you into wrong (37:8). One reason we get irritated when we see evil men getting away with their schemes is that we are assuming that we know how to run the world better than God does. So one aspect of submission to God is to put off such irritation, giving God the sovereign right to deal with evildoers in His time and way." (Steven J. Cole) God does not want us to be worried or anxious or envious or upset. Anger, wrath, and discontent can and often do lead to evil (causing harm and other sinful actions). Instead, God wants us to trust in Him and do good (verse 3), delight in Him (verse 4), commit our way to Him (verse 5), be still before Him & wait patiently for Him (verse7), be humble (verse 11), walk uprightly (verse 18), be generous (verse 21, 26), be just & faithful (verse 28), hope in Him & keep His way (verse 34), and take refuge in Him (verse 40). Simply trust Him and be at peace. Fretting steals your joy and peace. Don't compare yourselves with others. Be content with whom God made you to be and where He puts you right now. Stop worrying/fretting when the bad guys win. Shift your focus to God, our just & righteous Judge! Let go and leave all in God's hands. He will right all wrongs sooner or later. "The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their Stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." (Psalm 37:39-40)

Five points that might help us have the right perspective and focus when we have trouble trusting God:
  • God is in control even when things are out of control. His sovereignty rules.
  • God is faithful even when we have little faith. He always keeps His promises.
  • God is good all the time even when nothing good seems to be happening right now. His goodness never changes.
  • God loves us no matter what we do or don't do...succeed or fail. His love never fails.
  • God is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible for Him. He can do what we cannot.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, February 1, 2016

God Is Our Refuge

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our Refuge." (Psalm 62:8 NIV)
God is our mighty Rock and Fortress even when the world is falling apart. He is our Shelter and Refuge from the storms of life. He provides safety, security, peace, comfort, and protection from dangers and troubles. Find rest in Him; our hope is in Him. Trust in Him at all times; He is in control even when all around you seem to be out of control. Pour out your hearts to Him in earnest prayer; He listens and He cares. Do you feel like there's so much to do but at the same time feel worn out from relying on your own strength? You need to rest and trust God. He loves you with His unfailing love and He will empower you with His infinite power to accomplish what you need to accomplish in His strength according to His purposes. Do you feel you're being assaulted by people, problems, or the Enemy? Rest in God, our Refuge! He's got your back. If God is for us, who can be against us? Pour out your burdens before Him and watch Him work everything out. "The LORD is a Refuge for the oppressed, a Stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your Name trust in You, for Your, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You." (Psalm 9:9-10)
"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4) Do you see how calm an contented those baby birds are? That's how we should be :)! What circumstances are causing you fear, worry, or stress today? We tend to run to people or things for a refuge but they often fail/disappoint us. God is the only Refuge that never fails. Run to God and remain there... staying tucked in under the Almighty God's wings! He will carry you through no matter how difficult your situation may be.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being my Refuge/Dwelling Place where I can confidently & peacefully rest and stay put! Please help me to trust You completely even when I don't understand what You're doing. Thank You for Your faithfulness and abundant goodness to me! All is well with my soul because of You. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.
"This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you... Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light... Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may--winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers--no matter what, you mush lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus." (Richard Fuller)

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