8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. — Matthew 7:8 NLT
We hear a lot of opinions on how we should pray. Some say you should only ask once and God will answer when and if He wants to. Some say you should only ask for certain things. What does God say about it? In the original text of the Bible, the Greek verbs were verbs that indicated this was a continuing action. Jesus concurs with this in the parable of the woman who kept bothering the unjust judge until he gave her what she wanted. In James, we are told that “all good gifts come down from the Father above”. Furthermore, God has said that He is our provider and that means more than spiritual salvation. When Jesus healed people, He used the term “made whole”. That means physical as well as spiritual. The simple truth is that we can ask God for any and every thing that doesn’t violate His Word and we can keep on asking Him. Think about what He said to Paul. Paul had asked Jesus 3 times for healing and God said “my grace is sufficient”. That was God’s answer to Paul’s prayer. Unless God has answered your prayer (and that doesn’t always mean that He gives us what we want, but He does give us what we need) keep on asking. Look again at verse 8 above: “For everyone who asks receives……”
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12,13 NIV
Since God knows our every thought we need to be very careful of the thought patterns that we allow to develop. Of course, thoughts drift into our mind and that is beyond our control to a point. But we do have control over whether or not we dwell on those thoughts. In Corinthians, we are instructed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. We can also take some control of our thought patterns by making better decisions about the things we read, the things we see, the conversations that we have and the people we associate with daily. We must be careful that our pride doesn’t lead us into believing that we are influencing others more than they are influencing us. The things and the people that we spend the most time with are the ones that influence us the most. Pride says “I would never” but we all have at some time or other done or said those things that we are not proud of later. Those things that we did and the words that we spoke are results of thought patterns that we have developed over the years. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us purify our hearts and minds. We can help by studying God’s Word and making it a bigger part of our daily thought patterns.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. — Psalm 119:11
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10 NIV
23 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:7 NIV
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 NIV
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. — Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV
Sometimes when I am reading about one of the great miracles that Jesus did when He was here on earth, I forget that He was a man just as we are. I want to attribute those miracles to someone with access to more power than we have access to. If I could truthfully do that then I would be relieved of trying to live up to His example. But, woe is me, because to do that would be to deny His full humanity and therefore, it would be a lie. So, I must agree with Jesus that I have access to the power that enables me to do “greater things than these”.
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. — John 14:12 NIV
I recognize the sins that I commit and I ask forgiveness for them. But how many times have I sinned by omitting or not doing what the Holy Spirit has asked me to do and used the excuse “I can’t”? God is not a man that He should lie and He says that we can through His power. To believe anything less is to believe a lie.
So, today, right now, Father, I ask your forgiveness for those times when I could’ve and I should’ve but I didn’t. Make me more aware when those situations arise again and arouse in me the boldness and power to do what you have asked me to do. Thank you for your forgiveness, your mercy and your love. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 NIV
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.–James 1:2-5 NIV
Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions? I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful? I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV
It is not a sin to wonder or to question “why?”. It is only a sin when we take it to the point of being disobedient. We need to pray for wisdom, but when we pray for wisdom, we need to understand that acquiring wisdom requires experiencing a lot of things and some of them will be painful.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.–Luke 9:23 NIV
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!—Gal. 2: 15-17 (NASB)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
Paul is explaining to the Jews present that they were never justified by the works they did under the law. They had spent their lives seeking to be justified but had come up short because the law cannot justify anyone. So, if the law was unable to justify anyone, was God actually causing everyone to sin when they were under the law? Paul says that would never happen. The law was not given to make men fail, but to teach them that they could not justify themselves by works.
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.—Romans 3:19, 20 (NASB)
So, the law was given that all men might know that they needed a redeemer. That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. Because of that act of love by God the Father and Jesus the Son, we are all now under grace, not the law. Now, we are all saved by grace through faith. There is a time, place and need for works, but they are not a part of salvation. We are justified by the blood of Jesus, we are in the process of being sanctified, and one day, we will be glorified. Not because we earned it, but, because Jesus, with His blood, has paid the full price for all of us!
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus answered, “You are the one saying I am a king. This is why I was born and came into the world: to tell people the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.” 38 Pilate said, “What is truth?” After he said this, he went out to the crowd again and said to them, “I find nothing against this man. 39 But it is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover time. Do you want me to free the ‘king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Let Barabbas go free!” (Barabbas was a robber.)—John 18:37-40 (NCV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
Jesus states that the purpose of His being be born and coming into the world was to tell people the truth. Now, Pilate asks the ages-old question–“What is truth?”
(Maybe this is where the old cliche comes from–“You wouldn’t recognize the truth if it was standing right in front of you.) Before Jesus answers this question, Pilate turns to leave and goes out to the crowd again. Does this remind you of anything that we do on a regular basis? We pray and earnestly seek God, then we get up and go about our business without giving Him time to answer our prayers. When we get to heaven, we will find out that Jesus answered all of our prayers, we just didn’t hang around to hear the answer. How rude of us! What if we were having a serious conversation with someone and just when we were getting to our point, they just got up and walked out of the room. We do it to Jesus all the time. Instead of being in such a hurry, take the advice of the Psalmist.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.—Psalm 27:13, 14 (NLT)
Don’t talk to God, talk with God. The first few minutes after talking with God, we need to just “be still and know that He is God”.