Sunday, March 1, 2015

THE ADVANTAGE LEADS TO ACTION - WHEN JESUS PRAYS FOR YOU!

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
We know from Scripture that the Lord Jesus, Creator of the world, our Master, Redeemer and friend HAS prayed for His disciples and all future believers (John 17). This is from His High Priestly Prayer where He is recorded, for all time, praying for those of us who follow Him to be protected by the Father IN this world (while we are alive) while not being OF this corrupt and evil world system. The Word of God also tells us, wonder of wonders, that He prays for us even now! (See Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them"). In other words, we have an Advocate with the Father - at all times.

In case there is any question about the methodology of this, we read in Romans 8:26 that "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words". This is the Spirit of Christ Who lives in us and is our conduit to the Father, and is the prime example why we MUST pray in Jesus' Name. 

These two verses above from Luke 22:31-32 are powerfully relevant to the Christian in that many are like Simon (Peter), to whom Jesus is declaring this stunning statement! How many of us, if told by the Lord, that the devil was after us, would brush it off? If Satan is after a Christian/follower of Jesus Christ, we can guarantee it is to destroy us, destroy our relationship with God and destroy our families. But there is something else going on in this short passage, which we need to take a hard look at, in terms of our own lives and journey with Jesus.

After studying the original language of this text and its context, these two verses are stunning for us everyday believers in the 21st century. Looking at it under the following headings, we see:

JESUS ADVISES:
"....Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat" (verse 31)
THE ADVERSARY: What Satan, the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies and destroyer of souls knows very well is very own character flaws. Simon Peter, Jesus' boldest and closest disciple, was a fearless man of the gospel who was also not afraid to shoot of his mouth first, and think later. When this happened, Jesus had already walked on the water, and Peter had tried - and succeeded - because of his brash spontaneity. Some would describe what Peter used to be (pre-Resurrection) as extreme self-confidence, even pride. The devil knows how to use our pride against us, causing us to fall. Satan should know. It was pride that caused his - Lucifer's- fall from heaven (Isaiah 12-17). 
THE ATTEMPT: Secondly, the "sifting" which Satan is demanding about Peter from Satan's creator - Jesus - is the same kind he used against Job. Satan basically told God that Job was only faithful to Him because God blessed Job. Satan was going to take the chaff from Peter here and use it to attempt to destroy Him, while when God uses His 'Refining Fire" on us, He uses it to purify us and bring us closer to Him. So Jesus is warning His disciple here, that he is in real danger. Likewise, when we step out of fellowship with Him, due to our sins of omission, commission, disobedience and pride, we basically put the same bullseye on our backs.

JESUS ADVOCATES:
"but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (verse 32a)
When the Lord intercedes for us, we cannot fail. First, we have to BE in a position where He would even want to pray for us! That is, we must and have to be one of His - i.e. born again, saved and a follower. This is also shows us that once we are born-again and saved, once the Lord Himself pray, for us, we stayed prayed up.
However, look at this again - Satan is going after Peter (and us) for destruction...knowing our weakness and failures as human beings. Then Jesus says "BUT" I have prayed. This "BUT"means A LOT! It means that no matter how dark and dangerous our situation or circumstances are, the High Priest of Heaven overrules! No matter how deep in despair and down we are, the Holy One of Heaven overrides. No matter how devoid of hope and even faith we feel, the Almighty I AM - Yahweh - is on our side. Just like Job, who said "though He slays me, I will trust in Him....I know my Redeemer lives", we can look over all our dark despair and apparent emptiness and realize - we do not have a problem with Faith, our current situation is a temporary valley AND we are just walking through a shadowy valley, where it is darkest before the dawn! With Jesus as our Advocate, Intercessor and Friend, we lack nothing, NOTHING!

JESUS ADVANCES
"and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (verse 32b)
THE ADVANTAGE: Now this may seem confusing on the surface. That is, what does it mean "you have turned again"? A closer study of the original language causes one to search the soul....as it accomplishes a primary purpose of Scripture! Remember now, Peter had boasted that he would lay down his life for Jesus, even though "others" may abandon Him. So at the first chance to test it in public, Peter not only denied Jesus THREE times, but did so with loud cursing and foul language! Once Peter had come to his senses and repented, relented and become forever changed and humbled, he was restored. When Jesus rose from the grave on Resurrection morning, He told Mary to go tell the Disciples AND PETER, that He had risen! God does not waste anything in His Word. He said AND Peter for a reason, just as the Paul mentioned that Jesus appeared to over 500 AND JAMES after the Resurrection! James went on to lead the Home Church in Jerusalem while Peter dictated the First Gospel to the great Mark and literally wrote the books of Righteous Living for God in 1 & 2 Peter!
Therefore the Advantage you and I have as Christians is that even when we mess up as, even to the point of blasphemy (not recommended by the way), He restores us because we are His and He loves us!  The Advantage is He has given us the gift of repentance and that if we are truly His, the Holy Spirit will reveal even unknown sin and our immediate confession will restore us just as it did for Peter.


THE ACTION: We are thus restored to then help a fellow believer - a sister or brother - come closer to Him. There are so many of us out there, full of guilt, shame and worse because of both imagined and/or real sin or difficulty.  What could be worse than denying Jesus three times with loud curse words....within His earshot?! Still, that man became Peter the Rock, the primary messenger of the Doctrine of Righteousness to the western world before Rome crucified him upside down during the first round of persecutions. When we are restored by the Lord, whether it be spiritually, physically or other wise, it is our divine duty to reach out to another.
I know people with ministries to orphans, or breast cancer victims/survivors, autistic kids or more. The argument against The Action we are called to is: "I can't do that"...or "I don't have the resources, money or anything to do that kind of thing"....or "I don't know anybody else going through this. Some or all of this may or could be true. The divine call still remains. If we know how to speak in love to another person, can afford a spare cup of coffee or can invite just one person to break bread in your home - that's a ministry. If you can just meet consistently with someone who is hurting or is now experiencing the same pains, hurts, fears and cares you just had - that's a ministry. If you can then multiply that to two, three or five people with similar issues and to top it off, show them how to persevere with Prayer and the Scriptures - that's YOUR ministry! You don't need a 501 C 3 tax exemption, a Board of Directors, a website, multi-media etc. What is recommended is staying in touch with a private blog open to only the group or a Facebook private support group - things that cost almost nothing.

The wonderful thing about Christianity is it is liberating. It is devoid of commands from our Leader to hurt and destroy people who do not believe like us...in fact, the opposite is true. We are supposed to pray for those who hate us, because they may see the error of their ways or not. Either way, they will be accountable and not you. The other wonderful thing about following Christ is that it is so peaceful, joyful and full of hope. It is for Freedom that He set us free (Galatians 5:1). 

The Advantage is ours in this game of Life because our Advocate (King Jesus) has defeated our Adversary (the devil) and He has advised us to advance the Kingdom with Action. This is the essence of the Redeemed of God, through all generations. Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WHY PRAY? Part 6 - UNDER JUDGMENT?

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit....James 5:17-18
File:January 2015 Nor'easter 27 Jan 2015 0645Z.jpg
If there ever was a time - if you are called by His Name (a real live born-again authentic Christian) to pray - now is that time. James, the Lord's half-brother, did not just insert the Name of the Great Prophet Elijah here for academic reasons. Elijah was ministering unto the Lord, and prophesying against the pagan Northern Kingdom of Israel when this incident happened. Because of the evil idolatrous conduct and their worship of pagan "gods" for over two hundred years, God brought His Judgment down on what was the country ruled by the corrupt Ahab and Jezebel. It was in this context that Elijah "a man with a nature like ours" called out to the Lord, Who, recognizing His faithful servant - responded.

Now, "a nature like ours" simply means the great prophet who never died, had the same feelings of insecurities, fear and even passion for Godly living, as most Christians possess.  This man was literally scared for his life as Jezebel promised to kill him, and ran...and literally ran and hid in a cave. "Prayed earnestly" implies that he was devoted, in life and ministry, to prayer. 


We are not prophets, as defined by Scripture, but in once sense we are to do what they did magnificently - proclaim the Word of the Lord...such as "thus sayeth the Lord". There have been men with prophetic-like gifts like David Wilkerson, who could read the signs of the times and proclaim "such and such" will occur to America and world, if we do not repent. This remains true. America and the West are completely under the Judgment of God right now, and not even the religious leaders are seeing it or if they did, even worse - they refuse to acknowledge the times!


There are a couple noteworthy things about Elijah and his prayers both to stop the rain, and then to restart it. The lesson therein for us, is that here was a man who is just like you and I in physical person-hood. However, in the spiritual realm, he was completely sold out, committed and obedient to the Lord.  Even when he feared for his life, he always did the right thing. His prayer, unlike the faithful Jew in the Southern Kingdom of Judah who had to go to the Temple, had to be made on the fly! He had no God-honoring synagogue or temple to worship in, where he was sent to minister unto the Lord.


So the following lessons are for us from these two verses:
- Even if our churches, church leaders and others are not devoting themselves to prayer in these troubled and evil times - YOU AND I SHOULD.  Elijah was a forerunner of one who was indwelled by the Holy Spirit therefore making himself a living temple of the Lord. He was thus, empowered to pray anywhere he was at the time and the Lord (Yahweh, Jesus) would listen.

- Earnest prayer and devotion to the Lord are required of one who is sent out to the home first, and then the community, such as we are. The faith of a mustard seed which can say to this mountain, be thou removed from here to there, is the same faith which each Christian and true believer in Christ possesses. We do have the authority (John 1:12) to approach the Throne of Grace and seek His intervention in the affairs of man.  How He responds may not be the way we expect. He may not stop the heavy snowfall in Niagara Falls or Boston, but He will give you and I the capacity to survive it with grace and good humor and good health, because we cannot see the purpose of His plans. We cannot also see the purpose of His thinking. His Ways are NOT our ways. There is currently a group of so-called clergy in the north east who said they are getting together to pray for God to stop the snow. They are from the liberal protestant, liberal reform Jewish community and some muslims - all 13 of them. They all got together to "pray" for God to stop the snow. Sure there has been over 107 inches of snow so far this year in Boston, but can you imagine Elijah praying with the "prophets of Baal" for the rain to either stop or go away? This can never happen....and brings us to the third and final point.

- Elijah prayed AGAIN (after earnestly praying for the rain to stop) and the Lord answered and sent the rain back. First, if we belong to a prayer group, or pray chain or call into one of those increasingly popular prayer conference calls, you and I have to be careful with whom we pray. Since before we had the destruction of 9/11, there has been a growing interfaith movement which is completely lacking in spiritual discernment. A few misinformed Christians as well as those who profess to be, have been promoting the idea that all religions believe in the same "God", just "by a different name". If this were so, God would have to apologize to Himself and rewrite the Scriptures because this is the exact opposite of what His Pure and Precious Word says. There are an host of Bible verses who teach us that God does not hear the prayer of the unrighteous and for this church age, the unrighteous are those who do not believe or, or have accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives.

Here are some of them:
John 9:31 - Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Proverbs 28:9 - He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer [shall be] abomination.
Proverbs 15:29 - The LORD [is] far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Psalms 66:18 - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me]:
1 Peter 3:12 - For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil.
Isaiah 59:2 - But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.

None of these Bible verses give Christians permission to pray with other religions with expectation that the Real God of Heaven will even pay attention. The introduction of Elijah by James the Just (or "Old Camel Knees") at the end of his epistle accomplishes much. It shows both the power of a praying man, as well as the power of THAT praying man, who is exclusively a committed, submitted and faithful servant of the Holy One of Israel, our Father, Who rules the Heavens.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WHY PRAY? Part 5 = BECAUSE YOU CAN!

BECOME A PERSISTENT PRAYER WARRIOR!
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much....James 5:16b

A prayer warrior is a friend or a fellow believer whose walk with the Lord and 
calling are both so supremely evident that you and I swear that when he or she prays, the portals of Heaven open up.  This is basically the essence of what
James,  the brother of our Lord , is saying in the second part of verse 16. The dictionary definition of the following English words convey a  lot of the meaning of the original Greek Text of the New Testament. Let’s take a look at each key word:
Effective: Producing the desired or intended result
Fervent:   Intense, impassioned, fired-up, zealous
Righteous: Acting in accord with divine or moral law:  free from guilt or sin.  
Avail:  to produce or result in as a benefit or advantage
(All from Webster’s’ Dictionary)

In pure English, this portion of verse 16 simply means that a righteous person – one who has stayed up, prayed up and is completed made up – in purity of heart and motives before God –(by definition a passionate daughter or son of God) is so zealous in persistent prayer and intercession that when she or he calls on the Lord, well – He listens! The Lord listens and responds because this fervent intercession produces the result for the beneficiary, towards whom the intercession was intended.

So how does one become a person on whom the Favor of Abba Father rests? There is a way to become this kind of particular saint’s pleadings and prayers rise up as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, Who sits on the Throne. Prayer warriors are not born this way, because we are all given the gifts of Faith and Repentance through the Grace which saveth us. It is a Godly discipline which really can be learned!

So, how does one become a Persistent Prayer Warrior who walks in the Paths of Victory? Here are a five of many steps to becoming such a wonderful servant of the Lord:
1       --      A Persistent Prayer Warrior develops a repentant lifestyle. While a committed Christian sins less and less, we are still a people of the flesh, under the curse of Adam from the Fall of Man in the Garden. The best way to stay in this zone is daily confession and seeking forgiveness. What works for me is my own adaptation of Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any [n]hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (verses 23-24)

2   -  Persistent Prayer Warrior determines to be intentional about praying the Scriptures out loud. This takes many forms – from Praying a Promise of God with your name inserted in the passage and requesting His attention, to just loving reading out a Psalm of Praise to Him – joyfully and with passion! What the Holy Spirit has taught me for over two decades is my need to learn Psalm 118 and say it daily – Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good, and His Mercies endureth forever. If  you did not cut your teeth in the poetic of the King James translation – any translation works, as long as it is Bible, and you are 100% engage with Abba Father, through the Lord Jesus. I picture King David going into battle....or even running from Saul in the wilderness, and he is quietly repeating the Psalms he ended up writing, to himself....like Psalm 54, fr instance "Save me O God by Thy Name and vindicate me by Thy Power (NASB, verse 1).


3  -   Persistent Prayer Warrior devours the Word of God. Psalm 1:1-2 says "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night". The actual word in the original Hebrew for "meditates" is "HAGAH". This is not some passive word picture of some ascetic on top of a grassy knoll sitting cross-legged chanting some ungodly mantra. This is the man or woman of God actively seeking, finding and sitting with the Word of God - the Bible, and then LITERALLY DEVOURING THE SCRIPTURES until they are so embedded in you and I that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This is what YHWH - Yahweh - Jesus taught us when He slapped the devil down after the latter tried to tempt the Lord three times. Each time, the Word responded to a temptation by "IT IS WRITTEN".  What is written? The Word of God was written for us and is the Prayer Warrior's primary tool for intercession, praise, worship and wonder. Dig into and find the treasures which are therein, in the Bible, because the more you find, the MORE HE REVEALS!

- -  A Persistent Prayer Warrior disdains distractions and therefore, will not be defeated. We have so many things to occupy our attention - fancy electronics (ipads, streaming movies etc), music, activities etc.- but we cannot, should not and must not let our first love be overshadowed by the things of this modern world.  We must have our priorities firmly planted. The devil can only beat us if he can distract us long enough to be busy DOING and not daily pressing in. We are the only ones who can stop him cold in his tracks- and we do so by coming back to the Word, to prayer, to the Lord. We have all been there and been caught up in busy rather than the beauty that comes from sitting at the Feet of the Rabbi, the Teacher, the Master, Who gives daily wisdom as we renew our minds in Him. 

- A Persistent Prayer Warrior decides that not matter what, even if we walk through an occasional desert when nothing works....even if we walk through an occasional dark and troublesome personal time when we are hard-pressed....even if we walk through with someone else or in our own lives, the valley of the shadow of doubt and despair...even if all of this happens at once, and someone calls on us to pray for a medical emergency, a situation with a child or a spouse, a financial calamity, an accident or something untoward, even if all of this is true at once or in double/triple portions, this kind of dynamic prayer warrior will NOT give up, give in or give short change to the person asking for your prayers but would stand firmly - on the Word of God and its Promises. Jeremiah 20:9 says: "But if I say, "I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot"  

This kind of prayer warrior is the real deal. You and I will not quit and strive to become more like the man who wrote the Book of James. He prayed so much, and on his knees, that he who once doubted Jesus was the Messiah, came to be known as "OLD CAMEL KNEES". There are obviously more aspects, attributes and practical disciplines to becoming this man or woman whose fervent and effective prayer availeth much. In fact, an entire volume can be written on this matter....and am sure, many have been. But the only way it works, is not for a book to tell us, but for us to discover this gift and work on it, develop it and let it bless someone else. 

This can only be done, by dedication to the Word and Wonder of God, through the Grace of Christ. 
This can only be done because you and I love God and love people. 
This can only be done, if Jesus Christ is LORD first, second and always.  
This can only be done, if we devote our lives to serving Him, Who saved us by His Mercy, Grace, Compassion and Long-suffering and brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Sunday, February 15, 2015

WHY PRAY? Part 4 - HEALED, BY FAITH!

”...pray for each other that you may be healed” (James 5:16a)

In Part 3, we gently glided over the topic of HEALING and the spirit and the Spirit requires we spend more time looking closer at this portion of this verse. The verse above says we should “pray for each other, that we may be healed”. In a sense this verse addresses one who is harmed from the sin of another but in the general sense, we must address the healing of the sick. It is James himself who brought it up just a few verses before, when he instructs those who are sick to bring it to the elders.

More and more, elders…and most church leaders have not been devoting themselves to prayer, as they did in generations past.  You see the difference in the worldwide churches according to regional status. The wealthier Western church has layers of bureaucracy (elders/deacons/committees/trustees), while the Third World countries would be fortunate to have even one pastor!  In the persecuted lands, the pastor is the chief cook, bottle wash, intercessor, preacher, comforter and usually the man who takes the wrath of the persecuting pagan authorities, when the time comes.  As a result, prayer is the first order of business, the last order and almost everything in between.  The study of the Word, when they can land copies in their own languages happens, but prayer is their fuel. Reports from countries like Southern Africa, South America and other less fortunate lands are full of testimonies of supernatural healings as the Mighty Hand of the Lord moves among those who have nothing but the shirt on their backs and Faith in Jesus Christ in their very souls. This has led a lot of western church leaders to doubt these healings actually occurred. However they would do well to visit these towns where God Himself has been personally intervening, contrary to what some rich suburban American preacher would classify, in their unbelief, as "snake-oil".

Why is that not the case here? It still is – if one is completely sold out to Christ Jesus and believe in every letter of the Bible.  Godly intervention, in the healing of the sick, only exists in the few places where there is a STRONG belief in receiving that healing, and the appropriate praying heart that travails with the person being prayed upon.  Not a day goes by, without a list of prayer requests, a lot of the emergency prayer requests), of sudden panic by those who want a family member, friend or themselves prayed for NOW, for x, y or z reason.  The situation is like this...and there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this: the same people with certain health issues are on the prayer sheet on Wednesday nights or on emails, for months or sometimes years on end. Why has not there any movement toward healing, sometimes even in spite of intense treatment or medication etc? 

Well, for one thing, the average American church is cessionist in practice even if their particular “’ism” does not even know how to spell “cessionist” or what it means.  In this case, this particular belief restricts itself and the Power of God, by saying that miracles and healing by faith stopped when the Book of the Revelation ended.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Cessionist about the Bible, by the way! While the Bible is the dynamic Living Word of God, anyone who adds or takes away or rewrites or redefines the closed canon of scripture, will face harsh judgment on the terrible Day of The Lord!  

Jesus Christ – YHWH – Jehovah Rapha is the same today, yesterday and always.  We have not because we ask not.  The baby and the bath water should not be thrown out with those crooked televangelists who permeate the airwaves of popular TV networks. But the real power lies in the fervent power praying of a little old grandmother who spent her life on her knees praying hours a day for everybody…..or the old gentleman in the white shirt and old King James Bible whose simple but heartfelt conversations with Jesus have changed many a life. Or how about the radically changed former tattooed addict whom Jesus rescued from the pit and can’t stop praising God, while praying for others with his little vial of oil from the Christian book store. You can find this wonderful group of folks in almost any church and they are usually less than 1% of the congregation - the real prayer warriors.


Secondly, putting practical "cessionism" aside, the average church in the west - and that includes so-called Bible teaching churches - does not really pray, past the perfunctory opening pastoral prayer or the closing prayer, during the altar call. When praying for healing, the first qualification to receive that blessing is 100% complete and total belief that God would, could or even should actually heal you. A very close family member was discovered to have a severe case of Multiple Myeloma and at age 80, would have been left to die in most places, or just prayed for in passing for "the Lord's Will" to be done as friends and family wait for the time to pass, when the average doctor would then send the person to hospice for the last stage of terminal care.


This person refused to do anything except believe passionately and apparently successfully, that God has already healed her! So how is this possible, and why are the following verses used by those who believe fervently that God can and does heal, even today? Isaiah 53:5 says "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed." How does someone receive healing from Jesus' wounds on the Cross and even more, how do you explain this from 1 Peter 2:24 "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." Well, what seems like confusion first from Isaiah where it says "by His scourging we ARE healed" to 1 Peter 2:24 "by His wounds we WERE healed" is a victory statement from the Lord, of what Jesus really did at the Cross!

So what does this have to do with battling cancer, heart disease or other deadly diseases? First of all, in a sense it does. It does because the healing referred to in both Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 is primarily and most of all - Spiritual Healing. That is correct - spiritual healing. This is Scripture telling us plainly what God did for the the fatal disease called Sin. Jesus did not die to beat back leukemia or Crohn's disease. He did die to pay the debt, once and for all, for all sin for all time. Isaiah 53:5 is the prophesy. First Peter 2:24 is the explanation of the fulfillment of that prophesy. These two verses represent the foundation for the cure for the terminal disease of Sin and the Christian who camps firmly on them, has secured for himself/herself the necessary Faith to live out this walk, thereby, live out this daily struggle we call LIFE.


This is the Faith - the firm foundation, on which stand our eternal security. Therefore our love, devotion and belief in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us is absolutely clear and evident. This kind of Faith should either let the believer know that she or he will be healed from this particular sickness and/or deadly disease or not. It is a kind of Faith in which the Christian is so boldly secure and in sync with the Holy Spirit that you can even pray for a parking space at the store before Christmas; ask the Lord to show you if you should make this big ticket purchase or not, or even if you should drive down this particular street or not - or take the long way around. 

This is the kind of Faith, born out of the healing of all transgression against God on the Cross, which enables you and I to carry the burdens of the sick and those who do not have the level of Faith, into which God has grown us

This leads to the final point about praying for healing. Galatians 6:2 says "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ". We are our brother's and our sister's keeper. So we helped them carry this spiritual AND yes, physical healing load. It only costs you some of your time and all of your love, and so by carrying that load (Bastazo in the Greek), we are literally, according to this powerful Greek word, helping to support, helping the sick to endure and pointing them to the Cross of Christ by our active participation of praying for their healing. This also points to the fact that you and I SHOULD let the sick person know we are praying for them, so they will realize it was CHRIST Who was the Great Physician here. We are simply His intercessor to bring the request to the Throne.

Living and operating in the constant, fully devoted and amazing meaning of this Galatians 6:2 verse means so much because it is the fulcrum of Intercession. It is the encouragement to us to do even more, to find that joy in and being the go-to person, or group of people, on whom it can be depended that when you pray, God hears and God acts. Why, because Galatians 6:2 says that when we "carry one another's burdens", we are actually doing this- fulfilling "the Law of Christ"! What IS the Law of Christ? He told us - love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)! The law of Christ is LOVE! 

And so, you say, can LOVE heal me? The Law and Love and Life of Christ sure can. If you and I love Christ, we will do His Will, and we will believe He can heal us. If He chooses not to, He has a different plan for this particular phase in life and we will do well to persevere, IN FAITH, through it. But we never stop pressing in, interceding and praying with fervent passion. If the disease turns terminal, it is our appointed time. But never give up and never waver or become wearing in praying for each other, in Love, that ye might be healed. The Master has prescribed this, as our assigned portion. Amen
PSALM 103:1-5
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things, 
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

NEW VALENTINE'S DAY BOOK OFFERS LESSON FOR FATHER'S AS WELL

A REVIEW OF "GIFTED...a love story" 
(A Redeeming Romance Medical Mystery- Kindle edition)
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My favorite female author Susan Rohrer has done it again with her latest release “GIFTED: a love story” (A Redeeming Romance Medical Mystery).  As a man who only reads non-fiction books on Theology and related topics, reading a fictional romance may seem out of sync, but it actually is not as Ms. Rohrer’s books always inspire and come with more than one message and even sub-themes!

I found this the case with “GIFTED” and the first thing to recommend is this – do NOT try to read this book or to attempt to get into the story while doing a dozen other things. This is the 
sort of narrative that lends itself to lifting up, addressing and even edifying those who seek to understand the human condition, and should be read during extended periods of time.

The author’s description of the book speaks for itself, but a few things stood out to me that men would do well to grab a hold of, and meditate on for a while. What I like about reading Ms. Rohrer’s books is her ability to present several facets of human personality, and I encourage men of all ages, especially working fathers, to take a look at this offering – even if it is only for the two things which come later on in the book – towards the end.

One thing is something that we men struggle with as fathers in our busy lives.
Author Susan Rohrer
We attempt to juggle work, kids’ baseball games, plays and other family activities. Sometimes we cannot (some do) find the balance between earning that one extra dollar which may pay for this or that for the kids, and being there. Lily asked a question of her mom that should cause every responsible man to shiver a little. As our “GIFTED” heroine, Dr. Lily Lapree discussed the events of the most crucial day in the book with her mother, she asked “How do you choose between doing the work you’ve got to do to provide for your family and actually being there for them?”


This is an absolutely stunning statement as Lily, a medical doctor at the “Belfry” seeks to make sense of tragedy and her growing faith as she heads towards personal fulfillment in love and career. As an author of Faith as well, Susan Rohrer (Holy Spirit, Secret of the Dry Bones), also answers a question a few people ask: “why would God speak to a little boy like Aaron Ghant” (the fulcrum of this story) and hardly anyone else, especially adults? The surprising “Father” Dylan, hospital chaplain, does have an answer, which is theologically sound – “Maybe Aaron was the only one who would listen.”  

“GIFTED” is a book recommended not just for its love angle (which is a minor part of this accomplishment by Ms. Rohrer). It is recommended for anyone to read for its presentation of real life human interaction, on many levels as well as the underlying Faith in Christ component, which powers true happiness and understanding of the ways of God in this fallen world. Also as man with family and friends who work at Catholic and other hospitals, I can attest to the authenticity of Ms. Rohrer’s writing and the real picture of life in this critical environment.

WHY PRAY? Part 3 - BE ACCOUNTABLE!

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed... (James 5:16a)
Does this verse teach that we should open a confessional and have a man of the cloth listen to us confess, so he could tell us to go do some penance for it? No- what the Lord is teaching through James, the half-brother of Jesus the Christ, is accountability. We are a fallen people whose tendency to 'miss the mark' increases in frequency and intensity, the further we move from those who are appointed to watch out for us.

For the most part, accountability is not primarily the function of the pastoral, but the call of the Godly and moral. The word confess here means to not just repent before God, but to agree out and out that one has fallen short, did something wrong or untoward, and having acknowledged that sin or trespass on turf where one should not be, one has the privilege and opportunity to be allowed to give praise. Now this is not the convoluted thinking of the world and pop psychology!

Secular psychology will tell you that this 'confession of sins' simply means you have "issues or problems"....and thus, "set up another therapy session" and a temporal answer from man's thinking will evoke responses totally against the Word of God. What we are searching here for is Godly responses and reactions to minor and/or major sin, which is still viewed as sin before God. What Abba Father, our loving Father Who wants the best for us is saying here- "you sure messed up here on this one, son/daughter...but after you ask Me for forgiveness, go to Susie or Jack over there and apologize, make it right or pay for that window you broke when the rock flew off your lawn mower last week and you kept quiet about it."

In the case of small groups, women are better about discussing their shortcomings with other women and seeking answers, biblical or otherwise, if they are walking with the Lord. But for some reason, men's mouths are shut tighter than the vault door at Fort Knox as to their transgressions. The answer is to have a mentor, an accountability brother or band of brothers with whom a man studies the Word of God with on a regular basis. The vast majority of men are not in such a fellowship and are therefore, sitting ducks for the enemy, when they slip up and fall short. Those who are not walking with the Lord have their drinking buddies, golf buddies, baseball buddies or even their former military buddies....and some of them would even share their troubles with each other. In fact, some of these lost men (and women) are better about supporting their fellow brother or sister than most Christians, who come of as self-righteous hypocrites to just about every body else.

So, how do we get around and over these obstacles - hypocritical and otherwise? We are strongly encouraged to pray here for those of us, who have sinned against someone else in particular, and against God in general, because it really affects our spiritual lives. To be free of this burden of sin, we must realize that the Power in the Blood requires the following two-step: take it to Calvary's Cross and then pray before taking it to the person you and I have crossed!

The portion of verse 16 we look at here is the Scriptural version of this aforementioned two-step. We are not supposed to be like the world and dance around sin, tripping the light fantastic with the devil and his music. Our music flows sweeter when the admission of our shortcomings are prayed up to God and then 'fessed up to each other, that reconciliation and restoration can take place. 

There is no healing without prayer. There is no revealing of sweet fellowship with God and man without removing barriers through prayer. There is no relationship, vertical or horizontal, without kneeling before the Throne - in prayer. Selah...Prayer is the key that opens the door to loving relationships between you and I and the rest of the Children of God.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

WHY PRAY? Part 2 - WE TRUST!

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him (James 5:14-15)


The Lord promised that "in this world you will have tribulation (or trouble), but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). How does someone do that when the enemies of God are systematically destroying His people....when many are losing hope....when the numbers of "nones" (those who believe in nothing) grow exponentially....etc. etc..

These are the Biblical end times which are in view, primarily, to those who are saved and called by Christ into the Kingdom. We are seeing a plethora of incurable diseases, deadly viruses and inexplicable things all around us. Cancer is on the rise due to the many different things - lifestyle, quality of food and environment etc. In fact, if you act even the dearest Christian, there seems to be a sense of resignation and defeat.

This is both understandable and wrong at the same time. We see an exhortation from James here which is hardly called upon, in times of need, even by those who call themselves strong believers.....and that includes pastors. On average, you hear pastoral prayers about "Lord heal so and so, touch brother X, remember sister Y....etc.." But is there the strong biblical prayer system for healing, whether Body, Soul or Mind, which lines up with James 5:14, 15? Not really!  This sort of healing and restoration requires Faith and Trust in the Promise AND persistence in prayer.

Too many modern seminaries, and thus, the pastors they put out, have removed the spirit of this Scripture which says that such faith for healing, anointing with oil and restoration "is only for Bible times" and not now! I have heard that so many times, I don't even listen to it anymore. Because the Living Word who abides in the Christian testifies that the entire Word of God - all 66 books - are for now and for you and I. Therefore, even if the elders don't pray for the church and the sick as they should - YOU DO IT!

To drive home that point, the Lord gave us the account of the man of God - Elijah - who was sent to a place of famine and a poor woman in Zarephath. 

Read the full account here from the flowing narrative of God's Word Translation:
8 Then the Lord spoke his word to Elijah: 9 “Get up, go to Zarephath (which belongs to Sidon), and stay there. I’ve commanded a widow there to feed you.”
10 He got up and went to Zarephath. As he came to the town’s entrance, a widow was gathering wood. He called to her, “Please bring me a drink of water.” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her again, “Please bring me a piece of bread too.”  12 She said, “I solemnly swear, as the Lord your God lives, I didn’t bake any bread. I have one handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I’m gathering wood. I’m going to prepare something for myself and my son so that we can eat it and then die.”

13 Then Elijah told her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home, and do as you’ve said. But first make a small loaf and bring it to me. Then prepare something for yourself and your son. 14 This is what the Lord God of Israel says: Until the Lord sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil.” 15 She did what Elijah had told her. So she, Elijah, and her family had food for a long time. 16 The jar of flour never became empty, and the jug always contained olive oil, as the Lord had promised through Elijah....1 Kings 17:7-16 (GNT)

Notice the parallel to a life of belief, faith and therefore, TRUST:
The RED HIGHLIGHT from verses 10-11  “Please bring me a drink of water.” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her again, “Please bring me a piece of bread too.”  
Elijah was repeating the Word of the Lord to the widow of Zarephath, just as James is telling us that if we are sick, go to the elders. God gave the widow the following commands: 
- Bring me a drink....even though I know you're thirsty and there is famine and drought in the land (Sacrificial prayer.....what are YOU willing to surrender to Christ to be in the center of His Perfect Will through obedience?)
- Bring me a piece of bread too....even though I know you have nothing and are about to die because of this famine, caused by the disobedience of others. Noteworthy here is the condition of the saint. We are not exempt sometimes when the Lord judges a place, as He judged Israel then and the even harsher judgment coming to America for its rebellion against God. This is what Jesus meant by tribulation. This walk with Christ through life is not meant to be easy and woe to those who deceive with the health, wealth and prosperity gospel!

This is proven by the BLUE HIGHLIGHT and the words of the poor widow “I solemnly swear, as the Lord your God lives, I didn’t bake any bread. I have one handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I’m gathering wood. I’m going to prepare something for myself and my son so that we can eat it and then die.” (Verse 12).
The prayer application for us here is this - simply go to the Lord, explain your case and do it over and over (persistent prayer). You say, "well, God knows what I need....why should I have to pray?" God does know what we need and we pray because He desires fellowship with His Elect. We all come from families, whether large or small. How can we live in our homes in peace, joy and contentment if we do not speak to our moms, wives, dads, brothers sisters and cousins?! It is the same thing with the Lord, our Heavenly Father! He is called Abba which in English is the equivalent of "Daddy"! We present our case to Him in humility, fear, trembling but we also present to Him in anticipation and the STRONG belief that He hears and will heal, reveal and not conceal!

The great result of this tremendous, dynamic and ever growing faith is found here in the GREEN HIGHLIGHT: “Don’t be afraid. Go home, and do as you’ve said. But first make a small loaf and bring it to me. Then prepare something for yourself and your son. 14 This is what the Lord God of Israel says: Until the Lord sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil.”
Look at what the man of God (and therefore GOD) says:
-DO NOT BE AFRAID! Do not be afraid to ask and believe and trust in Him to do what He says, even in the darkest hour!
- GO HOME! What? You mean, leave my burdens and cares and some Cross I can't see and under some "Blood" that I only read about being shed for me? Yes, doubting Thomas - Go home! Go and rest and abide in the fact that you can have peace, joy, contentment, hope and victory from the One Who already won it at the same Cross you doubt it and because ye doubt, ye have not the answer ye seek! Go home simply means - DO YOU BELIEVE ME, JESUS...DO YOU BELIEVE I CAN DO IT? YES I CAN...NOW GO YOUR WAY - YOU ARE HEALED! Such amazing faith in His Amazing Grace is such a sweet sweet sound, to a wretch like me that I don't deserve what verse 14 saysUntil the Lord sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil. 

That simply means - until the Lord Jesus returns for us, calls us home or either one or the other, I will live in that promise, my cup runneth over, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever....to the praise and glory of His Name. Saint, be of good cheer, because we pray....because we TRUST! Amen!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

WHY PRAY? Part 1- WE MUST!

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises....(James 5:13)

Everywhere you look today, people are in despair. There is so much hopelessness and fear out there, that sometimes even God's people wonder "does He really care"? Well, yes, He does and more than we realize. More than anyone else, Christians who are walking in the Will of God, have the true Hope which lives within, and that is more than sufficient.

We wonder sometimes how the saints in persecuted lands like the Middle East and China do it, and how come there are more Christians in these countries than the US and Europe combined.....and the answer you will always get is - PRAYER! Pastor/Author David Platt is now the director of the Southern Baptist Convention's huge International Missions Board (IMB) which has been taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He is one fired up man of God for missions and especially intrigued by the underground churches in China. In one of his studies, while he was pastor of the largest church in Birmingham, Alabama, he recounted an experience when he visited one of those "secret churches" to fellowship with them.

These precious saints met in a private basement and always began their hours long service/bible study with as much prayer as they deemed necessary to get them through this particular night. David Platt said they were face down on the cold concrete floor praying, pleading and crying out for what appeared to be over two hours. When they finally arose from being prostrate on the floor before God, there were literal puddles of tears on the floor. These saints are suffering under persecution by the atheist communist party. By the way, latest figures have shown that the amount of Christians in China far outnumber members of the Chinese communist party! Our brethren in the Middle East are suffering out in the open as we see from the news almost daily. Many pastors and believers are also imprisoned in the islamic republic of iran. Yet they pray and rejoice. Pastor Saeed, the well-known American pastor has led over 30 to Christ in prison, as recently recounted.


But what about suffering here? There are many suffering not just hopelessness as to the future, but genuine fear about every single thing in life.  We wonder about our children and will they even have the freedom to worship God and live out a life of faith like their forefathers. We wonder about health and finances and family. If you read the obituaries in the daily newspaper or even online, you will see more and more more young people from their teens to their early 50's leaving this earth at an alarming rate! What could be the cause of that? Then if you read some of the content written about their lives, it should shock any follower of Christ into questioning how we could allow so many young (and older) people to die without Christ in their lives. People are known by their fruit and the descriptions of some of these poor souls are absolutely astoundingly vacant and one is scared to ponder what their eternity will be.


King David, even in the depths of despair, wandering and doubt, yet never stopped praying. The anointed and inspired Psalms of the Bible gave us most of his prayers to Almighty God, His Redeemer. Here was the anointed King of Israel (anointed by God, no less) yet, he was on the run for almost 14 years and a king without a throne. But pray, he knew he must and sacrifice to the Lord, even when he was in thirst, he did! 

There is no bigger act of not just praise with his mouth and heart, but by his actions than this account from 2 Samuel 23(15-17): "David had a craving and said, "Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!" So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD; and he said, "Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" Therefore he would not drink it".

Was David suffering? YES! Saul was trying to kill him and kept chasing him with an army all over the countryside.  He had no place to call home. He had no regular food supply or warm bed....nothing. Yet, he prayed....and when (as in this passage) his Mighty Men brought back what must have been the 'gourmet water' of the day and it cheered him - King David praised!

Therefore, we have two things here - David asked - the Lord supplied the great tasting water - it blessed David's heart and he gave it back to the Lord. When we are in dire straits, as this man of God obviously was, we have the formula from the Scriptures, pray and praise like David did! It really is this simple, for the man or woman of God!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

THIRTY ONE DAYS OF PRAYER AND THE WORD:JANUARY 1-31, 2015 THEME: "ABIDE"

DAY THIRTY ONE:

VERSE:
"'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine"....Exodus 19:5
PRAYER
Heavenly Father, we long to abide in Your Presence all the days of our lives and in eternity. Therefore, Lord we commit our way from the hour of our redemption and rejuvenation to now, the rest of this year and always, to obey You, listen to You, walk in Your Ways and Keep Your Covenant.

Thou hast shown us the way of all Truth. I thank Thee, Oh Lord.
Thou hast given me the Road Map and the spiritual fuel to go the distance. I am so grateful, my God.
Thou hast given me the Faith and Endurance to persevere until the end. I am all in for ever, oh God.
Thou hast shared Thy bountiful Goodness and all the Earth which You create and watch over. I am so humbled, my God.
Thou hast taken me out of the pit, sit my feet upon a rock, put a NEW song in my mouth - a hymn of Praise to our God. I will proclaim Thy Name throughout the Earth, for as long as life shall last.

I rest under the Shadow of Thy Wings.
I bow down in the Sanctity of the Throne Room.
I surrender to the Will of Christ.
I commit my ways and will to the Obedience You asked me to choose.
I am Yours. I abide in Thee and long to dwell in Thy Holy Presence on a soon coming day, choosing as King David wrote for my life verse "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple".

On this I stand, oh God, and not just me but all who love Your appearing! Even so, come Lord Jesus! In Your Name I pray. Amen.