The One Requirement Even the Christian Must Meet for Prayer

Did you know there is a certain requirement that even the Christian must meet to ensure that God will hear his prayer? As you read the following passages (all from the N.K.J.V.), see if you can spot it:

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (Psalm 66:18)

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. (Proverbs 28:9)

Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds. (Micah 3:4)

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)

The requirement jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? Even if you are a Christian, the only way to guarantee that God will hear your prayers is to live a life of personal holiness. Obviously, I’m not talking about some unattainable sinless perfection because such perfection simply isn’t possible for born sinners such as us. But I am talking about making the confession of your sins and the actual repentance of them integral parts of your walk with Christ.

I’ve known some professing Christian singles who chose to live with members of the opposite sex rather than get married. I’ve known others who frequently got drunk on alcohol or high on drugs. I’ve known others who consistently conducted themselves in other sinful ways. Concerning these people, I’ve asked myself, “Is God even hearing their prayers?” Based upon the passages that I gave earlier, a solid case can be made to answer, “No, He’s not.”

I’m not trying to play the role of “Prayer Czar” here. God is God, and He can choose to hear any prayer that He wants to hear, regardless of how the person is living. If, however, His word means what it says, He has to draw some lines of division between the prayers of Christians who are trying to live right and the prayers of those who aren’t.

If this seems harsh, let me offer an illustration to help you better understand. Let’s say that a father has a son whose life is dominated by a lust for money and possessions. The young man wants everything the “good” life has to offer, even if it means bending a few rules or breaking a few laws to get it. Time and time again the father begs him to reprioritize his life and repent of his sins, but the son refuses.

Finally, with a broken heart, the father says, “Son, I’ve tried to help you, but I’ve grown to realize that you are dead set in your course. Therefore, the only play I have left is to separate myself from you and let you hit rock bottom. Even though you are my child and I will always love you, there comes a time when love must be tough. So, don’t call me, write me, or come see me until you have changed your ways.”

Several months later, the son gets caught embezzling from his company. Not only does he lose his job, but if he doesn’t repay the thousands of dollars he stole, he’ll be formally charged and sent to jail. He goes to see his father and says, “Dad, I’m in trouble. I owe my former company a lot of money that I don’t have. If I can’t pay it, I’ll end up in jail. Will you help me?”

How do you think that father will respond? If he responds the way the Bible says that God does, everything will hinge upon whether or not that father sees true repentance in that son. If the young man is obviously broken and ready to live a different kind of life, the father will do whatever it takes (empty his savings, take out a loan, mortgage his house) to pay the son’s debt and keep him out of jail. Conversely, if it’s clear that the young man is just a somewhat less cocky version of his same old self, complete with the same priorities, attitude, and immoral streak, the father will remain staunch in his tough love and refuse to hear the son.

Of course, when it comes to God, He has a full knowledge of His child’s situation even before the child prays, which means that He knows if sincere repentance is on display. Consequently, whatever decision He makes regarding hearing the prayer and getting involved or refusing to hear it altogether, that decision will be the correct one. You see, Christian, if God doesn’t hear your prayer, YOU are the problem, not Him. Like any loving father, God longs to bless His children and help them when they are in trouble, but like any discerning father, He knows that blessing and helping a rebel will only lead to more rebellion. And helping a child not only continue his or her rebellion but even increase it is just not something that God is going to do.

Posted in Children, Disobedience, Fatherhood, Forgiveness, God's Holiness, God's Love, Obedience, Personal Holiness, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Repentance, Seeking Forgiveness, Separation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Does God Hear the Prayers of Lost People (part 3)

The New Testament stories of God hearing the prayers of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48) and the tax collector from Christ’s parable (Luke 18:9-14) shouldn’t surprise us. I say that because even in the Old Testament we find examples of God showing varying degrees of mercy to repentant lost people. For example, He did so for Israel’s wicked king, Ahab, (1 Kings 21:17-29) and for the citizens of Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-10). Admittedly, no mention is made in those stories about either Ahab or those Ninevites actually praying, but the point is that in both cases God was quick to show mercy. In the case of the Ninevites, a good argument can even be made that they actually got saved.

One Old Testament character who we can say with some certainty did get saved was Manasseh, Judah’s most notorious king. His sins were so great that God caused the Assyrians to capture him as a prisoner of war. They put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles, and transported him to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:10-11). But there, in captivity, Manasseh humbled himself before God and prayed (v.12-13).

And did God hear those prayers? Yes. 2 Chronicles 33:13 says that God “…received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (N.K.J.V.). Furthermore, that verse concludes by saying: “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” Once he was back in Jerusalem, Manasseh then evidenced his newfound salvation by removing all the false idols from the city, repairing the altar of the Lord, offering up sacrifices, and commanding all Judah to serve the Lord God (2 Chronicles 33:15-16).

In addition to the Bible’s passages in which God hears the prayers of lost people, there are some other passages that speak of His general hearing of all of mankind. Consider the following verses (all from the N.K.J.V.):

For He hears the cry of the afflicted. (Job 34:28)

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (Psalm 86:5)

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

Oh, and there’s something else that we should consider in this whole debate about whether or not God hears the prayers of people who aren’t Christians: the prayers of children who are under the age of accountability. Are we going to say that God doesn’t hear those prayers simply because those kids aren’t old enough to understand what it is to be “born again”? Is every child who prays the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” just mouthing meaningless words? Do the words “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food…” fall on deaf ears? You see, when you get dogmatic and say, “God only hears the prayers of born-again Christians,” you take in more territory than you realize.

So, where does all this leave us? Well, it leaves me with four statements. By heeding each of these, I feel that we can keep a God-approved balance on this whole subject.

1. It is undeniable that only a born-again Christian can pray in God’s ideal way.

2. Since God the Father is completely sovereign over all creation, He can choose to hear prayers even if they aren’t prayed by born-again Christians.

3. Whether the individual be a lost person or a child under the age of accountability, God will choose to hear the prayer of one who is genuinely seeking Him in a humble, especially repentant, way.

4. Even with the first three statements in mind, we would be foolish to emphasize the exceptions over the rule, and the rule is: By and large, prayer is the privilege of the person who has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

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Does God Hear the Prayers of Lost People? (part 2)

In Luke 18:9-14, we find another example of a lost man who, like Cornelius, had God hear his sincere prayer. His prayer is what some call “the sinner’s prayer.” Actually, the man isn’t a literal person but is, instead, merely a fictional character in one of Christ’s parables. Nevertheless, we can use him to make the point that God can, if He chooses to do so, hear the prayers of lost people.

In the parable, a Jewish Pharisee and a Jewish tax collector go to the Jerusalem temple to pray. Obviously, Jesus’ intent was to describe two polar opposites as His subjects for the parable. The Pharisees were Israel’s religious elite, men who were all about keeping Judaism’s laws to the strictest standard. Their lives were one big obsession over not committing any outward sins. They genuinely believed they were working their way into salvation by their fanatical keeping of God’s commandments. They simply did not understand or care to understand that no amount of good works can produce salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The tax collectors, by contrast, were men who earned a living by collecting taxes for the Roman government. Rome required a prescribed amount of taxes and was satisfied as long as it got that amount, and that left the tax collectors unregulated to collect excess taxes in order to make money for themselves. As might be expected in a setup like that, the greed of many of the tax collectors ran rampant and the whole profession was notorious for its immoral business practices.

To make matters worse for the tax collectors who were Jewish, their fellow Jews despised them for hiring themselves out to Rome, the enemy who ruled over Israel. Consequently, in the eyes of a self-righteous Jewish Pharisee, a Jewish tax collector was in the same social class as harlots and drunkards. From the Pharisee’s point of view, such people were all vile, wicked “sinners.”

So, in Christ’s parable the two men come to pray. First, the Pharisee launches into his prayer, which is really just an egotistical description of how divinely devout he is. Jesus describes the scene as follows:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” (Luke 18:10-12, N.K.J.V.)

The Pharisee’s prayer certainly sounds religiously impressive, doesn’t it? I mean, all that talk about fasting twice a week and giving those tithes must have impressed God, right? Nope. Truth be told, what the Pharisee said wasn’t even a true prayer. As Jesus said, the Pharisee only prayed “with himself.”

Standing far away from the Pharisee is the tax collector, who doesn’t even consider himself worthy to pray in the same vicinity of the Pharisee. He doesn’t consider himself worthy to look upward to heaven, either. Jesus describes his prayer as follows:

“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14, N.K.J.V.)

Jesus surely stunned His listeners by saying that the tax collector left the temple justified while the Pharisee didn’t. Such a thought went against everything the Jewish mind had been taught to believe! A tax collector praying a more acceptable pray than a Pharisee? How could such a thing be possible? Even more than that, the Greek word the passage translates as “justified” is dikaioo. That’s the same word the New Testament uses in numerous passages to describe the justification that comes as the result of salvation.

Therefore, like Cornelius from my previous post, the tax collector in Christ’s parable stands as an example of God hearing the prayer of a lost person. While it might be argued that the man being Jewish and praying in the temple was evidence that he was already saved before he prayed, the words of his prayer have long been taken to mean that he was lost. Furthermore, the fact that he was still employed as a tax collector — unlike Matthew (Levi), who quit the profession when he got saved — is ample evidence to indicate that he was lost. Along the same lines, it’s probably not a coincidence that Luke, in the very next chapter of his gospel, gives us the story of Zacchaeus, a real-life Jewish tax collector who needed to experience salvation (Luke 19:1-10). Based upon all this, I feel safe in saying that the tax collector in Christ’s parable was a lost man whose prayer got heard by God and culminated in the man’s salvation.

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Does God Hear the Prayers of Lost People? (part 1)

Acts 10:1-6 tells the story of a man named Cornelius:

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)

Cornelius was a Roman centurion, which meant that he commanded 100 soldiers. This made him a man of some standing. But what truly made him different from other Romans was his view on religion. Rather than worshiping Rome’s assortment of pagan gods and goddesses, Cornelius worshiped Israel’s one God. He hadn’t gone to the extreme of becoming a full proselyte to Judaism by submitting himself to circumcision, but he did make a sincere effort to live a life that was pleasing to Israel’s God. As a part of that effort, he “prayed to God always.”

Don’t misunderstand, though. Cornelius, despite his piety, was not a Christian and therefore hadn’t experienced salvation. To use Christ’s own terminology, he was a “lost” man who needed to be “saved.” This is made crystal clear in Acts 11:13-14, where Peter recounts Cornelius’ story. Peter says,

“And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’” (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)

Noted preacher and commentator, Warren Wiersbe, has said of Cornelius:

It is interesting to see how religious a person can be and still not be saved. Certainly, Cornelius was sincere in his obedience to God’s law, his fasting, and his generosity to the Jewish people. He was not permitted to offer sacrifices in the temple, so he presented his prayers to God as his sacrifices. In every way, he was a model of religious respectability – and yet he was not a saved man.

You see, Cornelius was what we might call a “God fearer.” He prayed often, but he didn’t mention Jesus in any of those prayers. That was a major problem because this was approximately a decade after Christ’s death, resurrection, and the famous Day of Pentecost, that day when God the Holy Spirit had begun to indwell those who believed in Christ. By this time, many thousands of people were walking around as born-again Christians who knew Christ as Savior and were indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Sadly, though, Cornelius wasn’t one of them. Like so many people, he was religious but in need of salvation.

But what did that angel say to him? “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” What did that mean? I can tell you what Cornelius took it to mean. In Acts 10:30-31, he says to Peter,

“Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.’” (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)

The story gets even more intriguing upon closer inspection. Notice that Cornelius was praying at the “ninth hour.” That was 3:00 p.m., one of the three set times of prayer the Jews observed each day. The other two were 9:00 a.m. (the third hour) and 12:00 noon (the sixth hour). The point is that Cornelius was in the very act of praying when the angel appeared! And when an angel interrupts your prayer and tells you that your prayer has been heard, there’s no doubt that God the Father has heard your prayer!

Now, to be fair, Cornelius was certainly a far cry from a modern-day Jew who prays at Jerusalem’s famous Wailing Wall in full rejection of Jesus. First, from what we can gather, Cornelius had never heard a presentation of the gospel of Christ until Peter gave him one. Second, those thousands of people who were born-again Christians at that time were Jews. (Depending upon whether or not the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8:26-39 was a Jew, Cornelius could well have been the very first Gentile Christian in all the world.) Third, Cornelius lived in a transitional time between the Old Testament era and the New Testament era. While the New Testament’s great books on doctrine are Paul’s epistles (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc.), the book of Acts is, by and large, just a partial record of the early years of the Christian church. As such, it gives us several unique stories, including the one about Cornelius, that stand apart from mainstream New Testament teaching.

In his Believer’s Bible Commentary, William MacDonald writes:

Our view is that Cornelius is an example of a man who lived up to the light which God gave him. While this light was not sufficient to save him, God insured that he was given the additional light of the Gospel.

I think we can best describe Cornelius as a “seeker.” He wanted salvation and was completely open to whatever spiritual truth God would send him. Until the full revelation of that truth arrived, however, the best he could do was put into practice what truth he had. In this way, he was like those wise men who came to see Jesus as a child (Matthew 2:1-12), that Ethiopian eunuch to whom Philip ministered (Acts 8:26-40), and the preacher Apollos who needed to be taught by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:24-28). But whatever else we might say about Cornelius, this much is clear: He was indeed a lost man and God did indeed hear his prayers. So, if nothing else, the story of Cornelius really does prove that God can hear the prayers of lost people if He chooses to hear those prayers.

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The New Testament, Prayer, & Jesus

The New Testament era officially began with the birth of Jesus. As God in the flesh, He ushered in a new age and revealed God more intimately than any Old Testament Jew could have ever imagined. The “one” Lord God of Israel was revealed to be one God who actually exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Is it any wonder that this concept of God as a Trinity was rank blasphemy to so many Jews? We can hear them crying out, “God the Son? NO!! God the Holy Spirit? NO!! The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). If you were a Jew in the time of Christ, you probably wouldn’t have been so quick to accept Jesus, either. After all, not only did He claim that He was God’s Son, He also had the audacity to place the Holy Spirit on the same level as Himself and the Father.

Furthermore, the New Testament era also brought the teaching that prayers should be prayed to God by way of Jesus. Specifically, the New Testament describes a three-link “prayer chain” that involves each member of the holy Trinity. The chain is as follows:

Link #1: God the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and prays intercessory prayers for the Christian in accordance with God’s will.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26, N.K.J.V.)

Link #2: God the Son (Jesus Christ) sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven and, acting as High Priest, prays for the Christian, takes the Christian’s own prayers to God the Father, and takes the Holy Spirit’s prayers concerning the Christian to God the Father.

Seeing then that we (Christians) have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, N.K.J.V.)

Link #3: Prayers should be addressed to God the Father in Jesus’ name.

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24, N.K.J.V.)

As you can see, the New Testament places the highest premium on praying in the name of Jesus. The fact is, it isn’t hard to see how someone could possibly reach the conclusion that God doesn’t even hear the prayer of anyone (Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) who isn’t a Christian. After all, everything about the New Testament is Christ-centric.

Along these same lines, we should also consider the following passages:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, N.K.J.V.)

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9, N.K.J.V.)

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12, N.K.J.V.)

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5, N.K.J.V.)

“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:22-23, N.K.J.V.)

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:22-24, N.K.J.V.)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, N.K.J.V.)

It’s impossible to read these passages and miss what they teach: Jesus is the only way to God the Father. You might not agree with this teaching, but you should at least be honest and admit that it is there. And so what implication does this teaching carry in regard to prayer? If we concede that Jesus is the only way to God the Father for salvation, must we also concede the same in regards to prayer? Phrasing the question another way, does God the Father’s ear only hear prayers that are prayed through Jesus? My answer is, no. And what I’m going to do is devote the next three posts to explaining why I give that answer. So, I hope you’ll stay tuned because it promises to be an interesting study.

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Wilted Roses

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a little story about a Sunday School teacher’s efforts to win one of her young students to Christ. I doubt that the story actually happened, but maybe it did. Even if it didn’t, it still makes an important point. Here’s the story.

When young Mary’s Sunday School teacher talked to her about becoming a Christian, Mary answered, “No, I don’t want to become a Christian right now.” The teacher asked, “Is there something that is preventing you from doing it right now?” Mary said, “It’s because I’m still young and want to have a good time. When I get old and settled down in life, then I’ll become a Christian.”

Several days later, Mary received a box of roses from the teacher. Mary opened the box excitedly, but her excitement soon turned to disappointment when she found that the roses were all wilted. Attempting to lift them from the box, she watched as most of their petals fell off and remained in the box.

As she stood there looking at all those dead roses, Mary became angry. She thought, “My teacher shouldn’t be sending me old, wilted roses.” Later on, however, she decided to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt by believing that the flowers had been ordered several days earlier and were supposed to have been delivered promptly. There must have been a mix up with the florist.

But that afternoon the teacher came to Mary’s house and asked her, “Did you receive the roses I sent you today?” Somewhat astonished, Mary replied, “Oh, then you did send them today. Why did you send me old, wilted roses?” The teacher said, “I did it because I thought that was the kind of gift you like.” Mary asked, “What made you think such a thing?” “Because,” said the teacher, “when I asked you to believe in Jesus as your Savior you said you would wait until you were old.”

Mary was silent for a moment but then her face lightened. She said, “Oh, I get it now. It’s wrong for me to wait until I’m old and wilted to give myself to Jesus. I should believe in Him as Savior right now and devote the rest of my life to living for Him.” “Yes,” said the teacher, “that’s the lesson I was trying to teach you by sending you those flowers.” And right then and there Mary did believe in Jesus as her personal Savior and spent the rest of her life serving Him.

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, N.K.J.V.)

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Conflict Within the Church

W.B. Riley, who served as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for some fifty years, told the following story:

In my first pastorate, three of my church officials had refused for three full years to speak to one another. A committee was appointed to investigate the cause of the difficulty and either adjust it or bring in a recommendation for exclusion.

The night of the trial arrived. The three officials were in their places, silent, glum, and determined. Much prayer was had before the committee’s presentation.

The Spirit wrought! Hearts softened! At last one man arose and in penitence confessed his fault. Another followed, and yet a third man. Men who had passed in the streets with a scowl, now locked in mutual embrace.

For six months I had preached my heart out, without a convert. The next Sunday night the house was packed to the point where I was left but standing room in the pulpit. A multitude of converts were made, and for two full years (the rest of my pastorate in that place) the inpour to the church was incessant. A new house was erected; from half-time service the church went to full-time, from no gifts to large gifts; and in a lifetime of ministry I have known no delights to exceed the blessed winters and summers brought about by a reconciliation of brethren.”

And now, in the light of this excellent illustration, I’ve got two questions for you:

#1: Are you currently playing some role in causing any hard feelings or ill-will within your church?

#2: Even if you aren’t playing such a role, if such hard feelings or ill-will exist within your church, what are doing to bring the problems to a godly resolution?

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All You Need to Know

The teacher of a children’s Sunday School class gave her students one month to memorize the 23rd Psalm. Little Bobby gave it his best, but by month’s end he still couldn’t quote all the Psalm. So, when it came his turn at the microphone, he walked up there and said, “The Lord is my shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

I like his theology. Christian, what perils are you facing today? What problems? What worries? What fears? No matter what they are, here’s what you need to do about them: Just play the role of a sheep! You see, you have Christ as your great Shepherd, and He knows the direction you need to take. So listen to Him and do whatever He tells you to do. Furthermore, He is your protector and your sustainer. So trust in Him that He is going to take wonderful care of you. A good shepherd never abandons his sheep, and Jesus will never abandon you, even if the times get tough.

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A Different Way to Preach the Gospel

An army private became a Christian and began to experience some persecution from his fellow soldiers. One rainy night he came in very tired and wet, but he still got down on his knees and prayed before he went to bed. That simple act greatly irritated his sergeant, and the sergeant launched two boots, covered in heavy mud, toward the private. One boot hit him on the right side of the head and the other one hit him on the left side. But the private kept right on praying. The next morning the sergeant found those boots beautifully polished and placed by the side of his bed. In his own words, he said, “I was saved that day.”

In 1 Peter 3:1, the Bible talks about how a Christian wife can win her unsaved husband to Christ without saying a word. The verse says:

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives. (N.K.J.V.)

It is this same principle that we see on display in the true story about the private and the sergeant. Christians can win people to Christ “without a word” by way of their deeds. There’s a famous quote that is attributed to Francis of Assisi, and it conveys this point very well. He said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

Posted in Character, Doing Good, Evangelism, Extending Forgiveness, Humility, Influence, Mercy, Persecution, Perseverance, Personal Holiness, Prayer, Salvation, Trials, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Chain Is Off

A mailman was given a new route. His first day he approached the mailbox of a home that had a big German shepherd crouched on the porch. When the mailman put his hand toward the mailbox, the dog started barking and jumped off the porch, clearing the front steps completely in a single bound. Instinctively, the mailman braced for the impact of being bitten, but as soon as the dog’s feet landed, it quickly returned to the porch and reassumed its crouched position.

It was then that the homeowner walked out to see why the dog had barked. The mailman explained what had happened and asked, “Why did he go back to the porch?” The homeowner answered, “Oh, we took his chain off yesterday and he hasn’t realized it yet.”

Sadly, many Christians haven’t realized yet that Jesus has set them free from the power of sin. As Jesus said,

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36, N.K.J.V.)

Likewise, Paul says in Galatians 5:1:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (N.K.J.V.)

So, Christian, do you have a certain sin with which you continue to struggle? Well, don’t you think it’s about time that you started walking in the power of Christ and living like someone who has been set free from that sin’s bondage? Frankly, until you do, you aren’t showing much more sense than that dog.

Posted in Backsliding, Change, Choices, Disobedience, Personal Holiness, Rebellion, Salvation, Sin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment