Prayer is a Christian’s most powerful means of effecting change in our own life, the life of those around us, and in the world. Having said that, there are some caveats to bear in mind.
- Most importantly, when we pray we must have a right standing with God. We cannot expect God to heed our requests if we are living in rebellion to Him.
- We must pray in accordance with God’s will.
- We are to pray with confidence, knowing that, as long as 1 and 2 are true, God has already granted our request and it will come to pass in our physical world.
- We are to be persistent in our prayers; accepting that, as humans, our perception of time and the world around us are limited. God may well be at work granting our request but in His own time and His own way to maximize the benefit.
Continue reading Ask, Seek, Knock in Prayer
Each of the four gospels tells about the ministry of Jesus, but each comes at the story from a different angle, being aimed at a different audience, and for a different purpose.
Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as Jesus walking along the sea shore encountering a group of fishermen cleaning up after a night of fishing, and shouting, “Follow me!” Peter, Andrew, James, and John immediately abandon their boats and nets and fall in behind Jesus – seemingly without a clue of who Jesus was or why they were going with Him.
Luke goes into much more detail, starting with Jesus going home with Peter (then called Simon) for a meal and healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. In a later incident, Jesus was teaching one morning along the sea shore where these four fishermen were mending and drying their nets. He asks Peter to take Him in his boat out a short distance from shore so He could speak without the crowds pressing in around him. Peter complies. Afterward, Jesus tells Peter to let his nets down for a catch. Continue reading Stepping Stones
You have heard it said that money is the root of all evil: that is incorrect. Money, wealth, possessions themselves are not evil, but the pursuit of these things: greed, spawns evil. For where our treasure lies, here also will be our heart.
What is treasure?
The traditional image of treasure being chests of coins and jewels is a little archaic for a modern discussion of this topic. Today’s treasure tends to be comprised of things like a fat bank account (modern-day equivalent of a chest of coins), a big fancy home, a snazzy car, a killer wardrobe, and all the latest tech toys. When taken individually they may not seem terribly imposing, but when taken en masse they can indicate a problem.
The real question becomes one of want vs need and where your focus lies. Matthew 6 says: Continue reading Where Your Treasure Lies
Many years ago I built a pair of English Garden Benches to go in a therapy garden at a church. When I delivered them they spoke of having plaques made and attached that quoted Matthew 11:28 “Come unto Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” I don’t know if that was ever done, but it seemed like a nice idea.
A comfy bench can give rest for the body, but how do we find rest for a weary soul? The rest of the passage quoted above holds the key. Let’s look at that today.
Continue reading Finding Rest for Your Soul
When people are asked what would make them happy, many think of things that involve possessions, wealth, fame, or power. To some, these things bring a fleeting sort of happiness. But pursuit of these things always becomes just that: a pursuit, an on-going chase. A little makes you want more. Then more. And more. This is not happiness.
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells his disciples the simple formula for being happy. Let’s take a look at verses 5 through 10. Jesus begins each verse with “Blessed are” (actually the “are”s were added later by translators, originally Jesus said, “Blessed, the meek”, “Blessed, the merciful”) and so on. The word translated as “blessed” is the Greek word, makarios, which means “supremely blesst, fortunate, well-off”. It is closely related to another form, “makarizo” which indicates large in size or length. He is not talking about being a little blessed, but being hugely, supremely blessed! Continue reading How to Be Happy:
According to Jesus
About two weeks ago I engaged in a discussion about evidence that Jesus lived with a fellow through social media. Because it was on social media I was able to record our back and forth verbatim. It was a good discussion: he made some good points and it never degraded into mean-spirited argument (as so many do).
This topic branched off from a discussion with others about how silly religion in general is with all its rules and clouded, conflicting information. Here is our discussion: he is Bruce, I am Doug.
Bruce: So how do you know which parts of the bible, if any, to believe? Perhaps all of it is a creation of men. After all, there is not one single contemporary account that Jesus ever existed, not one. Continue reading Is There Any Evidence That Jesus Lived?
There is a tendency to get caught up with the complexities of church responsibilities: Bible-reading programs, cataloging spiritual gifts, and reading books that offer seven easy steps to this or ten quick steps to achieving that. However, paying too much attention to even good things prevents us from focusing on what really matters: Jesus Christ. We forget to keep it simple.
In 1 John, John says: Let me keep it simple for you; walk with Jesus. Cling to your faith. Stay in the light. When you sin, confess it and move on. Show your love for Jesus by loving your brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is not a modern phenomenon. It was the same when the Apostle John walked the earth. It is why he wrote this book. I have previously written about 1 John as the Quick Start Card for the Bible; the best place for new Christians to start reading the Bible, or for established Christians who have finally decided to start learning their Bible. 1 John 1:4 – 2:2 says: Don’t let go of the joy! Continue reading John Says, “Keep It Simple”
Mankind has always been, at least in part, an imaginary people. Modern man: more so. The proliferation of social media makes this easy.
To the degree that each of us manages an image, we are imaginary people. If you have a gazillion “friends” or “followers” on social media but those people follow because of a persona you made up and maintain; you are (mostly) an imaginary person. If no one knows what you are really like, then they don’t like you, they like a persona you created.
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it easy for us to build up a particular image. We can forward or re-post funny, encouraging, upbeat things even if we are not funny, encouraging, or up-beat people. On social media we can be what others expect us to be or what we wish we were. But when we put on that mask, we become imaginary people, for we are not representing who we really are inside. Continue reading About Imaginary People
It seems our nation is becoming more and more divided as large groups of people focus on and become vocal about their own personal desires. Divisions are forming as social groups form up on one side or the other of many issues. A large part of this divisiveness involves media and pundits attacking our leaders. At city, county, state, and national levels, leadership is under attack.
We as Christians need to refrain from bad-mouthing our leaders. The Bible calls this murmuring, and condemns it. The word translated as murmur is also used as “complain” or “grumble” and refers to the grousing of people to one another rather than addressing the issue directly. Continue reading Praying For Our Leaders
The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica was primarily to assure them that believers who died before Jesus returned would be taken up, and to answer some questions. This was needed because when the Jewish leaders learned that Paul was teaching in this city, they incited the gentile population, persecuted the church, and drove Paul and his traveling companions out before they could teach the Thessalonians much about living as a believer.
They left behind a fledgling church. It was not uncommon for Paul to spend 2 or 3 years teaching a newly planted church how to live as followers of The Way (Christians) but he didn’t get that chance this time. Before fleeing, Paul appointed the men with the strongest faith to be leaders over the new congregation and promised to return as soon as was possible.
Outsiders were attempting to infiltrate the young church and turn them from the Gospel, so Paul wrote to them to answer the allegations being made and to encourage the church to stand strong in faith: to test new teaching against the scripture, to trust their leaders.
In chapter 5:14-15 Paul says, Continue reading Instruction for the Persecuted Church