Our Petitions Fulfilled…

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1 John 5:13-15 (KJV)

13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

In response to our prayers, the Lord uses His power to penetrate closed minds and hard hearts.

In that way, He brings people to salvation and transforms unrighteous lives.

We all want our petitions fulfilled, so it is important to understand God’s conditions for answered prayer.

Besides having a relationship with Him (John 3:3) and confessing all known sin, we must have faith that His Word is true and His promises reliable.

The Bible, which was divinely written by God through man, is without error. In this amazing book, the Lord reveals His nature—holy, sovereign, and perfect—and presents His plan of salvation (Rom. 10:9).

Because God’s promises are based on His perfect character, we can be certain He will do what He says; otherwise He would not be God. And Jesus’ promises can be trusted because He always spoke the Father’s words (John 12:49).

Another condition is that we ask according to the Lord’s purposes.

We’re to pray for things that are in keeping with His divine plan and character.

God wants us to discern His will, to pray for it to be carried out, and to do whatever our part might be in its fulfillment (Matt. 6:9-10).

The Holy Spirit will help us know what to pray. And as we consider which petitions to make, we should ask ourselves,

Is my request based on God’s Word? How will an answer to this prayer bring me or someone else closer to Him?

It takes an investment of time to meet God’s requirements for prayer.

But in response, He will provide answers beyond anything we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

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Contagious Joy…

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1 John 1:1-4 (KJV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.”

When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma in order to share the good news with others.

Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone.

The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of.

When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, “I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”

When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together.

Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him–it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers.

In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness.

And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have.

In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.

Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent.

It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image.

As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be “fruit” of His indwelling presence.

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Anticipation and Trust…

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John 14:12-14 (KJV)

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Jesus taught many things about prayer and its central role in a believer’s life.

He also promised that our petitions will be answered when we meet certain requirements.

One condition is mentioned in John 14:14:

After receiving Christ as our personal Savior, we have the right to present requests in Jesus’ name, which means praying something that the Lord Himself might pray.

To exercise this privilege, we must come to the Father, depending not on our own good works or character but on the merits of Christ alone.

Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only basis for approaching God and being assured of receiving an answer to our petitions.

A second requirement is separation from all known sin. 

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” This refers to ungodly behaviors and thought patterns that we know are wrong but refuse to give up.

Remember, God looks at our own heart attitude.

If we struggle against our sinful ways, grieve over them, and ask for forgiveness, He will hear our cries and respond. But when He sees a hard heart,

He is not obligated to listen.

Next time you pray, start with words of praise to God for His sacrificial love and gratitude to Jesus for dying in your place (1 John 4:10).

Express that you understand why your prayers are heard—because you have a relationship with the Father through Christ, and not because of anything you have done.

Confess all known sin and ask for forgiveness. Then present your requests to God with anticipation and trust His answers.

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The Hardest Disciplines…

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Genesis 12:10-20 (KJV)

10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Learning to walk by faith requires time.

As we have seen, Abraham listened to God and obeyed Him. Then over the years he learned to master additional skills.

Dependence.

The Christian life is one of reliance upon God.

From the very start, Abraham recognized that his own knowledge was limited and the right way was not obvious. But he understood whom he could trust to meet his needs: God knew the plan perfectly and had all the necessary resources to accomplish His will through Abraham.

Waiting on God.

This can be one of the hardest disciplines to master.

Scripture shows that even Abraham, the great man of faith, had trouble in this area. While our human nature wants action, the Lord often asks His people to hold back (2 Chronicles 20:17). He wants us to let Him act first. Our part is to meditate on the Word, listen for God’s voice, and hold off until He instructs us to act. The Lord, meanwhile, promises to bless those who wait (Isa. 64:4).

Confession.

Abraham was not perfect.

When famine threatened, he headed toward Egypt, not toward God. Then he lied, which made trouble for others. Later, Sarah found it too hard to wait for the promised child, so she and Abraham took matters into their own hands (Gen. 16:1-3). We also will stumble. But when we return to the Lord in repentance and acknowledge our failure, we will receive forgiveness and can resume walking by faith.

God knows we are imperfect people.

He will patiently and repeatedly teach us faith-walking lessons until we learn to trust Him.

We just have to maintain responsive hearts and teachable spirits.

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Fitting Into Our Preferences…

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1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (KJV)’

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

After exposing the futility of worldly thinking in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul introduces Christians to the higher realm of godly wisdom.

This kind of knowledge and understanding isn’t available through human intelligence and reasoning; it comes strictly through divine revelation.

Only those indwelt by God’s Spirit have “the mind of Christ” (v. 16) and access to “the things freely given” to them by God (v. 12).

Without this supernatural insight, no one can accurately know the Lord or His ways.

Many people say they believe in God yet may not have a correct understanding of Him because their perceptions are based on their own thoughts and ideas.

It’s easier to custom-design a god to fit our preferences than to make the required adjustments that worship of the one true God demands.

Even believers need to guard against trying to fit God into their preconceived image of Him.

The Bible is the only reliable source of divine revelation, but we must be careful to consider the Scriptures as a whole–it’s critical that we don’t just pick and choose the verses we want to believe.

For example, by focusing only on passages that emphasize the Lord’s lovingkindness while excluding those that speak of His holiness and justice, we misunderstand His true nature.

Let’s seek to know the Lord in truth by considering the entire counsel of Scripture.

Divine wisdom is available to every believer through the Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God. May we never try to limit Him to fit our preferences.

Instead, may He enlarge our minds to embrace His thoughts.

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The Battle Between Faith and Human Reason…

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1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (KJV)

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

The first battle between faith and human reason took place in the garden of Eden.

Spurred on by the lies of the serpent, Eve began to look at her situation from a purely logical perspective and decided she was being cheated by God out of something good.

Her faith faltered as “reasonable” thoughts of self-interest filled her mind.

I am not saying that the way of faith is never logical, but by operating only on the basis of reason, a conflict with the Lord is inevitable.

The reason is that His instructions and actions don’t always appear reasonable from a human perspective.

Although Isaiah 55:8-9 describes God’s thoughts and ways as higher than man’s, many people judge divine ideas to be lower than human intelligence.

Paul emphasizes this when he points out that God’s choices are illogical by the world’s standards.

His message of salvation seems foolish, and His messengers appear weak and unimpressive.

In an age that thrives on recognition, admiration, and importance, a person who believes the Bible is considered a weakling in need of a religious crutch to cope with life.

While this description is given in derision, it’s actually quite accurate.

Recognizing their helplessness, believers lean on Christ so He can raise them to stand with Him in righteousness.

That day in Eden, sin and self-importance entered the human heart. But all the worldly wisdom that fuels our pride is nullified by God. He is looking not for great and impressive people but for weak, humble servants who can boast only in Christ.

The Savior alone is their strength and wisdom

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Faith-walking …

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Genesis 12:1-9 (KJV)

1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.plain: Heb. plains
7 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth–el, and pitched his tent, having Beth–el on the west, and Ai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

We all know people who live according to their own desires and natural abilities.

Sometimes we do it too.

But as children of God, believers are called to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

That means we are to live based on a confident assurance that the Lord is true to His character and keeps every promise.

In the school of faith-walking, the first skill to master is listening.

Because God’s Word is essential to our hearing from Him, we must cultivate the habit of biblical meditation.

Through it, we will hear God’s Spirit speak to ours, illuminating the meaning of Scripture and showing us how to apply its truths to our circumstances.

But recognizing the inner voice of the Holy Spirit does not come automatically; it takes practice.

A second skill to acquire is obedience—carrying out what the Lord commands and then doing it His way, in His time.

Abraham left his homeland just as God commanded, but he “adjusted” the divine plan by bringing Lot along (Gen. 12:4).

The life of faith is one of submission to God’s requests, methods, and time frames.

As our listening skills improve, our faith in the Father will deepen, our commitment to Him will grow, and complete obedience will become easier.

Faith-walking also involves remembering what happened when we obeyed God in the past—He communicates with us not only for today but also to teach us for the future.

Can you recall what He said to you last week?

Have you put it into practice?

Commit to being a better listener and a more obedient follower in the coming year.

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The Significance of Money…

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1 Timothy 6:6-11 (KJV)

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

The world attaches far more significance to money than God ever intended it to have.

Instead of simply being a means of exchange for goods and services, it has become an object of greed, a source of power and prestige, and a means of achieving status, happiness, and security.

With so many false hopes pinned to wealth, we must be careful not to fall for the lies.

Scripture not only warns us that placing too much importance on money is dangerous; it also advises us how to use wealth according to God’s purposes.

For personal needs.

God wants the able-bodied to earn money so they can meet personal and family needs (2 Thess. 3:10). Christians should live within their means so they won’t be a burden to others.

For God’s work.

Since everything we have comes from the Lord, He commanded us to give the first part of our income to Him as an act of obedience and gratitude (Prov. 3:9). Our contributions allow the gospel to be proclaimed both locally and internationally, changing the eternal destiny of countless people.

For helping others.

The Lord commands us to share what we have when someone experiences a financial crisis and is truly in need (Prov. 19:17). God never overlooks generosity and promises to repay us.

The important thing isn’t how much money we have but whether we’re using it as the Lord commands.

Acquiring more is never the way to achieve happiness and security.

Yet as we obey God’s instructions about finances, we’ll find the joy and contentment our hearts truly desire.

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