Friday, July 19, 2019

praying effectively: Serve the Lord Only (Matt.4)

(Matthew 4:8-11)  Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will: 
- that we worship the Lord God only (Mt.4:10, Lk.4:8)
- that we serve the Lord God only (Mt.4:10, Lk.4:8)

Today's prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to stay focused on You - every day - every  moment.  May we only worship You - and not someone else, or ourselves, or money, or leisure time, or... because who or what we worship is who or what we serve.  May everything we say and do be done with the motive of loving, serving and glorifying You.  Amen.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

praying effectively: Be a Humble Servant (Lk.17:5-10, Matt.23:8-12)

(Luke 17:5-10)  The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

(Matthew 23:8-12)  But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:
- that we do not call ourselves Rabbi, teacher, or leader because Jesus is the only Rabbi, Teacher, Leader (Mt.23:8, 10)
- that we are humble servants (Mt.23:11-12)
- that we do ALL the things which are commanded (Lk.17:10)
- that we do not call anyone else father, because God is our only Father (Mt.23:9)

Today's prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus - - - wow!  I am humbled at seeing a little more clearly how my serving You and serving others should not just be done out of love or a feeling resembling love, but it IS a command and therefore an obligation - a duty - and I should say - a privilege to serve.  Not only because You are God and Creator of everything, but as the great Leader and Teacher, You lead by example.  

You did not have to, but You humbled Yourself, and left Your throne in heaven to come down to earth to live among us.  You humbled Yourself by still remaining 100% God, yet becoming 100% man, born in a lowly stable eating trough.  And You humbled Yourself by going around teaching, healing and ministering to people... even when they rejected You.  And You humbled Yourself by dying on the cross for all sins - for all people, to provide salvation to those who accept Your free and most generous gift - even though many people will still reject You.  

Why would we not want to follow Your example and serve You?  I know from experience that there are blessings when we serve.  Help us to serve You will a humble and grateful attitude.  Help us discover what our spiritual gifts are in order to use them and be most effective in equipping the saints and spreading the gospel message.  Help us realize that "not knowing what our spiritual gifts are" is not an excuse to avoid serving.  Guide us to what makes sense for us.  Give us courage and confidence, to try different ministries until we find "our thing/s".  Give us wisdom and patience as we learn along the way.  And give us Your joy when we are being obedient.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

praying effectively: Love the Lord (Mk.12, Mt.22)

(Mark 12:29-30)  Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

(Matthew 22:37-38)  And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:  that we love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind (Mt.22:37-38, Mk.12:30)

Today's prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, as we focus our studies right now on what Your will is - here it is - plain and simple - the most important thing is to love You.  Because You first loved us, help us to love You more, and more.  Help us to always put You first in every aspect of our lives.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

praying effectively: Know and Follow Jesus (John 8, 10, 12)

(John 8:31-58)  So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you continue in My wordthen you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Mefor I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keepMy word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
(John 10:1-4)  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

(John 10:7-30)  So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enterthrough Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
19 A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. 24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
(John 12:44-50)  And Jesus cried out and said, He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believein Me will not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:
- that we have to be righteous in order to go to heaven (8:51)
- that God sent Jesus to accomplish the work on the cross in order to make eternal life available to anyone who believes and takes on the righteousness of Jesus (12:49-50)
- that we hear the words of God (8:47)
- that we hear the voice of Jesus (10:3, 27)
- that we go to Jesus who is the only door to heaven and eternal life (10:9-10)
- that we believe in Jesus (12:46)
- that we know Jesus (10:14)
- that we continue in studying and following Jesus' words (8:31-32, 10:27)
- that we love Jesus (8:42)

Today's prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your work on the cross, and for Your righteousness.  As believers, even though we have eternal security, may we never take You for granted.  May we constantly desire to seek to better know You and Your words.  May we constantly desire to remain steadfast and obedient.  May we always recognize Your words and Your voice so as not to be deceived.  Protect us from evil and the darkness.  Guide us to fruitfulness in Your light.  Amen.

Monday, July 15, 2019

praying effectively: Believe that Jesus is God (John 14:6-12)

(John 14:6-12)  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:  that we believe Jesus is God, and believe in Jesus and the work He did on the cross (14:11)

Today's prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You so much that You came to earth to pay the price for sins;  as well as to show Yourself to the world so that there would be eyewitnesses of the miracles You are able to do, and the love that You show for all people.  Convict the hearts and minds of unbelievers to see and understand their need for You.

Help all believers to fully understand that You are God, and that we have Your Spirit in us, and therefore we have access to Your peace, joy, strength, wisdom, guidance... - when we go to You and ask - when we work on having a closer relationship with You...  because You never force Yourself on anyone.  But why would anyone not want You to be working in their lives?  Work in my life, and use me.  Help me understand and be obedient to Your will.  Amen.