"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, September 13, 2013

A STUDY in ACTS TWO: 42 - 4th of 4 FACETS in the FUNCTION of the CHURCH



Let’s start off by reading some quotes about prayer . . .

“Work as if you were to live for a 100 years, pray as if you would die tomorrow.”
~ Ben Franklin

“Every great movement can be traced to a kneeling prayer”
~ D.L. Moody

“Our prayers must mean something to us before they be anything to God”
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.”

~ Oswald Chambers

“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is a greater thing”
~ E.M. Bounds

“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on their knees.”
~ Unknown

“I would rather teach one man to pray, than ten men to preach.”
~ Charles Spurgeon


I Want to Address Six Points About Prayer:

1. You must come in prayer having a right relationship with God:

Prayer is the greatest gift man can have!
The richest person cannot give you anything that can equal prayer. To talk with the One that spoke this world into existence; Who commanded and the foundations of this world were created; He spoke and created animals, the stars, and man; He Who commanded the Red Sea to part so that the children of Israel could pass through – this God has given us the privilege of prayer!

In the Old Testament times, in the Tabernacle of God, nobody came into the place of the holy of holies; just the high priest once a year (Yom Kipur), and he came in with the blood of the atonement for the sins of the nation. This was a picture of heaven (HEB 9:16-28).

The Priest would have to be cleansed, and without sin, otherwise he would die! Nobody can come into His presence unless he is perfect. However, nobody is perfect, because we are all sinners: ROM 3:23 (For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).
Yet the LORD Jesus Christ died on the cross, He shed His blood, and now through Him you can be authorized with the privilege of coming into His presence, to the very Throne of God (HEB 4:16)!

When a mother sheep died, and had a baby lamb that needed milk, you couldn’t give that lamb to another mother (whose own lamb died); she would not accept it. So what the shepherds would do is to cut some of the wool off the dead baby lamb from that mother and put it on the live baby lamb, and the mother would smell the lamb and say come on in and be comforted and nourished.

Likewise we can now come in to the holy of holies since Jesus covered you by His blood. Its through His Name you are saved and we become members of the Good Shepherd’s sheepfold!

JOHN 14:12-14
Most assuredly, 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 My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it

Nobody has the right to come into the presence of God, no matter how good they feel. Only through Jesus Christ you come in. You come humbly in the Name of Jesus in humility.

2a. You have to come in the Presence of God having a right relationship with people:

MARK 11:22-26
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Whenever you pray for anything you must have the right heart before you can pray. Whatever happened today forgive that person tonight so that your prayers won’t be hindered. God gives us His forgiveness so don’t be a ‘get even’ person, be a forgiveness person.

[Note from J. Fire: I always remember this admonition from a pastor I once knew – “Before you even have the chance to get up out of bed, settle it in your heart beforehand that long before anyone offends you during the day, you have determined that just as Christ has forgiven you all trespasses, that you will likewise forgive them, no matter what, for Christ’s sake.”
There are those who believe that vs. 26 in the above texts is proof that salvation can be lost due to unforgiveness in the heart; yet note carefully that the familial relationship is not negated; it’s our heavenly Father that won’t forgive – yet no one can call God “Father” unless they are born of His Spirit; what is lost here is not oneness in Christ by His Spirit, or “communion”; rather fellowship due to sin. Fellowship can only be restored by acknowledgement of sin and repentance from it.]

1 PETER 3:7

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

2b. You need to have right relationships with those closest to you! They have to be right before God! 

God observes everything; He hears you and sees your heart, so this short circuits your prayers when you harbor unforgiveness towards others.
It’s like you’re shooting blanks on the spiritual battlefield when you have unforgiveness in your heart and your prayers are then hindered. The way to reload is to go back to that person whoever they may be, admit and say you were wrong (repent and correct the issue)!
Humility is essential in being a man or women of God, such a person can expect answered prayer (PSALM 9:11-13; 1 PET 5:5). You have to be willing to go and search out that person until reconciliation is made.
Humility is painful but it is powerful. Proud people can’t do this; they walk in shame and experience a life of unanswered prayer.

3. You have to come in with a right request; that is, praying in accord with God’s holy will: 

JAMES 4:3-4 

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend [it] on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

God does not listen to His enemies who might petition Him in (vain) prayer. You are to have the right request not wrong ones. He will not do anything that will hurt another, or His kingdom, nor will God harm you by answering unwise prayers; He loves you!
Prayer is man knocking on God’s door; the knocking is expressed in asking and seeking. Jesus wants us to ask Him for things and to be persistent in asking and not give up.

LUKE 11:5-13

5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

We are to continue asking and knocking. This parable addresses a contrast about such a negative ‘grouchy guy’ to a loving Heavenly Father.

v.5-8 Three friends are here portrayed:
1. One is at home asleep.
2. Another arrives from journey.
3. One is asked for bread.

The first gets a knock on the door for a loaf of bread and he answers, “Leave me alone I am in bed already. Its midnight! The door is bolted shut.” Nobody would want to open the door. Nobody wants to get up once they’re sleeping.
“Importunity” in the Greek is only used here, nowhere else in NT; it means “persistence, shamelessness, no regard for others, rude”.

He did not give this man any bread because he liked him, or because he was a good friend but, because he wanted to get rid of him.
So the contrast is of attitude: this man gave from an attitude of being annoyed; but God gives to us from an attitude of love and because He is faithful to His Word.

2 TIMOTHY 2:13 

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

God’s faithfulness is not dependent on us; we are messed up people; He gives because of His nature of grace and love and tender mercies!
How much more would God give you being that He is a faithful, loving, and kind Father, and our chiefest Friend?

LUKE 11:9-10 

9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

“Ask seek and knock”, is a command to continue, constantly praying. Not that you can change God’s mind, or get Him to change His will to do ours. That is not the reason for prayer.

[Dave Hunt once observed that people believe they “can change God’s mind or get Him to do their will if they fast until the answer they want arrives; but that isn’t a prayerful fast, that’s a hunger strike!” J. Fire]

Two Reasons Why We Pray and Continue in them:

1. To show our dependency upon God - as we continue praying we are saying, God I can’t do this without You. So you cry out to God every day and night. It shows us we are insufficient; see 2 COR 3:5-6 (we are useless by ourselves. There is no good thing in you; that means nothing good can come from you).
2. It shows the faithfulness of God - it brings us to the place where God shows Himself faithful (LAM 3:23), as we continue praying and asking. He desires to bless you more then you want to be blessed. God desires to show Himself faithful in each of our lives.
LUKE 11:11-13

11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

We give good gifts to our children and we are evil (JER 17:9) how much more will our Holy and Benevolent Abba Father!

JAMES 1:17 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

4. When you pray have faith (trusting, believing).

MARK 11:23-24 

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

There is nothing impossible for God

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him

•Praising and worshiping God is a form of prayer (communicating to God) and will build your faith, (To enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; PSALM 100:4).
[Too often when we approach God in prayer, the need or burden seems so overwhelming, but the ‘giant’ isn’t as big as we think – we need the right perspective, and worship of God focuses our attention on Him: His almighty power and sovereignty and majesty. From these holy heights we then gain a proper perspective of our problems and realize from the LORD’s vantage point, these are not giants but midgets! J. Fire]

Learn the promises of God as found in His Word; this will also build your faith (ROM 10:17). [The Word of God works effectively in our hearts and lives as we sow abundantly with this sanctified seed of the Savior, and from such sowing we can expect abundant harvesting, some of such fruit will be found in the fruit of answered prayer! See 1 THESS 2:13; 2 COR 9:6; GAL 6:8).

5. You have to be able to listen to God in Obedience through Humility.

It’s not about just talking in your prayers but listening prayer. Just open your Bible and see what God has to say. God does not just want to be talked to. But also He wants to talk back to you [Communicating with God is a dialogue, not a monologue!]. Pray to glorify God, to increase your faith, to communicate with God!

-What was your focus today in getting ready to head out from your home and face the day? Was it your exercise program? Or perhaps it was fixing your hair? Checking your stocks and bonds? Getting on the phone and talking to your favorite person?
Or was it in getting into prayer to the Lord and focus our hearts in attention to His Word?
• He is a speaking God.
• Don’t be afraid to listen, when He says “stay!” then stay! Or if He says, “Go!” then go! Or “Speak!” then speak!

6. Hold on, continue praying! Never give up! When you start, continue!

Continue praying for family members, friends, all people till you die.
God is raising up an army; an army that marches as soldiers of the Cross, on our knees.

Some more considerations on prayer by James Fire based on:

LUKE 18:1-14
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? 9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Judges are people of power; by their decisions people’s lives are affected. In many cases the issues of life and death are in their hands. The widow approached this judge because she recognizes his authority, had confidence that he could help her, and didn’t divide her attention between petitioning him and some other recourse of action that might prove helpful.
In our prayer lives its essential that we recognize the authority of the LORD Jesus Christ, place total confidence in Him – no matter what He may decide, regardless if He answers our prayers to our liking or not – and to resort to Him alone and no other, if we are to see spiritual victory in our lives.

There seems a contradiction between the LORD who “bears long” with us who pray day and night, or even months and years (perhaps even decades) and with His promise that we will be avenged “speedily”.
Once again we must remember that we are creatures of time, and God is the God of eternity. From His vantage point all prayers throughout all history (past and future) are heard and answered already from His Holy Throne of Absolute and Sovereign Authority and Power. It’s we who struggle through the burden of our temporal existence and must endure this long distance race with patience (HEB 12:1).

God doesn’t always respond to our prayers based on our time table, thus we must persevere in prayer (or as the saints of former times would say, “pray it through!”).

On the issue of our prayers being heard of God, we have the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Its worthy of note to see who our LORD chose as the two examples in this parable: a Pharisee and a publican – the former revered and the latter despised in that society; one esteemed as being wholly worthy to have their prayers heard and the other not even having an audience with the Almighty.
And yet our LORD stated that it was the publican and not the Pharisee that was heard of God and was justified!

Look at this Pharisee praying, and carefully observe what it exactly states: “The Pharisee stood and prayed . . .” before God? No! “. . . thus with himself”! This religious man who made sure every Lawful ‘T’ was crossed and every “i” dotted had an audience of just one – and that wasn’t God! For this man who boasted of all that he did as proof of his righteousness; he compared himself to others and came out on top! He started listing his accomplishments and the way this is stated, one almost gets the idea that if not for the fact that he was ‘interrupted’ as our focus turned to the publican we would have heard a lot more of his self-righteous claims in a spirit of pride.

The publican however wouldn’t even lift up his head, but confessed his sinfulness in a spirit of humility.

Does this mean that God won’t hear us unless we humiliate ourselves and grovel before him long enough until He is satisfied?
Cynics and atheists have long made this claim based on this passage, but this just isn’t the case. People have the wrong idea about humbleness. Humbleness isn’t about thinking of yourself lowlier than you really are (that would be a lie) – it’s thinking clearly about what exactly you are and that in the Light of God’s holiness.

It’s true that I am an absolute sinner, unworthy of God or even a moment of His time; and that I am entirely worthy of hell and eternal punishment based upon ‘my own merit and righteousness’ (a real fantasy)!
It’s also true that I am a saint, a child of God, seen by the Father as completely holy and in just as much right standing before Him as His own Begotten Son, the LORD Jesus Christ – based NOT upon my merit, but on that merit which is Christ’s – transferred to my account by His supreme sacrifice on the Cross! I can say both statements with absolute humbleness and my prayers are heard of the GOD of all creation.

So in our prayer lives – let’s remember in addition to what Joshua Boubion taught about these and all the other important points, these two primary factors for spiritual victory in our prayer closets: perseverance and humbleness!

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