Friday, May 18, 2018

JOHN 3:16, PART 2 - "JESUS LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW"

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)
The previous portion of John Chapter 3 presented the foundational thinking of the Lord, as He reasoned with Nicodemus. Jesus spoke from the Law of Moses to talk about His pending appointment with the Cross, and the wellspring of eternal life which pours from it. This incredible conversation with the Teacher or Head Rabbi of Israel then tops off with John 3:16, the Bible verse which has captured the imagination of millions alive right now. It is more than important for us to examine the verse, not just in its entirety, but phrase by significant phrase to grasp what the Lord is saying. Each word therein, means the world to the salvation of those who put their faith and trust in Jesus, as Lord and Savior. These words are words of life, to us who believe.

JOHN 3:16 - IN DEPTH:
FOR GOD – In this manner or because He (the Lord) set His mind to ….
LOVED SO MUCH – The proof of God’s LOVE – AGAPE- is the many times He says He wishes all to come to repentance and faith. God did not create hell for people. Hell was created for the devil and his angels. People choose to go to hell due to their rebellion and turning away from God. But this love of God, this Agape, means one thing: God so wants the best for us, because He truly loves us, that He did what He did. The essence of God’s love here in John 3:16 is “agape”. This is a love so strong and divine that it only wants the best for another. Therefore if God is so for us, and only want the best for us, there is no one else ever in Creation, who can top this love!

THE WORLD – the world here means ALL the inhabitants of this planet…as in ALL. This renders incorrect the notion that Jesus only died for certain people or the Elect. Jesus gave His life on the Cross for the pagan politician, the dangerous drug dealer, the promiscuous prostitute, the pompous professor and the diabolical dictator as well as the nice, loving grandmother down the street who would not hurt a fly.  Of all of these, the good grandma, or the screaming, yet hardworking soccer mom or football dad, are the most difficult to convince they need to submit their lives to the Lordship of Christ. Even more dangerous for them, is their self-deception of their own “goodness” and that’s all they need, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the world of free choice, into which God the Father made His free offer of Salvation.

THAT HE GAVE – this is a powerful phrase. Sure, God GAVE, but in this word “gave”, therein contains more than one person “giving” or handing off the baton or a ball to the other person. In this offer, this word specifically implies that the Lord set in place an offer which is open to all, who will believe, from the moment Jesus said it, until the end of time. In terms of language, it is something called the "aorist tense" in the original New Testament language. To paraphrase, it is the gift that keeps on giving....for 2000 years now. This offer was permanently set in place for everyone, and reveals a level of thinking and love which no human, ever born, will comprehend this side of heaven.

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON – This is no ordinary son. This is the unique, one of a kind Entity of the Universe. He is not a Son like you or I or our sons of our earthly parents. God’s “only begotten Son” is one Who is literally in the likeness and characteristics of our Heavenly Father. You may say that our son or child is made in our likenesses, but the offspring of humans carries the DNA of both mother and father.  Jesus, Who is God, is the Only self-existent Being in all Eternity and Creation, Who ONLY has the likeness of ONE Person – God the Father. This distinction is confirmed in Philippians 2:6 where the Bible reminds us that Jesus the Man, did not consider “equality with God a thing to be grasped”. So we know He Who was born of a woman to fulfill God’s plan of Redemption, was FIRST of all – God.

THAT WHOEVER – Whoever, to the plain eye, means what it says – “whoever”. However, whoever, in this carefully chosen word by the Holy Spirit,  means more. The original word “pas” means a lot more than all people.  It means ALL people on a CONTINUAL basis! That is, until the end of time. As century after century of the past two thousand years go by, this standing offer or order from Heaven than the Free Offer and Gift of Salvation is open, it remains that way.  Whoever (or whosoever in the King James Version) always mean all kinds of people, from all kinds of countries, backgrounds, races, levels of society etc. have the same privilege of this offer – if they wish to accept it.  When we have a chance to ponder this truth, it is absolutely a stunning thing, which only the Divine can engineer.

BELIEVES IN HIM –  A person cannot believe in the Son of God as the Savior, without a knowledge of the Gospel, our own sin and therefore, our need for a Savior. Sin is the common denominator of the equation of confession and salvation. Jesus Himself laid in out in the first gospel ever written, which is the Book of Mark. This gospel was written down by a follower of Jesus – John Mark – who wrote down the words of Peter  - yes, this Peter! In Mark 1:15, Jesus said “the time is here, the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel”. What He is talking about here, in the word "belief" is complete Trust and Faith in Him – the Son Who is himself, God.

It takes Faith to live daily life in general. It takes faith to deposit all your paycheck in a bank, and then depend 100% on it being there next week if you need to withdraw all to pay for a massive car repair bell. It takes faith to put your key in the ignition of your car, turn it and then expect the car to start. Almost everything in life runs on the engine of faith.  Yet, the most important thing – our destination after this brief life – is giving brief or no attention by the majority of this world.  

We are not talking about tradition, liturgy or religion. Belief and Faith in the One True God is what all of this is about. The Heavens declare the Glory of God. All Creation all around us testify to His power and imagination to create and maintain. We have all of this and the evidence to believe. All that is left is to now, believe in the Creator. The “Whoever”  believes will be called a son or daughter of God, bound for Glory. God has embedded eternity in the souls of EVERY person ever born. That means the atheist as well as believer. The offer is to both…even up to the point of death. Knowing this, it all comes down to Who (or what) do people put all their trust, faith and belief in.

SHALL NOT PERISH -  Everything on this side of eternity has an expiration date. The exquisite, excellent, expensive meal we plan for weeks and prepare so carefully for, when it is time for a celebration, not only is gone within minutes and just a good memory hours later, but is gone from the system within a day.  Food has expiration dates. The Bavarian Motor Works car company has a certain extended period of time where it works before it just stops (BMW).  The fresh bright colors of our hair has a time when it is in its natural color before we ALL turn grey and old. Using expensive hair colors never cover up the fact that there is grey under there. Everything expires, including our bodies. 

The bible says there is a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2). We can work out 4-5 times a week in the gym; bike ride for miles every weekend and eat gluten-free and kale daily…and we are still going to die.  There is another thing about this passing from life and here is where the most serious business resides. It is appointed for men (mankind in general) to die once, and then the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).  This is a big problem for the majority of human beings, who pay no attention to what the Lord actually requires to entire the Eternal Realm after this brief life is over.  It is one thing to permanently leave this fragile earth but this is just the beginning. Every human being is created with eternity in his/her heart and will spend it somewhere. Even the lost know that this world is in the last days, because this is how God made us.  So wouldn’t people want to discover the better place to spend Eternity? 

The reason is simple, yet multi-fold. For reasons known to sinful humans, they do not believe God. They know there was a man named Jesus, but only care about holding Him at an arm’s length and joining in the celebration of Christmas and Easter (observances of His birth and Resurrection). Instead of embracing the Holy Trinity, they come down on the side of the "unholy trinity", which is Me, Myself and I. 

If you ask anyone, in the majority of the population, even INSIDE the church walls, if they’re going to Heaven, the answer would be a resounding YES! If you follow up with the question of WHY they believe they’re heaven-born after this life is over, the response would include things like " it will all work out in the end". There is absolutely no basis for this dangerous (for them) thinking and “belief”. Many say they believe God but not Jesus. Read all four gospels of the New Testament about those who constantly repeated such falsehood, and then see what Jesus said to them. It was all condemnation. Sadly, those who ignore Jesus as Lord and Savior, will suffer eternal separation and punishment from God, for which there is no end.

BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE: They are many baby girls with the name, Zoe, who are not aware that their names mean "life". Think of the exhilaration we feel on a wedding day of a loved one (or others); or the birth of our first baby or when we first came to know the Lord as our Savior. Think of the most exciting thing you have ever done. Now, take this same feeling and multiply it by infinity, plated with the purest of God and divine joy - and you have the basic description of Eternal Life. 

Eternal, by its very biblical definition, is the main characteristic of God. The Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have always existed, from eternity past and will always exist, into eternity future. This will only be clearer, as to the how, when and why, when we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that would be. When we all see Jesus, we will shout and sing the victory....the victory of knowing we are partakers in a forever life, which is this unfathomable!


Eternity (from whence we get the word eon) is both inside and outside the time dimension. It is outside in the sense of eternity past. We have absolutely no idea what took place, outside of the pages of Scripture, before the formation of the Earth. All we know is God, in the form of the Trinity, existed. Eternity inside of our time dimension is the present.  

The incredible thing is when at the point of conversion, from lost sinner to redeemed, born-again child of God, we immediately inherit the system which contains both dimensions. We inherit the knowledge and benefits of Eternity Past, to the Present and to Eternity future! We inherit the extremely divine quality of Godly living right here on earth, if we grow in the maturity of the Scriptures and in knowledge of the Lord. This is the process of Sanctification. We possess Christ and Eternal Life NOW, when we are born-again. We are now in the eternal realm of God and the holy angels. Then, at the point of our death, the very Gates of Heaven will open up to us, as the Lord receives us into His Royal and Eternal Home, simply because, we received Jesus Christ and the free gift of Eternal Life, into our own lives. 

None of this would have been possible, if God did not so love the world, that He gave. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

JOHN 3:16 - PART 1...."FIRST, THE BACK STORY"

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
We have seen it in the end zone at football or baseball games. We see it on the helmets of sports figures or written in permanent marker on their shoes. It shows up on Christian T-shirts, wristbands and all kinds of apparel. It even makes for living room artwork on canvas or matte photographic paper.

It is the most popular Bible verse in the world: John 3:16. It is so, for a very good reason.  It perfectly defines and loudly proclaims, the plan of redemption for a world which got off on the wrong foot, almost from its very beginning.  It is the verse in the Bible which is responsible, most likely, for many a lost and drifting soul to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. It is the verse which is the epitome of the perfect love (agape) which God has for ALL His people, regardless of our station in life. It is the verse which also delineates the Creator of the world from His sinful creation so that we can all participate in the incredible offer of eternal life.

A closer look at the positioning of John 3:16 by the Holy Spirit reveals the very thought process of God. Our Heavenly Father is One Who has always been reasonable and called unredeemed mankind to come talk to Him and to reason. He said so in Isaiah.

At the opening of the famed Gospel of John Chapter 3, we see the Jesus the Messiah speaking to one of the main religious leaders in Jerusalem. This man, Nicodemus, was not just a priest but was called ‘The Teacher of Israel” by the Lord Jesus. Nicodemus would be similar to a version of the local “big church” pastor in town, whom the weekly newspaper would go to for a quote if something significant happened in the school or town council which affected daily community life. The difference here is that Nicodemus was supposed to not just know the Scriptures, which were only our Old Testament at the time, but to know what God’s Word meant. Back then nobody except the Temple priests and scholars had copies of the Scriptures. The majority of the people were at their mercy at all times, since the Bible was not yet put together in the form it is today.

In John Chapter 3, verse 3, Jesus answered Nicodemus’ compliment of Him as being sent from God, with the bold truth of spiritual rebirth. Today, we know that to become a real Christian is not to be born into a Christian family but to be born again, or saved through seeking God’s forgiveness and accepting/receiving Jesus as Savior and the Lord of our lives. To the Pharisee Nicodemus, it was “keeping the Ten Commandments and all the 613 Hebrew laws of the First Five Books of the Bible (the Torah), PLUS all the traditions and rules added on by centuries of religious leaders, with nothing much to do. He was all religion, all the time.

Into this worldview,  Jesus shot the equivalent of a nuclear missile through the theological hat of the religious. Like many today, the “Teacher of Israel” (who later became a stealth disciple of Jesus), knew the LETTER of the Law, like any other Pharisee. What he and the other priests did not know, was the heart and spirit of the Law of God (The Scriptures, the Oracles of God).

This is how he missed what Moses was talking about. His (pre-converted) heart and those of all the Scribes, Pharisees and the Jewish Supreme Court (Sanhedrin) were all alike. They took the letter of the Law and created hard man-made rules that they themselves could not keep, yet they forced it on their people. Jesus dealt with all of this in Matthew 23. However, for now, in John Chapter 3, the Lord focused on the Message of the Gospel going back to the same Moses whom the Pharisees said they loved. None of them, and none of US, before the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, could begin to fathom one syllable of a Word from Heaven.

This is the background against which Jesus the Lord, shared the most important part of His Mission on earth and the reason for it. Jesus again drew on Moses to draw the visual for future believers and to give Nicodemus an illustration of the reason for stepping off the Throne of Heaven, to come down to earth.

John 3:14 tells us what happened when God told Moses to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole, as a standard. This brass serpent on a pole was decreed by God as the antidote to an epidemic of fiery poisonous snake bites, that was killing a huge amount of Israelites in the desert (see Numbers 21:1-9). Those bitten were rebellious against God and had sinned horribly against Him.  They begged Moses to pray to the Lord that He may relent and not kill them. After this is was accomplished, the Lord said that anyone who looked at the brass serpent on the pole, after being bitten by the fiery serpents, will live.

Jesus drew this reference to the brass serpent in order to give the chief Rabbi of the Jerusalem religious sect THE most important insight on the Scriptures so far – Jesus’ Upcoming Crucifixion and its significance!

The discourse between the Son of God and Nicodemus most likely lasted longer than recorded in the Gospel of John. In fact, Nicodemus used to sneak away many times to speak with the Messiah which would later lead to his salvation. Legend has it that, not too long after the Resurrection, Nicodemus was seen fleeing Jerusalem, after being excommunicated by the Pharisees.

Jesus was showing, from this precursor to the Cross – the brass serpent on the pole – that God’s love to save rebels and ingrates was so strong in the desert that He, (the Father), went WAY beyond that and GAVE His Own Son, Who was also sitting on the Eternal Throne, as a sacrifice for all people, of all time.

Then Jesus said something which would absolutely confuse not just Nicodemus at that time, but all unsaved people of all time, who do not really know what John 3:16 really means. Jesus talked about His own death to a man who most likely could not fathom it. After all, Jesus the popular miracle-working Rabbi was alive and well, sitting right in front of him (Nicodemus). What does all this talk about “the Son of Man being lifted up” (verse 15) mean?

Today, all truly saved biblically-grounded Christians know that Jesus’ “lifting up” or death on the Cross, as the Ultimate Sacrifice, is prophesied explicitly in the Old Testament.  Psalm 22 describes Jesus Christ’s actual agony, from HIS point of view, while He was close to physical death on the Cross. Then,  Isaiah 53 points to the Suffering Savior Who gave it all for us sheep to such a graphic extent (as does Psalm 22) that a true student of the Scriptures could discern them.

A complete understanding of what the Lord meant and still means, until the end of the Age, can only had by comprehending the background against which Jesus paints this stunning, eternal masterpiece, of John 3:16.  We, too, can achieve full knowledge of the very Heart and Mind of God, as to why He allowed God the Son to step off the very Throne of Heaven, in order to give His life as a ransom for many.  This comprehension and understanding can be ours, if we understand the Gift of God, the Sacrifice of Christ and the Purposes of the Father. Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: HANNAH'S PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

Outside of the magnificent prayer of Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, one of the greatest prayers of thanksgiving and adoration, followed the birth of a baby boy who went on to become one of the greatest prophets of God! He was a miracle baby and accomplished what God had ordained. This man was Samuel. 

Samuel's mother Hannah was childless and one of two wives of Elkanah. Year after year, Hannah could come to the temple in Shiloh (Jerusalem was not yet ordained as the Capitol of Israel). She would pray for the Lord to give her a child with such fervor, passion and heartfelt emotion that Eli the head priest thought she was drunk.  Hannah kept praying year after year. She then promised the Lord, that if He gave her a son, she would give the boy back to the Lord, as a servant.

God gave Hannah a son named Samuel, which means "God listened...or requested of God". Hannah kept her promise and dedicated Samuel to the Lord, in the care of Eli the Priest. In joy and gratitude, she prayed this prayer of Thanksgiving, which if read in the correct way, should be a guide to us for both personal growth, as well as intercession for others. 

Hannah's Prayer
Praise & Worship:
1  And Hannah prayed and said,
My heart exults in the Lord;
    my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the Lord:
    for there is none besides you;
    there is no rock like our God.

Acknowledge His Attributes:
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by Him, actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.

Acknowledge the Power of God: 6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
    and on them, He has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
    for not by might shall a man prevail.

The Lord is to be feared...and loved:
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
    against them,  He will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
    He will give strength to His king
    and exalt the horn of His anointed.” 
(This prayer is found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10)


There are many aspect of this prayer, which if prayed in the spirit, could apply to all men and women. Like all the prayers of the Bible, make it your own and lift up the Name of the Lord. There is nothing more powerful than praying the Scriptures back to the Lord, in engaged, full on, praise and worship. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: "PREVAILING AND VICTORIOUS PRAYING"

The word “prevailing” can be used in many ways. In economics, they speak of the “prevailing wage”.  This is the current pay for an employee and could include benefits, depending on the context. God’s economy though is ENTIRELY different than man’s fiscal operations.  “Prevailing” in terms of heaven, means something entirely different. The word itself – prevailing – derived from the Latin and means to “have greater power”.
There is a perfect example of prevailing prayer with King Jesus Himself when He told Peter (in Luke 22:31-32a) that “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.“ Now Jesus praying for one of His Creations – Peter – is guaranteed success! He is God, after all! We ain’t!

BUT, the Savior of the World showed us something special here. Basically, the Lord is teaching His prayer warriors to prevail and avail. One of the very potent facets of the type of prayer is expectation by predomination. That may sound like some preacher man made-up phrase.  

But look at some of the words uses in these two victory verses, of prayers well answered by Heaven:
  • ....(Jesus said) I have prayed for you”. Jesus has prayed for Peter AND HE HAS PRAYED FOR US! He is a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is still interceding for us before the Throne of Almighty God the Father. When we pray for someone else or ourselves, the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers with “groanings and more which only the Trinity can comprehend”.  Therefore, Satan can slam as sideways every which way from Monday, but the truly born-again have the right as sons and daughters appeal to heaven!
  • This is ALL Jesus had to say – “I have prayed for you.” So now, how do we prevail – get the superior answer from Heaven for which we are hoping? Two things: we avail and call on His Name!

All the riches of Heaven (which are not the same as the temporary scratch of this world) are available to the Christian. By the way, it is available to only those who not just profess Jesus is the Savior and Lord, but have had their sins forgiven and accepted Him as Lord of their lives. Anything else is ignoring the Jesus-spoken truth of Mark 1:15.

We have not, as Christians, because we ask not. If what we ask for is not good for us, in the opinion of our Creator, we will not get it. If the timing is not right, according to His plans and purposes, we will receive the correct version of our request when our hearts, minds, and circumstances are aligned to see God’s Perfect Hand in the matter.

The first key to availing ourselves in prayer and supplication is to persevere in our Faith and love for Christ, then to persist (see the previous posting on Persistent Prayer).  The second key is to stay in the zone. Each of us has our own piece of the wall, in this life, to which to attend.  While most may do this correctly, our attitudes and love for God while building our portion of the wall, will count in towards the outcome of our prayers.

If we start doubting God, by thinking He has turned a deaf ear to us…..and continue in this unbelief, well, sometimes He may answer, sometimes He may not. Everyone has down moments. Even John the Baptist got depressed in Herod’s prison and sent a messenger to ask his own cousin, whom he (John) knew was God, “if he was the Messiah”! Jesus was not offended but sent a word back of encouragement and testimony of miracles.

This is how the Lord rolls. In seasons of doubt and despair, He will not abandon us.  It is impossible to recall how many times in the last few decades, that the Lord has sent help, hope, encouragement and more…even before He answers a prayer request.  Availing is simple – just trust and be faithful. You will prevail.

The (half) brother of the Lord – James – who was saved after the Resurrection, reminds us that the "effective and fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. That is an almost week English translation, as beautiful as the prose is. What James actually said, in the original language is this “much prevails the prayer of a righteous man”! 

Now, this is even more significant, because of what goes before this phrase in the same verse, and the very fact that we are availing ourselves of the very power direct from Heaven.  The full verse reads Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

The word confession here says nothing about going to a priest. It means holding yourself accountable before God and man. This makes the prayer even stronger.  The power being this righteousness, keeping short accounts with God and man and praying (communicating) via a direct line with the Almighty is what makes this so strong.

In fact, this is what the word “prevail” means here. It means my prevailing prayer has strength. It means I am able to boldly approach the Throne of Grace and offer my petitions. It means that according to my strong faith and confidence in the Savior, I can pray like Jesus and be successful….even if the answer is no!

The word “confidence” is derived from “con” – meaning with and “fide” – faith.
When we pray with confidence, we pray WITH FAITH.
When we pray as one who is settled up with God and those around us, we pray righteously.
When we pray thus, we pray effectively.
When we pray effectively, we pray in sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. This is the essence of prevailing prayer. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: "CREDIBILITY OF THE CONSECRATED"

One of the Webster’s dictionary definitions of the word “Consecrate” (a verb) is “to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication”. There are other definitions of the word, but this one applies perfectly to what Scripture requires of the Child of God. It also ties right in with the Biblical word, used by the Lord, for the same word “consecrate”. The original Hebrew word is “Qadash” which literally means to dedicate, purify or cleanse oneself, the purpose of which is to achieve the Holiness of God in our lives, so our prayers reach Heaven at warp speed.

The bible says in Leviticus 20:7-8 “You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord Who sanctifies you”.

To the immature Christian eyes, this sounds “too Old Testament” and for pastors and priests maybe, but not for Mary, Joe or Jenny or Juan. Really? Here is the great Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:15-16 “…(but) like the Holy One Who called you, be holy yourselves also in your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, as I am holy”.

To be consecrated with the goal of attaining to the holiness of God has everything to do with prayer, even if it does not appear to be, on the surface. The command from God to “consecrate” (NASB) unto the Holiness of Yahweh, needs a closer look. Words mean things and God does not waste one single syllable.

In the original language, consecrate – Qadash – is a verb. Thus, there is an action required from us.  When you expand this command to 1 Peter 15-16 (see above), this action becomes really clear to us. It requires us to watch our conduct, actions, speech, emails, texts, social media postings, videos etc – ANYTHING which reflects on our character.  When something reflects on the character of a child of the Lord, it immediately points to Him.

Therefore, the purpose of this pro-active move (Qadash) is to mind our conduct while growing in spiritual maturity in bible study and fellowship. This is enough to drive us to our knees in prayer.  It is the consecrated woman or man who makes the best prayer warrior. For instance, you will not find someone who is seeking to walk closer to the Savior down at the bar swilling shots with the locals or renting distasteful movies at the video store, in addition to watching R-rated garbage on Netflix or HBO. The consecrated man or woman is actually the person whose reputation as trustworthy, loving, caring and dependable as a praying person whom God listens to, precedes them.

The reason for the Credibility of the Consecrated is QadoshQadosh is the adjective, while Qadash is the verb.  Qadosh means holy, the second part of the command from Leviticus 20:7-8 and 1 Peter 1:15-16. This is the adjective, in this instance, which immaculately defines the permanent attribute of our Heavenly Father. He is holy. Holy means set apart. There is none like Him.

The person who is walking in the fullness of His Word, as prescribed here, is moving in the same direction as the Lord. Here is the amazing thing,  while we can move closer to the KNOWLEDGE of Him as we study His Word – the Bible – it is only through prayer, that we can achieve full relationship.

Qadash and Qadosh are the beginning and end of the power prayer life! We are not passive in this. We must do our part via the steps (consecration) described above.  To emphasize, the equation is this:
  • The Holy Spirit lives in us, who are born again.
  • The Holy Spirit directs us to the Word of God
  • The Word says in many places that we MUST behave ourselves. Why? Because God is Holy
  • Conduct becoming a Christian ALWAYS leads us to pray.
  • Therefore, let us develop a straight, moral lifestyle, in keeping with Scripture, which will cause us to repent of our shortcomings and move closer towards the Holiness of God
  • Closeness to the Fire of His Holiness will purify us, cleanse us and thus consecrate us more and more, as we become more like Him
  • Pray as if He is right next to you, looking over your shoulder....because He is
  • Conduct of the true Christian leads to a closer walk with Christ, which allows us to pray more like the consecrated man or woman of God, that He has called us to be
  • This characteristic in us can then be used by God to pray, intercede and basically, just love others, who are not as sold out yet, as Christ loves them. Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: "BE ALL IN, 24/7/365"

Have you ever asked God to give you a parking spot closer to the door of a packed mall or store?
Have you ever asked the Lord’s help in finding your car keys, when you’re in a hurry out the door?
Have you ever even ask the Lord if you should go down this or that street, after getting an easy feeling about something?

If you have, there is nothing wrong with any of this, and frankly, we all do it.

There is something very special about this Relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Friend – Abba Father, where we can just approach Him at any time, at any place, in any situation…and He hears us! The Lines of communication can only be buzzing with divine traffic if we are connected to the Source.  For this one of a kind relationship to work, we must only be free from sin and walk the talk. We have to be “ALL IN”.

It is easy for people to be “all in” for their sports team or non-profit organization, or even a political group. But for some reason, people in the church, sometimes consider that being “All In” for God is not just a bit too much to ask. Some even say this ministry of prayer is "those people on the prayer team” or the “pastoral staff” or….? I really do not know!

The good news for EVERY believer is the Lord’s offer is open to all. The only requirement is your availability and mine. 

How about you? How close are you to the flame? Have you even attempted to get close so close that when you walk down the aisle of a store, or get stuck in traffic, or feel overwhelmed at work, you can call out to Him? When turmoil and trouble reign, not just on the world stage, but in your office, home or church, do you have that shalom (peace) that passes ALL understanding? You could!

To achieve this level of heightened closeness with the Lord, there is no magic formula. There is only one way – you must be ALL IN.  Scripture does not call for strange eastern pagan meditation or new age idolatry. Here is the Truth of the Bible, directly from the Lord. He says "...The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Jesus repeated this same command in Matthew 22:37-40.

The common denominator in these great verses is the word "ALL". Please note:
- All your heart: Scripture tells us to "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23). The spiritual heart is the center and CORE of WHO we are as human beings. We are created in the Image and Likeness of Almighty God (Imago Dei). All the components of our inner person reside in the "heart". Dallas Baptist University calls the heart " primary faculty of thought, affection" This captures the first requirement of being completely all in and connected to the very Heart of our Creator. These springs of life which fuel us should make us diligent to communicate daily with Abba Father in prayer.

- All your soul: The soul is the integral part of us which is eternal and lives forever. God told a businessman in the Bible that "tonight, your soul will be required of you". Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 the following: "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" Loving the Lord with this most important part of us which will live in Eternity with The Lord is a no-brainer. We love Him, so we talk to Him in prayer, period.

- All your might: The book of 2 Kings 23:25 recounts this telling account of the great King Josiah " Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him". Who is King Josiah and why did he love the Lord will ALL HIS MIGHT? Josiah became King of Judah at the early age of 8. Immediately the Hand of the Lord was upon Josiah. When the Scriptures were found in some ruins, after the previous pagan kings had hidden them, Josiah held public readings of the Word of God. This led to one of the biggest revivals ever recorded in the Bible. Josiah not only loved with his very core, but he did something practical about it. He tore down all the pagan idols and destroyed all the ungodly practices across the land and turned back to the Lord.  The verse here embodies a man who was completely committed to the Holy One of Israel - Yahweh, our God.

The whole person - physically, emotionally and spiritually - has to be in synced and aligned with the Word of God - the Bible. One cannot call oneself a Christian without acknowledging this fact, before God. Since our souls, if we are born again, are rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit and brought into the Kingdom of God as saved, we can access this wellspring of Life as much or as little as we wish. However, if you wish to have the life abundantly appointed, as Christ promised, we must follow the example of Scripture here, just like Josiah and plunged into the deep. We will never reach the depths of His blessings and divine treasures because He, Abba Father, will always open up Heaven to those of His children, who are all in for the long haul. Prayer is the only way to get there.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: "BE WILLING LIKE SHEFFEY"

Our soul waiteth for the Lord: He is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee. (Psalm 33:20-22)
My role model for Prayer is the incredible but unheralded circuit rider, Robert Sheffey. Most Christians will have never heard of Sheffey or thousands of lives he transformed with the help of the Holy Spirit back in the latter part of the 19th century.  Even seminary graduates have no idea who Robert Sheffey is, for one simple reason – he was an incredible man of prayer, and most pastors and Christians do not pray as much as they should.  Brother Sheffey was not just the greatest prayer warrior in America, but added to his colorful character was the fact that he was also a man of Godly action.

In brief, Robert Sayers Sheffey was born in Virginia on July 4, 1820, and orphaned until Christ set him free at a fiery revival in 1838. The passionate 18-year-old only wanted to serve the Lord and applied for a license to preach at the Methodist Conference in rural Virginia. He was turned down, due to his lack of formal training. While he eventually was granted that license 17 years later, those years, (from age 18-35) molded the man, into the great Legend of the Appalachian Circuit Riding Preacher/Prayer Warrior he became.

Until he died at the grand old age of 82, Brother Sheffey, as he was called, would ride anywhere in rural western Virginia (and West Virginia). He and his faithful horses would go through snow, heat, rain and treacherous woods to help someone in need. Along the way, he would stop and communicate with his "Sweet Lord Jesus" by throwing his ever-present sheepskin mini-blanket (or prayer rug) on the ground and spend hours in prayer. If it was said of the great Protestant Reformer John Knox, by Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots that she "feared the prayers of John Knox, more than all the armies of Europe"; it was said of Robert Sheffey that every moonshine maker with a still in those mountains feared his prayers, as well! Sheffey once told one of those illegal alcohol makers that he wished a tree would fall on his still. There was not a tree in sight around this man's house. One night, during a fierce thunderstorm, the Lord picked up a tree from hundreds of feet away and dropped it right on top of the still, destroying it.

While these are humorous accounts of his life, Robert Sheffey was best known for his intercession at the great Wabash Camp Meeting. These camp meetings were somewhat similar to tent revivals, in the sense that they had large ongoing, open-air preaching meetings, under the huge sheds. This would be the major summer event for most families in the regions, who would pack up the kids in the wagon with enough food and furniture for a week's outing in the countryside. The preaching from the countryside and frontier Circuit Rider preachers would bring the Fear of the Lord, repentance, and salvation to countless thousands. 


Robert Sheffey was known as a preacher and man of prayer and was at all of these camp meetings in its heyday. However, when he was invited to preach, he would instead turn down the opportunity. He would then take his King James Bible and lambskin prayer rug which was now about 40 years old and head up the mountain next to the Wabash Camp, to pray. Sometimes, he would be gone up there half the day....or longer. Most times, when he was done, he would come of this Mountain of Prayer, with a glow all over the place and head straight for those in attendance, to minister, pray with, cry with them and more. He would comfort them, go with them to the altar or kneel right there with them. Sometimes Brother Sheffey would stay all night if he had to, in order to reason lovingly with the penitent soul that the Gospel is the only way to conversion to the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is estimated that because of his intercession and ways of evangelism, countless thousands came to be genuinely saved by the Blood of the Lamb. 


Robert Sayers Sheffey was the Circuit Rider of Prayer and shunned the limelight when his name would have afforded him anything he wanted. He was not rich in earthly goods, but his love for people, their physical needs and their souls stored up a divine fortune in heaven. For us, who have Sheffey as our role model, it takes a Micah 6:8 spirit and a self-deprecating self of humor to work for and love our "Sweet Lord Jesus" more than ourselves. To study the life of this great man, flawed as we humans all are, is to come away with the knowledge of the Grace, Love, and Power to transform of the Lord.

Sheffey's favorite statement was "I will take it to the Lord in prayer". Today, over 100 years after he went on to be with the Lord, the fields and roads to these fields are still as untamed, wild and unforgiving as they were 140 or so years ago. But the basic truths remain:
-  Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
-  Love God, and His Son Jesus Christ with EVERYTHING you have
-  Be willing to pray at a moment's notice for anyone in pain, distress, in an ambulance speeding towards the hospital, for a friend or family member
-  When you say you are going to pray, don't think about it - DO IT...and do it immediately
-  You do not need a prayer closet or "war room" to hide in and pray. Unlike other religions, Christians have the Spirit of God in us, and we can be walking down the street praying. Driving long distances with the radio off is the perfect time to be with the Lord, in what we call "windshield prayer"
-  Develop friendships with brothers and sisters who pray and stay in touch regularly, through texts, Facebook or phone. Ask them how you can pray for them because next week, without fail, you are going to need THEM to pray for you. Nourish and cherish those friendships for a lifetime. Prayer warrior friends are the most loving and faithful because we know where our Strength, Life, Breath, Love, Peace, Joy and identity are found. They are found in Christ.

Now, let us "take this to the Lord in prayer", for He is our "Sweet Lord Jesus". Amen

Thursday, April 19, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: BE HUMBLE IN PRAYER

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”(Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus was the best teacher on Prayer, both by His example and His first hand illustrations. Right off the bat, we know one significant characteristic of the Messiah from the Apostle Paul, which the early Christians would be grounded in. Consider these two things about Christ:
1. Philippians 2:5-8 "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross".
2.  Hebrews 5:8 "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered".

Look at the words, above, in BOLD RED. Jesus was the Essence of Humility. He was the Humble Savior Who lived the way He wants all His disciples to live - then and now.  He is the fulfillment of all Scripture, which proclaims everywhere that God resists the proud but gives Grace to the Humble. He even fulfilled Micah 6:8 and walked HUMBLY before His God -Who was/is His Father.

Knowing how Jesus, the Son of God was and is, the God of Heaven will only respond to prayers offered and requested with a humble heart. There is no room in the Heavenly Realm for pride and selfishness. The great author and pastor of the 19th Century, E.M. Bounds wrote the following about humility in prayer, which will provide emphasis and explanation to this most important attribute :
      Humility is born by looking at God, and His holiness, and then looking at self and man's unholiness. Humility loves obscurity and silence, dreads applause, esteems the virtues of others, excuses their faults with mildness, easily pardons injuries, fears contempt less and less, and sees baseness and falsehood in pride.
      Humility holds in its keeping the very life of prayer. Neither pride nor vanity can pray. Humility, though, is much more than the absence of vanity and pride. It is a positive quality, a substantial force, which energizes prayer. There is no power in prayer to ascend without it. Humility springs from a lowly estimate of ourselves and of our deservings. (EM Bounds)

What about you and I? How do we approach the Lord? We have been thought a formula to prayer over the years. This is the ACTS formula (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). This is perfect for our discipline in prayer. However, it must never become so automatic that it is routine liturgy.

We must remember that we cannot fool God, so there is a need to approach Him the very first thing in the morning with Thanksgiving, that we are even alive...and can wake up, get off the bed and get going.  This very fact should activate instant humility in us that we can ready ourselves to first, read the Scriptures, and then pray, before leaving home. This assumes we have ordered time to do this. Windshield Prayer time is fantastic and many of us have done decades of this, but there is nothing like early morning fellowship with God.


It is a very worthwhile thing to reread the words of EM Bounds above (in italics), to grasp why we must truly remain humble and submitted and committed to Christ. May this be embedded in our spirit, not only today, but every day from now on. We don't have to sit in the dust and pour hot ashes and coal dust over our heads, while dressed in onion sacks. But we do have to come to the Lord with a lowly heart. We can and SHOULD always live this way!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SERIES ON PRAYER: BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 
For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

Several years ago, I remember asking Pastor M.B. if he would join the National Day of Prayer Service I have led, for over a decade, as one of the six prayer leaders. I had run into him at Sam’s Club and basically just stood there waiting for a reply. He told me he had to pray about it, which was okay. So, I kept standing there for another minute, or so. Finally, I said “you done praying yet?!” He just laughed and said “sure”. He still has a story about that incident and what happened after he finished praying. A gentleman I had invited, who is from another religion, was so impressed by Pastor M.B. that he made a financial donation right there, after the service.


This is not the same thing as the account Jesus gave of the persistent woman from Luke 18, in the passage above. However, the principle remains the same. Jesus told of  the poor aggrieved woman who was seeking any form of relief from a judge, who not only hated the Lord, but in her culture, also treated women like second class citizens. Yet, she looked past the lack of any positive response and kept asking.

This is the very essence of persistent prayer. This is what the Lord is teaching us. Many Christians, most in fact, say they will pray about a situation.

Many times the answer is a long silence. Should we give up? Too many of us do. Unlike the unjust atheist judge in the story Jesus told, our Father Who art in Heaven loves, cares for and only wants the best for us. Even the most diligent believer faces these trying moments where our faith is tested and our integrity as Christ followers revealed.

Even John the Baptist, when he was depressed in Herod’s prison, while knowing his natural cousin Jesus was God, sent his messenger to ask Jesus if He was truly who He said He was. Some doubting is okay. Walking away from God because He is not an ATM Spiritual cash machine is not okay. Big faith, big prayer. Little faith, little prayer. 

Colossians 4:2 (Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgivingtells us to be:
1. Persistent In Prayer
2. Stay focused and pray with intent
3. Cling to the Father and never let go. He is the  Only source of our very breath.
4. While asking daily for a variation of the same prayer request, please be grateful to God. Remember to give thanks to the Lord. It is ungodly to take His blessings and never be full of humility and gratitude.
5. While persisting or never giving up in prayer remember the Bible teaches about it. Psalm 88:13 says “Oh Lord I cry out to you! I will keep pleading day by day.”

God hears our prayers. He knows our hearts and if we are rightfully His. For encouragement today, as we press on and pray without ceasing, regardless, let us rest on the words of 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him”.