What Difference Does Prayer Make?

By prayer, we become part of God’s work. If we don’t pray, His plans will still be accomplished, but we wont have the privilege of being part of them.

When kids ask for candy, we don’t always say yes. As parents, we don’t give our kids everything they want all the time. We give them gifts at appropriate times, and we also teach them to work and to express gratitiude.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Prayer sharpens your senses and increases your ability to hear His voice.

Psalm 143:10 NIV

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Ever notice how many people seem to be running red lights these days? Prayer is like roads with lights – sometimes you stop, sometimes you go. Likewise, some doors are shut and some are open. The doors that are shut are just as important as the ones that are open. Don’t be angry at them – be grateful for them.

God doesn’t need anyone’s opinion. Rather, He is looking for obedient hearts.

Galatians 1:15-16 NIV

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

You receive confirmation from people, but direction comes from God. Turn to God first, through prayer. He won’t tell you the wrong way to go because He IS the right Way!

John 14:6 NIV

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

God knows us. God loves us. As long as we are full of ourselves, there will be no room for Him. But when our hearts are soft, when we come to the end of ourselves, when we humble ourselves, He is able to fill us with His presence. He is able to make us a part of His work in this world.

John 9:30-34 NIV

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

The man had been healed by Jesus and was telling the spiritual intellectuals that they should know who Jesus was because God had answered Jesus’ command to heal the man’s blindness.

Mary conceived God’s promise through faith. She carried His promise with hope. We can learn from how she prayed: Hear God, respond to God, and become obedient to His voice.

On Grace and Suffering

“God’s grace may be free, but it is not cheap. Neither purchasing our salvation nor letting us know of the gift was inexpensive. Beginning with Abel, many of the witnesses to divine grace sealed their words with their blood… The only way we can understand the graveyard at Miango [missionary graveyard in Nigeria] is to remember that God also buried His Son on the mission field.” – Charles Edward White

Believing is Seeing

Whatever you feast your eyes on will grow. Whatever you covet will have increasing influence on you.

Matthew 14:29-30 NIV

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

The kingdom of God is of far greater reality than that we see on earth. But what we see is very convincing.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

What we don’t see is eternal. His unseen kingdom is the superior reality. The enemy is always trying to destroy our faith. He would have us be overwhelmed by the storm of events in the world.

Mark 8:15-21 NIV

“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”    They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”   Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”  “Twelve,” they replied.    “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”  They answered, “Seven.”   He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

They were still seeing the physical world, instead of God’s kingdom. It’s as though in everything Jesus did, He was saying that the world we see is irrelevant.

And don’t you remember? Our lives are full of reminders of God’s kingdom – times in our lives where the eternal breaks through into the carnal. Like altars in the Old Testament, these memories should remind us of our relationship with the eternal, unseen God.

Whatever we give our attention to will grow. Are we giving our attention to the unseen things of God’s kingdom?

Why God’s Chosen People

Romans 9:1-5 NIV

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Romans 10:1-3 NIV

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Romans 11:11, 15, 25, 28-29 NIV

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

It’s a growing trend to belive that Israel no longer has a special place in God’s eye, but as Paul shows us in Romans 9, 10 & 11, that simply isn’t true.

Jewish people are more and more receiving Yeshua, Jesus. Some Jewish people believe that to become a Christian is to renounce your Jewish heritage, but that also isn’t true.

God wants us to renounce sin, not heritage. We are to die to our old way of living – our lives without Jesus – to be transformed, to be renewed in our minds.

It’s a biblical fact that the Jewish people were chosen by God. They did not earn it – He chose them.

Deuteronomy 7:6-7 NIV

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.   The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.

God chose them because they were the least likely to be chosen. Today, there are 23 arabic nations surrounding Israel. They are the least likely to survive, but “nothing is impossible for God.”

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 NIV

After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

God’s favor on Israel was His own chosing, not based on anything they had done. He is sovereign. Can you relate to Israel? Do you experience God’s choice, even though you are stiff-necked?

God chose to reveal Himself through this tiny nation. He chose to be born in a humble stable cave. From the beginning of things, God has had a purpose.

In Genesis 10, eight people survived the flood. The ark is a great picture of Jesus. The going was probably rough. Those 8 people probably did a lot of falling down as the boat rocked on the waters. But when they fell, they were still in the boat.

Genesis 12:1-3 NIV

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.   “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.    I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God cannot go back on His word. He will keep His promises regardless of what we do, or the popular opinions of the day. Don’t fall into the contemporary trap of discounting God’s favor on His chosen people.

God Cares – Do We?

Transformation comes by the renewing of your mind, which comes by immersion in God’s Word.

Are you at your wit’s end with someone in your life? Do you find yourself thinking, “That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. This is the last time. I’m done. I don’t care anymore.

God has made us to care about the people in our lives. Not caring allows tension to grow in the relationship. We all want to care. We’re programmed to desire acceptance, especially from our family members.

How many years have you put up with people in your life? How many years have people in your life put up with you?

1 Peter 5:7 NLT

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 AMP

For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died;

And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.

His love compels us. Jesus did something for us that was uncomfortable for Him. Now He asks us to do the same – to say “no” to ourselves, and to take on the uncomfortable. That’s why we say “I don’t care” – because it’s hard to live with the tension. But Jesus desires for us to seek reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is making noncompatible things compatible. We became incompatible with God through rebellion. We became compatible again through Jesus.

Revelation 3:20 NIV

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

He stands at the door and knocks. He can prevent anything from separating us from Him except ourselves.

People need to know that Jesus loves them. They need to now that Jesus loves them, and He has removes all barriers between us and the Lord. Some people reconcile by sayong, “I’ll meet you halfway,” but not God.

He has given us the same ministry of reconciliation, of restoring relationships, of removing barriers to reconciliation.

God never gives up on us. He doesn’t count our sins against us, and He asks us to do the same for others. If you’ve been baptised, you’re required to carry His message.

2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

If you’re refusing to reconcile, you’re saying you refuse to forgive. You’re saying that your standards are higher than God’s!

God’s standards must become our standards. When can you give up on others? When God gives up on you. When will that be? Never!  because “His mercy endures forever.”

Reconciliation is not “let’s talk about it until we work it out.” No – all he asks is to reach out, to set the table, open the door, and invite them over.