Effective Prayer: Keep on asking

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about effective prayer. In Matthew 7 Jesus shares one thing for our prayers to be effective.

In Matthew 7:7-11 NLT it says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. [9] “You parents-if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? [10] Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! [11] So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

The key for effective prayer in this passage is to keep on asking. As Christians we need to keep our prayer requests before God. This might be one big issue we need help on or a number of smaller issues.

Over the years I have learned that ongoing prayer is vital for my relationship with God. I need to keep in contact with Him if I am to keep growing in my relationship with Him. I also need to realise that I depend on Him for everything. Prayer helps me to do this.

So today I would encourage you to keep on asking. Keep your small and your big requests before God. He says that everyone who asks receives and that He gives good gifts to His children.

God Bless,
Dave

For unto us

In today’s Christmas message I want to look at one verse from the Old Testament section of the Bible in the book of Isaiah. The verse comes from Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6.

It says, “For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

In this verse the baby Jesus is given four amazing titles. Today, I want to look briefly at these titles.

1. Wonderful Counselor

Wonderful Counselor – what a great title. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in this life I need a wonderful counselor. Like most of us, sometimes I just don’t know what to do and I need help.

It is great to know that I can pray to Jesus and ask for His wisdom and His guidance. When I do I find that before long the right path to take opens up. Not only is prayer a great way to find guidance, but also are Jesus’ words in the Bible. In His famous sermon on the mount we see there are so many great truths contained for everyday life. Timeless truth for how to live, how to relate to each other and how to relate to God.

So not only can we pray and receive direction from our wonderful counselor Jesus, but we can also read His words in the Bible.

2. Mighty God

The second amazing title in this passage is mighty God. In His time on earth Jesus showed His power and glory in the way He lived and interacted with those around Him. Shortly after the sermon on the mount, Jesus moved out into the world and did a number of amazing miracles.

In performing these miracles Jesus showed that mighty God is a title that sits well on Him. He healed the sick, drove out demons, calmed the storm and He even raised the dead. Jesus showed that He had power that is not of this world. He did things that no mortal man could do. He did things that only God could do.

At times in life when we feel weak and we don’t think we can do the things we need to do, it is great to know that we have Jesus we can call on for help and strength. The Bible tells is we can do all things through Christ who is our strength (Philippians 4:13). Mighty God is just a prayer away.

3. Everlasting Father

The third title is “Everlasting Father”. This title shows that Jesus is eternal. When I first got interested in reading the Bible in my early 20s, I thought that Jesus came into existence when He was born at Christmas time to Mary.

Before long I realised that Jesus was there at the creation of the world. He was around when Adam and Eve were created. He was around when Noah build his ark, He was around when Moses led the people of Egypt to freedom, He was around the great kings and prophets walked the earth. Then 2000 years ago He walked the earth to show us what God is like, to show us how to live, and ultimately to show us how much He loves us by dying on the cross for our sin. Now He has returned to heaven and He promises to come back for us one day.

Again, everlasting father is a wonderful title. It helps us to know that when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are not just trusting in a baby who grew into a man who walked the earth some 2000 years ago, but we are putting our faith in someone who is eternal and everlasting.

4. Prince of Peace

The final title in this verse is “Prince of peace”. Another great title that was given to Jesus. It doesn’t take much to see that the world desperately needs a prince of peace. When we read the newspaper in the morning or watch the nightly news we see peace is needed. At times it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

However, when I get troubled by world events like terrorism, wars, floods, earthquakes, famine and the like, I close my eyes and think about the prince of peace. The one who came from eternity, was born in a manger at Christmas, lived amongst us and gives us His peace.

In John 14:27 Jesus said these words to His troubled followers when they were afraid, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”

And in Philippians 4:7, the Apostle Paul who was one of the leaders in the early church said, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you want to experience true and lasting peace this Christmas, it is found in the prince of peace.

Closing

I want to wish you all a wonderfully happy, safe and blessed Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that this Christmas you will experience the love of the child with four amazing titles – the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father and the prince of peace. Merry Christ everyone.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

I have just finished reading / listening to Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. My wife had read it and recommended it to me. (Thanks Larissa!)

Now before I go on I want to explain read / listened to. My wife had a paper back copy which she read, and I bought the audio version. So I listened to Francis read and I followed along.

Now this book gave me lots of mixed emotions. At times I loved it. At other time I am not sure if I agreed with him. And other times I felt convicted. However, in the end I would say I loved it.

For me personally I would say this book effected me in four ways.

1. It reminded me – in the first few chapters it reminded me about God and myself. The first few chapters (1-3) Stop Praying, You might not finish this chapter and Crazy love reminded me of an amazing God who loves me and holds my life and eternity in His hands. It reminded me that my life is not just about me, but about God and my neighbour.

2. It convicted me – the next chapters (4-7) looked at a profile of the lukewarm and offering leftovers to God and more. This had lots of Scripture that really hit the bone. We all have lukewarm areas in our lives and this section pinpointed some for me. It finished with a call to remember our best life will come later after this life.

3. It inspired me – chapters 8 and 9 looked at profiles of people who were obsessed with God and it shared stories of real life people who gave God their all. The stories of famous and not so famous people inspired to live a sold out life for God. I was in tears at their stories and commitment to God and their obedience to the call on their lives.

4. It left me wondering – the final chapter The Crux of the Matter left me wondering what to do next. It reminded me afresh that we all have to give account to God for our lives, including me! I will stand before God one day and let Him know what I did with my knowledge of Jesus. Did I love God with all of my heart? Did I love my neighbour? Did I make disciples? Did I help the poor? How did I spend my time?

For me, this book is a call to action. It is a call to make sure I am living the life God created me for. It is a call to throw off all the shackles and worldly ways and wholeheartedly follow my Lord and Saviour.

I would encourage you to read or listen to this book. But a word of caution – don’t do it if you don’t want to be reminded of God’s great love, be convicted of lukewarm areas in your life, be inspired to greater things or challenged to live life in greater service to God.

You can find it here on Koorong if you are interested.

God Bless,
Dave

Pressure and joy

Psalm 119:143-144 NLT – As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. [144] Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.

As the pressure closes in and we become stressed, it is important to press into God’s Word, the Bible. Like David we can find joy in His commands. The Bible shows there is more to this life than the current worries and concerns we may be facing. The Bible shows we are eternal and everything we face in this life will soon pass. The Bible shows will spend way more time in eternity that we do in this life.

Prayer

Dear God, thank You that when I become stressed or worried about the problems of this life, I can run to You and Your Word. I pray that I will find joy and strength in Your commands. I pray that I will remember that I will spend way more time in eternity and the problems of this life are momentary compared to the glories of heaven. Amen

The Pharisees, Sadducees, Jesus and love

Matthew 22:34-40 NLT – But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. [35] One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: [36] “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” [37] Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [40] The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In this passage there a lot going on, more than we might expect from a surface reading. You see the Pharisees and Sadducees were two sects of Jews at the time of Christ. They had some things in common, but were at odds in some major areas.

The Pharisees loved the Word of God. They studied it intensely and made lots of rules based on their interpretations. They regarded the Word and their rules high above everything and tried very hard to live up to them. Living in righteous way was their highest goal.

The Sadducees regarded the Word highly, but also focussed very heavily on the Temple and worship in the Temple. The Temple was their key focus. As a result they were often at odds with the Pharisees because they did not place any trust in the rules they had created.

In this passage an expert in religious law came and asked Jesus a question, it was one they tried to trap the Pharisees with about which is the most import rule of their over 600 rules. Rather than placing Jesus in a difficult situation, Jesus answered with wisdom and authority.

Jesus told them the most important law was to love God with all of you heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind – a complete love. To give them even more Jesus gave them a bonus commandment – love your neighbour as yourself. He goes on to say that if we obey these two commandments we obey the whole law and everything the prophets said throughout history.

This answer was like hitting a home run in baseball, a big six in cricket or a slam dunk in basketball! No doubt the Sadducees would have been happy that the rules of the Pharisees were reduced to two rules and the Pharisees would have like to see the Sadducees answered so easily.

For us today, Jesus’ words can be an encouragement to us. Of course we are not under the Old Testament law, but we can learn a lot from Jesus’ answer. If we focus our hearts, minds and souls on loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves, we will be on track. We don’t have to worry about what others are doing, we just need to focus on these two things.

So today, let us purpose in our hearts to love God and love our neighbour. It is as simple as that.

God Bless,
Dave

Fight the good fight of faith

1 Timothy 6:10-12 NLT – For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. [11] But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. [12] Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Today in my devotions three things jumped out at me from these verses.

1. Don’t love and crave money as it can lead you astray – Money is important to be able to live on and bless others, but it can’t be the sole focus of our existence. Don’t let money take God’s first place in your life.

2. Be a true person of faith – Stay away from things that can lead you astray and pursue the things that keep you on track with God. Verse 11 shows us six things to pursue.

3. Hold tight to the hope you have in Christ – Jesus gave us eternal life by His death on the cross for our sin. When we accepted Jesus we gained that eternal life. Hold tight, stand firm, continue on and stay focused.

Prayer

Dear God, please strengthen me and help me to fight the good fight of faith. Help me to stay away from the things that would lead me astray and pursue the things that will keep my faith strong. Help me to pursue righteousness, a godly life, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.  Amen