Jeremiah 4:3-4a NKJV - "For thus says the Lord, 'Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts..."
Unprepared hearts are the main reason why so many Christians "get nothing" out of their Bible reading! They expect the seed of God's Word to penetrate the sin-hardened soil of their hearts. Breaking up the hardened soil of unconfessed sin and tearing out the sinful weeds and thorn bushes of worthless habits allows your heart to not only receive the nourishment of God's message but also allows it to grow to practical usefulness in your life. God's Word doesn't just teach, it also changes lives. That's why it is so important to have your heart ready to read, to listen, to learn, and most of all, to obey what God says.
PRAYER THOUGHT: "Every mighty movement of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber." Bounds
Philippians 1:4 NKJV - "Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy."
This is the last in this series on Prayer along with Prayer Thoughts. I've used this month of August, once again, to be a month to focus on the value, the importance, the power, and the absolute necessity of prayer in a believer's life and in the life of a local church. Christians need to pray and recognize that prayer is more than just "saying a prayer" to start and/or end a day. Prayer is fellowship with God. Prayer is the communion of a redeemed sinner with their Redeemer. Prayer is earnestly and persistently pleading with God to work out His plans in this world and in the life and sphere of each petitioner. Prayer is a battle! Prayer not only calls on God to work in His power in our lives, but it also calls on God to rebuke the accuser of the brethren and show Satan that he has been defeated and anything he tries to do against God and His family will be dealt with by God Himself!
Christian, I've asked you to team up with one more person, at least, in order to have that "2 or 3" people praying where God meets in your midst. Of course, each one of us MUST have our own personal time with God. The main thing is that we set ourselves to persistently plead with God to pour out His Spirit afresh on our lives and work His revival in us and in those we influence. God's work grows as Christians pray.
Remember, Jesus said "men ought always to pray and not to faint." Paul called on us to "pray for all men." We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" and "pray about everything with supplication and thanksgiving..." I would love to see that during this Fall season we would watch God bring another "spiritual awakening" in our world! I'm praying that the Gospel will go forth in mighty power in every individual witness that every individual Christian has with every individual! People need to know the Lord; and, Jesus' inheritance is people. Remember near the beginning of this month I suggested we "pray for Jesus?" Psalm 2 speaks of the nations of this world are Christ's inheritance. I, for one, want to see Him have as large an inheritance as our prayers would call for!
Christian, take the time to pray, not just a few passing moments. Take an hour or more to pray as often as you can! Pour out your heart to a loving God who moves as His people pray. Let your prayers "move the hand of God" as you unite your heart with the heart of God.
PRAYER THOUGHT: "It requires a serious mind and a determined heart to pray past the ordinary into the unusual." Tozer
Exodus 33:18 NKJV - "And he said, 'Please, show me Your Glory.'"
Did you choose someone or a couple of people to pray with? Will the 2 or 3 of you "beseech" God for more than "the ordinary" and seek "something so big to happen in your lives that the only explanation for it would be GOD!!" That's a quote from my good friend, my 2nd person to make up our "2 or 3." Some months ago the local Catholic church in our community stopped holding services in their building as a "cost-cutting move." The congregation has joined another congregation and worships in a nearby town. The building in our community is basically unused and empty. My friend told me he felt God wanted him to pray "beyond the ordinary" and use that building for a ministry, a large ministry. I suggested one Saturday that "we pray on the church steps" every Saturday morning at 8. But, I said the "church steps" wouldn't be our church; we'd pray on the Catholic Church steps. If God has led my friend to think BIG, then I'm willing to pray BIG with him and do so on the front steps of that building! As we have been meeting there for the last three months or so we recognized our presence on the church steps was just the beginning on using that church building for God. I guess if you're going to go into a building, you have to climb up the steps to go in. We're not in the building, yet. But we're where it starts and we're trusting God to do what's "out of the ordinary" to say the least!
In our Daily Verse Moses cried out to God to show him more than what others wouldn't even think of seeing: His Glory! And think on this: Moses had already been up on the mountain for 40 days and spent day and night with God! Now, he wanted even more.
I've said before that God is showing me that praying "casual prayers" just doesn't meet the standard of Matthew 7:7, "Ask...seek...knock..." and keep on doing so until you get what you asked for, find what you're looking for, and achieve the opportunity you've been pounding on the door for!! God wants believers to think Huge and pray Huge. Someone said, "you can have as much of God as you're willing to ask for and do as much for Him as you're willing to hunger for." He won't hold back if you seek Him and request from Him all that He wants to do through you. He can do the "impossible." Will you and your "2 or 3" be willing to ask Him to do that in your lives? He's ready. Just ask.
PRAYER THOUGHT: "A praying church is strong though poor in all else besides." Bounds
Acts 1:14a NKJV - "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication..."
One accord in prayer equals one accord in power, influence, witness, and effectiveness! When the Church started, it started praying before it started witnessing. When the Church started, it started with the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven and setting the believers on fire for God. When the Church started, it started dependent on God and never lost the need to remain dependent on Him! When the Church started, in started as one unified Body with one unified purpose. When the Church started, it started laying hold on God so that God, through the Church, could lay hold on this world. The Church through prayer had a greater vision of God in order that the Church could have a greater vision of the lost.
Believer, we must never let go of that which the Church had when it was first formed. We need to pray now as much as the Church prayed then! We need the power of the Spirit of God today as much as the Church needed His power when it began. God never wanted the Church to stop meeting for prayer. God is calling for the "two or three" to start gathering together again that they might enjoy the Presence of God in "the midst of them again! God is still wanting to set another gathering of believers on fire for Him!
Would you reach out to two or three other believers and get back to doing what the Church did at its inception? Can you imagine what God could do with a few dedicated believers who would covenant to pray together as they did in Acts 1? Would you be bold enough to ask God to restart those fires again?
PRAYER THOUGHT: "Praying in Jesus' name is ultimately praying for His sake and in accordance with His will."
John 16:24 NKJV - " Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
Praying in Jesus' name means we recognize, first, our position IN CHRIST. We are united with Him as a result of His perfect salvation. We appear before God IN the Person of His Son. Literally that means we are as welcome in God's eyes as His own Son is!
Second, praying in Jesus' name means we pray for His sake, not ours. Whatever we wish, more than having it given to us or something accomplished for us, we want this ultimately because its for Jesus' advantage, more than for our own.
Third, praying in Jesus' name means we are recognizing God's right to do that which is in harmony with the will of His Son rather than the will of the one who is praying, namely, us. When we know that our prayers are answered for His will to be done, our joy literally will be full!
Fourth, praying in Jesus' name means we are united with Him at the Throne of Grace and in union with Him while we are presenting our requests. That, to me, has become an awesome thought! When I pray I'm kneeling alongside my Savior and we are praying together! Hope you can take that in and enjoy it as much as I do!
PRAYER THOUGHT: "He who cannot pray in everything, as we are charged to do by Paul in Philippians, fourth chapter, has never learned in any true sense the nature and worth of prayer." Andrew Murray
Matthew 6:31 NKJV - "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'"
Does God care about the basics? We do. What will we eat or drink? What will we wear? Where should we live? How do we cover mortgage, car payments, and our children's college education? We often ask the question, "How do I pay for all this?" Ever think that perhaps the question ought to be, "How shall we PRAY for all this?" Andrew Murray in his quote given above emphasizes that our ability to pray about spiritual things often depends on our ability to pray for temporal things. His point is: "He who does not cover and supply the wants of the body by prayer will never cover and supply the wants of his soul. Both body and soul are dependent on God, and prayer is but the crying expression of that dependence."
God WANTS us to pray for the basics of our lives! He does care about them! And He often helps us in our believing Him for great matters by showing us that we can believe Him for the day-to-day matters. 1 Peter 5:7 emphasizes casting "all our cares" upon Him. Why? Because "He cares for you." Murray also said that the temporal matters of our lives are a very important part of our lives and God wants us to know that He is equally concerned about the condition of our bodies and our well being (our families' as well) as He is concerned about our spiritual condition.
You've heard it said before but I'll repeat it again: Pray About Everything! As the "fix-it man" might advertise, "No Job too Big and No Job too Small" so God wants us to know that "No Request is too Big and No Request is too Small!" Your prayer life will blossom when you see God answering the "small requests" and realize that's His way of saying, "I'll handle the big requests too!"
PRAYER THOUGHT - "There may be no more powerful prayers known to God than the prayers of a mother for her children!"
1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV - "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way."
Samuel prayed. Why? His mother had prayed and prayed for him, 1 Samuel 1:27. And a praying mother produced a praying child. Samuel grew up with prayer. God called Samuel to pray though it took him a while to understand that! See 1 Samuel 3:1-10 where God called Samuel in the night and finally Samuel answered. God wasn't just calling Samuel to hear a message from God, God was calling Samuel to be a man of prayer.
God is looking for men and women to be like Samuel, who thought it a sin not to keep others in prayer! May we understand the power of our prayers on behalf of those people God has placed in our lives. May we sense the awesome privilege we have to bring these dear people before God! But may we also sense the responsibility God puts on us to lift others up to the throne of Grace and seek God's power and blessing to rest on their lives!
PRAYER THOUGHT: "And if for any wish thou dare not pray then pray to God to cast that wish away." Bounds
1 John 2:15 NKJV - "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Considering the "prayer thought" above I was inclined to give the James 4:3 passage as our Daily Verse. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend in on your own lusts." But, the verse I did use says a lot about what we might ask for.
If you love the world then your "requests" might lean towards self-gratification, lustful pleasures, and the whole bag of worldly stuff to give momentary excitement (usually leaving a life-time of regret). Those are the "wishes" to cast away.
If you love the Father, however, what do you think you'll be asking for then? Of course, you'll be seeking for "those things that are above," Colossians 3:1, which have lasting value (ALWAYS leaving an eternity of pleasure to enjoy!) These are the "wishes" to pursue with all your heart!
PRAYER THOUGHT: "We all know the value of joy. It alone is the proof that what we have really satisfies the heart." Andrew Murray
John 16:22b NKJV - "...I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
Dear Glorious Heavenly Father, My heart is filled with the joy that only Jesus can give! I thank you for filling my life with your Presence and with the gladness of the salvation I have found in Jesus! I ache so much, Lord, for my readers and the people of your church there in Mt. Ephraim. I want each one of them to experience your joy in their own lives as I'm overflowing with that joy tonight! I can't keep this to myself but I also can't easily give it away. You have to bring such satisfaction in each heart of the work You've done at Calvary! Only then will your people have a solid reason to rejoice and give thanks and sing! You are our Joy! Joy is found in You, Lord Jesus, and the closer one gets to You and the more they experience You in their lives the more they will come to have Your joy as well.
Just as it happened on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell fresh on each believer they were ignited with the love of Christ and the joy of their salvation! People came running from all over to find out what caused this outpouring of "heaven on earth!" The disciples were filled with the Spirit and they spoke freely of their Savior. And even if they didn't speak, their very lives were SHOUTING GLORY to all who saw them! They couldn't confine their joy inside! It had to burst out and people couldn't miss the evidence of God in these people.
O Lord, may You bring that kind of Joy to Your people here. Let Jesus shine through their lives as they gaze on His beauty. Like the hymn we sang on Sunday, "May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win; and may they forget the channel, seeing only Him." And Lord, help us all to realize that the Presence of Jesus Christ in our lives will be most evident in our love and joy found only in Him!
God, my heart is asking You, over and over and over again that those who read this today will experience that joy, and as our Daily Verse says, "...your joy no one will take from you." I pray this in Jesus' Holy Name, Amen!!
PRAYER THOUGHT: "Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God." E. M. Bounds
Mark 11:24 NKJV - "Therefore I say to you, whatever you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
I'm sure every Christian comes to the place where they just wish they could see "mountains move!" But, all too often, our wishes and prayers seem to go unanswered. What's wrong?
If I said I have the "Cure-all Answer" to this I'd probably put it in a bottle and sell it for a million dollars a bottle! I'd be rich! But, then again, perhaps we need to be a little more simple in our thinking. Two things: James 4:4, "You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss..." Also, 1 John 5:14, "...if we ask anything according to His will..." Our faith is not just to see God do what we ask, but our faith is to trust Him to do what is best!
Someone said years ago, "God's answers are always wiser than our prayers." But, our prayers are still what God wants because He responds to us when we pray, albeit, He responds with His wise answers!
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: email@example.com | Phone: 856.981.7288