Daily Archives: August 4, 2014

Questions about Prayer: Does Praying Scripture Have Greater Effectiveness than Other Prayers?

 

Some people have found that using Bible verses in their prayers is an effective way to pray. “Praying Scripture back to God” seems to help to focus the mind and to assure that the subject matter of the prayer is pleasing to God.

James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (KJV). First John 5:15–16 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” The word effectual means “sufficient to produce a desired result.” Fervent means “constant, strenuous, and intense.” James and John are both telling us that for our prayers to be effective, they must be fervent, meaningful, and in agreement with the will of God.

One way to know that our prayers are the will of God is to pray specific Scriptures that express what is in our hearts. Scripture should not be used as some kind of magic chant, repeated mindlessly as though the words themselves had power. The power of prayer comes from God alone to a heart that is “fervent.” But when we find a command or promise that expresses what is in our hearts, we know we are agreeing with God when we use it as a prayer. It is, after all, His Word. The more we memorize and meditate on the Bible, the more it becomes part of us. The truth we have studied comes to mind when we are praying and is often the answer we are seeking. Often, when we don’t know what to pray, Scripture can give us the words. The Psalms contain hundreds of prayers, and many of them have already put our thoughts into words.

Jesus gives our best example of effectual prayer. His longest recorded prayer is His “High Priestly Prayer,” found in John 17. The first thing we notice is the oneness of spirit Jesus has with the Father. He begins by saying, “Father, the hour has come.” Jesus was not telling the Father anything He did not know. Rather, Jesus was acknowledging that they were in agreement. He spent so much time in fervent prayer that He knew the heart of the Father. That is the goal of effectual prayer: to understand the heart of God and align our wills with His. Whether by using our own words or those penned two thousand years ago, the key to effective prayer is that it comes from the heart and seeks the will of God.

Praying Scripture as an act of personal dedication is a good way to know we are praying effectually. For example, we can take Galatians 2:20 and use it as a prayer of consecration. Such a prayer might sound something like this: “Father, today I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live today I will live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” In praying this way, we take the heart of God and make it our goal. There is nothing magic in the words, but we can know we are praying within the will of God when we use His Word as our model.

We must be careful not to treat Scripture as though every passage was written specifically for our situation. We cannot take verses out of context simply because we want them to be true for us. For example, God promised Solomon “wealth, possessions, and honor” in 2 Chronicles 1:13. But we cannot pray that verse as though God had promised it to us instead. We cannot search for isolated verses that say what we want them to say and then “claim” them. There are times, however, when God impresses a certain verse on our hearts as His personal message to us, and we can and should pray about it.

If we try to apply every verse as though it directly affected our own lives, we would have problems with verses like 1 Samuel 15:3: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.” We must always read Scripture within its context and learn more about God from the principles we find. God may use that passage to speak to us about destroying the worldliness in our lives and leaving no remnant of it. In that instance, we could pray, “Lord, just as You told the Israelites to totally destroy everything that represented the evil of the Amalekites, I want to tear down any false gods in my life and leave nothing but You. Purify my heart as they purified their land.”

Effectual, fervent prayer can come from Scripture or from the depths of our own hearts. The goal as we grow is that the two become intertwined. Even on the cross in the midst of horrible suffering, Jesus cried out words from Psalm 22: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many scholars believe He was quoting the entire passage as He hung on the cross, praying it back to God as an act of worship even in death. The more Scripture we learn and personalize, the more our prayers will reflect the will of God and the more effective they will be.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Marriage: What Is a Concubine? Why Did God Allow Men to Have Concubines in the Bible?

 

A concubine is a female who voluntarily enslaves and sells herself to a man primarily for his sexual pleasure. Concubines in the patriarchal age and beyond did not have equal status with a wife. A concubine could not marry her master because of her slave status, although, for her, the relationship was exclusive and ongoing. Sometimes concubines were used to bear children for men whose wives were barren. Concubines in Israel possessed many of the same rights as legitimate wives, without the same respect.

Although it’s true the Bible nowhere explicitly condemns concubinage, a condemnation can be found implicitly from the beginning of time. According to Genesis 2:21–24, God’s original intent was for marriage to be between one man and one woman, and that has never changed (Genesis 1:27). As a matter of fact, a study of the lives of men like King David and King Solomon (who had 300 concubines; 1 Kings 11:3) reveals that many of their problems stemmed from polygamous relationships (2 Samuel 11:2–4).

The Bible never explains why God allowed men to have concubines. He allowed divorce and polygamy, too, although neither was part of His original plan for marriage. Jesus said God allowed divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts (Matthew 19:8). We can assume the same hardness of heart led to polygamy and concubinage.

We can also surmise a reason based on the culture of the day. Unmarried women in ancient times were completely dependent on their family members, such as their fathers, brothers, etc. If for some reason a woman had no family members or her husband had died or divorced her, she would be left with few options for survival. Most women in ancient times were uneducated and unskilled in a trade. Providing for themselves was very difficult, and they were vulnerable to those who would prey upon them. For many women in dire situations, becoming a concubine was a much more suitable option than prostitution, homelessness, or death. At least a concubine would be provided a home and afforded a certain amount of care.

It appears God allowed the sin of concubinage, in part, to provide for women in need, although it was certainly not an ideal situation. Sin is never ideal. Christians should be reminded that, just because God allows a sin for a time, it does not mean God is pleased with it. Many Bible narratives teach that God can take what some people mean for evil and use it for good (e.g., Genesis 50:20).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: How young is too young to be in a romantic relationship?

 

How young is “too young” to start a relationship depends on the individual’s level of maturity, goals, and beliefs. Often, the younger we are, the less mature we are due to a lack of life experience. When we are just beginning to figure out who we are, we may not be firmly grounded enough spiritually to form solid romantic attachments and may be more prone to making unwise decisions that can leave us with emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual damage.

Being in a relationship puts one in almost constant temptation, especially as emotions begin to develop and the attraction to the other person deepens. Young teens—even older teens—are besieged by hormonal and societal pressures that seem at times almost unbearable. Each day brings new feelings—doubts, fears, and confusion coupled with joys and exhilaration—which can be very confusing. Young people spend much of their time just figuring out who they are and how they relate to the world and the people around them. To add the pressure of a relationship at this stage seems almost too much to ask, especially when the other person is experiencing the same upheaval. Such early relationships make it more difficult to avoid damage to the delicate and still-forming self-image, not to mention the problem of resisting temptation. If being marriage-minded is still far off, it is probably too early to begin dating or courtship. Much safer for all concerned are group activities where young people can develop social skills and friendships without the pressure and inherent difficulties of romantic attachments.

No matter when a person decides to begin a romantic relationship, this should be a time of building on the foundation of faith that he or she has been taught, of growing and figuring out what God wants him or her to do. We are never too young to begin this exciting process. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Updates on the Driscoll/Mars Hill Meltdown

Steak and a Bible

The stream of bad news and apologies from Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church continued over the weekend with news of Sunday protests by former church members. Here are some of the latest headlines and relevant audio including an interview from Fighting for the Faith. 

View original post 94 more words

J. I. Packer Quote on Lordship Salvation

Theologue

“If, ten years ago, you had told me that I would live to see literate evangelicals, some with doctorates and a seminary teaching record, arguing for the reality of an eternal salvation, divinely guaranteed, that may have in it no repentance, no discipleship, no behavioral change, no practical acknowledgment of Christ as Lord of one’s life, and no perseverance in faith, then I would have told you that you were out of your mind. Stark, staring, bonkers, is the British phrase I would probably have used.”

“Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as King in self’s place…More than once Christ deliberately called attention to the radical break with the past that repentance involves.”

J.I. Packer

View original post

I’m a son, not a sinner

Chris Martin Writes

I spent the majority of my Christian life believing I was a sinner. I would venture to guess that 90% or more of you believe that as well. I’m here to let you know that you’re not.

The Gospel isn’t just trying to live right. It isn’t biting your tongue and fighting back words that seek to come out. The Gospel isn’t a battle. Friends, that victory was achieved over 2,000 years ago. I see too many people exhausted, worn out, frustrated, and beat down because they haven’t been taught the true meaning of the Cross. They are still trying to achieve what Christ already accomplished.

Jesus didn’t die on the Cross to expose our sin. He had to become sin and die, I get that. It was necessary in order to render sin powerless over our lives. However, He didn’t die because we were sinners. Christ died on that…

View original post 473 more words

GAZA WAR UPDATE, Day #28: 10,000 attend funeral for Messianic Jewish soldier killed in combat in Gaza.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

First Sergeant Shai Kushnir, a Jewish believer in Jesus who died in combat in Gaza this weekend. (Source: Israel Today) First Sergeant Shai Kushnir, a Jewish believer in Jesus who died in combat in Gaza this weekend. (Source: Israel Today)

(Denver, Colorado) — On Day #28 of the Gaza war, “Messianic Jews around the country are mourning after one of their young soldiers was killed in action last week,” reports Israel Today. “First Sergeant Shai Kushnir, who grew up in a youth group at a Messianic congregation in the Haifa area, was killed during operations along the Gaza border.”

“Messianic Jews” believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Messiah in fulfillment of ancient Hebrew prophecy and follow Him for salvation. There are presently about 15,000 Messianic Jews in Israel — many of whom serve faithfully in the IDF — and upwards of 300,000 around the world. 

“Over ten thousand came to pay their respects to Shai and the family, including two mayors from the Greater Haifa area, IDF generals and commanders…

View original post 1,081 more words

Things You Should Know About Introverts

Playfully Tacky

From MeetTheIntroverts.com From MeetTheIntroverts.com 1) We need to recharge alone.
This right here is the cusp of the entire introvert v. extrovert debate (if there is one, anyway) – Introverts need to be alone to recharge. We tend to get completely worn out by socializing. This is basically what it means to be an introvert.

2) We don’t hate being around people, but we probably hate crowds.
I love being with people, but if you drop me into a large crowd I instantly feel like I’m alone and invisible. I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.

3) We don’t mind silence.
I can sit beside you in silence and not think we are having a bad…

View original post 562 more words

The Soul of the Sluggard

5 Pt. Salt

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.-Proverbs 13:4

John Gill:

He desires knowledge, but does not care to be at any pains to get it, and so has it not; he desires riches, but chooses not to make use of the means, to be diligent and industrious, and so he is without them; he desires to wear good clothes and rich raiment, but is unwilling to labour for them, and therefore is clothed with rags; he desires food, and plenty of it, but refuses to work for it; and he that will not work should not eat, and therefore he has it not, but starves and famishes: and, in spiritual things, the sluggard desires heaven and happiness, but does not care to do the duties of religion; he would die the death of the righteous, but is unwilling to…

View original post 459 more words

Apostates and Apostasy

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22 ESV)

The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek…

View original post 1,677 more words

DISCIPLESHIP

Samuel at Gilgal

John MacArthurJohn MacArthur:

“Discipleship entails a life of total self-denial, a humble disposition towards others, a whole-hearted devotion to the Lord alone, a willingness to obey His commands in everything, an eagerness to sense Him even in His absence, and a motivation that comes from knowing He is well pleased.” (Slave, 43)

View original post