Why Adversity Comes

Yesterday, I talked with you on how to Endure and Outlast Adversity. The definition I gave for the word ADVERSITY was, “An event or series of events that opposes success; a misfortune, distress, a state of unhappiness.” Today I want to search out the WHYs and HOW’s of,  “Why Adversity Comes” into our lives.  I want to tackle the preventions and preparations we need first.  How we can bring the promises of God into being and a reality. Our endurance in adversity will depend upon on the WORD of God.  Without prevention, adversity will show up! If we don’t protect ourselves from diseases, through vaccines or O.T.C. medicine, sickness will come. That reminds me of an old saying my mother would often quote, just before giving  me yucky tasting medicine.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That made no sense to me when I was a child but now, as I have matured into an adult, it makes perfect sense.

I have learned over the years, because I can’t see something; doesn’t mean reality isn’t there. Because you can’t see radio waves doesn’t mean you can’t hear your favorite song being played over the air. You must be prepared to receive what you can’t see before the reality manifest itself.  Lets go to the Book of Mark, chapter 11, and see the importance of receiving; the first step in prevention.

Verse 24 reads,  “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].”

I like to underline key words in bible verses. It helps me search out some truths that are often missed in reading God’s Word. It also slows me down and gives me better understanding.  Look and underline these words, in the above verse in Mark [it’s okay to mark up your bible. I won’t tell anyone]; “whatever you ask”, “believe” and “you will [get it].”  These underlined words, tells me I have to receive something before I can see it. I need to “grab a hold of it”, I need to “contain it”, I need to “embrace it”, and then “speak in line with it until it lines up with what I believe”. If you “believe” in whatever you are asking for, something should show up.  Don’t expect to see or find what you are looking for by simply reading random verses in your bibles. You must conceive it , if you are going to see it in your ADVERSITY.  When a married couple wants a child, they must conceive before the woman gets pregnant. Just knowing and hearing about how to get pregnant isn’t enough.  The promise in God’s Word isn’t enough either. You must confess the WORD. Spiritual expecting is like the woman who becomes pregnant. She informs the family, I AM EXPECTING!  “Spiritual Expecting” means that you are pregnant with the seed of the WORD.  John 1:1 says, “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.”  Then in verse 14 we read, “And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace and truth.”  Now turn with me to the Gospel of Luke one, starting with verse 31. The angel Gabriel is speaking to Mary, who had never been married and was a virgin, engaged to be married.

“And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”  And what was Mary’s response to the angel?  Verse 34, “How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?” Good question by Mary don’t you think? Then the angel goes on to shed some light on the matter.  He responds to Mary’s question by saying,

Verse 35  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shinning cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing [from the Hebrew; debar or word “thing”] which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.”  God’s Word was about to become a “holy, pure and sinless “WORD THING.”  So when did the conception take place? Look at verse 38,

“Then Mary said, Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said,…”  The Greek word for SEED happens to be the word “sperma”. When Gabriel gave Mary the “sperma“, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary had to do something before conception could take place. She had to receive God’s Word and say were her own mouth, “let it be done to me”. Mary had conceived and was now pregnant. With God’s “sperma“or THING.  Now satan’s task in all of this is to have what is expected. An aborted, still-born pregnancy of God’s seed. The devil will try to convince you that what you just conceived isn’t a THING at all. God doesn’t want you to be pregnant with His Word. I have gone down a long rabbit trail but I want you to understand how the Word of God brings us confidence when ADVERSITY crosses our paths.  Turn over to the Gospel of John Chapter 16 to tie these things together.

Verse 33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you may have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [when ADVERSITY comes]; be [confident, certain, and undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you].”

JESUS tells us that ADVERSITY will come. It is not exclusive of BELIEVERS. It boils down to our preparation before it comes. By being obedient in the “ounce of protection”; receiving the word seed and becoming pregnant from it [that’s the “pound of cure”], we will be able to endure and outlast ADVERSITY. Why? Because God’s Word says so! “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”

WHY then does ADVERSITY come to us? God isn’t mad at us and that’s why it comes. Our Father allows ADVERSITY to come into our lives to see our response to it. If He can’t trust us to handle misfortune, distress and a state of unhappiness during ADVERSITY, how can God trust us in our successes?  HOW then should we respond in Joseph’s dry well?  HOWshould we respond when someone accuses us of wrong that we didn’t commit? HOW do we respond when we become a prisoner to an entrapment? HOW will we handle ADVERSITY?

Psalm 31:7 tells us how to handle diverse circumstances,  “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy and steadfast love, BECAUSE You have seen my affliction. You have taken note of my life’s distresses.”  Be glad IN your ADVERSITY because of God’s mercy and steadfast love”. God’s Word never says we are to be glad FOR ADVERSITY. Pity from others won’t help you either.  Only after conception of God’s Word will it bring you into prosperity and success!

I hope my detective work on what God’s word tells us about Enduring and Outlasting Adversity will help you now and when adversity comes. For it will come! Are you prepared for it to come?

Enduring and Outlasting Adversity

The word ADVERSITY has different definitions. I want to deal with the verb and the noun, when it is connected with “the present experience of believers, referring almost invariably to that which comes upon them from without.” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary)  Here is another definition I found in some old notes going back to June 23, 2006. I believe I put them down after a message given by Creflo Dollar.  ADVERSITY: “an event or series of events that opposes success. Causing misfortune, distress and a state of unhappiness.” You are not the only one who is going thru, what you are going thru, right now. You don’t have an exclusive on the word ADVERSITY.

At the age of 69, I can look back on my own life and see many circumstances that brought adversity into the picture. I have found that adversity is just another opportunity to see what I am really made of. Two years ago, the Lord prompted me to write my first manuscript. I had written several christian plays before, but a book? I had little to no experience in writing something that had that many pages. When I was in high school and college, my first question to the teachers after giving the assignment was,  “How many pages or words did it have to be?” If it were to be five pages, ten pages or whatever…thats exactly what I did. Just ‘the enough’. Never ‘the more than enough’. Writing down words was not in my genes. Writing a fiction novel with that background, wouldn’t work. “Negative words will determine my thinking.” I was reminded again by God’s Spirit to watch what I say.  He would tell me what to write.  So, I began the story with words about a circumstance in my life that caused adversity.  The names, the places were changed to make the story anecdotal, but real never-the-less. I had endured and outlasted the adversity in my life. God gave me the title  “Cape Disappointment”. Dianne is still re-writing the manuscript and when she is finished, we hope to have it published. Maybe a movie? Why not? I have God’s favor.

There is one thing we must realize when ADVERSITY comes into our presence. Who was it that got us out of trouble or a bad situation the last time. Don’t EVER FORGET THAT!  Turn to the book of Genesis, starting with chapter 37.  Joseph is 17years old and was about to have Adversity enter into his life. Since Joseph was loved more by his father Israel, more so than all of his children (verse 3), this was the beginning of his adversity. His relationship with his father brought about “negative emotions” from others around him; jealousy from his brothers.  Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they couldn’t even speak to him peacefully (verse 4).  Joseph was also not helping to change the circumstances surrounding the antagonism. In his ‘coat of many colors’, Joseph tells his brothers about the dreams he kept having.  Joseph’s spiritual pride had added fuel to his adversity. Have we ever contributed to our own adversity, by inflicting our attitudes onto others that surround us in the circumstance? Unfortunately, I have made that mistake which opposed my successes to escape the problem. Because of Joseph’s words, his brothers hated him even more. To the point of conspiring to kill him in verse 18.  Now lets see what happens in the story of Joseph and the adversity that he dealt with.

Genesis 37:23 says his brothers stripped him of his distinctive long garment that he wore and in verse 24, “cast [flung] him into the [well-like] pit which was empty; there was no water in it.”  Now that is definitely an ADVERSITY.  And now comes the “good news-bad news” scenario. His brothers decided not to kill Joseph, that the good news. The bad news? Verse 28 says, “Then as the Midianite merchants [Ishmaelites] were passing by, the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the well.” Well that is more good news! No, more bad news. “And they sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph [captive] into Egypt.” Could Joseph’s ADVERSITY get any worse? Stay tuned.

Genesis 39:1 says, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain and chief executioner of the [royal] guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there.”  More ADVERSITY? Joseph was in a house of captivity of an officer of Pharaoh, a captain in the royal guard, who besides all of that, was also the chief executioner. OUCH! How much success do you think Joseph was going to find in this ADVERSITY? The answer is given in verse 2.

“BUT the Lord was with Joseph, and he [though a slave] was a successful and prosperous man”, and in verse 3  “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made ALL that he did flourish and succeed in his hand.” 

Has ADVERSITY in Joseph’s life just became another opportunity. To see what he was really made of.  What else could go wrong?Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape and Joseph was thrown into prison. The adversity of Joseph thru accusation and continued while in captivity. When we face misfortune, stress and unhappiness through our ADVERSITIES in life, know this. You could be one step away from a promotion. Look at Genesis 39:21-23 to look at Enduring and Outlasting Adversity.

“BUT the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and lovingkindness and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison.”  Right in the midst of his ADVERSITY, the Lord showed Joseph His FAVOR, His LOVING-KINDNESS, His MERCY all in front of the warden. When you are facing dire difficulties, remember Joseph’s circumstances. You have to realize this; God has got you out of ADVERSITY before and He will do it again. Don’t ever forget that! EVER. 

And now comes PROMOTION in verse 22.  “And the warden of the prison committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in prison; and whatsoever was done there, he was in charge.”  And after his promotion…?  Verse 23 says, “The prison warden paid no attention to anything that was in [Joseph’s] charge, for the Lord was with him and made whatever he did to PROSPER.”   No matter what ADVERSITY might come our way; and it will,  if we can endure the circumstances as Joseph did, we will succeed. Not once but time and time again. If you continue to read the rest of Joseph’s story in Genesis, you will see God’s favor on Joseph’s life. Promotions all the way up to being second in charge to Pharoah.  By being obedient to the Word and trusting in Him in our ADVERSITY. He will be faithful to show us mercy, favor and His always loving-kindness. Do you believe that?  Proverbs 24:10 say, “If you faint in the day of ADVERSITY, your strength is small.” Was Joseph’s strength small?

Tomorrow we will discuss why ADVERSITY comes. Remember, if you find yourselves in the middle of adversity, you are just one step away from a promotion!

Defeating Self-Doubt

Lets look first at the word Self-Doubt; to see what exactly it means  before we get to the HOW TO’s.  The how to ultimately defeat selfdoubt in our lives.

Self-Doubt is an EMOTION.  An emotion can be defined as “feelings on the inside, caused by pain or pleasure, designed to move us toward or away from the will of God for our lives.”  Please understand that not all emotions are bad. God gave them to us for a reason. Through positive emotions, we can experience God in deeper, more meaningful ways, and “feel” Him through love, joy, and peace. Self-Doubt is a negative emotion.  Based on the definition given, it is negative feelings on the inside, caused by pain, designed to move us away from the will of God in our lives.

In 1965, Dianne and I had been married for about six months. I had been working for a large grocery chain in San Diego for about five and a half years.  When we were newly married, I had been promoted to Night Crew Manager and put from a part-time to full-time position. For 1965, my paycheck was sufficient and we couldn’t understand how young couples had such a difficult time budgeting their finances. We felt we had ‘plenty; a new car with more than enough to spend on extra things.  We were expecting our first child at the end of April or first of May. Neither of us were born-again believers during this time of our lives, so if you are counting your fingers right now, September to May isn’t nine months.  I was working at a store in La Jolla one month and had just clocked into my shift. There was a note attached to my time card slot that read, “Mel…please come to the Store Manger’s office as soon as you clock in.”  What is this all about. Since I wasn’t short of self-confidence at the age of 23, I went directly to his office, smiling all the way. It was either another promotion or I was going to be transferred to another store. Either one would be terrific. I knocked on the door,  letting myself in while still knocking.  I noticed right away that not only the store manager was in the office but the District Manager was also present.  “Have a seat Mel”, as he pulled a chair away from the wall. I sat down with some discomfort, when the store manager said, “Since business is down in our district Mel and a large competitor is coming down from Los Angeles into our area, we are going to have to put you on a part-time position.”  He explained since I had just recently been put into a full-time position, I was at the bottom of the list in seniority.  However, I had the highest seniority in the District for part-time work. What is he talking about? High seniorty, low seniority…  What were my feelings and emotions at that moment? Anger first, then rejection and as I slowly walked out of the office and down the stairs;  real PAIN. In 1965, cell phones were not available to call home and break the bad news to my pregnant wife.  Without unloading my emotions, I went with a spontaneous, irrational response.  My feelings moved me in the wrong direction; to storm back to the manager’s office, throw the door wide open and blurt out, “I QUIT”! I turned myself about and left, slamming the door behind me. All the way home that evening, my thoughts were positive and not negative; not yet anyway.  After telling my family for the first time in my young life, I was now un-employed, I would go out the next day as if I had not quit my job and find work. With my experience in the grocery business, I will have no difficulty in finding a job. Lack of confidence was not a problem. Within a few weeks, A & P Grocers was opening a store in the San Diego area. They were a large chain back east but this would be their first venture on the west coast. I was immediately hired, along with over a hundred other workers.  Two weeks after the store opened, sixty employees were laid off. That included moi (ME). I contnued to get up every morning as if going to work, looking desperately for a job. Any job. In 1965, un-employment was not handled by computers. Every week I had to go downtown San Diego, stand in long lines after filling out State paperwork, and wait for your number to be called.  After six months of going through this tedious procedure and not being successful finding work, my confidence tanked. I now had a wife and a baby to support on fifty to seventy-five dollars a week ( $50 dollars from the state and a union supplement of $25 dollars). This amount was to pay for my gas, our groceries, our rent and baby diapers. No Pampers in 1965. My determination to find work was still strong but my self-doubt and my lack confidence became overbearing. This was my first experience of self-doubting  in myself, but definitely not my last.  In nearly 47 years of our marriage and three children, I have been unemployed at least 14 times. That is certainly nothing to boast about.  I was either laid-off, fired or quit in those periods. One close friend of ours, when we were first married told Dianne that she couldn’t be married to a guy like Mel that couldn’t hold on to a job. Wow! Was THAT  a real confidence builder. After 46 years later, Dianne and I both agree that God had chosen us to be together, even before we were saved. We both came to the Lord in 1972.

If there ever was a negative emotion responsible for absolutely paralyzing our progress in life, SELF-DOUBT would fit the bill. What do I mean when I say self-doubt? Whom am I describing? Simply put, “it is the person who doubts himself, his abilities, who he is in Christ, and what his purpose is.”  It’s the guy or gal who questions him/herself all the time. He operates in questioning rather than confidence.  According to James 1:6, it is being double-minded. I didn’t say that. James did. The Greek word for doubting or wavering is, diakrino. It’s a verb that suggest NOT a weakness of faith but a “lack of faith”. If self-doubt has come into your life, read what James 1:7-8 says will happen:

VERSE 7,  “For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asked for] from the Lord.” That becomes the BUTs in our reasoning. “Yeah BUT…it isn’t my fault” or “BUT…I am over qualified for that job” or “BUT I am totally inexperience and haven’t any talent for doing that thing“.

VERSE 8,  “”[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].”   A person then, who is in self-doubt; hesitates, is unstable, unreliable, uncertain about EVERYTHING and has become defeated in everything he or she attempts to do. It has become a demonic attack against your spirit. It was the same as in the Garden of Eden. Satan introduced a ‘second thought’ in Adam and Eve’s lives. The ‘what if’ to the both of them.

Self-Doubt attacks our confidence to the core.  My FAITH is an expression of my confidence in God and His Word. With confidence in your life it has something attached to it. Look at Hebrews 10:35:

“Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.”  Self-doubt attacks my confidence and brings nothing but ‘second thoughts’; a double-mindedness and fear. The CAN’T DO’s, the YEAH BUT’s in our lives. Better known as excuses for the “why we can’t do”.

What can self-doubt and our lack of confidence do to answers in our prayers or compensation? To our healing, our prosperity, our harvest, that is blocked by our self-doubt? What gives us confidence that strengthens our faith to answered prayer? It’s NOT what I have done for God BUT what God has done for me. How do we defeat Self-Doubt?  How do we stop our lack of confidence and lack of faith in our outcomes with circumstances around us? Believe that God loves you…”this I know. For the bible tells me so!” Remember that children’s little song? Well it’s more than just a ‘little song’ for children. It’s for you and me right now. Right in the middle of your self-doubting.  When stress begin to encompass me sometimes, I sing the words to, “JESUS LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW”. It really builds me up. Until you know the will of God in your life, FAITH will not be in place.

Can self-doubt effect the decisions we make toward our circumstances?  Can the decisions we make come from the wrong motivations? Does GUILT, FEAR,  CONDEMNATION alter my decision of what to do or what to say? If your answer is YES, stop it right now! Stop condemning yourself and continuing the self-doubt. God gave us authority over our feelings. Our feelings and negative emotions should not take authority over us. God never condemns us! Most of us know the verse in the Gospel of John 3:16 but when emotions comes from our own self-condemnation…John 3:17 says, “For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”  That where a sound mind comes from. The world was already condemned! Jesus came to save the world from condemnation.  So if Jesus doesn’t condemn us and He doesn’t give us our self-doubt, then where does it come from? Where does the feelings of rejection originate? Feelings like , “I ‘m NOT wanted; I’m NOT important enough; I’m NOT included; I’m NOT loved and my favorite rejection feeling, I’m too OLD to be of service! The FEAR of REJECTION or the word NO is the same as the word HURT. There are three pitfalls I found in my detective work  today in  Defeating Self-Doubt. They become snares to our being “more than conquerors” in life.

1.  COMPROMISE in order to conform. You can disregard your Godly standards to be accepted. What is your price to compromise?

2.  BEING EXPOSED TO EXPLOITATIONS. Allowing yourself to be used out of FEAR of not being accepted.

3.  LOSING A SENSE OF SELF. You become a chameleon. A chameleon can change the color of their skin for protection from harm. Then who are you, really?

The devil is written all over these three pitfalls. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear)” NOT from being rejected or having self-doubt or condemned, “BUT [He has given us a spirit] of POWER and LOVE and of a calm and WELL-BALANCED MIND and DISCIPLINE and SELF CONTOL.” II Timothy 1:7  So if God doesn’t want you in self-doubt, who does?  Satan, the devil, our enemy to our FAITH. If your POWER to overcome is not in place then he has defeated you. “God wants you to be the best you can be for Him.”  If you were to never need help in your life, then God wouldn’t have sent the Holy Spirit to dwell on the inside of you.  Accept God’s mercy from  His word in Lamentations 3:22-23 and meditate in times of self-doubt.

“It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.” Verse 23 goes on to say, “They [His mercies] are new EVERY morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.” Put your trust, your faith and your confidence in His mercy, EVERY MORNING and your self-doubt will be defeated. Realize that God is working on us. When we became believers in JESUS, God the Father started a new work within us. He won’t stop working on me and He will finish it! Romans 8:1 and Philippians 1:6

Getting Results in Prayer-“A Foggy Day”; Part IV

It was early one morning, on a fall day when I began my commute to work. When I say commute, I meant it was a commute! From my garage in Poway, California to my parking space in San Bernardino, California it was exactly 95 miles, one way. It was freeway mileage most of the way in 1978, but in most places, it was two lanes north and two lanes south. There wasn’t anything unusual that morning; traffic was minimal and the sun was starting to appear above the hills to the east. I had a country gospel tape playing in the  car, keeping me company for the next two hours.  After about 30 miles from my home, I would often lose radio reception in the car. I am guessing I had been on the road for over an hour.  Peering out the windows, I could see dense fog lying in the valleys ahead and around me. The further I drove, the more dense the fog became. As I approached March AFB, southeast of Riverside, there was a stop light strategically placed up ahead. I knew this highway well after 8 months of driving Interstate 15.  A side road enterd the freeway at this point. Why here, in the middle of no-where, I had no idea. Although I couldn’t quite see the signal in the fog, I knew it was there. Making this drive round trip every day, I could almost commute now… blind-folded.  As I slowly approach the intersection, I could see that the light was red, so I  prepared to stop before approaching the intersection. I noticed that there was another car already stopped to my left.  While waiting for the light to change, I decided to adjust my rear-view mirror.  At that momment, my eyes grew wide and my heart began to race. Coming up fast from behind, I could see headlights peering at me while speeding through the dense fog.  My thoughts at that instant; “surely the driver must see two cars stopped at a red light”. I looked to my left at the car and driver stopped next to me. He was looking straight forward. I don’t know if he has any idea what was about to happen. The lights from behind us came closer and closer, and at that very moment, it became immediately obvious. We were going to die! The  on-coming driver was completely unaware of the red light and  the two cars stopped at the signal. I closed my eyes and said, “JESUS, help me. SAVE me and let that light change. NOW!”  Then I braced myself as best as I could. As I opened my eyes, all I saw was the speeding auto’s tail-lights speeding down the highway past the both of us. The red light in front of me had NOT changed. I slowly turned to my left, only to see the driver’s resting his head and hands on the steering wheel. He probably had dug his finger nails into the wheel. At that moment, the light turned green but we both couldn’t move forward.  How could that car go between both of the automobiles and not hit either of us? There was only about four feet between the two cars. I slowly accelerated the company car and shouted to myself, or anyone else that could hear me, “THANK YOU JESUS”.  God had surely protected the both of us. Somehow, some way. When I finally arrived at work that morning and told my story, I received no comments. Just blank stares of un-belief. That night when I pulled into my driveway, I could only imagine how my family would react to the story and this morning’s miracle.  As I found out that night at choir practice (another 40 mile round trip), people had been praying for my commute on that exact morning. Maybe the exact minute of my near tragic experience.

Lets look at some revealing examples and clues of detailed detective work in Acts 12.  King Herod had just struck a blow to the church that day. He had James, the brother of John killed with the sword; one of the “sons of thunder”, a leader in the first church. He had been brutally murdered and Herod had no intentions to stop with James.  Lets pick up the story in VERSE 3:

“And when he (King Herod) saw that it was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded further and arrested Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread [the Passover week].”

The early church members must have been devastated by the news. If this arrest of Peter, was going to take place at all, why now? It was the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover? There was three mandatory feast set down for the Jewish people. The Passover, the Festival of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. There were other feasts on the calendar but these three had to be attended according to the Law.

VERSE 4 goes on to say, “And when he had seized [Peter], he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him, purposing after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.”

I bet King Herod was remembering when Pilate dealt with Jesus, bringing Him before the Jews and letting them decide to free Him or crucify Him. All of those took place during the Passover. The church assembly that was gathered in the large room, must have thought, “here we go again”.  Peter is now thrown into jail with sixteen strong armed soldiers guarding him. Things must have looked pretty bleak and dismal.

VERSE 5 says, the church members might have said, “lets all go home and pray about the situation and see what might happen in the morning.”  No, that’s NOT what they agreed to do.  “So Peter was kept in prison.  BUT…”, I love when the Holy Spirit puts in the word “BUT” in the bible. That means to forget what was just said.   “BUT fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church (assembly).”  They didn’t go to their houses to pray for Peter. They didn’t wait for the results in the morning. The large number of church participants all stayed together at John’s mother’s house and began to pray “persistently” and FERVENTLY.  Prayers that were hot, boiling, moving in motion, an on- fire prayer meeting! (See VERSE 12}.

Lets look at VERSE 6 and see how Peter was reacting to his incarceration. Was he trembling in fear?

“The very night before Herod was about to bring him forth, Peter was…” tossing and turning, worried sick about the thing that was going to occur that night”. No, that is NOT what he was going through at all.  “Peter was SLEEPING between two soldiers, fastened with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.”  Peter was acting much differently than I reacted in the fog that morning. I prayed alright, but I prayed out of P-A-N-I-C. Was my prayer a FERVENT PRAYER? Perhaps.  I had two dear friends I sang with in a gospel trio in Southern California. We sang at churches, mens and women’s retreats and anywhere people would have us sing. The three of us became such close friends, from of our love of singing together, of being together, we became one in the spirit. After choir practice that night, long after my morning experience, I began to share with these brothers in Christ.  Milford, the bass in the trio; we called him Mil, began telling me his earlier experience of that morning. He explained that he was getting ready for work and shaving his face as he did every morning.  “YOU know Mel, I have prayed for you on and off since your long commute began. But this morning, it was different.”  “What do you mean by “different”? I asked. “Well, I had the strongest feeling to stop shaving and just pray for your safety. More so than anytime before. My prayer didn’t last very long but it was intense.”  THANK YOU BROTHER!  Was that fervent, earnest prayer? I believe it was, without a doubt.  Now look at the first of result of gathered prayer in VERSE 7.  They ALL decided it was the time forFERVENT prayer. Their persistant, earnest, heartfelt prayers had released God’s messengers.

“And suddenly an ANGEL of the Lord appeared [standing beside him], and a light shone in the place where he was”.

An angel had been released suddenly. Right where Peter was in prison. While he was fast asleep. Were angels released because of Mil’s fervent prayer for my safety on the highway that morning?  Right where I was waiting for the signal to turn green? I will add a note right here. I was definitely not asleep at the wheel! I believe to this day, that angels protected the occupants of both automobiles on that foggy morning. Lets go on looking at the results of Peter’s story in VERSE 7.

“And the angel gently smote Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, Get up quickly! And the chains fell off his hands.”

What was going through Peter’s subconscious mind during this whole experience?  Have you ever been awakened from a sound sleep and your thoughts were clear? Not me. I have to hear the coffee pot brewing in the morning before I even start to be alert. Look at Peter’s reactions in VERSE 9.

“And [Peter] went out [along] following him [the angel], and he was not conscious that what was apparently being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.”  I could empathize with Peter in this verse. When the speeding car in the dense fog, was rushing at me  from behind that morning, was it just a vision? Did it really happen? Maybe that was my first reaction, but after looking at the driver in the next car, that question quickly disappeared.

VERSE 10 then says, “When they had passed through the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate which leads into the city.”

More results from corporate praying in earnest. Maybe running by the first guard without attracting attention but a second guard? That can’t be just a happen-stance.  As they both moved on, the angel and Peter next came to an iron gate. This was NOT a small side door into the city. Gates in biblical times were often put between two strong towers. The walls that flanked the city’s entrance gate were often six to 15 feet thick.  The iron gate itself was often a gate within itself. The gate often had a name attached to it, describing a group of people who congregated behind it. (ex., The Essene Gate, The Gennath Gate) The main gate had to be fortified; for the defense and protection of the city. So when Peter and the angel approach the iron gate of the city we read in verse 10, “Of its own accord [the gate] swung open, and they went out and passed on through on street; and at once the angel left him.”  Now that experience surely must have got Peter to realize, he wasn’t sleep walking or dreaming. VERSE 11  says, “Then Peter came to himself and said, Now I REALLY KNOW and am sure that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the Jewish people were expecting [to do to me].”

This is an example of getting results in our prayers, through the fervency of other believers. How can earnest, hot and boiling, moving, FERVENT PRAYER bring results that might be lacking in our Christian lives? In Acts 12, the RESULTS are evident.

1.  Angels are sent to our need.

2.  It releases our binding chains; strongholds, addictions, bad habits and more. Anything that keeps us from our Father will.

3.  Miracles are received through our faith and confidence. What sometimes seem impossible, becomes possible.

4.  Deliverance. From stress, our fears, and our faults.

How are our Christian brothers and sisters to know how to pray for us if we don’t build close relationships?  JAMES 5:16 says, “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The EARNEST (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”  Are we to confess are faults and screw-ups to each other? You must be kidding me, right? NO, I am not kidding and neither is JAMES. WHY? Well, it gets rid of phoniness, we come more transparent and a trust is built between each other. Confession will get rid of hypocrisy. That was Peter’s relationship with the assembled believers in Acts 12 and that was my relationship with Mil and David; the Fischermen’s Trio. FERVENT prayer comes only from close relationships. Relationships can be compared with the three compartments of God’s Holy Temple. Casual acquaintances are for the outer court or compartments. Good friends may enter into your holy place at times to pray, BUT only one or two should be allowed into your holy of holies. You shouldn’t walk up to an acquaintance Sunday morning and say “My name is…would you pray for my bad attitude before worship?”  That area of confession is the place for the manifested Presence of God. That’s where angels are sent. That’s how results happen in our prayers. FERVENT PRAYERS are but an aspect in getting results to happen. Getting Results in Prayer doesn’t just happen. It takes close relationships with your Heavenly Father and with other believers. Be persistent, be faithful and be confident in the fervency of your prayers. You will get results, even on a “FOGGY MORNING”.

Getting Results in Prayer-Part III

A few years ago, I was at a dilemma in my life and had no idea of the outcome.  Have you ever experienced indecision in your family? Dianne and I had decided to change our church direction; a new and different ministry.  Not based on our own ideas of church but what the Holy Spirit had been whispering to each of us, in totally different ways.

I had made a commitment three months earlier to our worship pastor. My commitment was to serve on the worship team for four months. I had already given our decision to leave the fellowship but felt a commitment, was a commitment.  The worship team that I  sang with, always practiced the Tuesday before the following Sunday’s service.  However, the new church fellowship that we were now attending, had a Christmas drama presentation that we both committed to, on the same night that week. Which one was I going to cancel?  The ministry I had already committed to or the new commitment I had been drawn too? I began to go back and forth in my mind. I wanted to go to the drama practice at our new church home, and yet…I began to pray.  I still didn’t have peace in my spirit after praying specifically for about ten minutes.  “Desperate conditions need desperate measures”, I thought. And then I learned an important lesson in what NOT to do.  I proceeded to throw myself down on the family room’s carpet with my eyes shut tight, and crying out to the Lord in my desperation. Now that was a FERVENT PRAYER!  Then a small, still voice spoke in my ear as I lay prone, slobbering on the wet green carpet.  “Mel, what are you doing down here. Get up and trust Me. That’s all you need to do. I have heard your petition without your slobbering.” At almost the same instant, the phone rang.  “Hey Mel. I know this is a late notice but something has come up and I am postponing the worship team practice. Will Thursday night work for you?”  I think I blurted out something like, “THANK YOU JESUS; YES!”  The lesson I was taught that afternoon was fervency in prayer isn’t always needed on every occasion. When do we use fervent, earnest prayer?  I will give some examples in God’s Word next.

Turn with me to I Kings 17 and lets look at the Prophet Elijah’s fervent plea.  God had spoken specifically to Elijah, where he was to go and what to do in verses 9-16. Now I don’t know the single mother and her son’s spiritual condition at that time, but she was desperate.  Little groceries in the pantry, no heat and no light!  Then God shows up through the Prophet Elijah in the middle of a drought. In her desperation she was left with “picking up sticks”.  Have you ever been in a situation in your life where all there was left to do was “picking up sticks”?  When I was a child and I would moan and groan about circumstances, my mom would say, “go to the mountains and eat worms if things are that bad”.  Her conditions began to change; enough bread to feed company, enough oil to cook with and light the house. Her faith had been restored; or maybe NOT. Remember, her household was now in plenty. The rest of her neighbors were still in want. VERSE 17 says, “After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.”  What would you say and do if you were in a place of ‘more than enough’ to a place of sorrow? A place of ‘not enough’.  VERSE 18 says, “And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and slay my son?”  The faith, the trust in God had obviously left the building. What was the man of God going to do now? What would I do? Without hesitation, VERSE 19 says, “He said to her, Give me your son. And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed.”  We don’t know what was going through Elijah thoughts at the time. But we know that he was obedient, he trusted in God and He would hear his voice and answer his prayer, right NOW!  No FEAR here and it’s time for effective prayer.  Now lets look together at Elijah’s FERVENT PRAYER to his heavenly FATHER.  VERSES 20-22 say, “And Elijah cried to the Lord and said”  CRIED in the Hebrew means that Elijah was loudly shouting out to God here. I personally think the dead boy’s mom could hear Elijah’s prayer from downstairs. Elijah goes on, “have You brought further calamity upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?”  Disrespectful here on Elijah’s part? Do some digging in Isaiah 43:26 and get your answer to that question.  His prayer to God had reached the boiling point. It was bubbling up and the prayer was in action and movement. This was FERVENT PRAYER! Then Elijah did something that most Christians would probably not do.  VERSE 21 says Elijah “…stretched himself upon the child”  not once, not twice BUT  “…three times and cried to the Lord and said, O Lord my God, I pray You, LET THIS CHILD’S SOUL COME BACK INTO HIM.”  And the result of his fervent, heart centered prayer in VERSE 22 says, “And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.”  Can you visualize the scene, when Elijah comes down the stairs and says to the wide-eyed mother, “See, your son is alive!”  Todays skeptics would most likely comment that the boy wasn’t dead at all. The three of them had conspired to make the headlines. There are no miracles today!  Even though you may doubt believers’ testimonies, it still doesn’t change the results.  Look at the mom’s response in VERSE 24, “..By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”  This example of Getting Results in Prayer, are paramount in believers prayer lives.  Elijah showed us obedience to God’s Word.  He showed us trust and faith, using FERVENT PRAYER as a practical expression, of confidence in God and in His word. This wasn’t  a religious exercise in FERVENT PRAYER. This is a heart condition through a relationship with our Father.

My next BLOG I will do some detective work digging in the New Testament.  The FERVENT PRAYERS of individuals in the HOUSE (the local church).

Guidelines to an Attitude of Prayer

I am going to give a short list of guidelines towards the right prayer attitude. Yes, our thought lives can and will affect our prayers.  We all could use an attitude adjustment before praying at times. If you are thinking to yourself, “I never have that problem before I pray”, I will discuss with a BLOG later on the effects of dishonesty and being religious in prayer. A little humor before giving the guidelines I found in my detective work.

1.   Don’t be afraid to ask.  Genesis 25:21 “Isaac prayed much”

2.   Balance prayer with action.  Exodus 14:15 says, “The Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people…GO FORWARD.”

3.   An attitude change can change events.  Exodus 32:9-14; Vs. 12 “Turn from your fierce wrath, and change Your mind”

4.   Is failing to pray for others a sin?  1 Samuel 12:23  “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord for not praying”

5.   Don’t always expect an IMMEDIATE answer.  2 Chronicles 7:12  “I have heard your prayer” and then the “IF’s” V ss. 13-20.

6.   Christian leaders especially pay attention to the ingredients contained in king Jehoshaphat’s prayer.  2 Chron. 20:3-15.

7.   God hears everyone who is godly [the man of loving-kindness].  Psalm 4:3  “The Lord listens…”  Is your attitude godly? Lovely?

8.   The secrets of a close relationship that can be an attitude changer.  Psalm 5:1-3 “In the morning I prepare a prayer, wait, watch”

9.   Jesus answers His disciples questions of their “why not us” attitude.  Mark 9:29  ‘You can’t drive out demons by anything but…’

10The keys to having the attitude of your prayers to be effective.  Mark 11:22-24  “Have FAITH in God (constantly).”  List the other keys you see in the verses. It changed my attitude towards prayer and it will change yours.

11.  Knowing the power available in your prayers will change attitudes.  1 Timothy 2:1-4  Verse 1 says, “ALL MEN”  That is believing that prayer can change “ALL MEN”. That’s  UNBELIEVERS, not just other Christians. “BUT…I can’t stand our government leaders. I can’t pray for them.” That thought has sure crossed my mind. Especially in these days of unrest.  All men include, “For kings and ALL who are in positions of authority or high responsiblity.”  And then in verse 3, Paul tells us we are in a right attitude of prayer when we do as verse 1 and 2 tell us.  “For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior.” 

The eleven (11) guidelines that I searched out, regarding our attitude in prayer, is just the beginning.  Look up these referenced verses and work on the areas in your prayer life that need an attitude adjustment.  I am just sharing what and where I found answers. It has helped form my attitude before I pray daily. Is it tough going?  It is!  Some mornings, I  start praying with my eyes closed. I try to focus on certain prayer requests; mine and others. It seems like I’ve been praying for half an hour or so when I crack my eyes open, look at my watch and see I’ve been praying for 5 minutes. ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT time.  So get your bibles out and start praying. “About what?” you may ask.  Start out by searching out answers. An example might be deliverance on an issue you have.  Look up in a bible concordance, verses pertaining to “deliverance.”  Then pray God’s Word.  You won’t believe at first the difference in your attitudes about praying.  Don’t wait for tomorrow to start doing. START WHERE YOU ARE.

Getting Results in Prayer- Part II

Lets look at examples of fervent or earnest prayer this afternoon.  1 Samuel 1:12-15 is a great example of a woman praying from her heart and pouring out her soul to God.  Why do men think that only women can pray like Hannah? Sorry guys, fervent or earnest prayer is not exclusive of Christian men. We will discuss that question later on.

“And as she continued praying before the Lord, Eli noticed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Eli said to her, How long will you be intoxicated? Put wine away from you. But Hannah answered, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I was pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

I never had an accusation during my prayer time, of being intoxicated, praying fervently. Not in my entire Christian experience. Most likely, it’s because my lack of earnest prayer in public. Now I pray in public, don’t get me wrong. I just can’t seem to bring myself to praying fervently in front of other people. How about you? Is it because we are concerned what people around us might think? They might be opposed to that type of praying in church?  Lets back up to verses 6 and 7.  Did Hannah have opposition that intimidated her?

“…and her rival provoked her greatly to vex her, because the Lord had left her childless.”  If I was about to enter the sanctuary on Sunday morning and someone said to me, “I see you and your wife are STILL childless”, fervent prayer would not be on my mind!  I would be focussing on the comment that was made.  My attitude would not be in the mood of praying earnestly…at all.

Verse 7 goes on, “So it was year after year; whenever Hannah went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah provoked her, so she wept and did not eat.”  So this opposition to Hannah’s petitions to God wasn’t just once. Verse 7 says, the harassment went on and on and on. It got to the point that she couldn’t even eat. Did Hannah give up, cave in and quit in her request?  Go to verse 10 and see how Hannah was praying.  “And [Hannah] was in distress of soul, praying to the Lord and weeping bitterly.” There was lip and mouth movement while she was praying, without audible words.  Verse 15, Hannah describes to Eli how she prayed:  “I was pouring out my soul before the Lord.”  The first perception of her Pastor was her countenance while praying.  Hannah must have been ‘hitting the sauce’ before coming to church. Her testimony was an awakening to her Pastor, to her husband Elkanah and to us about how we can pray and get results. Doesn’t matter what our gender is. Did Hannah get results from her praying?  Look at verse 18 and see the results of her fervent prayer. 

“So [Hannah] went her way and ate, her countenance no longer sad.”  After praying, things happened. Her countenance, her face and her composure changed. The next morning Hannah’s husband could see the difference in his wife. Verse 19 says, “Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.”  Now without going into the specifics here and you saying, “T.M.I” , I will just mention that if we do our part, God will do His part.  Now Hannah’s results for her earnest praying are present in verses 26 and 27.  “Hannah said, Oh my Lord! I am the woman who stood by you here PRAYING TO THE LORD. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition made to Him.”  After my detective work in 1 Samuel, I look at my own heart regarding the results when I pray.  I had some questions I needed to ask myself.  DO I NEED TO PRAY LIKE HANNAH EVERY TIME I PRAY?   HAVE I EVER PUT FORTH HONEST, EARNEST PRAYER IN MY PETITIONS?  We will look Monday at some of the answers and continue looking at what God says about Getting Results in Prayer.