HOW BIG AND HOW EFFECTIVE ARE YOUR PRAYERS?

 A STUDY in Psalm 20:1-9; Psalm 13

Before getting started in this Song of David, I hope you will take the time to listen and read the verses contained in Psalm 20.  

Oh, what an awesome God You are!

Does God Answer Prayer?

As good Christians, we are expected to answer that question…”Of course, He does!”  After all, He promises to answer prayer in His Word and God keeps His Word.

Yes, God does answer prayer!  And yet, I’ll ask the same question again – “Does God answer our prayers?”

Think for a moment and consider some of the prayers and petitions you’ve presented to God in the past.  Do you feel God has answered each of your prayers?  Has He provided healing when asked?  Has He saved those for whom you have asked salvation?  Has He sent the rain to earth in the midst of a hot and dry and thirsty season?

To be honest with you, each of us at times struggles somewhat with the question:  “Does God answer prayer?”

He does BUT…

So, what does it mean to answer prayer?  Does it mean “Ask and you should receive?”  Can we say that God ONLY answers us by giving what we ask for?  Can we come to God like a child with (what was a penny) a quarter, which he places in the candy machine and is guaranteed to receive a candy bar?  It comes out automatically and immediately.  We know that it doesn’t always work that way.  We know that God gives us those things for His sake and it has to be according to His will, not ours.

But still, we may wonder why then ask God?  If He’s going to do what He has already determined is His will and what’s best for us.

Perhaps the problem lies in how we expect God to answer.  We see PRAYER as something in which we ASK and in which God GIVES.

“Whole Prayer”

Walter Wangerin, in his book “Whole Prayer” says that PRAYER is communication.  That it’s NOT speaking to God but with God.

So let’s divide our prayers into four activities:

  1. First, we speak.
  2. Second, God listens.
  3. Third, God speaks.
  4. Fourth, we listen!

I wonder in my own prayer life how much time is spent speaking to God and little time listening to Him.  It becomes a one-sided communication.  And when we do this, we then wonder WHY He hasn’t answered us.  Perhaps He has, but we didn’t hear Him.

Psalm 20 is a PRAYER of the people, probably as they gathered before their king David as his army was about to go into battle.

They begin and end the PRAYER with a call for God to ANSWER not just this prayer, but future calls for help as well.

The Hebrew word for ANSWER is “anah”.  It means “to eye or to heed”, i.e. pay attention; to respond; to begin to speak; to sing, shout, testify, announce: -give account, afflict, bring low, cry, hear, lift up, say, speak, testify, (bear) witness. [See footnote [i].]

To ANSWER is to pay attention, to respond with words and/or with action.

The ultimate request was that the Lord protect them and give them victory.  That their plans will succeed.  That is the ANSWER they’re looking for.  That He will give them the DESIRE of David’s heart!  That ALL their requests be granted!

But they, we, have deeper needs.  Even deeper than the need for victory or the desires of our heart.

It’s the need to know that God has heard us; that we come to know God and His perfect will for our lives.

We need to hear Him and to know Him.

It’s in that way that He is not a candy dispenser or need dispenser, but rather one whom we come to know and trust.  To TRUST His answer even more than we do our own requests.

We need to hear His voice!

To hear Him comfort us, console us, and teach us.

And so we consider not just the ANSWER, but how God speaks in return to our requests and petitions.  To let us know He has heard us.

As parents, we don’t want our children to just ask for things then leave and expect us to give in time what they ask.  We want to communicate our LOVE by showing why their request(s) may be wrong and bad for them.

We want to talk about their desires on what they’re based.

So God wants to speak to us.

Even in this Psalm, we see two ways by which God speaks to us.

In VERSE 2, people say “May He send you help from the sanctuary…”

This could mean send help from heaven.  Or, it could refer to God Himself, since He is found in the SANCTUARY, His house.

In the Psalms, the SANCTUARY is always a picture of the place where we meet with God.  It’s where people worshipped and where God spoke to His people.  In Israel, it was the Temple, the place where the Israelites came to get his thoughts straightened out, get his thinking correct.  There they met with God, heard the Word of God, the mind and thoughts of God.

For us, the SANCTUARY can be the church (the “building”) or the Scriptures.  It’s there that God speaks to us.  Our minds are enlightened, that we begin to see the world around us from God’s eyes, not the way it appears, but to tell you the way things really are.

When we need help, we need to LISTEN to God.  And yet, do we really LISTEN to His Word?

God speaks to us through His Word and many of the answers to prayer are already given to us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

[16] All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

[17] so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

That’s ‘inhaling God’s exhaling’ [God breathed–The Breath of God Almighty].

The people also pray that God would grant them support from Zion.

Psalm 20:2 (b) – “…and give you support from Zion!”

ZION represents God’s Rule.

God’s Rule comes from a heavenly Zion or Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem is sometimes referred to as Zion.

Sometimes God answers prayer when He speaks to us by ministering to us in different ways.  He sent His ministering angels to the prophet Elijah at Mt. Carmel and to Jesus in Gethsemane.  In each case, they prayed to God for help in their distress.

Although God didn’t answer by changing their circumstances, He did speak to them so they could see His plan and His will for their lives.

So God can speak to us through angels and through the Holy Spirit, by enabling us to see things from His perspective.

In fact, when we pray, if we listen, we’ll see God’s COMFORT and PRESENCE.

In reading through the Psalms, many begin with cries for help, with anger directed to God even with despair. eg. PSALM 13

But God, as the psalmist listens, draws him to end the psalm or prayer with hope and peace and victory!

Psalm 13:1 (AMP) – HOW LONG will You forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

Psalm 13:6 (AMP) – I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.

There are ways God answers us and speaks to us that are not in this psalm.

God speaks to us through our experiences.  God is SOVEREIGN.  He can open and close doors for us.

We may want, desire something so much and yet we don’t know if it’s God’s will in our lives.

TRY AND SEE!  It was The WORD Detective ministry for me.

God also spoke through the counsel of other believers.

Not from Oprah, or the gang at work, but from those who know the Lord and who care.

For the director of music.

 A Psalm of David.

[1]  How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?

[2]  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?

[3]  Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;  [4] my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

[5]  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 

[6]  I will sing to the LORD. for he has been good to me.

Or Nathan giving counsel to David after David had sinned.

God provides ANSWERS for ALL our prayers!

Do we listen?

Do we hear?

Do we pray?

Tony Evans – Spend 30 seconds praying and 3 hours worrying–better the other way around.

But as we pray, LISTEN TO GOD!

Take time to list!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

Sermon notes:  Psalm 20:1-9 by Glen Branham, May 9, 2005.

Footnote [i] :  Abarim Pub. Anah meaning in Biblical Hebrew.

Bible translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Video:  Youtube – Psalm 20

 

 

 

GENESIS 24: Here Comes The Bride

 

Like many things in the bible, this story, the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis, has a two-fold meaning.  Just like a PARABLE has a physical application and a spiritual application (Sower and the seed, prodigal son, the parable of the lost sheep…).  I believe each person in this story represents something, a picture of something, a symbol of something!  So together, let’s investigate and see what these individuals are depicting.

GENESIS, Chapter 24, is the story of the SERVANT of Abraham.

The SERVANT is searching for the perfect bride for his Master’s Son, Isaac.  The story serves as a great illustration of God’s LOVE.

  • In this story within a story, Abraham represents God the Father.
  • Isaac represents God the Son.
  • The servant represents God the Holy Spirit.
  • Rebeka represents the Church, the bride of Christ
  • Camels – Represents GRACE, or a better description is a picture or image of Grace.
  • Brothers and the Mother – Represents the world or a picture/image of the WORLD.

What is Jesus looking for?  What kind of expectations does Jesus have for His Church?

Christ’s Bride consists of those who are the household of Faith–THE CHURCH.

Genesis 24:1-4 (NIV)

[1] Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.  [2] He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh.  [3] I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living,  [4] but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

The Canaanites were idol worshippers.

In Genesis 12, God gives Abraham a PROMISE:

Genesis 12:1-2 (AMP)

[1] NOW [in Haran] the Lord said to Abram, “Go for yourself [for your advantage] away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

[2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others].”

So Abraham left his homeland in Ur and settled in Canaan.

Genesis 12:7

[7] Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your posterity.”  So Abram built an altar there to the Lord, Who had appeared to him.

Abraham doesn’t want his Son to marry one of the heathen Canaanite women. 

Abraham was a man of great faith.  He’s getting old and wants to be sure that the FAITH he has will continue on in his family.

Abraham knows his son Isaac will take on the responsibility of maintaining faith in God and His promises.  He knows a Canaanite woman could be a bad influence on his son, so he asks his servant to return to his homeland.  While there, he is to find a young woman of faith to become the wife of his Son.

There’s a Biblical principle to be found here that is often ignored.

Amos 3:3 – Can two walk together, except they are agreed?

2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

How could God have made it any easier to understand?  CHRISTIANS SHOULDN’T MARRY UNSAVED PEOPLE.

It may eventually work out O.K…  However, it usually doesn’t.

Abraham doesn’t want that to happen to his son, Isaac.  Likewise, we shouldn’t want it to happen to our children or grandchildren.

Christ’s Bride consists of those who are willing to commit their lives to Him.

Abraham knows Isaac must remain in Canaan to fulfill God’s PROMISE.

The SERVANT took a VOW to find a BRIDE for his Master’s Son.  But if the young woman was unwanting to return with him to the promised land, he would then be free from the vow.  Abraham didn’t want a ‘shotgun wedding’ for his son, Isaac.

And so it is with God the Father.  God wants us to come to Jesus of our own free will.  If a person doesn’t want to be SAVED, and rather choose Hell over Heaven, that’s their choice.

The Bride of Christ consists of those who are God picked [Genesis 24:7].

[7] “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, “To your offspring I will give this land–he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.”

God told Abraham He would send an angel ahead of his servant and the ANGEL would help the servant make the choice.

Maybe I should stop here for a moment to clarify something.  There are TWO theologies that come into play regarding the predestination of man.  In other words, when a person is born, God has already determined how he or she will live his life, whether or not he or she will be SAVED or LOST.

Some people like me, believe in the FREEWILL of man.  Everyone born into this world is allowed by God to make his or her own choice.  In other words, we are not puppets on a string with God pulling the ropes.  And we are not actors on a stage acting out a pre-written script.

The TWO theologies seem miles apart.  However, in this Bible story, I find both theologies at work.  God is doing the directing and the choosing, but Rebekah has to be willing to come!

Luke 6:13 says,  When morning came, he (Jesus) called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.

Though Jesus chose 12 men, each one had a CHOICE to make.  They could surrender their lives and follow Jesus, or reject Him and go on living lives as they pleased.  I thought about this for a while and asked myself, “How does this apply to us today?”

Proverbs 1:27-29

So, back to the representations I mentioned:

  • Abraham represents God the Father.
  • Isaac represents Jesus.
  • The servant represents the Holy Spirit.
  • Rebekah represents the Church.

The Holy Spirit speaks to the hearts of the unsaved.

Though the Word of God is certainly found in our bibles, the Holy Spirit CONVICTS us of our sin.  The Holy Spirit leads us to accept Jesus as our Savior.  When we do that, we become part of the Bride of Christ.

Now catch the words in VERSE 10:  “Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left…”

Why take 10 camels, I wondered?

“…taking with him all kinds of good things from his master.”

[I’ll get to the CAMELS a bit later].

The SERVANT arrives in the city of Nahor [Nahor was Abraham’s brother] and he made the camels kneel down by a well in the evening.

The Servant’s PRAYER (verses 12-14):

[12] “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.  [13] See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.  [14] May it be that when I say to a girl. ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink and I’ll water your camels too’– let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.  By this, I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

Look how quickly this prayer is answered!

[15] Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.  She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.

The Bride of Christ consists of those who are attractive  (Genesis 24:16).

REBEKAH was beautiful!  She could have easily won a beauty contest of her day.

Now don’t get the wrong idea here.  God does look at the heart!  Jesus often criticised religious leaders putting on a big show in public (Matthew 23:27-30).

But outward appearance means something!  The Bible isn’t ashamed to tell us that Isaac’s bride to be was beautiful,  So was Abraham’s wife, Sarah.  It isn’t sinful to look nice!  Outward appearance does make a difference.

But taking this beyond our physical appearances, what about what other people see in us?

God wants us to be good examples.  He doesn’t want us to live in such a way that we bring shame on the name, Christian!  Jesus wants us to live lives that are attractive to others.

Matthew 5:16 (AMP)

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”

The Bride of Christ consists of those who are diligent–hardworking [Genesis 24:17-21].

.

Not only did Rebekah give the SERVANT a drink of water, but proceeded to water 10 Camels.  It’s said that one camel can drink 30 gallons of water.

I particularly noticed something about Rebekah that she went well beyond do what was asked of her…He asked for a drink for himself, and she did that and watered the CAMELS!

The Holy Spirit is always looking for people who will go beyond what they are asked to do!

Genesis 24:22 (NIV)

[22] When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.

The SERVANT rewards her for her services, for her kindness, but he hasn’t yet told her why he’s there!  Interesting!

That’s important.  Think of all the times God blessed you, protected you…BEFORE you became a Christian.  For me, it was thirty years before I came to Christ’s calling.

Watching Camels drink can’t be a pretty sight.

I searched out some interesting facts about a CAMEL.  A Camel has a set of 3 eyelids.  Two of the eyelids have eyelashes to help protect their eyes from the sand.  The third is a very thin lid and works as a sort of “windshield wipers” to clean their eyes.  It closes/opens from side to side rather than up and down.  It’s also thin enough that the Camels can see through it somewhat.

CAMELS can carry an average of 1000 pounds for long distances.  They also have leathery pads on their feet that spread to prevent them from sinking in the sand.  [ SEE footnote [i].]

GRACE can see through obstacles, carry us thru storms, no matter if we feel like the weight of the world is upon our shoulders.  GRACE CAN CARRY US THRU THE WILDERNESS!

Look what Jesus said in Mark 9:41 (NET Bible)

“For I tell you the truth, whoever gives you a cup of water because you bear Christ’s name will never lose his reward.”

Jesus is talking about those who are His disciples and those who aren’t.  It’s so much more than just handing out cups of water!  It’s about helping those in need.  It’s about working hard to help others.

In GENESIS 24, look closely at verse 61:  Then Rebekah and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and went back with the man.  So the servant took Rebekah and left.

Here’s the highlight, I believe, of the story within the story.

As Rebekah was watering the CAMELS, she had to notice that each Camel was loaded down with expensive GIFTS.  She must have noticed that the SERVANT was no beggar.  This SERVANT was a man of means.  EVERYTHING piled on the backs of those Camels would one day become hers!

AND, let’s not forget Rebekah’s Brother and Mother who represents the WORLD – Genesis 24:55 (AMP)

[55] But [Rebekah’s] brother and mother said, “Let the girl stay with us a few days–at least ten; then she may go.”

There’s always going to be people in your life who will try to hinder you and discourage you or delay you in following God.  Maybe your running buddy, your friends, maybe your co-worker, it might even be your family.

It’s still your CHOICE to make!

So would become the BRIDE of Isaac!

On her way to her new homeland in the Promised Land, she would be perched up on top of all those riches!

The symbolism portrayed here is a person surrounding their life to Jesus through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 24:62-67 (NIV)

[62]  Now Isaac had come from Beer-La-hai Roi, for he was living in the Negev.

[63]  He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.

[64]  Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac.  She got down from her camel  [65] and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

[66]  Then the servant told Isaac all that he had done.

[67]  Isaac brought her int the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah.  So she became his wife, and he loved her, and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

As the BRIDE of Christ, we too are promised untold riches:

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”

Ephesians 2:7

“…in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Crist Jesus.

Ephesians 3:16

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.”

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Who Will Jesus Take As His Bride?

The BRIDE of Christ

HAVE YOU BEEN SAVED?

Take pleasure in knowing if you are a true believer–that Jesus is your Savior and that riches are yours!

If you are reading this Blog-Study and you are NOT SAVED, or insure of your SALVATION, your eternal security, then you can do it today!

Are you afraid of letting go, letting God make the CHOICES in your life?  Remember that Rebekah was God’s perfect choice for the bride of Isaac.  God loves you.  If you rely on His WISDOM, you’ll never regret the CHOICES He makes for your life!

Do you know someone who isn’t SAVED?

Be like the SERVANT and do what you can to bring them to Christ Jesus by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Understand that unlike Rebekah, some will refuse to give themselves to Jesus.  But at least make an effort to reach out your hand and lead them to Jesus!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

PHOTS/IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Footnote [i]:  CAMEL FACTS @SoftSchools.com

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

Sermon notes   Genesis 24;1-63,  Pastor Jimmy Haile, September 30, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dependence On Outward Signs Instead of Inward Commitment

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  GENESIS 17:9-13; Deuteronomy 10:16-17; Colossians 2:11-12

SIGNS ARE IMPORTANT –

Signs are one way that we communicate with one another and many times how we identify things.

A Salvation Army woman outside of a well-known store during the Christmas season was informed by a policeman that there was a local ordinance that prevented her from ringing her bells and inviting contributions.  She was contrite and apologized that she had “broken” the law.  But the next day she was back in front of the same store doing a brisker business than ever as she waved one sign and then another in the air.  One said “DING” and the other said “DONG”.

SIGNS are important in the lives of God’s people too.  They may not be printed signs but we, as Christians, do portrait who we are by the way we live.  People should be able to identify us by the way we are acting.  Our lives become SIGNS to the world.

In the referenced passage of Scripture in Genesis 17, it is telling us about a sign that identifies God’s people.

Genesis 17:1-2 (AMP)

[1]  WHEN ABRAM was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, I AM the Almighty God;  walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).

[2]  And I will make My covenant (solemn pledge) between Me and you and will multiply you exceedingly.  [Amplified Bible]

The FIRST thing I noticed in the study, is this is where we are introduced to the name, El Shaddai–means God Almighty.  The all-powerful God.  It’s here where God tells Abram the name that He wants him to remember Him by.

God tells Abram to serve Him faithfully and in return, He will BLESS him.

Also here in chapter 17, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sari’s name to Sarah.

He gives them NEW NAMES when He gives them the sign of the covenant.

God has just informed Abraham that He was making a covenant (not a contract) with him.

CONTRACT VS. COVENANT – Why the difference matters.

With a contract, if one agreeing party does something in violation of the contract then it’s considered broken.  The whole contract becomes null and void.  Basically, the signs of a contract agree to hold up the ends as long as the other signatories hold up theirs.

With a covenant, both parties agree to hold up their ends, regardless of whether the other party keeps their part of the agreement.  A violation of a covenant by one party doesn’t matter as far as the other party’s responsibility is to continue to do what they agreed too.  [See footnote [i].]

So in God’s COVENANT with Abraham, He tells him and his descendants they would be God’s chosen people and God also promised him the entire land of Canaan forever!

Then God went on to say to them…(vs. 9-13)

[9] Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.  [10] This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are going to keep:  Every male among you shall be circumcised.  [11] You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.  [12] For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner–those who are not your offspring.  [13] Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised.  My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.”  [NIV Bible]

You will have a SIGN, a mark on you that will identify you as one of My Chosen People.  When you do this, you’re acknowledging who I AM and what I mean to you.  This will set you apart from the rest of the world.  Your old identity will be gone.  No longer are you who you used to be, now you are one of My chosen people.  This tells those around you who you worship and serve.

The SIGN of FAITH by CIRCUMCISION is just the beginning.

After this act, God expected Abraham and his descendants to be different from worldly people who live among them.

It was a SPIRITUAL SIGN to be dedicated to Almighty God.

As you read and study God’s word, you’ll see that the Jewish people became prideful of this.  The SIGN became a national pride, not a submission to God and a promise to follow Him.  They started depending on an outward sign instead of an inward commitment to God.  The problem with this was the SIGN, not the actual covenant.

Have we as Christians become so prideful in outward signs in today’s society we’ve forgotten God’s covenant?


Again, VERSE ONE: 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”

SERVE ME FAITHFULLY, that was the covenant.

Circumcision was the SIGN and not the actual covenant.  God had gotten tired of only token commitment from His people.  They were being circumcised but they were NOT being the people God had intended them to be.

Look at Deuteronomy 10:16-17


SERVE ME FAITHFULLY, that was the covenant.

CIRCUMCISION, a separation from the world.  A separation from SIN; cutaway, circumcise the old ways and, the old sinful heart and serve with a new heart.

What does this mean to us today?  We do have circumcision but it’s just a health-related issue, not a religious issue for Christians today.  While we don’t have the circumcision as a SIGN of our commitment to God, we do have BAPTISM.

The Great Commission – Matthew 28:19, 20 (AMP)

“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”

This is a SIGN that they have accepted what Jesus did for them.  It doesn’t SAVE them, the acceptance of Christ does that and along with that commitment comes a CIRCUMCISION of the HEART.  A change of heart.  A new creation in Christ Jesus.

The apostle Paul gives the best definition I’ve found for Christian Circumcision in his letter to the church at Colossi:

Colossians 2:11, 12 (NIV)

[11] In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,  [12] having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.

We are BAPTIZED because we have trusted in the mighty POWER of God.  Our SIN is cut away and we tell the world that we are one of God’s children.

I’ve had conversations with many people over the years whose only testimony is that they were “baptized.”  I heard people say they walked the aisle at so and so’s church and was baptized.

If you claim to be a Christian, then you must have a testimony!

There must be a time that you knew and remembered that you BELIEVED and ACCEPTED what Jesus did for you.

BAPTISM IS NOT THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.

The FAITH that we place in God through Jesus Christ is how God makes a COVENANT with us and we solidify that and show the world through our BAPTISM.

BAPTISM IS OUR CIRCUMCISION.

It symbolizes the removal of the old skin in our lives and identifies us as a child of God.  My heart just aches for those who think that just because they were baptized in front of a church altar, they were SAVED.  They have become like the children of Israel who thought that just because they had the SIGN OF CIRCUMCISION, they were HEIRS to eternal life with God.

God says no, your HEART must be circumcised.

There’s a change if there is true SALVATION.  We are not the same person we were before we met Jesus.

The are OTHER SIGNS that Christians should be showing in their lives.

God told Abraham that he must serve Him faithfully.  Not occasionally, but ALWAYS!

Our TESTIMONY must always be that we were SAVED through the death of Jesus Christ for the punishment for our SIN.

The Israelites carried the SIGN of the Covenant through CIRCUMCISION, but there must be more.

Just like Abraham and everybody else that is a true child of God, we must wear A SIGN of the heart that has been changed; the SIN has been changed, the SIN has been cut away and a life that is living faithfully for God.

Neither CIRCUMCISION nor BAPTISM can save you, only FAITH in God and what Jesus did on the cross.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog-study in the Bible.  I’m always looking for feedback in my study so I can continue to grow in the proclamation of God’s Word.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  Contract Vs. Covenant.  Why the Diffeence Matters; New Creations.org

PHOTOS/IMAGES:  Google Image Search; Settings, advanced search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

Planning to Fail (PART TWO)

SCRIPTURE STUDY – JAMES 4:13-17

Although there might be more, I discovered THREE words in this passage of Scripture that will help in finding God’s plan for every area of your life.

The FIRST word begins with the letter “C”.  CONFESSION.

CONFESS your sins.  Get your heart right with God if you want Him to lead you.

Psalm 66, VERSE 18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” 

In other words, you are wasting your breath if you PRAY unconfessed, unrepented of sin in your heart and in your life.  If you’re remembering and talking about the Great Prayer Promises in the Bible–that’s one of them.

1 John 1:5, 6 goes on to say, “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:  God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet you walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  [NIV]

You see, if there’s SIN in our lives, rather than walking in the Light, we are stumbling in the dark.  Let me put in this way.  Do you have an IDOL in your life?  You say, “No, they worship ‘IDOLS’ over in foreign countries.  We don’t worship idols here.”

Really?

An IDOL is anything you love more than God.

An IDOL is anything you serve more than God.

An IDOL is anything that you fear more than God.

Here’s a verse of Scripture to ponder:

Ezekiel 14, VERSE 3 [AMP]

[3] Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and put the stumbling block of the iniquity (sin) and guilt before their faces; should I permit Myself to be inquired of at all by them?

That is, can these men who have IDOLS say, “God lead me?”

God says, “Look.  These men have idols in their hearts.  What right do they have to come to Me and ask Me to guide them?”

So, if you want to know God’s WILL for the future, number one, CONFESSION.  Make certain there’s no unconfessed, unrepented SIN in your life!  If that sounds strange, it’s not!  It’s normal living.

Number TWO is CONSECRATION.

The word “consecration” sounds a bit churchly to most.  In the Bible, the word means “the separation of oneself from things that are unclear, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.”  [See footnote [i].]

It’s not enough to be CLEANSED; you need to be CONSECRATED!

Proverbs 3:6 READS, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

Do you really want to know God’s WILL in your life, or do you just want God to help you with your plans?

“In ALL your ways,” not some of your ways, acknowledge Him!

Number THREE – Listen.

You see, there’s a VOICE behind you.

I feel this is the most important.  Well, not the most important, but a vital thing and that’s concentration!

  • Confession, Consecration, Concentration.

LISTEN TO GOD!

There’s a Voice behind you.

There’s God GUIDING you with His eye.

The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a gentle dove, as a still, small voice.  That’s why we need that quiet time alone, away from the worldly noise, alone with Abba Father.

You might say, “Well, God never speaks to me!”  One would have to be foolish to deny that there’s no music in the air just because you have the radio turned off.

God is speaking.  Are you listening?  Or do you keep interrupting the conversation with all the “Yeah, but’s”?

BEWARE of this godless planning.

BEWARE of self-centered planning, okay?

Not only should you beware of self-centered planning, but you need to be aware of self-confident presumption.

Our lives are but a VAPOR.

The words, “…what is your life…you are but a mist [a vapor]…”; it’s the word atmos.  It’s where we get the English word, Atmosphere from. It’s like that foggy breath you see when you [the Word Detectivie] walk the dog on crisp, cold air, days in the Fall.  It’s there for a little while, and then it vanishes.

We don’t know what the FUTURE holds.

This may be the year you check out of here.  You may be going to heaven, or this may be the year you’re going to hell if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior.  This may be your final year on earth.  You don’t know.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking right now.  You think “Well, I’m in good health.  I’m young, I’m this, I’m that.”  But you don’t know, do you?

What is your life?

It’s but a VAPOR that appears for a little while then vanishes away.  And what we all need to be aware of is not only self-centered planning, but being AWARE of self-confident presumption–thinking we’re going to do this, or we’re going to do that before we leave this old earth and we get frivolous with our use of time.

Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

So as you PLAN THE FUTURE, you should say, “Lod God, I don’t know what the future is, I don’t know how much more time I have.  So Lord, help me to apply my days unto wisdom.  And Lord, may I live out the rest of my days, whether they be few or whether they be many, may they be used for You.”

To Kill Time is Suicide by Degree.

Don’t presume upon the time that you have.

Here’s the THIRD thing you need to beware of in your planning.

Not only self-centered planning, not only self-confident presumption BUT perhaps the most dangerous of all…you NEED to beware of SELF-COMPLACENT PROCRASTINATION.

You got to notice where James is headed here in the passage. [verses 15-17]

[15] You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 

[16] But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit.  All such boasting is wrong. 

[17] So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.  [AMP]

Now, here’s a man who knew what he should do, BUT…he didn’t do it.

He’s boasting in himself all that he’s done.  He became complacent.  

He’s AWARE of God’s WILL, but he doesn’t want to do it.

PROCRASTINATION MAY BE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT MOST OF US HAVE TODAY. 

It’s a very deceptive SIN.  Many of us think we’re doing good if we don’t do the ‘dirty dozen’ sins.  You know, we have our own little list of sins, and we say, “Well, I don’t do any of those things, thank God!  I’m fine.”

But most of us don’t think of Procrastination as a sin:  [17] So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it,,, it’s a SIN.

Now most of us don’t believe that, but I believe it with all of my heart.  The Bible teaches it.  The Bible teaches that the sins of OMISSION are greater than the sins of COMMISSION.  Let me try to explain.

The SIN of OMISSION, the SIN of PROCRASTINATION is such a dangerous and deceptive sin.  It’s the reason that so many people are lost.

Why do people go to HELL today?  Because they steal, commit adultery? NO!  Oh, those are sins worthy to damn us, but those sins have been PAID for!

The REASON a person is LOST today, simply put, is because he’s FAILED to do what he ought to do.

John 3:18, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”  [NIV].

No longer is MAN condemned to hell because he’s a sinner, because those SINS have been paid for.  “He that BELIEVES in Him [Jesus] is not condemned, but he that does not believe is condemned already…”  WHY?  Because he has NOT believed.  It is the SIN OF OMISSION now that sends a soul to hell.

The REASON that people have WRONG THINKING is that of the sin of omission.

The reason that homes break up, THE SIN OF OMISSION.

The reason that churches fall, it is THE SIN OF OMISSION, failing to do what needs to be done.

You say, “Well, one of these days I’m going to do such and such.”

You have SIN in your heart!  “…to him that knoweth to do good and doeth not, to him it is a SIN” (KJV).

Thinking about your FAILURE –

No one likes to FAIL, so ‘planning to fail’ must seem to be out of the question in your life.

While thinking about your future, BEWARE of self-centeredness, don’t leave God out of your plans.

BEWARE of self-confident presumption.  You don’t have a promise of tomorrow.  Your LIFE is but a VAPOR, a MIST!

What you are going to do, DO!

If you think about your future, BEWARE of self-complacent procrastination, saying, “You just wait and see. One of these days I’m going to do it!”  “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin” (AMP).

So, do you want to face your future with positive results?

“NO FAILING HERE!”

Face your future then by giving your HEART, MIND, and SOUL to Jesus Christ and letting the Holy Spirit be in you to GUIDE, SHOW you and give you a HOPE that is wonderful and glorious.

If I had a thousand lives to live, I’d give them ALL to Jesus.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  “What does the Bible say about consecration?” @ GotQuestions.org.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search, Settings, advanced search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), Amplified Bible (AMP), or where noted in the text.

 

 

 

 

Planning to Fail (PART ONE)

SCRIPTURE STUDY IN JAMES 4:13-17

First, I would suggest you have your Bible close by in this study, for I’m going to be addressing your FUTURE.

[13] Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  [15] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  [16] As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.  [17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

GOOD INTENTIONS [Additional Bible verses: 1 John 3:18; Colossians 3:1-25; Psalm 126:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:4;Psalm 119:105;2 Peter 1:20-21; Romans 13:1-7; John 7:16, 14:15].

Verse 13:  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

Most of us are interested in the future.  We want to know what’s ahead of us down the road in our families, our job, our community, and yes, our church.

People have different ways of looking ahead.  Would you believe that some use tea leaves, others use palm reading, others even use astrology?  Those are a little more sophisticated.  The real books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the FUTURE holds are too numerous to name.  So I want to look closely at what God has revealed in His Word.

In James Chapter 4, we read a story about a first-century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future.  

The man in the story, who in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the 21st Century.  But let me first give you a definition of failure I once read about years ago in a journal.  It most likely will be a different definition than you’re used to:

“Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing”

Everyone in your community, your workplace, maybe calling your life a SUCCESS and you may secretly see yourself as an abysmal FAILURE.

THREE MISTAKES

This man in the story made three mistakes we should avoid.

First, beware of Self-centered Planning.

Listen to this man.  Get inside of his head, if you can, on his planning for the future.  He’s looking forward to a tremendous, successful, business endeavor.  And first of all, he’s planning the period of time it will take.  Look in verse 13:  “a year…”

Now this man, in his thinking, says, “All right.  Today, or tomorrow, I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there a year.”  So I don’t know about you, but I can see this man pulling out his calendar.  He has his sharp pencil while he’s looking at these things.  And so, he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.”

But he’s not finished yet!

He’s also PLANNING the place where he’s going to.  Get out the travel brochures and the laptop!

Look again at verse 13:

“I will go into such a city…”

Now he has a ton of cities out there to choose from.  But he’s looking at THIS city, the advantages here, the advantages there.  He says, “That’s the city!”  And so on Rand’s Road Map, he puts a circle around THIS city.  Over here on the calendar, he has the DATE underlined.

So he has already planned the place, and he’s planned the time period.  But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.

Planning the Procedure.

Now he’s going to BUY and SELL.

Evidently, he has some marketing plan up his sleeve.  Maybe he has a degree in Marketing from the University of Jerusalem.  And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a tidy profit.”

So he has planned.  He has planned the period, the place, and the procedure.  He’s also planned the PROFIT: “…I will buy and sell and make a profit.”  THAT’S IT!

It sounds good to me,  It isn’t like he’s doing anything wrong.  The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it.  The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit either.  It encourages it.  These things are not wrong.

So, what then is wrong with this man?

Well, he left God out of his plans altogether.  He’s not consulting with God nor is he seeking God’s WILL in this.

This seemingly ‘self-made man’ is like so many today.

Your WORSHIP LIFE is one thing, your BUSINESS LIFE is another thing.

You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred.  And so you come to church and worship, and then plan your life as if there were no God.  Oh, you might run your plans by a family member, a close friend first before going ahead with your plan.  You know, it’s good to get a second opinion.  And the biggest fool isn’t the man who says there’s no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there’s a God and then doesn’t live like it!

THE KEY

Do you really take God into your planning?

The key to all of this is in VERSE 15:

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

He’d not said, “Lord, what is Your will?”  He’s not seeking the will of God first.  He’s not saying, “Oh God, show me Your will?”  He says, “I’m going to do it this time.  I’m going to do the procedure–I’m going to make this kind of money.”

How many times in my Christian life have failed to seek God’s will in my plans?

Have you ever asked God, “Lord, BLESS what I’m doing,” rather than, “Lord, help me to do what You’re blessing” to find really the will of God?

God wants to show you His will.

He wants to show you His will as you look toward your future.  Here are a few encouraging Bible verses to meditate on.

PSALM 32, VERSE 8 – Here’s A PROMISE:

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. [AMP]

By the way, to GUIDE with God’s eye means that you have a very close relationship with Him.

When my children were little and my wife and I both sang in the church choir, they would at times be cutting up.  Nobody else would know it, but I’d look down and say from the choir loft, “You’re going to get it, right where you are!”  And then go right on, just GUIDING with our eyes.  There, and they’d straighten up.

That’s the kind of intimate relationship we need with the Lord.

JOHN 16, VERSE 13 –

Jesus gives the PROMISE with more specificity, speaking of the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”  [NIV]

We have a heavenly GUIDE.  He’s the Holy Spirit.  He’s here to LEAD us.

One more verse, Romans 8, VERSE 14 –

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  [AMP]

How wonderful it is to know that we’re sons and daughters of the King–God’s GUIDING us with His eye.  How wonderful to hear His voice in a dark world, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God.

God has a PLAN for every area of your life, no, just at your church.

Your education, your business, your marriage; God has a PLAN for your life.

DO YOU WANT IT?

[Continued in PART TWO]

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

PHOTOS/IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

SOURCE:  Topical Bible – What Does the Bible Say About Good Intentions.