Matthew 7:7-11 - "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! "
This passage is a wonderful reminder of the precious promise we are given regarding prayer, and it's directly from the Savior, too. "Ask," He said, "and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." He made other similar promises.
* Matthew 21:22 for example, He said, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." * John 14:13: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." * John 14:14: "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." * John 15:16: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." The Holy Spirit also made similar promises in other Scriptures.
* For example He said in James 5:16 - Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. * In 1 John 3:22: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."
In spite of all these and other precious promises of God to hear and answer our prayers, there are people who find praying a disappointment. I'd probably be safe in saying that most of us do at times. They say their prayers seem not to avail. God seems very far away and doesn't hear them. But we need to understand some very fundamental truths about our prayer life: * God Listens - The Bible doesn't teach us to pray to an angel or to a saint, not to the Holy Spirit, not even to Jesus Christ himself, but to God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. God the father listens as the one to whom we pray. - Matthew 6:6, 9 – But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly… In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your nameThe Son listens as the one through whom we pray.In fact three words sum up his involvement in our prayer lives; intercession, mediation and litigation. * Intercession – Christ speaks to God on our behalf - Rom. 8:34 - Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us - Heb. 7:25 - Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them * Mediation – Jesus understands us, intervenes for us and takes our side - 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus - Hebrews 2:17-18 - Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted - Christ understands the trials and temptations we face in this life. Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. * Litigation – Jesus serves as our own personal advocate - 1 John 2:1-2 - My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world * We speak to God when we pray, but we do so through our Lord - Ephesians 5:20 - giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - Important to always pray through the Son or in his name. * The Holy Spirit listens as the one with whom we pray. - Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered - Some will state that the Holy Spirit directly operates on the individual, separate and apart from the Word based on this passage. Rom. 8:26 in no way teaches a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of an individual which enables one to pray.The Holy Spirit, in this passage, is not empowering, energizing, or enabling the individual to do anything. The infirmity here mentioned is that we know not how to pray as we ought to pray.What we already know about how to pray, we learned through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.There are urgings and longings in the heart of a sincere child of God that he cannot express.He has a feeling of helplessness, or of a deep need, without knowing what that need really is, or what would meet the need. It is what Paul calls "unutterable groanings."It is the groaning within ourselves mentioned in Rom. 8:23.These groanings are silent groanings -- unutterable feelings of need.The Spirit helps us in these groanings, for he understands our needs and longings and can make them known to God through Jesus the Son.
God intends for his children to come to him in prayer, believeing tht he can and will do what is best for them. He instructs us how to approach him in Hebrews 4:16 when we are told, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
How do you approach God in your prayer life? How much faith do you have that he will take care of the needs and desires of your heart? Do you approach him with an attitude of "My will be done" or "Thy will be done"?
God knows your every need, desire, want and wish. Do you treat him with the respect and reverance he deserves as you approach his throne of grace and mercy? Monday, August 24, 2009 - What defines a good leader?
The Lord's church is desperately looking for leaders to do the will of God, as God has defined it. The church must have it. God has defined that the leadership in the church is to come from the role of elder or the eldership.
A study of the Scriptures, regarding elders, we learn:
1)They are called elders in reference to their experience and maturity in spiritual matters, bishops, meaning overseers of all the work of the church, and pastors, likening their work to that of shepherds 2)There is to be a plurality of these men in each church 3)While no greater honor can come to a man, it is a place and an office of work, not one of mere honor or position 4)Each man must possess a superior degree of spiritual maturity as indicated by the Scriptural qualifications found in I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11 5)Their work involves the responsibility of bringing men and women to Christ, nurturing those in the faith who are already in Christ, and preserving as many as possible for Heaven.This they do through sound teaching, wise counsel, personal example, encouragement, and sometimes reproof and correction.
When men are publicly appointed and recognized as elders at a given congregation, is not merely the work of men, but of the Holy Spirit.
1)Bishops are charged: “take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops” Acts 20:28 2)The Holy Spirit has given inspired instruction that there are to be elders in every church in which men can be found to meet his specified qualifications.The Lord has given his people the ability to understand these qualifications and to select men in accordance with them to serve in this capacity.
Elders are obligated to themselves, God, and the church to be qualified for their work. Men are to meet the Holy Spirit given qualifications found in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1.
They are to remain qualified.The position of elder is not necessarily a lifetime appointment. Appointed men will remain elders so long as they continue to be qualified and willing, and thus continue to be recognized as such by the Holy Spirit.
This does not mean when an elder sins, that you immediately call for his resignation.If one has lost or abandoned those formerly demonstrated qualities that initially brought him to the church's attention and caused him to be appointed, then it would be as wrong to "retain" such a one as to appoint a blatantly unqualified man in the first place. To refuse to remove such a one is, on the part of the congregation or other elders, is an abandonment of, and even an insult to, Heaven's authoritative plan.It is rebellion against God.
I would submit that there is one quality that eases an elders pursuit of self examination. That quality is humility. When a leader in the Lord's church is humble, it will be recognized in the following:
1) He will have true self confidence, which is demonstrated by being naturally humble. Only the man who feels inferior needs to bolster himself with boasting. 2) Humility is not thinking lowly or highly of oneself but not thinking of oneself at all. 3) Humility asks for help.The man who tries to do the job alone, or believes he has all the answers is not humble.In some areas, the members may have more knowledge than the leaders. 4) Christian leaders do not desire the accomplishments of their own will, but the spiritual growth and well being of the body and fulfilling the directions we were given by the Lord.
May we always pray for the leadership of the church, and that ego’s never play a part in how they lead the church.
Monday, August 17, 2009 - When a child leaves home; A tribute to my daughter
God has blessed us with 2 children, a daughter and a son. Each one has been a true blessing in our lives since the day they were born and they are equally cherished in our hearts. I cannot imagine my life without them in it.
This is a week my wife and I have been dreading for 18 years. It is not that we have sat in dread each moment of those 18 years, we just hoped that it would take longer to get here. I am speaking of the reality of a child leaving home. Our daughter is going off to college.
I can't begin to speak for my wife as it relates to her feelings about the events of this week. I know she loves our daughter with all her heart and will miss her terribly. There is a very unique relationship that a mother and daughter have together.
I'm not sure I could speak the words that are on my heart this week because my emotions would turn me into a blubbering mess. As special as the relationship is between a mother and daughter, father and son or mother and son, the relationship between a father and daughter (especially when she is the first child) seems to have an attachment that is very unique. I am to provide for her, care for her, make sure all the bad things in the world never make it close to her. I am always going to protect her. She is my baby. Now my baby is leaving.
I feel like I have done my job as her father, to the best of my abilities, in caring for her physically. She has been healthy, happy and never wanting for food to nourish herself. Something much more important registered in my mind as I have noticed this beautiful child become a stunning woman; did I do my job as the spiritual leader in my home? I will be the first to admit that I have had too many failures in that area. There were too many times that I was gone traveling when I should have been home. Why? Because my secular success was the priority in my life. There were too many times when I was not the example I should have been because I said or did the wrong thing to show them how "a man" dealt with things as opposed to how God's child deals with things.
Thanks be to God that He, in his infinite wisdom, knew that it takes a mother AND a father as a team, not a village, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When I was off the mark, when I was slow to grow up to what my God given responsibilities are, my wife kept our children on the path toward God.
As I observed this the woman who will leave our house this week, I saw somone whose possesses some amazing qualities; all qualities I saw from various passages I read.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...
Galatians 5:22-23 - ...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Parents have a serious responsibility when it comes to raising their children. We will not be perfect but it is amazing how God's teachings and example overcome all our mistakes when the parental team loves each other, their children and most importantly, the Lord God Jehovah.
Our prayer for our children is that they will always keep God first in their life and base EVERY decision they make on how it will allow them to serve him best.
God bless you sweetheart!
Saturday, August 15, 2009 - Our Forefathers and God
The current President of the United States and the Congress are a great disappointment when you compare their attitudes toward God and Christianity against the feelings of our forefathers. Today, we are constantly bombarded with all kinds of humanistic philosophies as well as the continued ridiculous teaching, of the myth, of macro evolution as fact in our schools. The desire to be "politically correct" flies in the face of the attitude of those who fought and died for the right of our citizens to proclaim the existence of and worship the majesty of Jehovah God.
Notice just a few of the facts from our history:
Historical Links »52 of 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence considered themselves to be deeply committed to God and the teachings of the Bible. »Immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence congress imported 20,000 Bibles. »In 1782 the U.S. congress passed a resolution approving the Holy Bible for use in all schools. »Mr.McGuffey, author of the McGuffey Readers, called Christianity the “religion of our country.” »James Madison,the primary author the constitution of the US encouraged people to govern themselves “according to the moral principles of the ten commandments.” »Of the first 108 universities founded in America,106 were distinctly God focused,including such institutions as Harvard University.
The Founders of all of the 50 state constitutions acknowledged God in their state constitutions. As an example, look at the Illinois preamble - We the people of the state of Illinois-grateful to Almighty God for the civil,political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking his blessings upon our endeavors...do ordain and establish this constitution for the state of Illinois.God expects his people to be respectful of the leaders of their country and to set themsleves apart from the world. Consider the following verses:Rom 13:1-2- Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.1 Tim 2:1-2 - Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. God expects the same respect.
Psalms 33:12 - Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.
Proverbs 14:34 - Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Those who reject God and fail to give Him proper reverence need only look at history to see the results.
Friday, August 7, 2009 - One Nation under Who? We live in a time when it seems the whole nation, which was founded based upon a belief in and inclusion of God in our everyday lives, has determined to reject all that Christianity stands for and believes in.
But there is hope and there is comfort to be found. We can know that God is still in charge and that all will be made right in that day of judgement. We can know that those who are faithful to Him will be rewarded with a home in Heaven.
The elders at Woodson Chapel church of Christ, in conjunction with Brad Harrub and Focus Press, have made available a free DVD that encourages Christians to stand up and act against that work that Satan is undertaking in our country today.
You may view this video at http://www.woodsonchapel.com/onenation.
You may also purchase a copy for $2.00 from http://www.focuspress.org/cart_product.cfm/mid_id/285/tid/137.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - Government insurance would allow for abortions
WASHINGTON – Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue.
Federal funds for abortions are now restricted to cases involving rape, incest or danger to the health of the mother. Abortion opponents say those restrictions should carry over to any health insurance sold through a new marketplace envisioned under the legislation, an exchange where people would choose private coverage or the public plan.
Abortion rights supporters say that would have the effect of denying coverage for abortion to millions of women who now have it through workplace insurance and are expected to join the exchange.
Advocates on both sides are preparing for a renewed battle over abortion, which could jeopardize political support for President Barack Obama's health care initiative aimed at covering nearly 50 million uninsured and restraining medical costs.
"We want to see people who have no health insurance get it, but this is a sticking point," said Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We don't want health care reform to be the vehicle for mandating abortion."
Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, said abortion opponents "want an abortion ban in private insurance, and that's not neutrality at all _ that's a radical departure from current law. They want something far more extreme than where I think the American public is."
A compromise approved by a House committee last week attempted to balance questions of federal funding, personal choice and the conscience rights of clinicians. It would allow the public plan to cover abortion but without using federal funds, only dollars from beneficiary premiums. Likewise, private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion, but no federal subsidies would be used to pay for the procedure.
"It's a sham," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life. "It's a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., author of the compromise, said she was trying to craft a solution that would accommodate both sides. Her amendment also would allow plans that covered no abortions whatsoever _ not even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother _ to be offered through the insurance exchange.
"With all due respect, not everyone adheres to what the Catholic bishops believe," said Capps, who supports abortion rights. "Our country allows for both sides, and our health plan should reflect that as well."
For years, abortion rights supporters and abortion opponents have waged the equivalent of trench warfare over restrictions on federal funding. Abortion opponents have largely prevailed, instituting restrictions that bar federal funding for abortion, except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother's life would be endangered.
A law called the Hyde amendment applies the restrictions to Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs.
But the health overhaul would create a stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions.
The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange.
The Democratic health care legislation as originally introduced in the House and Senate did not mention abortion. That rang alarm bells for abortion opponents.
Since abortion is a legal medical procedure, experts on both sides say not mentioning it would allow health care plans in the new insurance exchange to provide unrestricted coverage.
It would mirror the private insurance market, where abortion coverage is widely available. A Guttmacher Institute study found that 87 percent of typical employer plans covered abortion in 2002, while a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in 2003 found that 46 percent of workers in employer plans had coverage for abortions. The studies asked different questions, which might help explain the disparity in the results.
In the Senate, the plan passed by the health committee is still largely silent on the abortion issue. Staff aides confirmed that the public plan _ and private insurance offered in the exchange _ would be allowed to cover abortion, without funding restrictions.
Under both the House and Senate approaches, the decision to offer abortion coverage in the public plan would be made by the health and human services secretary.
Abortion opponents are seeking a prohibition against using any federal subsidies to pay for abortions or for any part of any costs of a health plan that offers abortion. Such a proposal was rejected by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the same panel that approved Capps' amendment.
But abortion opponents say they can't accept a public plan that would cover abortion. And they say private plans in the insurance exchange should offer abortion coverage separately, as an option.
"You can have a result where nobody has to pay for other people's abortions," said Doerflinger.
Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, said applying the current restrictions for federal employees and low-income women to a program intended for the middle class will provoke a backlash.
"There is a difference between picking off one group of women here and one group there and something that would affect a very large group," Hartmann said. "Everyone would like to avoid that fight."