I love Paul’s prayers! They are some of my favorite parts of his letters. You don’t find him praying about the weather (you know, those ‘no rain so we have a nice picnic’ prayers) and not too often about health needs – but always about spiritual growth and Godly matters. One example of Paul praying for the church is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12. He starts out thanking God that the Thessalonian’s faith is growing MORE AND MORE. How could your pastor or a church member be able to gauge the growth of your faith – is yours growing or shrinking? How can you tell? How can others tell? Next he thanks God that their love for one another is growing. Can you say the same for your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ? How can you tell? How can others tell?
How many of you have heard people complain that God is not just – if he was He wouldn’t allow evil and trouble. I love Paul’s answer. “God IS just: He will pay back…and give relief…This WILL HAPPEN when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” (1:6,7) No need to question God’s justice. His clock is better than ours anyways. God IS Just.
In 1st Thessalonians Paul tells us to encourage one another with the message that Jesus is coming to earth again! 2nd Thessalonians reminds us to not be deceived, for the Man of Lawlessness – the Anti-God – will be coming too, and will deceive many who have refused to love the truth. In order to stand firm for Jesus’s return – we must be loving the truth and prepared for evil and lawlessness and deception. “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you.” (2:15) Learn those teachings well – and cling to them – and pass them on to others.
Thank you God for your words through your servants. Help me to hear, learn, live and pass along your words and your way.
In Luke 11 the disciples ask Jesus how to pray and he gives them the Lord’s prayer, which you probably heard before.
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
There are several parts of this prayer that are important and that I think we sometimes miss. First he praises God and asks for the kingdom to come. I think it is important to start our prayers by focusing on God, because he deserves the respect and it helps to remind us that he is more important and greater than our problems. Then it is important to remind ourselves that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and that we need to forgive others as well. Also, when praying for ourselves we need to keep it simple, by only asking for the basics of our physical needs and for God to guide us spiritually.
Then later he goes on.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
God is very good at giving gifts, and he is not looking to hide himself from us. If you need something then ask for it. If you need more wisdom or patience to deal with an issue in your life, then ask God for it, and keep on asking God for it. Just make sure to check your motives as it says in James 4:3. If you are asking for your own selfish reasons then you may need to rethink your request. But if you are asking for something for the reason of helping to further the kingdom and the gospel then God is excited to give to his children.
Saturday, April 29
In Matthew 8 and 9 I notice two themes:
- Healing of the sick
- Jesus’ authority established
In these two chapters he healed one person after another, a woman bleeding, a dead girl, blind men, a paralyzed man, the list goes on and on. His healing did two things:
- Helped establish and recognize his God given authority
- Show that he can heal our physical human needs but also our spiritual needs, the forgiveness of sin
In Matthew 9:2-8 we read about a paralyzed man who had both physical and spiritual healing given to him by Jesus.
2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He *said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Jesus’ authority was God given and proven through his ability to heal. He makes it clear though, he isn’t here just to heal the physical needs of the people but the spiritual ones as well.
(Photo Credit: http://crosstownfamily.org/sermons/the-authority-to-forgive/)