Start praying for bigger things…

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

May the grace, mercy and peace of Jesus be with you. As we enter the popular week-end of Easter, with all its festivities and often elaborate church performances, allow me to focus your attention on a more humble, but far more substantial act: Prayer. Prayer is your lifeline to Jesus. Today, I would like to exhort you to make full use of prayer, moving beyond the elementary needs we so often express to God through it. Among those are the need for good health for us and our families, prosperity in all things, and safety.

If your prayers are limited to those elementary things, then you are missing a great deal about what prayer can, and was always meant to provide.

Look at what the Apostle Paul said about Himself and Timothy to the Colossians:

Colossians 1:9,10 – And so, from the day we heard [of your love in the Spirit], we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

What a powerful confession. Paul and Timothy prayed constantly for the Colossians, not for their families, jobs, health, etc. but so that they might filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that they would be able to walk worthy of Him by bearing all the fruits that Jesus and His Father so long for.

You see, this is making full use of what prayer is supposed to be about…Father, cause me to grow in You, that I may fully understand Your Will, so that I will be bearing all of those fruits You so desire!

The secret of a deep relationship with Christ, the secret for abounding in all those fruits Jesus look for, is prayer. It is not your many acts of charity, it is not your bible study, it is not your observance of the Sabbath, it is not your tithing, and it might not even be what role you will play at your church’s Easter performance. Any of those things could be fine. But they amount to nothing unless you have a real relationship with the One who is our very lifeline…Jesus. And not just prayer, but what you pray for, is the greatest instrument yet given to us to grow in that intimate relationship. For that kind of prayer can only be made by a heart that really loves.

Does not the word say…

1 Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Do not be satisfied with where you are in your spiritual journey. Instead, continue to strive to know Your Lord more, to know the Father more. Pray for bigger things. I say, Pray! Seek bigger things, spiritual and eternal things. Can you imagine for a minute the joy of God our Father when He hears such prayers? Can you imagine the joy of our Lord Jesus when He hears that what you really want is to be just like Him and spent time with Him?  As you first seek the Kingdom of God, did not Jesus promise that all your needs will be met (Matthew 6:33)?

As we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus this Easter, let us strive to honor Him, not just with our words and performances, but with our heart.

May you therefore be encouraged to start praying for bigger things…

May Jesus be glorified in our lives, today and forever.

Amen.

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 2 of 2)

file0001113742119We Should All be Like Epaphras

To develop an appreciation for just how God values those who intercede, consider Epaphras, mentioned three times in the scriptures.

Colossians 1:7 – As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ

God calls Epaphras a “faithful minister” of Christ. What an honor! And shortly after, we understand why.

Colossians 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly [Greek: agōnizomenos] for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

“Laboring earnestly” is one Greek verb which means “struggling”. Epaphras was held in such high esteem by God because he had a “very intense” prayer life, not for himself but much more importantly, for his brethren. He is only mentioned 3 times in the scriptures, and this – his prayer life for others – is what he will always be remembered for. This is what God values. What do we want God to remember us for?Intercession_3

Interestingly, his request in his prayers seemed to be essentially the same request Jesus made for Peter: that his people will stay fully assured of their faith toward God. Clearly, there is no greater part of us that is at stake than our faith; the faith of our brothers and sisters, and the faith of those we do not even know. Our brethren often fall prey to the temptations of the devil, but our fervent prayers can do so much to prevent the devil from moving further with his plans.

Spiritual Fight…Spiritual Weapon

In Ephesians 6, Paul reminds us that our fight is a spiritual fight, requiring spiritual weaponry. The last weapon he introduces is prayers, telling us that we should “always” pray for all saints.

Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel

What a responsibility we have! While it is good to pray for ourselves, it is far better to pray for others; for it is impossible for God to deny our own needs when we are consumed with the well-being and the needs of our brethren. We know from 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is roaming around, and we are told that “daily” he accuses us, seeking permission to sift us as wheat, to shred our lives. And indeed, looking around us, we can see that some of his requests are granted. Many of our brethren live a life of spiritual defeat, they are being robbed of everything, and their faith is shaken, and perhaps even, falling in the process. O that we would intercede! My brethren, let us intercede! Let us bring our prayer life to the next level, focusing less on ourselves and more on others. This is not just about being the “moral” thing to do. This is spiritual warfare, and we are in it! To the God of our Lord be all the praise, Glory without end!

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 1 of 2)

praying_on_bible_redMy brothers and sisters in Christ, as I look at the scriptures, I believe I am beginning to realize just how much God wants us to intercede. It is one of our greatest responsibilities, and yet, we are failing so many times at carrying it. As described in Isaiah 59, when we do not intercede God is stunned!

Isaiah 59: 15,16 – Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;…

How graphic are God’s emotions in this passage. There was no justice and it was displeasing in God’s sight. And God was astonished, stunned, appalled that there was no man to intercede! Is our world today different than the one described in Isaiah 59?

Two Types of Intercessions:

From my limited understanding of the scriptures, there seems to be at least two types of intercessions. The first type can only be made by Jesus-Christ, who is currently seated at the right hand of God. Through this type of intercession, Jesus-Christ is able to save us, and make us children of God, as described in Hebrews 7.

Hebrews 7:24, 25 – But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession.

The second type of intercession, which is the focus of this article, is altogether different. It can be performed not only by Jesus-Christ, but also by us, God’s children and servants. Contrary to the first type, this type of intercession has been around from well before the day of Pentecost. Here is an instance of Job interceding (i.e. praying) for his friend.

Job 42:10 – And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The calamity of Job ended when he prayed – when he interceded – for his friends. We learn from verse 8 of the same chapter that God was so angry with Job’s friends that He could only accept the prayer of Job for them (an intercession). Job’s prayer effectively appeased God, causing Him “not” to deal with His friends according to their folly (Job 42:8). However and sadly, the book of Job records earlier that in his prior conversations with his friends, Job was himself crying because there was no one to intercede for him to God (which is probably why his deliverance came as described in Job 42:10).

Job 16:21 – O that a man might plead with God, As a man with his neighbor!

Satan versus Your IntercessionIntercession_part1 of 2

Fast forwarding to Jesus’ time on earth, Luke 22 records a stunning confession of Jesus-Christ to His disciple Peter.

Luke 22:30 – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission [Greek: exētēsato] to sift you like wheat;

Looking at the Greek can help us appreciate the intensity of Jesus’ statement. The Greek verb “exētēsato” means to request a “full handing over”. And the word “hymas” is the plural form of “you”. Simply put, Jesus was informing Peter that Satan had requested to God that he (Peter) and the rest of the apostles be “completely” handed over to him! And the purpose of his request was clear: Satan wanted to sift them as wheat. Picture it as you may, but this is a very scary account! Think of Job and you will immediately get an idea of just how much pain Satan is willing to inflict.

Now consider this: How could Satan make such a bold request to God? The only reason Satan could make such request must have been because he knew that there was a chance his request could be granted! Think about it…Satan was making such a request because he knew he “could” get it. Otherwise, what would have been the point?

But thank God, Jesus was there to intercede.

Luke 22:31 – But I have prayed [Greek: edeēthēn] for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus interceded for his disciple and friend Peter! And the verb edeēthēn translated “prayed” is the same verb used in Luke 8:28 to describe how the demon “begged” Jesus-Christ not to torment him. This was an “urgent appeal” that Jesus made for Peter. And apparently, Satan is still “very” active in making such requests for you and me!

Revelation 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Day and night my brothers and sisters! Day and night Satan accuses us before God. He is always roaming around, tempting us so we can fail, so that he can in turn accuse us, and make his requests to God to wreck our lives, our marriages, our faith, etc. even further. And he does so because he knows that unless someone intercedes (be it Jesus-Christ or some of us), he might just get what he asks for.

We have to pray for each other, for those we know as well as those we do not. The implications are far too serious for us to ignore that they are real. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus had not interceded and Satan had his request granted? Given the grave implications, no wonder our God is stunned, appalled when we do not intercede. Yes people, God is  stunned! In Part 2 we look at an example of an intercessor, with whom all of us should be able to identify.