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The Weak and Broken

Sermon of the Day: Radical Effects of the Resurrection 

Judges 6:15-16

15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

16 And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

 

If you have not read the story of Gideon I highly encourage it. What a powerful story with a powerful message.

Who was Gideon?

Up until Judges 6, Gideon was an absolute nobody in the eyes of Israel, his clan and in his fathers house. If you and I were in the land at that time looking for a leader to follow, trust me we would not have noticed Gideon. In fact if someone suggested him, we would have laughed at the thought.

So why did God choose Gideon? Paul has a great answer for us:

1 Corinthians 1:27-29

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

What are you good at? How often do we seek the Lord before doing something we are really good at? If your like me, never. It just comes so natural and so easy why seek God for help, right?

What blew me away was the story when Jesus went preaching in a boat with Simon Peter. Luke 5 gives us a nice picture of what happened before, during and after.

We are talking about professional fisherman that knew these waters better than any man. Yet they “toiled all night and caught nothing.” However when Jesus tells them to cast their net, they catch so much fish the net begins to break.

There is so much here and so much we could talk about, but I want to highlight how our skills, gifts and talents are all in God’s hands. If we are really honest, we are nothing without God. Do we have any control over waking up tomorrow morning? If you are highly skilled with your hands, do you have any control over the health and function of your muscles, nerves, joints and bones 5 years from now? If your gifted with your mind, do you have any control over the health and function of your memory and brain in 2 years?

I hope you get my point. God chooses the weak and lowly things of this world because the weak and lowly will choose Him. The more I learn about God from spending time in His word the more I realize how desperate I am for Him. The more I feel like Peter after catching all that fish.

Luke 5:8

 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

The amazing thing is that God wants every single one of us in that place. To realize how frail we are in comparison to Him. To realize that we need a savior because every so called strength and talent we have are all gifts from Him to be used for Him. Our sinful flesh has a great way of getting that mixed up. We like to think we earned certain skills or accomplishments, we earned certain status or success. Unfortunately that’s baloney!

So what does Peter have to do with Gideon? I’m glad you asked.

Gideon recognized his weakness. God used Him in a mighty way.

Peter recognized his sinfulness. God used Him in a mighty way.

I believe scripture teaches in so many ways that we need to recognize, admit, repent these two things and turn to God to fill the void.

Look at this technique Gideon used to defeat the Midianites.

Judges 7:20

Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”

If you read this chapter you will see several very unique techniques God uses to bring victory for Gideon and the children of Israel. However I want to focus on one of the several symbols that Dr. McGee pointed out in his commentary of this chapter.

So Gideon instructed his 300 soldiers to place their torches inside their empty pitchers. Then at the appointed time they were to smash the pitchers for the light to shine in the dark of the night.

2 Corinthians 4:7

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

The pitchers that Gideon’s army was carrying is to represent the body of the believer. As believers in Jesus Christ we have a treasure inside of us, that treasure is God’s Holy Spirit. Light has come into this world through Jesus Christ. To offer hope, salvation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

We are to shine the light of Christ in this world when we live and move as blood bought children of the most high God. Dr. McGee says that “some of us are not broken and, as a result, the light does not shine through.”

Not sure about you, but that hit home for me. I want to remember what God says in Judges 6:16 up above: “surely I will be with you.”

I love that. Lets close with this verse. Knowing that in order to make the changes and see Christ for all He is.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Here is an old saying to remember about making changes, starting new habits especially for those that want to grow in the Lord.

“Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny!”

 

A Great Reward

Sermon of the Day: Thy Word I Have Treasured in My Heart

Today’s message is on this sermon. This could be worth more than gold to you, even if you already listened to it.

Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.

Good Morning Men.

I was rocked by another sermon from Pastor John Piper. I took some notes and I would like to share my notes with you. My hope and prayer is that this message will impact every single one of us forever. That the things discussed here will become part of our daily walk with the Lord. I have attached a link to this sermon up above.

The verse above is actually one of favorite passages. It will be the starting point for Pastor John’s Sermon. Here are my notes.

We need to get God’s Word into our hearts.

Verse 11 – Your word = outside. My heart = inside.

The heart thinks and feels. Getting God’s Word in your heart is the place where it goes from out there to in here, to think, meditate and feel it.

How do you know God’s Word is in your heart?

Without banks, you would have to hide your treasure. This is an illustration of how not only is God’s Word a treasure for the human soul, but it should be treated as such. The treasure is secondary, to hide is to treasure. As we hide and treasure God’s Word in our hearts it is being stored like food in a pantry. We pull it out when we need it.

One way to keep from sinning against God, is to live for His glory. There are 2 things we need for that: We need the Word in our heart, we also need to treasure it! Just having it out there or in here will not do. It needs to be treasured.

When a big ugly temptation comes our way, pulls on us, a good solid Word from God that is not treasured will be of no use!

Treasuring the Word but not having it stored in us – we have nothing to grab onto. The Sword of the Spirit will cut the cord of temptations.

Conclusion = We must memorize scripture!

Like the ant preparing in the summer, we are to store it, hide it and treasure it (Proverbs 6).

In the Christian life seasons can change in an hour. What are you going to do when winter strikes out of nowhere!?

Pastor John’s church started, church wide Bible memorization in 1997 for all ages, memorizing 1 verse a week.

Professor Dallas Williard, former pastor stated: There is a “transformation of inner and outer life that comes from simply meditating and memorizing on scripture.”

Do you doubt that?

Suppose I said and could pay this, I will give you $1,000 for every verse you memorize. Would you do it?

(This really stung me. I have to assume this stung every heart that heard it, and my hope is that it stings you too.)

The issue is motivation.

Where is our heart?

God says they (His laws and commands) are more precious than gold, even fine gold. (Psalm 19:10-11)

Far greater than $1,000. Do we believe that? That is the issue. What is more believable to us, the benefits of God’s Word, or the benefit of $1,000!?

What a test!? When we say we cannot memorize, or we don’t prioritize it.

Jesus in the wilderness devoted Himself to memorizing scripture. Every time He was tempted He defeated the devil with scripture. Should we do it different than Jesus!?

Pastor John’s church started Fighter Verses. Fighting the devil and sin by memorizing a verse a week all year long, every year.

We know we can do it if we want to. Is our faith strong or is our faith weak?

Pastor John with over 30 years as a Pastor got saved at the age of 7, says that he does not know a strong Christian who does not know much scripture by heart.

God has designed faith to feed on the Word. If we do not feed our faith it atrophy’s. We wonder why we struggle!

Those were my notes for the first 25 minutes of the sermon. If you want to change your life, start growing in your walk, my encouragement would be to take these things to heart and start memorizing scripture.

Desiring God has created an app called Fighter Verses. I bought it and I have been using it for a week now. My hope is that all of you will choose to do this and memorize scripture for the rest of your lives. There is a great reward when we treasure God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 19:10-11).

The part about choosing $1,000 a week over God’s Word cut me to the heart. I was intensely convicted that I valued the temporary fix of money over the eternal value of God’s Word.

If you have any thoughts or testimonies I would love to hear them.

Grace and Peace to all of you.

 

Does God’s Word Need to Always Be Easy

Sermon of the Day: Thy Word I Have Treasured in My Heart

Deuteronomy 29:29

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Good Morning Men.

I hope and pray that all of you had a great week in the Lord last week. What I mean by that is if your life is anything like mine, it is filled with challenges. Highs and lows, however through the midst of it all you remain anchored in the Lord and His purpose and provision for your life.

I want to share a theme that has been on my heart and I have been meditating for a several days. It started from a John Piper sermon. For those of you that have downloaded the app, I encourage you to keep plugging in to this man. I know he will challenge each and every one of us to grow, and if you have an open heart you will walk away learning more about God every single time.

This sermon was titled ‘Why God Inspired Hard Texts‘. It really came at a great time for me personally. If I can be completely honest and transparent with all of you. I have been struggling in my devotion time with the Lord. I rather not bore you with my excuses, but lets use a verse to paraphrase my actions: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41).

Of course when the flesh is weak sin is present or knocking at the door. Reading through Joshua 7 and 8 recently I am reminded of how important it is to confess my sins. Not generally speaking, but being specific with God. He knows already, why do I feel like I need to sugar coat it. I am getting a little off topic here but I wanted to share a couple things on sin. First of all 1 Corinthians 11:31 scares me and I want to obey it. Secondly look at what Dr. McGee says:

“There can be no joy in your life; there can be no power in your life; there can be no victory in your life; until there is confession of sin.”

We must confess our sin, turn from our sin only then will we experience the joy of the Lord.

So I re-listened to this sermon and I took some notes. Pastor John is “meaty” (thanks for that description Chad) and my goal is to bring it down to our level and help us break this down into chew-able pieces.

Men, have you ever understood everything you read in the Bible?

I feel confident to boldly say every one of us would have to say no. So why does God make some passages difficult to understand? If we are being honest here, most of the Old Testament at first glance is way over the average readers head. Even going through the New Testament with a deeper study and approach reveals that there is radically so much more in every word and verse.

So lets get into these notes I took. Just as a disclaimer, this is really just a snap shot of what Pastor John so wonderfully illustrated and brought to life in his sermon. My goal is just to extract what I heard and hopefully bring it to life for each of us. My notes will be mostly paraphrasing many of the things he said. So please know that primarily these are John Pipers thoughts that I have paraphrased.

The text of the sermon was Romans 3:1-8.

Pastor John really brought to life verse 2. Here God Basically says that one of the highest privileges is to possess this book. This book is so much more than words, it is the oracles of God.

When you bump against a difficult text. Our minds may say why is this so hard? If its such a privilege? Especially if children are expected to read this (Matthew 18:2-4). If you have spent any decent amount of time trying to read God’s Word, I’m sure this has happened to you.

Pastor John asks a great question and gives us four answers.

So if God is a good communicator, and wants people to know Him, love Him and trust Him, then why is it so hard?

  1. God Unleashed Desperation – a sense of utter dependence on God’s help and enablement. 1 Corinthians 2:14 talks about the natural man. This is the man that does not have the Holy Spirit living inside of him, basically an unbelieving individual. However either way we have these same natural tendencies, we are fallen creatures born into sin. I am so fallen and so sinful and therefore desperately need God’s Holy Spirit to illuminate the Oracles of God for me.
  2. Supplication – When your feeling desperate, what do you do? Of course, we pray. Now look at how the Psalmist describes his desperation for the Word of God in these verses:

Psalm 119:18 NIV

Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 25:5 NIV

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

If everything was crystal clear in the Bible, clear enough for a 7 year old to read. Would we pray? Would we pray like the Psalmist?

3. Cogitation – don’t worry I never heard of this word either. But it is the action of thinking deeply about something.

So when God inspires a writer to write something difficult, He intends for us to use everything at our disposal. Including really thinking hard about something and trying to seek Him, seek Godly advice, and books and other resources for the answer. We are to think hard and ask questions.

Pastor John then talked about how there may be some confusion at this point for some. Is it prayer? Or is it deep thinking?

2 Timothy 2:7 clears that up for us a little bit. The Lord will grant you the understanding as you think through God’s language. Much like Proverbs 2 mentions, we must search for it as we would for hidden treasure.

4. Education – God’s Word brings this out of those who pursue God’s Word diligently through prayer and hard thinking. Check out 2 Timothy 2:2. God releases impulses for education, education comes from God!

I have known a few men personally that would claim to have read less books than they can count on one hand before knowing Christ. These same men have now become avid readers, hungering after God’s Word. If you have just heard Pastor John speak he is so eloquent and educated and I know that is directly related to his life long pursuit to know and understand God’s Word. The desire and fruit of education has sprung to life through a pursuit after God’s Word.

I hope this helps men.

Blessings and Love

 

Leadership, Sin and Parenting

Sermon of the Day: Faith and Reason

Deuteronomy 3:26-28

23 “Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: 24 ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? 25 I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’

26 “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. 28 But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’

Good Morning Men.

First lets get some context, Moses is speaking here, and they are completing their 40 year wondering through the desert. This was a very difficult time for the people but even more so for Moses.

There was an incident at Meribah, back in Numbers 20 were Moses failed. At first glance it does not seem like much, it almost seems like God was being pretty harsh to Moses. However God explains that it was because this action displayed unbelief and did not revere God as Holy.

As you all know leaders are held to a different standard. Expectations of their behavior and actions are held under much more scrutiny. The same is for leaders of God’s flock. Moses sinned and his consequence was severe, God told him that he would no longer be allowed into the promise land. The land Moses has been looking forward to entering for the last 40 years.

At the tail end of these 40 years here we have Moses pleading with God to show mercy and allow him to enter.

Leadership

Within this passage I saw a few aspects of great leadership that Moses displays.

Look at what God says about Moses first in:

Numbers 12:3

(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

That sure is a great characteristic of a leader. However although Moses is doing a little pity party for himself and pleaded with God for mercy do you notice he takes it only up to God? Leaders that complain and grumble to their followers will crush the spirits of their followers. Remember that all of you are leaders of something or someone, whether you realize it or not. Someone is looking up to you for strong leadership and you don’t want to crush their spirit and their confidence in you as their leader. Take your problems to the person above you, whether your boss, your pastor, and God. Work problems out at the top.

Secondly Moses is commanded to command and encourage Joshua. Joshua has been called to fill the shoes of Moses and will lead the people into the promise land. First of all, all leaders need to be raising up others to take their place. That is a biblical fact that Jesus gives the best illustrations of. We also have many examples of the failures of men when this was not done.

One of the problems with a sinful heart is that we like being the only one that can do something like we do. We don’t want others to be as good as us, and steal some of our glory. Sound anti-biblical? It is. If this you repent, and work on changing.

Or maybe we just don’t have the desire to put our focus on building up other people. For a variety of reasons, most of them probably selfish in nature we feel it is easier to just do our own thing and worry about ourselves. This also is very un-biblical, in fact it reminds me of the ‘Parable of the Talents’ (Matthew 25:14-30).

God wants us to raise and mentor leaders, other men that have a desire to grow in the fruit of the Spirit and be used for the Kingdom of God. Or men around us in our work place, in our circles of influence anywhere we get to be a light and example of Godly leadership and point people to Christ. My pastor always said it best; “Preach the gospel where ever you go, and when absolutely necessary use words.”

At the peak of Moses’s heartbreak of being rejected by God, he takes his eyes off of himself and now focuses on encouraging and strengthening this up and coming leader.

I heard it best I believe from Dr. McGee, “any leader without followers is just taking a walk”. Men lets walk with purpose and lets build followers that want to follow our holy, transparent and strong leadership. For many of us that means starting at home in our marriage and with our kids. If we can’t get our family to follow us, everything else will flop.

Sin

So we already mentioned that Moses sinned when he struck the rock at Meribah. God told him to speak to the rock and water would flow, unfortunately his emotions got the best of him and he failed.

When we fail, we need to humble ourselves, come to the foot of the cross, believe in Jesus Christ (if you haven’t already), repent and confess our sins. Men, we have God’s word that true repentance produces fruit. That is amazing, absolutely life changing news. However there will still be consequences for our sinful actions. We cannot sin and get by unscathed, that is not who God is.

We must learn from Moses and see that every sin will have it’s consequences. So the best solution is to stop sinning! Simple right? No, but we can grow in our walks with Christ and allow Him to change our sinful nature. Turning from sin, being humble, transparent and desiring holiness.

1 Peter 1:13-16

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Parenting

As a Father parents his children, God reveals His Fatherly role and control of the situation. God does not fold under pressure, He remains stead-fast in what He knows is right. God silences the complaining of Moses, however He shows His love and grace by allowing Moses to at least see the promise land. This is done at His command and control, and not as a pleading whimper from Moses that God gives in to.

Lets learn to take this approach with children. We must learn to be consistent in our parenting so our children learn these values that are biblically based and teach them directly and indirectly about what their relationship with God will look like as they mature.

God Bless you all and may you all grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pursue biblical leadership principles, desire holiness, and ask the Lord to help you pursue parental wisdom.

The Unrepentant Heart

Sermon of the Day: The Present Effects of Trembling at the Wrath of God. 

 

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Dried out vessel.

The other morning as spending time in prayer and I had this sort of vision and I wanted to share it with you all.

I hope you all will be able to envision this with me. A vessel or pot of clay  has gone through quite a process to become it’s finished product. The part that is fitting for this vision or analogy is where moist wet clay, very mold-able and pliable becomes dry, hard and very fragile.

You can Paint it and make it very attractive. It is still dry and fragile clay. Anything hard that hits it may cause it to crack. Maybe it falls to the ground and cracks but survives. You now turn the crack towards the wall to hide the defect. The vessel still looks pretty on all the other sides. We may even try to put some type of epoxy or glue to hold that crack together.

Now the glory and prestige of this pot may grow. How strong this pot is, how it survived the fall and so on. Until one day, the slightest breeze, the slightest nudge. The vessel topples and shatters. There went the great and glorious vessel.

What was revealed to me was how directly this reflects the condition of an unrepentant heart.

Ezekiel 36:26

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

An unrepentant heart is dry. Its easily offended. It is very resistant to attacking sin. This heart is the dried out and many times, cosmetically beautiful vessel.

Vessels come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all types of colors, designs with all types of beautiful artwork. Why do those vessels need paint or artwork? They are plain and not so appealing right? If we are honest here, when we make a mistake, or get embarrassed how bad to we want to or try to cover it up with some type of facade.

Wherever we are in our lives and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ we need to realize that we are incapable of doing anything good and lasting without Him. Anything good we may establish with our own hands is so temporary and unfulfilling. This reminds me of what I read about this morning when in Numbers 31 God had Moses attack the Midianites.

The Midianites represent the world, and our sin. Dr. McGee’s commentary had a perfect statement about this let me quote from that text:

That is the problem with worldliness. It is not wrong for us to be in the world – that is where God has placed us-the great issue is whether the world is in us, in our hearts and lives. The important lesson for this chapter is that it calls for spiritual separation from the world. Where are you walking? Are you in the Word of God? Are you in fellowship with Christ? That is the important thing for the child of God.

Thru the Bible, J. Vernon McGee. Vol. 1 pg. 525

So as we see men, the unrepentant heart is destined for destruction and failure. If there is no separation from the world we will continue to be a dried out vessel. Trying to make everything good and right with our own hands and minds. Let’s be honest, how is that going for you?

The sooner we all can stop kidding ourselves the sooner we can get on track and allow God to do His work in our hearts. My hope and prayer is that you will seek the Lord, answer those questions from Dr. McGee and decide what kind of vessel you want to be.

2 Timothy 2:20-21

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

The Key to Spiritual Breakthrough

Sermon of the Day: God’s Ultimate Purpose: Vessels of Mercy Knowing the Riches of His Glory
FEBRUARY 24, 2017

The Key to Spiritual Breakthrough

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Article by

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

“You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). How much enjoyment of God’s presence and experience of his power for mission are we missing out on because we do not ask God for them?

Jesus also says we do not have because we ask with such little faith(Matthew 17:19–20). How much enjoyment of God’s presence and experience of his power for mission are we missing out on because our expectation is so small that prayer will result in anything?

Jesus also says we do not have, because we do not ask long enough(Luke 11:5–13). All over the Bible we see, not in great detail but in sufficient detail, that we are involved in a great cosmic battle and that the prayers of the saints are crucial to the advancement of the kingdom of God (see Daniel 10:12–14 and Ephesians 6:18). We don’t need to know how it all works; we just need to know it does. The testimony of Scripture and church history is that great, Spirit-empowered, Great Commission-fulfilling works of God are preceded, carried, and prolonged by the fervent, persistent, prevailing prayers of the saints. When prayer dissipates, spiritual power dissipates.

How much enjoyment of God’s presence and experience of his power for mission are we missing out on because we simply don’t ask long enough?

Jesus Prayed

When Jesus encouraged us “always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1), he wasn’t telling us to do something that he himself didn’t need to do. Jesus knew from his own human experience that he needed to ask his Father for everything, to ask him in faith, and at times to persevere in prayer until the breakthrough came.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)

This text gives us unique insight not so much into what Jesus prayed, but into how Jesus prayed. And it has something to say to us about how we should pray.

First, let it hit you that Jesus prayed. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [he let his] requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Hebrews 5:7 gives us a glimpse of the glory of Christ’s humility in his incarnation. We see some of what it meant for him to empty himself by becoming human and taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7).

In his fully divine nature, Jesus had continual communion with his Father. But in his fully human nature, he had to pray to the Father just like we do. That’s why “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16), sometimes praying entire nights (Luke 6:12). He knew he could do nothing on his own and was completely dependent on the Father (John 5:19).

If Jesus had to pray, and pray a lot, so do we.

Jesus Prayed with Passion

And he prayed “with loud cries and tears.” Complete dependence on God was not merely an abstract theological concept for Jesus; it was a desperate, experiential reality. This verse isn’t referring only to Gethsemane, because Jesus prayed this way “in the days of his flesh.” During Jesus’s human experience on earth, he repeatedly, and likely regularly, prayed with loud cries and tears.

Why was he moved to pray so passionately? He was keenly aware that heaven and hell were real outcomes for real souls as a result of his mission. He knew there were demonized persons needing deliverance, sick needing healing, particular gospel truths needing to be proclaimed at particular times in particular places for particular persons. He and his disciples were also usually living hand-to-mouth on a daily basis.

He also had the forces of hell constantly trying to destroy him, his disciples, and his mission. We know the spiritual warfare that erupts whenever we attempt real, meaningful kingdom labor. Imagine what it was like for Jesus.

And, of course, the cross was always looming before him, growing larger as the day drew nearer. He knew that when he offered himself as a sacrifice, and absorbed the full wrath of God for the sins of all who would believe in him, and died (John 3:16), only the Father “was able to save him from death.”

Jesus knew the nature of his freely chosen human helplessness made him dependent on the Father for all these things. So, he prayed with loud cries and tears out of his desperate human need for his Father’s help. We also desperately need the Father’s help in all these things, too, including preparing for our own death, through which we trust him to deliver us.

Why Did God Hear Jesus’s Prayers?

Would you have expected the author of Hebrews to say that Jesus “was heard because of his reverence”? Wouldn’t we have expected, Jesus was heard because he was God’s Son? Jesus had positional access to the Father, and in him so do we. But the author didn’t say that. He chose “reverence.” Why?

Reverence is a holy fear of God. Now, this is astonishing: God the Son regards God the Father with an appropriate holy fear. The Son is not afraid of the Father’s judgment. He simply has the appropriate regard of the Father’s omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal greatness.

Terror is what persons experience when they truly encounter God and yet have no access to him as a Father. Reverence is what persons experience when they have free access to the Father as his children — when they know the Father, and believe what the Father says.

Reverence isn’t a feigned respectful or formal demeanor we put on when we pray to God that looks quite different from the rest of the way we live and talk. Persons who truly revere God do so all the time. When you hear them pray, it doesn’t sound much different than the way they usually talk. You can just tell they believe they are speaking to God himself.

Their reverence enables them to approach him like the loving Father that he is. God’s throne is a throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). So, a reverent child of God feels the freedom to come to him in desperate need, even with loud cries and tears, because God is honored when that child comes to him in desperate faith.

If we lack reverence for God, it shows up in the way we live and in the way we pray. These are indicators that we do not know him like he wants us to, and therefore our faith in him is very small, which is likely why we aren’t realizing more answered prayer.

Pray Like Jesus

If this is true about us, let’s forget trying to guilt ourselves into praying more, except to allow our guilt to drive us to repentance. Rather, let’s note how Jesus prayed and pray like him!

Jesus prayed because he knew the extent of his human need. He prayed in reverential faith because he believed God and loved him with all his being. And he persisted and prevailed in prayer, sometimes praying with loud cries and tears, because he knew what he was up against, the strongholds imprisoning people, and the cost of his mission. He prayed, and he was heard.

We only pray when, like Jesus, we are aware of our real need. The greater this awareness is, the greater our sense of desperation for God’s help. And the greater our desperation for God, the more we will pray. And the more we will pray, the more we will experience the joy of his presence and his power for mission.

That’s why God wants us to pray like Jesus. He wants us to come to him. His great invitation to us is to come and ask, to ask in faith, and to keep asking in faith until we receive his answer.

Do not lose heart; do not give up; pray, even with loud cries and tears, until God grants the breakthrough you seek.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-key-to-spiritual-breakthrough

Patient in the Results

Sermon of the Day: Do Not Avenge Yourselves but Give Place to Wrath

Exodus 40:36-38

36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

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Good Morning Men.

I want to try and merge a few things that have been on my heart, been going on my life, and what I have been reading in God’s Word.

Starting with the above verse, I read a commentary from Dr. J. Vernon McGee about Numbers 4. In this commentary Dr. J. described the three different families, of the Levite clan. These were the dedicated priests for the Israelites. They all had their jobs, and knew exactly how to do it and by the movement of the cloud or pillar of fire they would know when to do it.

As I was reading about how this all took place, my mind started wondering. I started to put myself there and easily saw myself getting negative. If I am real honest, I could see myself complaining like; “God we just did all this work setting up, and now we gotta move again!?” I could see the ignorant flesh that resides in me really trying to resist what God was doing.

For us today that cloud represents the Holy Spirit. For a born again believer in Jesus Christ we have put to death our old nature, our old self, our old ways. We are a new creation in Jesus Christ. Through this “New Birth” the Holy Spirit now resides in us. However this is not an overnight process. In fact this is a life long journey of learning to hear, listen (there is a difference), act and follow the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit.

Recently God impressed upon my heart about this type of prayer. Let me quote exactly from my notes:

‘ Praying before, during and through all things. Why? Because we are going to change God’s plans? No! Because by having this heart and mind we are acknowledging that HE stands over everything and we kneel right beneath all HIS decisions and judgement’s.’

So obviously by not having this heart and mind, there is no kneeling beneath the Almighty God. In fact we try to stand above Him and tell Him how to operate our world.

There are a few things going on in my personal life were I am really trying to learn this. To pray for the big and the small equally. With a complete trust and understanding of Who really is in control.

As I combined these thoughts with what I have been reading it reminded me how important this discipline is. Without this constant communication with God, without learning to trust Him above all, to seek Him above all, to set our minds on the things above. We will continue to feed a mind and a heart that revolves on the flesh rather than the Spirit.

My hope and prayer for all of you this morning is that if you desire more of God in your life, that you would whole-heartedly seek Him. Not for a day, not for a week, in fact with no set date. But learn to seek Him constantly through the big and the small, being patient in the results.

Grace and Peace to all of you.

 

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