Paul had a very busy schedule, going from town to town preaching the gospel and establishing new churches. Yet he always took the time to pray for his converts and the churches he helped to establish.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:15-21)
I have spent a lot of time on internet forums debating atheists and trying to convince them that God exists and the Bible is true. I usually tried to show them that the existence of God is the only logical explanation for the existence of the universe and I pointed out scientific evidence that shows that the theory of evolution can’t be true. However I have come to believe that I was going about this in the wrong way. This conclusion is based on hearing two former atheists tell how they became Christians.
The first is someone I know personally. He had a long conversation with a pastor which ended with the pastor explaining to him how to be saved. He said he was an atheist and didn’t believe in God, and that ended the conversation.
Over the next few days thoughts about God kept entering his mind and he came to the conclusion that there really was a God. Since the pastor had told him how to become a Christian he knew what he needed to do and so was saved. Read the rest of this entry
Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He was responding to a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar and his answer shows that we must pay our taxes. Some people protest government activities that they consider evil or immoral by withholding the percentage of taxes that goes to support such actions. Jesus’ statement does not give Christians the option of doing this. We must pay all the taxes imposed on us; if Caesar misuses the tax money we provide in ways that are contrary to God’s will, he will answer to God for his actions.
Our obligation to Caesar goes beyond just paying taxes. Read the rest of this entry
Before his arrest Jesus spent time praying.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
One item of furniture in the tabernacle was an altar which was used only for burning incense.
And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations.
Incense was to be burned twice a day every day. In the book of Revelation we learn the meaning of incense.
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Incense is a symbol of prayer. The fact that incense was burned everyday shows that prayer should be part of our everyday routine, not just something we do in emergencies and when we have a special need. There might be times when we need to spend more time praying than we normally do, but we should never let a day go by without spending some time in prayer. Read the rest of this entry
There is a vacancy on the US Supreme Court. The fact that abortion and same sex marriage are now legal in the United States is the result of decisions by this court, so naturally anyone who has strong views on these subjects is concerned about who will be chosen to fill the vacancy.
Christians should do what we can to make sure the next member of the Supreme Court holds views on these and other issues that are compatible with what the Bible teaches but we have another tool for influencing the court that others do not. We can and should pray that God will move the court to make the right decisions in the cases that come before it.
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
If God can control the hearts of kings he can certainly control the hearts of Supreme Court justices. Read the rest of this entry
Anyone who follows the news is aware of the persecution Christians suffer at the hands of Muslims. Few people are aware of the fact that a Muslim people known as the Rohingya, who live in Myanmar, face persecution by the Buddhist population of that country.
The Rohingya are often said to be the world‘s most persecuted minority. They are an ethnic Muslim group in the majority Buddhist country and make up around one million of the total 50 million population.
They hail from the country‘s northwest and speak a Bengali dialect. Almost all live in Rakhine, one of the poorest states, with a population of three million.
About 140,000 Rohingya in the Rakhine state live in ghetto-like camps that they can‘t leave without government permission.
Israel had some very good kings, such as David, Hezekiah, and Josiah. She also had some very bad kings. The worst was Manasseh, whose story is found in 2 Chronicles 33. He was the son of Hezekiah, who had destroyed the false gods the people worshiped and restored the worship of the true God.
Manasseh began his reign by attempting to undo the good his father had accomplished.
And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.”
And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
2 Chronicles 33:2-6
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
How can we pray without ceasing? Do we have to stop all of our other activities and kneel down and spend the rest of our lives doing nothing but praying?
If you are someplace where there are a lot of people you will probably see some of them demonstrating how to obey this command. They are talking on a cell phone while going about their regular activities. You could say that when we were saved God gave each of us a cell phone that we could use to keep in touch with him all of the time no matter what else we might be doing.
Jesus once told a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray. Here is the Pharisee’s prayer.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”
The Pharisee wasn’t praying; he was boasting about how good he was. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus said that his prayer was not accepted and when he left the temple he was not justified.
One technique used by evangelists is to ask those who respond to their message to pray what is called the “Sinner’s Prayer”. The wording of this prayer varies; here is one version.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
This practice isn’t found in the Bible. There are several accounts of people believing the gospel and being saved but there is no record of any convert being asked to say this or any other prayer.
All of us have asked God for something and not gotten it. When this happens we generally believe that God hasn’t answered our prayer. That isn’t necessarily the case. Jesus said:
Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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!
When the disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them to pray he gave them a model prayer called the Lord’s prayer which included this request:
Give us each day our daily bread.
We ask this because our bodies need food in order to function properly. But we need more than just nourishment for our bodies. Read the rest of this entry
If we want to understand the Bible well we must not only read it but spend time thinking about what it says. Here is how the Bible describes the person whom God blesses.
His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
What does it mean to meditate day and night? Do we have to stay awake and think about the Bible rather than sleeping? Read the rest of this entry
Philippians 3:20 says of Christians,
Our citizenship is in Heaven.
When someone is naturalized as a citizen of a country he gives up whatever citizenship he previously had and no longer has any allegiance to his former country. So does this mean that when we became Christians we gave up our citizenship in our earthly country? There are some Christians who think this is so and that for this reason Christians shouldn’t get involved in any form of political activity. Read the rest of this entry
It is possible to expend a lot of energy without accomplishing anything useful. Paul warned against such useless efforts in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. Read the rest of this entry