Prayer – WHY?

Prayer is effective

Why should I bother to pray? Why should you bother to pray? As the title of this blog says, prayer is effective.  It works. But first let’s back up a bit and ask another question. What is prayer? Before we can be convinced that prayer works we need to know what prayer is and how to pray. Maybe I should have done this blog before the series on The Lord’s Prayer but we can catch up.

So, what is prayer? The dictionary lists prayer as a noun and defines it as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Asking for help or thanking Him for His help are certainly two aspects of prayer that the Bible tells us to practice. But prayer is so much more than this.

God is our Father and we should talk to Him as we would our earthly fathers. I told this to someone many years ago and very quickly was told that his earthly father wasn’t someone that anyone would want to talk to. I know, some of us don’t have a good relationship with our earthly fathers for various reasons. I was actually in that same position myself so I understand. But our Heavenly Father is GOOD! We need to talk to Him frequently just as we would talk to any loved one. Cultivate the habit of prayer. One way to do this is to realize that every thought, word and deed is in His view. God sees and knows all about us, so why not address all of our thoughts toward Him? (This is also a good way to help keep your thoughts from straying into area they should not stray.) Live a life of prayer! 1Thessalonians 5:16 says, “pray without ceasing.” I believe this can be done as we begin to understand that through the Holy Spirit God lives in us and He knows what we think and feel.

He also understands. Jesus was born an infant, became a toddler, a teenager and a young adult just like all of us. He lived with peer pressure, changing hormones and adolescence. Yes, Jesus is (was) God, but He was also fully man. And Jesus prayed! In fact, He prayer a lot. Jesus believed that prayer worked and He modeled that belief for us.

One thing that Jesus made very clear was that prayer was not like rubbing a magic lamp to get whatever you wanted. He said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.” (John 15:7 GNB) Notice that He said “if you remain in me AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU…” Living a life of prayer as I described above will help us to keep His words in us. We cannot expect that Jesus will make us millionaires and help us to live a life of frivolous debauchery. While some believers are blessed with finances it is their gifting to finance the kingdom work. They live a life of prayer and it shows. (Here I need to say that not all who call themselves Christians are actually true believers. They live a material life seeking money and fame and they use Jesus name in vain. “By their fruits you will know them”.)

Remaining in Jesus words isn’t that hard. Spend time reading the Bible and praying. Your efforts will be rewarded. If you are sincere Jesus will guide your readings, give you insight and understanding. So talk to the Father today. You don’t need fancy words or formats any more than you would need to talk to your earthly dad. God WANTS to hear from you and you NEED to talk to Him.

I will continue this study on prayer but don’t wait for that. So start praying and reading the Bible now. Most people find that as they spend more time talking to God that they will find more meaning and richness in the Word. God speaks to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit will certainly direct you to the readings you need.

© 2022 Tim Lehmann. All rights reserved.

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Believe

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”   (Mark 9:23-24 World English Bible)

“If you can believe.” I am often like this father Jesus was talking to. I do believe, but there are times when I have to admit that I am human. I have doubts and fears. What if Jesus doesn’t do this or that and things don’t work out like I (think) I need them to work out? I do believe, but Jesus, help my unbelief!

This may well be why we don’t see the healings and the other miracles like I think the Bible says we should. We believe, but not like we should. I’m not saying that we doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. Nor am I saying that our salvation is in jeopardy, but do we believe Him before we believe a doctor? Do we believe Him before we believe a politician? Do we believe Him before we believe a pastor? When you accept a human’s word over the Word, then you need to ask Him to help your unbelief. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

This should be our prayer any time we find ourselves questioning Jesus or His Word.

 

© 2019 Tim Lehmann. All rights reserved.

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Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. …And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6 ESV)

 

Definition of faith: (Merriam – Webster dictionary)

  1. allegiance to duty or a person LOYALTY
  2. belief and trust in and loyalty to God
  3. firm belief in something for which there is no proof
  4. something that is believed especially with strong conviction

 

I am challenged from time to time to defend my position that Jesus is the only Way and even that God actually exists. These people want proof. Part of me understands this. I am, by nature, skeptical. I want to know why you tell me what you do.

So what is my defense and proof of God and Jesus? I have none! I do not try to prove His existence. I know He lives. I talk with Him daily. (If you think that labels me insane, so be it.) To quote the song “He lives within my heart.” The Holy Spirit dwells in me and as a result I have faith that God lives.

I could spend hours going over various archaeological finds that back up the Bible, citing miraculous healing and seemingly impossible rescues, all attributed to God. All of this is great and I love to hear about them. They bolster my faith, but they are not the reason for my faith.   The reason for my faith is that God put it in my heart to believe. If I think that I was capable of developing enough faith to be saved then I could boast about this as a work that I did. But it wasn’t me. In Ephesians we are told that it is definitely God’s doing that we have the faith to believe. In Romans we are told that carnal man (those not born again) cannot, by themselves, submit to God’s law and that in the flesh we cannot please God.

God loves the world (that is the humans that He created) so much that He sent Jesus to pay an unbelievable debt that we are unable pay. This debt of sin and the penalty has been lifted for all people who believe. God gives everyone the faith. All they have to do is ask. The Holy Spirit draws people to Jesus. That is one of His purposes. The gift God gives, that is faith, is available to every person on earth.

If we accept God’s gift, we can experience the blessings and ultimate joy that goes along with the new birth. This is true Grace. If we demand proof, though, remember, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

 

 

© 2019 Tim Lehmann. All rights reserved.

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Works

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5 ESV)

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17 ESV)

If someone were to take these two verses, by two separate writers, apart from their context, they could make a great basis for a works based religion. And that has been done many times over the centuries. It seems, at first glance, that both Paul and James are teaching that we must have a certain kind of works in order to get into the Kingdom. But, as a friend of mine likes to say, “what does the rest of the Bible say?”

There are many places where Paul expounds on salvation by grace alone. He is very persistent in letting his readers know that it is not what we can do but what Jesus already did.

Throughout the Old Testament the prophets proclaimed God’s demand for perfect sacrifices. The lambs, bulls and doves had to be spotless. The Israelites were to give their best to the Master. So, with this in mind, how could any flawed human be a fitting sacrifice? We can’t. Romans 3:23 tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We cannot do enough good deeds, or works, to attain salvation. Ever.

So what’s up with the devotion verses for today? It’s not a matter of attaining salvation. It is a matter of living out your salvation. If you are saved, that is “born again,” (John 3:3) then you will have the Holy Spirit living in you. Before you were saved you lived for yourself. Your mind was not set on the things above. Then Jesus cleansed you. He made you a new person. This new person is now filled with the Holy Spirit and longs to please his new Master. (If this is not the case with you then I strongly advise you to get with a Bible believing preacher and get yourself right with God.)

This does not mean that we are perfect. We are still human and still stumble, slip and even fall from time to time. The difference is that when we do sin the Holy Spirit prompts us into repentance. We know that we have done wrong. Not that we have done something that will hurt us, but we have done something that Jesus does not approve of. So the verses for today are not a works salvation. But if you are saved, than you will have the works. Your behavior will reflect the Holy Spirit inside you.

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Forgiveness

The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as “to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt”.  As Christians we are familiar with the forgiveness that God extends to us because of the death of Jesus on the cross.  Without that forgiveness we would not be able to escape judgment.

Divine forgiveness

Divine forgiveness sets the pattern for our forgiving others. Jesus said in His famous model prayer that we are to ask for forgiveness even as we forgive others (Matthew 6.12).  This was a part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount and has become a treasured teaching of the church. Interestingly enough, this is not the only time Jesus gave this particular model of prayer to His disciples. In Luke 11: 1 “one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.’”  Jesus’ response was almost identical to what He taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

Speaking of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about forgiveness in that message:

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7) Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

He talked about forgiveness on several other occasions as well.

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25) But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. (Luke 6:27-29) Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36) Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37)

Of course the most famous one of all is when Jesus was hanging on the cross. He had the power to obliterate all of His tormenters and the authority to call legions of angelic armies, yet He said, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23.34).

Jesus was all about forgiveness. He wanted us to be forgiving people. He still wants us to be forgiving people. So what, exactly, does it mean to forgive someone? We hear the term “forgive and forget” a lot. That sounds great, but we are human. Sometimes it is impossible to forget. Especially if the hurt is a deep personal hurt. Does that mean that Jesus has asked us to do the impossible?

 Human forgiveness

Jesus would not do that. He knows our limitations. He lived in a human body. Remember our definition of forgiveness is “to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt”.  This does not say anything about forgetting. A friend of mine some time ago defined forgiveness by saying that forgiving is the act of remembering to forget. Oddly worded, but it makes sense. We are going to remember an offense. Not only is it is human nature, but Satan is called our “accuser” for a reason. He is very good at reminding us of the things we want to forget.

Another friend once described forgiveness with a little more detail. He said that when we forgive someone we agree never to bring the offense up to that person again, never to tell anyone else about it and when Satan reminds us that we will consciously think of other things, such as scriptures that talk about how Jesus forgave us.

It is not an easy thing to forgive those who have hurt you. And some hurts are worse than others. Some people think that their pain is beyond forgiveness, but it’s not. Jesus would not tell us to do this if it were not possible. Maybe it will take the strength of Jesus Christ for us to forgive, but we have that strength available to us. The apostle Paul said that he could do everything that he needed to so through Jesus (Philippians 4.13). We too, as believers, have this power within us. It’s not magical and it’s not some hocus pocus stage trick. It’s the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that indwells Christians the moment they believe.

Forgiveness is possible.  Forgiveness for you if you believe in Jesus died for your sins and rose again to gain victory for you over sin and death; and forgiveness for those who have sinned against you.

Even through this He said "Father, forgive them."

I Believe…

  1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. (2 Timothy 3.15-17)
  2. There is one God, evident as three separate persons, yet divinely one. (Deut. 6.4)
  3. Man is born into sin, lives in sin, and will die in sin unless he accepts Jesus as his savior. (Romans 5.12, 6.23)
  4. Jesus died so that man can be saved. It is a gift of God, not something man earned. (Romans 6.23, 10.13)
  5. There are two ordinances of the Church that Jesus commanded His followers to observe.
    1. Water baptism. (Matthew 28.19)
    2. The Lord’s Supper or Communion. (Luke 22.19)
  6. In the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a separate act of God. (Acts 2.4)
  7. Believers are to witness and make disciples. (Matthew 28.19)
  8. In healing of the body, mind and spirit. Jesus suffered that we might be made whole. (Isaiah 53.5,
  9. That Jesus will return again for His followers. That believers will be raised from the dead and those alive at His return will be taken up to heaven. (1Thes. 4.16)
  10. That those who refuse to accept Jesus are condemned to an eternity in a literal hell. God has not condemned them, but by their refusal of Jesus they have condemned themselves. (Luke 16. 19-31, John 3.18)
  11. In the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. (2Peter 3.13)

Righteousness Needed No Defense

A recent story in the Persecution Blog caught my attention. Stacey Harp wrote about a Christian who knew where he stood and continued to stand there. It cost him three years in a communist prison. Even in prison he continued to spread the gospel.  (Reminds me of the apostle Paul.)

As I read this I thought about Christians in America. We love to complain about everything while sitting in our comfortable air-conditioned churches waiting for the lost to come to us. We have the freedom to preach the gospel without fear that we will get sent to jail. (Yes I know there are exceptions. They are exceptions, not the rule. Christians in some countries are actually being killed because they are being Christians rather than just born-again to get to heaven believers. We have these freedoms and mostly we ignore them.

Preaching the gospel is not a job for pastors and clergy. It is the command of Jesus to ALL who would claim that they are following Him.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:15-18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:18-19) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)

This is what we are told to do by none other than Jesus Himself. First in our hometowns, counties and states, then to all of the world. It’s a shame that nations evangelized by American missionaries are now sending missionaries to America. Not for training, but to win the lost because America has become a field ripe for harvest, but there are no willing workers.

My point is that we need to remember the example of Miss California who, despite knowing that she would lose the crown, had her eyes on a better crown. Knowing that she would be reviled here, she knew that righteousness needs no defense. The time has arrived when it is not popular to be a Christian. If you stand firm on Biblical principles you will be ridiculed and mocked. Remember that brothers and sisters in other countries stand at the risk of their lives. If we fail to stand now our nation may be the next to have martyrs listed in the Persecution Blog.

Christians in name only

WorldNetDaily commentator Dave Welch did a fantastic job on his article. (Link to article)

Many will insist that we all have the right to practice Christianity as our conscience dictates. Wrong. We have the privilege of living out a faith based on absolute truth as given to us by the Author and Finisher of that faith without error or omission in His written word. If we want to invent our own religion, we are “free” to do so, “free” to reap the consequences and “free” to call it anything we want – but Christianity.”

There are many who have exercised this right to invent their own religions. Unfortunately they often call it Christianity. We see this in their beliefs and actions. I am unqualified to judge a person’s heart. Only God can do that. I can see their behavior and I can read the Bible. When the Bible calls certain behaviors “sin” and even goes on to say that they are “detestable to God”, I have no choice but to assume that people who willingly and openly commit these sins are not actually Christians, no matter what they claim. They may be saved, they may have had a “born again” experience (John 3.3) and be going to heaven, but they are not followers of Christ. That is what the word Christian means, you know.

To call your self a Christian means that you have given yourself completely over to Him. Throughout the New Testament the writers make the call for an all or nothing commitment. To be a Christian, from their point of view, was to become wholly devoted. All of Jesus’ followers were total followers. They were not perfect. They made mistakes, but they were committed to Him. To be anything less is to make a mockery of the name Christian.

Jesus gave more than any one of us could ever give. He didn’t have to die. He was God in the flesh; perfect. He was the very Word of God become flesh. He died to take our place. He suffered more than we can ever imagine. His cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” speaks more than we can understand. Jesus was God in the flesh! God, being holy, cannot have any part in sin. Jesus took the sins of man on His shoulders as a substitute for us. Put it together and you begin to get a glimpse of what Jesus went through because of His love for you. Can you not at least give Him your complete devotion?

© 2019 Tim Lehmann. All rights reserved.

Thank you for your support of this ministry. Please “LIKE” and “SHARE” this blog and if you feel led, your financial gifts are truly appreciated.

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