Easter Sunday 2018

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/vuspf-8ee883?from=yiiadmin&skin=1&btn-skin=107&share=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=0&rtl=0

So what is this day all about?
Jesus is the only one that can save us. We can not, our works can not, no one else can, He and He alone is able to save us. God’s wrath was satisfied in the atoning blood of Jesus. Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin. Sin entered in the world with the fall of Adam in the Garden, ever since man has been depraved, morally corrupt, and unable to save himself from the wrath of God.

Romans 5:6-17(HCSB) For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

Death through Adam and Life through Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. 13 In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification. 17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

The good news is the story of Jesus and how the events of his life 2000 years ago still have a major impact on us today. What does Paul say is the most important thing?

What is the “good news” or “gospel”?

  • We are all sinners
  • Christ died
  • He was buried
  • He was raised from death.
  • Our sins were atoned

Isaiah was a Hebrew prophet who was believed to have lived about 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. He wrote about the coming of the messiah and it was fulfilled in Jesus.

Isaiah 53:1-6 (HCSB)1Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.

 

Luke 23:1-56(HCSB) Jesus Faces Pilate

Then their whole assembly rose up and brought Him before Pilate. They began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is the Messiah, a King.”So Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews? He answered him, “You have said it.” Pilate then told the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no grounds for charging this man.” But they kept insisting, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where He started even to here.”

Jesus Faces Herod Antipas

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. Finding that He was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because he had heard about Him and was hoping to see some miracle performed by Him. So he kept asking Him questions, but Jesus did not answer him. Reposte in Greco Roman times this was a question that demands an answer, I don’t know was not an answer, if you did not answer you were shamed. Every time in the gospels when Jesus is asked a question he answers except this time, he was shamed by not answering but the shame was overcome with the resurrection. Jesus could have gotten out of this trial by answering but he chose to keep silent to go to the cross. This is why he is praying in the garden “let this cup pass from me”

10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing Him. 11 Then Herod, with his soldiers, treated Him with contempt, mocked Him, dressed Him in a brilliant robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Previously, they had been hostile toward each other.

Jesus or Barabbas

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people,14 and said to them, “You have brought me this man as one who subverts the people. But in fact, after examining Him in your presence, I have found no grounds to charge this man with those things you accuse Him of. 15 Neither has Herod, because he sent Him back to us. Clearly, He has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will have Him whipped[e] and then release Him.” [17 For according to the festival he had to release someone to them.][f]

18 Then they all cried out together, “Take this man away! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (He had been thrown into prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)

20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify! Crucify Him!”

22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What has this man done wrong? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have Him whipped and then release Him.”

23 But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand 25 and released the one they were asking for, who had been thrown into prison for rebellion and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.

The Way to the Cross

26 As they led Him away, they seized Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, and laid the cross on him to carry behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd of people followed Him, including women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. 29 Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘The women without children, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed, are fortunate!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Crucified between Two Criminals

32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.

35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine 37 and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

38 An inscription was above Him:

THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. 

The scene was not colorful it was dark to represent our sin and iniquities.

46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit. this, He breathed His last.

47 When the centurion saw what happened, he began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!” 48 All the crowds that had gathered for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, went home, striking their chests. 49 But all who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance,watching these things.

The Burial of Jesus

50 There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, 51 who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. 52 He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Taking it down, he wrapped it in fine linen and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever been placed. 54 It was preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed along and observed the tomb and how His body was placed. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

Luke 24:1-12(HCSB) On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered His words. Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Without the resurrection, the Christian religion comes tumbling down like a house of cards, Christianity is the meanest cruelest HOAX if Jesus is still dead — it is cruel and sadistic. Here we are singing to a dead man, praying to a dead man, preaching about a dead man, worshiping a dead man, trusting in a dead man! If Jesus is dead, everything is changed. The resurrection is crucial. If it wasn’t for the resurrection, we would still be in our sins. How could Jesus work in us to forgive us and make us like Him if He is still dead? Jesus is NOT dead – He is alive. Every other religious leader is dead — no one else conquered death — only Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (HCSB) Resurrection Essential to the Gospel

1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose.  3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.11 Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.

Resurrection Essential to the Faith

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

Christ’s Resurrection Guarantees Ours

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 27 For God has put everything under His feet. But when it says “everything” is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. 28 And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Resurrection Supported by Christian Experience

29 Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them?  30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day! 32 If I fought wild animals in Ephesus with only human hope, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Come to your senses and stop sinning, for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.

The Nature of the Resurrection Body

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” 36 Foolish one! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the future body, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. 41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being;  the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

47 The first man was from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven.
48 Like the man made of dust, so are those who are made of dust; like the heavenly man,
so are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man.

Victorious Resurrection

50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep,
but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed
with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.  55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! Whether we call it “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday,” what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life!

Romans 6:1-4 (HCSB) 6 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year. At the same time, if we choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, we should not allow the fun and games to distract our attention from what the day should truly be all about—the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.

 

Advertisements

Parable 5 Rich Young Ruler

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/y4544-82862e?from=yiiadmin

This parable appears in the Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31 and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30.

Despite the evilness of the twentieth century, we have not yet learned the depths of human depravity. Secularists have taught us that we are basically good — all we need is education. Polls also suggest that evangelicals overwhelmingly believe in the goodness of man.

This is surprising, given Scripture’s assumption that we are chronically sinful. Paul tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God Romans 3:23(HCSB). In Psalm 51:5(HCSB)Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;I was sinful when my mother conceived me., David confesses his evil nature was present even at the moment of his conception.

Our Savior once met someone who was confident in his own money and status instead of his allegiance to God. Wondering how he could inherit eternal life, this rich young man came to Jesus wondering what he had to “do” (Mark 10:17). The use of “do” indicates that he thought he could enter God’s kingdom by doing good.

Mark 10:17–31(HCSB)17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 19 You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.” 20 He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” 21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. 23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 So they were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to tell Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 “I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, 30 who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

 

Jesus does not directly reprimand the man for this belief. Rather, Jesus responds by asking the man why he was calling Jesus “good,” for no one is good but God alone (v. 18). Jesus is not denying His own goodness; He is indirectly forcing the man to question his assumption that he knows goodness and therefore, the Lord. In effect Jesus is saying “no one is good but God, and therefore you cannot rely on your moral behavior to inherit the life of the age to come. Like anyone else, you must follow me.”

Christ then gives him a list of ethical commandments and tells him that if he does all these, he will enter the kingdom of God (v. 19). Because he still did not understand, the young man’s response to Jesus was to receive a “laundry list” of commandments that he needed to follow in order to receive eternal life.  Jesus replied by listing five commandments that all deal with human relationships. Matthew 19:18-19(HCSB)18 “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:Do not murder;do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.  This is important because He was making a distinction between having faith in the law (or in his own abilities) and having faith in God; that is, the difference between the law and grace.  The young man thought that the law could save him, but Jesus knew that that was impossible.The man is quite pleased, and he professes his own conformity (v. 20). Even if he did obey those commands, he was still missing something — Jesus catches him on the first commandment. Seeing that he worships the idols of wealth and social status, Jesus tells him to sell his goods and follow Him. But the man is not satisfied, and he refuses to let go of his riches. Mark 10:21–22(HCSB)21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

At least two sins were revealed here: First, the young man was not as blameless as he thought he was because he was guilty of loving himself and his possessions more than his neighbor, and second, he lacked true faith which requires an unparalleled devotion to Jesus.  This is when Jesus called over His disciples to teach them a lesson.  He said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).  The disciple’s response was, “Then who can be saved?” or, “Then how is it possible for anyone to be qualified to enter the kingdom of God?” (Mark 10:26)Having seen the true nature of his prideful confidence, this man is bluntly denied the possibility of entering the kingdom on his own merit. He preferred to worship his money instead of God. The next verse 27 This is where the famous and oft quoted verse comes in, which is the inspiration for our question.  Jesus replied, Mark 10:27(HCSB) Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”.  This answers our first contextual issue, for we can now see that the “this” concerns salvation.  It is impossible for man to save himself by his own merits, or for the law to grant eternal life.  The grace offered only by Jesus Christ is necessary.  The question now is, “What did Jesus mean by ‘all things?’”

This part of the question concerns God’s omnipotence, or, His power.  It is important to understand that omnipotence does not mean that God is capable of doing anything including the irrational or imperfect. There are things that God is incapable of doing, such as lying or denying Himself (Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2).  Because God cannot do certain things, however, does not mean that He is less God because the things that He cannot do would actually take away from His perfect nature.  Instead, omnipotence refers to God’s power, which is unlimited (Job 11:7-11, Job 37:23; Revelation 4:8).  That is, God can take the things that are impossible to man, and make them possible because His power is unlimited, while ours is limited.  The context of Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:27 is a perfect example of His unlimited power because while it is possible for man to be saved, it is impossible for man to accomplish the goal on his own.  God’s unlimited power is needed to make the possibly impossible, possible.

Scripture is full of verses that portray God making the possibly impossible possible.  When Abraham and Sarah were awaiting the promise of a son, even after they were well past child bearing years, God told them, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)  In the book of Numbers when the Israelites were complaining to Moses about food, the Lord told Moses that he was going to feed over 600,000 people for an entire month.  Moses was skeptical, but God said, “Is the Lord’s power limited?  Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (Numbers 11:23).  In the book of Job, after forty-two chapters of trials, Job was able to answer God and say, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).  The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).  Jeremiah said, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).  Finally, in Luke 1:37, in foretelling the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel told Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is easy to get hung up on the word “all,” but it is best to remember that the context of this statement is in reference to salvation.  God made a way when the way was impossible for us.  This is what it means that “with God all things are possible.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer argues that this interpretation gives in what he calls “cheap grace,” lowering the standard of Christian teaching:

The difference between ourselves and the rich young man is that he was not allowed to solace his regrets by saying: “Never mind what Jesus says, I can still hold on to my riches, but in a spirit of inner detachment. Despite my inadequacy I can take comfort in the thought that God has forgiven me my sins and can have fellowship with Christ in faith.” But no, he went away sorrowful. Because he would not obey, he could not believe. In this the young man was quite honest. He went away from Jesus and indeed this honesty had more promise than any apparent communion with Jesus based on disobedience.

 

Let us never be found professing Christ while remaining idolaters.

Parable 3 Wise and Foolish Builders

<a href=”https://revivallifechurch.podbean.com/mf/play/4sctq6/121017_Parable_3_Wise_and_Foolish_Builders.mp3″>Download this episode (right click and save)</a>

Matthew 7:21-27(ESV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

 

Luke 6:46-49(ESV)46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

Here Jesus is speaking of the absolute necessity of building your life on the right kind of foundation. Because the foundation is what holds everything up, it’s what holds everything together. No matter what quality of materials you use; no matter how carefully you nail the frame together; no matter how skilled your builders may be – if the foundation isn’t solid and stable, your “house” will lack integrity. Over time, cracks will develop in the walls. The windows will stick. The roof will leak. And sooner or later, the storms of life will bring it crashing down, and everything you’ve worked so hard to build will be lost.

 

First of all, note that there are only two builders in the story; only two alternatives. When it comes to matters of ultimate truth, there are really only two options. You’re either trusting in Christ, obeying his commands, following his example – or you’re not. One way leads to life and salvation, the other leads to death and eternal destruction. Now, the world would have you believe otherwise. The world has you believing in yourself, or mix biblical wisdom and worldly wisdom by taking verses out of context and applying them to areas they are not meant to be applied.

 

According to the Bible, there aren’t many ways, according to the Bible, there are only two ways – Christ and everything else. One way leads to life; the other leads to death.

 

Matthew 7:13-14(ESV)13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

 

Now, the foolish man who built his house on the sand did a lot of things right. * Foolish man. This is the word moros, from which we get “moron.” The root meaning is deficiency and was used of one who is stupid and foolish. The foolish man took short cuts because he wanted quick results and instant gratification. The foolish live just for the moment and give no thought to the future. Do we know people like that? They get their paycheck and blow it all in a couple days on things that don’t matter then they are broke till next paycheck, or how about people who do foolish things, make foolish decisions that affect their future but in the moment they do not care about consequences. Anyone who has ever been arrested falls in that category. This foolish builder was evidently diligent, energetic, a hard worker. It’s no easy thing to put up a house, and especially not in those days, with no power tools or Lowes. He had to carry stone, and cut wood, and form bricks out of clay. It probably took him weeks and months of backbreaking labor. He didn’t quit; he persevered until the structure was complete. Yet in the end, all his hard work was for nothing.

We often confuse activity with godliness. We assume that if someone is hard-working and energetic, they must be a sincere Christian. They must be close to God if they’re doing so much “for the Lord”. And so we make ministry involvement the mark of spirituality. But that’s a mistake. Because all of that activity and service may be built upon a foundation of sand. They could be doing all those things for all the wrong reasons. It may not be obvious what those reasons are; just as it may not be obvious what kind of foundation is underneath a house. But in the end, the true motivation will become apparent. Friends, even the most costly service and the most strenuous labors won’t save you, if the foundational motivation is something other than love.

 

What other kinds of motivations are there? Well, pride for one. Some people like to be involved in church activities because of the praise and recognition they receive. They like being in the spotlight, they like having people thank them and affirm their gifts. And this motivation is certainly not restricted to laypeople; it includes pastors as well. How do you recognize it? A key sign that someone is acting out of pride is what happens if their service isn’t noticed, or if (God forbid) they even get criticized. What happens then? They become angry; they sulk; they threaten to quit, they leave the church. Now, if their motivation had truly been to serve, they might be disappointed to learn that their attempts had been unsuccessful. But this kind of bitter, resentful reaction reveals that it was really all about them from the beginning, and not about the people they were supposedly serving.

Or how about self-righteousness as a motive for activity? This one can produce some really exemplary workers, the kind of people who get recognized at banquets and who receive lots of plaques and awards. But their primary reason for doing all the things they do may be to earn God’s favor; demonstrating that they deserve God’s blessings. Their intention may be to prove – to God, to themselves, and to others – that they are at least a little bit better than the people around them. How can you identify this motivation, this faulty foundation? Listen. If you hear yourself complaining about how much you’re doing versus how little the others are doing, then self-righteousness is somewhere in the mix. If that’s the case, then repent. Confess your sin. Acknowledge that you can do nothing to make yourself acceptable to God. And place your trust and confidence entirely in Him, rather than in your own works or merit.

Now, please understand that I’m not criticizing active service; far from it. But I am suggesting that you examine your heart. Ask yourself; what is my foundational motivation in doing this? Is it a sincere love for Christ and for his people? Or is it something else? Pride, or self-righteousness, or habit, or duty, or people-pleasing? If your answer is “something else,” then you may be in danger of a spiritual collapse.

The point I’m making is not limited to church life. It applies to any kind of work and any kind of service – a wife serving her husband, or parents serving their children. It applies to serving family members, or friends, or neighbors. In fact, it applies to everything we do, from the time we get up in the morning to the time we lay down at night. Are you working, and are you serving, out of love? Just being active and diligent and hard-working isn’t enough. The foundation of it all, the motivation for it all, has to be a love for Christ; or else in God’s eyes it has no value. Let me put it another way. Anything you or I do which cannot be traced back to our love for Christ will eventually become worthless. That’s the only motivation that pleases God; the only one that has value.

 

Consider also that the house built on the sand was a good, solid structure; one that to all appearances was well-built. It didn’t fall down right away. It wasn’t obviously defective. The house on the sand may have started to shift even before the storm came. Gaps likely appeared in the walls as the timbers slipped. The owner probably patched up the holes, only to see more appear, even as the outside appeared to be fine. That’s a picture of people who don’t have a solid foundation. Great gaps and hideous holes show up and sometimes are immediately filled with that which doesn’t satisfy but gives the appearance that all is well.As long as the weather was good, it was perfectly adequate. It wasn’t until the heavy rains came that it collapsed. I highlight this because, just as this man’s diligence was no sign he was doing the right thing, neither was the apparent success of his labors. Yes, he managed to accomplish something which looked impressive and worthwhile. But that didn’t mean that he was in good shape. Because underneath it all, just waiting for the first real storm, was that hidden weakness, that lack of a true foundation.

It is possible to accomplish a great deal in this world without Christ. You can build a business or a career. You can make money. You can have a reasonably good marriage. You can develop a wide circle of friends. You can do good things – give money to charity, coach Little League, adopt a third-world baby, do service work for the poor, volunteer at a retirement home. You can have a good time and enjoy life. You can do many big, important, impressive, and admirable things. But eventually, a storm will come along which will bring it all tumbling down.

Now, for some people, the storm never comes along in this life. They have little or no interest in religion, and yet they do things, and have things, and enjoy life and go to their grave happy. For them, the storm that finally destroys everything, including their souls, will be the final judgement. And when that judgment comes, the only thing that will matter to me or you is whether we are in Christ, whether by faith we have received his forgiveness and his righteousness. If you have, then you will stand. If not, then you’ll be swept away into everlasting punishment and destruction, along with everything you’ve ever done. Listen to these passages which describe that terrible day:

 

Isaiah 28:15-19(HCSB)15  For you said, “We have cut a deal with Death, and we have made an agreement with Sheol; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, it will not touch us, because we have made falsehood our refuge and have hidden behind treachery.” 16  Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion,

a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. 17  And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level.” Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place. 18 Your deal with Death will be dissolved, and your agreement with Sheol will not last. When the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be trampled. 19 Every time it passes through, it will carry you away; it will pass through every morning— every day and every night. Only terror will cause you to understand the message.

 

Matthew 25:31-34(HCSB) 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 

I know that most of you consider yourselves to be in Christ, and are expecting that the final judgement will leave you standing. I hope you’re right. But I have a warning. Don’t be complacent. Don’t assume that just because you claim Christ as your Lord, you will be received by him on that day. What matters is whether your life demonstrates that a genuine change of heart has taken place, a change that comes through faith in Christ, and is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Not measly lip service. Remember that earlier in today’s passage, we heard Christ speak these chilling words:

 

Matthew 7:21-23(ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

Look at the wise builder. The main difference between the two builders is that only one took the time and determination to dig down to the solid rock and anchor his home to that which would not move. And all this work was out of sight. The foundation of his house was fastened to the rock while the foundation of the other house settled on sand. The nature of sand is to be shifting, sliding and sinking while a rock is stationary, strong and secure.

Luke 6:46-49(ESV)46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

Paul echoes the importance of building on Jesus as the cornerstone and a firm foundation in: Ephesians 2:18-22(ESV)18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

 

The contrast is brought out more strongly in Luke 6:48(ESV)48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. The word for rock here is “petra,” which is not used for a stone or even a big boulder but for a large expanse of bedrock which is solid, stable and immovable. The Rock is Christ and the sand is self. We see this in 1 Corinthians 3:11(ESV)“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Many of us know the song that goes like this: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

All this work was out of sight. The “work” you put into your relationship with the Lord is mostly unseen. Brothers and Sisters if the only time you read your bible, worship and pray is when or if you come to church you are building on a slippery foundation.

 

Observe also that the same storm hits both houses. No individual is immune from adversity. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 5:45(ESV)45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. There are no storm-free zones where we can avoid weather. Spurgeon writes, “Whether your religion be true or not, it will be tried.” Foundations are usually hidden and are only proved by storms. Storms can serve as wake-up calls, can’t they? Some of you are in church today because some sort of stress has entered your life. Storms also test the faithful to see what we’re really made of.

 

Storms on the outside reveal what’s on the inside. There’s a great shaking coming according to Hebrews 12:26-27(ESV)26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Let’s bring this all together to get at the main point of the parable. Both men had the privilege of hearing the words of Jesus. The only difference between the two men is that while both of the men listened to the words of Jesus, only one lived them out. The wise man heard and heeded the Word of God. Those who practice what Jesus preaches will weather the storms of life.If you want your life to last, then listen to Jesus and live what He says. Proverbs 10:25 (HCSB)25 When the whirlwind passes,the wicked are no more,but the righteous are secure forever.

 

The fact that those who are in Christ will pass through the “final storm” that is his final judgement untouched and unharmed. But these words hold a promise for us in this life as well. If we belong to Christ; if our lives are built upon faith in Him, and obedience to His commands, and fellowship with Him through the Spirit, then there is literally nothing that can separate us from him. The storms of life may rage, we may become frightened and fearful, we may even come close to despair. But no matter what happens, our faith cannot be destroyed; we cannot lose Christ or be lost by Him.

John 10:27-30(ESV)27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

 

Romans 8:31-39(ESV)31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

It says “everyone who hears…and puts them into practice.” This is in the present tense, meaning that we are to continually hear and continually heed. Here’s the literal translation: “and keeps doing them.” Listen to what Jesus said in John 13:17(ESV): “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Luke 11:28(ESV) echoes the same sentiment: 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” For some of us, we listen a lot but live it very little. What is it that God is calling you to put into practice? In what area do you need to obey Him? Is it in your giving, in your serving, in your loving, in your forgiveness, in your thought life, in your attitudes, or in your behavior?

As churchgoers we’re in danger of doing a lot of listening but not so much living out what we hear. Most of the people listening to Jesus that day would have considered themselves to be His followers. Could it be that some of us are not Christians, even though we think we are?
2 Corinthians 13:5(ESV)5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Some of us are too soft and too shallow. It’s time to go deep. The main difference between these two men is that one of them took the time to go underground while the other stayed on the surface. You can’t really tell from looking at someone how deep their roots are but you can tell by what happens when horrible things come.

While we don’t talk like this anymore, the words of Puritan Thomas Brooks are penetrating: “Reader, remember this: If thy knowledge do not now affect thy heart, it will at last, with a witness, afflict thy heart.” I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase: “But if you use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

2 Timothy 2:19(ES)19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

 

To the outside world we may seem Christian, even to some of our fellows brothers and sisters in Christ, but what happens when a little storm enters your life? Do you fall apart? or do you stand firm? Every one of us is a builder and our life is like a house. Our lives are made from the same materials as other lives and they are pummeled by the same problems. There are storms of sickness, sin, sorrow, suffering, financial stress, relational conflicts and tornados bearing any of a thousand other names. Some of you will weather these storms because you have wisely built your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

They key thing to remember, when the storms of life threaten – when the sky grows black, and the wind starts to howl, and the rain pours down – the key thing to remember is that it isn’t a matter of us holding on to Christ. It’s not a matter of our strength at all. It’s a matter of Christ holding on to us. And he has promised that he will hold on to us, no matter what happens, both now and throughout eternity.

Which builder are you, the wise or the foolish? Are you building your life on Christ? Is He your foundation? Or are you relying on something else, or someone else, to get you through the storms of life and the judgement to come? If that’s the case, you’re in great danger. I urge you, repent today. Don’t delay any longer. Confess your sins to him in prayer; accept his forgiveness; put your trust and confidence in him for salvation and eternal life. No foundation other than Christ will survive the storms of life and the coming judgement of God.

Mental Illness and the church

Psalm 34:17-20 (ESV)When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity. Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of the being, including both the soul and the body. Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. Our spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. Our intellect is distorted by and affected by sin. And, most importantly, our body has been affected and distorted by sin.

Why do we get colds, headaches, backaches, indigestion and infections? Why do you have migraines, heart problems,kidney stones and glaucoma? We experience these things because we inhabit bodies which have been marked and marred by sin. Paul spoke directly to this when he said: 2 Corinthians 4:16(ESV)16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Our outer self is wasting away. Our bodies don’t work correctly. They fall apart and fail us at the worst times. While we live in this fallen world, we live in bodies that are wasting away.

Paul wrote: Romans 8:22–23(ESV) 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Mental and spiritual matters seem more inseparable than physical and spiritual matters. The fine line between the soul and spirit is hard to navigate. Can our souls be saved, while our minds are “lost”? That doesn’t even make sense. We are whole beings. Yet, just as the Apostle Paul prayed for his tormenting illness to disappear, God offered grace instead of healing. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10(ESV)So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Along with the rest of creation, we eagerly await for the day when Christ will return and we will receive our new, redeemed, resurrection bodies.

Until the day Jesus returns, we will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. Our brain, which is a key, central, integral part of our body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. The brain, just like every other part of the body, is prone to illness.

I would argue that if we truly believe in total depravity, then we must accept mental illness as a biblical category. If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul.

Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Treating mental illness as purely a spiritual disorder is very hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness because it points them to the wrong solution. People deal with chronic physical anxiety.They regularly experience a clutching sensation in their chest, shortness of breath, adrenaline surges, and a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. On rare occasions, the anxiety is tied to something they are worried about, but 90% of the time the physical symptoms they experience aren’t at all connected to worry. Sometimes you may be working away on your computer, not thinking about anything, when a feeling of anxiety suddenly descends.

In those moments,people don’t need to be told not to worry. They don’t need to be told to exercise more faith in the promises of God. They don’t need to be told to snap out of it. What they need is encouragement to persevere. They need to be reminded that, even in the midst of suffering, Jesus is near. They need to be reminded that light and momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. They need to be encouraged to press into Jesus.

And… They need to be connected to someone who can help them deal with the physical aspects of anxiety.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Here’s the unfortunate reality: even if their thinking is biblical, faith-filled, and God-honoring, the physical symptoms of anxiety probably won’t go away. Why? Because most of the time the problem is primarily physical. Something isn’t working correctly in the brain, which in turn causes people to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.

When interacting with Christians who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other form of mental illness, we need to treat them as whole people. We need to treat people as both body and soul. Do they need to exercise faith in the wonderful promises of God? Sure. But they also need to deal with the physical aspects of mental illness as well. Doctors are a wonderful gift from God who can offer help to those who struggle with mental illness.

We need to place mental illness in the same category as every other form of illness. When a person experiences chronic migraines, they most certainly will be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. We can serve them by encouraging them that God is good, and that he cares for them. But we also can serve them by taking them to the best migraine specialists in the country.

If we’re going to effectively care for fellow Christians who struggle with mental illness, we need to recognize that mental illness is a real thing. We aren’t only souls. Rather, we are a complex composition of soul and body. Let’s make sure we address both the soul and the body.

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Finding Jesus is NOT the Cure for Depression.

God can heal physical and mental diseases. No doubt. Many physical illnesses are incurable. Mental illness is also incurable. While mental illness can be managed and treated, it never goes away.

For some reason, especially in the church, we often judge people who are mentally ill as making poor choices in their lives or somehow not fully trusting in God. It’s almost as if physical impairments can’t be helped, but mental impairments just require people to simply try harder. If trying hard cured mental illness, then mental illness would be cured, because I don’t ‘know of anyone who tries harder to fit in or just function than people who struggle with these diseases.

There are plenty of Christians who love Jesus with all of their hearts and have committed their entire lives to him, yet they are Schizophrenic, Bipolar, Clinically Depressed or smitten with another illness. There are also Christians who love Jesus, and they struggle with diabetes, heart disease, obesity and a number of other mostly preventable conditions which are actually within their control. Their deaths may not be imminent, but they certainly will come sooner than they should.

A 2008 Baylor University study found the following among church attendees with professionally diagnosed mental illness(es):

• 41% were told by someone at their church that they did not really have mental illness.

• 28% were told by someone at their church to stop taking psychiatric medication.

• 37% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of personal sin.

• 34% were told by someone at their church that their mental illness was the result of demonic involvement.

The Church is not yet willing to universally embrace what should already be common sense.

3 Myths the Church Perpetuates Mental Illness:

1 Myth: Depression is a choice. | Truth: Depression is not a choice. We need to stop talking about mental illness like it is a choice whether that language is explicit or implicit. In fact, Northwestern University has just developed the first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. Unfortunately, many Christians think that all depression is a consequence of sin and often they do not get the professional help they need.”

2 Myth: Faith means prayer is enough. | Truth: Faith and seeking medical help are not mutually exclusive. We seek medical help for physical ailments so why not mental ailments?

3 Myth: Taking medication is a sin. | Truth: Getting medical help is taking care of one’s self. Taking prescribed medication is not a sin. The Church does not shame cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Likewise, it should not shame people who get treatment for mental illness. Getting help is a wise decision for any sick person regardless of her belief system.

Ephesians Pt27 Praying for Boldness

Ephesians 6:18-20(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Romans 12:12-13(ESV)12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul is writing to the church at Rome to encourage them and explain to them the characteristics of a true Christian. One of the characteristics that is recurring through most of his letters is prayer. Prayer is communication with the Father. If we do not pray how will we every communicate with Him?

If we live with our spouse and only communicate when we need something from them how great of a relationship we would have?

How come most of the time when we pray it is because we are someone we know is in a bind?

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words.

Ever had an awkward moment where a fellow Christian asks you to pray for him and you’re not sure that what he wants you to pray is a good idea? Here’s something that’s never out of place to pray in those situations—that God would be glorified in the matter.

In John 14:13(ESV) Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In every circumstance, it’s appropriate to pray “that the Father may be glorified” in it.

Let’s “pray for one another,” and pray biblically.

Prayer for one another is a Christian responsibility.

Believers are commanded in James 5:16(ESV)16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. From verse 13-16 it is a paragraph about praying in faith for those who are sick.

The rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the responsibility for Christians to pray for one another isn’t limited to prayers for the sick. Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul pleads, in 1 Thessalonians 5:25(ESV)“Brothers, pray for us” 2 Thessalonians 3:1(ESV) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

One of the four chief characteristics of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was that “they devoted themselves to … the prayers” (Acts 2:42(ESV)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Can anyone doubt that these corporate prayers included much prayer for each other?

While intercession for others may have become more common among believers after Pentecost, it wasn’t unusual in the Old Testament period. For instance, the prophet Samuel assured his fellow Israelites: 1 Samuel 12:23(ESV) “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”

The main point is Paul is asking for prayer for boldness to speak the mysteries of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19-20(ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion states “Since then he arms and equips us by his power, adorns us with splendour and magnificence, enriches us with wealth, we here find most abundant cause of glorying, and also are inspired with boldness, so that we can contend intrepidly with the devil, sin, and death. In fine, clothed with his righteousness, we can bravely surmount all the insults of the world: and as he replenishes us liberally with his gifts, so we can in our turn bring forth fruit unto his glory.”Such boldness springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. 

The single term that best describes the way God wants his gospel given is boldness. And because it’s translated various ways, even faithful students of Scripture might overlook its frequency. Boldness (parrhesia) is used forty-two times in the New Testament. It is translated “openly,” “freely,” “plainly,” “with confidence” but most commonly some form of the word “bold.” A bold witness is not a pushy witness. A bold witness is not a loud witness, unless it needs to be. Boldness is not obnoxiousness. It’s not rude or demanding. Boldness is the furthest thing from some wild-eyed preacher screeching in the streets, “You’re going to hell!” Boldness is clear, direct communication in the face of potential opposition, nothing more or less. According to Proverbs 28:1(ESV), it is a characteristic of the God’s children: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Are you bold for Christ?

Acts 4:23-31(ESV)23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

We live in a lukewarm society at best. It’s filled with “feel-good” churches and false teachers. Satan tells us these problems are small and shouldn’t matter to us. Satan tells us, “As long as they believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else they do.” It’s not true. We can open the word of God and see there is a proper way for everything, whether it’s how we worship in church or how we live our every day lives.

The fact is, not every church is doing right. We have so many different denominations in today’s time. Obviously not everyone can be right if our beliefs are so different. The need for boldness is real. This world needs truth straight from the Bible, and boldness is required to teach this. Sometimes as Christians we are made to feel like the minority. In situations like this, it’s tough to stand against the crowd, but God will reward us for defending the truth.

1 Corinthians 9:16-18(ESV)16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The simple fact is we should never be ashamed of our beliefs if they are correct. These beliefs come from God himself. God wants us to boldly stand up for the truth. Don’t beat around the bush and make light of your beliefs. Be bold! Show scriptures to show answers, and leave it at that. In a world filled with so many lies and so much evil, God needs bold Christians to stand up and fight for His truth. God makes the rules, not us, so it’s not up to us to change or pervert them. We can bring others to Christ if we are bold and show the truth.

To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus, confront sinners with their guilt and the danger of judgment, and offer God’s grace to those who repent.

  1. To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus.
  1. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST DEFLECT ANY GLORY AWAY FROM OURSELVES.

B. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST TELL PEOPLE WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE.

2. To proclaim the gospel, we must confront sinners with their guilt and warn them of impending judgment.

3. To proclaim the gospel, we must tell of God’s grace to the repentant.

So whenever you get an opportunity to talk to someone about spiritual matters, seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner needs to know who Jesus is and what He did. Don’t hesitate, out of fear of giving offense, to confront the sinner and warn him of impending judgment. He needs to feel his guilt so that he realizes his need for a Savior. And, don’t fail to offer God’s grace and forgiveness to everyone who will repent.

Ephesians Pt 26 Praying in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:18(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Prayer is Communication with the Father, our Creator. Before Salvation we have no communication with the Father. Just the fact that People like us can speak to the Creator of the universe is itself an amazing thing. Even more astounding is the fact that He hears us and acts on our behalf! The first thing we need to understand about effective prayer is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to even make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and pray.

Praying in the Spirit is mentioned three times in Scripture.
1 Corinthians 14:15 (ESV)15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Ephesians 6:18(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Jude 20 (ESV)20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
So, what exactly does it mean to pray in the Spirit? First of all you have to be saved. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the action by which God takes up permanent residence in the body of a believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed to His disciples the new role the Spirit of Truth would play in their lives: John 14:16-17 (ESV)16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John Bunyan – There is no man nor church in the world that can come to God in prayer, but by the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, man is so weak that he cannot think one right saving thought of God, of Christ, or of his blessed things; and therefore the Word of God declares about the man without the Spirit, Psalm 10:4(ESV)In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”; unless it is that they imagine God to be basically like one of them (Psalm 50:21). For “every inclination of the thoughts of [unsaved man’s] heart is only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5; 8:21). Thus, since unbelievers are not able to correctly conceive who God is, the very God to whom they pray, the Christ through whom they pray, nor of the things for which they pray, as was shown before, then how will they be able to address themselves to God, without the help of the Holy Spirit?

The acceptable prayer to God must, in the outward expression, and as well in the inward intention, come from what the soul understands by the illumination of the Holy Spirit; otherwise the prayer is condemned as a vain abomination, because the heart and tongue do not agree, neither can they, unless the Spirit help us in our weakness.

Without Jesus the only prayer God hears is that of repentance. If you are not saved God is not obligated to listen to any of your prayers. 

Isaiah 59:1-2(HCSB) Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.

Psalms 66:17-19 (HCSB)I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.18 If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19  However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.

Fortunately, 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 (ESV)26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Jesus taught his disciples how not to pray before teaching them how to pray.

Matthew 6:5-8(ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Some, based on 1 Corinthians 14:15, equate praying in the Spirit with praying in tongues. Discussing the gift of tongues, Paul mentions “pray with my spirit.” 1 Corinthians 14:14 states that when a person prays in tongues, he does not know what he is saying, since it is spoken in a language he does not know. Further, no one else can understand what is being said, unless there is an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). In Ephesians 6:18, Paul instructs us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” How are we to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests and pray for the saints, if no one, including the person praying, understands what is being said? Therefore, praying in the Spirit should be understood as praying in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit, and according to His will, not as praying in tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:14(ESV)14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. In both cases they have misrepresented the intention of those verses. The first verse they assume, speaking in an unknown tongue, builds someone up, when in fact; Paul was saying it in a negative sense. It puffs your ego, or it, at best, if you do it in private, would benefit you, which would be selfish and contrary to any proper use of spiritual gifts and the second one, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, and my understanding is unfruitful,” is a way to say, “Don’t do that, because what’s the point in having an unfruitful understanding?”

The gift of tongues is viewed as a holy, mystical ability that somehow operates in a person’s spirit and comes out the mouth and bypasses the mind. Many Charismatics are even told they have to purposefully switch off their mind to enable the gift to function, that’s pretty much the pattern. I’ve sat in on a number of sessions where people were endeavoring to teach someone how to speak in tongues, and they always follow that same format. Usually they say something like this, “Don’t think of anything, try to empty your mind of any conscious thought, then start to just babble like a baby”

Charles and Francis Hunter, who travel all across the world in healing explosion meetings, have as a part of their curriculum the seminars in which they teach people how to speak in tongues. They have as many as 50,000 people in some of their meetings. Charles Hunter tells people, and I quote, “When you pray with your spirit you do not think of the sounds of the language. Just trust God, but make the sounds when I tell you too. In just a moment, when I tell you, begin loving and praising God by speaking forth a lot of different syllable sounds. At first make the sounds rapidly so you won’t try to think as you do in speaking your natural language. Make the sounds loudly at first so you can easily hear what you are saying.”

That’s an interesting contradiction. Hunter doesn’t explain what point there is in hearing what you are saying since your mind isn’t engaged anyway, but he continually reminds his audience they’re not supposed to be thinking. He says, “The reason some of you don’t speak fluently, is that you try to think of the sounds so when we pray this prayer and you start speaking in your heavenly language don’t try to think,” end quote. Later he adds, quote, “You don’t even have to think in order to pray in the Spirit,” end quote.

If it’s the spirit then why you have to be taught?

Now remember, all of this is a occurring with absolutely no understanding of what you’re saying. You have no comprehension of what it is you’re saying, and yet it is supposed to bring you into the deep understanding and intimate communion with God.
You might ask the question, “What then is wrong with such an experience?” Well, on the one hand, there really isn’t anything particularly evil or immoral about it if you just disassociate it from the Bible and disassociate it from Christianity, and if you get some pleasure out of standing in a corner all by yourself or sitting in your room alone and talking gibberish to yourself and that does something for you, then I suppose in and of itself, from a psychological standpoint, that it’s not a moral issue, it may be harmless. If something makes you feel good or makes you feel somehow better in control of your life, or like you’ve had some warm experience, so be it, but don’t call it intimacy with God. Don’t say it makes you spiritually stronger. Don’t say it makes you delirious with spiritual joy.

Then ask yourself the question, could I, through this means be deceived? Could this be dangerous? The answer to that question has to be yes.
The problem I have with the tongues is that people have used that as a spiritual pinnacle and if you don’t speak in tongues then you don’t have the Holy Spirit.I even heard this” when you speak in tongues the devil can’t understand you” Really?! If tongues is a “language of the angels” what was Satan? A cherub He was higher than the angels, he was the most beautiful of all the angels, you don’t think he knows the language? Some counter that with well after he fell he lost his ability? Really?! Satan gets summoned to Heaven to speak with God. Job 1:6-7(ESV)6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
If we say those things we are stating incorrect unbiblical statements, and we are saying God doesn’t understand English or that God will hear my prayers because its in a heavenly language, that statement is so prideful!!

I personally heard and know of people who have severe PORN addictions but can speak and pray in Tongues!!!!! I was told multiple times “Brother if you don’t learn how to speak in tongues your will never have a powerful prayer life” My answer was always “What Verse?” But I have a couple for them….

James 5:15-16(ESV)15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

1 Peter 3:7(ESV)7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1 Peter 3:10-12(ESV)10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 

1 Peter 4:7(ESV) 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Statement made by John Wesley. He understood something about prayer that we must understand: “It seems that without God, man cannot – and without man, God will not.”

What did he mean by that?

– It seems that on earth, man can do nothing without God – but there is another reality: God will not do anything on earth without man.

The principle is: There has to be a partnership between man and God in order for things to be happening on earth.

– So what happens on earth depends on you!

– To understand prayer, here is a simple definition of prayer:

Prayer is the earthly license for Heavenly interference.

Therefore: Nothing on earth can happen without the cooperation between God and humans.

– That is how powerful you are.

– God Himself cannot interfere in this planet without your license and permission that

He gave you.

-This sounds un-believable – but if you don’t believe this – it is why your prayers

aren’t answered, you don’t see results, you are still sick, don’t have what you need,

you are just performing a religious exercise in your prayer life.

“We get the mind of God about His will, we pray it. When we pray it, we give him legal right to perform it” (BENNY HINN).

“Yes. Let me define prayer for you in this show. Prayer is man giving God permission, or license, to interfere in earth’s affairs. In other words, prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference….God can do nothing on earth, nothing has God ever done on earth without a human giving him access….Always looking for a human to give him power of permission. In other words, God has the power, but you got the permission. God got the authority and the power, but you got the license. So even though God can do anything, he can only do what you permit him to do” (MYLES MUNROE).

We can create barriers to effective prayer with the Father

1. Praying with selfish desires and wrong motives. James 4:3(ESV) When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

2. Rejecting God’s call or ignoring His advice Proverbs 1:24-28 (HCSB)24 Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, 26 I, in turn, will 27  when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you.28  Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me. 

3. Worshipping idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14(ESV)11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

4. Turning a deaf ear to the cry of the poor Proverbs 21:13(HCSB) The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.

Effective Prayer

Although the Bible offers a great deal of guidance on how we can deepen our communication with the Creator, effective prayer has more to do with the one doing the praying than it does with “how” we are to pray. Indeed, Scripture says in James 5:16 (HCSB) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect., and in

1 Peter 3:12(HCSB)because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. 

Psalm 34:15 (HCSB)The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help. and, again in Proverbs 15:8(HCSB) The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Prayer saved the righteous Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:11), and in the wilderness, God’s chosen people benefitted from Moses’ right standing with God (Exodus 16–17). The barren Hannah’s steadfast and humble prayers resulted in the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20), and the apostle Paul’s prayers even caused the earth to shake (Acts 16:25-26). Clearly, the passionate prayers of God’s righteous children can accomplish much (Numbers 11:2).

We also need to make sure that our prayers are in line with God’s will.

1 John 5:13-15(HCSB) 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. Praying in accordance with God’s will is essentially praying in accord with what He would want, and we can see God’s revealed will throughout Scripture.

Additionally, prayer is something believers should do “constantly”
1 Thessalonians 5:17(HCSB)Pray constantly. When we present our requests to God, we are to pray with faith, with thanksgiving, with a spirit of forgiveness toward others in Christ’s name, with a heart that is right with God. It’s the strength of our faith, not the length of our prayers that pleases Him to whom we pray, so we don’t need to impress God with our eloquence or intelligence. After all, God knows what our needs are even before we ask. Also, we should make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our hearts when we pray, as this would certainly be an impediment to effective prayer.

Jesus is pretty serious when it comes to his Father’s house and prayer. Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:13–17(HCSB) 13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. This cleansing occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple. The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life.
Matthew 21:12-13(HCSB)12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!” Think of this: Jesus doesn’t call the temple a home for God, a beautiful establishment, a country club, a social gathering, nor a hospital, He calls it a “House of Prayer”. Jesus got so fired up about His Father’s house not being a house of prayer, he fashioned a whip and went after it. He cleansed the temple not once but twice!

Far too often, prayer is viewed as a “magic formula.” Some believe that if we do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer our prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. We are told in 1 John 5:14-15 (HCSB)14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. We are to have confidence when we come to God in prayer, knowing that He hears us and will grant whatever we ask as long as it is in His will. Similarly,
John 14:13-14 (HCSB)13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. According to these and many other Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).

The revelation about prayer, is that prayer is a 100% spiritual ministry. We all want our prayers to be “effective,” so much so that when we focus on the “results” of our prayers, we lose sight of the incredible privilege we have in prayer.

The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-13 (ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.
Please understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer.
Here is how it breaks down:
“Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is.
The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.

This is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, and submission. We are to pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, using our own words and “customizing” it to our own journey with God. The proper way to pray is to express our hearts to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; in the morning or at night—these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction, and appropriateness. God’s desire is for prayer to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.

Philippians 4:6-7(ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words

Prayer must submit to the will of God. – Paul Bunyan

As Christ has taught us, prayer must say, Matthew 6:10(ESV)Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.; therefore the people of the Lord in humility are to lay themselves and their prayers, and all that they have, at the feet of their God, to be disposed of by him as he in his heavenly wisdom sees best. And never doubting that God will answer the desire of his people in a way that will be most advantageous for them and for his glory. Therefore when the saints pray with submission to the will of God, they are not to doubt or question God’s love and kindness to them. But because they are not always wise, and sometimes Satan may take advantage of them, so as to tempt them to pray for that which, if they had it, would neither be to God’s glory nor for his people’s good.

Ephesians Pt23 Shield Of Faith

Ephesians 6:16(ESV)16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. this makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.

The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (In Latin meaning “tortoise shell”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide, when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.

Clearly, a shield is vitally important to a soldier. It provides a blanket of protection. It is meant to be taken up in all circumstances. It is the first barrier against the enemy’s attack. Often, shields were painted with identifying marks; a Christian who takes up the shield of faith identifies himself as a foot soldier who serves the Commander of the Lord’s army.

2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

Hebrews 10:38(ESV)38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Hebrews 1:6(HCSB)6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. This verse stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Satan’s attacks can sometimes cause us to doubt God.You start asking yourself, “Did God really say? Can I really trust God? Isn’t that just your interpretation?” Faith prompts us to believe God.

Romans 1:16-17(ESV)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

There is a saying and even a song that says “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s bad theology. The truth is, “God said it, and that settles it — whether I believe it or not.” God’s truth isn’t based on whether you believe it or not. It’s still true even if you don’t believe it, because God can’t lie.

You need that kind of certainty in difficult days. With the Shield of Faith, you have certainty that God’s promises are true even when they don’t appear to be true in your life. God comes to the Garden of Eden, creates a perfect environment, creates a perfect man and perfect woman – perfect in the sense of sinlessness, not in the sense of an accomplished perfection.  And there they are, and here comes Satan, and what does he say?  “Has God really said?”  And then he says, “You know, God doesn’t want you to know good and evil because you’ll be like Him, and He doesn’t like competition.  You can’t trust God He has ulterior motives.  You can’t always believe exactly what He says.”  Satan was tempting them to doubt God and believe him.  Eve was a sucker, Eve was a fool, she believed the devil, and you know what happened.  Every temptation that ever came to you came on the tack of “believe me, not God.”

Watch this, Christ has been fasting forty days and forty nights, led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God as God prepared Him for His ministry.  At the end of that time, Satan comes to Him to tempt Him.  And how does he tempt Him? He tempts Him to not believe God – same old deal.  “Don’t believe God, believe me.”
Matthew 4:1-11(HCSB)Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written:Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

We give in to temptation when we believe what it has to offer is better than what God has promised. It’s seducing temptations, that’s all. Satan fires arrows of impurity, arrows of selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, covetousness – it all comes down to this: 1 John 2:16(ESV)16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Christians have always been, and will always be, lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because his methods continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh—sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the ones which Paul warned the Galatians about, Galatians 5:19-21(ESV)“sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. He tempts us with the lust of the eyes—the endless accumulation of “stuff” with which we fill our homes and garages and the insatiable desire for more, better, and newer possessions, which ensnares us and hardens our hearts to the things of God.

But perhaps his most evil temptation is the pride of life, the very sin that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God Isaiah 14:12-15(ESV)2 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. The arrogant boasting which constitutes the pride of life motivates the other two lusts as it seeks to elevate itself above all others and fulfill all personal desires. It is the root cause of strife in families, churches, and nations. It exalts the self in direct contradiction to Jesus’ statement that those who would follow Him must take up their cross (an instrument of death) and deny themselves. The pride of life stands in our way if we truly seek to be servants of God. It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness in the kingdom. The pride of life “comes not from the Father, but from the world.” And, as such, it is passing away with the world, but those who resist and overcome the temptation of the pride of life do the will of God, and 1 John 2:17(ESV)17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

In other words the arrows are, “Don’t believe God, He doesn’t keep His word, He didn’t give You the whole picture, He didn’t tell You the truth.  Believe me, do it my way.”  And that’s the way every temptation comes to every believer every time.  Satan comes along and says, “Oh yeah, I know the Bible says you’re not supposed to have sexual relationships with somebody outside of marriage, but it’s fun.” Who do you believe when you sin?  You believe the devil.  It’s the bottom line, people; it’s so simple.  When you sin, you believe Satan; when you obey, you believe God.  That’s the bottom line.  And the shield is the double protection.  “I will believe God,” said Christ.  “Get away, Satan.  God will feed Me when He’s ready, and God will anoint Me as Messiah when He’s ready, and God will give Me the kingdoms of the world when He’s ready, on His terms.  I will not believe you.”
Titus 1:1-2(HCSB)Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

God isn’t lying.  And yet every time you sin, you believe Satan and his lies and so do I; we’ve been suckered again. Satan comes along and says, “Do it my way, and you’ll like it.” It’ll be fun. It’ll fulfill you. You’ll gain what you desire” – it’s a lie. He is a liar, John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

Whenever you sin, you’re saying, “I really don’t believe God knows best, Satan knows best.” We say, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory” and we all say, “Amen, brother, preach it.  Yes, He’ll supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, no question about it.”  And then when we lose a job, “Ohh, God what are You doing to me? Why did you do this – see?  There’s Satan “The Lord has forsaken you,” see?

Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  And we run through life seeking all the things that should be added and missing the Kingdom of God.  You see, you can’t just go around saying, “I believe God, I have faith in God, the just shall live by faith,” and then grab everything you can grab that is worldly.

So the only way to extinguish the arrows of Satan is to believe God.  The Bible says, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.”  Who do you believe?  Abraham believed God.  Who do you believe?  Do you believe God?
In other words, what God said is true.  If you believe it and obey it, it’ll be a shield; if you mess with it, you’ll suffer, see?  Satan comes along and says, “Oh well, I know God said that, but let me add this.”  No.  No, “He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.”

Psalm 12:6(HCSB)The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

He literally bombards the believer with the arrows, the fiery darts of seductive temptation, to elicit out of us ungodly, non-Christlike, evil responses.  And the only defense we have at this point, Paul says, is the shield of faith, because sometimes it just rains temptation. We live in a world where it really does rain temptation, all around us, and we must have the shield of faith. Faith reminds us that, though the fulfillment of God’s promises may not be readily visible to us, God is true to His Word. When Satan attempts to plague us with doubt or entice us with instant gratification, faith recognizes the deceptiveness of his tactics and quickly extinguishes the arrows. When Satan accuses us, faith chooses to believe that Jesus has redeemed us and that there is no more condemnation. Romans 8:1(HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

The term “faith” means believing God, and that is the bottom line of the Christian faith. That is the bottom line of everything we believe, everything we hold to, everything we have our confidence in. The whole of Christianity is an act of believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  Believing that He wrote the Bible, believing that Christ is God, believing that He died, believing that He rose, believing that He’s coming, believing that by believing we can enter into His Kingdom – the whole thing.  That’s why in Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB)Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Romans 1:17(HCSB)“17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.

Hebrews 10:36-38(HCSB)36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.37  For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But My righteous one will live by faith;and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.

Faith is our life; it is a matter of believing God.  Now, everybody lives by something, everybody has faith in something.

Faith is one of the greatest gifts, and it is the means by which we receive grace and come into right relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8–9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. It is because we have been justified through faith that we belong to God and have peace with Him. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is the doorway to hope in God.

Romans 5:2(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it.
Romans 5:3–5(HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The things Satan attempts to use to discourage us can actually become tools in the hands of God.

All believers have this promise:1 John 5:4(HCSB)4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield.

1 Peter 5:8-9(HCSB)8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

We win when we believe God, we win when we trust God.  You may go through doubts, and anxieties, and fears, and worries, and concerns, and problems, and struggles, and trials, and tribulations, and persecution.  As long as you believe God, as you believe His sustenance, you believe His Word, you believe His power, you believe His promise, that doesn’t have to be a point of loss; it can be a point of strengthening, a point of gain.

The shield of faith is the consistent application of what we believe about God to the issues of life.  Now, if you don’t trust Him then you don’t know Him well enough, right – because if you really knew Him, you’d trust Him.  Oh, the more you know God, the deeper you get into the heart of God, the more you know about His truth, and the Word of God, and the more you meditate upon His person in your prayers and meditating times, the more you know God, the greater you’ll trust God, and the greater you trust God, the less likely you will be to not believe Him.

And so it all goes back, as everything does in the Christian life, to your relationship to God.  It’s there; it’s down deep in the heart.  If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, if you believe that God is who He claimed to be, if you believe all that God’s promises that He gave to you are really true, then you’re not going to sin, because you’re going to stand in the place of the greatest blessing.  Everybody wants to be blessed, everybody wants the best.  God says, “I’ll give it to you if you do it My way.”  If you do it Satan’s way, you just disbelieved God.  But the more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him, the more you’ll believe Him.