Praying With The Authority Of The Creator

pray-boldlyJesus had a way of praying that sounds unusual to our ears because He didn’t pray “normal” prayers. His prayers were bold statements! But Jesus also taught us to pray just like He did.

Most prayers that Christians pray sound like they come from the same formula. We may start with something like, “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God.” Then we probably spend some time praising God for His greatness before we make our requests of Him. Often our requests include something like “If this is Your will, I ask You to please heal/help/answer/etc.” And then almost always the prayer concludes, “In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

When Jesus prayed, His prayers sounded more like commands than requests. He would say things like, “Be clean” or “Rise up and walk” or “Blind eyes, be opened.” He usually didn’t ask His Father if it was His will to heal/help/answer/etc. And He never concluded a prayer by saying, “In My name, Amen!”

In Luke 6 there is a story about a man with a withered hand. Jesus healed him by speaking to the man, not to God. He said, “Stretch out your hand,” and when the man did so, his hand was completely restored. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Creator. 

I believe this was possible because Jesus had an unbroken conversation with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Certainly He had set times of prayer (see Mark 1:35, Mark 6:45-46, and Luke 6:12-13 as examples), but Jesus also told us that He only did what His Father told Him to do (John 5:19), and He only said what His Father told Him to say (John 12:49).

I know sometimes people want to say, “Yeah, but this is Jesus we’re talking about! C’mon, He’s the Son of God, so of course He could do these things.” But remember that the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation is that He chose NOT to do these things out of His Deity while He was on Earth, but restricted Himself only to His humanity. That’s why the Bible says that everything we face, Jesus also faced in the flesh (Hebrews 2:14-18).

But perhaps another example from someone who had no Deity in his nature might help. Consider Joshua—this man spent more time in God’s presence, listening to His voice, than even Moses (Exodus 33:11). So when the time came, Joshua could pray an incredibly bold prayer: He actually spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still in the sky, AND THEY OBEYED HIM!

Just like Jesus spoke to the man with the withered hand in the authority of the Creator, Joshua spoke to the sun and the moon in the same authoritative voice. How could these men do that? Because they were familiar with God’s voice, and when He told them to speak out boldly, they simply obeyed.

Jesus said we could pray the same way—Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it (John 14:12-14, emphasis added).

How can we learn to pray this boldly? We need to spend more and more time in dialogue with God. We need to become increasingly aware of the His abiding presence with us. Then we, too, can pray in the Creator’s authority.

Praying this way glorifies God!

Get together with a friend this week and work through these application questions:

  1. Am I spending time in planned prayer and Bible reading?
  2. How can I make myself more aware of God’s perpetual presence?
  3. What’s holding me back from praying more boldly?

The Tabernacle Of Israel (book review)

the-tabernacle-of-israelIf you have ever used the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, you are probably familiar with the work of Dr. James Strong. By the way, if you haven’t used this concordance, it is 1500+ pages listing every word in the Bible and their Hebrew or Greek word and definition. By contrast, Dr. Strong’s book on The Tabernacle Of Israel is only 170 pages, but it’s just as jam-packed with helpful information.

I was recently reading through the books of the Bible where God gives Moses highly specific instructions for the portable Tabernacle that is to be used for the Hebrews to conduct their worship services. This temporary Tabernacle not only served them while they sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years, but it became the pattern for the brick-and-mortar Temple that King Solomon built years later, and its pattern is referred to again in the New Testament book of Hebrews as being a pattern of the worship in heaven. Obviously this is a significant thing!

Dr. Strong uses his extraordinary skills to compile an easy-to-follow study of the design guidelines, building materials, and exact layout of this Tabernacle. He uses not only the biblical accounts, but also augments his work with extensive archeological discoveries.

Then to wrap up the book, Dr. Strong talks about the significance of the layout, colors, materials, and even mathematical significance of the Tabernacle’s design, showing how it still impacts the New Testament Christian to this day.

This is an academic book, but it is well worth your time if you would like to get a more in-depth knowledge of the Tabernacle which God commanded Moses to build.

T.M. Moore On Considering Jesus

T.M. Moore“We cannot follow what we do not know. And if we do not know Jesus, if our vision and understanding of Him are vague or merely general, following Him, in any sense, will be an act of self-deception. …

“The writer of Hebrews understood this. Twice in his epistle he instructs us to ‘consider Jesus.’ We must consider Jesus if we have any hope of persisting in the faith, no matter the struggle or threat that comes our way (Hebrews 3:1). And we must consider Jesus if we are to run our own particular race as fully and swiftly as possible (Hebrews 12:3). Following Jesus, it seems, means considering Him carefully. The writer uses two different words which we translate by the term consider.

“The first, in Hebrews 3:1, is the same word Jesus used to instruct us to consider the lilies of the field. It seems to have an aesthetic sense to it, implying wonder, admiration, mystery, and awe. To consider Jesus in this way is to wonder at His beauty, majesty, mystery, and power, and to delight in meditating on Him and lingering in His presence.

“The second use of consider, in Hebrews 12:3, encourages a more analytical, logical, and even theological consideration of Jesus Christ. We must study Jesus, think about all the implications of His life, death, and resurrection, and apply our minds to taking every thought captive for obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).” —T.M. Moore

Vegetables And Dessert

a-testimony-to-othersHave you ever noticed that kids would prefer to eat dessert more than vegetables? Well, maybe you’re an adult and you still feel the same way! But “veggies before dessert” is still a good motto to live by.

Why?

What happens if you eat only dessert? Do you eventually get healthier or are you setting yourself up for some unfavorable health conditions? What about if you only eat vegetables? The flavor may not be as good, but at least you’ll be getting healthier.

Jesus told His followers to expect the “veggie” times in time. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” And He told us, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” There were no ifs or maybes in those statements!

As Christians living on Earth, the Apostle Peter calls us “aliens and strangers.” That means that both our attitude and our lifestyle should be, well, alien compared to Earthlings. Especially when we’re in a veggie time of life.

Jesus was the Perfect Man. He never said anything wrong, and He never did anything wrong. Yet He was insulted, persecuted, and eventually killed in the most horrific way imaginable. But here’s the amazing thing: Jesus went through all of this without retaliating or threatening judgment on His persecutors. Peter said that the way Jesus went through this was intended to be an example for us.

The writer of Hebrews agreedLet us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart

Notice it says, “for the joy set before Him.” Other translations say “because of the joy awaiting Him” or “He never lost sight of where He was headed” or “He never lost sight of the joy ahead of Him.” In other words, Jesus knew what God’s plan was from before the beginning of time, so He—as Peter said—kept on entrusting Himself to God.

We have to do the same thing!

I have to confess something. When I quoted the “veggie” part of a couple of verses earlier in this post, I left off the “dessert” part…

  • “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven….” (Matthew 5:10-12)

The way you handle your vegetable times—disease, insults, financial setbacks, outright persecution—can be a testimony to others. The way you go through these trials could help others turn to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.

Are you in a trial now? Keep on entrusting yourself to Him Whose plans cannot be thwarted

It might seem all “veggies” now, but you are getting healthier, and the “dessert” you cannot even imagine is on its way!

5 Ways To Be A Christlike Employee

Work like JesusHave you ever had a bad boss? One who was harsh, unreasonable, overly demanding, or just a plain meany? Do you think working for a “bad boss” means that you get to lower your standards?

Not if you are a Christian!

Christians are on Earth to represent Jesus. We are aliens and strangers here for a short time, but here to also point people toward Heaven. One place we have tremendous opportunity to do this is on our jobs.

Think about it: most people will work 30-40 hours per week, and probably work 40-50 years of their life. That’s a lot of hours in which to show that living for Jesus makes all the difference in the world. 

Peter addresses our work situation in his first epistle. In essence he says, “You may not be able to control your boss’s actions, but you can control your reactions. A Christian has a different attitude about workplace employers than Earthlings do.”

The two things that set Christian employees apart is their submission and their respect.

Submission means understanding the proper order. This isn’t just showing up on time, wearing the right uniform and checking off the right things on your job description. All of those things can be done with a lousy attitude, with an attitude that’s nothing like Christ’s attitude.

Submission means viewing our employers differently—

With that in mind, here are five ways to be an “alien employee.” That is, someone who honors God on-the-job…

  1. Work for God.
  2. Trust God to be your Provider, not your employer.
  3. Trust God to keep perfect records of your faithful service.
  4. Pray for God’s blessing on your employer.
  5. Pray for your employer to see Jesus in your work ethic.

Here’s a great question to ask yourself: If Jesus were filling out my employee evaluation, what would He say about my work ethic? 

Thursdays With Oswald—6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the enteral Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

     Our right to ourselves in every shape and form was destroyed once and for ever by the death of Jesus, and we have to be educated into the realization of what this means in all its fullness. We have to come to a relationship to the Cross in thought as well as in life. … 

     We are here with no right to ourselves, for spiritual blessing for ourselves; we are here for one purpose only—to be made servants of God as Jesus was. …

   “How much more” does the death of Jesus mean to us today than it ever has before? Are we beginning to be lost in wonder, love and praise at the marvelous loosening from sin, and are we so assimilating the nature of Jesus that we bear a strong family likeness to Him?

     The most devout among us are too flippant about this great subject of the death of Jesus Christ. When we stand before the Cross, is our every common pious mood stripped off? … 

     How does all the profound thought underlying the death of Jesus touch us? The writer to the Hebrews instantly connect it with conscience—“How much more shall the blood of Christ,…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Has conscience the place in our salvation and sanctification that it ought to have? … 

     Are you thankful to God for your salvation and sanctification, thankful He has purged your conscience from dead works? Then go a step further; let Jesus Christ take you straight through into identification with His death until there is nothing left but the light at the foot of the Cross, and the whole sphere of the life is hid with Christ in God. 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

I challenge you: take some time to thoughtfully answer these questions.

Horatius Bonar On Spiritual Warfare

Horatius Bonar“The devil’s object in the present day is to persuade us that he does not exist, that we have to fight no such battle, that we need no sword nor shield, that we can do without anything beyond our own human power and skill.” [Ephesians 6:12]

“We must fight. There is no choice here. Whether we will or not, we must fight; for we are thrown upon a battlefield, and if we fight not, we perish. Woe be to the man who thinks there is no need of fighting now; that there is no danger and no enemy. Fight the good fight of faith.”

“satan persuades us that we can combat evil by the appliances of modern intellect and science and civilization. Let us beware. To try to suit religion to the spirit of the age, is to play into satan’s hands. Only divine weapons will avail in a battle with the powers of darkness.”

“Is the Christianity of our day of the lofty kind of which apostolic men have left us so bright an example? Is it not feeble, indolent, self-indulgent, second-rate? Is there in it anything of the presentation of ‘living sacrifices’ to God, which is our acceptable and reasonable service? Are we not seeking our own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s? Are we not feasting when the world is starving? Are we not at ease in Zion? Are we not sitting still and in luxurious comfort, when many noble and self-sacrificing ones amongst us are rushing into the toil or the war, and, for want of being supported by their fellow Christians, are sinking under the burden and heat of the day?” [Philippians 4:19]

“It is inner warfare. The 7th of the Romans is the description of this, the battle between faith and unbelief, between the spirit and the flesh. This war is private, solitary, with no eye upon the warrior; fought in the closet, on the knees, with the Bible as his weapon. …

“It is outer warfare. The enemies are legion; the world, with all its enmities, snares, pomps, pleasures; satan, with his principalities and powers; both of these in combination hating, persecuting, attacking. This is ‘the great fight of afflictions’ (Hebrews 10:32). Thus it is so far public, before men; ‘we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.’ …

“It is daily warfare. It is not one great battle, but a multitude of battles, constant warring: there is no intermission and no discharge in this war. The enemy wearies not, ceases not; nor must we. We wake to warfare each morning, and go out to warfare each day. Everywhere we find the enemy posted, sometimes openly, sometimes in ambush. The conflict is life-long, and it is daily. …

“It is warfare not fought with human arms. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We do not war after the flesh. It is in divine strength; with the sword of the Spirit; clothed in the whole armor of God. …

“It is warfare in which we are sharers with Christ. He first fought the good fight, as the Captain of our salvation, the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. The inner warfare indeed was not His, but all the rest was. He fought, when here, the same battles as we; and it is into His warfare that we are called to enter.”

All quotes from Horatius Bonar’s book Light And Truth.

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