Contented To Intercede

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There is a sportswear company called ActiveFaith. I have a warmup shirt I wear sometimes in preparing for my workout. The front of the shirt says, “I can do all things,” and on the back it says, “through Christ.” I think that phrase is supposed to help me muscle through when I want to back off in my workouts. Perhaps reminding myself, “I can do all things through Christ” will help me persevere. 

As we continue our series asking, “Is that in the Bible?” we have come to statement #8—I can do everything through Christ. Is that in the Bible? Yes, but.…  

Yes, this verse is in the Bible in Philippians 4:13, but we need to as what exactly is the “everything” Paul is referencing. 

Remember that context is king, so we need to look at this whole letter to the church at Philippi, and especially the verses surrounding this statement. Let’s consider verses 10-19. 

In verse 10, Paul says he is glad that the Philippian Christians have had an opportunity to meet his material and financial needs again. This church was famous for its generosity (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-4), and when they heard Paul was in prison, they wanted to help. 

Prison was actually house arrest for Paul. He wasn’t allowed to leave the house, but he was responsible for all of his living expenses. Quite simply put: no money, no food. Epaphroditus brought the necessary funds from Philippi to Rome. He so invested himself in this mission to help Paul that he nearly died in the process (Philippians 2:25-30). 

Paul expresses his gratitude for the way these friends supplied for his needs, and he tells them twice that he has learned contentment during this ordeal. He says that he knows what it is to have plenty, and he knows what it is to have nothing. 

Did you catch that: Paul says that contentment is a learned attitude. It is learned through appetites satisfied and appetites thwarted, it is learned by looking back to recall God’s past mercies and then reassuring an anxious mind—that may become a discontented mind—that God is still God and that His future grace has not diminished one iota (see Philippians 4:4-7).  

Bottom line: Contentment is learned by being assured (or reassured) that I can get through this season of life by my unwavering faith in Christ’s ability to supply my needs. So Paul concludes, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” 

I like the way the Amplified Bible translates this verse: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me—I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. 

Contentment is keeping my eyes on Jesus regardless of the circumstances. Contentment brings an assurance to my heart to keep trusting God regardless of my circumstances. And contentment then helps me pray for others. 

How does contentment help us pray—or intercede—for others? 

Before I answer that, let me have you consider another “Is that in the Bible” statement. Statement #9—My God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Is that in the Bible? No! 

Paul is not praying for himself, but for his friends. Listen carefully to the pronouns in this verse: And my God will meet all YOUR needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). 

So back to my earlier question: How does contentment help us intercede for others?

It’s hard for me to pray for others to be blessed and have their needs supplied when my heart is discontented, isn’t it? When I have learned contentment—especially when I learned it by having all my needs supplied in a time of want—then I know how to both empathize with my friends who are in need and how to intercede for them. 

To the church at Corinth Paul said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, SO THAT we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 

The Holy Spirit teaches me contentment through these difficult circumstances SO THAT I am strong, and SO THAT I can pray for that strength for others in their difficult circumstances. My contentment helps me empathize and intercede for my brothers and sisters. 

To check out other “Is that in the Bible” phrases we have explored, please click here to check out the full list. 

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Poetry Saturday—The True Aaron

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

See Aaron, God’s anointed priest,
Within the veil appear;
In robes of mystic meaning dressed,
Presenting Israel’s prayer.

The plate of gold which crowns his brows,
His holiness describes;
His breast displays, in shining rows,
The names of all the tribes.

With the atoning blood he stands,
Before the mercy-seat;
And clouds of incense from his hands,
Arise with odor sweet.

Urim and Thummim near his heart,
In rich engravings worn;
The sacred light of truth impart,
To teach and to adorn.

Through him the eye of faith descries,
A greater Priest than he;
Thus Jesus pleads above the skies,
For you, my friends, and me.

He bears the names of all His saints,
Deep on His heart engraved;
Attentive to the state and wants
Of all His love has saved.

In Him a holiness complete,
Light and perfections shine;
And wisdom, grace, and glory meet;
A Savior all divine.

The blood, which as a Priest He bears
For sinners, is His own
The incense of His prayers and tears
Perfume the holy throne.

In Him my weary soul has rest,
Though I am weak and vile
I read my name upon His breast,
And see the Father smile. —John Newton [Levitcus 8:7-9]

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Poetry Saturday—Praise To The Redeemer

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Prepare a thankful song
To the Redeemer’s name
His praises should employ each tongue
And every heart inflame!

He laid His glory by,
And dreadful pains endured;
That rebels, such as you and I,
From wrath might be secured.

Upon the Cross He died,
Our debt of sin to pay;
The blood and water from His side
Wash guilt and filth away.

And now He pleading stands
For us, before the throne;
And answers all the Law’s demands,
With what Himself hath done.

He sees us, willing slaves
To sin, and satan’s pow’r;
But, with an outstretched arm, He saves,
In His appointed hour.

The Holy Ghost He sends.
Our stubborn souls to move;
To make His enemies His friends,
And conquer them by love.

The love of sin departs,
The life of grace takes place,
Soon as His voice invites our hearts
To rise and seek His face.

The world and satan rage,
But He their pow’r controls;
His wisdom, love, and truth, engage
Protection for our souls.

Though pressed, we will not yield,
But shall prevail at length,
For Jesus is our sun and shield,
Our righteousness and strength.

Assured that Christ our King,
Will put our foes to flight;
We, on the field of battle, sing
And triumph, while we fight. —John Newton

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Never Give Up On Grace And Mercy

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Never Give Up On Grace And Mercy

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25) 

     My friends, it is one thing to go to church or chapel. It is quite another thing to go to God. …

Coming to God is not what some of you suppose, that is, now and then sincerely performing an act of devotion but giving to the world the greater part of your life. You think that if sometimes you are sincere, if now and then you put up an earnest cry to heaven, God will accept you. And though your life may be still worldly and your desires still carnal, you suppose that for the sake of this occasional devotion God will be pleased, in His infinite mercy, to blot out your sins. I tell you, sinners, there is no such thing as bringing half of yourselves to God and leaving the other half away. …  

     If I should see a sinner staggering on his progress to hell, I would not give him up, even when he had advanced to the last stage of iniquity. Though his foot hung trembling over the very edge of perdition, I would not cease to pray for him. And though he should in his poor drunken wickedness go staggering on till one foot was over hell and he was ready to perish, I would not despair of him. Till the pit had shut its mouth upon him I would believe it is possible that divine grace might save him. See there! He is just upon the edge of the pit, ready to fall. But before he falls, free grace bids, ‘Stop that man!’ Down mercy comes, catches him on her broad wings, and he is saved—a trophy of redeeming love. 

From Salvation To The Uttermost 

My friend, if you don’t have a personal relationship with God through the forgiving work that Jesus accomplished on the Cross, I implore you to come to Him before another minute passes. When Jesus said from this Cross, “It is finished,” He told you that He paid in full your debt that would have kept you separated from God forever. 

Now you just need to come to Him in faith. Simply pray something like this: “God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner separated from You. But I believe that Jesus paid the penalty for all of my sins when He died on the Cross. Because of that payment, I am asking You to forgive me and bring me into a full relationship with You. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

And let me speak to you, my Christian brother or sister who has been praying earnestly for the salvation of someone dear to you. Let me encourage you to not give up! God’s mercy and God’s grace are so swift that even with the last breath they can swoop in to save. Never cease to pray for them and know that Jesus is interceding for them before God’s throne too!

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10 Quotes From The Ten Booms

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

I recently shared my book review on the heroic story of the ten Boom family during the Nazi occupation of Holland, as told in the story The Hiding Place. This story is a must-read! Please check out my full book review by clicking here. 

These are some quotes from these godly sisters. 

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“Any concern too small to be turned into prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“When Jesus Christ tells us to forgive our enemies, He gives us the power He demands of us.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“We must tell people how good God is. After the war, we must go around telling people. No one will be able to say that they have suffered worse than us. We can tell them how wonderful God is, and how His love will fill our lives, if only we will give up our hatred and bitterness.” —Betsie ten Boom 

“At that moment when I was able to forgive, my hatred disappeared. … Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. What a liberation it is when you can forgive.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“If they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.” —Betsie ten Boom, speaking to Corrie about the Nazi prison guards 

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” —Corrie ten Boom 

“Holiness is the Holy Spirit, a holy God in my heart, which makes me similar to Jesus.” —Betsie ten Boom 

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By the way, another great book of recollections from Corrie is I Stand At The Door And Knock. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Poetic Groans

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

Our Prayer Helper 

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26) 

     A man’s heart is moved when he groans. A groan is a matter about which there is no hypocrisy. A groan comes not from the lips, but from the heart. A groan, then, is a part of prayer that we owe to the Holy Spirit, and the same is true of all the prayer that wells up from the deep fountains of our inner life. [see also Jeremiah 4:19; Isaiah 38:14; Psalm 77:4, 38:8-9] … 

     That which is thrown up from the depths of the soul, when it is stirred with a terrible tempest, is more precious than pearl or coral, for it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit! … 

     Beloved, what a different view of prayer God has from that which men think to be the correct one! You may have seen very beautiful prayers in print and you may have heard very charming compositions from the pulpit, but I trust you have not fallen in love with them. Judge these things rightly. I pray you never think well of fine prayers, for before the thrice-holy God it ill becomes a sinful supplicant to play the orator! … The tail feathers of pride should be pulled out of our prayers, for they need only the wing feathers of faith. The peacock feathers of poetical expression are out of place before the throne of God. … God looks at the heart. To Him fine language is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, while a groan has music in it! 

From The Holy Spirit’s Intercession

God is not looking for well-polished prayers; He’s looking for real prayers. Let’s be honest: Not even the most educated person in the world has a vocabulary sufficient enough to accurately communicate with The Almighty God! 

Our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him in simple, childlike anticipation. Notice I didn’t say childish anticipation—there is a huge difference. What Paul is telling us in Romans 8 is that the Holy Spirit can make the most eloquent, childlike, sincere prayer out of our deepest longings in our hearts. 

Jesus reminded us, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Our Father wants to answer our prayers, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us pray in a way that He can answer. 

Don’t try to spruce up your vocabulary before you come to God in prayer. Just come to God in prayer, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make a beautiful prayer even out of your childlike groanings! The Holy Spirit turns our groans into prayerful poetry in our Heavenly Father’s ears!

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Our Prayer Helper

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

Our Prayer Helper 

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) 

     God helps our infirmity, and with a Helper so divinely strong, we need not fear the result! … We take our burden to our heavenly Father and tell Him in the accents of childlike confidence, and we come away quite content to better whatever His holy will may lay upon us. … 

     We bathe our wounds in the lotion of prayer and the pain is lulled; the fever is removed. But the worst of it is that in certain conditions of heart we cannot pray. We may be brought into such perturbation of mind and perplexity of heart that we do not know how to pray. … We fall into such heaviness of spirit and entanglement of thought that the one remedy of prayer, which we have always found to be unfailing, appears to be taken from us. Here, then, in the nick of time, as a very present help in time of trouble, comes in the Holy Spirit! He draws near to teach us how to pray, and in this way He helps our infirmity, relieves our suffering, and enables us to bear the heavy burden without fainting under the load. … 

     He will guide you both negatively and positively. Negatively, He will forbid you to pray for such and such a thing, even as Paul essayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit would not allow him. And, on the other hand, He will cause you to hear a cry within your soul that will guide your petitions, even as He made Paul hear the cry from Macedonia, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’ (Acts 16:6-10). …  

     If I am a true believer, there dwells the Holy Spirit, and when I desire to pray, I may ask Him what I should pray for as I ought and He will help me! He will write the prayers that I ought to offer upon the tablets of my heart, and I will see them there and so I will be taught how to plead! It will be the Spirit’s own Self pleading in me and by me and through me before the throne of grace!

From The Holy Spirit’s Intercession

Oh, how many times I’ve been in desperate need but cannot find the right words to pray. The Holy Spirit understands even groans that come from my anguished heart and can help me turn those groans into perfect prayers. 

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would remind us of His words and would guide us into truth. I’ve experienced this for myself: I’m at an utter loss of what or how to pray, and then a passage of Scripture comes to my mind. I start there with that phrase. Often I will begin to read the surrounding passage from the Bible out loud and feel the gentle affirmation from the Holy Spirit as I begin to personalize that portion of Scripture into my own prayer. As Spurgeon put it, this is “the Spirit’s own Self pleading in me and by me and through me before the throne of grace!” 

What a Helper we have in the Holy Spirit!

A Mother’s Thunderous Prayer

Hannah only appears in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, but her legacy thunders through her son, and its rumblings continue to reverberate today. At first glance, it seems somewhat ironic that Hannah’s name means grace (undeserved favor) because we tend to think of a grace-filled person as quiet and unassuming. We don’t typically think of grace as thundering, but indeed it does! 

Notice 3 P’s from Hannah’s life—

  1. Hannah is grace personified. She didn’t crumble because of Peninnah’s taunts, nor did she compromise on her heart’s prayer because of Elkanah’s compliments. She never responded verbally to either Peninnah or Elkanah, but she took all her anguish to God in prayer. 
  1. Hannah is persistent in prayer. Hannah lives out the definition of importunity—unswerving, unabated, persistent prayer. The Bible tells us, “year after year…in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord … she kept on praying to the Lord.” Notice an important contrast: Peninnah means jewels (from earth), while Hannah means grace (from God). God wants to give us answers that are eternal.  
  1. Hannah is piously reverent. Three times Hannah called herself a servant. She is respectful to the high priest Eli even when he falsely accuses her of being drunk. After Eli assures Hannah that God is going to grant her prayer request, notice her reverent actions—she broke her fast, her face was no longer downcast, she worshipped before the Lord, and she and Elkanah tried again to get pregnant.  

Hannah’s anguish drove her to God. Year after year her bitterness of soul kept her in God’s presence. And after God answered her prayer, her rejoicing continued to keep her in God’s presence. She was importunate in prayer.

But also notice that God was silent while Hannah prayed year after year. Oswald Chambers says, “God’s silences are His answers. … Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong [this wasn’t Hannah’s case], others because they are bigger than we can understand.” 

God was going to give Hannah a son, but the time wasn’t right yet. God needed a strong man in a dark time, and it wasn’t dark enough yet. 

Israel had to sink into even deeper darkness. While Samuel was still a young man, the Israelite army was defeated, Eli and his two sons all died, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was captured. This prompted Eli’s daughter-in-law to name her son Ichabod—God’s glory has departed. 

This darkness allows Samuel to lead the people into a revival and then on to victory (1 Samuel 7:3-10). But notice how God responded to Samuel’s revival prayer—the Lord thundered with a loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 

God’s response was a fulfillment of Hannah’s prayer. After God answered her and gave her a son, Hannah’s song of rejoicing foretold God’s response that was coming years later in Samuel’s revival—“It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High WILL thunder from heaven…. 

Hannah’s song of rejoicing after years and years of bitter, importunate, persistent prayer was prophetic—and God’s thunderous answer to Hannah’s prayer is still rumbling today! 

Moms, don’t stop praying! God wants to answer your prayer. The Holy Spirit will help you pray (Romans 8:26). God’s timing IS coming. He will thunder His thunder in answer to your persistent prayer! 

If you have missed any of the posts in our We Are: Pentecostal series, please click here to access them.

Handling Personal Attacks

So the people grumbled against Moses … The people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 15:24; Numbers 20:2). 

People with limited vision have limited faith too. As a result, they frequently grumble when things don’t go their way. Ironically, their grumbling is almost always directed at the leader who does have far-reaching vision and God-honoring faith! 

For most of his tenure as leader, Moses handled the grumbling of the people well. Sometimes, though, the complaints seemed more personal:

  • …in opposition to Moses and Aaron
  • …they quarreled with Moses
  • …“Why did you…?” 

These complaints may seem like a personal attack, but in the end, we find out that these attacks weren’t really against Moses at all—“the Israelites quarreled with the Lord” (Numbers 20:13). 

God tried to help Moses and Aaron see that this was not a personal attack on them. He instructed them to “speak to that rock” so that water would be provided for the grumbling people. But sadly, Moses and Aaron missed this point. They said to the Israelites, “must we bring you water out of this rock?” And then in total frustration with the quarrelsome Israelites, Moses “struck the rock” instead of speaking to it.

Moses made himself the focal point, not God. God responded: “you did not trust in Me enough to honor Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites” (v. 12).

A mark of a godly leader is one who doesn’t take personal attacks personally.

Previously, Moses responded to the grumblers better—

  • He “cried out to the Lord” and received directions
  • He obeyed God’s directions to the letter
  • He reminded the people that their grumbling was really “against the Lord” (Exodus 16:6-8)
  • He humbled himself before the people and pleaded with them not to rebel against God
  • He humbled himself before God and interceded for the people

If God has called you to lead, people will bring their quarrels and complaints to you. It will feel like a personal attack, but it’s not. When attacked or when people grumble, you need to humble yourself before the Holy Spirit and ask, “Did I do something wrong?” and then listen attentively for His answer.

If the answer is yes: repent, ask forgiveness, make things right.

If the answer is no: don’t take it personally, stay humble before God and the people, and obey the specific directions God will give you. Don’t get frustrated and cut short your tenure as a leader.

This is part 44 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Poetry Saturday—What Is Prayer?

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach 
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air;
His watchword at the gates of death—
He enters heaven with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways;
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, ‘Behold, he prays!’ 

The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, in deed, and mind;
While with the Father and the Son,
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads;
And Jesus, on th’ eternal throne
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou! by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way;
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray. —James Montgomery

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