Psalm 23 – The Prayer

This is designed to be used as a prayer retreat for those who want a more intimate fellowship with God. This is not about making prayer requests, but has everything to do with fellowship. In dialogue, speak to the Shepherd of Psalm 23. Be still, listen and meet with the Lord.

By John David Hicks

I picture David as a young shepherd boy, lying on his back in a pasture, looking at the stars, and meditating on the things of God. For David to write Psalm 23, he had to have thought of the Lord as the Good Shepherd. He knew that sheep cannot survive in the wild without a shepherd. So David wrote down what the Lord showed him about Himself. God gave David this revelation to help him fight his battles and carry the burdens he had to endure in his journey of life.

As you read this psalm, read it slowly. Pause and close your eyes and meditate on what the Lord is saying to you. Then speak it back to the Lord in a prayer. This psalm is for you—for the Lord calls His own sheep by name; He cares for them and they follow Him.

The LORD is my shepherd
That’s about relationship! “Lord, You are my shepherd and king.”
(Meditate on the Lord’s revelation to you).

I shall not want
That’s about supply! “Lord, You meet all my needs.”

He makes me lie down in green pastures
That’s about rest! “Lord, You take away my striving and give me peace.”

He leads me beside the still waters
That’s about refreshment! “Lord, You satisfy my thirst and refresh me.”

He restores my soul
That’s about transformation! “Lord, You are my healer and counselor.”

He leads me in the paths of righteousness
That’s about holiness! “Lord, You have accepted, forgiven, justified, and sanctified me.”

For His name’s sake
That’s about purpose! “Lord, You know my name, character, and destiny.”

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
That’s about testing! “Lord, You let me see light in the midst of darkness.”

I will fear no evil
That’s about protection! “Lord, You are my watchman and stronghold. I need not fear.”

For Thou art with me
That’s about faithfulness! “Lord, in Your presence I receive Your joy and peace.”

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me
That’s about defense! “Lord, Your power, mercy, and favor protect me.”

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
That’s about security! “Lord, Your presence in me has made me more than a conqueror.”

You anoint my head with oil
That’s about consecration! “Lord, You have called me and chose me to bear much fruit.”

My cup runs over
That’s about abundance! “Lord, You have lavished on me blessings after blessings.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
That’s about favor! “Lord, Your kindness and compassion track me.”

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
That’s about sanctuary! “Lord, You have made me Your temple, Your dwelling place—a house of prayer.”

Forever
That’s about eternity! Both now and forever!

Now picture what the Lord is trying to do in your life. Using our sanctified imagination to picture what the words describe is one of the ways we can release the power of God’s Word into our hearts and lives. It is especially helpful to do this with Bible passages we know well, such as the 23rd Psalm. Familiarity with a passage can dull our senses to both the beauty and the meaning of God’s Word. Not only can our imagination free the power of God’s Word, but God’s Word can cleanse our imagination and fill it with holy truth.
Here I have modeled how to meditate on the 23rd Psalm in a way that allows its truth to seep deep into our hearts:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Picture: the Good Shepherd who was willing to die for you. He provided for your salvation as well as for your provisions, guidance, protection, and sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.
Picture: green pastures and quiet waters that heal and restore your soul. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Picture: the gift of righteousness that gives you the ability to stand in the presence of God, reign in life, and receive the Lord’s favor and guidance (Romans 5:17).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me.
Picture: a canyon that casts the shadow of death. A shadow cannot hurt or destroy you. It may look dark, but light will overwhelm it. When you face pain, suffering, disease, injury, or death—know that the Lord will not leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Your rod and staff, they comfort me.
Picture: a rod as a heavy club used to kill predators, and the staff as a long pole with a crook on one end that is used to round up the sheep and to guide them along. The rod is for discipline and will kill the enemies of fear, doubt, and guilt. The staff is for support to guide you safely through life. Both are for your well-being (Romans 8:31).

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Picture: a battle going on all around you. Despite the impending danger of the world, the flesh, and the devil, the Lord spreads out a banquet table and serves you right in front of your enemies (Romans 8:37).

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Picture: yourself being anointed as a king, priest, or prophet. The anointing oil of the Holy Spirit is overflowing into your life and ministry. The fragrant perfume of the oil of anointing will unlock doors of opportunities (1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Cor. 2:14).

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
Picture: two dogs, loving and faithful, who follow you everywhere you go. Their names are Goodness and Mercy. You can count on God’s goodness and mercy every step of the way (Isaiah 63:7).

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD.
Picture: yourself, like David, praising the Lord in the temple. Now see yourself as the Lord’s temple with Christ’s dwelling presence in you. Hear the Lord ask you, “Whose life will you change, and what circumstances will you influence today with your prayers?”

Forever.
Picture: your greatest blessing, living in the Lord’s presence. “And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent” (John 17:3 AB).
God is eternal. Only what is in Him is forever and endless. Sam Shoemaker said it well: “Eternal life does not begin with death; it begins with faith.”
You have only one life, it will soon pass; only what you have in Christ will last.

 

Priesthood of the believer

By John David Hicks

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1Peter 2:9).

You are a royal priest unto God and for your family, friends and nation. Through Jesus Christ’s atoning death, you, as a believer, have been made a priest unto God. The priests of the Old Testament were to draw near to God, to represent the people before God, then to represent God before the people. In the New Testament, this is God’s desire for every believer. It is your privilege and responsibility.

The Church today has neglected the office of the priesthood of the believer and thus, neglected intercessory prayer. The greatest victories yet to be won will be witnessed by Christians who recognize their priesthood unto God and daily give themselves to prayer.

Paul said that Christians are to view themselves as “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart” (Eph 6:6). You must see your life as a holy service before God. Whatever job you have is holy before God and is a part of your worship of God. “The prayer of the upright pleases God…[For God] “hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:8, 29). I urge you therefore, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit to be faithful in prayer.

Pray and intercede with me: Lord, I can’t help everyone; but I can help someone. So I pray that you will lead me to that someone today to be a blessing. I pray for my family, friends and nation that your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks, Evangelist/Bible Teacher

Praying the Scriptures

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)

By John David Hick

There is a special blessing, authority, and power when you pray the Word of God. “Praying God’s Word completely changed my prayer life,” one pastor said. “It was like lifting weights—suddenly my prayers had real substance and I could tell I was putting on some spiritual muscle.”

Scripture reveals God’s will, so when you pray God’s Word back to God, you are asking Him for what He has already shown to be His will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

Desiring God’s will is coming into agreement with God. This “partnership” or “interaction” with God comes out in worship, singing, and praise. Praying scriptural promises can breathe new life into corporate prayer meetings, and praying the prayers of Paul in Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, for example, can give real spiritual breakthroughs.

The Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

That is why Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is alive and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. When you use scriptures in your prayer, you are coming into agreement with God, and His power is released in answer to your prayer. You have prayed for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Praying Scripture, you can have confidence that you are praying in God’s will.

Here are some examples of the authority, power, and blessing of praying Scripture. Read the scripture and then make it your prayer.

Scripture for someone who needs God: 2 Corinthians 4:4. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Matthew 12:29. “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”

2 Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Matthew 9:37-38. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Prayer: Lord, You said that Satan has blinded unbelievers to the gospel. So I take your authority, in the name of Jesus, and release the light of the gospel into the life of [name]. Let Your light overcome the darkness in his life. At the cross, You bound the strong man and took his possessions; so I pray that You set him free to receive You as Savior and Lord. You want all to come to repentance. Lord, I ask that You will send laborers across [name’s] path, laborers that will bring the word of salvation and deliverance. Thank You that You have heard this prayer.

Scripture: Psalm 100:5. “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Prayer: Lord, You are good and Your love endures forever; Your faithfulness continues through all generations.

Scripture: Acts 15:9. “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for purifying my heart by faith.

Scripture: Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Genesis 15:1. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

Prayer:  Lord, You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Be to me what You were to Abram: my shield and my very great reward.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:30. “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Prayer:  Lord, I live in You and Your wisdom in me gives me my holiness, righteousness, and redemption.

Scripture: Romans 5:1-2. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Prayer: Lord, having been justified by faith, I have peace with You through my Lord Jesus Christ in which I now stand.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:3. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prayer: Lord, I desire that my work be done in faith, that my labor be prompted by love, and that my endurance be inspired by my hope in my Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture: Romans 5:2. “We have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for helping me to understand that the access I have to Your grace in which I stand has come to me by faith—humbly trusting you. I rejoice in the hope of Your glory.

You get the idea. Read the Scripture and make it your prayer. Here is my Morning Scriptural Prayer:

     “Lord, I enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise; I bless Your holy name (Psalm 100:4-5). I worship You as my Lord, Savior, and King (2 Peter 1:10-11).

“Lord, You have given Your life to redeem me, made me Your child, and given me an everlasting inheritance of Yourself. I thank You that I am deeply loved, highly favored, and greatly blessed by You (Numbers 6:24-26). Your love for me has been unchangeable, unshakable, and unfailing (Jer. 31:3). I receive Your abundance of grace and Your gift of righteousness. With no condemnation You said that I will reign in life (Romans 5:17). You have made me more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ who loves me (Romans 8:37).

“In these evil days help me to ‘redeem the time’ (Eph. 5:16). I desire to do Your will and make You known. Let Your presence flow like a river through me into all I touch today (John 7:38). You have called me as Your ambassador to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20). You have anointed me to minister to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, set the captives free, and liberate those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). Lord, I pray for many open doors of opportunity to testify of Your grace (Col. 4:3). Show me what You are up to today (Eph. 5:17). I want to be a part of it. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen and amen.”

The scriptures behind that prayer:

     Psalm 100:4-5: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

2 Peter 1:10-11: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”

Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”

Romans 5:17: “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:37: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Ephesians 5:15-16: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Luke 4:18-19: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Colossians 4:3 (nlt): “Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ.”

Ephesians 5:17: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Remember that Scripture reveals the will of God, and prayer that is founded on Scripture is praying for God’s will to be done. You can have confidence and boldness to come into His presence.

Let me close with four quotes on prayer: (1) “No one’s a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it” –Guy H. King. (2) “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it” –John Wesley. (3) “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed” –A. J. Gordon. (4) “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” –Lord Alfred Tennyson.”

 

Praying Effectively for the Lost

Copyright 2003 – Lee E. Thomas

 UNDERSTANDING THE NECESSITY

The lost will not and indeed cannot be saved unless someone prays for them. This is a shocking statement that sounds unbelievable until we view the Biblical portrayal of the lost as being: children of the devil (John 8:44), under the authority of Satan (Acts 26:18), a strong man’s house (Mark 3:27), prisoners of war (Isaiah 14:17) and blinded to the gospel (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

All of these are daunting reasons why we must pray for the lost if they are to have any hope of salvation. But let’s focus just on spiritual blindness for a moment. II Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” This passage clearly teaches that Satan has blinded the minds of the lost specifically to keep them from understanding the gospel.

Lewis Sperry Chafer says, “The blinding or veiling of the mind, mentioned in II Corinthians 4:3-4, causes a universal incapacity to comprehend the way of salvation, and is imposed upon unregenerate man by the arch enemy of God in his attempts to hinder the purpose of God in redemption. It is a condition of mind against which man can have no power” (Chafer 57).

One of the greatest preachers of all time was Charles H. Spurgeon. Listen as he shares the testimony of his conversion: “I confess that I had been tutored in piety, put into my cradle by prayerful hands, and lulled to sleep by songs about Jesus. I had heard the Gospel continually. Yet, when the Word of the Lord came to me with power, it was as new as if I had lived among the unvisited tribes of Central Africa and had never heard the tidings of the cleansing foundation filled with blood, drawn from the Savior’s veins.

When for the first time I received the Gospel and my soul was saved, I thought that I had never really heard it before. I began to think that the preachers to whom I had listened had not truly preached it. But, on looking back, I am inclined to believe that I had heard the Gospel fully preached many hundreds of times before. This was the difference: I then heard it as though I did not hear it. When I did hear it, the message may not have been any clearer in itself than it had been at former times, but the power of the Holy Spirit was present to open my ears and to guide the message to my heart.

Then I thought I had never heard the truth preached before. Now I am persuaded that the light shone often on my eyes, but I was blind; therefore, I thought that the light had never come there. The light was shining all the while, but there was no power to receive it. The eyeball of the soul was not sensitive to the divine beams” (Spurgeon 26-28).

Spurgeon’s testimony is a powerful illustration of how ineffective the gospel is to a mind that is blinded to it. Sharing the gospel with those for whom no one has prayed is like encouraging a blind man to view a beautiful sunset with you. It is a hopeless case, for he is blind. He cannot see!

And unless the Holy Spirit removes the demonic blinders and opens his mind and heart to the gospel, he cannot be saved because the things of God are “foolishness to him” (I Corinthians 2:14). The Greek word for foolishness is “moria” from which moron is derived. Webster’s defines moron as “the highest classification of mental deficiency, above imbecile and idiot.” So, a lost person sees the gospel as moronic and stupid, but it is the “strong man” in his life that causes this negative attitude toward the gospel.

To try to share the gospel with someone in this condition (which includes every lost person for whom no one is praying) may even do more harm than good. Jessie Penn-Lewis says, “Until we recognize the strong man ‘fully armed’ at the back of all darkness of thought, and blindness to the Gospel, we shall not do much towards bringing men out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. And until we know how to take heed to the Lord’s warning and first bind the strong man, the attempts we make to ‘spoil his goods’ will only enrage him, and enable him to strengthen his amour, and guard his palace in peace” (Penn-Lewis 42-3).

 Once we understand the importance of praying for souls to be saved, we must learn how to do it. In the January, 1979 issue of Fullness Magazine, Manley Beasley wrote an article entitled “Praying for the Lost.” This is his opening statement: “Praying for the lost is an area about which much is said but little is known or understood.” It is like trying to open a locked safe without knowing the combination; no matter how valuable are the contents, we eventually get frustrated and quit.

But eternal souls for whom Christ died are much too valuable for us to quit. Therefore, we must learn how to pray effectively for them. As a matter of fact, it may be your prayer that keeps someone out of hell. The well-known revivalist Charles G. Finney said, “In the case of an impenitent friend, the very condition on which he is to be saved from hell may be the fervency and importunity of your prayer for that individual” (Finney 54).

Jesus did only what He saw the Father do (John 5:19). Likewise, we should do only what we see our Lord doing, and what is He doing – “He ever liveth to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25). We make a grave mistake by labeling some Christians as intercessors. This tends to imply that the rest of us are relieved of the responsibility – NOT SO!!! All of us are to do what we see our Lord doing – praying for others.

So, let’s learn how to pray effectively for the lost and join our Lord in doing the main thing.

THE BIBLICAL BASIS

One of the most powerful means of praying effectively involves presenting strong reasons to God why our prayers must be answered. He even commands us to do this in Isaiah 41:21, “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons…”

The strongest reasons are always Biblically-based, and there are many such reasons concerning prayer for the lost. I like the way F.J. Huegel expressed it, “If we find a way to harness our puny plea for help to the great purposes of God in the proclamation of the Gospel and the furtherance of Christ’s Kingdom, then we begin to pray with the spirit and vigor of a Paul or a David Brainard or a George Muller or a Praying Hyde, and we must be heard and great things will be wrought” (Huegel 80).

One of the foremost reasons for praying for the lost is our love for them. Prayer has been described as “love on its knees.” Certainly, it was God’s love for mankind that brought Jesus to the cross; it was love for his five brothers that compelled the rich man in hell to pray for them “lest they also come to this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28); and love will lead us to the place of intercession.

The historic Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago has been mightily used of God to rescue hundreds of souls tottering on the precipice of hell. And it is no surprise to me that the eighteen foot neon sign “PACIFIC GARDEN MISSION” included the reminder MOTHER’S PRAYERS HAVE FOLLOWED YOU. Only eternity will reveal the incredible number of souls that have been saved through the tears and prayers of a mother’s love! Indeed, love is our greatest asset in the saving of souls.

Faith is another Biblical basis for praying for the lost. Jesus said, “All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). All things certainly include the salvation of souls. If you can believe God for someone’s salvation, you shall have it.

Four men brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus and, seeing their faith, He said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5). Though they brought him to be healed, he also received forgiveness of his sins. This is a wonderful display of the power of faith. Indeed, faith is the coin of the kingdom.

One of my favorite reasons for praying for the lost is the mighty power the Bible ascribes to prayer. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” according to James 5:16. We can’t even begin to understand how incredibly powerful prayer really is, for it exerts the most potent influence of any kind in all the universe.

 

“Prayer is work of such a sublime order that it lies beyond the imagination of men. For when the Christian prays, his capacity to achieve and his power to do good are multiplied a thousand, yea, a hundred thousand fold. This is no exaggeration, the reason being that when man prays, God works” (Huegel 10).

When the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan during World War II, some 92,000 people were killed. But when Assyria besieged Jerusalem causing King Hezekiah to cry out to God on behalf of his people, He sent an angel that slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Hezekiah’s prayer was twice as explosive as the atomic bomb!! If prayer is strong enough to destroy armies, how much more certain is its power to save souls!

If we had no Biblical basis for praying for the lost other than the fact that God expects us to, this would be enough. God was “stunned” when He could not find a single intercessor for Israel (Isaiah 59:16). This tells me that He was expecting to find some.

Listen to Andrew Murray’s comments on God’s seeking for intercessors: “He often had to wonder and complain that there was no intercessor, no one to stir himself up to take hold of His strength. And He still waits and wonders in our day, that there are not more intercessors, that all His children do not give themselves to this highest and holiest work, that many of them who do so, do not engage in it more intensely and perseveringly. He wonders to find ministers of his gospel complaining that their duties do not allow them to find time for this, which He counts their first, their highest, their most delightful, their alone effective work” (Murray 114).

God has placed praying for others the number one priority in our lives. Hear the cry of God’s heart, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men…who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:1-4).

The Greek word for first is “proton” and is defined in Strong’s dictionary as being first or foremost in time, place, order, or importance. Since God desires for all men to be saved and since no one can get saved without prayer, is it any wonder that prayer tops the list of things God would have us to do?

Also among the powerful incentives for us to pray for the lost are Biblical examples. The greatest example of all is the Lord Jesus Himself. The prophecy in Isaiah 53 says that Christ “made intercession for the transgressors.” This prophecy was literally fulfilled when on the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus should be our constant pattern in praying for others because He is still doing it!! He is our Savior and Lord, King of Kings enthroned in heaven and yet He continues to pray for others even now. Hebrews 7:25 blows my mind, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

The Apostle Paul is another good example to follow. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved” is his compassionate confession in Roman 10:1. In Born For Battle, R. Arthur Mathews describes my prayer as the “end of the divine search for a man to stand in the gap and to intercede for a people doomed to destruction by their own sin and headstrong rejection of God’s authority in their natural life” (Mathews 104). The only question for us is, “Will we follow their example?”

Although there are many other strong Biblical bases we could cite for this type of intercessory prayer, I want to mention just one more – God has made it our responsibility!!

Being members of God’s “holy priesthood” (I Peter 2:5) makes us responsible for others because priests represent earth to heaven. Our primary task is to stand between mankind and God pleading their case to Him. This is exactly what Aaron did when he took a censor and stood between the living and the dead to halt the plague of death caused by Israel’s sin (Number 16).

Since all of us who are saved are priests, all of us have the responsibility to intercede for the lost, and if we don’t, they will spend forever in a lake of fire. Let S.D. Gordon’s poignant plea speak to our hearts: “I cannot resist the conviction – I greatly dislike to say this, I would much rather not if I regarded either my own feelings or yours. But I cannot resist the conviction that there are people in that lower, lost world who are there because someone failed to put his life in touch with God, and pray” (Gordon 194-95).

My prayer is that you will allow these powerful Biblical reasons to inspire you to pray for the lost as never before.

For a full copy of Lee Thomas’ book, go to:  http://72827.netministry.com/images/PEL_English.pdf 

 

Prayer Power

By John David Hicks

God reveals His will in the Bible and speaks into your spirit (Rev. 2:7). In the Greek, logos is God’s written word and counsel.  The rhema is God’s spoken Word to you personally.  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).  You can recognize God’s voice when He speaks in the Bible and through the Holy Spirit as He speaks into your spirit.  The question is, are you listening?

A.W. Tozer put it like this: “What sense does it make for God to be silent and write a book and then be silent again.  What makes the Bible distinct is the voice of God.  Otherwise it’s just a book.  It is God’s personality that gives life to the book…Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John.6:63). The life is in the speaking words. (Both LOGOS and RHEMA).  God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s word in the universe.  It is the present Voice (RHEMA) which makes the written Word (LOGOS) all powerful. Otherwise it would lay locked in slumber within the covers of a book.”

The rule of prayer is “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). When you ask in prayer you give God the opportunity to fulfill His Word. “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

Your part in prayer is to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). Paul said, “We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). Jesus promised, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).

God reveals His Will to you through a logos or rhema word. You ask that it be fulfilled according to His Word.  “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23). This faith filled prayer “is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14–15).

James reminds his readers, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). If you lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (1:5). If you need guidance for tomorrow, rely on God (4:11-16). If you are troubled; need forgiveness or healing, come to God (5:13-16). Remember, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16).

 

 

Prayer is the Answer to LIFE

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing ” (John 15:5).

The heart of prayer is knowing God. Prayer is the only way to communion with God. His passion and values can come no other way.

I once struggled with guilt over my prayerlessness. I knew that I needed to pray, but it was hard to find time. I’d rush in to church Sunday morning, pray a quick prayer and ask forgiveness for not praying more; and then promise God that I would pray more. Next Sunday the same thing. But there came a time when I had a fresh encounter with Jesus. At about the same time I attended the “Change the World School of Prayer.” A new power and freedom came into my ministry, and a new desire to pray.

After six months, I began to settle back into the old rut. The desire and enthusiasm were gone. I read books, preached on prayer, and attended the prayer seminar again. Nothing happened. Then I sought Jesus and everything changed. I had sought prayer and duty and missed Jesus. It was then that I realized that God does not give us impersonal things like prayer, power, victory, or service. He gives us a relationship with Jesus. Instead of seeking a prayer life, seek Jesus. The prayer life comes out of the relationship. ” Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus is God come in the flesh. As you read the Gospels and talk to the Lord in prayer, He know about your temptations, struggles and problems. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). Prayer is the Answer to your LIFE.

As we Pray together, let me quote Graham Kendrick’s song “Knowing You.”

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
all this world reveres and wars to own,
all I once thought gain I have counted loss,
spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Now my heart’s desire is to know You more,
to be found in You and known as Yours,
to possess by faith what I could not earn,
all surpassing gift of righteousness.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Oh, to know the pow’r of Your risen life,
and to know You in Your suffering,
to become like You in Your death,
My Lord, so with You to live and never die.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy, my righteousness;
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy, my righteousness;
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy, my righteousness;
and I love You, Lord.

Paul said it well, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11)

Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks, Evangelist/Bible Teacher

Prayer for a Wayward Child

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate….’ Not long after that, [he]…set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living…and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son….’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.… The father said, ‘Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate…” (Luke 15:11-24).

By John David Hicks

“As a parent, at some time in your life you will be the father or mother of a prodigal son or daughter,” Earl Lee said at a pastors conference some 30 years ago. He went on to say something like this:

“Every child must choose his eternal destiny. With some, it may come out in open rebellion like the prodigal son. But with others it may seem like you had no problem, the son or daughter was such a good child. Until years later you hear, ‘Mom, Dad, if you only knew what I was up to and what I did at that time, you would have been upset.’

“But they were ‘working out’ their salvation. They had to choose who they would follow. We tend to get upset at the prodigal, but both the prodigal and older brother were rebellious and had to choose.”

Raising children is not easy. That is why God gave you a promise from Jeremiah 31:3, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’”

Other translations add, “There-fore I have continued my faithful-ness to you.” God’s love and faithfulness is everlasting to you and your children.

In the September 2007 issue of Decision magazine, I read Abraham Piper’s testimony on how he came back to God when he was a wayward child. “When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was a Christian,” he said. He pretended that his reasoning was high-minded and philosophical. But in reality he just wanted to get drunk, sleep around, and do his own thing. He wanted his freedom. After four years of this, he was fed up with himself—unfulfilled, confused, and depressed. Especially when he was sober or alone.

His parents were good Christians who raised their children in church. They were brokenhearted and puzzled at their son’s choice to reject their values and God. They felt that they had tried to raise their son right, so why was he so messed up now?

One Tuesday morning, Abraham went to the library to check his e-mail. He received a message from a girl he met a few weeks before. She quoted him a verse from the book of Romans. It got his attention. On the way back to his apartment he stopped to buy some beer and cigarettes. He forgot the verse, so he opened a Bible, smoking the cigarettes and drinking the beer as he starting reading Romans.

“By the time I got to chapter 10,” he said, “the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying, and I was a Christian…. God gave me a glimpse of ‘the true wonder of Jesus.’”

In the article, Abraham recognized that many parents are confused and brokenhearted over their unbelieving child. As he looked back over the years that he rejected Christ, he offered some suggestions that will help you reach your wayward son or daughter. Or they might help you before your child is wayward.

Here are 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child:

 1.  Point them to Christ.

Abraham said the real problem with your child is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk rock band. When we are in rebellion, we do not see the Lord clearly.

The best thing you can do for anyone in rebellion is to show him Christ. It may not be easy or instant, but the sins that are distressing you and destroying him must be dealt with by the Holy Spirit, who is the only one who can open his eyes to see Jesus as He really is.

2.  Pray.

Remember that only God can save your child. “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14). Your prayers make a difference. So ask God to reveal Himself to them in such a way that they can’t resist Him.

3.  Acknowledge that something is wrong.

When your child rejects the Lord, don’t make-believe that everything is fine. If you know your child is not a believer and you are not reaching out to him, start now. Don’t stop and don’t ignore the child’s unbelief. Ignoring it might make your holidays easier, but not eternity.

4.  Don’t expect them to be Christ-like.

If your child is not a Christian, he will not act like one; it’s hypocrisy if he does. He has forsaken your faith, so he has little motivation to live by your standards. You have no reason to expect him to.

If he’s struggling to believe in Jesus, there is little significance in his admitting that it’s wrong to get drunk or have sex outside of marriage, for instance. You want to protect him, but his most perilous problem is unbelief—not partying. Your child’s behavior proves his unbelief, but focus on his heart’s sickness rather than the symptoms.

5.  Welcome them home.

“Man looks on the outward action, but God looks at the heart.” So don’t create many requirements for your child coming home. If there is any desire to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him

Be gentle in your disappointment. What concerns you most is that your son is destroying himself, not that he’s breaking the rules.

back to Jesus. Obviously there may be a time when you have to say, “Don’t come to this house if you are.…” But these times are rare. Don’t squish an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.

If your son smells like an ashtray, spray his jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when he leaves, but welcome him home. If you find out your daughter is pregnant, take her to her 20-week ultrasound and protect her from Planned Parent-hood, but welcome her home.  If your son keeps spending all the money you lent him on loose women and drugs, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, and don’t give him any more money, but welcome him home. If he hasn’t been around for a few weeks because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s apartment, plead with him not to go back, but welcome him home.

6.  Plead with them more than you rebuke them.

Be gentle in your disappointment. What concerns you most is that your son is destroying himself, not that he’s breaking the rules. Treat him in a way that makes this clear. He knows what he is doing is wrong—especially if he was raised as a Christian. And he definitely knows what you think, so he doesn’t need you to point it out. He will be looking at your response to his sin. Your gentle patience and sorrowful hope will show him that you really do trust Jesus. His conscience will condemn him when he sees your brokenness over his sin. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to you and the Lord.

7.  Connect them to other believers.

Clearly, if your child is wayward, you are distant in your relationship; it could be geographical as well.  Your relationship with your rebellious child is tenuous and must be protected if at all possible. This is the reason why pleading is better than rebuking.

But sometimes a rebuke is necessary. A rebellious son would do well to hear that he’s being a fool, but you’re probably not the one to tell him. So have other Christians keep in contact with him and encourage them to speak into his life. These friends can relate to your son emotionally in a way you can’t. So pray that God will connect your son with a believer who can point out his folly without getting the door slammed.

8.  Respect their friends.

Honor your wayward child in the same way you’d honor any other unbeliever. Respect him—even if his relationship with others is founded on sin. Yes, his friends may be bad for him. But he’s bad for them, too. And nothing will be solved by making it evident that you don’t like who he’s hanging out with.

So, be hospitable. When your son shows up for a family birthday celebration with another girlfriend—one you’ve never seen before and probably won’t see again—be hospitable. She’s also someone’s wayward child, and she needs Jesus, too.

9.  E-mail them.

This technology will help you stay in touch. When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation—better than any correction—is for them to see Christ’s joy in your life.

Don’t get stressed out by trying to compose something profound. Speak from your heart. Just whip out a note and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s Word is never proclaimed in vain.

10.  Take them to lunch.

If possible, don’t let your only contact with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but Abraham said that it’s far worse to be in the child’s shoes—he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God and use the opportunity.

It may almost feel hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but be sure to do it anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, ask about his soul. You don’t know how he’ll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you’re a moron? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don’t know until you risk asking. God will give you the gumption.

(Here’s a note to parents of younger children: Set up regular times to go out to eat with your kids. Not only will this be valuable for its own sake, but also, if they ever enter a season of rebellion, the tradition of meeting with them will already be in place and it won’t feel weird to ask them out to lunch. If a son has been eating out on Saturdays with his dad since he was a tot, it will be much harder for him later in life to say no to his father’s invitation—even as a surly 19-year-old.)

11.  Take an interest in their pursuits.

Because your son is purposefully rejecting Christ, the way he spends his time probably disappoints you. Nevertheless, find the value in his interests, if possible, and encourage him. You went to his school music programs, plays, and soccer games when he was 10; what can you do now that he’s 20 to show that you still really care about his interests?

Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and He wasn’t even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to your son’s CD release show. Encourage him and never stop praying that he will begin to use his gifts for Jesus’ glory instead of his own.

12.  Point them to Christ.

This can’t be stressed enough. It’s the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help him know Jesus.

The goal is not that he will be a good kid again. It’s not that he’ll get a haircut and start taking showers. It’s not that he’ll like classical music instead of deathcore. It’s not that he’ll vote conservative by the next election. The goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study or even for you to be able to sleep at night, knowing he’s not going to hell.

The only ultimate reason to pray for wayward sons and daughters, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.

And not only is Jesus the only point, but He’s the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He Himself will replace the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the sex that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only His grace can draw them from their

Without a doubt, I know that if they could see how much God loves them, they would be motivated to give their lives to Jesus. But it is still “whosoever will, may come.”

Cry out to God in prayer. “Be faithful and don’t give up,” says Abraham.

I believe that you must see this as spiritual warfare. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

My desire to see each of my children and grandchildren choose to be Christian involves a spiritual battle. My wisdom on this subject is still being tested. But from my own experience and the understanding I have received from praying with pastors for their wayward children, I have come to some conclusions. I think Abraham Piper’s 12 ways of loving a wayward child is an excellent starting place.

But in spiritual warfare we acknowledge to a great extent that evil is the result of human sin and rebellion, and the work of Satan who is called the ruler of this world. Until Christ returns, I believe God is victorious over Satan on earth to the degree that Christians and His Church manifests His power and authority through obedience, faith, holiness, and biblical truth. Until the Second Coming when every knee is made to bow, there will be a struggle for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Through your intercession, example, and teaching, you can help your kids return to Christ when they stray. I became a Christian at 14, but no one in my family was saved. Then I read in Acts 16 that when the Philippian jailer became a Christian, his whole family did. I asked God to do that for me. In the next few years all my family committed their lives to the Lord.

But I also know, with fear and trembling, that God will honor our kids’ free choice. I know that God desires that all would be saved. But, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Without a doubt, I know that if they could see how much God loves them, they would be motivated to give their lives to Jesus. But it is still “whosoever will, may come.

  1. Here are some ways I pray for a wayward child without asking for something that requires God to violate his freedom of choice:1.  Lord, will You destroy every deception and lie of the enemy.  Bless every bit of Your Word that has been hidden in their hearts. Don’t allow them to deceive themselves regarding sin and rebellion. Make them clearly see the reality of their sin. Let them see all the consequences of their sin, immediate and eventual. Do not let Satan, the god of this world, blind them.
  2. Lord, let them experience all the ugliness of sin now rather than later. Take from them every pleasure of sin and shorten the season of sin’s pleasure. Let sin taste like ashes in their mouths. Make the taste of the prodigal’s cornhusks unbearable. Let the emptiness of sin and the world gnaw at their stomachs until they long for the true bread of life and water of eternal life that only Jesus can give. Let them get caught in their sins.
  3. Lord, fill the quiet moments of their lives with Your voice. Speak to them through everything they see and hear. Let the song of every bird and the fragrance of every flower call them back to You. When they “consider the lilies of the field,” let them hear a call back into Your kingdom. Let the memory of Your love and goodness create a holy homesickness for their true home in Christ.
  4. Lord, surround them with people who intentionally or unintentionally will point them back to You. Bring about divine encounters with Christians at unlikely times and in unlikely places. Open the door for me and other Christians to establish loving relationships with their friends and effectively share the gospel.
  5. Lord, let the Holy Spirit faithfully convict them of sin. Keep their conscience tender and alive to right and wrong. Let every sin that grieves You sadden their own hearts as well. Cause them to long to be cleansed of sin, guilt, and fear.
  6. Lord, protect their lives from death, accident, and injury, and have mercy on them. Keep them from foolish decisions whose consequences will have lasting and tragic consequences. Guard their lives from Satan’s attacks and surround them with Your mercy.
  7. Heavenly Father, be unrelenting in the pursuit of Your purpose for their lives. Permeate their daily lives with Your presence and reality. Let Your call be ever before them.

Each of these prayers can be supported with Scripture. God’s Word says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Child-training involves directing a child’s behavior toward godliness and away from evil. The way your Heavenly Father trains you is by example, by words, by discipline, and by rewards. You should do the same with your children.

If the Holy Spirit shows you that you have failed in your parenting responsibilities, confess your sin to God (1 John.1:9). Ask His forgiveness, then by faith accept His forgiveness and thank Him that He has forgiven you and will not hold it against you.

Ask God to guide you in making right decisions regarding your children. Trust Him—He is in charge—and praise Him for your present circumstances because it allows the Lord an opportunity to work (Romans 8:28-29). Remember, God answers prayer.

The Prayer that Changed the War

The Prayer that changed the Battle and the War!

There are times when life circumstances, your enemy, and the weather is all against you and you need God. In December of 1944, General George Patton faced them all. The steady rain was so heavy and unrelenting in Nancy, France that the Army was unable to fight. As a result, General Patton called for his Chaplain to write a prayer for his army.

The movie “Patton” tells the story, but it does not tell the entire story. James O’Neill, Chief Chaplain of the Third Army, set the record straight in an official government document that was published in 1950.

General Patton was a practicing Episcopalian and a strong believer in the power of prayer.  Patton said, “We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.”  Chaplain O’Neill composed the prayer and presented it to the General for his approval.

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

The General ordered that the prayer be given to all the Third Army. Patton then asked the chaplain how much time the troops spent in prayer. O’Neill responded, “Very little.” General Patton replied:

“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking.
Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God.

God has His part, or margin in everything, that’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, and no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy; simply because people prayed, but we have to pray for ourselves, too.

A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working–it’s his ‘guts’. It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don’t know what you call it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.”

The General then asked his Chaplain to issue a ‘training letter’ on prayer to all the Third Army chaplains. He explained:

“We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that holds defeat or victory… It will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.”

The following day General approved Training Letter No. 5 to the ‘Chaplains of the Third Army’. It went not only to the 486 chaplains, but also to each organization commander, including the regimental ones.

That Training Letter reads in part as follows:

Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight; and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers…

Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle…

We must march together, all out for God. The soldier who ‘cracks up’ does not need sympathy or comfort as much as he needs strength. We are not trying to make the best of these days. It is our job to make the most of them. Now is not the time to follow God from ‘afar off.’ This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.

Chaplain O’Neill’s words were followed by a brief, signed message from General Patton.

The next day, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days while the Third Army pushed north to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

Chaplain O’Neill recalled what happened:  Our planes came over… knocked out hundreds of tanks, killed thousands of enemy troops in the Bastogne salient, and harried the enemy as he valiantly tried to bring up reinforcements…[Patton’s] 4th, 9th, and 10th Armored Divisions, saved Bastogne, and other divisions which assisted so valiantly in driving the Germans home…General Patton prayed for fair weather for Battle. He got it.

After the Battle Patton wrote in his diary to God: “Sir, this is Patton again and I beg to report complete progress . . . Sir, it seems to me that you have been much better informed about the situation than I was, because it was that awful weather which I cursed so much which made it possible for the German army to commit suicide. That, Sir, was a brilliant military move; and I bow humbly to a supreme military genius.”

~Chaplain John Hicks

Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office
McMinnville, Oregon

Pray for our President

5 Ways to Pray for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Whether you are happy about this week’s election results or not, all Christians must unite in prayer for our new president and VP. Please don’t forsake this responsibility for they need God’s help and direction.*

This election was one of the angriest and most nerve-wracking presidential campaign I have ever witnessed. Thank God the endless robot phone calls and mailings have stopped. The debates, and the annoying post-debate comments from “experts,” are now history.

Half the nation is celebrating today while others are mourning. We are a nation that is divided, split into fragments by abortion, gay marriage, global warming, racial tensions and economic problems. Those who voted for Donald Trump have claimed a historic victory; some on Hillary Clinton’s side are already looking for scapegoats. Politics is politics.

But the fact is that God is still on the throne. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, the Bible says “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). Paul reminds us that, “there is no authority except that which God has established” (Rom. 13:1). You may boast about the United States being “the greatest nation on earth,” but God has a different perspective. Let’s take a big sigh of relief now and remember that God is sovereign.

Now that the election is over, I have a biblical responsibility to support the new president in prayer—even if I question his character and policies. Here are 5 ways I plan to intercede for him regularly:

1. Pray for protection for Trump, Pence, and their families. It is not easy to live under constant media scrutiny. They will face loud-mouthed reporters, aggressive cameras, noisy protesters, and dangerous enemies. Cover their wives and children in your prayer. Pray for Melania Trump and their children: Ivanka Trump (Daughter); Donald Trump Jr. (Son); Tiffany Trump (Daughter); Eric Trump (Son); Barron Trump (Son). Don’t for get to pray for our Vice President, Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence; their Children: Michael Pence (Son); Charlotte Pence (Daughter); Audrey Pence (Daughter).

2. Pray that Trump and Pence will govern with God’s wisdom. I understand that they have asked God for wisdom to lead this nation. The Lord rewarded Solomon because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth, long life or vengeance on his enemies (1 Kings 3:11-12). Despite Solomon’s tragic character flaws, his legacy was wisdom. We can ask God to give our president the same grace. In Washington DC there is the deadly attraction of fame, wealth and power that is a constant temptation. Pray that the Lord will deliver them from the curse of pride.

3. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him. Leaders cannot do their job alone. Even the best leaders have failed because they trusted the wrong people. Pray that Trump will not select his counselors based on party, race, pedigree or political associates but on godly character and proven wisdom. Pray that Trump, who claims to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, will unapologetically welcome Godly counsel and that false religious leaders (who claim to know Christ but deny His power) will not get his ear. His VP, Mike Pence is a strong Christian and needs our prayers as well.

4. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president. Billy Graham explains the reality of spiritual warfare in his book Angels: “We live in a perpetual battlefield…The wars among the nations on earth are mere popgun affairs compared to the fierceness of battle in the spiritual unseen world. This invisible spiritual conflict is waged around us incessantly and unremittingly. Where the Lord works, Satan’s forces hinder; where angel beings carry out divine directives, the devils rage. All this comes about because the powers of darkness press their counterattack to recapture the ground held for the glory of God… Night and day Lucifer, the master craftsman of the devices of darkness, labors to thwart God’s plan of the ages… Satan never yields an inch, nor does he ever pause in his opposition to the plan of God to redeem the “cosmos” from his control.” But your prayers make a difference (Eph. 6:12). Pray that no foreign government, terrorist organization or demonic principality will use Trump as a tool. We must stand strong against the spirit of antichrist that promotes the persecution of Christians and their values.

5. Pray that our nation will enjoy God’s peace and blessing during the Trump administration. The apostle Paul instructed early believers to pray for all in authority “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2, NASB). God’s will is for America to experience peace so that we can continue to export the gospel to the nations. As we cry out for God’s mercy on our wayward nation, pray that He will allow us to be a light to the world as we finance global missions, feed and heal the world’s poor and share Christ’s love at home and abroad. Ask God for a spirit of reconciliation. Some want nothing to do with Trump now that he has won the presidency. Others are tempted to harbor resentment and nurse political grudges throughout his term in office. Pray that God will grant forgiveness and healing so that leaders on all political levels can have a constructive dialogue.

I want to close with this “Election Benediction” that was written by Kenneth Tanner. Let it ground you in the love, peace and security of Christ and his Kingdom.

“May you remember that all politics and all platforms and all legalities and all borders and all leaders are temporary. May you recall that political movements and boundaries and personalities and programs are here one day and gone the next. All of these are passing away.

“May you resist the temptation to place ultimate trust in any person, policy, party, movement, or nation—even a beautiful idea that is embodied by a nation—because there is no nation with an eternal foundation. May you know that your kingdom is not of this world but of the world that is coming to this world and that is not yet here. May you in the same breath grasp that engagement with the things of this world—not escape from its harsher, darker realities—is the sacrificial pattern of Jesus Christ.

“May you discover your role in the just and merciful governance of the world God made good and pursue that cosmos-converting vocation with love amid the world’s brokenness and grittiness. May you see your work in the world—all of your callings and activities—as a participation in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth. May you have strength and beauty and determination and wisdom as you love your neighbor and your enemy as Christ has loved you, seeking with all persons to bring justice, mercy, and lasting peace.

“May you comprehend that your salvation is not dependent on who you vote for in an election, or in whether or not you vote; that you are under no biblical or theological or moral obligation to vote for a person or party or proposal or initiative if that vote violates your conscience. May you be grateful for the opportunity to participate in your government and if you choose not to participate in the election may you find ways to make that non-participation more than a protest, and may you find tangible ways to help and protect the poor and oppressed who might have been helped or shielded by your vote.

“May you realize that the kingdom of God is within you and that the Son of God sets you free even as you vote for whomever your conscience dictates, without anxiety or fear, for the Spirit the Father gives us does not make us timid, but bestows on us power, love, and self-discipline.

“May your posture toward every human leader be driven by respectful prayer, and where protest and prophecy and non-violent resistance are needed, may you have the courage to speak and oppose and critique in humility and charity.

“May you perceive God’s love for creation in sending Jesus to embody a New Humanity, and may you join in Christ’s care for the earth and all its creatures and resources, for we await with patience not only the coming of the Son in the flesh but his perfect bride, a people who beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. May you trust that Providence is working behind the scenes of history to draw all things to a good and fitting and proper end with justice and mercy. Amen.”

*I took some thoughts form an article 8 years ago in Charisma Magazine by J. Lee Grady.

 

Receiving the Promises of God

By John David Hicks

When someone makes you a promise, its quality depends on the character and integrity of the person that made the promise. When God speaks into your life with a promise, the same principle applies. You know that He is righteous and He is truthful. He never lies, never flatters or deceives. He is holy, innocent, without sin and without guile. You can trust or have faith in His word. His promises are guaranteed by His character. His Word is His bond.

You know what God is like. So it is easy to believe in a promise made by Him—it is unshakable and guaranteed. However, the promise must be fully received before it can be entered into and fully realized.

To do this, you must ask, “What does the promise say specifically?” Are there any conditions that need to be fulfilled? All personal promises have conditions that are implied or stated. All God’s promises come out of relationship and are full of grace. Grace is the empowering presence of God that is necessary for the conditions to be met. Thus, the promise will enhance your fellowship with the Lord. The promise is given so that you can do something that is profound. A promise is a rich opportunity for advancement in the kingdom and a major boost to your faith.

It is easy, though, to run ahead of God and miss His timing. Without patience many people will fail to receive the promise. Hebrews 6:12 says, “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Patience with faith causes you to inherit the promises. So if you have faith but no patience, you won’t inherit what has been promised (Hebrews 10:35).

As a believer you are in Christ. Thus, the promise carries the weight of the father’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. By putting you in Christ, the Father’s promise is made to Jesus as much as is to you. 2 Peter 1:3–4 tells us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through… His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” His promises exalt you to a place in Christ that guarantees God’s commitment to answer. His promises release all kinds of possibilities into your life.

God’s purpose behind the promise is to create life, hope, faith, love, direction and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Promise and He will bear witness to your spirit. You received every promise from God by faith. Once you receive the promise, you must believe it, speak it, meditate on it, and accept it as yours. Thus, a promise should lead you into a deeper relationship and fellowship as you experience what God has for you.

Praying God’s promises is life-changing because you live by faith in the confidence of His Word (1 John 5:14-15). Christ died for all that all of us might receive all the promises (2 Corinthians 5:14). Through Christ you have access to all the promises of God. Hebrews 4:1 exhorts you to not fall short of receiving them. The scripture reminds you that “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45).

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God’s Word is the only true anchor for your soul when you are tossed by the waves of doubt, uncertainty, and bewilderment—God is faithful to keep His Word! He was faithful in the midst of the doubt of Abraham and Sarah. He was faithful in the affliction of Job. He was faithful to Joseph in prison. He was faithful to Paul in the storms at sea. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Stop right hear and check out your promises. It’s your key to a life of blessing and the kingdom of God. Since Jesus Christ completely affirms all God’s promises to us as sure and positive, Paul tells us the appropriate response to God is to say Amen. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

 

The Power of Blessing or Cursing

By John David Hicks

When I was a freshman in college, someone suggested at a dorm meeting that we play a prank on Joe who wasn’t there. “Here’s what we’ll do. Through-out the day each of us says something negative to Joe. He looks sick, his skin has bad color, he ought to go to bed….”

By the end of the day, this poor guy was actually sick and was rushed to the emergency room. When his friends explained they had just been playing a joke, at first he didn’t believe them and then got angry. He would not forgive his friends for being so cruel.

Jesus said, “…Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).

Getting a compliment or hearing how well you’ve done boosts your self-worth. Positive words affect your emotions in a good way. You’ll feel better, live longer, and find it easier to establish trusting relationships.

When you feel bad about yourself, even casual criticism can hurt deeply. Negative words also affect your feelings and emotions, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction. Your brain releases chemicals that cause stress, worry, anger, and sleepless nights. One counselor said it takes 10 compliments to overcome one negative remark.

In any close relationship, you will bump into each other now and then. But you can correct the harm by saying: “I’m sorry I said that. I realize it was wrong.” “I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I’ll try not to do that anymore. And I love you.”

Scripture says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:9-11, 18).

When you respond to a negative word with more negativity, the situation only becomes worse. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Prov. 15:4).

At times you need to speak frankly, but always in a spirit of love. Someone may not even be aware you’ve been hurt by what he said, so tell him.

Your words can bless or curse. They can go far beyond one person to others. Words are powerful. So how do you turn a curse into a blessing?  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

The apostle Paul also writes, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 nasb).

Paul gives three characteristics of good speech: (1) Wholesome or healthy words build people up. They give life. (2) Healthy words are said at the right time. At the wrong time they can be hurtful. (3) Healthy words give grace – the power and ability to do God’s will.

“The tongue has the power of life and death” (Prov. 18:21). Jesus said you’re to “bless and curse not.” Every day, you are blessing or cursing someone with your words.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

Why not tell someone today: “I appreciate you. I’m glad you’re my friend. I see your kindness, caring, genuineness, hospitality, musical ability, and love for God…and I like it.

 

Plugging into the Power of the Church

By John David Hicks

Acts 17 tells the story of Paul and Silas going to Thessalonica. The preaching and demonstrating the gospel led to a great multitude of believers. There was a reaction to this and a riot broke out. The mob started looking for Paul and Silas. “When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:6–7).

How did these early believers upset the world and spread the Gospel around the known world? They explained and demonstrated the gospel. In thinking of when I became a Christian, what was it that changed my life and my world? What bonded me to the church? What was it the fired me up and caused me to forsake everything and put God and His church first in my life?

As a young teen, when I was born again and forgiven by God, the believers gave me their love, acceptance, blessing and prayers. I belonged and I knew it. My pastor, Freeman Brunson, and a few friends, Tom Wilson, Jack Patton, Gene Wisham, Ernie Johnson, and Terry Myhren imparted their love, blessing and encouragement into my life. I was a brother in Christ. They prayed for me, my needs and struggles and my family and we were bonded together as a band of brothers. That changed my life and my world as a teenage boy. In time, all my family and most of my friends came to the Lord and into the church.

It was in that fellowship of believers that I heard God’s call to preach the Gospel. At age of 14, I was given a “Local Preachers License” to preach and started the course of study. I was given opportunity to preach to the youth group, jails, downtown missions and on the street. We started Bible studies at our school and in our neighborhood. We modeled what we had been taught: Love, acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement and prayer. Our school and neighborhood were touched by God. It was not one person alone witnessing for God, but the body of believers. There was a commitment to one another and to God. That is how I believed the early church reached their world for God. And so can you. It starts with you finding a few Christians that are committed to God and each other.

God never intended for you to live the Christian life by yourself. The New Testament model of the church is a small group of encouraging Christians, ministering to one another. I am convinced that you will not grow as God would have you grow or be as effective as a Christian unless you get involved with an inner circle of Christians, sharing God’s life and love and your faith. A small group is God’s perfect place for working out love in everyday relationships. In the eighteenth century, John Wesley used these small groups, calling them “class meetings,” and brought about the great Wesleyan revival. These groups change people’s lives and the world they touched.

Out of this community with other believers and in fellowship with your indwelling Lord, the Holy Spirit flows in your life with love for God and love for your neighbor. Christians are to live for others following the example of Jesus. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).

Colossians 3:16–17 describes how you plug into to the power of Christ and His Church. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

It is no exaggeration to say that “the word of God is living” and powerful. And that Jesus Christ puts a song in your heart. And that the fellowship of believers is what establishes you in your faith. And that thanksgiving is what sets your soul free.

 

My Prayer for you and your Church

I ran across this article by Thom S. Rainer entitled, “Eight Things I’m Praying Will Happen in Churches.” This is also my prayer request for your church:

  1. For greater emphasis on prayer. Many, if not most, churches have a woeful emphasis on corporate prayer. Churches who do not give prayer a high priority are churches without God’s power.
  2. 2. For standing firm on biblical truth. Culture is trying to push our congregations away from the truths of Scripture. We cannot yield to that pressure. If we do, our congregations cease to be true, biblical churches.
  3. For greater unity in our churches. There is too much infighting in many of our congregations. And there is too much disunity from church to church. The world is watching our fights. “Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us” (1 John 3:23).
  4. 4. For greater intentionality in evangelism. The typical church in America is doing very little to share the gospel of Christ boldly and intentionally. May we be so grateful for what Christ has done for us that “we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
  5. 5. For greater emphasis on groups. Churches should grow larger by growing smaller. A church member not in a small group or Sunday school class is not fully committed to the body.
  6. For membership to be more meaningful. For many churches, membership has become nearly meaningless. For others, membership is a perceived entitlement, much like country club membership. I pray that membership in our congregations will become truly biblical as Paul demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 12.
  7. For clear plans of discipleship. Too many congregations cannot clearly articulate how members can become more obedient followers of Christ. Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the Kingdom.
  8. For more ministry involvement and impact in our communities. I pray that our churches will become known by the positive impact they have in their respective communities. As we obey Acts 1:8, we must first be obedient to our own Jerusalem.

These are my eight prayers for your church. What do you think of them? Will you pray with me for your congregation?

Rainer says in his book, Simple Church, that the ability of the process of growth as a Christian must be communicated and understood by the people.  You must give them the simple steps in the process that causes people to move to a greater area of commitment. The key is removing the unnecessary programs that cause congestion in the church.

I want to share with you how the Lord helped me to make these prayer requests a reality in the last church I served.  Jerry Moen, one of the pastors that followed me led the church to be one of the largest in Yamhill County.  I have written three biblical articles on how God wants you to motivate each person in your church.  On my web-site www.faithencounter.org you will find the articles entitled The Three Great Priorities of Life – 1, 2  & 3.

My Morning Prayer

By John David Hicks

Lord, I enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise; I bless your Holy Name (Ps. 100:4-5). I acknowledge and Worship you as my Lord, Savior and King (2 Pet. 1:10-11).

Lord, you have given your life to redeem me, made me your child and given me and an everlasting inheritance of yourself. I thank you that I am deeply loved, highly favored and greatly blessed by you. Your love for me has been unchangeable, unshakable and unfailing. I receive your abundance of grace and your gift of righteousness. With no condemnation, you said that I will reign in life (Rom. 5:17). You have made me more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ who loves me (Rom. 8:37).

In these evil days help me to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16). I desire to do your will and make you known. Let your presence flow like a river through me into all I touch today (John 7:38). As your ambassador you called me to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20). You have anointed me to minister to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, set the captives free, and liberate those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). Lord, I pray for many open doors of opportunities to testify of your grace (Col. 4:3). Show me what you are up to today (Eph. 5:17). I want to be a part of it. In Jesus’ Name I pray—Amen and Amen.

The Secret:

I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I, too, had loosed the moorings
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day.
–Ralph Cushman

Love Stoppers

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

By John David Hicks

When a couple attends marriage counseling and are thinking of getting a divorce, I ask them this question: “When you got married, were you in love with each other?” They almost always say, “Yes, we were in love and that’s why we got married. But now we can’t stand each other.”

How does love between two people break down? A relationship will never work if there is a lack of trust. Trust plays the dominant role in any relationship. In the Bible, this trust relationship is called faith.

To trust or to have faith in another person you expect him or her to be honest and reliable. Respect is at the center of your relationship. You expect your spouse to keep their word and confidences, and to stay with you when the going gets tough. You learn to trust someone when you share your life with them and they do what they say they are going to do. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Trust is earned and recognized over time. The formula goes something like this: Trust = Integrity + Consistency + Time.   When a person says what they mean and means what they say, we say they are trustworthy.

You can’t have a close, healthy relationship without trust. In marriage, you need to be able to trust what your partner tells you.

Four major things—what I call “love stoppers”—destroy trust:

The first love stopper is lying. God who is love cannot lie, but the devil our enemy has been a liar from the beginning.

A couple cannot have love if they lie to each other. Lies damage the relationship and break trust. A person lies because they have something to hide, breaking a bond in the relationship. Trust must be restored or your love will break down. There must be a commitment to tell each other the truth (Eph. 4:15).

It’s hard to trust someone who is dishonest or deceitful, who misled you or betrayed you. Some people lie even to themselves because they do not want to deal with the truth. Lying becomes a habit when you want the easy way out. But it leads to mistrust and alienation.

The second love stopper is faultfinding. You cannot trust a faultfinder. Satan’s name means a prosecutor at law, an accuser, or faultfinder. The prosecutor never talks about your good points. He will bring up all the dirty laundry and ruthlessly accuse you until you feel condemned. Satan uses guilt and shame to destroy you. Guilt comes when you feel bad about doing something wrong or you are blamed for committing some offense. Shame comes with a painful feeling of humiliation mixed with regret, self-hate, and dishonor. Faultfinding and blaming destroys relationships with others and with God.

Love needs acceptance, admiration, appreciation, and emotional safety. So we become angry and are deeply hurt when there is constant criticism, impatience, labeling, contempt, or discrediting of our thoughts or feelings. You can’t build a relationship with ridicule, threats, or put-downs. You may have differences and contrasting opinions, but don’t let faultfinding rob you or your spouse of your worth.

When your character is attacked, mutual respect is undermined. The temptation is to retaliate or withdraw and not share your feelings. When you are unfairly judged or mistreated, it is hard to love. But it is the nature of love to care and forgive. The Bible says we can forgive because we are loved and forgiven. God has had compassion and mercy on us, so we can offer forgiveness for another’s offense. You will know when you have forgiven someone when you don’t have to get even.

When you refuse to forgive, you get bitter. Bitterness, it’s been said, is drinking poison and thinking it will hurt someone else. A bitter person becomes hypersensitive, ungrateful, insincere, holds grudges, and has mood swings. But forgiveness sets you free, because you don’t have to get even.

A judgmental spirit began when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We want to be like a god, knowing good and evil. In judgment we are critical of another to build up ourselves or to make ourselves look good. When we judge, we base our judgment on the criteria of our own choosing.  God’s judgment is based on knowing all truth; ours is not. That is why the New Testament is so emphatic in commanding us as disciples of Jesus not to judge.

There is a difference between discernment and judgment. Discernment seeks understanding and looks for the fruit. Judgment speaks out of a fallen emotional state.  I may discern that a person is trying to sell me something that’s not very good. Jesus told us to discern, to be “fruit inspectors” (Matt. 7:16). We have to practice this kind of discernment all the time. But as Christians we are not permitted to become judgmental, whereby we make ourselves feel better by contrasting ourselves with others.

What then is the best way to relate to a situation in someone’s life that irritates you or is a problem to you? How does God deal with a problem or sin in your life? He attacks the problem, not the person. This is what I say to a couple I’m counseling: “If I sin, if I do something wrong, God does not attack me or my character. He attacks the sin or the problem. He will say, ‘John, you sinned. Confess it, put it behind you. Accept my forgiveness. Get up and go on with your life.’” The gift of no condemnation sets me free.

Almost every divorce has some form of lying and faultfinding involved. When trust is broken, love flees. Your decision to “think the best first of another person” is the foundation of a life-giving relationship. It is a challenge to love when you are disappointed, stressed out, or angry about circumstances. But God’s love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). And God lives in you (1 John 4:4). You can do this because “God loves you dearly, and he has called you to be his very own” (Romans 1:7 nlt).

The third love stopper is being double-minded. A double-minded person has no trust or faith. James describes the double-minded person as being “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:6-8). Love requires faith or trust to survive. Love “always trusts” (1 Cor. 13:7). It’s hard to be in partnership with someone who doesn’t offer you the benefit of the doubt, or who questions your motives.

Such a person, Jesus said, tries to serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). As such, he is “unstable,” which comes from a Greek word meaning “unsteady, wavering, in both his character and feelings.” A double-minded person is restless and confused and can’t make up his mind. He will say one thing and do another. Such a person is always in conflict with himself. Until he makes a decision, he is not free to love. Love is expressed not in how you feel toward another person, but in how you behave.

A double-minded person doubts the promises or word of another. Your doubts about God or others hinder the relationship and your prayers. “That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord!”

But God promises to give wisdom generously to those who are not double-minded but ask in faith (James 1:5-6). They are decisive. “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:8, 10). Paul writes, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:17). The double-minded person has no commitment to the will of God (John 7:17).

The fourth love stopper is a lack of commitment. True love demands a commitment. God has chosen to love you. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’” (Jer. 31:3). The nrsv says, “I have continued my faithfulness to you.” “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God has promised: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

Marriage was instituted and blessed by God. Marriage is a public declaration of the commitment of loyalty between a man and a woman. The absence of loyalty will make the marriage shallow and you will end up with broken promises. Your love will grow in the difficulties and struggles of life. That is where all relationships are established. Love is a risk of faith or trust. Thus, love demands courage that will risk trust and self-disclosure. When you take this risk, you are able to say, “I see who you are and I really like who you are!”

Your commitments will shape your life. Until you make a commitment, you have only hope and empty possibilities. Commitment is what unites people of different temperaments and talents. Commitment gives you the depth, drive, and perseverance to make your relationship a success.

In Psalm 15:3-4, David describes a person who walks with God as one who speaks the truth, refuses to slander, and keeps his promises. Then he adds, “He who does these things will never be shaken.” Your commitment not to be deceitful, not to fault find, not to be double-minded but decisive will bind any relationship together.

The big issue of love is not clarity, but commitment. Marriage is about two people surrendering themselves to each other. “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). “Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 nrsv). To be known and truly loved is one of the greatest experiences of life.  Make the commitment.

There is a Swedish proverb that says, “Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I really need it.” Is that not what God does? As God’s child do what Jesus said: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

 

Living in God’s Presence

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

By John David Hicks

Dee Duke is a preacher who lives in the presence of God and knows the power of prayer. His church in a small town in western Oregon is the largest in the area, and he has planted three other churches and several on the mission field. Each week, more than 75 groups meet for prayer. Pastor Duke’s praying church has impacted the community.

I met him at a prayer conference. I knew that this man had something to say as I leaned forward to listen.

He started out by saying that most Christians think they pray a lot because they pray at times during the day and for their food. But they really don’t spend much time with the Lord and live in His presence.

And then he told us about his Uncle Bill.

When Dee was a young boy, Uncle Bill came for a two-week visit to stay with his family. It seems Uncle Bill knew how to win over a boy: he gave him a nickel. Dee was immediately drawn to his uncle. A few minutes later Uncle Bill offered another nickel, and then another. “Stay close,” Uncle Bill said in so many words, “and you’ll get more.”

Throughout the day Dee received nickels. The next day Uncle Bill told him that he had a big pocket full of nickels, with more in his suitcase. He could have a nickel anytime he asked.  So Dee stayed close to his Uncle Bill and received nickels anytime he asked—and even when he didn’t ask.

On the third day the boy said to his Uncle Bill, “It would be easier on both of us and save a lot of time if you would just give me all the nickels now.” Unfortunately for Dee, his mother was just around the corner and overheard her son. She immediately reprimanded him for asking for money. But Uncle Bill told his mother, “I have given him permission to ask me anytime for a nickel. It’s OK.”

Then Uncle Bill turned to the boy and said, “If I give you all my nickels now, you will no longer come to me. I want to be your friend and do things with you. I want you to be in my presence.”

So anytime the boy asked, he got a nickel. When they went to town together, he got a quarter. When they went fishing, he got a dollar! By the time Uncle Bill’s visit came to an end, Uncle Bill had become Dee’s favorite uncle and best friend. And 50 years later, Pastor Duke says, Uncle Bill is still his best friend.

This story illustrates what prayer is—living in God’s presence. God wants to be your best friend. If God gave you everything at once, you would not come to Him daily and He would not be your best friend. So you are commanded to ask in prayer: “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

If you have never practiced the presence of God, you don’t know what you have missed.

The presence of God is always here; it’s everywhere. Paul quoted these words on Mars Hill to the idol worshipers and philosophers of his day: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  David understood, “I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7 nlt).

All of creation is subject to the Creator. Without God in us, we do not know life, only existence. God is all you need. He is a perfect parent as well as a faithful friend. As your Father, God has your best interest in mind. He wants you to completely rely on Him, in faith—from your business decisions to the ordinary tasks of life. God created you to live in fellowship with Him (John 17:3).

David found that the presence of God is the only all-satisfying experience of life. “You will fill me with joy in your presence” (Psalm 16:11). This joy is the byproduct of peace with God and abiding in Christ.

Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) is famous for the booklet The Practice of the Presence of God. He entered a monastery in France and lived the remaining 30 years of his life working in the kitchen, cooking meals and washing pots and pans. He lived in obscurity, yet his desire was to walk continually in God’s presence.

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful,” he said, “than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it…. I believe that all spiritual life consists of practicing God’s presence, and that anyone who practices it correctly will soon attain spiritual fulfillment.”

I believe that what Brother Lawrence calls “practicing the presence of God” is what the Bible calls “abiding in Christ.”

Brother Lawrence found God in the monastery kitchen. Amidst the boring chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he writes, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”

For Brother Lawrence, “ordinary business,” no matter how mundane, was the means of God’s love. You can’t separate the secular from the sacred; God is in both. Brother Lawrence’s work was his ministry.  “We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

The distinction you make between sacred places and secular places, sacred activities and secular activities can be an obstacle to practicing the presence of God. It is certainly good to ask God to guide and illuminate your study of His Word, but you can also enter into conversation with God about the newspaper, magazine, or book you are reading. It can be especially fruitful to ask God to comment on works of history—since He is the Lord of history. You can talk to God about His creation. Genesis tells us that God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would name them. I suspect they engaged in small talk about the animals—maybe giggled at giraffes.

You can be so busy seeking the deep or profound revelations from God that you miss the small talk that is the life-blood of real friendship with God. You can be so obsessed with knowing His will that you miss the obvious: His presence is His will. It is us He wants.

When God is invited into all parts of your life—not just your quiet time or worship time—everything around you becomes the language of God. God can speak to you through what you see, feel, read, think, dream, or experience. When God speaks, you will know His voice in your spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).

In Galilee Jesus said consider the lilies of the field, but today God may say consider the hard drive, carburetor, or espresso maker. Practicing the presence of God can make your daily activities sacraments: a means by which God imparts grace and instructs your heart to love.

Brother Lawrence made every detail of his life important. “I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world.” He had no problem cooking meals, running errands, scrubbing pots, and enduring the scorn of the world, because he understood “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

When you don’t sense God’s presence, learn to switch your frame of reference to God. He is there—acknowledge Him. The Lord has promised you, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). You may need to sing or quote scripture. But as you focus on Him, it becomes easier to meditate on His presence. The spirit world and consciousness of God’s presence is only one thought away (Revelation 2:7).

Like Uncle Bill, God wants you to acknowledge His presence and to ask anytime for a nickel. He wants to be with you. But like any relationship, it takes time, it costs you something, and you have to want it.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6). “Straight paths” is more than guidance; it means that God removes the obstacles, making a better way as you acknowledge Him. This only happens as you spend time practicing His presence.

For further reading on hearing God and knowing His character, check out my Web site articles: “A Passion for God” (Part 2 and 3); “God’s Kind of Faith”; and “Faith Performs the Works of God.”

 

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

By John David Hicks

These six words of Jesus can free your heart and stop Satan’s accusations. They will help you overcome trouble, fear, and condemnation: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 nkjv).

Jesus is addressing your mind and emotions. With this encouragement, “Let not your heart be troubled,” the Lord gives you a promise of peace.

A few years ago, I was involved in a car accident. I had stopped at a stop sign while a pedestrian was crossing the street from the other side. A car approaching on my right stopped to let him cross, and I thought it was clear for me to go straight ahead. But when I pulled out, I hit a new Porsche sports car coming from the left that did not slow down or stop for the pedestrian.

When the police arrived, they all admired the new Porsche and talked about what a wonderful car it was. Then the officer told me that I had violated the law and gave me a ticket.

I felt terrible. My car had just a scratch on the bumper; the sports car was dented and scratched from fender to door. I was upset. Satan came with condemnation. “How could you have been so stupid? Now your insurance rates are going up. This accident will be on your record. You should have gotten the names of witnesses. What are people going to think?”

For the next few days I would argue my case in the court of my mind. I was troubled, fearful, and condemned. Everything was blown out of proportion.

I cried out to God to help me: “Lord, I need mercy and grace. I can’t live with this condemnation. I am emotionally so upset over this. It was an accident. I am so sorry it happened. But You said that You will make ‘all things work together for good’ so that we can be conformed to the image of Your Son. Help me and have mercy on me; give me your grace.”

God brought John 14:27 to my mind. When I repeated “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” to myself when I was upset, God gave me peace and freedom from worry about the situation.

A few weeks later at traffic court, I pled guilty. To my surprise the judge said, “You have a good driving record. I will lower the price of the ticket and will take it off your insurance record, if you will attend a series of driver safety classes.” I agreed and praised the Lord. Peace and freedom flowed into my heart.

There are dangers and fearful things all around us. Bad things do happen to us. Sometimes others will try to minimize our problem. They may say, “That’s not so bad. Things could be worse.” Then they will tell you about someone in a worse situation than you. But Jesus understands. “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).

Jesus has told us why we should not be full of trouble and fear in John 14:26: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit is with you. He will help you and guide you and will give you peace. The peace that Jesus gives us is the Holy Spirit. He is with you to strengthen you. “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]” (Col. 3:15 amp).

The choice is yours. You will focus on the problem or on God. Worldly wisdom and thinking comes from focusing on yourself and your ability. It produces worry, anxiety, stress, and fear. The apostle Paul explains it: “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated” (1 Cor. 2:14 amp).

But the Christian’s focus is on God. “Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]” (1 Cor. 2:12-13 amp). “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

God is the creator and governor of His universe. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). God loves and cares about you. He is not too busy to look after you. “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7 amp). Remember, peace does not come from denying that there is a problem, but from “casting” all your trouble and fears on the Lord.

But often what troubles us the most is not fear for ourselves, but for those we love. We often find it easier to trust God for ourselves than for those we love deeply. A father finds it easier to face his own surgery than surgery on his child. So how do we find peace regarding a deep concern for others?

First, we must find peace in the faithfulness of God. Your prayer for others comes out of a compassionate heart. When you pray for a friend who is ill or a victim of injustice, your heart is moved and your emotions are touched. For those we love, this means faithfully interceding in prayer and asking God to deliver them from evil, surround them with His protection, touch them with power, guide them with His wisdom.

This faithfulness can mean concrete acts of obedience such as giving counsel, finances, or service. The Holy Spirit is also faithful to tell us when our faithfulness is complete. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. The same Holy Spirit that comforts us will comfort them. God is deepening our awareness of our common suffering and drawing us closer together in His presence.

When those whom we are troubled about are not Christians—not yielded to the will of God—we must pray around their free will. For instance, we can pray for God to increase their hunger for Him, for the pleasures of sin to taste bitter, for the Word of God they once knew to be brought to their remembrance, and for God to be unrelenting in the pursuit of His purpose for their lives. These powerful prayers are important to our peace because we can easily feel helpless when praying for those who are making wrong choices and have become their own worst enemy.

Paul assures us, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:5-7).

Second, when we have entrusted those we love to God’s care, God will give us the assurance of His love and faithfulness. He is our creator, the healer, the one who is faithful and true. We can trust Him completely with those we love. Our children are safe in His care. And though we know God will honor their freedom, we also know that with perfect wisdom and power the Lord will work around the edges of their free will.

The psalmist understood this: “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalm 107:19-20).

In 1895 Andrew Murray, a great Christian author, was in England suffering from a painful back injury. He was staying with friends when one morning a woman who was in great trouble wanted to know if he had any advice for her. Murray handed her a paper he had been writing:

“In time of trouble say, FIRST, God brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. NEXT, God will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child. THEN SAY, God will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. LAST SAY, in God’s good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows. THEREFORE SAY, I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping (3) under His training (4) for His time.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). When Jesus spoke peace to the storm, His disciples “were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?’” (Mark 4:41). Their faith in Him was made real because of the storm and trouble. Jesus gave them peace because He is the “prince of peace.” His words are “spirit and life.” Inner peace comes only from God.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” When a friend or family member gets stressed out or is full of worry, anxiety, or fear, remind them, “Let not.” There are times we all need to hear, “Let not.”

 

The Power of the Gospel

By John David Hicks

“Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

This last week at the Yamhill County Jail, Jeanne Wririch, Kevin Robertson, and I presented My Hope AMERICA with Billy Graham. Jeanne and Kevin have powerful testimonies that moved the prisoners. A good testimony tells who you were before you met Christ, how you met Christ and the difference Christ has made. From Monday to Wednesday from 7 to 8 and 8 to 9 we had two groups of inmates.

I gave the introduction to the video Defining Moments, saying that God is love and He wants a relationship with you. After the video, an invitation was given, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Of the 64 that chose to attend, 63 made commitment to Christ. Forty-nine prayed for salvation and fourteen rededicated their lives to Christ.

In the last group on Wednesday, we had time for prayers for healing. One man had a headache that would not quit. We prayed and it was gone. Another man had had surgery and could not lift his arm without pain. When God healed him, he said with joy, “Wow! Thank you Jesus!” With another man, we broke off a suicide spirit and God filled him with peace. Four others wanted deliverance for alcohol and drugs.

When the guard came back to take them to their cells, he said he could see the difference in their faces. The other group told him they had received Christ and were filled with joy.

On Thursday, I did follow-up with the first group of men on Monday. They told me that they were reading Billy Graham’s follow-up book and having Bible studies together. At meal times they would get together with others that had received Christ. The one man that attended earlier in the week that did not give his life to Christ, did in this follow-up meeting. He said that the other men that had received Christ had made a great impression on him. Jeanne and Kevin are also doing follow-up.

I praise God with Jeanne and Kevin for all that the Lord has done.

If you would like to use My Hope AMERICA with Billy Graham material you can find it free at www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org

I had forgotten that we are involved in Spiritual Warfare. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Jesus declares that the devil’s tactics are to steal every blessing God has for you; to kill your body and destroy relationships in your life.

How is he going to do that? By condemnation. The name Satan means a prosecutor at law, an accuser or faultfinder. The prosecutor never talks about your good points. He will bring up all your faults, failures and sin and ruthlessly accuse you till you feel condemned. Condemnation robs you of the blessings and Joy of a clear conscience. Condemnation kills your body with stresses and fear of the future. Condemnation destroys relationships with fault finding and guilt. But Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God’s gift of forgiveness and righteousness is what sets you free from the law of sin and death. The gift of Forgiveness is for all your sins and failures.

Satan knows that faultfinding destroys your relationship with others and God.

 

In God Alone

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:1-2; 5-6).

The answer is found in “GOD ALONE.”

My soul finds rest, comfort and peace in God alone.

My salvation and deliverance comes from God alone.

My hope and faith comes from God alone.

And God alone is my rock and fortress; I will not be shaken or moved.

“God alone is my hope, my rock, my fortress, and the source of my salvation.” When you see that the answer is God Alone, faith takes hold and you “will not be shaken.”

Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks

How to Pray

By John David Hicks

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. He taught them what we know as the “Lord’s Prayer.” This model prayer clarifies what we should say and how we should approach our heavenly Father in prayer.

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV).

1. Praise God for who He is! Our Father which art in heaven, Hollowed be thy name. To hallow God’s name is to fear the name, to make it sacred, to hold it in awe. You begin with praise, exalting the name of the Lord, JEHOVAH–YAHWEH and thanking Him for sending His son, Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer (Gal. 4:4-7). You hallow the Lord by praising His names: Praise God because He washes away your sins… He is your JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU, our Righteousness. He fills you with peace in your heart… He is your JEHOVAH-SHALOM. He heals you… He is your JEHOVAH-RAPHA. He provides for your provision… He is your JEHOVAH-JIREH. He provides security and protection from Satan… He is your JEHOVAH NISSI. He is always there in your heart, His temple… He is your JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH. He is your guide… He is your JEHOVAH-ROHI, your shepherd. Praise and thank God for all the benefits he provides for you.

2. Summit to His Lordship! Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. The kingdom is now and is future-oriented. From Scripture we know God’s will is for us to work for peace and justice. You are to pray and declare God’s Kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace (Rom. 14:17) to come in you, in your loved ones, in your church and in your world. But God’s kingdom must first be established in you. This happens when you obey Him and accept His will and authority in your life (Matt. 6:33).

3. Ask Him for daily provision! Give us this day our daily bread. Do you care and pray about starving people? You can ask the Lord for provision for physical and material needs (Phil. 4:19). (1) Pray in the Will of God (1 John 5:14-15). (2) Claim the promises and believe it is God’s will to prosper you and them (Mark 10:29-30; Phil. 4:13). (3) Be specific and make definite requests (James 4:2; Phil. 4:6). (4) Be persistent (Luke 18:1). Remember to ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7).

4. Intercede for relationships! And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. You must forgive and release others if you want God to forgive you. Don’t allow anything or anyone to steal your joy and peace in the Lord. You are to bless and curse not (Matt. 12:14). Remember, your defense is the armor of God (Eph. 6:14-17). Ask yourself, whose life shall I change, and what circumstances shall I influence today with my prayers?

5. Intercede for victory over evil! And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Ask God to make you aware of temptation and the evil one. Pray a hedge of protection around yourself, your loved ones and your possessions. Psalm 91 gives three good reasons why you should claim God’s protection: (1) Because you have made the Lord your habitation or dwelling place (v9). (2) Because you have set your love upon Him (v14). (3) Because you have acknowledged His name, His character (v14). “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).

6. Close with Praise and Thanksgiving! For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Praise God because you are in the kingdom and are a temple that God the Holy Spirit lives in (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:20–21). “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!” –Amen!

 

How The Holy Spirit Prays with You

Romans 8:26: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

By John David Hicks

The Holy Spirit is your teacher, counselor, comforter and guide (John 14:26). God’s Word says that He is inside you to help you in your weaknesses; when you are without strength, He is there to help YOU.

When we don’t know what to pray, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” When you read this verse, don’t say, “I don’t know what to pray for, so I don’t have to pray. I will let the Holy Spirit make intercession for me. I will leave it to Him to do the praying.”

If the Holy Spirit, without your involvement, prayed for you, then every Christian would live victoriously. But not all Christians are living victoriously and not all are walking in the fullness of God’s blessings. James 4:2 tells us, you have not because you do not pray. Even Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). So clearly, Romans 8:26 is not saying to just let the Holy Spirit pray for you. So what is this verse saying?

The same Spirit who bears witness that you are a child of God helps us in our weakness and infirmities. In the Greek it is a word picture of someone helping another carry a heavy load; to support, “to take hold together against.” Therefore, “together” means that your participation is essential so that the Holy Spirit and you can take hold together against the problem. Together when you pray the Holy Spirit helps you in your weakness: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So if you sit back and don’t take hold of the problem, the Holy Spirit has nothing to “take hold of” with you. If you keep silent and don’t pray, the Holy Spirit has nothing to pray. But when you release your prayer even with “groaning you cannot utter” you are actually allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through you God’s will in this situation.

There may be a time when something has happened and you have been devastated, wounded and so hurt you can’t pray, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” One day you may lie in a hospital bed, sick and exhausted but the Holy Spirit will intercede and express those things you cannot articulate with your mouth. I have cried many times, “Help me Lord with this situation.” The Holy Spirit helps me to get through to the throne of Grace (Ephesians 1:17; 6:18).

PAUL’S PRAYER FOR YOU: “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21 NLT).

 

HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN

By John David Hicks
How You can become a Christian

As a child, I attended Sunday School at a community Church. I received a pen to reward me for seven years of perfect attendance. Even so, I did not understand what it meant to be a Christian. In the summer of the fifth grade, I attended a youth camp and went forward to become a Christian after seeing a Billy Graham film. I prayed and felt better. I wanted God in my life, but even more I still wanted to “sow my wild oats” and win the approval of my friends. (1 Cor. 15:33) As I started Jr. High School, I ran around with a gang in our neighborhood and school. With strong feelings of low self-esteem, I believed I needed to prove myself. I rebelled against all authority, defied my teachers and used filthy language to put others down. Fighting with anyone who crossed me, I once took on the “toughest guy in school.” I blackened both of his eyes and broke his nose. I also became a thief and would accept dares to steal from stores and break into homes. Yet at the same time I still regularly attended church. (Jer. 17:9)

In the ninth grade, a kid named Tom Wilson moved into our neighborhood. We became best of friends and attended the community church together. (2 Tim.1:9) One Sunday night Tom, who was longing for a deeper walk with God, invited me and a few others to try a different church. The pastor, Freeman Brunson, watched as a group of teens he had never seen before entered his church service late. He later told us that he changed his sermon to fit us. His text was Paul’s testimony to Timothy that he was the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim.1: 15 KJV). He explained how Paul was raised very religiously and, in his desire to do right, killed and imprisoned those who disagreed with him. (Gal. 1:23-24) But his ignorance and unreasoning prejudice did not take away his guilt and sin. (Acts 17:30) One day he realized what he had done, against whom he had sinned, and the eternal consequences of his sin. (Rom. 6:23) Yet God in His mercy forgave Paul and made him his child. Paul called himself the “chief of sinners” because if God could save him, the chief, He could save anyone. “God did not give up on me and will not give up on you,” (Heb 7:25) was Paul’s testimony. Like Paul, I had not seen the seriousness of my sin and did not realize that God hated sin. I did not understand that it was because of sin Jesus was crucified on the cross. But that night the Lord showed me the awfulness, the filth and ugliness of my sin in the eyes of God. Until that night of realization, there was no reverence (fear) of the Lord before me. (Rom. 3:17-18)

At the end of the service an invitation was given to come forward to receive Jesus as Savior and find forgiveness from sin as Paul had. I recognized it was the Lord alone who forgives and cleanses us from sin. I submitted to the Holy Spirit’s call and all eight of us teens went forward. The congregation gathered around to pray for us. When I confessed my sins to God (1 John 1:9) He forgave me and like Paul made me his child. (Rom.8:16) Then He filled me with His peace and presence. (Rev.3:20)

After Church that night there was a “youth sing” with several other churches. Our church group was pushed into the choir loft. As the leader asked for a testimony from the “choir” no one said a word. I wanted to, but was afraid. (Rev.3:20) Later, I told the Lord, if he would help me, I would take every opportunity He would give me to share what He had done for me. (Rom. 1:16) It wasn’t long before I realized all Christians are called to be ministers. (Eph.2:10)

After I gave my testimony to my old “gang” at school and in my neighborhood, I was confronted about my use of bad language. Swearing was such a habit for me I did it without thinking. (James 3:9-10) I made a deal with the guys: “If I swear, you can hit me.” They thought it was great fun to get me to come out with a dirty put down of someone and then hit me when I did. After failing a few times, I reaffirmed my sincerity to quit swearing and told them they should hit me 25 times if I failed again. By the end of the day my arms were so sore I could hardly lift them.

On the third day, I did OK until I was on the bus on my way home from school. I slipped and swore. They hit me again, but the Devil hit me harder. I had failed again. I was so discouraged. I knew I could not live the Christian life. Others could, but not me. I prayed and told God that I would have to give up; it was hopeless. I had tried everything. I felt God say, “Have you tried everything?” “You know Lord how sore my arms are. I just cannot overcome.” Again God said, “Have YOU tried everything?” “Yes, Lord,” I said, “You know my heart. I want to be a Christian, but I am too weak. I can’t live the life.” Then God said, “Then let me live it in you.” (1 Thes. 1:5)

From that day to this I have not used any of those words again! I discovered that the Christian life is God living the life through us. God gave me a promise in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” It is not our strength or struggles but His Power and Grace that enable us to live the life He has called us to live. (Phil.4:13)

It has been many years since I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior, but my testimony is up to date with Paul the “chief of sinners.” God did not give up on me and will not give up on you! “Everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom.10: 11-13) Even today it is not my strength or struggles but His Power and Grace that enable me to live the life He has called me to live. (Rom.9:16) I praise him for his faithfulness, mercy and grace. (Eph.3:20-21)

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How does one become a Christian? Here are the steps:

FIRST: Acknowledge that you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; Sin cuts you off from God. Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

SECOND: Realize that Jesus is God’s only provision for Sin & that He died for you. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

THIRD: Repent of your sin, rebellion & pride, turn from it & humble yourself before God. Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

FOURTH: Receive Him as Lord & Master, submitting to His authority. John 14:23 Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Romans 10:9-13 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Your part is to confess Him to others as your Lord & Savior.

FIFTH: That brings you into relationship, but God wants intimate fellowship. Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door [your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Romans 8:16 The [Holy] Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

You can pray to receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior and Lord. Simply pray these words from your heart: “Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally as my Savior. Thank you for dying for my sins. I open the door of my life & receive You as my Lord. I confess my sins. Thank you for forgiving me & giving me eternal life. I want to do your will. Give me the strength to live for you, in Jesus Name, Amen”.

Now , praise and thank the Lord that He is in your heart, on the authority of His Word! 1 John 5:11-13, And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. Galatians 3:11, Because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. John 1:12, All who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right [power] to become children of God.

If I can help you know the Lord in a better way, please feel free to e-mail me at: info@faithencounter.org. © 1998 Faith Encounter Inc.

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Scripture Quotes:
1 Cor.15:33: Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.
Jer.17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
2 Tim.1:9: who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time
Gal.1:23-24 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
Acts 17:30: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Rom.6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Heb.7:25: Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Rom. 3:17-18: …the way of peace they do not know there is no fear of God before their eyes
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Rom.8:16: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Rev.3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Rev.3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Rom.1:16: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Eph. 2:10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
James 3:9–10: with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be
1 Thes. 1:5: our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake
Phil.4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength
Rom.9:16:It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on god’s mercy.
Eph.3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Holy Discontent is God’s Opportunity

“For the wrath of man shall praise You; With a remnant of wrath You will gird Yourself” (Psalm 76:10 NASB). “Human defiance only enhances your glory, for you use it as a weapon” (Psalm 76:10 NLT).

By John David Hicks

Bill Hybels in his book Holy Discontent tells of a Popeye Moment. He says: “Most of us probably grew up watching Popeye the Sailor Man. Do you remember Olive Oyl, the special girl in his life? Popeye’s demeanor was usually calm and collected. But if something happened that would potentially harm Olive, he exploded. He would shout, “That’s all I can stand, and I can’t stands no more!” Then he popped open his can of spinach, ate it, and became an unstoppable force for good, each time saving Olive Oyl from her distress.”

“The most inspired, motivated, and driven people I know are the ones who live their lives from the energy of their holy discontent. They have a constant awareness that what is wrecking them is wrecking the heart of God” says Hybels.

When you like Popeye can “stands it no more,” you have reached your Popeye moment. This inner frustration can be used by God to launch you into a kingdom role and answer your prayers. You can make a difference in your world. I believe your Holy Discontent starts with taking it to God in prayer. God will show you the opportunities and make you “more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37).

When you are discontented over a situation, God is also discontented. When you hurt, God feels it (Acts 9:4). You are his child. This discontent will motivate you to attempt something that you would have never tried before. It will release the grace and power of God that is within you (1 John 4:4). Your “Holy Discontent” will convince you that things don’t have to remain the same. God and you can make a difference (Romans 8:31).

When Goliath challenged the Israeli army, God never intended for Goliath to win. The army and King Saul were filled with fear for 40 days. But God was waiting for someone to step up and say, “I can’t stands it no more.” David experience “Holy Discontent” and was moved to step up and fight the giant. He needed only one stone for Goliath; but he took five stones because Goliath had four “big” brothers. David said in 1 Samuel 17:46–47, “This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” God will use your “Holy Discontent” to create a vision so you can be a part of the solution.

Later when David was King, he had problems with people. In Psalm 27:1–3 he said, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”

When you pray and ask God to stir your soul beyond your problems and self-interest you will see His grace and power. Your “Holy Discontent” will cause you to take the risk of faith out of your comfort zone into the realm of making a difference in your world. God is looking for a David, a person just like you that is discontented with the way things are going.

Read the book summary of Holy Discontent from:
http://www.christianbooksummaries.com/library/v3/cbs0344.pdf

His dying words

By John David Hicks

I was reading the biography of the great bible teacher, Matthew Henry (1499-1552), when I was profoundly moved with joy and pleasure by what he said. Matthew Henry was on his death bed. Friends and family have gathered in to be with him in these last moments of his life. He turned and said to a friend, “You have been asked to take note of my dying words. Here are mine: A life spent in the service of God and communion with Him is the most pleasant life that anyone can live in this world.” I whole heartedly believe and have experience this truth. I trust that you will too!

“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! –Psalms 68:19 NKJV.

 

God’s Eternal Passionate Purpose

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4).

By John David Hicks

The Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—is relational, self-giving love. In eternity past, in the counsel of the Godhead, they decided the purpose of creation. All that they would do would revolve around one great passionate goal.

When God created man, the Amplified Bible says, “He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy… (Ecclesiastes 3:11)… That God-created desire is for relationship with Him. That is why temporal things can never bring fulfillment. That is why you need to know God’s purpose for your life.

You can read the rest of the article by going to “Articles,” and clicking on God’s Eternal Passionate Purpose.

God works in answer to prayer

By John David Hicks

As I have read about prayer from the saints, they have taught me that God will do nothing, except in answer to prayer. Why?  “The just shall live by faith,” trusting God.  In your life, your family, your church and the world, “You have not because you do not pray.”  Prayer brings God into the picture. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.”

As long as you think you can handle the situation, you won’t pray. The less self-confidence you have, the more you will pray. So God must take away your confidence in yourself and your ability. By making you weak, He then can make you strong (2 Cor.3:5-6).

The Christian life is a relationship with God.  Prayer is crucial to that relationship.  Prayer is “abiding in the vine” and that will make you fruitful.  True prayer is a two-way communication.  I speak to God and God speaks to me.  I don’t know why God needs me to pray; He knows all. But God has said that He wants me to pray, to admit my need.

I’ve said that prayer changes things. No!  Prayer doesn’t change things.  Prayer changes people and they change things.  The impossible becomes possible.  The weak become strong.  The lame walk; the blind see; the dead are raised.  “It is not by your might or power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

This sign hangs in my prayer chapel: “Whose life shall I change, and what circumstances shall I influence today with my prayers!”  God works in answer to prayer.

 

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

By John David Hicks

These six words of Jesus can free your heart and stop Satan’s accusations. They will help you overcome trouble, fear, and condemnation: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 nkjv).

Jesus is addressing your mind and emotions. With this encouragement, “Let not your heart be troubled,” the Lord gives you a promise of peace.

A few years ago, I was involved in a car accident. I had stopped at a stop sign while a pedestrian was crossing the street from the other side. A car approaching on my right stopped to let him cross, and I thought it was clear for me to go straight ahead. But when I pulled out, I hit a new Porsche sports car coming from the left that did not slow down or stop for the pedestrian.

When the police arrived, they all admired the new Porsche and talked about what a wonderful car it was. Then the officer told me that I had violated the law and gave me a ticket.

I felt terrible. My car had just a scratch on the bumper; the sports car was dented and scratched from fender to door. I was upset. Satan came with condemnation. “How could you have been so stupid? Now your insurance rates are going up. This accident will be on your record. You should have gotten the names of witnesses. What are people going to think?”

For the next few days I would argue my case in the court of my mind. I was troubled, fearful, and condemned. Everything was blown out of proportion.

I cried out to God to help me: “Lord, I need mercy and grace. I can’t live with this condemnation. I am emotionally so upset over this. It was an accident. I am so sorry it happened. But You said that You will make ‘all things work together for good’ so that we can be conformed to the image of Your Son. Help me and have mercy on me; give me your grace.”

God brought John 14:27 to my mind. When I repeated “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” to myself when I was upset, God gave me peace and freedom from worry about the situation.

A few weeks later at traffic court, I pled guilty. To my surprise the judge said, “You have a good driving record. I will lower the price of the ticket and will take it off your insurance record, if you will attend a series of driver safety classes.” I agreed and praised the Lord. Peace and freedom flowed into my heart.

There are dangers and fearful things all around us. Bad things do happen to us. Sometimes others will try to minimize our problem. They may say, “That’s not so bad. Things could be worse.” Then they will tell you about someone in a worse situation than you. But Jesus understands. “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).

Jesus has told us why we should not be full of trouble and fear in John 14:26: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit is with you. He will help you and guide you and will give you peace. The peace that Jesus gives us is the Holy Spirit. He is with you to strengthen you. “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]” (Col. 3:15 amp).

The choice is yours. You will focus on the problem or on God. Worldly wisdom and thinking comes from focusing on yourself and your ability. It produces worry, anxiety, stress, and fear. The apostle Paul explains it: “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated” (1 Cor. 2:14 amp).

But the Christian’s focus is on God. “Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]” (1 Cor. 2:12-13 amp). “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

God is the creator and governor of His universe. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). God loves and cares about you. He is not too busy to look after you. “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7 amp). Remember, peace does not come from denying that there is a problem, but from “casting” all your trouble and fears on the Lord.

But often what troubles us the most is not fear for ourselves, but for those we love. We often find it easier to trust God for ourselves than for those we love deeply. A father finds it easier to face his own surgery than surgery on his child. So how do we find peace regarding a deep concern for others?

First, we must find peace in the faithfulness of God. Your prayer for others comes out of a compassionate heart. When you pray for a friend who is ill or a victim of injustice, your heart is moved and your emotions are touched. For those we love, this means faithfully interceding in prayer and asking God to deliver them from evil, surround them with His protection, touch them with power, guide them with His wisdom.

This faithfulness can mean concrete acts of obedience such as giving counsel, finances, or service. The Holy Spirit is also faithful to tell us when our faithfulness is complete. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. The same Holy Spirit that comforts us will comfort them. God is deepening our awareness of our common suffering and drawing us closer together in His presence.

When those whom we are troubled about are not Christians—not yielded to the will of God—we must pray around their free will. For instance, we can pray for God to increase their hunger for Him, for the pleasures of sin to taste bitter, for the Word of God they once knew to be brought to their remembrance, and for God to be unrelenting in the pursuit of His purpose for their lives. These powerful prayers are important to our peace because we can easily feel helpless when praying for those who are making wrong choices and have become their own worst enemy.

Paul assures us, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:5-7).

Second, when we have entrusted those we love to God’s care, God will give us the assurance of His love and faithfulness. He is our creator, the healer, the one who is faithful and true. We can trust Him completely with those we love. Our children are safe in His care. And though we know God will honor their freedom, we also know that with perfect wisdom and power the Lord will work around the edges of their free will.

The psalmist understood this: “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalm 107:19-20).

In 1895 Andrew Murray, a great Christian author, was in England suffering from a painful back injury. He was staying with friends when one morning a woman who was in great trouble wanted to know if he had any advice for her. Murray handed her a paper he had been writing:

“In time of trouble say, FIRST, God brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. NEXT, God will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child. THEN SAY, God will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. LAST SAY, in God’s good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows. THEREFORE SAY, I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping (3) under His training (4) for His time.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). When Jesus spoke peace to the storm, His disciples “were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?’” (Mark 4:41). Their faith in Him was made real because of the storm and trouble. Jesus gave them peace because He is the “prince of peace.” His words are “spirit and life.” Inner peace comes only from God.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” When a friend or family member gets stressed out or is full of worry, anxiety, or fear, remind them, “Let not.” There are times we all need to hear, “Let not.”

God Answers Prayer

By John David Hicks

“Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

In book of Acts the religious leaders cannot stop the church so they appeal to King Herod (Acts 12:1-12). The King has the power and authority to do anything he wants. So he arrests James the Brother of John and has him beheaded. This pleased the Jews. So the King had Peter imprisoned and intends to have him put to death after the Passover.

The Church didn’t think to pray for James; they took it for granted that God would deliver him. Now, Peter is in jail waiting to be executed. James the Pastor of the Jerusalem Church told the people, “You have not because you do not pray” (James 4:2). The church sees the need for prayer. That night they cried out to God and agonized in prayer for Peter to be delivered. God began to work in answer to their prayers. He sent an angel to put the sixteen guards asleep and Peter’s chains fell off. But God nor the angel would do what Peter could do for himself. The apostle had to put on his robe and sandals and follow the angel. When Peter followed the iron door opened and the prayers of the saints brought Peter’s freedom.

The only impediment that Peter encountered was at the front door of the “house of prayer.” It was hard for some to believe that it was really Peter; that God had answered their prayer. One brother reminded them, “If we are faithless, God will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). God has promised to answers our prayers.”

In your problems or circumstances you may be facing a “King Herod” that you cannot stop, but God is greater and He answers prayer! So, whose life will you change, and what circumstances will you influence today with your prayer? “Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Forgive, and you can go to Heaven

By John David Hicks

Preaching on the Lord’s Prayer once, I closed with Jesus’ only interpretation in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” That includes forgiveness toward yourself, as well as others.

A lady after the service and told me this story. “When my mother was dying all of her children were called to her bedside. She asked my two brothers and me to stay with her. For the last three hours she was sound asleep and then she died. The doctor came in and pronounced her dead. We stood by her bed for a little while. Then the monitors she was hooked up to went off with a loud noise and she sat up in bed. We were frightened! The doctor and nurses rushed back in. She ordered everyone out except me. The doctor stood behind a curtain and witnessed what happened next. My mother had accepted Christ as her Savior as a child. But she backslid and never had the sweet presence of Jesus. She had tried to confess her sins, but she could not believe that God had forgiven her. She did not go to church but encouraged us to go. She told me that she had died and came into the presence of Jesus. He told her He was willing to forgive her of all her sin. But she could not go to heaven because she was bitter toward others and would not forgive herself for what she had done. She had to go back and make it right. She asked my forgiveness for having an affair with my husband and being bitter and mean toward me. I told her that I knew about it and I forgave her. She hugged me. She said that now she could accept Christ’s forgiveness and forgive herself. Joy and peace came over her and she died. That is why I believe that, if you are bitter and won’t forgive others or yourself you can’t go to heaven.”

The Bible tells us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4:32). But what if you are the one who needs to forgive yourself?

When you are unforgiving, you get blinded spiritually. Unforgiveness causes you to see things through the eyes of guilt, shame and condemnation. 2 Peter 1:9 NLT tells us, “But those who fail to develop [forgiveness] in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” Jesus can forgive all your sin, but you must accept it. When you accept God’s forgiveness, He will give you the power to forgive others and yourself (1 John 1:9).

 

Faithful in Prayer

By John David Hicks

“And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1 ASV).

Jesus said, that you should be persistent in prayer and not give up. In other words “If you don’t pray, you will faint. If you are praying, you won’t faint.”

What does it mean to “faint? To faint is to become dizzy or weak, as if about to become unconscious. If your life is weak and you are about to pass out, Jesus says you have not been praying. If you are praying you will be given strength and you will not faint in the struggles of life. Prayer makes a difference. A Christian’s life is built on prayer. There are no “short cuts” to prayer.

Robert was a building contractor and he was well known for building high-quality homes. His son Rob was known for his wild life style. Rob had settled down and was engaged to be married. He worked for his father and hoped to take over the business when his father retired.

One day Rob’s father called him into the office and told him that at some point in the future he would lead the company and he needed some experience in management. “I have a beautiful piece of land,” his father told him. “I want you to build a nice house on it. Spare no expense; build a quality house that you would like to live in.”

Rob was excited and felt that this was his opportunity to prove to his father his merit. He would show his father how clever he was in his management skills. He had the plans drawn up. They were impressive. Now he would make an impression on his father on how much money he could save in building that home.

Rob told his foreman that they were going to build the house as cheaply as possible. They would cut every corner possible; where three nails were called for, they would use two. They would cut back on the electrical plugs and sinks in the bathrooms and go with the cheaper roof that still looked OK. They cut back everyplace they could. But he stressed to the men, “The house must look good on the outside.”

When it was finished, Rob was proud of his accomplishment. He had saved his father thousands of dollars and the house look good. He knew that his father would be pleased with him and that his father could sell the house and make a lot of money.

At Rob’s wedding, Rob’s father commended him on his achievement and remarked on how beautiful the house looked. Rob, bragged on what a fine job the men did. His father then took out the keys to the house and gave the house to Rob and his wife as a wedding present. Rob was stunned. The cheap house with all the “short cuts” that he built in was now his. He and his wife and family would have to live with it the rest of their lives.

What kind of house are you building? As a Christian, you are the living temple (house) of God. Jesus will come to you as He did in the Temple to drive out anything that is dishonest or unholy in your life. He will then call you back to prayer. Anyone who plans to build a house for the Lord must realize that Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).

Prayer gives vitality to your spiritual life; it is your connection to God. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4 NASB). When prayer is not exercise, then God Himself is a stranger in your house. Your prayers not only communicate with God, but are building and making a difference in your life. Don’t neglect prayer. There are no “short-cuts” to prayer.

Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks, Evangelist/Bible Teacher

FAITH THAT TRANSFORMS

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:14, 17-19).

By John David Hicks

In the New Testament’s original language, faith means “conviction or persuasion” about something. The word action or works or deeds in the Greek means “corresponding action” that responds to your conviction or persuasion or what you say or demonstrate you believe.

If we insert the words [conviction or persuasion] for the word faith, and the words [corresponding action] in the place of deeds, we will clearly understand what faith means. With this working definition of faith, let’s read James 2:14-17:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have [conviction or persuasion] but has no [corresponding actions]? Can such [conviction or persuasion] save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, [conviction or persuasion] by itself, if it is not accompanied by [corresponding action], is dead.”

James says your faith can be living or dead, depending on your corresponding actions. Living faith has conviction or persuasion plus corresponding actions. Dead faith has belief, conviction, or persuasion, but no corresponding actions. It is lifeless and powerless. Every reference to faith in the New Testament is talking about living faith, never dead faith.

“But someone will say, ‘You have [conviction or persuasion]; I have [corresponding action].’ Show me your [conviction or persuasion] without [corresponding action], and I will show you my [conviction or persuasion] by my [corresponding action]. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that [conviction or persuasion] without [corresponding action] is useless (dead)? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did [corresponding action] when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?” (vv. 18-21).

Abraham was justified—made righteous—not by what he believed, but by his corresponding actions to what he believed.

“You see that his [conviction or persuasion] and his [corresponding action] were working together, and his [conviction or persuasion] was made complete (mature or finished) by his [corresponding action]. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend” (vv. 22-23).

Abraham’s faith was fulfilled when his conviction or persuasion met up with his corresponding action. He is made righteous and the friend of God because of his faith.

“You see that a person is justified (or made right with God) by what he does and not by [conviction or persuasion] alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for [corresponding actions] when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (vv. 24-25).

Rahab’s corresponding action completed her faith.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so [conviction or persuasion] without [corresponding action] is dead” (James 2:26).

The body plus the spirit is required for life. When the spirit leaves the body it is lifeless, powerless, and dead. Likewise, belief, conviction, or persuasion is dead without action. It takes corresponding action to put life and power into your conviction or persuasion to make it faith.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 nkjv). God’s revelation in your heart brings faith. You don’t get faith by asking God for it. Using our definition: “So then [conviction or persuasion plus corresponding action] comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith comes when you comprehend what you are hearing.

When John Wesley could not receive faith for salvation, his brother Charles told him to “preach faith until you get faith.” And it worked.

You only have faith when what you have heard becomes what you are hearing. “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Hebrews 4:1-2). What you hear must be combined with conviction or persuasion plus corresponding action.

Let me illustrate this. Let’s say God puts it on my heart to teach or preach on the “Power of Blessing”—how God wants you to bless your children, others, and your enemy. You are moved by the Holy Spirit and say to your spouse, “Yes, we need to bless.” After the service, you tell me that God spoke to your heart—that is [conviction or persuasion]. The seed of God’s Word has the power to transform you. As you obey with [corresponding action] the Holy Spirit and put the seed-word into practice, it becomes a part of your experience to transform you.

But if in the next few weeks you do not have any [corresponding action] to bless your children, others, and your enemy, then that seed-word will be taken by the devil and the power that could have transformed you will be lost.

Yet, there is a greater tragedy. The truth is not taken from your mind, but it’s locked in. You believe it; you have [conviction or persuasion]. But because you did not have [corresponding action] to put it into practice, it has no power. It locked you into a form without power (2 Timothy 3:5), without a true faith. The next time you hear someone talk about the “Power of Blessing,” you say, “Amen, people need to bless their children, others, and their enemy. Boy, these people sure need to hear this.” You are not the example of the word that was preached, but you sure agree with it. Your faith cannot transform you; it is dead and powerless, like a body without the spirit, says James.

I can point to people who would fight to the death to defend the doctrine of ministering to the poor, but they never minister to the poor. Others believe in being filled with the Holy Spirit with the power to witness, but they never witness. Others believe in healing, but they never pray for the sick.

When your learning is intellectual, you are insulated from personal experience. You can know the Scripture by memory, but if you don’t apply it, the truth is powerless. When passion and desire are gone, there will be no personal transformation.

Jesus sums it up: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines’” (Matthew 15:8-9 nrsv). The truth got into their mind but not into their heart. The heart and soul of religion is to recite facts and principles. The result is knowledge without power—religion without God.

Christianity is not religion, tradition, or a program; it is a person. Faith comes from a relationship with God. Paul said, “I know in whom I have believed,” not what I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12). God cannot be separated from His Word. He is the truth that must be experienced and encountered. “Blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (Luke 11:28 nlt). That is how you experience faith.

(For more see the article on my web-site, “God’s Kind of Faith”).

 

Faith in Action

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matt. 7:24-27).

by John David Hicks

Plainly, the “rock” represented the Lord Himself and doing what the Word of God says. Jesus said that if you are wise you will put your faith into practice. This gives the Word of God power to make a difference in your life. It starts with what you know, then doing it. Jesus goes on to say, if you hear but fail to act on the Word, your house, your life will fall apart when it is tested. The foolish man is shallow in his thinking and has no solid foundation. He is a person who is “all talk” but has never put his faith into practice.

This parable effectively brings the hearer or reader into a crisis of decision. Both the wise and foolish builders have heard Jesus’ teaching. Will you allow Jesus to be your “rock” by being obedient to His Word in your life? Or will you “do your own thing” and build on sand? The storms will reveal what foundation you build on.

As a Christian: You believe that God is your creator. You believe in the integrity of God’s Word, the Bible. You believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. You believe that God loves everybody and wants a relationship with them. You believe that every person is of great worth in the sight of God. You believe that Jesus came to reconcile the world to God, and that everyone who will trust Him as Savior can have the abundant life that He came to give. That’s knowledge—a lot of talk.

You believe, but knowledge only becomes relevant when it is translated into action. Now you must put it into action. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” How? By walking in the light of what you know. By putting it into practice day-to-day. By proving it in your life. By building on the certainty of God’s Word. That’s your “rock,” your foundation that can’t be shaken. A truth becomes real to you when you experience it.

James 2:21-22 explains this: “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” Abraham was justified—made righteous—not by what he believed, but by his corresponding actions to what he believed.

1 John 3:18 gives us the love principle: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” When you put the Word of God into practice you will see: The gospel lifts up the fallen; gives hope to the despondent; brings healing to the sick, sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf, value to the worthless, love to the abandoned, forgiveness to the guilty, mercy to the pitiful, joy to the hopeless, prosperity to the unworthy, strength to the weak, acceptance to the outcast, courage to the fearful, enthusiasm to the indifferent, beauty to the unlovely, and life to the dying. That is why Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

The gospel is alive and at work inside you; “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21). The grace and power of God is in your life. But it must be released by you putting the Word of God into action. The power comes to “those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).

Let me illustrate this. Let’s say God puts it on my heart to teach or preach on the “Power of Blessing”—how God wants you to bless your children, others, and your enemy. You are moved by the Holy Spirit and say to your spouse, “Yes, we need to bless.” After the service, you tell me that God spoke to your heart—that is knowledge or conviction. The seed of God’s Word has the power to transform you. As you obey the truth by your action the Holy Spirit makes the truth a part of your experience to transform you.

But if in the next few weeks you do not put it into practice, blessing your children, others, and your enemy, then that seed-word will be taken by the devil and the power that could have transformed you will be lost.

Yet, there is a greater tragedy. The truth is not taken from your mind, but it’s locked in. You believe it; you have knowledge. But because you did not put it into practice, it has no power. It locked you into a form without power (2 Timothy 3:5), without a true faith. The next time you hear someone talk about the “Power of Blessing,” you say, “Amen! People need to bless their children, others, and their enemy. Boy, these people sure need to hear this.” You are not the example of the word that was preached, but you sure agree with it. Your faith cannot transform you; it is dead and powerless, like a body without the spirit, says James.

I can point to people who would fight to the death to defend the doctrine of ministering to the poor, but they never minister to the poor. Others believe in being filled with the Holy Spirit with the power to witness, but they never witness. Others believe in healing, but they never pray for the sick.

When your learning is intellectual, you are insulated from personal experience. You can know the Scripture by memory, but if you don’t apply it, the truth is powerless. When you do not obey, the truth cannot transform you.

Jesus sums it up: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines” (Matthew 15:8-9 NRSV). The truth got into their mind but not into their heart. The heart and soul of religion is to recite facts and principles. The result is knowledge without power—religion without God.

When Jesus was about to be crucified, He was brought before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and King Herod. Jesus answered questions posed by the Sanhedrin and Pilate, but He refused to speak to Herod. The king asked about eternal life and the things of God, but Jesus refused to speak to him! Why? Two years earlier a prophet by the name of John the Baptist confronted the king by saying, “You are living in sin. You are living with your brother’s wife. You need to repent and get right with God.” No one had ever talked to the king like that. But Herod respected John, put him in prison, and would talk to him at times. God’s principle is this: He will not give you more light until you walk in the light that you already have. Do you think that the king would have repented if Jesus answered his questions? Jesus said in Matthew 13:12 that whoever walks in the light will get more light in abundance. But whoever does not walk in the light, even what he has will be taken from him. Are you walking in the light you have? Will you hear and obey the Word of God?

You must give God permission to speak about any and every area of your life. But obedience comes with a price. Even Jesus, God’s Son, “learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Heb. 5:8 NLT). Obedience requires trust in God (Acts 4:19). Obedience will crucify your flesh (Gal. 2:20-21). Obedience is the premium you will pay for godly character (Romans 8:29).

Do you believe in God enough to trust Him? Will you let the love principle of ACTION flow through you? If you have surrendered to God, Jesus will be the “author and perfecter” (Heb. 12:2) of your faith. He has promised, “‘Whoever believes in me…rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (John 7:38-39). By faith you can say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NASB). “Blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (Luke 11:28 NLT). Will you put your faith into action today?

 

Dwelling in His Presence

By John David Hicks

“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20–21).

Acknowledge that fact—that God dwells in you and that your body is God’s Temple (1 Cor. 6:19). This belief and this belief alone will bring you into the Lord’s Holy presence. You come by faith with the assurance of the Word of God that “the kingdom of God is within you.” Paul tells the Colossians in 1:27 NLT, “This is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.”

This is what the book of Hebrews calls the rest of faith that God wants you to enter (Heb.4:10). This “rest” is the assurance that God’s plan and purposes will be accomplished. On the other hand the Bible warns, “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” (Heb. 3:19). But by faith Abraham received the promise because he considered him faithful who made it (Heb. 11:11). God has said, “I am watching over My word to perform it” (Jer. 1:12).

You are free from struggling and striving when you enter into this rest of faith. He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). He is always with you: talk to Him any time, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess.5:17). “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). The purpose of righteousness is so you can come into the presence of God. Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). In His presence, the “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” is added.

David declared, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience… Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:19–23).

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1–2).

Dear Lord, I thank you that the Kingdom of God is within me—with your “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I am your temple, your dwelling place. Thank you for helping me to understand that the access I have gained into Your grace in which I now stand has come to me by faith. Help me to rejoice in the hope of your glory!

Lord, you have said “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20). “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

 

DON’T FORGET THE LORD’S BENEFITS

By John David Hicks

Psalms 103:1-8: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

Here in Psalm 103:1-8 David is reminding himself of the Lord’s benefits and he says to his soul, “Don’t be unresponsive, don’t be unthankful, don’t be indifferent to what the Lord has done for you.” He starts off with praise and thanksgiving for all the blessing God has given. Then David names nine definite benefits he has received and does not want to forget.

FIRST in v3, the Lord has forgiven every one of my sins and iniquities.
SECOND, the Lord heals all my diseases.
THIRD in v4, it is the Lord who redeems my life from the pit of corruption and the grave.
FOURTH, the Lord’s grace crowns me with love, compassion and mercy.
FIFTH in v5, the Lord satisfies my desires with good things.
SIXTH, the Lord renews my youth like the eagle’s to soar and overcome.
SEVENTH in v6, the Lord works righteousness in me and justice for all who are oppressed.
EIGHTH in v7, the Lord reveals His ways and acts to Moses, Israel and Me.
NINTH in v8, the Lord has been compassionate and gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness towards me. “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalms 5:12 NKJV).

David worshipped with thanksgiving and praise when he remembered the Lord’s benefits. These nine unchanging benefits and mercies of the Lord caused David’s soul to rejoice. “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Don’t forget the Lord’s BENEFITS!

“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!” (Psalms 68:19 NKJV).

“David Strengthened Himself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6)

By John David Hicks

Known in Scripture as a “man after God’s own heart,” David was a worshiper. His name means “Beloved of the Lord.” He was called and chosen. Yet in his troubles, problems, sin, and discouragement, David had to “strengthen himself in the Lord.” At times he had to preach to himself to regain his strength. I’m sure he would often remind himself of God’s faithfulness when he had faced the lion, the bear, and King Saul.

David also had people in his life who encouraged him and strengthened his faith. His closest friend, Jonathan, “helped him find strength in God” (1 Sam. 23:16). Nathan the prophet served as a mentor.

We can strengthen ourselves in the Lord when we “look unto Jesus” and make Him the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). The Lord gives you the promises in His Word to build your faith (Matt. 4:4). He gives you the Holy Spirit to be your comforter, helper, and guide (John 14:26). He also gives you other Christians to encourage you (Heb. 3:13).

There are times when life and problems overwhelm us and the devil discourages us. Jesus calls him a thief; he uses discouragement, problems, sin, and pain to rob us of our vitality and contentment in the Lord.

Discouragement will cause you to forget how God has been faithful over the years. It will also make you indifferent to the opportunities you have today. In time, discouragement will steal your faith and give you self-pity. Self-pity causes you to miss the presence of God and makes you blind to the needs of others. Your focus will be on yourself, your circumstances, and your troubles.

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted just like us. He is our example of how to overcome temptation in life: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Jesus understands what you are going through and He knows how to help you strengthen yourself in the Lord.

Just as in his temptations of Jesus, Satan focuses on your identity to discourage you and defeat you. In Luke 4, Satan questions Jesus’ identity two times and God’s identity once. Your faith, confidence, boldness, and encouragement all are wrapped up in your identity. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image as children of God. So Satan’s temptation was to question what they already had and to question God’s character. “Take of the forbidden fruit and you will be like God.” Satan’s focus was on their identity and God’s identity.

Your identity is a set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable or known; the qualities that make someone different from others. Your identity reveals who you are. Without identity, you will be confused and have no direction.

Consequently, your authority as a believer is contained in your identity. If Satan can get you (or Adam or Jesus) to question who you are, he knows you will have no direction, purpose, or resolve. You are wide open for discouragement, disillusionment, failure, and sin. God doesn’t question who we are; He knows who we are and who we are called to be.

That is why Paul said, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19).

FIRST, KNOW YOUR IDENTITY. Satan tempted Jesus by stating, “If you are the Son of God….” Satan wants to question that in your life as well. You were created for God’s good pleasure and joy (Rev. 4:11). As God’s child, born into God’s family (John 1:13), you have all the rights and privileges that go with being God’s child; you are made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet.1:4). God assures you that you are loved, accepted, and forgiven. “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:15-17).
God has given you the gift of righteousness; you are holy and without sin (Jude 24-25). You can stand in God’s presence because you are valued, treasured, and loved by God. If Satan can get you to doubt this, you will begin to try to perform to prove that you are valuable. If Satan gets you to try to prove your value, he’s got you. You are valuable because you ARE! Know your identity in Christ.

Your authority comes from the life of Christ within you. “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Jesus has already won the victory over Satan and He is living inside you (Col. 1:27). “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:12–14).

“Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col 2:15). The victory is won. Our job is to “mop up” the enemy and tear down his strongholds (2 Cor. 10:13). God knew that this is the only way to build your faith and for you to “receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness [to] reign in life” (Rom. 5:17).

David as God’s beloved knew God’s grace and favor. In Psalm 23, God anoints David in the presence of his enemies, and as one old preacher said, “God give him two dogs named Goodness and Mercy. Those dogs follow him all the days of his life.” David knew that he was called, chosen, and anointed by God. And so are you. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”(1 Pet. 2:9-10).
Know your identity in the Lord.

SECOND, KNOW GOD’S IDENTITY. God is infinite. “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Rev. 1:8). God has no limitations or boundaries. He is everything man is not—immaterial, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present throughout His creation. God is a personal being who is Creator and Sustainer of the universe and is the only one worthy to be worshiped. God loves you, is concerned about you. His desire is to provide for you. And He sent Jesus to redeem you.

Satan wants you to worship an idol. An idol is a substitute for God. Thus, you must know God’s identity. What is God like? The disciple Philip asked this question; Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Without Jesus you cannot know God. “No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). Your concept of God will determine your faith (Heb. 11:6).

Through Jesus we see the love of God (John 3:16); we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). When you know you are loved, it’s easy to love back. God is love and a person. Your faith is born out of a relationship and is heightened by fellowship.

Nothing can happen in your life without God knowing about it (Rom. 11:36). “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…[so that you may] be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:28–29). “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

For “the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5). “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
David describes the results of knowing God’s identity in Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name [identity] will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” David then testifies, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). In Psalm 100, David is a worshiper with thanksgiving and praise.

After Jesus’ baptism, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit…was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1). After the temptation, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). He had the anointing, but only after the temptation about His identity and the Father’s identity did He go in the “power of the Holy Spirit.”

Peter put it like this: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). The same is true of you. When you know who you are and who your Father God is, you will go in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.

“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 have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Cor. 1:3-5).

When you know who you are and who God is, you can overcome sin, failure, and discouragement. That is the foundation of how to encourage yourself in the Lord.
My Prayer: You, O Lord, have loved me with an everlasting love. You have seen my past, present, and future. I have settled it in my heart that I am loved and accepted by You and that love will never change! No matter what I do, You will not love me any more. No matter what I do, You will not love me any less. I am secure in Your presence. I have fixed my eyes on You, the author and perfecter of my faith. I expect You who began a good work in me to accomplish Your purposes. I acknowledge Your sovereignty and sustaining grace. Thus, I will not waste my time arguing with You about my weakness and unworthiness. You called me and ordained me. The choice was not mine, but Yours. Your will be done.

Lord, give me the desire to want what I need most from You, a relationship with YOU, Yourself. I am grateful for Your heart of love that calls me into this fellowship. Your union in my heart is Your gift of Yourself. You have redeemed me and I am passionately in love with You. Let me grasp the truth that You love me, delight in me, and enjoy me! Let me comprehend that You actually want me more than my service. I pray that the eyes of my heart will be open to see the incredible greatness of Your love and power toward me.

I am Your child and want to do Your will. And that will is more desirable to me than greatness or wealth or power or position, and I choose it over all things in heaven and on earth. Your kingdom is my cause and Your joy is my strength.

You, O Lord, have anointed me with the oil of the Holy Spirit; You have gifted me with Your wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption, to live in Your presence and to labor by Your power and experience Your victory. So I bow in Your presence in wonder, thanksgiving, praise, and worship! For it’s all about You, Lord!
You, O Lord, are my beloved, my message, my center, my essence, my purpose, my all! You are good; Your unfailing love and faithfulness continues forever. To You be all the glory, honor, and praise forever and ever!   Amen and amen!