Our Approaching God

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:28

A woman desiring to pray grabbed an empty chair and knelt before it. In tears, she said, “My dear heavenly Father, please sit down here; you and I need to talk!” Then, looking directly at the vacant chair, she prayed. She demonstrated confidence in approaching the Lord; she imagined He was sitting on the chair and believed He was listening to her petition.

A time with God is an important moment when we engage the Almighty. God comes near to us as we draw near to Him in a mutual involvement (James 4:8). He has assured us, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Our heavenly Father is always waiting for us to come to Him, always ready to listen to us.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.

There are times when we struggle to pray because we feel tired, sleepy, sick, and weak. But Jesus sympathizes with us when we are weak or face temptations (Heb. 4:15). Therefore we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16).

Lord, thank You that I can pray to You in all places at all times. Put the desire to come near to You in my heart. I want to learn to come to You in faith and in confidence.

For help in your prayer time, read In His Presence at discoveryseries.org/q0718.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.

By Lawrence Darmani 

INSIGHT:How different is our relationship to God from that of Old Testament Israel! At Sinai, the people trembled at God’s presence and were afraid to be near Him (Ex. 19:16). Israel followed this pattern throughout their relationship with their covenant God, requiring the people to go to Him through human priests who stood as intermediaries between God and the people. All of that changed through Jesus. He came to make it possible for us to come directly to God (John 14:6), giving us access to God through our faith in Him (Rom. 5:1–2). Through Jesus we become children of God who now have a family relationship with the perfect Father (John 1:12). And, to strengthen this relationship, Jesus now acts as our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 4:15; 7:25), interceding and mediating on our behalf (1 Tim. 2:5). Based on our new standing as children of God, and resting in Jesus’s perfect intercession, we can boldly approach the Creator of the universe—and call Him Father!

Spend some time reflecting on these encouraging Scriptures, and then thank the Father that, through Jesus, He has made a way for us to come directly to Him with the needs and joys of our lives. Bill Crowder

Power of Corporate Prayer

2 Chronicles 20:1-30

When Jehoshaphat saw trouble looming, the first thing he did was turn attention to God and proclaim a fast throughout Judah. People came from all around to support their king in prayer (2 Chronicles 20:3, 2 Chronicles 20:13).

Sometimes we are too proud to ask others to pray for us. Jehoshaphat was a king, yet he didn’t put on airs of self-sufficiency. Instead, he admitted his army paled in comparison to the three forces united against him. He recognized his limitations and sought divine intervention. Though Jehoshaphat reigned over his subjects, he nevertheless called on them for prayerful support.

One of the wisest things we can do in the midst of difficulty is to engage the assistance of someone who knows how to talk to God. The body of Christ depends upon cooperation. When the people of Judah began to pray, God provided a solution through a trusted prophet. Jehoshaphat was humble enough to listen and wise enough to follow his directives (vv. 14-17). As a result, the Israelites were saved. The advancing armies turned against each other and destroyed themselves completely. Without shooting an arrow or drawing a sword, Judah’s forces suffered not even one casualty. Because their humble king listened, they witnessed the Lord’s remarkable victory (vv. 22-30).

We have to attune our ears to God’s voice in order to hear Him. Sometimes He speaks through people we would not choose to follow, and He often says things we’re not expecting to hear. But He will provide us with solutions to our problems if we are willing to heed His words.

Dead Sardis

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1)

The church at Sardis received the saddest of the Lord’s seven letters in Revelation. Sardis seemed to want to remain known as a “live” church, but the Lord saw their real testimony and reputation and concluded that they were “dead.” Many such places around the world today are enshrined with stained glass, statuary, crosses, and inscriptions that have the “name” of Christianity emblazoned throughout their property, yet they are dead spiritually. Such churches might be compared to the monuments and gravestones erected in cemeteries to honor the memories of faithful men and women of past generations who were alive for a time with a solid reputation for godliness yet whose families have drifted away from the Lord.

Yet, “even in Sardis” there was a small number who had remained faithful in spite of the drift of the church itself, as there are also in families now adrift but with a Christian heritage. The advice to Sardis (and certainly to families as well) is this: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3).

The Philippian church received the same counsel: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The verb is “do.” Heritage is wonderful, but each church—and each of us—will be held accountable for what is actually done. HMM III

“I have given Him for a leader and commander to the people.”

Judges 11:5-10, 12-21, 23-28

Judges 11:5-7

We should mind whom we slight, for upon those very persons we may come to be dependent.

Judges 11:9, 10

Jephthah asked no more than had been publicly promised, and was naturally his due. So when the Lord Jesus saves us from our sins, it is but just that he should reign over us.

Judges 11:12

Israel might not wantonly make war with Ammon, therefore Jephthah tries first an appeal to reason. Let us follow peace with all men.

Judges 11:13

This was a mere pretence, but diplomacy abounds with falsehoods. The Ammonites had lost the territory in war with the Amorites, and when Israel captured it from the Amorites, it became theirs.

Judges 11:14-21

To try once more what argument would do, he stated the facts of the case:

Judges 11:24

He argued upon their own grounds, and would have convinced them had they been capable of justice.

Judges 11:25, 26

Undisputed possession for three hundred years was certainly a good title enough. It was rather late to revive a dormant claim.

Judges 11:27

He did well to make his appeal to heaven. When right is on our side, we may fearlessly leave results with God. If we have done all we can to make peace, and men will not act justly, the sin must rest with them.

 

Lord, for the glory of thy name,

Vouchsafe me now the victory;

Weakness itself, thou knowest I am,

And cannot share the praise with thee:

 

Because I now can nothing do,

Jesus, do all the work alone,

And bring my soul triumphant through,

To wave its palm before thy throne.

 


What power against a worm can stand

Arm’d with Jehovah’s sword?

For all who bow to Christ’s command

Are champions of the Lord.

 

Arm’d with his word and Spirit’s might

We shall the battle gain,

And sin, that tempting Midianite,

Shall be for ever slain.

 


Father, though late, I turn to thee,

With all my idols part;

O let my helpless misery

Affect thy pitying heart.

 

Grieved at thine ancient people’s woe,

Be grieved again at mine;

And force my sins to let me go,

Redeem’d by blood divine.

 


He who saves us shall be king,

Let him but deliverance bring.

God the Lord our witness be,

He who saves, our king shall be.

 

Jesus saves us, he shall reign;

Lord, do not the throne disdain;

Since to save us thou hast died,

Thou shalt reign, and none beside.

 


E’en in my holiest hours,

My folly I reveal,

I lack a balance for my powers,

A bridle for my zeal.

 

Great Spirit teach me how,

When all my soul is flame,

To guard the purport of my vow,

Lest I be put to shame.

 

If unto God I speak

And pledge the solemn vow,

Thy heavenly guidance I will seek,

My gentle teacher, thou.

 


He subdued the powers of hell,

In the fight he stood alone;

All his foes before him fell,

By his single arm o’erthrown.

 

His the battle, his the toil;

His the honours of the day;

His the glory and the spoil;

Jesus bears them all way.

 

Now proclaim His deeds afar,

Fill the world with his renown:

His alone the victor’s car;

His the everlasting crown!

 


I can do all things, or can bear

All sufferings, if my Lord be there;

Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,

While his left hand my head sustains.

 

But if the Lord be once withdrawn,

And we attempt the work alone;

When new temptations spring and rise,

We find how great our weakness is.

 

So Samson, when his hair was lost,

Met the Philistines to his cost;

Shook his vain limbs with sad surprise,

Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes.

 


So Samson Israel’s foes o’erthrew,

More than in life by death he slew;

But when our greater Samson fell,

He vanquish’d sin, and death, and hell.

 

Compass’d with foes, he bow’d his head;

For mercy, not for vengeance pled,

And groaned his last expiring groan,

And pull’d th’ infernal kingdom down.

 


O Lord, our carnal mind control,

And make us pure within;

Train thou each passion of our soul

To hate the thought of sin.

 

Be ours the blessed lot of those

Who every evil flee;

Whose spirits chaste, as virgins pure,

In all things follow thee.

 

They Shall Lay Hands on the Sick, And They Shall Recover!

Mark 16:17, 18

In Mark 16:18, Jesus said that believers would lay hands on the sick, and the sick would recover. What category of sick people was Jesus talking about? What did He mean when He said they would recover? Are there examples of this in Jesus’ own ministry that we can read and learn from? Let’s look deeply into this verse today to see how it applies to you and me!

First, let’s look at the word “sick,” because this describes the category of sick people Jesus was talking about. This is the Greek word arroustos, which comes from the word arunnumi. The word runnumi normally means to be well, to be strong, to be in good health, or to possess a strong physical condition. When an a is placed in front of this word, it reverses the condition and instead means to be in bad health or to possess a weak and broken condition. It is the image of a person so weak and sick that he has become critically ill. He is an invalid.

The following three scriptures show us examples of times when Jesus healed people who were afflicted with an arroustos type of sickness:

  • Matthew 14:14 says, “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” The word “sick” in this verse is the Greek word arroustos. Matthew informs us that Jesus was especially drawn to those who were so weak that they were without strength. These people whom He healed that day were invalids.
  • Mark 6:5 tells us, “And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.” In Greek, the words “sick folk” also come from the Greek word arroustos. This lets us know that these were extremely sick people. Most readers presume that these were minor ailments, but the word arroustos tells us emphatically that these were critically ill individuals.
  • Mark 6:13 says, “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” The word “sick” is the Greek word arroustos, which means these individuals were very frail and weak in health.

These examples of the word arroustos vividly show that these were not people who were simply feeling poorly because of some small ailment; these were people who were devastated by sickness. They were so physically weak, so critically ill, and so lacking of strength that they had become invalids. This is the category of sick people that Jesus said believers would lay hands on, and they would recover. He wasn’t talking about headaches and skin abrasions! He was talking about believers laying hands on people who are critically ill and who fall into the category of invalids.

Notice that Jesus said believers would “lay hands” on the sick. These words come from the Greek word epitithimi, a compound of the words epi and tithimi. The word epi means upon, and tithmi means to place. When they are joined to become the word epitithimi, it means to place upon or to lay upon. This word is used in Luke 4:40 to describe one event during which Jesus placed His hands upon sick people.

Luke 4:40 says, “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.” That evening the people brought to Jesus “any sick.” This word “sick” is different than the other examples we looked at earlier. It is the word asthenios, which depicts a wide range of infirmities. This is why it is further amplified by the phrase “any sick with diverse diseases.” This represents a wide range of sicknesses, but the word “diseases” lets us know that some of these people were seriously ill. This word “diseases” is the Greek word nosos, which always conveys the idea of a terrible malady or an affliction of the most severe nature. Often the word nosos depicted a terminal illness for which there was no natural cure. Hence, it could describe people who were terminally ill.

What did Jesus do for these people? He laid His hands upon them, and He healed them. In such cases, Jesus was giving the perfect example of how believers would later lay their hands on the sick—including the terminally ill— and see them be restored back to health as a result of their obedience.

But when you look carefully at Mark 16:18, you’ll notice that Jesus promised recovery. That recovery could be instantaneous, or it could be a process that is prolonged over a period of time. The words “they shall” are from the Greek word echo, which means to have or to possess. But the tense that is used in this verse doesn’t picture something that is instantaneous, but rather something that occurs progressively. In fact, the word “healed” doesn’t speak of an instantaneous event either. It is the word kalos, which in this case means to be well, to be healthy, or to be in good shape. Taken together as one complete phrase, it could be translated, “… they shall progressively feel themselves getting better and better, until finally they are well and healthy.”

This lets us know that all healings do not occur instantly; some of them take place over a period of time. But Jesus’ promise is that if we will follow His example and lay our hands on the sick, God’s power will be released into the body of the afflicted. If we are releasing our faith and believing for healing power to flow from us to the recipient, healing virtue will be deposited into the sick person’s body. Just as medicine slowly works to reverse a medical condition, the power of God that was deposited with the laying on of our hands will begin to attack the work of the devil and progressively bring that sick person back into a state of health and well-being.

Jesus promised that any believer could do this! Any believer, including you, can lay hands on the sick and see the sick get better and better until they are finally restored back to health. All that is required for God to use you in this way are three basic criteria: 1) That you have a desire for God to heal through you; 2) That you have hands to lay on sick people; and 3) That your faith is released to activate the power of God to heal. If you can fulfill these three requirements, you’re ready to get into the healing ministry!

Healing the sick is part of your responsibility as a believer. You cannot do it alone, but the Holy Spirit is present to impart His power when you act in Jesus’ name. So rather than look at sick people and feel pity for them, why don’t you pull your hands out of your pockets and go lay them on those sick people, just as Jesus did when He was ministering on the earth? The Word of God guarantees that God will work with you to bring healing and health to those who are in need. Why don’t you get started healing the sick today?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You for confidence to lay my hands on the sick. I want Your healing power to flow through me and to be deposited into sick bodies, attacking the enemy’s work until finally those sick people are restored back to health again. In Your Word, it is stated that when believers lay hands on the sick, the sick would be made well again. Today I am making the decision to pull my hands out of my pockets and to place them on the sick so Your healing power can be delivered to others through me!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that God’s power is released into the bodies of the afflicted when I lay my hands on them. Just as medicine slowly works to reverse a medical condition, the power of God that is deposited when I lay my hands on sick people begins to attack their affliction, causing them to be progressively restored to health and well-being. Healing the sick is part of my responsibility, so I boldly confess that I am going to lay my hands on sick people just as Jesus did when He was ministering on the earth—and I expect to see them get well!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How long has it been since you looked at your hands and really thought about how God wants His power to flow through them to heal sick people?
  2. Have you ever laid your hands on the sick? When was the last time you did so? What was the result the last time you placed your hands on the sick and released your faith to see them get well?
  3. If you interviewed the people you have laid hands on in the past, what percentage of them do you think eventually got well? Did you ever stop to think that their recovery may have been due to the power that was deposited into their bodies when you laid your hands on them?

 

The Agony Of Being Double-Minded With God

Double-mindedness is cause for agony in any arena:

  • Who wants an employee who has never decided to kick it in 100% with the company?
  • Or someone on the athletic team who is half-hearted?

Having our affections divided between God and the world is like a guy standing on two chunks of ice that are floating in opposite directions. Disaster is imminent!

 

Here’s how Francois Fenelon addresses this business of double-mindedness:

 

Woe unto those weak and timid souls who are divided between God and their love for the world!

 

They want and they do not want.

 

They are torn by passion and remorse at the same time.

 

They fear the judgments of God and those of others.

 

They have a horror of evil and a shame of good.

 

They have the pains of virtue without tasting its sweet consolations.

 

O how wretched they are! Ah, if they had a little courage to despise the empty talk, the cold mockings, and the rash criticism of others, what peace they would enjoy in the bosom of God.

 

There is only one way to love God: to take not a single step without Him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever He leads.

 

James cautions us that a double-minded man “cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” (James 1:7, 8; Phillips)

 

So, if you are struggling with a divided heart, you may want to pray this prayer:

 

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

 

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