The Need for Prayer
Now it came to pass in those days that [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
Officially, church historians recognize seven ecumenical church councils held between A.D. 325 and A.D. 787. The first, the First Council of Nicaea, met to agree on the nature of Jesus of Nazareth as both Son of God and Son of Man, as both fully divine and fully human.
The humanity of Christ, while at the same time divine, is hard to understand. But thankfully, Scripture gives us illustrations: Like us, Jesus suffered, experienced hunger, required sleep, ate food, and had limits on His knowledge (Mark 13:32). One of the most striking and helpful illustrations of Jesus’ humanity was His prayer life. We might think that, if Jesus was truly divine, He would have had no need to pray for knowledge, guidance, or help. Yet He did, following the example of godly men like Daniel in Babylon (Daniel 2:16-18). Jesus repeatedly said that He only did what the Father showed Him to do (John 5:19), and prayer was His means.
If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to go to His Father in prayer for strengthening and guidance, how much more do we (Psalm 32:6)?
Prayer and a holy life are one. E. M. Bounds
Luke 6:12:16 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies
After the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12
Several years ago, the president of a college suggested that students join her in “powering down” for an evening. Although the students agreed, it was with great reluctance that they laid aside their cell phones and entered the chapel. For the next hour, they sat quietly in a service of music and prayer. Afterward, one participant described the experience as “a wonderful opportunity to calm down . . . a place to just tune out all of the extra noise.”
Sometimes, it’s difficult to escape “extra noise.” The clamor of both our external and internal worlds can be deafening. But when we’re willing to “power down,” we begin to understand the psalmist’s reminder of the necessity to be still so we can know God (Psalm 46:10). In 1 Kings 19, we discover as well that when the prophet Elijah looked for the Lord, he didn’t find Him in the pandemonium of the wind or the earthquake or the fire (vv. 9–13). Instead, Elijah heard God’s gentle whisper (v. 12).
Extra noise is practically guaranteed during celebrations. When families and friends come together, it’s likely a time of animated conversations, excess food, boisterous laughter, and sweet expressions of love. But when we quietly open our hearts, we find that time with God is even sweeter. Like Elijah, we’re more likely to encounter God in the stillness. And sometimes, if we listen, we too will hear that gentle whisper.
What will help you draw close to God in silence and solitude? How can you regularly “power down” both your devices and your busy mind?
Have you ever come to the Lord in repentance, confessing your wrongdoing, and yet still felt guilty? Sometimes the problem is that we can’t forgive ourselves. Therefore, we go into a self-punishing mode, repeatedly replaying the sin until we feel unworthy not only of pardon but also of blessings, answers to prayer, and the Father’s love. Eventually we build a prison of guilt because our offense seems unforgivable.
But what does such behavior tell us about our faith in God and our estimation of ourselves? According to the Bible, our Father freely bestows forgiveness on the basis of His Son’s payment of our sin debt—and has removed our transgression “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Is our refusal to forgive ourselves a way of saying we consider Christ’s sacrifice insufficient? In other words, is our standard of righteousness higher than the Lord’s?
Two men in Scripture teach us about the importance of accepting God’s full forgiveness. One is Peter, who denied knowing Christ, and the other is Paul, who persecuted Christians. The Bible gives no evidence that either one of them refused to forgive himself. Although their offenses were great and both men probably regretted their actions, they received God’s forgiveness and lived in the freedom of His grace.
To be free of an unforgiving spirit toward ourselves, we must realize it’s the result of self-focus. Instead of believing the truth of God’s forgiveness, we’ve been relying on our own feelings and making them superior to His Word. It’s time to humble ourselves and place trust in God—not in our feelings.
“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11)
Right after His baptism and the time of spiritual intensity in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee and attended a wedding celebration at Cana, some nine miles north of Nazareth, with Mary and some of His disciples.
During the course of the multi-day feast, the host family ran out of wine to provide for their guests. Apparently, Mary was embarrassed for the hosts and expected Jesus to fix the problem.
Within the compound were “six waterpots of stone . . . containing two or three firkins apiece” (John 2:6). A firkin was about 10 gallons. Each stone pot would hold about 25 gallons, therefore the six vessels would contain about 125 gallons total. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim” (John 2:7).
Once that was done, the servants were directed to fill a pitcher and serve the “governor of the feast” (John 2:8). The unsuspecting governor tasted the miraculous beverage and declared, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10).
What actually happened? The water (H2O), a simple molecular compound, was instantly changed into extremely complex, multifaceted molecular compounds. It was a creation event, overriding the scientific axioms of stasis and entropy. New matter was created—instantly—just by the private thought of the Creator Himself!
This first miracle defies those who would insist that God must use natural processes over long ages to create. HMM III
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
—1 Timothy 4:12
This problem of personal identity not infrequently troubles the faithful minister. The congregation has called him as their pastor and teacher, but the members have a hard time forgetting the saintly predecessor who died or who was called to another ministry. They find it hard to make room for the new minister—mainly because he is not enough like the former one. His voice is different. So are his gestures. His hair is not gray. His wife is not as friendly.
Be careful! God blesses people for their faith and obedience, not because they are old or young, bald or gray, pleasant voiced or raspy. God expects each one of us to let Him use us in helping people to a walk of spiritual blessing and victory. Not necessarily must we have had a long record as heroes in the faith to qualify. JAF070
Lord, I pray for any of my brothers who may be facing this struggle today. Challenge the congregation to move on and love their new pastor. Give grace to the pastor; help him to faithfully demonstrate faith and obedience. Weld pastor and people together in a deep love relationship. Amen.
Fear not, neither be discouraged.—Deuteronomy 1:21.
Happy are they that learn, in Thee,
Though patient suffering teach,
The secret of enduring strength,
And praise too deep for speech,—
Peace that no pressure from without,
No strife within, can reach.
Anna L. Waring.
One of the greatest trials and miseries of this life seems to me to be the absence of a grand spirit to keep the body under control; illnesses and grievous afflictions, though they are a trial, I think nothing of, if the soul is strong, for it praises God, and sees that everything comes from His hand.
Many say they have no peace nor rest, but so many crosses and trials, afflictions and sorrows, that they know not how they shall ever get through them. Now he, who in truth will perceive and take note, perceiveth clearly that true peace and rest lie not in outward things. There liveth no man on earth who may always have rest and peace without troubles and crosses, Wherefore yield thyself willingly to them, and seek only that true peace of the heart, which none can take away from thee, that thou mayest overcome all assaults.
“The Lord looseth the prisoners.” Ps. 146:7
He has done it. Remember Joseph, Israel in Egypt, Manasseh, Jeremiah, Peter, and many others. He can do it still. He breaks the bars of brass with a word, and snaps the fetters of iron with a look. He is doing it. In a thousand places troubled ones are coming forth to light and enlargement. Jesus still proclaims the opening of the prison to them that are bound. At this moment doors are flying back and fetters are dropping to the ground.
He will delight to set you free, dear friend, if at this time you are mourning because of sorrow, doubt, and fear. It will be a joy to Jesus to give you liberty. It will give Him as great a pleasure to loose you as it will be a pleasure to you to be loosed. No, you have not to snap the iron band: the Lord Himself will do it. Only trust Him, and He will be your Emancipator. Believe in Him in spite of the stone walls, or the manacles of iron. Satan cannot hold you, sin cannot enchain you, even despair cannot bind you, if you will now believe in the Lord Jesus, and in the freeness of His grace, and the fullness of His power to save.
Defy the enemy, and let the word now before you be your song of deliverance: “Jehovah looseth the prisoners.”