Gratitude journals are a popular thing in some circles. Isn’t it good to see this? In a harsh and bitter world, cultivating a grateful heart can only produce good things.
Gratitude makes up a large part of a Christian’s prayers. So reasons for gratitude provide plenty of material for one’s communion with God.
Remember that many Israelites fell in the desert between Egypt and Canaan for lack of gratitude (mumbling and complaining). The apostle Paul considered it so important that he told saints to cultivate it three times, in three different ways, each mention in close proximity, in Colossians 3.15-17 (ESV): Continue reading “Developing the mindset of gratitude”
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. . . . Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:13-16).
Mrs. Baidya and her late husband were two of the original members of the Shikarpur congregation in Bangladesh, and had allowed the church to erect a small building on their property in which it met for over twenty years. Recently, when I was in the country, she sent word to me that she was ill and would like for me to come to visit and pray with her. I did so and enjoyed a very uplifting time with her, her family, and members of the church there. Such opportunities have helped me to a better appreciation of both the power of prayer and its value to Christians both individually and collectively. Continue reading “Let him pray”
What happens when the regular evening Bible study is replaced by a special prayer meeting? Years ago I remember one particular person saying that she would not be attending because it was just a prayer meeting.
From what he wrote to Timothy, it seems Paul would not have regarded God’s people gathering for the express purpose of praying as “just a prayer meeting.” Consider his instructions for Timothy. Continue reading “Just a prayer meeting?”
Christianity cannot be practiced mindlessly. It is not a habit to be formed, forgotten, and inattentively fulfilled – like washing your hands. Rather, serving God by living as a Christian is a purposeful life lived intently.
Routines are helpful in maintaining a godly lifestyle. Cambridge defines routine as “a usual or fixed way of doing things.”
Scripture hints at the value of purposeful routines by showing us the extraordinary daily life of Jesus. Continue reading “On ruts and routines”
What do we do when life seems to be tumbling in on us? Do we refuse to do anything? Are we paralysed with fear? Or is there a better way?
Consider Hezekiah, king of Judah. He had implemented reforms which had brought his country back to God. But all was not going well politically. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had attacked and taken the fortified cities of Judah including Lachish. Jerusalem was the next city in his sights. He sent a message to the people of Judah. Continue reading “Take it to the Lord in prayer”
Our prayers are important to God, though there are those whose prayers sometimes target human ears, not God’s.
It seems absurd in the extreme that some people pray to be seen and heard by others when prayer is specifically for God. The Lord Jesus talked about this type of person in Matthew chapter 6. He told his listeners that prayer should not imitate “the hypocrites.” The word “hypocrite” in the New Testament hearkened back to the days of Greek theatre. Actors would wear a mask depicting their character. A hypocrite is someone who wears a false face. Continue reading “Impress God with prayer”
When Paul visited Thessalonica he did what he did wherever he went – he went first to the Jews to tell them the good news of Jesus. For three straight weeks he taught in the synagogue from the Jewish scriptures – the Old Testament – about the Messiah, that he would suffer, and that he would rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah” (Acts 17:3 NIV).
The reaction he received was both positive and negative. “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the market-place, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” (Acts 17:4-5). It got so bad that Paul and Silas had to be sent away from Thessalonica – they went initially to Berea and then Paul ended up in Athens. Continue reading “Concern … and answered prayer”
The first letter of John comes as a breath of fresh air to those who are trying to live for Jesus. People around us tell us so much that simply isn’t true. It seems many think if they say something often enough and loud enough that it becomes true! Let’s notice some of the truths that John gives us in the last chapter of this short letter.
“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB).
Sometimes we hear people complaining that doing what God wants is difficult. Obedience, we are told, is just too hard! So does it really matter, they think, if we obey God or not? Continue reading “Our confidence as Christians”
Back in the early days of our work in Brazil, we did research into the culture and religion of the area where we worked. Among other things we did, several of our mission team visited different religions and denominations for a better sense of their teachings and practices.
One day several of us visited a large denominational church near the downtown area of our city. I think I sustained permanent hearing impairment there.
At one point, I recall all of the denomination’s adherents praying at the same time. Four hundred people speaking simultaneously — and most of them did not speak in a low volume — made it impossible to understand anything. Continue reading “One at a time, please”
I have prayed prayers, waited years, and never have been able to recognize empirically that they were answered. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect we all have put our concerns and needs before the Lord without seeing an identifiable answer.
But I believe the good Heavenly Father answers all the supplications, petitions, and intercessions of his faithful children. I believe it because the Bible affirms it, and I believe it because he has answered enough of my prayers to convince me of that truth.
Just this morning I asked the Lord about a subject. Within an hour’s time I had an answer. The answer was not a natural outflow of events. It came, atheists and skeptics might say, out of nowhere. But it actually came from heaven. Now that’s not a divine rule, as if he were a fast-food server working on a timer to get out the burger-answer to the drive-through
customer Christian. Continue reading “Thankful for answered prayer”