Sunday, September 30, 2012

Turn Back To God

20 So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. … 36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant. Prove that I have done all this at Your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that You, O Lord, are God and that You have brought them back to Yourself.” 38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—He is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” 1 Kings 18:20-21, 36-39 (NLT).

The Prophet Elijah was a man that loved and walked faithfully with God. He had a single-minded commitment and devoted relationship with God. Elijah worked for spiritual purposes to serve God and the people. God accomplished many miracles through Elijah. With God’s help, Elijah predicted the three-year rain drought, restored a dead child to life, and represented God in a face-off with priests of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel. Elijah witnessed a windstorm, an earthquake, and fire. Moreover, God displayed His presence to Elijah in a gentle whisper. Most important, Elijah appeared with Moses and Jesus Christ in the New Testament transfiguration scene (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). In Revelation11:3-12, the two witnesses are considered Moses and Elijah. Malachi predicted the return of Elijah before the Last Judgment (Malachi 4:5-6). Elijah’s life characterizes God’s love, faith in God, and the power of prayer (Luke 4:25-26; Romans 11:2-6; James 5:17-18).

Elijah served as prophet of Israel during the reigns of King Ahab and King Ahaziah (1 Kings 17:1–19:21; 2 Kings 1:1-2:25). God sent Elijah to Israel to tell the people to return back to Him as the one true God and remain faithful to Him. Also, Elijah spoke against sin and idolatry to Israel, the northern kingdom.  At that time, Israel had no faithful king to God. Each Israel king was wicked, corrupt, and ineffective.  Even worse, these kings and their leaders led the people to worship other gods and disobey God’s commands. With no king or priests to bring God's true word to the people, God called prophets like Elijah to rescue Israel from evil and to return faithfully to the Lord God. Elijah challenged the people to faithfully follow, love, and obey the true God (Exodus 20:1-5). Many people of Israel knew that the Lord was God, but they enjoyed the sinful pleasures that came with following other gods. Even today, other gods may be money, power, prestige, possession, treasure, or status that we trust and depend rather than the one true God of Israel. During times of difficulty or crisis, these other gods offer no answer, guidance, nor wisdom.  So, let everyone return to God and trust in Him with our whole hearts!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Close to Jesus!

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity (and sincere hearts)—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NLT).

The early church had the closes connection with Jesus.  These people actually witnessed Jesus’ life and ministry as well as His devotion to love, fellowship and prayer.  The early church continued Jesus’ ministry as they gathered together in fellowship, prayer, and generosity. All the apostles, who taught and led the early church, had been with Jesus from the very beginning (Acts 1:21-22). These apostles lived with Jesus and witnessed His many miraculous signs and wonders, generosity, compassion, and mercy for others in need.  The apostles and early church continued Jesus’ ministry.

Acts 2:42-47 clearly describes the life of the early church. Jesus’ outpoured His Holy Spirit upon the early church which enabled the early church to grow and continue the mission of Jesus.  Because Jesus’ Spirit, the early church was united, generous, taught by the apostles, and participated in prayer meetings and fellowship. These times of fellowship included the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion services or the breaking of bread. Even more, the early church realized that they were all brothers and sister in the family of God. As such, these believers shared all they had so that all could benefit from God's grace.

As we study the life of Jesus and enjoy His gracious Spirit living inside our hearts, sincere Christians today also continue Jesus and the early church’s ministry of love, unity, prayer, generosity, and fellowship. Christians must continue to learn God's Word, pray, share with others, and fellowship.  Even more, Christians today have a responsibility to work together, help one another in every way possible, and truly love one another just like Jesus and the early church patterned.  So, let’s all get closer to Jesus and act like Jesus and the early church.  As we are close to Jesus, we start acting like Jesus!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Christian Ethics - Part One

The issue of Ethics and the World’s Religions made a significant impression on me while reading The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John M. Frame. As I understand, not all the great religions have ethical codes and not all religions even acknowledge a personal supreme being. Even more, not all religions require worship. Yet, all systems of thought include belief in something that is self-sufficient and not dependent on anything else. Philosophies, even though they claim to be secular, acknowledge something that is “not depending on anything else” and thus “divine” according Roy Clouser’s definition found in The Myth of Religious Neutrality. For Christians, that self-sufficient Being is our biblical God. 

The point to be here is that nobody is really an atheist. When people turn away from worshipping the one true God, they do not reject absolutes in general. Instead, such people are really worshipping idols, as Paul teaches in Romans 1:18-32. In essences, there is no real distinction between the ethics of world religions and the traditions of secular ethics. The more explicitly religious systems typically advocate worship, observe religious holidays, and promote prayer and ceremony. However, the less explicitly religious systems do not. Both explicitly religious systems and the traditions of secular ethics basis their thinking and living on something that is not dependent on anything else. As noted by John M. Frame,

The great division in mankind is not between those who worship a god and others who do not.  Rather, it is between those who worship the true God and those who worship false gods, or idols.  False worship may not involve rites or ceremonies, but it always involves the attribution of aseity to something. 

As typical with John M. Frame’s writing, he divides the ethical approaches of the world’s religions into three types:  ethics based on fate (situational or teleological), ethics as self-realization (existential), and ethics as law without the Gospel (normative). The absolute moral standard must be an absolute person and the only absolute Person is the God of the Holy Bible.  The Holy Bible is unique in teaching that the supreme moral authority is God.  Other religions and philosophies proclaim absolutes, but those absolutes are not personal. While other worldviews, like polytheism, teach the existence of supernatural persons, these people are not absolute.  Yet, if morality must be based on One who is both personal and absolute, then the one true God of the Holy Bible is the only sustainable candidate.  I agree with Professor Frame that the fatalist religions cannot supply an adequate basis for morality. One cannot claim knowledge of morality from observing fate, because such claim is both rational and irrational. 

Another type of more explicitly religious ethics can be found in the monist religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Clearly, such monism presents the sharpest possibly contrast with biblical Christianity. However with monism, the root problem is that ethics is subordinated to metaphysics and epistemology. For the Christian, the problem is very different:  God made human beings different from Himself, but reflecting His glory. Yet, in monism the issue is essential impersonal:  dispelling illusions about metaphysical separations.  As Professor Frame notes,

As with the religious fatalist, the monist has no personal basis for ethics. His sense of obligation must come from the impersonal nature or the universe itself…. however … an impersonal reality can provide no basis for ethical standards.

I agree with Professor Frame’s critique of fatalism and monism has centered on the impersonalism of those positions.  A worldview in which the highest reality is impersonal is incapable of providing a basis for ethical decisions.  Although other religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Christian heresies base their ethics on the revelation of a personal absolute like Christians, these religions, indeed all religions other than biblical Christianity, are religions of work-righteousness.  That is religions whose members try to seek moral status by doing good works.  However, this form of religion is directly opposed to the biblical Gospel, which states that even our best efforts and works are not enough to gain God’s favor (see Isaiah 64:6; Romans 8:8).  The world’s only hope comes in Jesus Christ (see Romans 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:8-10).  Thus, the only hope for all the world is the Cross of Jesus Christ! In essence, all three types of non-Christians religions offer us, at best, law without the grace and love of the Gospel.  This grace and love is only possible through the absolute being of on the one true God of the Holy Bible. For all three forms of non-Christian religion, ethics is obedience to the law without the hope of forgiveness of sins.  Even more, in all three forms, even the law is questionable because we cannot specify its content in an impersonalist universe.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jesus' Teaching on Prayer

Jesus:  5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 7 When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” Matthew 6:5-8 (NLT).

In the Bible, prayer involved a conversation between God and people --- two way communication.  Prayer is our connection with God. And, God wants people to have friendship and communication with Him as God (Genesis 2:21-25; Genesis 3:8). Sadly, some people only pray to be seen as "holy" and to draw unnecessary attention from other people. Jesus calls these people hypocrites! God NEVER wants people to do good acts for appearances only and yet behind the scenes does the worst sorts of greed and corruption (Matthew 23:23–24). Instead, God desires good acts out of sincere compassion, mercy, and love for others (Matthew 22:34-40). God sees our hearts and sees through self-righteous acts. He wants our motives for prayers to be pure, sincere, and true.

Liking giving to others in need (Matthew 6:4) and fasting (Matthew 6:18), we should pray to God quietly or in secretly. Jesus stressed that prayer is a private, intimate, and honest talk with God. Jesus is not stopping corporate or public prayer (see Matthew 18:19-20; Luke 11:2-4). There is a place for public prayer. But Jesus condemns prayer as a means of drawing attention to ourselves. To pray only impress people or boast reveal that God is not the true audience. Our prayers must be God-centered that seeks to do and obey God’s will more than anything else. Whether prayer, giving, or fasting, our good deeds must not be done for public praise and people-pleasing but as a service to God (Matthew 6:2-18). God desires secrecy to offset the human tendency to seek praise for oneself rather than for God alone (also Matthew 5:16).

Moreover, Jesus encourages persistent payers to God, but not repeating the same words over and over like a magic charm.  Jesus condemned shallow prayers to God. Instead, Jesus taught on the importance of prayers to God, not people, from an open and honest heart! True prayers result in a desire to please and serve God, not human praise of people. Remember that God sees everything, even the secret heart motives. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) is a good pattern for everyone to follow so that we will put God’s will and concerns first and not forget to forgive others. So, never forget that God welcomes honest, persistent, and sincere. Pray with simplicity, honesty and your heart!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pray Basics - Part One

Prayer is the opening God gives His people to talk with Him and become spiritually connected with Him. As we talk with God, prayer allows people to build a personal and close relationship with God. Prayer gives people an opportunity to express to God their love, praise, thanksgiving, confession of sin, and requests for themselves and for others.

Many formats for prayer are possible. In fact, prayer is as unique as each person. Yet, all prayers have as a chief purpose the opportunity to talk to God and express our needs, desires, fears, wants, and frustrations to Him. When we pray, we are to be open and honest to God while also taking time to be still and hear from God (Psalms 46:10). As we pray, God often replies to us in the form of understanding, insight, assurance, peace, and joy, and to participate in the “mystery” of seeing God’s will and purposes on this earth accomplished.

Prayer is never an opportunity to boast, show-off or manipulate God (Matthew 6:5-6) but as a chance to honestly and genuinely seek God’s help, direction, and strength for self and our love ones. Moreover, prayer gives an opportunity for Christian fellowship and church guidance.

Talking to God through prayer must become our daily priority, like eating and bathing. God wants His people to pray first, often, and always (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Even more, God wants us to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6), especially when we face challenges, struggles, and trials (James 5:13). God wants His people to regularly and frequently talk to Him about their daily needs, wants, and hopes. In essence, prayer is a continual conversation with God. King David of the Old Testament prayed, “Evening and morning” to God (Psalms 55:17). Even more, Jesus prayed frequently, especially when making important decisions (Luke 6:12).

The primary goal of prayer is to seek God’s will (1 John 5:14). Jesus in His model prayer taught His disciples to pray according to God’s will (Matthew 6:10). When believers pray to God the Father, each call for help and every desire for guidance should be asked in the Name of Jesus and according to God’s will and purpose.

So, do not forget to pray everyday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Honor Jesus!

17 Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the Name of the Master, Jesus, thanking (praising) God the Father every step of the way.
Colossians 3:17 (The Message Bible).

Everything we do or say should be done to obey, honor, and please the Lord Jesus Christ. Even more, we should give thanks or praise to God the Father through Jesus Christ in everything we do. To the world, Christians represent Jesus! As a representative of Jesus Christ, Christians must live and act like Him and be fully devoted and dependent upon Jesus Christ as our Savior. So, let everyone make a goal of living a Christ-centered life that honors Jesus Christ and gives thanksgiving to God the Father. The Apostle Paul gives Christians instructions on how to live like Jesus Christ:

“… clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Me, Me, Me and Selfishness

1 Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you (your body). 2 You want (covet) things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill (murderer) and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. 3 Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong (evil motives, selfish purposes, sensual pleasure). James 4:1-3 (NCV).

Sin can often be understood or described as selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-focused where we seek to please ourselves, even if it hurts somebody else (Galatians 5:24; 1 John 2:16). Materialism, partiality, and jealousy all come from selfishness. Even worse, even our prayers can become selfish! Sadly, selfish prayers often lead to unanswered prayers from God. The true source of unanswered prayers is our selfish desires for pleasure and consumption instead of an intimate and personal relationship with the living God and loving others (see also Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 8:14; Titus 3:3).

James explains that the most common problems in prayer: not asking, asking with selfish motives, or asking for the wrong reasons. Our prayers will become powerful and effective when we seek to please God and love others (1 John 3:21-24).

God never intended for us to place our own interests first. Selfishness becomes the source of temptation, the evidence of sin, and the barrier to holiness (Romans 1:28–31; Romans 7:14-15; Ephesians 4:17–24; James 1:14-15). All sin can be traced back to the desire to satisfy self (James 3:14–16) and selfishness ultimately leads to our destruction (Philippians 3:19).

The Holy Scriptures are clear that the center of our affections must be to serve and love God and others (Matthews 6:24, 33; Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus taught that God and His will must be first and foremost in our daily lives (Matthew 16:24). The Bible does not condemn our prayers for a pleasurable life. God blesses His people with good gifts from heaven to enjoy (James 1:17; Ephesians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:4-5). Nonetheless, God does condemn any pleasure that keeps us away from loving, pleasing and serving God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:34-40).

Sadly, selfishness leads to quarrels, fights, and wars to rage within our hearts and the immediate cause of the battles among church members. The Bible teaches us instead of selfishly grabbing what we want, we should submit to God’s will and love others like Jesus Christ (Mark 10:45).  Even more, we can ask God to help us get rid of our selfish desires, and trust Him to give us what we really need.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God’s Glory

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything (all) for God’s glory. 32 Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, 33 just as I (Apostle Paul) also try to please all people (everyone) in all things (everything), not seeking my own profit (what is best for me), but the profit of many (best for others), that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (HCSB).

Jesus Christ summed up our aim in life:  love God and love people (Matthew 22:34-40).  The Apostle Paul reinstates Jesus Christ’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 and also summarizes two principles that are to guide everyone’s behavior or ethic: (1) do everything for God’s glory (see also Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11); and (2) try to please all people by not seeking our own benefit first (1 John 2:10). In other words, the Apostle Paul teaches that our behavior should be guided by what glorifies God and what is good for others rather than our own personal benefit or privilege (cp. Romans 14:13-15, 19-21; Romans 15:1-2). The Apostle Paul's gauge for all his movements was not what is best for him, but what will bring God’s glory and what is best for others.

Everything we do in life must have an aim of God’s glory. God owns everything and He desires our complete allegiance, faith, and obedience in Him as our God. Even more, God wants everything we do, even our eating and drinking, to bring Him glory. Moreover, God wants us to love others and not harm nor hurt them in anyway. God's love must fill our hearts and motives so that we do all for God’s glory and what is best for others.

Jesus has given all Christians freedom; however, He did not give this freedom to hurt another person and seek our own satisfaction. Instead, Jesus taught we are to do good to others by being considerate and sensitive of everyone’s feelings and needs even if it means giving up our rights for the sake of others. The attitude that pleases God is not a "me first'' and "look out for number one'' attitude but an attitude and goal to love God and love others. We all must put aside self-pleasing actions for the sake of genuinely loving God and loving others. So, in making a decision or facing any situation ask, “Will this action bring glory to God?” and “Will this decision hurt or harm another person?” 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Hands and Feet of Jesus Christ!

Jesus lived and taught a life of compassion and love for others. More than anything, Jesus lived a life of placing the will of God and needs of others ahead of His own particularly as He faced the Cross (e.g., Luke 22:42). Even more, Jesus taught in Matthew 25:31-46 about how His followers (or Christians) are the ones that act like Him. The real evidence of our belief in Jesus Christ is the way we treat all people with love, especially the “least of these” in our society. Jesus instructed His followers to feed and care for the hungry, homeless, widows, orphans and the sick. These acts of mercy are simple acts of kindness that ALL people can do daily.  We can no longer wait on the church and the government to fix our problems.  Instead, Jesus demands we care for those in deep needs (see also Isaiah 58:7).

God wants everyone to attend church regularly, pray and read His Holy Scriptures. More than anything, Jesus wants Christians to do more than just correct worship and doctrine but DO compassion for the poor, helpless, hungry, needy, and the oppressed. Our faith must reach out to love one another with sincerity. Love for others, regardless of race and political group, glorifies God and reveals we are REAL Christians and the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  So, let us all place the needs of others ahead of our own like Jesus!

31 “But when the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. 34 “Then the King (Jesus Christ) will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I (Jesus Christ) was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’ 37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? 39 When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’ 41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’ 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You? 45 “And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT).
7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Isaiah 58:7 (NLT).

Friday, September 7, 2012

True Prayer

14 This is the confidence (boldness) we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will (that pleases Him), He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask (request)--we know that we have what we asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15 (NIV).

When we pray to God, our primary goal should be asking according to God’s will. The only way to please God is seeking, asking, and living according His will. If our prayers line up according to God’s will, God will listen! In essence, all of the conditions related to prayer are summed up in this phrase—”according to His will.” With this understanding, “according to His will” means according to what pleases God as found in the Holy Scriptures (John 15:7). This means that God’s answer may be “no” or different than planned (Luke 22:42; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9). If you do not know God’s will, ask God (James 1:5)!

True prayer is not demanding, persuading, forcing, nor manipulating God (Matthew 6:5-6); but rather submitting our will and way into complete agreement with God (1 John 5:14). Even more, true prayer means (1) praying in Jesus’ Name, that is, in accord with Jesus' character and nature (John 14:13-14; John 15:16; John 16:23-24), (2) abiding in Jesus and His words abiding or remaining in us (John 15:7), (3) having faith (Matthew 21:22; James 1:6), (4) being righteous in life and fervent in prayer (1 John 3:21-22; James 5:16), and (5) praying persistently until God’s will is accomplished. That is true prayer! So, believers in Jesus Christ can stand firmly and confidently in faith that God hears us believing whatever we pray for is already ours (1 John 5:15). 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

God Centered and Spirit Controlled Prayer

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

God sends His Holy Spirit to provide supernatural help and care for His people. The Holy Spirit lives inside a person’s heart with faith in Jesus Christ (John 14 ─ 16). God’s Holy Spirit helps with our weaknesses, imperfections, limitations and problems (see e.g., Galatians 5:16-23).  Even more, the Holy Spirit helps God’s people with prayer.

The Holy Spirit prays a person’s innermost feelings, which cannot be put into words, and God answers. When we do not know how to pray or what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes (intervenes, pleads, and negotiates) for us before God. In essence, God’s Holy Spirit does our praying in, with and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans and meaningless utters of sounds. This “groanings” are believers’ deep feelings that cannot be expressed in words. God sees what is in a believers’ hearts and knows what the Holy Spirit is saying. The Holy Spirit prays for believers "in accordance” and in harmony with God's will and purposes in order to do what is best for them (Romans 8:27).

Often, believers face difficulties so impossible that they do not know how to even approach God with their problems. In fact, every believer of Jesus Christ encounters difficulty in knowing how to pray and for what to pray. They know that they must pray to God, but they may not know what to say. Even when believers do not know what to say to God, the Holy Spirit interprets our innermost thoughts and feelings. As stated earlier, the Holy Spirit “makes intercession” for believers with words, “unspoken sighing,” meaningless sounds or groaning which cannot be uttered. Sometimes, the believer may not be speaking at all. Those incoherent or speechless sounds are heard by God. The Holy Spirit guides believers and articulates those prayer burdens to God. These groanings or meaningless sounds are the Holy Spirit’s, not ours because the Holy Spirit is interceding for believers before God.

The Holy Spirit understands that God, who both omniscient and omnipotent, is causing everything, even painful experiences, to work for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). God searches believers’ hearts and knows our thoughts (cf. I Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 139:1, 23; Jeremiah 17:10; I Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:12–13). As the omniscient God, He searches those mumbling groaning of our hearts and His Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. The Holy Spirit takes part with us and makes our sighs, groans, loud “cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7), and other expressions of our hearts and spirits in prayer and make those prayers strong and effective. Those groans are taken by the Holy Spirit and made into effectual intercession before the very presence of God.

Amazingly, both Jesus Christ (who lives at the right hand of God the Father), (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrew 7:24-25) and the Holy Spirit (who lives within believers of Jesus Christ) make intercession for believers before God. Thank you God for all Your help!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pleasing God

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.… 14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him. 23 And this is His commandment: We must believe in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with Him, and He with them. And we know He lives in us because the Spirit He gave us lives in us. 1 John 3:11, 14-24 (NLT).

The Christian faith is a religion of the heart (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-20; James 4:1-3). Outward obedience to God alone is not enough without first an inner heart submission and obedience to Him as God (Matthew 6:24; Matthew 10:37). God not only sees our actions, but also the inner motives and intentions behind them.

The primary commandments of Jesus Christ are genuine love for God and love for others (Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:31; John 13:34-35; John 15:13). Real love produces selfless and sacrificial living. Putting others' desires first, generosity with our money, possessions, and time and helping those in need are examples of genuine Christian love (James 2:14-17). Also, the apostle John gave Jesus Christ’s life as an example of true love for Christians to follow. According to the apostle John, if we are living like Jesus Christ, we will “love one another” even with our own lives. Loving others like Jesus Christ is primary evidence of real faith in Him as our Lord and Savior (see 1 John 4:7-8). Jesus promises to send His Holy Spirit to help believers live their daily lives like Him (John 14 – 16; Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit comes to all sincere followers of Jesus Christ to motivate obedient discipleship.

One of the great results of loving God and others is an effective prayer life. Love is an important part of a successful prayer life. With genuine love in our hearts, we can come to God in prayer with a clear conscience and confidence that whatever we ask for will be given to us (Matthew 7:7; see also Matthew 21:22; John 9:31; John 15:7). Love fulfills God’s commandment (Matthew 22:40) and pleases Him because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Even more, love lines up or matches our prayers with God’s will and purposes (John 15:7). With real love, our prayers become powerful, effective, and answered (James 5:16; 1 John 5:15).