Joyful jail time

Joyful jail time

Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29

Acts 16:22-32

 22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods.

 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.

 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

 25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.

 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

 29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”

 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.

On June 9, 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer and six other black passengers stopped to eat in a diner at a Greyhound bus terminal in Winona, Mississippi. They sat at the “white only” lunch counter. Winona Police Chief, Thomas Herrod ordered the group to go to the “colored” side of the depot. They refused and were arrested and jailed. Each of them was severely beaten, but Fannie’s received the worst. Ms. Hamer never recovered fully.

What happened in Hamer’s heart afterward is perhaps even more remarkable than what happened in the jail. Although the whipping left her body severely damaged, her spirit emerged hardened for righteousness.

Hamer spent the night in silence, but a day later, while still in jail she started to sing. Known for her resonant and inspiring voice, the same mouth that had been screaming in pain just the night before began sounding the strains of freedom.

          “Paul and Silas was bound in jail, let my people go.

          Had no money for to go their bail, let my people go.

          Paul and Silas began to shout, let my people go.

          Jail doors open and they walked out, let my people go.”

Doing the right thing often results in harmful downsides. When adverse consequences emerge, we always have a choice: complain and gripe or be grateful and rejoice.

REFLECT & PRAY

Courage and cowardice lurk in each of our hearts. We imagine both fleeing from danger and standing firm.

Father, I long to have the courage to stand firm for You. It should not take the risk of a severe beating, jail time, or immolation to force me to decide. Encourage me to stand for You right now and keep right on standing!

INSIGHT

Standing for the Father sharing truth and bringing joy to others and suffering the consequences, is not a matter of conscience or ambivalence. We have an imperative. The only question is will we follow it.

Imagine the scene in Acts 4 and 5, more and more people are accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior. They are drawn by the gospel and the miraculous power wielded by the apostles. The religious leaders are alarmed and confront them.

The apostles were unintimidated and went returned to the streets preaching the Word. The religious authorities are astonished and have them brought before them to threaten them again. The apostles were busted for publicly proclaiming the truth.

“It is a tense moment. They have been duly warned, and now they can be convicted and severely punished. Peter, as always, speaks up for the group. Putting in positive form . . . this bold apostle now declares for all time: We must obey God rather than any human authority!” (Acts 5:29) (Chalmer Ernest Faw).

And so it was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Daniel 3:14-29

 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?

 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?

 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.

 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.

 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire.

 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

Acts 16:34 And he [the Philippian jailer] brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

The Greek word translated rejoice is agalliao. Agalliao means to exult, rejoice greatly, experience ecstatic joy and delight. This word is not used by secular Greek writers. In the New Testament, it always signifies a deep spiritual joy. “Their hearts were singing” (UBS).

Jude 1:24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault

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Are we listening?

Are we listening?

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. – Hebrews 1:1-2

Hebrews 12:25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!

One of the unintended consequences of our digital, streaming world is that people in the Western world are losing the art of listening. Like any skill, listening can be developed and enhanced through practice. But it is very much like a muscle that atrophies when not used regularly.

Henning Mankell in his article, “The Art of Listening” December 10, 2011, wrote, “In Africa, listening is a guiding principle. It’s a principle that’s been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world, where no one seems to have the time or even the desire to listen to anyone else.” He added, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”

Good listeners focus on what is being communicated and heard. They ask questions to clarify and better understand what they are hearing. They pause and reflect before responding.

The Father has spoken and continues to speak, are we listening?

What is the Father like? The only way for people can know is if He communicates with us and lets us know. He has disclosed truth regarding Himself and His ways to us in the Word of God. The Old Testament messages, stories, history, and prophecy were written between 2000 B.C and 400 B.C. The New Testament was written between 30 A.D. and 90 A.D. Although the self-revelation of the Father was done over a long period through diverse means, it maintains continuity and unity. It is written by many but sourced by the Father Himself. When the Lord Jesus Christ came, the revelation reached its zenith.

Hebrews 1:3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,

If we want to know the Father, we simply look at the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the full and definitive representation, of the Father.

The Greek word translated representation or imprint is charakter. Charakter comes from the Greek verb charasso, to cut, to scratch, to mark. In its early usage, it referred to the tool that was used to mark or cut. Later it denoted the mark or impression made with the tool. Thus it came to mean, the exact reproduction (A.T. Robertson).

The second Greek word which is translated as nature or essence is hypostasis. This term refers to the objective aspect and underlying reality behind anything (Friberg). When this word is used in connection with God, it is more esoteric and philosophical. It is hard to get a grip on it (Moffatt). It is beyond our grasp to completely comprehend what it fully means. In simple terms, the Son is identical in substance to God the Father, being Himself fully God. The Son is exactly like the Father.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the exact representation, the imprint, of the Father’s nature and essence.

REFLECT & PRAY

Conceptually, we understand that the Father knows everything and desires only the best for every child of the King. But when it comes to the individual details of our everyday lives, do we really listen?

Father may I hear, listen, and receive what You are trying to communicate with me. May I respond accordingly.

INSIGHT

In the 21st century, copies of the Bible are plentiful throughout much of the world. In the United States, we tend to take them for granted. This is not so for the rest of the world nor has it been throughout history. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have an unquenchable desire for something that meets the innermost hunger of our souls but find nothing that satisfies them. Then quite unexpectedly, we encounter something new and marvelous that fills the void. It is more delightful and sweeter than the sweetest honey from the honeycomb (Psalms 19:10).

That was exactly what happened to the people of Israel after the Babylonian captivity. For the first time in decades, the people of Israel had the opportunity to hear the word of God, take it in, and take great pleasure in it. Imagine what it would be like to be among them when they hear Ezra read the law of God for the first time. Their innermost being was permeated as they absorbed it. They were overwhelmed with joy. They were filled with awe. They were euphoric and spontaneously praised and worshiped the Father. Would you do any less?

Nehemiah 8:1-10

 1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.

 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. . ..

 5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

 6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

 7 The Levites . . . then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places.

 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

 10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate . . ..”


The people responded with eager attentiveness (Nehemiah 8:3), reverence and worship (Nehemiah 8:5-6), understanding (Nehemiah 8:7-8), and repentance Nehemiah 8:9) (Stanley).

The word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). As it reveals the Father to us, we are enriched yet convicted and experience a kind of inexplicable joyful sorrow.The Father offers a personal, intimate relationship. It is a two-way communication. We speak to Him in honest, heartfelt prayer. We hear his voice as he speaks to our minds, hearts, and spirits.

Hebrews 3:15
Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.

God continues to speak, are we listening?

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Trash talking

Trash talking

A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won. – 1 Kings 20:11

1 Samuel 17:40-46

 40 David picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

 41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,

 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.

 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods.

 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

 45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

 46 Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!

Trash talking is often a lighthearted way to engage opponents in a competitive athletic setting. The goal is to make your opponent doubt their own skill or sufficiently distract them. It also tends to build up one’s own confidence and team spirit. When dealing with friends, trash talk is often funny, enjoyable, entertaining, and does not attack their dignity

When dealing with enemies, trash-talking is another thing altogether. Trash talk is employed to intimidate adversaries who may seem otherwise unshakable. The point is to threaten, coerce, and insult them.

The trouble is it does not always work!

The Father knows that preparing for war is one thing, but winning the battles is quite another. Too often we boast prematurely. This idea is conveyed using common colloquial expressions: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” or “Don’t celebrate your victory until you have fought the battle.”

The Father has a better way.

1 Kings 20:13 “This is what the LORD says: Do you see all these enemy forces? Today I will hand them all over to you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

REFLECT & PRAY

It is never a good idea to mock or taunt. More importantly, it is a really bad idea to mock and taunt the Father, the living God, and His people.

Father, as I read the Scriptures, I see people with great faith and confidence. They are bold and wish only to honor You. How I long to be like that.

INSIGHT

The Father treasures and protects His reputation and honor. It is foolish to insult or taunt the living God. The Father will often act when His character, authority, or power is scorned. People with great faith such as David, Moses, Ruth knew this. They relied upon it and fully trusted Him when risking their own lives.

Sometimes we are left scratching our heads wondering why the Father does not act immediately to the insults from an increasingly godless world. It is worthwhile to remember “The Wheels of Justice turn slowly but exceedingly fine” (Longfellow). One of Longfellow’s translations taken from the poem, “Retribution,” by Friedrich Von Logau:

          Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;

          Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.

David’s entire life had prepared him for the very moment of this confrontation with Goliath. The Father builds faith and strengthens it throughout our lives. And so it was with David. The Father had previously delivered David from danger. The Father demonstrated His power and trustworthiness. David relied on the Father to deliver him once again from the giant Goliath.

The challenge of Goliath, a pagan uncircumcised Philistine, was directed toward the armies of the living God. Hence the battle was with the Father Himself. David knew this. He understood that the Father was the commander of Israel’s armies. David recognized that the Father was the real deliverer of Israel.

To David, this battle is fundamentally spiritual. David was jealous for the Father’s reputation, not his own. David’s faith and trust in the Father gave him the courage and boldness to face the Father’s enemy and defend His honor and majesty. David was confident that the Father would empower him to preserve His honor and defeat Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:36-37

 36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”

 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

There is a way to be confident and boast properly. Our boasting should be in the Father and His adequacy not our own. Spending time with the Father provides great confidence in the face of adversity.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence (Helen Keller).

Confidence is simply the belief in a successful outcome. The confidence of the Father’s children rests in His strength, not from their own.

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To an unknown God ∙

To an unknown God

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” – Exodus 3:14

Acts 17:23-31

 23 As I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

 24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples,

 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs– for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.

 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him– though he is not far from any one of us.

 30 God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.

 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.

Would it be too extreme to suggest that most all people throughout the millennia, regardless of their location, have had some concept of God? People everywhere have asked, “Who or What is God?” When we speak of God, we are somewhat limited by the English language. English uses one term, God, to signify both the concept of God and the person of God.

The primary Western concept of God is theism. Theism is the view that there is a God which is the creator and sustainer of the universe and is unlimited concerning knowledge (omniscience), power (omnipotence), extension (omnipresence), and moral perfection (International Encyclopedia of Psychology).

It is important to distinguish the things that differ. Yet at the same time, not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Is there a difference between the concept of God and the living God revealed in the Scriptures? Most definitely.

When God appeared to Moses at Mount Sinai, Moses asked God what His name was. Moses believed in the concept of God, but he also believed in a personal God. He believed that the living God, the personal God, was now at Sinai revealing Himself to him.

Moses was no pagan. As part of the Nation of Israel, Moses was speaking with the God of his fathers. The truth of the living and true God had been passed down through the centuries via spoken stories. These stories were the accurate history of the people who lived them: men such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, or Jacob. They had not yet been compiled and inscribed in the Hebrew language. That was a yet future project still on the Father’s drawing board. At the right time, Moses would be tasked to collect and write down these stories in a book. That book would one day be named Genesis.

Moses is driven by curiosity and caught up in the moment. Moses was now in face-to-face contact with the God of his fathers. He was coming to terms with the living, personal God. Heretofore, He was simply known as “He-Who-Has-No-Name” (The Ten Commandments) or simply “The Unknown God.” Moses needed to know what the name of God was. The people would one day ask him. How would Moses answer them? God revealed His name to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM tell them that I AM [Yahweh] sent you.”

Persons have names, mere God concepts do not. The Father God revealed in The Scriptures is no mere force or idea. He is a person who can be known, loved, and experienced through a personal relationship.

Exodus 3:13-14

 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

Moses now knew the name of the personal God, I AM [Yahweh]. Through the writings of Moses, it has been passed down through the millennia to all those who believe in Him and enter into a personal relationship with Him.

On the other hand, people who only have the concept of God, are not concerned about names. Why would they be? They are not dealing with a person, only an idea.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God” (A.W. Tozer)

Father, thank You that You are more than an idea, a man-made concept. Thank You for overlooking my ignorance and seeking me out.

INSIGHT

The Greeks were well known throughout the ancient world for their pantheon of gods. Many of their names are well known in Western culture: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hades. But their God concept was grossly distorted. They had many gods but what if they’d missed out on one? They wanted to cover all the bases. They did not want to offend any deity simply because they were unfamiliar with it. So the Athenians built an altar “To an Unknown God.”

When Paul spoke to the Athenians, the altar erected “To an Unknown God” provided common ground for communication. He seized the opportunity to speak of the true and living Father God, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He used the concept of God, as a launching point, a bridge to explain the personal God.

Acts 17:23-27

 23 I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

 24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth . . .

 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs – for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.

 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us.

“On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, there are the tremendous frescoes by Michelangelo. Among them is the magnificent picture of the creation of man. God is reaching out His finger, and man, just having been created, reaches out to God as well. But their fingers do not touch. This is a true Christian insight” (Francis A. Schaeffer).

The Father God of Scripture is personal yet infinite, close at hand yet distant. Being a person, He thinks and feels, and He seeks to enter into a personal relationship with sentient creatures made in His image.

Believing in God is good, but it is not good enough for eternity!

It is not enough to know about Him. He created us to know Him. He seeks us out.

Anyone can have a personal relationship with the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

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That dog won’t hunt ∙

That dog won’t hunt ∙

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16

 James 5:16-18

 16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!

 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

President Lyndon B. Johnson used the phrase “that dog won’t hunt” in the 1960s. The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but LBJ certainly popularized it. It has been in use since at least the 1930s. The phrase was made into a song by Waylon Jennings in 1986.

“That dog won’t hunt” is southern American slang. It refers to something that won’t fulfill its intended purpose or a plan or scheme that will flop. A couple of near alternative sayings are: “it just ain’t going to happen,” or “it ain’t going to work out.”

Too often when it comes to prayer, “That dog won’t hunt.”

We may not like to admit it, but we all know what ineffective prayer is. It is all too common and happens so much of the time. What is ineffective prayer? Ineffective prayer is prayer that does not get answered. Ineffective prayer does not achieve the desired results and seemingly does not influence the Father. It is inadequate and useless.

While there are certainly other considerations such as timing, the acid test couldn’t be simpler. Anyone can try it anytime or anywhere. If you pray and nothing happens, your prayer may well be ineffective. “That dog won’t hunt.”

To understand this better, simply review the meanings of two words: effective and ineffective.

Effective means producing the desired effect, an intended outcome, or an expected result. When something is effective, it gets the job done. It is capable of exerting force or influence on the final outcome.

Ineffective denotes not producing a desired effect or effects. When something is ineffective it is inadequate, incompetent, incapable, impotent, or useless.

Why are prayers so often ineffective? If the Father’s children are sincere and desire the best possible outcome, there is no reason to examine the motives of their hearts. Perhaps it has to do with the assumptions that His children make.

Could it be that we assume that we know what is best in a given situation? Do we believe that we know what ought to happen? If so, do we pray and ask the Father to do what we think is right? Do we try to persuade the Father to execute our will?

If so, we need to change our way of thinking. The Scriptures are quite clear. Prayer is effective when the Father’s children seek to pray His will into existence, rather than their own.

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 11:2 When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

Think about one of your favorite athletes. Now visualize him or her performing to the degree of excellence you know they are capable of. What do you see? Now imagine that same athlete as a 5-year-old child. Some of the talent that makes them great as an adult may already be evident. But can the child perform up to the level that it will when it becomes an adult? Of course not!

What does it take to transform a 5-year-old child into an accomplished world-class athlete? The short answer is at minimum time and practice.

Our heartfelt desire may be pure. We may sincerely want only what we think is the best for others. But when it comes to prayer, perhaps too often we act just like 5-year-old children tugging on our parent’s clothes seeking that our wishes be fulfilled. What if our best, is not His best?

REFLECT & PRAY

It’s often said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth (Wiersbe).

Father, I wish my prayers could be more effective. Enable me to get to know You better and hear and recognize Your voice. Give me a willing heart to carry out Your wishes.

INSIGHT

“Praying itself is not a shot in the dark, not a net cast into the sea with the hope of a good catch. Praying is working along with God in the fulfillment of His divine plan” (Thomas Haire).

“In prayer, we need always to obtain the wisdom of the Spirit so that we may pray according to the will of God and not suffer discouragement from failure to see our prayers realized” (Thomas Haire).

When our goal is to pray the Father’s will into existence, effective prayer begins with first determining what His will is. In part, this means getting to know the Father and developing the ability to hear His voice. The prophet Elijah shows the way.

James 5:16-17

 16 The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

What is the difference between Elijah and us? There is a one-word answer. Nothing!

How was Elijah able to know how to pray? What enabled him to pray effectively? How did he pray the Father’s will into existence on earth?

1 Kings 17:1-2

 1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”

 2 Then the LORD said to Elijah,

1 Kings 18:1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

So how did he know how to pray? He heard the Father’s voice and the Father told him what to pray and also what to say to others.

James 5:15 could be translated, “the energized prayer of a righteous man is able to do much.” Such prayers are “a potent force in calling down the power of God” (MacArthur). The Greek word translated energized, effective is energeo. The English word “energy” comes from this term.

Where does the energy of effective prayer come from? It comes from the Father. When a righteous child of the King prays effectively, they are energized by the Father. He communicates with them. He works through them.

Now that dog will want!

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