Do Not Be Dismayed

This week I have been reminded of the importance of putting on the whole armor of God daily. You can bet that if you’re working anywhere close to the front lines of ministry that you will battle the enemy, who seeks to silence you, discourage you, and thwart your efforts on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Do not be dismayed.

The Apostle Paul gave the Christians worshipping in Ephesus some very sound sage advice, explaining to them to be prepared for combat not only against things seen, but also things unseen. Paul understood that powerful forces existed then, as they do now, desiring to derail our ministry and destroy our witness as we seek to share the love of Jesus with a hurting and ailing world.

Fortunately, our power and strength does not rest in ourselves, but in the Almighty God we serve. Therefore, we can go forward with confidence that God is with us, fighting on our behalf, clearing the path of obstacles attempting to be roadblocks as we go about doing the work He has called us to do.

How can I pray for you?

Blessings.

Rb_edit_TDG

“When the enemy comes with shame and blame, tell him to go measure the distance from east to west and get back to you.”-Louie Giglio

The Whole Armor of God

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we  are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

 

Psalm Saturday: Prayers in Psalms

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The past few Saturdays we’ve looked at a couple of my favorite psalms. Since getting back home from looking after Mom as she recovered from her fall last summer, my mind has focused a lot on prayer. I’ve seen the results of people praying, especially this past year. At every turn, the Lord reveals His desire for me to focus on prayer. I’m currently working on a book project centered around prayer. Recently, I was asked to design a social media campaign focusing on prayer. I’ve watched and listened as people turn to prayer in the midst of crisis, including natural disasters and mass shootings. My heart aches for those who feel like prayer is an insufficient response. May God help heal their unbelief. While I agree, we need to roll up our sleeves and physically help our neighbors in need, I am also a fierce proponent of prayer. Like I said earlier, I’ve seen God work through prayer. The Book of Psalms is chock-full of prayers. In the Saturdays ahead, starting this morning, I want to take a journey exploring these heartfelt prayers.

Psalm 3 (NET)

A psalm of David, written when he fled from his son Absalom.

1 Lord, how numerous are my enemies!

Many attack me.

2 Many say about me,

“God will not deliver him.” (Selah)

3 But you, Lord, are a shield that protects me;

you are my glory and the one who restores me.

4 To the Lord I cried out,

and he answered me from his holy hill. (Selah)

5 I rested and slept;

I awoke, for the Lord protects me.

6 I am not afraid of the multitude of people

who attack me from all directions.

7 Rise up, Lord!

Deliver me, my God!

Yes, you will strike all my enemies on the jaw;

you will break the teeth of the wicked.

8 The Lord delivers;

you show favor to your people. (Selah)

 

What does Selah mean?

“Selah” comes from the Hebrew word salah and means “to lift up” or “to elevate or raise”. The word “Selah,” occurs 71 times in the psalms and is believed to be a musical notation that Israel’s leaders may have added sometime after they incorporated the psalms into public worship. Evidently “Selah” cued worshippers to lift up their voices and raise their hands.

Psalm 3_7a

In verses 1-7a, we find the prayer of the psalmist (David) as he laments his situation during his flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18). This is the first of many of David’s prayers recorded in Psalms. Drowning amidst the evil schemes of his enemies, David voices his confidence that God will protect him since he was the Lord’s chosen king.

David begins by lamenting his present situation. He is surrounded by enemies. He feels like everyone is against him. Absalom had garnered the favor of many Israelites. David cries out for physical deliverance from the real enemies seeking to do him harm. David is confident that the Lord will rescue him since he is the one God has chosen to lead the people of Israel. David is not timid in his prayer. He asks God for His divine protection, expecting the Lord to come through for him and protect him from the evil plans of his enemies. Notice that David is so confident of the Lord’s response that he refers to the enemy as if they had already been defeated. David believed that God delivers those He has called to fulfill His purpose.

Pray without Ceasing

Through David’s example, we learn that we can take our physical concerns to God in prayer. We can ask Him to deliver us from our physical ailments and from difficult circumstances that we are facing. Like David, we can be confident that the Lord hears us. As believers, you and I can be encouraged by this tremendous prayer. God works for the good of those who love Him and does not permit victory for those who work against His will. Ultimately, those of us who have repented and placed our faith and trust in Jesus, will be delivered from the difficulties we face in this world. Our troubles will not be victorious over us because in the end, our victory is found in Jesus. In God, we find love. Through God, we have hope.

Blessings.

Why Do I Pray “In Jesus’ Name” ?

Have you ever wondered why Christians pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Awhile back, a friend of mine and I attended a luncheon bringing together people from different faiths to explore working together for the greater good of the community. The spacious banquet room was filled with about sixty representatives from every faith you could imagine. Naturally, the Big 3 (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) were scattered around different tables. Catholics sat next to Protestants, who came in full-force, hailing from different denominations. Methodists sat next to Baptists, Baptists sat next to Presbyterians. You get the picture.

All in all, it was a pretty cool scene. Once it became time to start, an event organizer opened the meeting with a prayer, ending his prayer in what I consider to be the traditional “in Jesus’ name.” This quickly drew the ire of a Rabbi attending the meeting, who happened to be sitting at our table. He expressed his preference that we forego ending prayer in the name of Jesus as he found it deeply offensive. He pointed to an Imam who sat one table away from us and explained that ending prayer in this manner was disrespectful of his faith as well. The Rabbi pointed out that not everyone believes in Jesus and praying to him is blasphemous in the traditions of some faiths. Needless to say, my friend and I, who are both Christians, were taken aback by the Rabbi’s request. Neither of us had ever considered not praying in Jesus’ name. Had we ever ended a prayer without closing it that way? Yes. Could we not pray that way? Well…NO.

While we did not expect the Rabbi or the Imam or any non-Christian to pray in the name of Jesus, being told that we as Christians could not do so was completely a different story. Thankfully, when push came to shove, the agreement was reached that each person would pray according to their faith traditions while respecting the manner of prayer of others in the room. Whew!

praying hands TDG

As a Christian, have you ever wondered why you pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Often, we use phrases in a religious, ritualistic manner without understanding why we do what we do. This is certainly true of praying in the name of Christ. So why do we do it? As believers, the Scriptures serves as our go-to source for biblical insight and faith. So what exactly does the Bible say about praying “in Jesus’ name”?

The Devotional Guy_sharing Gospel

Let us take a look at a few verses:

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He follows that up in verse 13 saying, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” And finally, in John 16:23-24, Jesus shares, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul points out that through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have “boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12). The writer of Hebrews states, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaves, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Why Do I Pray

These verses reveal the biblical foundation for praying ‘in Jesus’ name’.

As broken and fallen people, we can only access God through faith in Christ because Jesus died in our place and took our sin upon Himself, bearing the penalty and paying the debt for our sins. Through the atoning work of  Jesus we gain access to God. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life through whom we can connect to the Lord. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted into the Kingdom and become children of God. Jesus has made all things new and brought life where once there was only death.

John 1624

Jesus is our advocate. In anticipation of his death on the Cross, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to God, the Father, in His name. Our faith in Christ opens the door to a personal relationship with God. It is our relationship with Jesus that gives us the privilege of not only entering into God’s presence through prayer, but the assurance of our prayers being heard. He makes it possible for us to have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

This then, is why we, as Christians should pray. “In Jesus’ Name”.

 

May the Lord fill your life with abundant blessings.

Amen.

RB