Tag Archives: Bible Study

Serve Only One

Matthew 6:24

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

It started before I had cancer. My friend David and I began to go through a daily Bible study called “The Walk of Repentance”. This study was one we had done while at Pure Life Ministries back in 2008. We both needed to return to a closer walk with the Lord, and felt this was a good place to start. That study was interrupted in May of 2016 by my
cancer, and picked up again in May of 2017. Every day we would text back and forth what we had learned that day about ourselves, and a short prayer for the both of us to do better.

We finished that book and did a study on Psalm 119, then a study about the psalms in general. Now we are back to that book and into week 8. After this book, we are planning to go through a book called “The Seeking Heart” by Fenelon. This is another book that greatly affected David and me while at PLM. It is a book of short letters he wrote to a lady named Madame Guyone back in early 17th century France. Fenelon speaks a lot about dying to self and humility, and I needed that in a huge way. The interesting thing about this book is that it rarely uses scripture, but is full of scriptural thought. Our plan is to take one short letter at a time and search the corresponding scriptures.

During these studies of ours, I have been using a Bible that my Father-in-law bought me way back in 1979. He bought it when I first went to the tent meeting in Fredonia, Iowa. My wife Janeen and I had been married for 10 months and we both decided to get baptized under the tent that year. Janeen was 8 months pregnant at the time. After the baptismal service my Father-in-lar bought this Bible from a vendor there. It was a Thompson Chain reference bible and it really touched my heart. If you are not familiar with this Bible, it contains very intricate reference in the columns that link together similar scriptures and thoughts throughout the Bible, like a chain.

This Bible became my only study Bible and I started making notes in it with zeal. I used one of those four color Bic pens most of the time, making notes from my own personal study and from sermons I heard. I spent long hours reading and studying things out, wanting to know about God and Jesus. I read through the Bible in a year two or three times, studying out verses that intrigued me. It was a time of great awakening in God’s word for me and formed the basis of my spiritual walk.

As I used this Bible for these studies, I slowly became aware that my love for God’s word is still there, but I don’t spend near the time in the word that I did back then. When I do read, I only read what the study asks me to and I make my notes in the pages of the study book. I really don’t study things further unless I am preparing a message to preach on Sunday. I don’t do word studies unless it is for the same purpose. I have come to realize that I have become too busy to spend more time in the type of study I did as a new Christian.

You might ask how this fits into the scripture for this lesson on not serving two masters. It is really very simple. I now take my time to do those things that I want to do and much of them include money-making duties. I work for a company that does maps of the rural farmland in the Midwest. They are called plat and directory maps, and I work on the plat side, which shows who owns the land by section, township and county. My job is to make corrections to the previous year’s maps. I am also an independent agent for Aflac, but this work has been curtailed by my cancer. I still have a tendency to be too tired to drive out of town, so I have not returned to that work and at this point don’t know for sure if I will be able to. I am also starting on another book about my cancer journey.

The last book I wrote, called “The A.S.K. Principle” did take me into the word quite often and it was a lot of fun pouring through the bible to find appropriate verses on prayer. A lot of the scriptures were already there from the original study done back in 1990. I just had to look those up again and a few more for good measure. I had learned a lot since then, and other scriptures fit into the study nicely. I started blogging this book back in January of 2017, and by early November had the book to the publisher.

The time I spend in God’s word today is minimal. I have been thinking a lot about that over the last month and realize I am trying to serve two masters. On the one hand, I am in the word every day with this study, but I am not taking notes for myself about the things I read, and I am not looking into things with the zeal I once had. I am not taking notes on sermons that I hear as often as I used to. I am torn between my time of work and of things of this world and spending more time with God.

I also see that I don’t approach His word the same as I used to. Before it was with a fascination of the things of God because I was a new Christian and I was hungry to learn more about how everything fit together. How did the New Testament tie into the Old Testament? Why is knowing about the OT sacrifices and temple so important to my understanding of Christ’s sacrifice? How do the history books have any significance in my life today? I approached the word as a child wanting more and more understanding and knowledge all the time. God honored that and has given me much wisdom and knowledge in His word.

But now I think I know a lot, and do not approach the scriptures as I used to. Other things take my time up and I am beginning to understand this verse more. I am serving two masters, and my love for the scripture is not as fresh and new as it was. I have not come to the point that I hate the scripture, but I must admit it is a chore to sit and just read it anymore. I read what I must and stop there. I am not hungry for the meat, or thirsty for the living water. I am a little stagnant in my growth and knowledge of His word. I need to change course.

Part of this is due to the internet I think. Web sites like Bible gateway have made it easy to look up scriptures and a search on various subjects has made it convenient to search scripture by typing my subject in and seeing what comes up. I don’t have to do a lot of reading and searching in the actual Bible anymore if I don’t want to. I don’t have to walk through the scriptures and pour through cross references like I once did. At the touch of a button it is all right there. Is this as good as flipping through the pages and searching for the answers? Actually it might be better from a thoroughness standpoint. But it is not better for me. It is just more convenient.

Jesus said we must become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). One of the things this statement says to me is that I need to approach God’s word as a child, with a hunger and thirst to know more and experience more. A burning desire to get to the bottom of what this means for me, and a faith that accepts what God is telling me and make it a practice in my life. A child is always on a quest for knowledge and understanding. As adults we can come to a place where we think we have that wrapped up, and we stop growing.

I am caught up in work so much that I don’t take time to just study the word for myself. I need to change this. I must spend more time just reading His word and making notes for myself. Studying out truths again that I once did. I must let the scripture speak to me again, as if I had not read it before. As a child. I cannot serve two masters. I want to make God the master I serve. I must make a living and this honors God. But I must not neglect His word.

Doing studies like this one online have been a help to me in this quest. I have to look things up again that I have studied in the past. I have to get into the word to write these posts. I may not use a lot of scripture here, but I listen to God when I write things down/ I always hope that what I write will speak to you about your walk with the Lord. Are you taking the time in scripture each day that you need to? Are you learning each day, or are you stagnant in your walk? Can you read the scripture with fresh eyes each time, or do you bring all the previous learning with you and think you know this or that verse and what it means?

Today I challenge you, as I also challenge myself, to start a new chapter in your walk with the Lord. If you have been taking the time to really study His word and take notes on what you learn that is good. Continue to do that. If you, like me, have been coasting through the scriptures and not taking real time to study them out, than start to do that today. Start with a new book of the Bible that you haven’t read in a while and ask God to open up your heart to His spirit so that he can guide you into all truth. Make notes and underline scripture. Make this a priority at the same time each day. For me it will be in the morning before the cares of the day take over.

This is a new day! Give all you have to God and make the most of it. Serve only Him, and love Him more every minute. He will not disappoint you!

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God’s Wisdom VS Man’s Wisdom

Galatians 1:6-12  (KJV)

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes into right into the guts of his letter. He is writing to the Galatians because somewhere between his first and second missionary journeys they got off course. It is believed his first two missionary journeys we’re 3 to 4 years apart. From the references that I look at, the first occurred around 48 AD and the second around 51 AD.

In that time, the Judaizers had come in and taught them that the message Paul had preached was not enough for their salvation. Judaizers believed that Old Testament laws, like circumcision, still needed to be observed despite Christ’s atoning sacrifice.  Paul preached a message of grace. His message was that Christ’s sacrifice was enough – no more following of the law was needed.  

He is amazed that after they fervently believed in what he had preached many in the church fell for the false teaching, being deceived.   They believed what Paul called “another gospel”.  It was not the good news he had brought.

I see this still applicable in many churches today. They want us to follow after doctrines that have been passed down from generation to generation. They expect us to put aside the truth of the Gospel message for the message of men.

I have regular email conversations with my brother about having faith in the gospel and having faith in science. He is a firm believer in evolution, global warming, The Big Bang Theory and abortion to name a few. He believes these things because he claims they can be proved. Then he says they are proved by scientific theory.

Theory is defined in the online dictionary this way:

  1. 1.  coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena:
    Einstein’s theory of relativity. Darwins Theory of Evolution 
  2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to  experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

It takes faith to believe those things just as much as it takes faith to believe the gospel.  They are commonly regarded as correct, but not proven correct.

I tell him that he can place his faith in man if he likes to but I would prefer to place my faith in God. He argues with me that he is not placing his faith in man. He is placing his faith in science. I tell him that science is man’s wisdom not God’s wisdom. The Bible is God’s wisdom not man’s. Man’s wisdom is foolishness with God. (1 Cor 3:19)  The Bible tells us the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10). Those who do not have the fear of God have a tough time grasping the wisdom of God.

Man finds his own knowledge. They say that their calculations of time and space are completely accurate based on a theory.  But do they know whether time can be sped up in the absence of matter over long distances?  Can they know if time can be expanded? Have they calculated how far and how fast the stars travel away from us?  Can they prove carbon dating is faultless? Could carbon dating speed up faster through time? These are all questions that I have and there are many more. All of these things are based on Theory. Gods ways are high above our, His thoughts beyond what we can think (Is 55:8-9)

The East Coast was supposed to be flooded over by now. But it is not. I believe all the temperature differences are cyclical. This cycle that we are in has happened before. And a cold cycle will come back and then we’ll be threatened by ice. They thought that was going to happen in the 70s (Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages)  and many warnings went out. Why do you think the name of the threat was changed from global warming to climate change? So many questions on their theories. The beauty of it is that science is slowly but surely starting to prove the Bible is true.  This will happen more in the future. It’s time for the scientific Community to wake, up not the Christian.

Let me get to the social issues. Man’s Wisdom tells us that abortion is a good thing. It gives a woman Freedom over her own body. Abortion has led to the largest Holocaust in the history of the world. The Nazi Holocaust is now said to have killed around 20 million total.  The US has alone has had over 60 million abortions since Roe vs Wade. Worldwide the number is nearing 1.5 billion  We have lost more than a generation and we wonder why our economy is in trouble.

Abortion also has a negative effect on a majority of those who have them.  A CBS REPORT in 2010 showed that depression, anxiety, health problems, and stress all were symptoms.  Families can break up over this decision.

If you just look at dollars, you will find that this could possible be the number one cause for government debt. Lack of tax payers into the system is now blowing social programs way out of proportion as intended.  It’s incredible when you look at that fact.  When these programs were started, no one saw us killing a generation.  But now many denominations have accepted abortion as something that is okay. Believing man’s Doctrine.

Then they say that same-sex relations don’t hurt anything. How many marriages have been broken up because of same-sex relations? How many have turned to these relationships only because of our unfaithful generation?  How many have gone down the pornographic road and seen what seems like a better lifestyle? How many have turned to this because of abuse during their youth?

The family is the foundation of our society. If the family breaks down, our society will breakdown. Family has been redefined in our day and age. There was no doubt about what a family was only 30 years ago. Now we have all kinds of questions as to what family is. And any kind of family seems to be now acceptable.

God does not say that. That is man’s wisdom. Once again we have substituted man’s wisdom for God’s wisdom. Many churches grabbed onto it and are running headlong into it. We are destroying the fabric of our society in the name of grace and forgetting the weight of truth in God’s word.  See Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:21-32, 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:8-10  This is sad.

It is incredible to me how the church is being pressured into changing the views on these two subjects. They are threatened because they think the government can take away too much. They have to submit – but doesn’t God supply if we stay faithful? Instead of preaching the true gospel they listen to the pro-choice crowd.  They listen to LBGTQ community.  They are pressed to follow man’s wisdom and not Gods, and they succumb to the blackmail.  Now we have hate crimes!  Crime is crime, no matter who it is done to.  Bullies are bullies no matter who it is done to.  We have made people who live in sin into a protected class.  Right is wrong, and wrong is right.  The church is complicit in all this.  We neglect the truth.

Christians are supposed to be light in a dark world. We are supposed to shine the light onto sin and allow the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. That’s not our job.  All we have to do is deliver the message. The problem is that these groups are listening to the wrong voice when they hear that message. They are listening to the condemning voice of the enemy of their soul instead of the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we have not spoken the word with love.  Perhaps we have not shown love to them by doing all we can to save them from eternal judgment.  Perhaps we have not shown them how they can be delivered.  

Paul says if anybody preaches any other message then the message of grace that he brought that they are accursed (under a curse). Paul did not preach to please men, as so many do today,  Paul preached to please God. He preached the truth that God had given him.

Paul did not learn his gospel from man and he did not receive it from men. He was taught by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul do not go to the school of the disciples in Jerusalem, although he did stay with the disciples in Damascus. They had little bearing on what he preached, though. Jesus was taught the gospel that he brought when spending 40 days in the wilderness. Paul was in the school with the Holy Spirit as well. This is where he got his revelation of grace.  There is more on this in our next lesson

Paul was a student of the Old Testament. He He knew the law as a Pharisee would (Phil 3:5). He was learned in Old Testament laws and their practice. He persecuted the church because he knew of Jesus teachings and how they subverted the law as he understood it. But when Jesus knocked him off that horse and put him in the school of the Holy Spirit, Paul realize that the whole Old Testament was pointing to Jesus all along. And he realized exactly how Jesus fulfilled the law. He knew that Grace was the way the salvation.

But the Galatians that accepted the false doctrines that were being taught to them. The rest of the book will deal with Paul coming against the belief that they had taken up. But first he goes back and shares his credentials and that will be our next lesson.

Introduction to Galatians

Our next excursion will be into Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul wrote nine different books to the churches and this is one of them. There are actually several churches in the area of Galatia, not just one Church as Ephesians or Colossians are. The churches included in the region of Galatia are Lystra, Iconium, Derby and Pisidia Antioch. Paul visited these churches on his first two missionary journeys, which tells us that he had a close relationship with them.

There’s a lot of dispute over when the letter was actually written. Some feel it was written around 49 A.D., before the Jerusalem Council took place (50 A.D.). They believe Paul wrote it shortly after his second visit to the churches. Others believe it was written between 50 and 60 A.D. There is no argument that Paul wrote the book, as the style and theme of writing is very similar to his other writings

The account of Paul’s first visit to Galatia can found beginning in Acts 13:14 and running through Acts 14:24 Barnabas was with Paul on this visit. They started in Antioch Pisidia, where Paul was asked to speak in the synagogue and was well received. He then spoke to a group of Gentiles. The following Sabbath a large crowd of Gentiles gathered to hear them and the Jews turned against Paul and Barnabas. They ran them out of town, much to the dismay of the Gentiles.

They next came to Iconium (Acts 13:52). They spoke to the crowds, both Jew and Gentile, for many weeks. The unbelievers in the region eventually turned against them and plotted to stone them, so Paul and Barnabas left for Lystra and Derby.

While preaching in Lystra, Paul prayed for a paralytic man, and when the man was healed, the people started calling Paul and Barnabas gods and worshipped them. Paul put a quick stop to that. But Jews from Pisidia Antioch and Iconium came and persuaded the people against Paul. He was stoned until they thought he was dead and thrown out of the city. But he was not dead. He came back, picked up Barnabas and made one last tour through the 4 cities before departing Galatia. The people had heard the Gospel and many had believed. The church had begun in the region.

In chapter 16 we see Paul returning to Galatia and picking up Timothy along the way. This is when Paul saw the problems that had crept up from false teaching in the churches there, and prompted him to write this letter. Paul’s third missionary trip went by these cities, but there is no mention in scripture that he visited the churches on this trip.

This is not one of the prison Epistles as it was written while he was on the road. Most people think he wrote this in Antioch or even in Jerusalem. This is also a letter that Paul says he wrote himself (Gal 6:11). Most of his writings were taken down by scribes that were working with him, so this was a rarity.

The central theme of the letter is justification by faith alone. The main reason it was written was because the Galatians were starting to listen to false doctrine being spread by the Judaizers which we will talk about later. There are many very powerful concepts in this wonderful letter that we will be exploring.

This study will carry a lot of my own personal reflections on the verses that we share each day (hopefully I can do them daily). There will also be scripture references as we go along where I feel it needs a little more background. When we get to the portion on the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) we will be covering each fruit on a separate post. I am unsure at this time how many verses I will take a day – it will depend on the content. Some days I may just talk about one verse other days it maybe 10 to 15. Each day the title of the post will go along with the theme of the selected verses for the day, as our James study did. I know that this study will be a blessing to me, and I hope it is also a blessing to you. I am thrilled that you are coming along on this journey with me and I look forward to your comments and thoughts as we go along.

Be blessed

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 2C – Seek

There is no secret to seeking the Lord, but there are some ways that we can make the experience better for us. We will discuss the ways of seeking the Lord and then, in the next post,  the blessings that we get from seeking the Lord.

Deuteronomy 4:29 – But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

This is a double verse because it says if we seek Him we will find him, which is a blessing which we will discuss further next time.  There is a stipulation. We have to seek him with all of our heart and all of us all soul.  To me that means giving it everything I have. It’s not a half-hearted thing to really seek after the Lord and what He would have for you. There is so much that He wants to give you. We can have the Fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the comforter, the gift of hospitality and others that are listed in Romans 12:6-21.  Just his presence in our lives is something that seeking Him will bring. This is so important and I pray that when you do seek the Lord you will give it everything you’ve got.

1st Chronicles 16:11 – Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.

This says we should seek his strength and seek his face continually. There are other verses that talk about continually being in touch with God, like Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice” and 1st Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing. How often is your mind on the Lord? It seems to me throughout my day my mind goes towards Him in worship and in praise and in prayer as He brings people before me. I need to make time to seek Him as often as I can

 2nd Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

This is a verse of scripture we are probably all familiar with and we’ll be looking at it in great detail in a few lessons because it is a critical to our prayer lives. Part of that famous verse says to seek His face, which is the same as seeking Him, because if we are before His face, we are before Him.  This verse says seeking His face is a prerequisite to having our prayers answered. I pray that when you are preparing to pray you will seek the Lord first.

2nd Chronicles 19 3 – Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.

This verse says that a good thing has been found in me – I have prepared my heart to seek the Lord. We just talked about that a little bit. Are you in preparation to seek the Lord?  Is it something that you just do half-heartedly or with all your heart?  How well how do I prepare my heart to seek the Lord?  To me, preparing to seek Him is finding a quiet place where I can zone out the day and the cares of this world, and set my mind on Him.  They say it takes at least 20 minutes of concentration on something before our minds are clear of distractions.  When was the last time you sought the Lord for over 20 minutes?  I can honestly say it’s been a long tie for me.  Lord, help me to come to you more often with time to spare!

Hosea 10:12 – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Here is how you prepare your heart to seek the Lord. First you sow to yourself in righteousness. That means that you put righteous things into your mind and into your heart. Meditate on Psalm 119 and the other Psalms, think about those things listed in Philippians 4:8. This is sowing righteousness into your mind and into your life. Then he says to reap in Mercy. To me that means to make sure you’re understanding the mercy that He’s given in your life and knowing that it’s on going and that you can’t live without it. You’re depending on it.  When we get to that position, we will see that we are reaping mercy on a continual basis.

Break up our fallow ground. Now we all know the parable of the sower and the seed. It says some seed fell by the wayside and the ground was hard and it did not take root at all. This is fallow ground. It’s been trodden down by life and it will not take a seed. We always think of these verses as meaning a seed into somebody’s life for salvation. But we can continually have seeds planted in our lives that will help us to grow in other areas.  We need to make sure that we’re always going in and breaking up that fallow ground in our lives so that He can continue to plant seeds, or have someone else plant seeds, into your life.

Breaking up fallow ground is not always easy.  Being in the word, open and ready to receive what God has for you that day, is the best starting point.  Read slowly and listen to the Holy Spirit within you.  He is trying to talk to you all the time.  Most of the time the cares of this world crowd out His voice, but if you quiet yourself and invite Him to talk, I am convinced you will hear Him. He will always guide you into truth (John 16:13) and will teach you what Jesus said – what the word says (John 14:26).  Listen for His voice and He will break up that fallow ground.

Once we’ve done these three steps then it’s time to seek the Lord. Then our seeking will bring the blessings that we’re going to talk about in the next post. Oh, how we need to take the time to prepare for that. Because the blessing is that He will come and rain righteousness upon you when you seek the Lord in this way

Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.

We need to understand our position in Christ which is what meekness is. Meekness is not weak but it’s a humble disposition, one that is gentle and not easily provoked, calm and cool as we would say.  It’s a powerful position, knowing that God’s in control and knowing that we can call on his power whenever we need to. When we’re in this position and we seek the Lord, we can seek righteousness and seek more meekness. This is a good and pleasant thing to do.

And lastly Matthew 6:33 –  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

In this verse, which is also probably very familiar to all of us, Jesus says we first need to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And then He will take care of all the other things that we have need of on this Earth. He is our heavenly Father and He doesn’t want to keep anything from us. The Psalm 37:25 says “ I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  He loves us He doesn’t want us to worry about the food we eat or the clothes that we wear or where shall we lay our heads. We should be concentrating on Him Kingdom and His righteousness because when we do all earthly distractions fall aside. Worldly cares will not take up so much of our time. This is a good thing.

I hope you have a desire in your heart to seek God on a regular basis.  Not only does it help us draw nearer to Him, but it also is loaded with blessings, which we will discuss in our next post.

Be blessed!

 

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 2A – Ask

Now we get to the most exciting part of this study. The A.S.K. Principal is the centerpiece of this labor of love so I’ll jump right into it. I have a lot of scripture to share with you and may have to break this first session about the first step – Ask – down two or three posts because I know this will get rather lengthy.

The first scripture is an obvious one. It is our main text. Now to Matthew Chapter 7:7-11.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

We are going to center on the Ask portion of this for this post – seek and knock will be covered later. Jesus says ask and you shall receive. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.  Remember this word Ask in the Greek is a word that meas keep on asking until you receive and that would be a literal translation of this verse. Some of the preaching that’s out there today says if you don’t receive what you want after the first asking you don’t have enough faith. Personally, I believe that it takes more faith to ask again and again and again because it shows that we trust God to come through for us.  Often He wants to teach us patience through our request. He tries our faith (James 1:3) to bring patience out in our lives.

Then Jesus gives a few example of people who ask for something good and questions us whether we would give them something bad in return. He says if we, being evil, (I think it’s interesting that He calls us evil) give good gifts to our children, how much more should God give good things when we ask. He is just waiting for our requests, and we can know whatever He gives us is good, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time.

The second scripture is from John 15:7.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

 This is in the middle of the discourse about the vine and the branches. It is very important that you understand this principle but I do not have the time or the space to go into that on this post. If you are not familiar with it, please read John 15.  The key word here is abide.  This word means to stay with or wait with.  If we abide in Him then we will ask and it will be done. He equates abiding to a branch that is connected to the Vine and receiving its vital life giving resources from that vine. If our lives are connected to Jesus in such a way then this verse applies. if we are connected to Jesus in such a way we will not be asking for frivolous things just for the sake of asking because we think He’s some kind of a grand Gift Giver.  We will be asking for the vital, life giving resources that can make us better disciples and bring Him glory.

Now I take you to John 14:12 -14.

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

In this portion of scripture Jesus not only says that if we ask in His name He will do what we ask.  He adds that if we believe on Him we will do greater things than He has done. This is quite a phenomenal statement considering He healed all the sick, raised the dead, opened blind eyes, freed the captives and many other things. The important part of this verse is that we ask in His name. His name is the Word. He is the Word made flesh that dwelt among us. When we ask in His name we ask according to His Word.

The other thing that He says is that He will do it so the Father may be glorified, not so that we may be glorified. If we are asking because we will receive some kind of glory, I do not see this prayer being answered.

That takes us to the next portion of scripture and James 4:2-3

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James is telling us that our desires are not being obtained even though we fight and quarrel. We cannot obtain because we don’t ask  and when we do ask, we ask amiss –  to consume on our own lust. To me this throws the prayer of the prosperity group right out the window. I also have a problem with the Prayer of Jabez which many people enjoyed a few years ago. I saw this prayer as one that was a prayer to consume things on their own lust. This is not the correct way to ask because the Father is not glorified when we are prideful in the things we obtain. Asking with a humble spirit is a key to answer prayer (we will cover this more soon)

Now we go to James 1:5-8

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James talks about asking God for wisdom and says it will be given us when we don’t waver.  He equates wavering to a ship being tossed in the sea (think of the movie The Perfect Storm). If you have been on such a ship you know it’s not fun. The double-minded man will receive nothing from the Lord because he is unstable. We must not be double-minded when we ask. If we want the answer from God we must have all the faith in the world that God will answer. No matter how long it takes, we must pray through.  God will bring us the wisdom we need in His due time.

Our next scripture comes from 1st John 3:22

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight

We asked and we received because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. This is the scripture a lot of people like to just pass over, thinking that He will just answer our request because we asked, like He owed it to us or something. God is not some big Santa Claus in the sky.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the creator of all things.  He answer when He decides to answer and how He decides to answer.  We should come expecting, but know that it is only His grace that He provides things through our prayers.  He tells us very plainly here that keeping His commands and doing things present in His sight are prerequisites to answered prayer.

Now I’m not trying to say that God does not answer the prayers of the destitute and the lonely. Psalm 102:17 says he regards the prayers of the destitute. He wants to answer their prayers. Psalm 51:17 tells us that the Lord loves a broken spirit and a contrite heart. He will hear the prayers of people in that condition whether they are saved or sinners.

Now let’s go to  1st John 5:14-15.

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Do you have this confidence, that if you ask according to His will he hears you?  Are you confident of that?  I am!   His will is the written word of God and our prayers need to be in line with scripture to secure an answer. If we are confident that he hears, that means we know that he hears us.  Whatsoever we ask,  we will have.  This is because God honors His word.  Psalm 138:2 says I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”  That is high regard!

Now let’s go to Matthew 21:22

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Jesus says us that all things that we ask in prayer, if we believe, we will receive. Many people take this verse and use it solely to say that they will get what they want. But we have to take the whole body of scripture together to find out what the Ask really means.  We cannot carelessly pray for anything on the face of the earth and expect it to be done, regardless of how we lives our lives.  Prayer just doesn’t work that way.

Next is Matthew 18:19

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

This is another verse that is used a lot by the prosperity believing in group. If we agree as touching anything that we will ask it will be done. I do believe there is a lot of power in two or more getting together and praying for needs.  After all, God said One can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand when He is engaged in the battle (Deut 32:30) .  We still have to be in line with the rest of the scriptures that talk about Asking .  We can’t just take this verse and stand on it alone and think that no matter what we ask,  God will do it.

Now to John 15:16 (just a few more)

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Jesus talks about those who are chosen and ordained. They will ask so He may give it to them. Notice that before He makes that statement, He says they would go and bring forth fruit that remains.  I could go on for a long time about fruitfulness, but for now let’s just say fruitfulness means bringing souls to Christ.  I believe the prayers of the those people that have been saved by grace through faith are powerful. We should have a ministry of intercessory prayer, which is one of the most powerful ministries we can have.  It is fruit-bearing prayer.  When we pray for somebody else it becomes very powerful. God honors our intercession. (We will be discussing this more as we go on)

John 16:23-27 is our next destination.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.
26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:
27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

Jesus says we should ask the Father in his name which is different then the other scriptures where we are told to ask in His name, or according to His Word. Up to this point . the Jews prayed to the Father and not to Jesus. Jesus is changing the way people pray. Later on in this portion of scripture He does again says to ask the Father in His name. We go directly to the Father but we petition Him in Jesus name. So there are two ways that we are supposed pray.  We can pray to Jesus according to His Word or His will, or we can pray to the Father and pray in Jesus name. Either one is just as effective.

The last portion of scripture is Ephesians 3:20-21.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

This is a powerful portion of Scripture and I would like you to make sure that you understand it. It tells us that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we Ask or think. We do not know exactly how God will answer our prayer. But whatever He does and however He answers, we can know that it’s exceedingly abundantly above what We ask .  It is much better for us in the long run no matter what the answer is. He has put his Holy Spirit within us to guide us into His plan when we submit by being patient and waiting for the answer to come. God is Sovereign and He will answer our prayers when and how He wants to. Then He has put the power within us to utilize that answer to bring Him glory.  All have control over is the Ask and our attitude toward the response He gives us.  Let us always give Him glory when He answers prayer, no matter how He answers.  Proverbs 3:6 says “In all they ways acknowledge Him”

I know that this has been a much linger post than I usually write, but these are the scriptures that I’ve chosen to talk about Ask. Thank you for bearing with me.  There are dozens, if not hundreds more we could go to.  In the next post we will show examples of people that asked and received. We will also talk about a few people that Jesus talked about and how they brought their petitions. Stay tuned

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer : Chapter 1 – What Is Prayer?

The storm was threatening to meet us about 45 miles before we reached home. The forecast as for the rain to change to snow, and that snow would be blowing in on 30-40 mph winds. I with a 3-hour drive ahead of us, we started out hoping for the best and saying a prayer that the storm would not produce what was forecast. As we traveled closer and closer, I kept checking the future radar, and nothing changed. The snow had actually reached to just north of our destination on it’s steady march to the southeast.

We made a stop about an hour from home and once again I checked the radar, expecting to see the snow closing in on us. Much to my surprise, a dry patch had worked its way into the storm center and it was starting to influence the advancement of the snow. Actually, the snow was now moving backwards, traveling to the northwest instead of towards us. This is unheard of in Iowa! Snow just doesn’t travel that way. I had spent some time with God in prayer, and my petition was heard and answered. The rest of the drive, there was absolutely no precipitation.

If you asked a hundred people, you would probably get 50 or 60 different answers. Some might say it is meditation to reach a higher level of consciousness. Some might say it consist of bowing to the East 5 times a day while petitioning their God. Others would say it I dancing and chanting around a fire to appease a higher spirit. Then some might say it is just crawling inside yourself and thinking about what you’d like to become. The interesting thing is that all of these answers are correct! Prayer is different to everyone and they all have their own method of accomplishing it. For this study, we will stick with the Christian religion alone, but may make reference to other belief systems along the way. To cover all religions and all beliefs would simply take too much time. Besides that, the things we bring up here would be somewhat the same in other religious practices, and can be tailored to those as well.

According to the on-line dictionary, prayer if defined as
“a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

Wikipedia carries this definition:
“Prayer (from the Latin precari “to ask earnestly, beg, entreat”)[1] is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.”

In the Bible, the Hebrew Old Testament word used for prayer is “tephilla”. This word means to entreaty supplication, or intercession for someone else. It can also be a spiritual hymn or song. It is used 77 times in the Old Testament, always with a sense of reverence. Some of the scriptures that use this word are:

1 Kings 8:28
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer (tephilla) of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer (tephilla), which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer (tephilla) that is made in this place.
Psalm 4:1
4 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer (tephilla).

In the New Testament the Greek word is “proseuche”, and can mean prayer to God or a place set aside for prayer. If you go back to the root it actually comes from a word meaning to wish for. It is used 37 times in the New Testament. A few verses where this is used:

Matthew 21:22
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer (proseuche), believing, ye shall receive.

Acts 6:4
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Philippians 4:6
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Now all that is wonderful, but it really doesn’t tell us what prayer actually is, does it? The definitions and the Biblical words don’t tell us how to go about praying – how to accomplish it in practical way. That is what we will attempt to do with this study.

This chapter will focus on what prayer is. We will look at 4 methods of defining prayer, each a little different than the other. Then we will investigate scripture to show how these 4 principles do the best to define prayer. These 4 areas are conversation with God, communication with God, faith-in-action, and the core principal of this book – A.S.K.! In the ensuing posts, we will look at each one of these individually to give us all a better understanding of what prayer really is.

A.S.K. – A Key to Prayer – Outline

This is the original outline from 20 years ago. Since we are going back through this study, there could be changes as we go along. If you see a category missing that you think should not be left out, feel free to make suggestions. I appreciate your input. Remember, this is meant to be a bible study, not a lecture series – join in!

Chapter 1 – What is prayer?
A) Conversation with God
B) Communication with God
C) Faith In Action
D) A.S.K.

Chapter 2 – Communicating with God
A) We Must Speak
B) We Must be Heard
C) We Must be Understood
D) We Must Expect A Response
E) We Must Listen For A Response
F) We Must Accept The Response

Chapter 3 – When Should We Pray
A) Time of Day
B) Situational
C) Responsive
D) Always

Chapter 4 – How Should We Pray
A) Silent or Aloud
B) Spirit or Flesh
C) Stand, Sit, Kneel, etc.
D) Humbly or Bold
E) In Faith

Chapter 5 – Why Should We Pray
A) Give Thanks
B) Give Praise – Worship
C) Bless Others
D) Make our Requests Known
E) Helps Us Be Fruitful
F) Strengthen Others
G) Strengthen Ourselves

Chapter 6 – Where Should We Pray
A) In God’s House
B) In Our House
C) Anywhere

Chapter 7 – What Should We Pray For
A) Healing
B) Finances
C) Safety
D) Deliverance
E) Guidance
F) Others
G) Government
H) Wisdom
I) Spiritual Growth
J) Know God’s Will
K) Emotional Stability
L) Spiritual Gifts