Tag Archives: Prayer

Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-44 (KJV)

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

There is an interesting shift here that I have not caught before. In the last three cases where Jesus says “Ye have heard it hath been said”, the references He gave were all scriptural from the Old Testament teachings. But there is nowhere in the Old Testament where they are told to hate their enemies. Instead, we are told to not take vengeance, to consider their afflictions and to help them when we can:

Leviticus 19:18
”You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord,”

Exodus 23:4-5
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him,” 
Proverbs 25:21
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,” 

One has to wonder who was saying to hate their enemies! It is true that the Old Testament commanded them to rid their land of all who were of other religious, but it was not out of hate that they did this. It was to keep themselves pure before the Lord and avoid turning to those idols themselves. They failed miserably at this most of the time though! They regularly would turn back to the groves and idols of the heathen and God would have to step in with judgement to turn them back. It was a continual process in the nation.

This seems to be a continual process for many of us in the church, me included. There are idols in our lives that we turn back to over and over again. An idol is anything that we worship more than God. It can be an area of disobedience in our lives that we keep turning back to, or just a part of our loves that pushes God out. When this happens to us, God will allow things into our lives that will cause us to turn back to Him if we will but listen and open our eyes. We are not to bring hate into our lives to get rid of the sin. That will only draw attention to the sin. The way out of sin is to love God and turn to Him, because that automatically turns us away from our sinfulness. If we try to get rid of sin by hating it, we concentrate on the sin and not on God This is a critical lesson we must learn before we can move forward. Love is always the answer!

The command is to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is not love the neighbor that is good to you, or that is a Christian, or that has similar likes and dislikes. It is your neighbor. Any neighbor. When Jesus is asked who our neighbor is, He gives us the story of the Good Samaritan, where the enemy of the Jews is the neighbor who does good to the Jew, his neighbor.

Have you ever noticed how sometime non-Christians are much more loving and helpful than Christians? They will go out of their way to help you out while the committed Christian always has an excuse not to help. We have had this happen numerous times in our lives, especially during this cancer crises the last two and a half years. Almost all of our transportation has been provided, most of it by those we would call nominal Christians if really saved at all. They go to church, but do not really live a committed Christian life. However, when it comes to helping someone in need, they are there quickly. This has been such a blessing to me and my wife. I am not their enemy, but you get the idea here. We as Christians always need to do the best we can to help our neighbors when they ask.

Our enemy is even more important to love. If we show disrespect to them, or try to get revenge, or come back at them with some snide remark, we are no better than the world. We bring ourselves down to their level of communication, and the word tells us that our mission is to edify those around us (Eph 4:29). We are to lift people up. We are to be a light in this dark world. Shining brightly with love and compassion. We are to be the salt of the earth, seasoning it with good flavor and preserving it for heaven. We are to be humble, meek, mournful over sin, merciful and peacemakers. We are to endure any persecution that comes our way, any hurtful comment, any gossip, and wrong, and only return love.

We are also told to do good to those that use and abuse us. Don’t recompense evil with evil, but overcome evil with good (1 Peter 3:9). We overcome the wrongs done to us by returning good to those who have hurt us. A loving remark said to someone who says something hurtful really throws them for a loop. Most can’t understand that kind of love. It gives us a stage to witness down the road. But more than that, it keeps us from getting bitter over the situation. Our anger is removed by love. We will start to love them despite their hurtful ways, and our heart will be more aware of what is going on.

The truth is that we do not know exactly what is going on in a persons life that they would say or do hurtful things to us. They may have a situation in their life that is dragging them down so they need encouragement. They may have been hurt deeply and want to lash out at someone and you just happened to be the target. Whatever the case, we should be agents of love to them. Saying things that would only lift them out of their problems and help them see the brighter side of life.

On top of that, we are to pray for those who hurt us. Earlier in these studies, I shared with you the Mercy prayer . This prayer is perfect to use for those who have wronged you and offended you. It prays mercy over that one who has hurt you and it works to change your heart as well as theirs. The power of prayer cannot be overlooked in our human relations. It is the most powerful force in the universe because it brings into action the power of God Himself. I would urge you, if you struggle in this area, to go back and print out that prayer. Keep it handy for future use. It will change your life. This world can be hurtful enough. Let us rise above and be the agents of love to a lost and dying world.

Jesus, worthy of our praise!

Advertisement

Jumping For Joy Cancer Update

Still in complete remission and no active lesions! Blood counts all look good. Praise the Lord.
 
This was the report I received Monday in Iowa City. I also found out my last day chemo is Sept 27th. Everything is progressing nicely. I am walking an average of 2 miles a day and biking 4+ miles a day. This is the most exercise I have ever done in my life!
 
On the “still believing God for complete healing” side, my neuropathy has not changed, but I am functioning better with it. And my fatigue level has slightly deteriorated (Maybe I exercise too much?).
 
I also have 4 opportunities to share the healing story of faith in the next two months, and continue to look for more open doors. Any suggestions?
 
Again, thank you for all your prayers and support. Janeen has drawn strength from them as much as I have. You are all very special to us!
 
Be blessed

The Reason

Are your prayers being answered on a regular basis? If they are not you might want to examine the reason that you are asking what you are asking. It is critically important that if we want prayers to be answered that we ask for what God promises to give us.

In James we read that people are not getting their prayers answered because they were asking to consume it on their own lusts (James 4:3). How often do you pray for things that all about accumulating wealth in your life.  These things will bring you glory and most likely make you proud.  God knows if He answers these prayers, it will drive you away from Him. God knows effects of such a prayer would be devastating on your life  Often, He will not answer prayers like  this.

However, if He knows that you will take that wealth and give it away to people that need it, He may answer that prayer.  if He knows that You will use that wealth to bring Him glory, He just may answer that prayer.  If He knows that pride will not result, the answer may come.  It’s all about the motive with these kind of prayers.

Another reason prayers don’t get answered is because we don’t pray according to God’s will.  Now we all realize that God’s will is His word.  Therefor, we believe that for everyone that is sick, He wants to heal them because by His striped we are healed.  But if that is the case, why do people die?  Why do some prayers end in miraculous healing while others take years to finally see healing come?  Why do people even get sick or injured in the first place if we are praying for their safety?

The reason is that we don’t know exactly what God’s perfect will is in any situation.  When Jesus prayed for the ten lepers, 9 were cleansed, one that came back and gave thinks was made whole (Luke 17:11-19).  What’s the difference?  Well, leprosy can eat away skin, noses, ears, fingers and make your body look like a leper the rest of your life.  You are cleansed when the sores stop oozing and take on a wholesome appearance.  None of the skin is completely restored, not the prats that may have been eaten away.  I believe the one who came back and gave thanks was made completely whole, completely restored.

The best thing we can do for anyone is that God’s will should be done in their lives.  Pray that they will be given the strength in God is ready to heal them.  Pray that they will endure the trial and learn what God has for them.  Pray that they will accept God’s timing in their lives.  Don’t override God’s plan by praying for what you think is God’s will.

A third reason is that we try to tell God how He should answer our prayers.  That is a recipe for unanswered prayer.  God is sovereign and He will answer the prayer the way in which he knows it will be best for us.  The trouble is that we do now know what is best for us as well as God does.  He knows our future and He knows the plans He has for us.  if we will just learn to place our lives in God’s hands, accept the situations that come before us, and lay them at His feet, then we will have a lot more peace.  Stop prescribing your own answers, your own medicine.  Allow Him to lead.

There are other reasons, but these are the big three in my opinion.  Personally, I would like every prayer to be answered.  I have worked hard to bring my prayer life in line with His word and I have seen more and more prayers answered.   Have you examined your prayer life lately?

 

Laying on our Hands to Pray

Note: This is something I am adding to my book. It will be in the chapter that talks about How to Pray. Fortunately God brought this to my attention before the book was published. He’s so good to us!

One of the ways we can further strengthen our prayer lives is by utilizing the practice of laying on of hands. This practice actually goes back to the Old Testament and is used in two different ways. The first is as a sign of association for the sacrifice that was being offered. The Levites put their hands on the sacrifice and blessed it for the use that it was intended for. This could be for the trespass offering  the sin offering, the burnt offering or the meat offering. In all these cases the Levites, who were the spiritual leaders, placed their hands on the sacrifice and blessed it.  This can be found in Leviticus 1:4, 3:2, 4:15 and 16:21 and several other verses.

The second way that the laying on of hands was used in the Old Testament was to anoint an individual for service. This is especially true of the Priests and Levites, but also for Kings and leaders with authority.

Numbers 8:10-15

10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:

11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord.

12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.

13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the Lord.

14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.

15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.

 

These  verses in Numbers show us both of the ways laying on of hands was part of the ceremony in the Old Testament.  First, the people laid their hands on the Levites to consecrate them for the Lord’s service.  Then the Levites put their hands on the sacrifice, consecrating it and identifying themselves as the priests of Israel.  They were then appointed to do the work of sacrificing the animals brought by the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 34:9 King James Version (KJV)

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.

This is a scripture which shows the transference of the spirit of wisdom from Joshua to Moses.  Since Moses was not going into the promised land with the people he had been leading for 40 years, he needed a replacement filled with the same wisdom God had endowed Moses with.  Joshua was chosen the next leader.  He was one of only 3 men to survive those 40 years (Caleb  and Moses being the other two).  This laying on of hands was done in front of the whole nation to let them know God had appointed Joshua their new leader.

In the New Testament, there are different uses for the laying on of hands as well.  This practice was used by Jesus and His disciples as well as Paul.  If they all thought it was important, we should take heed to its usage and practice our prayer in the same way.

Mark 10:16

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

The children had come to Jesus because they loved Him and wanted to be near Him.  As they came near, Jesus stretched out His hand, placed it on each one’s head, and gave them a blessing.  We see this same thing in the Old testament when Jacob blessed his sons.  The laying on of hands is a way to show your favor on someone and bless them.  If given by someone in authority, it can signify separating them for service, much as the story above with Joshua.  This  can be a very powerful and meaningful time when entered into with the proper spiritual attitude of worship.

Luke 4:40

40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.

This verse tells us that everyone who was sick and diseased was brought to Jesus.  When He laid His hands on them all of them were healed. I can’t imagine how many people were there but there must have been a lot. His touch is a powerful thing. We still crave His touch today.  We seek to be touched by the Holy Spirit when we worship and when we pray. I personally have felt His touch quite often.  It’s hard to described to someone who has never experienced it.  It feels as if He is in the room with us.  Powerful times in the Lord arrive when He is present.

 

Mark 16:17-18

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Jesus, in some of His last words before leaving the disciples, told them that the laying on of hands to heal the sick would follow those who believe in Him.  Thus we see in Acts several cases where the disciples and Paul laid their hands on people to bring healing to them.  Here are a couple of verses.

 Acts 8:17

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Here we see the gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands. Again this is a transference from one person to another just like it was in the Old Testament. There’s a lot of power that comes with the laying on of hands.

 

Acts 28:8

And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

Paul laid his hands on the father of Publius and he was he healed. Once again, we see this method used to bring healing.

1 Timothy 4:14

14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

2 Timothy 1:6 King James Version (KJV)

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

In both first and second Timothy it is mentioned that Timothy received his gifts from the laying on of hands.  This is the transference of power we have talked about before.

When we ask people to lay their hands on us to pray there are two things that take place. First of all it’s a way for them to associate with what we’re going through. In a way it puts them in our place and they can pray effectively for us because they are right where we are. It also gives us encouragement that somebody is praying for us. The second thing is it signifies a transference of power from them to us. It allows the Holy Spirit to work through them in our lives. It may be a prayer for healing, or finances or for a spiritual need in my life. Whatever the prayer it is strengthened by the laying on of hands.

 

I would urge all of us to make sure that we are making contact with those people that we’re praying for. It does not have to be a contact that’s out of place. Merely laying a hand on their shoulder or taking their hand in ours is enough to give them the reassurance that we care and that we’re there for them. That point of contact is more powerful than we can possibly imagine. So let’s not neglect this practice

 

 

 

The Right Dog

My best friend lost his cherished Rottweiler Bear in December of 2017. He was devastated and we all encouraged him to get a new dog soon. Keep in mind this man is a two time combat vet who was devoted to this dog, and the dog was devoted to him. They were inseparable. He was in a part a therapy dog for him. So losing this dog was heart wrenching and almost took his own life. Also keep in mind that he is a mighty prayer warrior, and has carried me through my cancer battle throughout 2016 and 2017. He knows the power of prayer. We agreed that another dog would be supplied, and prayed in Jesus name that God would  bring the right dog for him.

He was so distraught that he did not even want to try and look up Rottweiler breeders own his own.  He asked me to do that, so I proceeded to weed through the hundreds that came up in a search.   I gave him 4 websites to go to and they happened to be some of the best Rottweiler breeders in the country. At the time, we rejoiced because God had led me to the exact place for him to find a new dog   He said it seemed perfect, but he had a check in his spirit about it, so he waited. And he waited. And he waited, still praying for the dog to come.

Almost 6 months to the day of Bear’s demise,  he called me and said he saw an add in his local paper for pure-bread Rottweilers.  . He called the man and it turned out to be the very man who had sold him Bear almost 14 years earlier. As they talked, my friend discovered that the one male he had was Bears grandson! Of course he purchased that dog! We together marveled at God’s extreme mercy, and I told him I was so proud of him for waiting and listening to God. Even in his deep grief, he heard the voice of God. The prayer of 6 months earlier came through because he was willing to wait and listen. That to me is faith in action!

never get discouraged when your prayer is not answered immediately.  God has a plan in mind,m and it will always be for your best.  There are many times we will have to wait on an answer.  Waiting is the “Knock” in the A.S,K, Principle.  Jesus said knock, and it shall be open.  We need to knock until it is open.   I am always willing to wait, because I trust Him.

How about you?