For what and for whom are you praying?

ephesians 3 14 19The next section of Ephesians Chapter 3,  verses 14-21, is a prayer Paul wrote to them.  Today we are focusing on verses 14-19 and I have chosen the New Living Translation for ease in understanding.  His prayer is an excellent model of what to pray for fellow believers.  As you read, listen for Paul’s heartfelt desires for them and their relationship with God.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources with he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Paul makes it clear from the beginning that he is praying to the living God who created heaven and earth, remember they were surrounded by a very pagan society that worshiped man made idols.   Paul knows God is omnipotent and the source of a believer’s strength.  He wants them to grow and develop in faith.  He wants them to realize who God is and the power of His love for them.  Paul feels if they come to know the God of all power and love, they will have lives that are filled and transformed.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have the privilege and obligation to intercede on behalf of other believers.

What about you?  What do you pray for your fellow believers?  Do you pray for their growth and knowledge of God,  and that they will experience the fullness of His love? If you’ve never prayed like that- give it a try.  Choose a friend and pray for their growth in james 5 16faith, their knowledge of God to increase as they study His Word, their prayer life to expand, that they would experience and understand the depth of God’s love for them….. God desires that we lift one another up in prayer.  James 5:16b  ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  Seek to be a clean vessel through your own confession of sins,  then pray earnestly on behalf of other believers.  Remember Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Linda

 

3rd Sunday of Lent, 2020 Need a place to worship? Join us on YouTube

This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians- brought near, united as one Spirit and family,  founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God.  What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus.   New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us.  The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis.  They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ.  Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3 seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith.  Let them replace any fears you are feeling.

Truths:

  •  we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   Ephesians 2:13
  • we are one in Spirit.   Ephesians 2: 14,18
  • we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:19-23
  • we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 3:6
  • we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Ephesians 3:7-11
  • we have access to the Father in prayer.  Ephesians 3:12

Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually,  as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus.  Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word.  You simply type:  wearecrossroads  into Youtube and it should take you there.

Blessings as you seek to live fearlessly for Him,

Linda

 

The Cross = access to God!

Paul concludes this section on the mystery of the gospel and his work among the Ephesians as a teacher and preacher with a revelation about the unique freedom they now have in Christ.  Ephesians 3:12 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”   3 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.”  Paul  wanted them to focus on the position available to them because of their faith in Christ and not to feel sorry for him as he writes to them from prison in Rome.  He felt it was a privilege to suffer in the name of Christ, not a burden.

So what is this unique freedom we now have as believers in Christ?  Paul says we now have the ability to come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  This is a  unique status given only to believers. Ephesians 3-12Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have access to the God the Father in prayer.  We do not need to go to or though anyone to have our requests made known to God.  In the past, the Israelites had to go through their High Priest to present their needs to the Lord.  Now, each person can approach the throne of God in prayer and lay your heart’s desires,  needs,  hopes and dreams before the Lord.  The Lord Jesus is now our High Priest and presents our prayers to the Father. When we struggle for words or thoughts, Jesus intercedes for us and knows exactly what we are thinking or feeling.  Hebrews 8:1b “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,”   

Here are a few verses that talk about this unique privilege of prayer:

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

1 John 5:14:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

hebrews 4-16 confidencePray with confidence today, God hears your prayers.  Pray to stay in God’s will and He will give you the grace and mercy you need.  God is faithful and keeps His promises.  I love Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  God is 100% faithful and will hear our prayers.   His ways are not our ways, so we need trust Him and not  seek to demand our own way or try to tell God what to do.  I am always amazed at God’s answers to my prayers as He often answers in ways I could never have imagined.  Pray in faith, knowing He absolutely hears you and let God take care of the details!     Thank you Jesus for interceding for me as I approach the Father in prayer. 

Linda

The Privilege of Prayer

Do you have good friends of faith?  Do you share your joys and struggles in your daily walk with Christ and praises for answered prayers?  Paul had that kind of relationship with the Ephesians when he lived among them and it shows in his heartfelt message as ephesians 1 16he sought to encourage them in their faith.  Ephesians 1:15-16.  “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,”  Paul had brought them to faith and was like a proud ‘papa’ over the continued growth of these believers.  He was thankful for their lives of faith and  prayed for them all the time.

A couple of months ago I was struggling with some health issues and a dear sister in Christ sent me a handmade card with the sentiment “I’m praying for you”.  Just receiving her note encouraged me in my walk that day and each day after as I glanced at the card.  Saying you’ll pray for someone is the most precious gift you can give them,  so don’t say it if you don’t intend to actually pray.  Paul was sincere and serious about prayer and he prayed constantly for those new believers in all the cities where he ministered.

Teaching, preaching, witnessing and prayer were all essential parts of Paul’s ministry.  Even if we do not feel like we can be teachers or preachers we can all witness to the joy and power of Christ in our lives.  We can all pray for those who we encounter who do not know Jesus, for our friends and family,  and for specific troubles or circumstances we know people are experiencing.   We can pray for our leaders at church, in our city and in our country.  Prayer changes things and gives us opportunity to communicate with Father God about the people in our lives.  Praying for others takes the focus off ourselves and acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all things.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can go directly to God in prayer.  He is accessible because of our faith in Jesus.

prayer for each otherToday spend some time in prayer for those around you that are hurting, despairing, in poor health, need comfort, strength or are walking down a wrong pathway.  Thank God that they are in your life and that you can lift them up in the name of Jesus.

Linda

#3 Practicing Devotion to God- Pray

prayerThe third practical way to experience love and commitment to God is to PRAY.  The Bible is filled with people talking, communing, listening and responding to God in prayer.  Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah to conceive as she was barren, Hannah prayed rejoicing as God gave her a son to love,  David prayed for protection and guidance as he fled from Saul, Solomon prayed for wisdom to rule the people, Nehemiah prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem,  Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish, Jesus prayed many times to commune with His father while here on Earth, the Apostles prayed for guidance in presenting the gospel and encouraged all believer to pray constantly.  These are just a few examples of the who, when and why people prayed.

We often think of prayer as me talking and God listening.  All of the above knew that God was accessible in prayer and that He would answer with guidance, hope, love and compassion.  In Psalm 16: verses 7, 11 David reveals how he feels about prayer.  I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;  in the night also my heart instructs me.”  ” You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”    David received God’s guidance and counsel as God laid on his heart what he should do.  God revealed the right pathway in life to him. 

 Jesus instructed us on prayer in Matthew 6: 5-13He told us what not to do in verse 5,7-8 and then what to do in verses 6, 9-13.  Do Not “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.    Do “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”   Pray then like this:

lords-prayer“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”

Prayer is personal as you alone can speak with Almighty God and lay your concerns, hopes, dreams and desires before Him.  As you learn to trust Him, He will reveal His will and desires to you.  Psalm 37:3,4 are some of my favorite verses and I pray and claim them often.  “Trust in the Lord and do good;  dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.Take delight in the Lord,  and he will give you the desires of your heart.”   

Psalm-37-4Talk with God, trust Him with the desires of your heart, keep on doing good and be safe in His arms.

Linda

Thankful in all things, really Lord?

1 Thess 5 18Paul’s final words to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them shows his pastor’s heart.  He told them to take care of one another, be patient, not to seek revenge and always try to do good.  Then in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he includes these thoughts: Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  He concludes this passage with admonitions to them to not try to block the Holy Spirit’s work and always seek to do good. 

What would our lives be like if we really tried to do these things?  Being patient with those who frustrate us, seeking to take care of those who are weak or in need, not being vengeful, always being filled with joy, thanks and praises to God, being known as a prayer warrior, seeking to do the will of God in all things and always looking for the good.   But that is what Paul is saying is God’s will for us.  God wants us filled with joy, always looking to Him in prayer and being thankful in all circumstances.   Scripture does not say being thankful for all things but in all things.  We do not need to be thankful for the hurricane, car accident or someone’s death,  but we need to be thankful during those times of stress, deprivation, sorrow or calamity.  We need to have an attitude of gratitude towards God at all times.  That can be very hard in difficult times but as Paul says this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”   This is the key to having a grateful heart which God desires of us.  I love the way David expresses this is Psalm 86:11-13         Teach me your ways, O Lord,
    that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
    so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
    You have rescued me from the depths of death.

psalm 86 12Is this you in all circumstances?  Let David’s words be your prayer today.

Lindar

Worry won’t change anything-Seek Peace!

philippians 4 6Philippians 4:6-7 is a familiar portion of scripture that brings great comfort to believers.  Here are Paul’s words in the New Living Translation. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Paul exhorted the Philippian believers, as well as us, to leave all our worries and concerns with Jesus in prayer.  We are to tell God what we need and then thank  Him for things we know God has done and provided for us in the past.  How will that help with our worrying?  Reviewing in our mind all the blessings God has given makes us realize that what we have is His and He has caused all things in our lives to work together for 8-28good.  Perhaps we cannot see it right now,  but we have to trust His promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”   Reviewing the circumstances of our lives, the ups and downs, the narrow escapes, the blessings of each day, the miracles done on our behalf causes us to thank God.  Knowing He has provided in the past and will in the future gives us hope and creates thanksgiving in our hearts.  The end result is what Paul proclaimed- PEACE!  The peace Jesus brings in such situations is all from Him, it is encompassing and beyond description.

Are you worried, frustrated, consumed with grief or depression?  Turn to God in prayer with thanks in your heart, think about God and all He has done for you,  and you will find peace.  If your circumstances are difficult and you struggle to find earthly thanks then turn your thanks to God for your spiritual blessings.  You are loved by God, saved, have a home in heaven, are a saint and loved child of God, you are redeemed and freed from the penalty of sin…..  Your spiritual blessings are eternal and no one or nothing here can change or corrupt them.  Give thanks and His peace will come upon you.

thank you godHave a blessed day filled with Thanks to Him.

Linda

Paul’s ‘How To’ starts with Thanks

ephesians 1 15How do you pray for others believers when you hear they are struggling, being persecuted, or have the desire to live and walk with Jesus each day?  Paul gives us some guidelines for these prayers in Ephesians 1:15-19.

 #1 He gives thanks for them  Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you.” 

#2 He prays all the time for them to have wisdom, insight and growth in their faith.  “I pray for you constantly,17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom  and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” 

#3 He prays they be overcome, filled with God’s marvelous light, truth and Hope” I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”     

#4 He prays they will know their great God-His power and character. ” I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.”  

james 1 16Today as you pray for others, let Paul’s guidelines of prayer for his fellow believers in Ephesus be on your mind.  Give thanks for them, then ask God to give them wisdom, discernment, growth in truth and and understanding of who God is.   Remember the words from James 5:16b ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  Pray earnestly for your fellow believers and watch God work in their lives and in yours.

Linda

What Stops You from Giving Thanks?

Daniel was an upright believer in God who was in a position of power in Babylon.  His adversaries hated him and sought to discredit him.   They tried but could find nothing to hold against him.  So, they got the idea to ask King Darius, over the Medo-Persian Empire, to make a law that no one could pray to any other god but him for a whole month.  The king was pleased, puffed up and overtaken with pride,  so he signed a law making it unlawful, on penalty of death, to worship any god but him.  The men who hated Daniel knew Daniel prayed to the God of Israel three times a day without fail.  They were hoping that he could continue this and then they could catch him and have him put to death.

Daniel 6:10 “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”   Daniel knew of their hatred and deceit but he trusted God more.  The story continues and Daniel is called before the king for praying to his God.  The king realized his mistake but could not change the law, since once a law was signed even the king was helpless to change it.  The penalty was being cast into a den with hungry lions.  The king liked Daniel and did not want to see him killed but was powerless.  The unbelieving king did something amazing, “Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.  Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to daniel 6 21the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:16,18,19-22 

The lesson for us in this favorite Old Testament story that is that Daniel was committed to God.  He knew his God was more powerful than any earthly king,  and he would not relinquish God’s place of preeminence in his life to anyone, no matter the cost.  Daniel 6:10 said he prayed as was his custom and gave thanks.  Nothing could deter Daniel from prayer and thanksgiving.   Romans 12:12 describes Daniel’s attitude towards prayer. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

romans 12 12What about you?  What stops you from praying daily?  Our obstacles could not be any bigger than death by lions,  but we let them rob us of our prayer time and take away our opportunities to give thanks and praise Almighty God.  Will you mediate on this today and ask God to reveal to you what is taking preeminence in your life that keeps you from regular prayer?  Confess it to Him and start praying regularly with praise and thanksgiving.

Linda 

Thankfulness begins with family

all god's familyOne of the true delights in life is God’s family.  No matter what kind of earthly family we come from that might be filled with fights, disagreements, hard feelings, love, tenderness, nurturing…. all believers belong to God’s family, He is our heavenly Father and we can call Him, “Abba Father’.   This is a term that was used to express a very close relationship with our father, like Daddy.  Romans 8:15-17 explains our adoption into God’s family.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”  

I find this passage incredibly encouraging.  I am adopted through faith in Jesus to belong to His family making me a join heir with Christ in heavenly things.  I will have eternal life with Jesus, reign in heaven, have a home there, belong to God and I can call Him Father and Jesus brother.  Jesus reaffirmed this truth in Matthew 12:50 when He was questioned about his brothers and sisters, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  I will also have support in the here and now through His indwelling Holy Spirit that testifies to my spirit that I belong to God and empowers me to live for Jesus each day.  Being in God’s family also means I will suffer for His name as I stand up for Him and tell others about Him.  It is all part of being ‘in the family’ of God.

Usually at Thanksgiving we think of family and give thanks for having those in our lives that care about us.  Likewise, we should take time to be thankful for the family of God.  Think of those brothers and sisters in Christ that are risking their lives to tell others about Jesus, those that are suffering great hardships around the world, those who we work with every day that are in need of a helping hand, an encouraging word or prayer.  Philippians 4:6 is a promise from God that reminds us to pray with thanks. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let we are familyyour requests be made known to God.”   Pray for your brothers and sisters today with calmness knowing they are loved by God and are join heirs with Christ.  It is our privilege as members of God’s family.

I am thankful for each of you as you seek to know God more completely,  and I pray that my words will be an encouragement to you!

Linda