439:  Kingdom Praying

439: Kingdom Praying

When we look at the content of the prayers of the early church we are amazed they didn’t pray like much of the church does today— for the little answerable “fix”.  Instead, they prayed for Kingdom matters, what we call Kingdom Prayers.  Let me explain.

A “little answerable” is a prayer for a little “fix” that is often related to our sense of entitlement from God.  These can be called horizontal prayers.  We lose our job so we pray for a new one.  A loved one is sick, so we pray for their healing.  We don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the month, so we pray to win the lottery.  And on the surface, these seem like proper, loving, spiritual prayers.  But that’s not how the early church prayed.

A Kingdom prayer, on the other hand, is praying for something that has lasting value and importance in the Kingdom of God.  For example, look at the following prayers and note what they are asking for (and what they are not):  Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-19, Romans 15:5-6, 13, Philippians 1:9-11, Philemon 1:4-6.


Kingdom Prayers

Do you see the difference?  Instead of praying for the current situation to be remedied, the early church prayed for a lasting effect in the believer no matter how the situation turned out.  Their prayers were long-term, character-focused, and not merely looking for an immediate “fix” to make life better.

So what can we learn from this?  Assuming you looked up the verses listed above, the following are a few truths we can glean from the content of the Kingdom prayers.

One, don’t immediately just jump to the obvious when you pray for a need.  Instead, begin by asking God what He wants to do in that situation?  Or, what is His will regarding what you pray?  Or finally, what would give Him the most glory in this situation?  Then, begin to pray accordingly.

Two, don’t be so quick to pray for the results or the “fix”.  Instead, pray for spiritual growth, insight, and development in the life of the one in need.  Again, ask God what He wants to do to bring glory to Himself in this situation or how He wants to transform the person into the image of His Son in this?

Three, when you don’t know what to pray, then pray Scripture.  The Holy Spirit will guide you in your prayer and even pray for you when you don’t know how to pray. Remember the promise in Romans 8:26-27.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God – Romans 8:26-27.

Having the content of your prayers changed to focus more on the eternal rather than the temporal is one major step to becoming a faith prepper.  To find out more about how this is done and how to become a faith prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on the prayer life of the early church or Kingdom Praying.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Household of God

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Household of God

Today, as we begin to pray, we will look at one last blessing from Ephesians 2:19 that involves our inclusion in “the household of God.”  Our verse for today reads:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

As always, before we can understand what the verse means, we have to understand exactly what the text is saying.  We do that by defining our key terms in order to see what the meaning of the word was when it was written, and not necessarily what it means today.  After all, language is constantly in a state of flux and changes with each generation.  For example, 50 years ago the word “mouse” meant only one thing to everyone, a furry rodent.  But today our primary thought when we hear that word is of a computer mouse.  You can see the importance of discovering the original meaning of the text and not making it say what we want it to say.  So let’s define our words.

The Greek word translated “household” is oikeíos and means “belonging or standing in relation to the household.”  Or, more literally, “belonging to a household.”  The blessing for each of us as revealed in this verse once again drives home the point we are now God’s family, His children, and as such, members of His household, the “household of God” (Eph. 2:19).  Which raises just a few questions and some encouraging answers.


The Household of God

First, how does someone become a member of a household?  There are basically two ways.  One, you can be born into a household or family as a son or daughter.  Or two, you can be chosen to be included in the household by adoption as a son or daughter.  For us as believers, both ways apply.

Jesus, when talking with Nicodemus, introduced the reality of being “born again” into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  He then went on to describe what this process of the new birth was all about by saying it is supernatural, spiritual, and has nothing to do with natural, physical birth.  But Jesus also stated emphatically the new birth is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God.  It is a non-negotiable, unyielding requirement.  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).  Did you catch the non-negotiable term in His statement?  It is the word, cannot.

Jesus said without the new birth you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  Or, in other words, you cannot be saved or receive eternal life.

The Greek word translated cannot is a combination of two words.  The first is ou which means “not, no, expressing direct and full negation both independently and absolutely.”  The other word is dúnamai which means “to be able, to have power, by virtue of one’s own ability and resources.”  So cannot in Greek means “not, no way, never” and “to be able or to have the power within oneself.”  In essence, it ain’t gonna happen no matter how hard you try.

What Jesus was telling Nicodemus is the entrance into His Kingdom and into the “household of God” is not something we can do on our own.  We are not able, we do not have the power or resources, and there is literally nothing we can do to join God’s family on our own.  We have to be invited, called, accepted, changed, and “born again” by the Spirit (John 3:8).

There is so much more to unpack regarding “the household of God” and we will have to table much of that until tomorrow.  But for today, praise Him for the fact your salvation was a gift given to you by a sovereign Father who chose to include you in His family (Eph. 1:4).  He chose to not only adopt you as His child (Eph. 1:5), but also change you by the new birth into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29).  In fact, He predestined you before time began for that very purpose.

So this is your calling.  This is what you were created for.  You were destined to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29) so others will see Him when they see you.  And rest assured, there is no higher calling than this.


Time to Pray

When you pray this morning, don’t pray as one who has no purpose or meaning in their life.  Instead, pray as one who has, and who is right now, receiving an inheritance from the King and has been commissioned to bring the light of His Kingdom into a dark and foreboding world.

Spend some time today thanking Him for this wondrous calling and praise Him for how blessed you truly are!

And enjoy Him to the fullest today.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 2

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the word saints and how the Lord continually used it to describe each of us that have been redeemed by the blood of His Son.  As you will recall, the word translated saints (hágios) means “holy, with the idea of separation, consecration, sanctification, and devotion to God” and is the standard name in the New Testament God uses to describe believers.  The verse we are using to help focus our prayers is Ephesians 2:19 which reads:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

But for many of us, the idea of being called a saint is unsettling and uncomfortable.  Why?  Because we view sainthood as perfection or something like a title given to someone far closer to the Lord than we are or who has done something for Him much greater than anything we have ever done.  And that is unfortunate.  Not that we haven’t accomplished what some heroes of the faith have accomplished.  What is unfortunate is our faulty view of how the Lord sees us in His Son.  For Him, we are saints, and that should settle the issue once and for all, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel.  But you and I both know that it doesn’t.

So maybe this will help.

If you feel your past sins keep you from ever being called a saint, you are in good company.  Many, if not most, believers today feel being referred to as a saint is something earned or deserved and not something given by grace.  But following the same logic, they would also have to conclude salvation must also be earned.  And if that was the case I, for one, would be in deep water.  Why?  Because all I have ever earned are the wages of my sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23).  But what I received from God was the gift of grace unto salvation.  So it also is with our position as a saint, or literally, a “holy one.”  God sees us as holy even though, by our actions, we prove otherwise.  Daily.  Maybe even hourly.  How can that be?

Let me ask you a question, what about you is holy?  That’s right, nothing.  So why does the Lord call you a saint or a “holy one”?   It is because your sins or unholiness have been imputed or reckoned to His Son and His Son’s holiness and righteousness has been imputed or credited to your account by grace.  As the Scriptures say, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).  So you and I are only considered holy because He is holy and because we are found in Him.  Therefore when we, defiled and unholy, approach our Father whose primary characteristic is pure holiness, He sees His Son’s likeness in us and not our sin.  That part of our life was nailed to His cross many centuries ago (Col. 2:14) and our forgiving Father has chosen not to remember our sins any longer (Isa. 43:25).  And that, my friends, is the definition of grace.


We Have a Choice

So we have a choice.  We can accept what God has deemed to be true in us, even though we don’t fully understand how it all works.  Or we can choose to live by our own standard of justice, rejecting the grace given to us because we feel God must somehow be wrong in how He views us or He has made a colossal mistake.  “After all”, we reason, “if God knew what I was really like He would have nothing to do with me.”  Which is probably true, if God was like you and me.  But thankfully He is not.  God does know exactly what we are like and yet He loves us still.  In fact, He has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6)  Remember that verse?  The word translated “accepted” is charitóō which means “grace, divine favor, to be highly honored or greatly favored”.  It literally means to be approved by God.  This passage in Ephesians states God the Father, who knows everything about us— every dirty sin, every broken promise, every sinister thought— has taken it upon Himself and has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).  He “made us highly honored or greatly favored” as recipients of the gift of His wondrous grace.  That is why God can call those He redeems saints.  And that is why He sees us as “holy ones” even if our lives are far less than holy.

One last thing before we go.  Do you know the only other place in Scripture where the word charitóō is used?  It was spoken by the angel Gabriel when he visited a young virgin to tell her she would bear the Christ-child.  That’s right, this word was used to describe Mary who was “highly favored” (Luke 1:28) and accepted and approved by God to conceive His Son through the Holy Spirit.  And it appears, according to Ephesians 1:6, He views those He redeems the same way.  That includes you and me and all the other called-out ones throughout history.  So once you come to grips with your unconditional acceptance in the Beloved not being granted to you as something you earned or deserved, then it’s not too far a stretch to see how our Father would also view us as being like His Son, who is also holy.   Hence, He calls us saints or those who are deemed “holy, separated, sanctified, consecrated, and devoted to God.”


Time to Pray

I do hope this glimpse into the heart of our Father for His children will help you in your prayer time with Him today.  Don’t view Him as someone disgusted with you because of all the stuff you’ve done.  He knows all about that yet still chose you “in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3).  Rather, view Him with at least the same amount of love and acceptance you have for your own children.  Then run into His arms and feel Him draw you close.

I pray you will not let the enemy rob you of the intimacy with God that Jesus suffered to provide for you.  After all, only believers, those called saints by God Himself, can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).  That’s who you are.  So today, live like He sees you.  Be a saint in Him.

Enjoy Him today.

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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

As we get ready for another Sunday, let me encourage you to prepare your heart this morning to meet with the Lord. Remember, how you worship in church with others is just an extension of how you worship with Him alone.  So begin today with just the Lord and worship Him by prayer and adoration.   And then, come and worship with the rest of the “called-out” ones this morning.

To help focus your prayers we are looking at Ephesians 2:19 and especially this strange description the Holy Spirit calls each of us: saints.  Read it for yourself.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

Note the transition from the many to the few.  We go from “citizens” to members of a “household.”  Note also the description of those who are also citizens with you, the “fellow” part of this verse.  They are called saints or, literally, “holy ones.”


Saints!  Really?

The word translated saints (hágios) means “holy, with the idea of separation, consecration, sanctification, and devotion to God.”  It is the go-to name in the New Testament for believers.  And that also makes it the go-to term that describes you and me.  The Scriptures teach we are saints, those redeemed and set-apart for God and God alone.  I know, it seems the terms saints is reserved for people who lived long ago and whose images now adorn stained-glass church windows.  But that’s not how the Lord sees it. In fact, you are a saint in His eyes. Let me explain.

Watch, for example, how Paul describes those in the various churches to whom he writes:

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints – Romans 1:7.

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours – 1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia – 2 Corinthians 1:1.

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 1:1.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons – Philippians 1:1.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse – Colossians 1:1.

Get the point?  He calls fellow believers, fellow “citizens” and “members of the household of God” saints.  But there is more.

Just in Ephesians, look at how the Lord inspired Paul to use the term saints to again refer to believers like you and me.

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints – Ephesians 1:15.

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints – Ephesians 1:18

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ – Ephesians 3:8.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God – Ephesians 3:17-19.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – Ephesians 4:11-12.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints – Ephesians 5:3.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – Ephesians 6:17-18.

That’s who you are.  You are a saint.  Not the way we define that word today, which usually means someone of impeccable character that God used in a mighty way.  Although that’s a pretty good description of a Christian.  But God calls you to be a saint, a member of His body, the church, and one in which the Holy Spirit now resides.  That’s you.


Time to Pray

But there is one more thing before we pray.  As we have noted, the word saint literally means “holy ones”.  In essence, holiness is their nature, their primary characteristic, just like it is for our Lord.  But if you are like most believers today, your behavior is often anything but holy.  Ok, maybe a bit holy on your best day.  But on most days, would you describe your life as holy?  Or would you use terms like “not too bad” or “could be better” or “better than I used to be” or “pretty good” or something like that?  I know that sounds good to us, but still falls short of holy.

What can we do about that?  How can we live up the standard of the name the Lord calls us everyday?  How is that possible?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at that very issue.  But for today, thank Him for seeing you through His eyes, as holy and beloved and as a saint, and not through yours.  Because that is one of the greatest blessings of all.

Until tomorrow,

PS: Go through these verses above and, as you read them, every time you see the word saint, replace it with “holy ones”.  If you do, it will forever change your perception of what the church is all about.

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438:  How to Pray God’s Word

438: How to Pray God’s Word

For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about praying through Scripture to help focus our prayers and have specifically been using the book of Ephesians.  If you remember, before we began we looked at three great truths regarding using God’s Word to focus our prayers.  They are:

One, there is a direct connection between the degree that our minds are shaped by Scripture and the degree to which our prayers are answered.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” – John 15:7.

Two, God only answers the prayers and petitions that His Son had some part in asking.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him – 1 John 5:14-15.

And three, the early church prayed Scripture.  And so should we.

But today we want to focus on some of the doctrines we found in just the first chapter of Ephesians.  It is on these doctrines we have been focusing our prayers.


Praying Through Doctrines

Some of the truths we have been praying through are:

    1.  God’s Calling
    2.  Faithfulness
    3.  Grace and Peace
    4.  Blessed is our God
    5.  Complete in Him
    6.  Being “in Christ” and all that means
    7.  Election
    8.  Sanctification
    9.  Identification
    10.  Predestination
    11.  Adoption
    12.  Sovereignty of God
    13.  Grace
    14.  Our Acceptance
    15.  Redemption
    16.  Substitutionary Atonement of Christ
    17.  Forgiveness of Sins
    18.  Grace in Abundance / Riches of His Grace
    19. Wisdom and Prudence of God
    20. Reconciliation
    21. The Church
    22. Eternal Security / Sealed
    23. Holy Spirit
    24. How to Pray / What to Pray For
    25. Revelation
    26. The Knowledge of God
    27. Effectual Calling
    28. Eternal Life / Our Final State
    29. Resurrection
    30. Ascension
    31. Power
    32. Dominion

I hope you can see the importance of using Scripture to focus your prayers, especially as we see dark times approaching.  To find out more about how this is done and how to become a faith prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on Praying God’s Word and Ephesians 1.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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