Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” He did not say, “Ask and it will be given to you immediately.” He also did not say, “Ask and it will be given you exactly as you envision it.” When we ask and seem not to receive, it’s easy to fall into some kind of crisis of faith.
Ordinarily, Bible teachers deal with the questions of unanswered prayer by looking at the text in detail in order to point out conditions or the various ways we sabotage our own faith. Instead, let’s look at Joshua.
The 11th chapter of Joshua might not make the most fascinating reading, but it does summarize the accomplishments and answered prayers of one of the Old Testament’s most successful leaders.… Read the rest
Paul warned Timothy that some in the church had rejected faith and conscience. He specifically named Hymenaeus and Alexander. The chapter numbers and headings in our Bibles aren’t original, of course, but 1 Timothy 2 begins immediately after that warning, and “Instructions about Worship” is a typical heading.
“First of all,” says Paul, “I urge prayer.” He goes on to point out that God wants all to be saved. There are certainly people in churches to this day who reject faith.
Wait a minute! Daniel was in the Old Testament and Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer in the New Testament? What does Daniel have to do with that?
In many churches, maybe most churches, the congregation recites every Sunday. Everyone has it memorized from the familiar King James translation. It is one of the few parts of today’s services where the language hasn’t been updated. It takes less than a minute. How many people actually pray it? Daniel did, as recorded in Daniel 9.
Praying the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew
Jesus gave the church a model prayer, not merely to be words to memorize.… Read the rest
The season of Lent recalls Jesus’ 40-day temptation in the wilderness. All Christians sooner or later go through their own spiritual wilderness. And so, in the Old Testament, did one of the Sons of Korah, who left behind Psalms 42 and 43to instruct and comfort us in our own struggles with wilderness experience.
These two psalms appear to have been originally one song of three verses with refrain: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (I use “verse” in the sense of familiar songs or hymns, not in the sense of a verse of scripture.)
Somewhere, I read about a barbed wire fence as a model of a good prayer life. The wooden fence posts represent regular public worship on Sundays. The wire between the posts represents two aspects of a Christian’s private prayer life. There is a stiff, heavy barbed wire at the top and bottom of the fence. It’s primary purpose is to discourage the cattle from leaning on it and breaking the fence. The top wire works on larger animals like cows and horses, and the bottom one on smaller animals like sheep and pigs. The same barbs that hurt the cattle if they lean against the fence also inflict pain on people, thus discouraging potential intruders.… Read the rest
“Rejoice always; pray constantly; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (RSV)
Does it sometimes look like the writers of the Bible just didn’t get it? Perhaps people living when it was written just didn’t face the troubles we do. After all, who can rejoice always with all we have to live through?
For the last couple of years, our economy has been rocked by very tough conditions: high unemployment, long term unemployment, lots of foreclosures on peoples’ houses.
We just had a particularly nasty election, with no limits on how much anonymous corporate entities could spend on vicious attack ads.… Read the rest
Before I write about mountain-moving faith, I owe my regular readers an explanation of what has been happening on all my blogs lately. It has been my intention to update Musicology for Everyone on Mondays and Thursdays, Grace and Judgment on Tuesdays and Fridays, All-Purpose Guru (the blog) on Wednesdays (and Saturdays maybe), and All-Purrpose Guru (Home) every couple of weeks.
I have been up to my elbows in other things that I have put off too long. I will have to cut back on writing till I get caught up. I hope to get back to a regular schedule in January if not before.… Read the rest
Have you ever heard the slogan, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do”? There’s a lot of truth in that. Unfortunately, if tough times last more than a day or two, it begins to feel like they’ll last forever.
Tough times can mean all kinds of things. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a relationship gone sour, and other bad events can trigger them. So can more ordinary stresses like loneliness or trouble paying bills, or being unable to make the kinds of changes in our lives we want to make. Eventually, all of us will go through a variety of different bad times.… Read the rest
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”–Matthew 5:43-44 (NASB)
The Bible, Jesus in particular, has a way of commanding whatever is most counterintuitive. We are such creatures of the world that, even as believers in Christ, the ways of the world seem more normal than what Jesus asks. Here he tells us to love and pray for enemies.
I have prayed salvation for Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other enemies of America and Christ. I hope all my readers have, too.… Read the rest
It hardly seems possible, but since beginning this blog at the end of October 2009, I have posted more than 100 Bible studies and devotionals. Allow me to reminisce a little and highlight the most popular posts so far.
Who are you calling evil?
Jesus prefaced a comment saying, “If you, then, being evil. . .” But no one took offense at him. Wouldn’t most of the audience be offended today?
Prayer that really works
I have learned that instead of asking for my will to be done, I can ask God to conform me to the image of Jesus. When I ask for a blessing, I keep an open mind about what it is.… Read the rest