Archive for December, 2017

Why is my Prayer Not Being Answered?

December 7, 2017

When we ask Jesus for something, he always answers in one of three ways, Yes, Wait, or No. Whenever he says “no”, it is always, always because he desires to give us something better. When we become old, we can look back over our lives, at the twists and turns, and see how faithful Jesus has been in giving blessings–even though the outcome in many cases was something we never would have dreamed on our own. The jobs where we were laid off eventually ended in a totally different career path that proved very satisfying. The painful breakup was later followed up with meeting the spouse who proved to be totally “right”. Some painful situations such as death of a loved one, disability or the death of a dream brought us much closer to Jesus, and made us tenderhearted, compassionate people.

Sometimes Jesus is just saying “wait”. But the wait takes far longer than we ever dreamed. Some women wait 15 or 20 years for a spouse, but then are happily married. Some wait forever for children–and then find they have greater patience and capacity to give than they had when younger.

I can’t understand why Jesus has answered some of my prayers the way he has, and I’m sure you feel the same way. But can you begin to understand that all his work and his ways come out of perfect love for you. No matter what it takes or how long it takes, He wants to give you only the very best, because he loves you so much. I have an adopted daughter. It took five years of ups and downs and disappointments before we got a child. She asked me, once when she was older, why it took so long. Immediately I sensed the answer. “God was waiting for you to be born, because he meant us for each other.” If we had been given a child right away, it would have been a different child–not this one.

 

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How to Build People’s Faith in a Hostile World

December 7, 2017

I think Billy and Franklin Graham would agree that the first and most important step is that God’s people repent and pray. The level of honest prayer is probably at an all time low. People are running to and fro and satisfying themselves with short, superficial prayers. II Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people, who are called by my name will 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.” I think we all have much to repent. We may be so worldly we have forgotten the biggest sin of all is forgetting God and depending on our own wisdom and following our own ways. We compromise with the world all over the place, and we must repent of that.

We need to be witnesses. This secular world is so cold-hearted and callous, we wonder what we can possibly say that would change anything, but Jesus never asked us to count our successes–just to witness. And witness is both words and deeds. If our deeds do not match our words, we can expect to be called phonies.

We can keep on fighting the “culture wars” and perhaps we must, but we won’t get very far until people’s hearts change. And that is the work of the Holy Spirit, with our witness being something the Spirit graciously uses. So, prayer, living totally for Jesus ourselves, and being witnesses in word and deed is our calling. Success in changed hearts and lives is the work of the Holy Spirit.

I know, people like me who are doers, have a hard time letting God be God. I want to go out there and shake people till they wake up–argue with logic and change their minds and all that, but I can’t be anyone’s Holy Spirit.

I’m Trying So Hard, but Jesus seems so Far Away

December 7, 2017

Sometimes, we almost try too hard. We forget the message of grace which Jesus brought is so much more about what He does than what we do.

You said you have believed that Jesus is the son of God who died for your sins, and you have asked him to forgive your sins and to be your Savior. When you pray a prayer like that, the words don’t really matter–what matters is you recognize that you have been going your own way and not God’s way. You ask him to forgive everything you’ve done to displease him, and you have told him you want him in your life.

The wonderful news is: Jesus wants to be in your life even more than you want it. He forgives anyone who asks–and he forgives over and over when they mess up. He comes to live in your life forever (Matt 28:20). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5). So ask him if there is something He wants you to change in your life. Confess any known sin, and then just relax in Him. Tell him you want him, tell him you love him, and ask him to make you like himself. As you think of him beside you, send him all your loving thoughts, and think about how good he is, you can begin to trust him. He is already working in your life to make you more like himself. He is in this relationship with you for all eternity. He isn’t going anywhere.

Get to know Jesus better. Read the gospels till they become familiar to you. Absorb the goodness of Jesus. Appreciate all he did, said and taught. Then read the epistles for wise advice on how to live for Jesus. And talk to Jesus all the time. Just talk like you would talk to someone who is on your side and wants to help you.  You will learn to trust Him.

 

My Thoughts are Keeping Me in a Bad Place

December 5, 2017

I’m so glad to see that you know Jesus as your Savior. That is so wonderful. Jesus lives in your life and He will be with you forever (Matt 28:20) He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5) He is near as your breath, and you can talk to him about anything 24/7. The thoughts in your mind can come from a number of places. They can come from the Holy Spirit as inspiration. They can come from your own life–your world, your physical state, and so on. These are just normal thoughts. They can be suggested by other people–maybe or maybe not true or reliable. They can also come from the enemy (Satan and his demons) as temptation or oppression.

The wonderful thing is you can take these thoughts to Jesus and talk to him about them. You can, after talking to Jesus, decide to keep or perhaps act on the thoughts, or banish them. I saw a great tee shirt the other day. It said “Don’t Believe Everything You Feel”. That is so true. Sometimes Satan oppresses us with negative thoughts about ourselves–thoughts of failure, anger, hatred, self destruction, and so on. We don’t have to believe those feelings–they aren’t based on truth. They are propaganda from our enemy. Sometimes we keep feeling drawn to something we know is bad for us, or bad for someone else. We don’t have to do this thing. In fact, we should quit thinking about it. With Jesus help, we can banish the thought.

What you want to do is fill your mind with Jesus’ thoughts. Read the gospels until they become very familiar to you. Read the epistles for good, positive advice for Jesus’ followers. Just like you don’t want your room trashed because you never take out the garbage, clean up your mind too–every day. Trash the wrong, negative, angry, depressing thoughts, and fill up on the good ones.  Jesus own words, and good ideas.

Why am I Tempted so Much? Can I sin too much to be Forgiven?

December 5, 2017

I’m so glad you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. Now that you have done that, Jesus is in your life forever. (Matt 28:20) He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5) He is as near as your breath, and He will help you.

It is no surprise you are tempted. We have an enemy out there, and He isn’t happy that you now belong to Jesus. He would like to do anything he can to get your mind away from Jesus, to cause you to sin, and to get you to a point where you think its hopeless to live for Jesus–that you have sinned too much to be forgiven, that Jesus has probably given up on you, and so on. He will whisper lies into your spirit–but they are lies!

The bible says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ” (I John 1:9) As soon as you realize you’ve sinned again, go to Jesus in prayer. Ask his forgiveness, and ask his help to do better. I love the part of the promise that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus is with you. His Holy Spirit dwells within you, and his job is to work in your life to make you more and more like Jesus. He cleanses you, and reshapes you.

You can never confess too often. Jesus told his disciples to forgive their brother “seventy times seven”, which is essentially insuring you lose count. Jesus forgives that way too. He doesn’t keep track. So don’t give up. He is doing a work in you. and “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6)

Your part in all of this is to get to know Jesus very well. You can start by reading the gospels until they are very familiar to you. Talk to Jesus, honestly, all the time–about everything in your life. You will find yourself growing closer to him and things changing.

How Long Do I Have to Fast to Receive my Blessing?

December 5, 2017

I see you have made the decision to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who became human and died to pay the penalty for your sins. You believe that He rose to life again on the third day. You have repented to God for your sins, and received His forgiveness and promise of spending eternity in heaven with Him. That is so wonderful. Do you know that Jesus told us in Luke 15:10 that heaven rejoices whenever a sinner repents? That means that heaven is rejoicing over you!

Not only that, but Jesus is now in your life forever. (Matt 28:20) He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5) Anytime you go to the Father in prayer, use the name of Jesus, and the Father will answer your requests. (John 14:13-14) And because you love Jesus “All things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28)

Throughout the history of God’s people, fasting has had a way of deepening prayer and bringing people closer to God. It helps us realize our total reliance on him. It also helps us achieve discipline over our bodily appetites. It enhances our prayer life, but as far as I know, fasting is not a requirement to receiving blessings, nor are they promised as a result of fasting. We are already blessed beyond belief because we love Jesus and we are the children of God the Father.

I hope this answers the question. Fasting and other spiritual practices are not magic. We have no control over how God answers our prayers. It is all about His Goodness, His Grace, and His total control over everything. We can trust Him, though, to always have our best interests in His mind as He plans our circumstances.