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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 5

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

Let’s notice a third request Paul makes for these believers —

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

We are to be fruit-bearers! We are not simply decorative trees that take up space! We are to bear fruit. We are not to live for ourselves but are to look for opportunities to be fruitful in the works that we do. Our faith is not solely verbal. We are commissioned to do good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

What good work can you choose to do today that will bear fruit?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #52 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 24

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the last while.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, to not repay evil with evil, to do right before everyone, to live at peace with everyone when possible, not to take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath, and to do good to our enemies!

Let’s conclude our multipart study by looking at verse 21.

The twenty-fourth critical imperative is straightforward —

24. Believers are TO OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD! (v. 21)

The truth is evil will always be present with us — until Jesus returns. How are believers to respond to EVIL? First, we need to be able to identify evil. Our world has suffered and is suffering a moral collapse. It calls evil “good” and good “evil.” We must return to a biblical clarity about the reality of genuine evil.

Second, we believers dare not cocoon ourselves off from the evil in our culture. We have absolutely no justification to move our families into caves (with or without internet access) and turn our backs on God’s world. We are to be fully engaged in this fallen world. Some of us will become policemen, some lawyers, some jurors, some conscientious citizens who seek to live out the Christian faith as salt and light.

Third, we are to fight evil! We must stand against injustice, prejudice, inequity, discrimination, perversity, self-centeredness. We must speak for the poor, the disenfranchised, the unborn. Even when we lose such moral battles, we are not to give up and conform to this fractured world’s godless ways. We resist by praising good and doing good.

One of the struggles we believers have is that, while we recognize that our good works have nothing to do with our becoming saved, they have everything to do with our living out our saved lives in this broken planet. We are fond of quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

But we need to read further: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This issue of doing good works shows up in many New Testament passages. (See the following list at the end of this post).

Today’s Challenge: We overcome evil by good. Is there some example of evil that you know of to which you could respond with an act of kindness or goodness?

Verses on “Doing Good”:
Luke 6:35
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Acts 10:38
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Romans 2:7
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Romans 2:10
but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.
1 Timothy 6:18
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
2 Timothy 2:21
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Titus 2:7
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
Titus 2:14
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 3:1
Saved in Order to Do Good
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
Titus 3:8
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:14
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
Hebrews 13:16
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
James 3:13
Two Kinds of Wisdom
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 4:17
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
1 Peter 2:12
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:15
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:20
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
1 Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:13
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #15): Chapter 14- “Jesus’ Work”

For those of you who are still with me, there are only 21 chapters in Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? We are in the second half of his book in which he tells us what Christians ought to believe.

The chapter we are on this morning is on Jesus’ Work and is sub-titled “Where Is God?” Thielen makes a compelling case that, in the midst of tragedies and catastrophes, God is incarnationally working through people. The Word became flesh — and the Word continues to become flesh — through us.

MY RESPONSE: I can’t disagree with Thielen in this chapter. I agree that God engages the world through His people. Evangelicals need to grow in doing good works to the glory of God. We need to help others through disasters, sponsor blood drives, feed and clothe the poor, reach out to the oppressed.

To the question “Where is God?”, Thielen answers, “Jesus’ life and work teaches us that God is at work in the world incarnationally — through human instruments, including you and me. Imagine that!” (98).

The oft-quoted statement by John Wesley fits well here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in good works

 

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Getting to Know . . . Ephesians Chapter 2! (Part 4: WHAT DIFFERENCE THAT OUGHT TO MAKE!)

There seems to be one more area of emphasis here in Ephesians 2:1-10 that we need to think about.  We have already seen —

1. That in our B.C. (before Christ) condition, we were DEAD in our transgressions and sins.

2. But we lived AS ZOMBIES! Even though we were dead, we used to live in our sins, following the ways of this world (v. 2).

3. We not only followed the world’s ways, we followed the DEVIL, “the ruler of kingdom of the air” (v. 2).

4. We lived among those “who are disobedient.” But we didn’t just live among them. We sought to “gratify the cravings of our flesh and to follow its desires and thoughts” (v. 3).

5. And we were, “like the rest, by nature deserving of wrath” (v. 3). We get a repeating of our B.C. condition in verse 5 that God made us alive with Christ “even when we were dead in transgressions” (v. 5).

Wow! Talk about bad news! But we then noticed what God did about our B.C. condition. He acted out of His character (the words in red) which involved “his great love” (v. 4). He is also “rich in mercy” (v. 4) and and rescued us out of “his kindness” (v. 7). That’s the character of our God!

What did God do for us?  He “made us alive with Christ” (v. 5); He “raised us up with Christ” (v. 6); He “seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms” (v. 6); and He saved us — an action described as “the gift of God” (v. 8).

NOW — what difference ought God’s actions in our lives make?
1. He saves us to “show the incomparable riches of his grace” (v. 7).  We are now display cases set before the world of God’s saving work!
2.  We are to testify that it is NOT by our works that we have been saved.  We are not to boast in ourselves or our efforts, but in Him who saved us! (v. 9).
3. We’ve got WORK to do!  Even though our works contribute ZERO to our salvation, God has “prepared in advance” works for us to do (v. 10). 

Here’s a brief chart which might help us understand how we relate to our works — and to His!

In our next post we will begin to look at Ephesians 2:11-17 (our Sunday School lesson for Feb. 3).

Today’s Prayer:  “Lord, I get so confused about the place of my works in my life.  Please help me see that they play no part in my salvation, but are very important in my sanctification!  Please give me opportunities to do good today.  In Your name.  Amen.”

 

 

 

 


 
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Posted by on January 10, 2019 in ephesians 2

 

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Time for a Good Joke: Done Anything of Particular Merit?

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2018 in good works

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 112)

Psalm 112

Praise the Lord.Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 6.27.46 AM

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 6.32.34 AM
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn[c] will be lifted high in honor.

10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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Time for a Great Quote! (Piper on God’s grace)

“Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.36.52 PMopposite of paying Him back; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace. And that is exactly where God wants us to be through all eternity.”

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in grace

 

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Good People Don’t Need Grace — Right? (storytime)

A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need KeynoteScreenSnapz101100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay” the man says, “I attended church every Sunday”
“That’s good, says St. Peter, ” that’s worth two points”

“Two points?” he says. “Well, I gave 10% of all my earnings to the church”
“Well, let’s see,” answers Peter, “that’s worth another 2 points. Did you do anything else?”

“Two points? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”
“Fantastic, that’s certainly worth a point, ” he says.

“hmmm…,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“THREE POINTS!!” the man cries, “At this rate the only wayFirefoxScreenSnapz500 I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”

“Bingo!”, St. Peter said, “Come on in!”

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in God's grace

 

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“You look for approval too, don’t you?”

This guy seems to be saying, “I done good, didn’t I?”  We all need affirmation in our lives.  We need to know if we are making good choices, doing what’s right, living a commendable life.

But what is a “commendable” life?  We read in Matthew 5- 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  For those who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we have a light to shine.  And we ought to let it shine!

FirefoxScreenSnapz250But that light is to shine “before men.”  People need to SEE our faith in action, our convictions in practice, our values being put to use.   A faith not seen is as good as no faith.  We need to be visible, not so we can point to ourselves, but so we can point to Him.

People need to see our “good works.”  Good works, I would suggest, have gotten a poor reputation in many Christian circles.  We act and speak as if they are not important.  It is true that no one is saved by his or her good works.  We are clearly told this in Ephesians 2.  There we read, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Good works will save no one.  But after one is saved there are plenty of good works to do!  In fact, a life of good works has been marked out for us.  God has prepared in advance such works for us to do!

John Wesley put it well when he said, “Do all the good you can. FirefoxScreenSnapz251By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  And that kind of life is commendable!

Questions:

1.  What good deed can you point to right now and say, “I’m doing that for the Lord — that He would be glorified”?

2.  What person comes to mind whom you could commend today?  We all need encouragement.  Who merits some recognition by you today?

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in approval

 

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