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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Prayer)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 6

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).

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

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

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

When we get saved, we come to know God. But we must grow in that knowledge! And that, my friends, is a life-long quest for we will never reach a full understanding of God Himself.

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God is a must read for every believer who wants to grow in his or her knowledge of God. Packer writes, “How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”

What truth have you learned about God recently? Is it leading you to prayer and praise to Him?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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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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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 4

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)

Let’s notice the second specific of Paul’s prayer. It is that —

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

Wow! What a request! The Christian life is far more than doing the right things or thinking the right thoughts. It is asking, everyday, “Am I pleasing the Lord?”

As grandparents of seven, we try to encourage our grandchildren to be “please and thank you” people. But Paul’s request goes way beyond being polite and grateful. This one question — “Am I pleasing the Lord?” — is huge and is guaranteed to recalibrate our choices and priorities every moment we ask it!

For whom should you pray today that they will seek to please the Lord in every way?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 3

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)

Can any of us do that? Really? It must be possible if Paul invested time in praying precisely for that need for these Colossian believers. But what does it mean to “live a life worthy of the Lord”?

To do anything worthy of another means that we are meeting their expectations, their best desires for us. Of course we are not worthy in and of ourselves, but we have hundreds of choices every day to honor Him and make Him proud of us. I’m reminded of a great story about worthiness. The late Dr. Howard Hendricks, beloved Dallas Seminary professor, asked a student to open the seminary class in prayer. The student prayed, “Lord, we know that we are worthless servants and . . .” Dr. Hendricks interrupted the student and said, “We are not worthless, son. We are unworthy. You may now finish your prayer.”

Are you and I living a life worthy of the Lord? How can we tell? (Comments welcome below)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 2

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:

We’ve noticed part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

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

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?

Let’s continue our study by looking at —

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 purpose in praying for others (at least in this text) is to ask God to fill them with the knowledge of God’s will. And that will is not discovered by human ingenuity, but “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” The divine third member of the Trinity is intimately involved in helping those for whom we pray to know and do God’s will.

How easy it is to spend our praying moments on issues like money and jobs and food and the incidentals in life, rather than on the macro-matters of God’s will and wisdom and Spirit-given understanding! As you pray for others today, what specifically are you asking God for?

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 1

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:

Here’s part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

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

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

Paul makes it clear that he began praying for these Colossian believers from the day he heard about them. And he doesn’t describe his intercession for them as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. He emphasizes His continual asking God to fill them with the knowledge of His will. There was a beginning point to Paul’s praying for these believers — but no end point. No indication that he would cease praying for them and move on to the needs of other believers.  That’s commitment!

In our next post on this topic we will notice Paul’s primary desire for these believers in verses 9-10. But for today may I ask you (as I ask myself), for whom are you continually praying? Would you say you are committed to continually lifting them up before the Father?

 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #40 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 12

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 are reading chapter 12 each day this week.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. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 12.

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, and to be patient in affliction! Wow!

The twelfth critical imperative is —12. Believers are to BE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER (v. 12)!

This imperative is, for me, rather painful. I am not a prayer warrior. I’m not a prayer conscientious objector. I’m what might be called a prayer pacifist. I’m usually at peace that I’m such a pathetic pray-er! And that’s SIN.

There is so much that I need to learn about prayer. I need to learn that having God on speed dial when I’m in trouble is, at the very least, insulting to Him. I need to learn that prayer is often a missing weapon in my spiritual arsenal, and that’s lethal. I need to learn that I rely way too often on my own strength and forget about GOD! And that’s just dumb.

This critical imperative is not worded as “PRAY!” But rather “be faithful in prayer.” Faithful to what? to Whom? It certainly means that I keep my word when I promise others that I will pray for them. It certainly means that I will trust God’s faithfulness to me — and rest on His promises. It certainly entails a discipline of getting on my knees (spiritually, not physically [I’d have trouble getting back up!]) and getting serious about my walk with Him, others’ struggles to do the same, and the raw truth that He knows far better than we do. About everything. So I need to do more faithful praying!

Today’s Challenge: How would you rate your prayer life? Would “faithful” be the adjective that immediately jumps to your mind about this critical discipline? Why or why not? And . . . what are you going to do about it?

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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A Ministry Update!

Friends: I am so thankful that the Lord is giving me opportunities to serve Him in my dotage (I’ll be 71 on Groundhog’s Day!). Here are a few areas that you could pray for!

Teaching ministry with my Ethiopian brothers and sisters: Linda and I were to go to Addis Ababa last August to work with some national pastors, but the trip was cancelled due to Covid. Since then I have taught a couple of courses to this group of pastors via Zoom. Presently we are in a short course on the Holy Spirit. Please pray for their encouragement as we study together.

Editing work for Christian Focus Publishers in Scotland: One of my few talents is uncovering dangling participles, comma splices,and basketfulls of sentence fragments! Please pray for my work on one manuscript right now entitled “Behold! An Invitation to Glory!” by Justin Huffman.

I continue to have great joy in teaching first year Greek to my friends Paul and Stephen in New Jersey through Zoom. They are to be commended for their diligent work in this tough language. Please pray for them — and for me! Just a reminder, I’m open to starting a new online Greek class for any who have an interest. Here’s the link you need.

The Lord has given me opportunities to produce message videos for several churches. I’ve done a series such as “Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World!”, “The Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle of Titus)”, and “Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit.” If your church wants to use any of these, I’m available to meet with your church via Zoom. Please pray for my ongoing work on such messages.

I’m always writing stuff and I’m still committed to several of my own projects. I think my next book will be on the topic Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit. I’m also working on a study of Philippians entitled Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World. And I’m seriously considering a series with the title A Five Minute Theology: Devotions in the Basics of Belief. I would appreciate your prayers for focus and commitment to these projects. (Man, that’s an irritating graphic, isn’t it?).

That’s it. Please pray for me. And for the Lord to bless the work of my hands in my senior years! Thanks!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2021 in ministry

 

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Hard Truth for Husbands! (A Study of I Peter 3:7)

Ten questions about this verse:

1. To what, specifically, is Peter referring when he writes “in the same way”?

2. What is meant by the word “considerate”? Where else is that word used in the New Testament?

3. There are two commands here for the husband: (1) “be considerate” and (2) “treat them with respect.” What are practical ways we can test to see if we men are doing those two things?

4. What does Peter mean by “the weaker partner”?

5. This idea of being “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” — to what is Peter referring? Salvation? Heaven?

6. How important is prayer to Peter? To the Lord? How do our prayers get “hindered”?

7. Where else in the New Testament do we read of our prayers being hindered because of our conduct in our marriages?

8. Why is only one verse of instructions for husbands given — and so many for the wives?

9. Notice that no excuse is given for husbands not to follow these instructions (if their wives don’t follow the instructions given to them) or vice versa. Our obedience is not conditional on the behavior of the spouse.

10. Do you and your spouse pray together? Linda and I have been married 49 years and only recently have begun praying together (almost) each morning. What took us soooo long?

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2020 in I Peter 3

 

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