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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 7

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).

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

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

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

We need to pray for one another’s weaknesses! This means we recognize when a fellow believer is struggling to endure, to stick with life, to lead a long life of obedience to the Lord. When believers give up, the question we must ask ourselves is “Did I ever pray for that Jesus-follower to hang in there?” If not, we need to repent and promise the Lord we will do better!

Here’s the challenge: You’ve got to know another Christian who’s struggling to endure. Will you pray for them and their strengthening? Today?

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Commands Worth Keeping! (A Study of I Corinthians 16:13-14)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now in the book of I Corinthians. And we just started reading I Corinthians 15 on Easter Sunday! We are now concluding I Corinthians and I want to post a few outlines on the last chapter, chapter 16.

The Apostle Paul has had his hands full in writing to and correcting the Corinthian believers, hasn’t he? Now, as he closes this letter, he refers to a number of fellow-workers and his commendation of them. But Paul is always the careful teacher. He realizes that several succinct directives/commands need to be pressed home to these believers. And we need the same today.

Commands Worth Keeping! (A Study of I Corinthians 16:13-14)

I.  Be on your guard! (v. 13)
>>> Because the gospel and God’s people are under attack.

II. Stand firm in the faith
>>> Because the temptation to become a spiritual deserter is everywhere.

III. Be courageous
>>> Because persecution (in its many forms) inevitably will be used by those who refuse to believe.

IV. Be strong
>>> Because the Lord requires soldiers, not pacifists.

V. Do everything in love
>>> Ungodly hatred has no place in our mission.

Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself several questions today: (1) Where am I letting down my guard? (2) Am I waffling in my faith in any specific way? (3) Where am I failing to show godly courage? (4) In what area of my Christian life am I weak? And what can I do about it? (5) Does love motivate my daily life?

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2020 in I Corinthians 16

 

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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 8

In just a few weeks Linda and I will be with the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado for their Heritage Retreat (Sept. 23-24). These posts allow me to work on my messages from 2 Corinthians 12.

Let’s read over our text one more time:

We have seen that Paul’s tour of heaven — 14 years prior — was life-changing for him. But it brought him a thorn to keep him from becoming conceited about what he had experienced.

We’ve suggested that four challenges or truths can be gleaned from Paul’s description of this event in his life. First, living now in light of the future means that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-16). Second, we have seen that, taking Paul’s words seriously means that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2, 4, 7). And, third, Paul’s example here provides us with a practical primer on prayer (vv. 8-9).

Let’s notice a fourth — and final — lesson or challenge from this text and it is this: We now receive —

IV. A God-Honoring Perspective on Problems (vv. 9-10)

Let’s look at these two verses carefully: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

We all have problems, don’t we? But how to we look at them? As irritants? As dead-end streets on our journey to happiness? As inconveniences, monkey-wrenches thrown into our self-focused itineraries? Christians are nowhere told to become passive, masochistic puddles that siliently “suffer for Jesus.” Problems and difficulties give God the opportunity to show us the sufficiency of His grace and us the opportunity to face the naked truth of our weaknesses. Such “weaknesses” — sovereignly given to us — allow us to recalibrate our priorities.

Such a perspective does not remove from us the power of repetitive prayer, but will sometimes change our praying from escape to submission. For Paul God’s refusal to remove his thorn led him to gladness (v. 9)! And he achieved a biblical delight (!) in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. [I will certainly need to do a bit of a word study on each of these four terms]. But, would you not agree that Paul has pretty much covered all circumstances in life by the use of these four words: WEAKNESSES, INSULTS, HARDSHIPS, PERSECUTIONS, and DIFFICULTIES?

The Challenge: What specific difficulty are you facing right now? Have you given it over to the Lord and prayed something like this? “Lord, I don’t want this. But more than that, I want Your strength to be shown in my weakness. Help me, Lord, to trust You in this circumstance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12

 

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Getting to Know . . . 2 Samuel (2:1-7) Strength and Bravery!

After mourning the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, David asks the Lord if he should go up to one of the towns of Judah. The Lord tells him to go to Hebron.

He and his two wives and his men and their families settle in Hebron. David is anointed king over the tribe of Judah at Hebron (v. 4).

David thanks the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul. He asks that the Lord would show them kindness and faithfulness for their act. He encourages them to be strong and brave, “for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them” (v. 7).

Some takeaways for me:
1. God’s guidance is unique here in 2 Samuel. David receives specific direction from the Lord as to where he ought to go. Such specificity is not guaranteed to the believer today.
2. It is always right to thank others for their kindnesses.
3. We need to encourage each other to be strong and brave. What does such strength and bravery look like for me today? For you?

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in 2 Samuel 2

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 8

One day a small boy tried to lift a heavy rock, but couldn’t budge it. His father was watching and finally said, “Are you positive, son, that you’re using all your strength?” “Yes, I am!” the boy cried. “No, you’re not,” said the father. “You haven’t asked me to help you.”  Learning to live a life of dependence upon the Lord and His strength is one major aspect of the maturing Christian life.  Wouldn’t it be great if you had a whole team of people praying for such strength for you?

We’ve been looking at Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers. We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for them in 1:9 and then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. His first request for them was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10). His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10).  He brings a fourth request before the Lord and it is that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).

This morning let’s notice that he prays that they would —

E. Get Strong in Living Out the Christian Life (v. 11)

How can one tell if he or she is getting strong in living out the Christian life?  A few questions occur to me:  (1)  Do I see myself and my life as “on mission” for the Lord?  That is, do I attempt to begin each day with the purpose of serving Him, contributing where I can to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, seeking to know specifically what in my life needs to become “more conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)?   (2) Do the daily trials and nagging inconveniences steal my joy as a believer and put me in a bad mood?  (3)  Do I find that I give in far too easily to temptations that may seem trite to others, but direct me away from a settled contentment in Him?  (4) Have I somehow convinced myself that any victories I have gained were achieved by my cleverness, skill, or ability?

A woman writes the Readers’ Digest: “Following my arm operation, the hospital physical therapist taught me exercises to strengthen it. In one, called `climbing the wall,’ I faced a wall and `walked’ the fingers of both hands up it, trying to reach as far with the injured arm as with the other. I seemed to be `climbing the wall’ morning, noon and night. After watching me, the woman in the next bed said, `Excuse me, but what religion do you belong to?'”

If you “belong to” biblical Christianity, then you (and I) need to live in His strength!

The verses below challenge me to rejoice in His strength, to pray that He would be my strength every morning, that my hope in Him will renew my strength, and that He can enable me to shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord.

Wow! Ask others to pray that for you. And pray that right now for someone you love. [I just did. Your turn]. (to be continued).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in praying for others

 

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Time for a Great Commercial! (golf can be dangerous)


You’ve got to watch this commercial several times! This one totally cracks me up. Two golf announcers, whispering. “It’s what they do.”

It may not be the point of this commercial, but life is filled with hazards, Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 6.27.07 AMisn’t it? And our nine iron often proves that it is “not enough club.” When our resources are depleted, when our strength is gone, when our best efforts fall short of helping us, we are reminded of God’s strength.

Relying on yourself? Watch out for the Krakens of this world!

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in dangers

 

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Time for a Great Commercial: God’s Strength!

Okay. Okay.  I’m not sure I would have reacted with such kindness to the man in the control room.  A 700 pound grizzly bear!?  And you want to sell me a truck?

I would be tempted to overpower the man in the control room, take both cages out of the facility, and tell him you’re going to release that same 700 pound grizzly bear to see how he handles it!

But the point of this post is GOD’s strength.  The Apostle Paul says Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.47.19 AMin 2 Corinthians 12 that “God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness.”

Where do you see you are weak?  Where has God’s strength stepped in and rescued you from the grizzly bears of life?  Or, do you find yourself (like me) trusting in your powers to deal with the challenges of this world?

Your comments?

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in strength

 

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Hmmmph! How’s YOUR day going?

This guy doesn’t seem all that excited about posing for underwater pictures, does he?  He may actually be as happy as a lark, but his face seems to be saying, “Hmmph!  This is pretty lame, don’t you think?”

I think I was born an optimist.  I tell people that it’s not my spirituality that makes me generally joyful and enthusiastic.  I think it’s just my personality.  I’d probably be a very joyful and enthusiastic Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness or . . .

This raises a very important question, doesn’t it?  The Bible says, “The JOY OF THE LORD is my strength!”  That statement is really from Nehemiah 8:10 which says, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That exact expression — “the joy of the Lord is my strength” — is only used here in Nehemiah 8.

FirefoxScreenSnapz272How is the joy of the Lord our strength?  If we look to circumstances for our joy, we will be weakened by the things that happen to us over which we have no control.  If we look to ourselves and our abilities, we will be discouraged at our own foibles and mistakes and misdirected passions.  If we look to other people, we will sometimes be surprised by the joy they bring to us.  But they are not the Lord!

The real question, I think, is how can the Lord’s importance in my life become more vital, more relevant, more the source of my daily strength?  It begins, of course, with a saving relationship with Him, an experience the Bible calls conversion.  If I have been truly converted to Jesus Christ, there now exists the potential for me to develop a relationship of joy with Him that this poor world can’t match.  If you’ve got the Lord, you’ve got the source of joy. [to be continued]

Questions:

1.  Study the tern “convert” or “conversion” in the Bible.  How has our culture minimized the concept of being converted?

2.  What would be one example of the joy of the Lord in your life?

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in conversion

 

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VIDEO FRIDAY: What’s the Source of Your Strength?

Great commercial, friends.  Please watch it and then respond to a couple of questions.

If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, aren’t you glad that HIS strength protects your future?

Questions:

1.  How do you define strength?  In what area of life has God made you particularly strong?

2.  Where do you feel weak?  How does Scripture help you work on that area(s)?

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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