Christian Prayer “Does Not Help” #3

Friday, May 31, 2019

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9 KJV).

Indeed, the Lord’s words are true even now!

What was the nation Israel’s principal problem during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry? He pinpointed it in today’s Scripture: “[they were] teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Instead of holding to God’s Word—especially the Law of Moses, their chief Divine operating instructions—they had substituted it with manmade teachings. Having divorced themselves from God’s thoughts—and ultimately, His power—they were spiritually debilitated.

The physically blind, physically deaf, physically mute, and physically paralyzed who Jesus healed were perfect illustrations of Israel spiritually blind, spiritually deaf, spiritually mute, and spiritually paralyzed. They were unable to see God’s truth, unable to hear His words, unable to speak His words, and unable to walk in His ways. Their manmade teachings were the very reason why they ultimately crucified Him on Calvary. Had they maintained and believed God’s pure Word—the Old Testament Scriptures—they would have seen and trusted Jesus as Messiah. Since they abhorred the Scriptures, they despised the God-Man to whom those very verses pointed.

Even now, repeating the gross chief sin of Israel, Christendom has largely pushed aside the Bible. They quote occasionally (provided it supports their denominations), but their doctrines are overwhelmingly devoid of God’s Word. Hence, their tenets are shallow, their prayers are powerless, and their rituals and ceremonies are repulsive. They have no idea what God is doing today, for they have not handled His Word His way. Instead of “studying… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they have muddled the various directions God has issued through time individually.

What is the remedy? The Lord’s spokesman to us Gentiles today is the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13). Friend, do you want effectual prayers, those that actually carry eternal value? Try Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:11-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-13. These model Pauline prayers highlight what God is doing in this the Dispensation of Grace. If you pray according to them, never shall you be able to say, “Christian prayer does not help!”

Brethren, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we now close 8 full years of “333 Words of Grace!” Thank you for praying for us thus far, and by God’s grace, we now aim for another 8 years!

NOTE: Dear Saints, it is with great pleasure that I announce all 90 videos (over 104 hours of teaching) of our Old Testament Survey Project are now online and ready to watch! Click here. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

Christian Prayer “Does Not Help” #2

Thursday, May 30, 2019

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9 KJV).

Indeed, the Lord’s words are true even now!

Christ was citing Isaiah 29:13, penned over 700 years prior: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:….” Whether in Isaiah’s ministry, or His own ministry, the Lord Jesus knew the reprehensible predicament of His nation Israel.

They paid Him “lip service:” they read Moses’ writings aloud, sang the psalms, and uttered elaborate prayers. Despite that “fair shew [beautiful exhibition] in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12,13), their innermost being lacked faith. They were not obeying the Scriptures by faith; instead of using that God-given religion to worship Him, they were worshipping the religion itself. While claiming to “love God,” they were unbelieving concerning His words. Their outward appearance was hypocritical, masking their true intentions. God was not fooled then, and He is not fooled today.

Frankly, religious tradition has so preoccupied so-called “Christian” people that their prayers are oftentimes doctrinally worthless. Of course, such prayers are also “useless.” They are recited with the assumption that they can manipulate or force God to agree with their every whim and grant their every wish.

Instead of opening His Bible, and approaching it “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)—rather than carefully noticing what verses are to and about them and what verses are not to and about them—they see anything and everything in Scripture as applicable to them. They claim prayer promises God never gave them, and then grow upset and disappointed when He does not react as they supposed He would! Such “unanswered prayers” constantly bother Christians and non-Christians alike. If this is how we handle Scripture, no wonder people loathe “Christian prayer” and rather seek help from “eastern religions!” Almighty God, the Holy Bible, and Christianity are not the problem. We in our carelessness are the problem….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How was Moses ‘very meek?’

Christian Prayer “Does Not Help” #1

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9 KJV).

Indeed, the Lord’s words are true even now!

Some poor soul recently wrote: “I have found that doing mindfulness meditation has brought peace to my mind more than prayer has, so the eastern religions do have something to offer. I cannot say that I agree with everything they teach, but I do know that I have solved my fears by doing meditations and Christian prayer has done nothing. If it works for you, great.”

We can only wonder what “Christian prayer” means there. Mindful of the widespread superstition often associated with prayer, it is most likely something pagan (non-Christian) being passed off as Christian. Whatever it is, the individual freely confesses it has been found to be useless. Such distaste for “Christian prayer” is not at all shocking. Listen to the average Christian pray, and it is apparent how little Scripture they really know. Most preachers are ignorant as well. Scant, if any, verses undergird those words. They pray according to what God did in the past, they pray in line with what He will do in the future, but they do not pray according to what He is doing today. When He does not do what they assumed He would do, when their prayer requests fail to materialize, then frustrations and doubt overwhelm.

Once, I met a lady with a limited education. She could not read the Bible (although she owned a family one). How she loved to read her prayer book though! She spent hours repeating that prayer book every day. When I flipped through it, I noticed it was all empty religious tradition. There was no clear Gospel message in any of it. It was pagan superstition. Her “Christian” denomination had taught her she did not need the Bible, only her church’s approved literature!

Hundreds of millions of such souls exist around the world. If someone actually uses his or her brain, and discovers the nonsense, the Bible is assumed to have the problem. Now we see why people often scoff at “Christian prayer….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?

A Mother’s Advice

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).

Listen to the invaluable advice from a precious mother troubled by regrets!

A dear sister in Christ, a mother and now a grandmother, recently shared with me her realization that she is no longer able to train her son. He is a grown man, not her little boy anymore. She wishes she had done things differently with him when he was a child, more impressionable and willing to listen. As a young Christian long ago, she did the best she could with the limited doctrine she had. Now, he has great difficulty coping with life’s problems. She, having since grown in sound Bible doctrine, is unable to teach him the new Divine revelation she has learned. If only she could go back in time and redo parenting!

It is most unfortunate, but it is not until the end of earthly life that we really learn from our mistakes. If only we could reach that next generation, but they are self-reliant and supposedly “know better.” They will learn that bitter lesson too, but too late as well. Every subsequent generation does not learn earlier what the previous generation learned later. The advice, sadly, does not make it across in time before the older generation with regrets passes away. Soon, the young generation is now aged and (like their ancestors) they desperately try in vain to talk sense into their children.

Dear readers, if you are parents or grandparents, make it a habit now to reach the young people in your life. You certainly cannot change the past, but you can absolutely change the present. Hear the yearnings and urgings of that dear mother. Train those children up in God’s Word rightly divided before they become adults (and independent). When we see the multitudes of wayward youth rising on the world stage, let us never forget that today’s Scripture was largely ignored as they were growing up. There is no guarantee people who grow up with the Bible will keep it forever, but today’s Scripture says the chances are greater if they were trained therein. You can still make a difference for God’s glory if you truly believe today’s Scripture!

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 27, 2019

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

The Goodness of God

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17 KJV).

Friend, would you give a cup of water to your enemy? One slice of bread? A piece of fruit? The God of the Bible gives much more to His enemies!

Some people have so offended us, we think twice about letting them drink from our garden water hose (let alone our kitchen faucet!). We hesitate to give them crumbs (much less a full course meal!). Today’s Scripture closes the sermon the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached to the pagan idolaters in Lystra (southern Turkey). The one true God had given these heathen over to the satanic religion they had desired (verses 11-13,15,16); yet, He sustained their crop production with the natural laws He had ordained in creation. Recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:45, “…he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

The God of creation let them have His water (rain). He allowed them to eat His food that grew in His soil with His sunshine. His matter, His atoms, His molecules keep them from starving and dying. Back in Genesis chapter 1, He had created it all from nothing, spoken it all into existence; then, these spiritually blind Gentiles took His provisions and gave them over to worthless false deities! He knew the heathen of the world would ignore Him and worship and serve idols of wood and stone, gold and silver. They would prepare food and drink offerings for pagan gods, not Him (the God of creation, the God of Israel). Yet, He let them have their way. His creation—notice again that it is His creation—would be used to praise everyone and everything but Him. Sad!

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Calvary is the greatest expression of God’s goodness toward His enemies—us!

A Mind to Work! #6

Saturday, May 25, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Read the rest of Nehemiah chapter 4 through to chapter 6. There were more struggles and challenges—including Israel’s enemies attempting to distract Nehemiah and waste his time (opening verses of chapter 6)—but “the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days” (6:15). God’s people “had a mind to work,” and, despite the escalating resistance, they completed their task!

We the Church the Body of Christ—2,500 years later—would do well to see that God’s people can indeed do whatever He calls them to do. No matter how relentless Satan is in opposing us, regardless of how many sinful people he can recruit to intimidate or silence us, God’s work will go on. Our Heavenly Father has called us Christians to build into our inner man, and the inner man of those we reach, an edifice of sound Bible doctrine. This information is likened unto “gold, silver, precious stones” (1 Corinthians 3:6-15); every other form of teaching is “wood, hay, stubble.” Rather than letting our attention be diverted with all sorts of nonsense, we must ignore the evil world system and believe God’s Word rightly divided so it can work in our lives!

Earlier, we referred to the Thessalonians. Let us revisit them one last time, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10: “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” Did you see their Christian conduct? They believed sound doctrine, and had a mind to work (1 Thessalonians 2:13)!! 🙂