To Pray a Better Way #6

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

It is no secret that prayer is a daunting exercise for most. Today’s Scripture pinpoints the reason: “for we know not what we should for as we ought.” We should know how to pray, but we do not. That is, we should know how to glorify God the most in any given situation. Alas, two problems hamper effectual prayer.

One was applicable in Paul’s day. At the time of the Acts period (during the writing of Romans), God has not yet revealed everything about the Dispensation of Grace. “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1). All of Paul’s Epistles are not fully revealed and written—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon were penned after Acts. It took approximately 35 years for the mystery program to completely unfold, the culmination of Pauline revelation being 2 Timothy (his final writing).

The other reason for unanswered prayer is a lack of personal awareness of what God has already revealed. Whether Christians in the 1st century or 21st century, unless there is individual Bible study, we cannot expect to know how to pray. God is not going to “zap” us with truth as we kneel and beg earnestly in a prayer closet! We must open the Holy Scriptures and read them for ourselves. There will be no voice whispering in our ears, and no “warm, fuzzy feelings” in our heart. God has already spoken, and He will not speak further. He has preserved that inspired record so we can read it. Friends, if we fail to read the Bible and learn His will, it is not His fault. It is our (!) responsibility to “search and see.” Once we open the Scriptures, though, the Holy Spirit begins to intercede for us….

To Pray a Better Way #5

Monday, March 2, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

We read the verses that immediately precede today’s Scripture: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Before our glorification in the Heaven, we must suffer with Christ in this cursed creation—that includes physical illness and death (short of the Lord’s coming). In addition to bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (verse 16), the Spirit of God helps “our infirmities” (today’s Scripture). The “infirmities” there are not so much bodily afflictions as much as they are deficiencies in our understanding of them. In other words, we need to have a better awareness of what God is doing in the midst of our dire circumstances. Paul learned it, and we should learn it as well….

To Pray a Better Way #4

Sunday, March 1, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Returning to 2 Corinthians chapter 12, “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

To say the least, Paul had great difficulties (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-28). His enemies—unbelieving Jews and Gentiles—constantly plotted his demise. Ridiculed and mocked, he often had inadequate food, clothing, and shelter. He was frequently mercilessly beaten, robbed, slandered, and imprisoned. (Ultimately, beheaded!) Throughout his earthly sojourn, he also tolerated bodily illness or disability that involved reduced vision (cf. Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11).

A rabbinical scholar, Paul knew the Old Testament. JEHOVAH God overthrew Egypt to free Israel, conquered wicked King Saul to rescue David, and defeated Babylon to liberate Israel. “Why does God not deliver me from my enemies?,” he surely wondered throughout Acts. “I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26) was certainly on Paul’s mind as he suffered his physical ailment. He understood the Mosaic Law curses of financial loss, disease, and starvation (Leviticus 26:16,17,25,26). Facing his struggles, Paul therefore asked God for relief. The Lord’s reply was stunning to say the least….

Special-edition Bible Q&A #700: “Are we dispensationalists guilty of ‘limiting God?’

To Pray a Better Way #3

Saturday, February 29, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Let us continue reading in Romans chapter 8: “[11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

As saints, sin does not have to master us; the indwelling Holy Spirit can energize us to walk in God’s ways. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” refers to the inspired Scriptures reinforcing in our mind the fact that we are part of God’s family. If we are His children (and we are), then it naturally follows that we are His heirs—yea, joint-heirs with Christ. Just as we suffer in this fallen creation, following Christ in His suffering, so we will be glorified with Him. We will inherit governmental authority from our Father as He himself will inherit it from our Father. Until then, though, problems will abound….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘vipers’ of the New Testament Scriptures?

To Pray a Better Way #2

Friday, February 28, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Chapter 5 of Romans opens: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:1-5).

The indwelling Holy Ghost first appears in Paul’s epistles and exits just as quickly. He reemerges in chapter 8—here referenced over a dozen times—as participating in our sanctification. (“Holy Ghost” is His name; “Spirit” infers His role or function.) Read all of Romans chapter 8, at least through to verse 27 (today’s Scripture). If we follow the Holy Spirit leading, we then experience daily the very mentality and conduct of Jesus Christ in our own mind and life.

We read the first four verses: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Let us see what else the Holy Ghost does for us….

To Pray a Better Way #1

Thursday, February 27, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Prayer is everywhere in Christendom. Regardless of the denomination, people have all been taught to pray. Even people who do not like the Bible pray—especially in times of trouble and tragedy! We would expect non-Christians not to know how to pray “effectually” (producing the results God intended). Yet, unfortunately, even genuine Christians are struggling ever so greatly in this realm. “I do not know what to pray for.” “Praying seems to be a waste of time. I am just not ‘getting through.’ No one answers me!”

We would do well to consider the Apostle Paul’s experience with prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Is it not strange that even Paul himself had firsthand knowledge in unanswered prayer? Facing major difficulties, bothered by one great affliction in particular, he cried out to the Lord on three occasions, “Please, deliver me!” Notice, it took three times. On that last occasion, Paul finally heard from the Lord. However, it was another unexpected outcome! If he wanted to see results, he needed to pray a better way….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘forget’ to create Eve?

Sin Divides #13

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

Doctrine does not divide; doctrine is not the problem. Sin divides; sin is the problem. False doctrine resulting from sin is to blame. True, if we gather around mere sentiments—so-called “love” instead of sound Bible doctrine—we have a semblance of harmony. Alas, such human efforts will not successfully substitute true unity (God’s life). That shallowness will eventually fail because true love—God’s life—is absent. Unless we maintain sound Bible doctrine, we can never have meaningful, permanent concord!

We do not create harmony using “love.” Genuine love—seeking another person’s highest good—is accomplished via sound Bible doctrine. Once we trust the doctrine that defines Almighty God’s life, then we experience in and among ourselves the selflessness that exists among the Members of the Godhead. Looking at Calvary, we see God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you appreciate the unselfishness here? The sinless Son of God dying a cruel death to pay for ournot His!—sins? Nowhere else will we find such self-sacrifice! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

When we trust the Gospel of the Grace of God, then God the Holy Spirit will create in us His nature and attitude. Here is how man gets along with fellow man—and woman! “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7—the verse following today’s Scripture). While sin has caused divisions in Israel, Micah understood that the LORD would take care of it! 🙂

Sin Divides #12

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

The God of creation designed human life to function the same way life operates within the Godhead. As God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost (unselfishly) seek each other’s benefit and glory rather than their own, so creation was intended to reflect those relationships. Adam was created in God’s image and likeness to be the manifestation of Divine living. The Creator issued parameters—doctrine, or teaching to be believed and obeyed—within which Adam (mankind) was to conduct himself. Harmony existed between God and man, and man and woman, until that Divine revelation was ignored in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered by Adam’s unbelief and disobedience. The doctrine that unifies was intentionally forsaken. Accordingly, selfishness and disharmony permeate human civilization.

When we reflect upon all the world’s problems—and there are more than we can fathom—let us remember that it was sin that caused (and still causes) them. Think of those suffering tremendously with sickness and disease. Creation is cursed because of Adam. Consider the endless wars, crimes, divorces, poverty, ignorance, homelessness, and so on. These are the results of poor decisions. We are stuck in a perpetual cycle of operating outside of God’s will for human existence.

Try as hard as we might, we will not eliminate the selfishness (evil) that resides in every human heart. Legislations, incarcerations, hospitalizations, denominations, conversations, proclamations, denunciations, corporations, approbations, aspirations, ordinations, educations, sensations, and orations cannot eliminate sin. What we need is expiation (payment for sin). What we need is salvation (deliverance from sin). What we need is sanctification (set apart for God’s purposes). What we need is justification (righteousness of God).

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Sin Divides #3

Monday, February 3, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

If we look at life in the Godhead, we see the absence of selfishness. The three Members of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—live for the benefit of the other two. For example, the Son was submissive to His Father’s will rather His own will: “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). Jesus Christ went about doing His “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). The Son said, “I honour my Father” (John 8:49). “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself” (John 14:10). “It is my Father that honoureth me” (John 8:54).

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). “For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2), Father God said of the words the Holy Spirit wrote. The Son said of the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit of truth… shall not speak of himself…. He shall glorify me” (John 16:13,14).

The Creator God designed mankind to function in a similar capacity: this is the idea of man being made in God’s image, after His likeness. Man should not be living for self, but rather for others. Nevertheless, sin complicates and destroys this simple arrangement. Sin is a man “doing his own thing,” going “his own way.” Without a doubt, sin is the fundamental problem with man and his society….

Inspired and Declared

Thursday, January 30, 2020

“With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth” (Psalm 119:13 KJV).

Do we agree?

The Psalmist viewed the Scriptures—which were just the “Old Testament” at the time—as “the judgments of [God’s] mouth.” Here is a veiled reference to Bible inspiration. Although often enigmatic and misunderstood (since “natural men” masquerading as “Bible scholars” have generated much of that confusion), the doctrine of inspiration is really not difficult to grasp. As long as we let the Bible describe itself, we will be on solid ground.

The famous Bible “inspiration” text is 2 Timothy 3:16,17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” In Greek, “given by inspiration of God” is one word—“theopneustos” (literally, “God breathed”). “Spirit,” “air,” “wind,” and “breath” are closely related in the Greek language. Therefore, the Bible is words God spoke forth or breathed out.

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Scripture is “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3; cf. Matthew 4:4). “The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake…” (Acts 1:16). “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,…” (Matthew 22:31). Compare to today’s Scripture: “With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.” The Psalmist spoke of the “judgments” (decrees, conclusions, laws) originating from God’s mouth.

Almighty God uttered “words,” not just thoughts. The Holy Spirit gave these inspired words to special men and He led them to write those Divine words. Either we believe this is the Bible’s origin (faith), or we do not (unbelief). There is no middle ground. Additionally, He gave those inspired words to preserve them throughout the centuries via a multiplicity of manuscript copies. We have those inspired, preserved words even now: in English, it is the King James Bible. So, the Psalmist had spoken to others what God had spoken to him. May we take the Bible and do likewise! “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Our latest Bible Q&As: “How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?” and “Should it be ‘virtue’ or ‘power’ in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and Luke 8:46?