Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Fruitfulness in uncertain times & our quiet time

Dear bro Bao 寶弟兄,

Its great to see you growing in the knowledge of God, and enjoying His presence and blessing in your life, since coming to faith not long ago.  Its always a joy hearing your encouraging stories as you learn to follow, trust Him and share Him with others.   Praise the Lord !

A few days ago, I was reminded something basic … yet essential.
After about 3 years of walking with Jesus in person … Jesus asked Philip a searching question  … right to the core


Don’t you know me?

Don’t you believe?


John 14:9,10 (NIV)
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?

Honestly, I had to pause, and check myself … and pray.

Indeed, Christian/church activities, group bible studies, fellowship meetings, etc are good, … soaking up Christian books and media are good ….  but they are no substitute for personally knowing Him, His ways and His voice first-hand.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, everyone of us can know God personally. We do not need a human intermediary (like Moses or church leaders) anymore, praise the Lord.  Let’s not forfeit the grace that is ours.  Let’s press in to know Him personally.  Thankfully, the extent we know Him, is shaped by the depth of our desire …. not how long we have been a Christian, praise God!

Hebrews 8:11 (NIV)
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.

Like Jesus’ question to Philip, there is also an equally strong reminder in the Old Testament,

Hosea 4:6 (NIV)
  My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge …

Also, over the last couple of weeks, had separate conversations with some friends from other churches.  Somehow, they expressed a similar concern …  how to inspire more followers of Jesus to live for God, …  overcome unwholesome habits,  …. reach out to those in need, … share Jesus with others, … go beyond just Sunday Christianity  …. in other words … fruitfulness.

Jesus gives us insight to the key to fruitfulness.

John 15:5 (NASB)
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Simply, abiding in Jesus and He in us.

1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV)
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 17:3 (NIV)
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Living in uncertain times, …. and bearing fruit in such times,
Jeremiah 17 gives us hope

Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NASB)
 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.

…. trusting in the Lord,  like a tree planted by water, extending its roots by a stream.  Even in drought and heat, its leaves are always green, nourished by the deep roots.  Anxiety and fear are silenced by this water.  Where is this water that the tree draws from ?

Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB)
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 complements Jeremiah 17:7,8 …. the tree, the stream, green leaves … and fruit … delighting and meditating on God’s word often, walking in the counsel and path of God’s word.

Psalm 92:12-15 (NASB)
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Praise God, Psalm 92 says we will yield fruit even in old age, or no matter what age, young or senior.  Psalm 92 again paints the picture of a flourishing fruitful tree, full of sap and very green.

Fruitfulness comes from drawing the sap from the true vine, Jesus, daily  By feeding on the Bread of Life, and drinking from the Living Water daily, we will be satisfied;  no longer hungry and thirsty (John 6:35, John 4:10) … or spiritually malnourished.

If we stop drawing sap from the true vine, we dry up and wither.  Whatever christian activity we do, the Life of Jesus is not in it.
Not just ourselves, but others can also see and feel it.

John 15:6 (NASB)
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up;

John 3:6 (NASB)
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Matthew 7:16 (NASB)
16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

Whether we are a 1-day old Christian or a 99-year Christian, its good to cultivate a daily thirst for meeting with the Lord  to pray and read His Word daily,
i.e. having a consistent daily Quiet Time with the Lord.

Psalm 42:1,2 (NIV)
As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

 Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.

Like everything in life, once we get the basics right, everything falls in place.

Even Jesus while He was on earth, He spent much time alone with the Father daily …. what more ourselves?

jesus praying

Mark 1:35 (NIV)
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46 (NIV)
After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Luke 5:16 (NASB)
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

And as we spend  time with the Lord, and humbly come to Him, we are strengthened in whatever situation,

Psalm 73:25,26 (NIV)
Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Isaiah 57:15 (NASB)
For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.

As we are refreshed and strengthened, we are also able to minister to others with the right refreshing word, rather than just relying on our natural abilities/talents.  As Jesus said “apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Isaiah 50:4 (NIV)
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;

Jesus in John 15 further explains how we become fruitful, through abiding in His words, abiding in His love, asking Him to be glorified in and through us.

John 15:7-11 (NIV)
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Our part is to:
…. Abide in Jesus = Abide in His Words + Abide in His love

…. Abide in His love = Abide in His commandments

Hence,
… Abide in Jesus = Abide in His Words + Abide in His commandments.

Resulting in ,
…. Ask the Lord, and it will be done for us
…. The Lord is glorified (our goal)
…. We bear much fruit, proving that we are His disciples
…. Jesus Joy may be in us, so that our joy may be made full

Abide in His commandments = Obeying His commandments,
which are:

Matthew 22:36-40 (NASB)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [o]foremost commandment.
39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Therefore,
… Our daily reading of God’s Word reveals and directs us to God’s will.  We begin to understand and know His will through His Word.
…. So that  … we can begin to pray according to His Will

1 John 4:14-15 (NASB)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

His Will is His Word.
His Will in the situations/challenges we face is found in His Word.

His Word directs us on how we should pray.

Hence, praying His Will, is praying His Word,
i.e. in accordance with His Word

As we read His Word daily, we are seeking His Will daily, as we pray to obey His Word.
God speaks to us through His Word, by His Spirit.

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

God’s Word builds up our faith and trust in Him.

John 14:12-14 (NASB)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

When we ask, we ask in Jesus name, … in the authority of Jesus name, in the character of Jesus.

John chapters 14-17, records Jesus’ words  just before he went to the cross, … he was preparing his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit … when greater things will be done through them …. as well as face the intense persecution that will be unleashed against them.  He encourages us with these words,

John 16:31-33
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Through abiding with Him daily, even in uncertain stormy times, we receive His peace which silences the anxieties and fears in our heart … and we are strengthened.

John 14:27 (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

While in prison for his faith, Paul wrote this encouragement,

Philippians 4:4-7  (NIV, MSG)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Times of Refreshing


Prayer

In this day of 24×7 instant messaging, Internet information streaming, juggling work-life balance, endless family commitments, etc …. its good for each of us to make time each day  ….  put everything in silent mode … to seek the Lord.  A time when we close the door of distractions, and the tyranny of the urgent.  A time when we worship our God.

Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.

Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV)
The Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth be silent before him.

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Luke 11:1
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 


Lord, you’re holy


The Lord Jesus was such an inspiration of the life of prayer that His disciples asked him to teach them.  He taught them the Lord’s prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

We begin with a time of praise and worship of our God.  There is much to give thanks to the Lord and be grateful about.  We can also sing some praise and worship songs, or read a Psalm.
Worship is our response to the revelation of who God is and what He has done revealed through His Word.

God is our sovereign creator, we come to Him in reverence and awe … yet through Jesus, we lovingly address Him as our Father, our Father who loves us.  Not a God far, far away, but God who is near and personal, personally interested to listen to each one of us …  a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).  

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100 is an example of lifting praise and worship to our God.   In this Psalm the psalmist tells us that we enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.

The psalmist also praise and proclaims:
…. the works of God –  It is he who made us
…. character of God – he Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations
…. our relationship with God – we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Hence we can confidently come to pray to Him, knowing confidently that He is able to answer us.

In our Father’s presence, we can be ourselves … prayer then becomes spontaneous, unpretentious, sincere and natural.  No need to change our tone, vocabulary or posture … or well-crafted, scripted words/sentences ;
be vulnerable, real before Him.  Pray from our heart.

Psalm 62:5,8 (NASB)
My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
 6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Through focusing on Him, His character and His word/promises, we move from seeing things around us …  from our perspective to God’s perspective.

Psalm 100:4 (NIV)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.

10 your kingdom come, your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

We commit ourselves and humbly yield to our Lord, inviting Him to come rule over our lives.  We ask Him to help us focus and align ourselves with His kingdom in our daily lives, and direct us into His will.

“your kingdom come, your will be done” is also a  faith proclamation for us to speak the rule of God over situations, on earth as it is in heaven.  

We may pause to read His Word to seek His kingdom for the day,
and respond by praying His Word, His will.
We pray His kingdom will be manifested in and through our lives today.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

We pray for the needs of others and ourselves.
We also ask the Lord to give us grace to patiently wait for His answers, and an open heart as to how He will answer our prayers.  For 40 years in the wilderness, God faithfully provided the children of Israel their daily bread – manna and water.

Nehemiah 9:20,21
20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,
And gave them water for their thirst.
21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;
They lacked nothing;
Their clothes did not wear out
And their feet did not swell.

Sometimes He silences the storm outside, sometimes instead, He silences the turmoil in His child.
Sometimes, like Paul’s thorn in 2 Corinthians 12, He gives us His all-sufficient grace to sustain us, instead of immediately taking the problem away.

2 Corinthians 12:8,9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.

God is concerned about our daily needs, and situations that make us anxious.

1 John 5:14,15
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Seeking kingdom first in prayer,
helps us focus to pray according to His will.

12 And forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 5:23,24
23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Psalm 66:18 (NIV)
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;

We get our hearts right with Him, and forgive others.
We make peace with God and others.
We surrender our right to be right, trusting in His mercy and justice … and His grace to help us live like Jesus.  Having received mercy from the Lord ourselves, and being grateful for His mercy, we pray for the Lord to take away any judgmental, critical or bitter spirit within us against anyone.
We pray for God to touch others to experience the forgiveness in Jesus.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It is good to make peace with God,
and make peace with others in our hearts,
clear unresolved conflicts in our hearts,
starting again clean
… before we go out and face the world and others.

Love our neighbors, pray for them, and their concerns/needs

13 And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from the evil one

We live and face an imperfect world.  We pray for His grace & strength to help us walk in the right path, and protection from the evil one.  We pray for His grace and wisdom to face the day, whatever comes our way.  To be more like Jesus.

About praying deliver us from the evil one, and preserving us from evil, we can join with the Psalmist to confidently declare,

Psalm 121:4-8 (NKJV)
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night. 
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore

Ultimately, the goal and result of our prayer is … the Lord is glorified on earth as it is in heaven … in whatever happens in our day.

In the Psalms, here and there the word selah appears … which means ‘pause’ … before reading/singing the next portion.  It is also good to create space to be silent before Him, to wait, to listen to Him speak to us.

Prayer is a dialogue …
Prayer is definitely not a monlogue that ends in ‘Amen’,
and straithtaway we hurry along with the rest of our day.
Imagine a husband or a wife who only meets their spouse once a day to give a monologue update of problems/issues, and then rush off, ….. exit.

Prayer is not a ‘shopping list’ of requests,
or asking Jesus to sign a cheque so that we can cash it.
Prayer times or prayer meetings are not just a time to only bring our requests/needs before the Lord.  But also a time when we tune in to listen to Him.

1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

God is not looking for perfect prayers or prayers prayed in perfect faith with spectacular results
… but a sincere honest thoughts or cry from the heart of His child who is grateful to Him.  Pour out your heart before Him;

Prayer in essence …  is our expression of our dependence on God
for our daily walk with Him to face the world.

There are many prayers  recorded in the Bible (eg Daniel, Paul, Hannah, Habakkuk etc).  One of the best places is the book of Psalms.  Through the Psalms we learn to relate with God as our friend … someone with whom we can openly share our emotions, … someone we can be direct, honest, and at times blunt … God knows everything and He is not offended by our raw emotions, confusion … someone we can run to Him with our questions, doubts, fears, anger,  etc, without inhibition … just like how a child talks to daddy.

Here’s an example of a psalmist pouring his heart to Him and trusting in God’s unfailing character … while waiting for His answer.

Psalm 13:1-5 (NIV)
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

See how the Psalmist in this Psalm moves from … seeing things from his perspective to God’s perspective … through focusing on God, His character, His track record, and His unfailing word/promises ….  that’s what prayer and spending time with God is all about.

Let’s pray from our hearts, not being afraid to express our hearts to Him, because Jesus is able to empathize with our weaknesses.

Luke 4:13 (ERV)
The devil finished tempting Jesus in every way and went away to wait until a better time.

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Through prayer, …. mere mortals … touch the sovereignty, might and holiness of eternal Almighty God, …. and through Jesus receive the kiss of mercy,  … and the hand of God’s grace to lift us up, and strengthen our daily walk, help us in our daily cares.

Praise God, when we pray, we are not praying alone, Jesus our great high priest and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us, and intervening for us in harmony with God’s will.  Praise the Lord!

Hebrews 7:25  (AMP)
25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

Romans 8:27 (AMP)
27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.

Here’s a memorable way to pray daily by Pastor Jack Graham.

Throughout the day, whenever and wherever, we can always talk to Him, as we walk with Him.  At times, he brings to rememberance scriptures, which we can meditate or think about.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Its not by well crafted prayers, or the length of our prayers that God delights in.

Matthew 6:7,8 (NASB)
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Its comforting to know that our Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

Also, don’t get caught up with prayer techniques to get quick, rapid answers to prayers.  God is sovereign … His time is always just right, not too early, not too late …. though I wish He was early 🙂  The Message version says it so well.

Matthew 6:7-12 (MSG)
7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.

Sometimes a simple, short “Help” cry will do.   Here’s an example of a very short 4-word prayer by Nehemiah in the face of intimidation,

Nehemiah 6:9 (NIV)
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

The most important thing is that we pray humbly, honestly, in sincere faith to Him, believing He is more than able to help us …. and waiting patiently for His faithful answer … in His time, in His way, … for His glory.   We pray for the Lord’s all-sufficient grace to sustain us as we wait upon Him.

Sometimes, through His Word, the Lord may also lead us to pray that He change us … rather than the situation we are faced with.  His Word changes our perspectives of the situation to His perspective and His plan.

Luke 18:1 (NIV)
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

1 John 5:14,15 (NIV)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God is pleased and delighted when we pray to Him.

Proverbs 15:8 (NASB, NIV)
the prayer of the upright is His delight.
the prayer of the upright pleases Him.

Isn’t He so awesomely wonderful 🙂


God’s Word

John 15:11 (NIV)
 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Psalm 119:143, 92 (NIV)
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
    but your commands give me delight.

If your law had not been my delight,
    I would have perished in my affliction.

When we open God’s Word to read, we  pray for the Lord to open our hearts and minds so that He can speak to us clearly.
We invite the Holy Spirit to guide us to know His truth.

Luke 24:45 (NIV)
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

John 16:13,14 (NIV)
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.

Here’s some prayer expressed by the Psalmist as he reads God’s precious word.

Psalm 119:18 (TLB)
Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word.

Psalm 25:4,5 (NIV)
Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 19:10,11 (NIV)
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

As we are reading God’s word, if a word or sentence or verse sticks out or resonates in our hearts, …  pause and meditate or ponder on it during the day.  Sometimes God’s Word inspires us … sometimes we receive a fresh revelation of God or His character/heart … sometimes we learn of His ways, … and sometimes it points to areas we need to make life changes.

Often, God’s word stirs us to respond in prayer, to pray the reality of His Word in our lives … changing our hearts, our lives … living out God’s word in our lives.

Hence prayer and reading His Word are intertwined,
one feeds off the other which feeds back to itself in an endless loop.

God’s word is also His love letter to us, where He shares His thoughts, His feelings, His ways.

Sometimes a passage may not be clear, and we may need to refer to other accounts or passages in the other books of the Bible for background and clarity.  Its best to trust the Bible to interprete the Bible.
Pray to the Holy Spirit to teach us His truth.

Some folks keep a record of God’s teachings from their daily bible readings in a journal.

The focus in reading God’s Word is to know Him, … know His ways, … and know His heart.  So as we read a passage, we can ask questions like,
where is God in this passage/story’,
… ‘what does it tell me about God’s character/ways?’,
… ‘from the passage/story, what is our right response?’

John 5:39 (NIV)
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.

James 1:22-24 (NIV)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Everyday, before we leave our homes, and  step outside … we look into the mirror and check our hair, shirt, etc … and make the necessary adjustments before heading out.  So too, when we read God’s Word, life adjustments/changes are required in order to do what it says or obey. 

Thankfully, its not the how much we know about the Bible,
but how much we live out the word of God that matters.

It is good to read the Bible book by book, verse by verse,
… rather than reading only snippets from different books.
Our understanding of God’s word is incomplete if we read only snippets .. similar to reading only newspaper headlines and not the full content.
It is also good to read both Testaments, even the long genealogies.

While publications like Daily Bread, Everyday with Jesus, or Bible tools like commentaries, or Internet resources or media/seminars by our favorite Christian authors are well written and helpful, …. these are no substitute for reading the Bible ourselves, and seeking God ourselves to grant us understanding and insight.  Let’s go directly to the source.  Let’s hear directly from the lover of our souls.  Let’s read His love letter ourselves.
Let’s open His Word for Him to speak to us.

Matthew 24:35 (NIV)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

God’s Word equips us for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 (NIV)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119 is a psalm of how wonderful and beneficial the Word of God is.  As we treasure His Word, God’s word helps us not sin against Him, and directs us to His right paths.

Psalm 119:11 (NASB)
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

Psalm 109:105 (NASB)
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

God’s word gives us wisdom for our lives.

Psalm 119:97-100 (NIV)
97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.

98 Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,

    for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,

    for I obey your precepts.

Proverbs 2:1-11 (NIV)
My son, if you accept my words

    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand what is right and just

    and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,

    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,

    and understanding will guard you.

Lets follow the attitude/spirit of the author of Proverbs towards God’s word

turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

… ear … heart … call out/cry aloud …. look/search … precious/valuable

God’s word protects us from self-deception, … i.e. deceiving ourselves into believing what our heart tells us is God’s will, but is not Truth.
Like a sword, God’s word cuts, judges, and exposes our motives, intentions, and thoughts …. the ‘why?’ behind our thoughts and actions, … keeping us humble.

Jeremiah 17:9,10 (MSG)
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”

Obadiah 1:3 (NIV)
The pride of your heart has deceived you

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

By Satan’s deception and sowing doubt, Adam and Eve fell.
In the temptation of Jesus, Satan twisted God’s words.
The Truth of God’s word  sets us free from the deception of the enemy, and from doubt.

John 17:17 (NIV)
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

John 8:31,32 (NIV)
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

If we don’t read the Bible ourselves, we become …

2 Timothy 3:17 (NIV)
always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)
… tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

2 Timothy 4:4 (NIV)
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Let’s stop chasing the latest revelation or hot viral spiritual topic or seminar or latest bestseller, or technique, or principle,
….  and open the source, … the Bible in our hands.
Lets move from knowledge, to letting the Word of God, His truth dwell in us richly, to transform us and keep us humble.

1 Corinthians 8:1 (NIV)
knowledge puffs up while love builds up

Colosians 3:16 (NASB)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

While listening & learning from Sunday messages at church is good … let’s also adopt the attitude of the Bereans who read God’s Word daily to confirm what Paul said was true.  This is a healthy habit to cultivate, and a safeguard against deceptive teachings or sharings.  Everything has to be measured against the Word of God.

Acts 17:11 (NIV)
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Only the Word of God produces faith in our hearts.

Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

In the armour of God, described in Ephesians 6, the Word of God is the only offensive weapon we have against the enemy.
The Truth in God’s Word overcomes deception, fear and the lies of Satan.

Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

As we read the Word of God, certain promises of God or verses may quicken us.  Proclaim these truths in the Name of the Lord over the situations of others or ourselves.

Jeremiah 23:29 (NIV)
29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Ultimately, fruitfulness starts with the seed, the Word of God, growing on the fertile ground of our hearts.

Luke 8:11, 15 (NIV)
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Hebrews 6:7 (NIV)
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

Only God’s seed can produce fruit.  Only God’s seed in good soil produces fruit, “for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Let’s be the thirsty ground that drinks the rain.

Acts 4:13,14, 20
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Peter and John were unschooled & ordinary.  What distinguished Peter and John was  they had been with Jesus.  They could not help but share about the things the Lord had seen/heard, and what He had done in and through them.  They spoke with boldness and courage for the Lord, and through them the crippled man was healed.

As we spend time with Him, we will experience God’s answers to prayer, understand His Word better, yield to the Holy Spirit,… and know Him.   We become more God conscious, become more confident in hearing His voice and be led by His Spirit.

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

John 15:26,27 (NIV)
26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Romans 8:14 (NIV)
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Only God can bring about fruitfulness.  Trees yield its fruit in its season (Psalm 1:3).  Fruiting happens over timeas we patiently persevere and wait.  Like nature, not all trees yield fruit at the same time or immediately.

Everyone of us is unique, each of our fruit has a unique flavor.  Its by our fruit that reveals what’s in our hearts.

Matthew 7:16 (NASB)
16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?   17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 

As each of us abide with God daily, we will grow and be fruiful.

As a result, the church will also grow and be fruitful.

A fruitful church is made up of fruitful people who consistently spend time with Him.

May the Lord bless you with a wonderful time walking with him and seeking Him this week.

bro Lim 林弟兄


 

I just want to be where you are

 


Dear bro Bao 寶弟兄| Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
August 9, 2014
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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This entry was posted on August 9, 2014 by in Dear bro Bao 寶弟, Faith & Prayer, Foundations, New Believer Guide, Serving Quietly, Stepping Stones and tagged .

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