learning (4)



I began this blog series earlier. If you click on http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/ and scroll down you can see the previous post. The series is on keys to answered prayer taken from John 15:7,8.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, 

ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

By this my Father is glorified, 

that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

After Jesus had laid the foundation of living and praying in God’s will, He invited us to ask. “Ask and it will be done for you.” While this passage and others give a fuller picture of prayer, a number of Bible verses simply say, “ask.” John 16:24, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you.”

Actually, you do not have to read far in any of these passages to find the concept of praying in and for God’s will. However, they all emphasize the opportunity to ask. Asking is a practical way of merging our will with God’s. Like so many things in life, you learn by doing. 

This calls us to consistent continuing prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 calls us to, “Pray without ceasing.” Matthew 7:7 reads,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; 

seek, and you will find; 

knock, and it will be opened to you.” 

Greek, the original language of Matthew and the rest of the New Testament, has a tense that most other languages do not have. The action in this verse must continue or be repeated. One English translation renders these words, “Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking, Knock and keep on knocking.” We are to keep our petitions before God until He answers or redirects our prayer.

God also gives us a safety valve on the power of prayer so we do not move mountains onto our neighbors’ houses. In inviting us to ask, Jesus assures us that asking is safe. God protects us as He teaches us to pray. You don’t need fear that you are praying for things that may ruin your life or the lives of people around you. This ought to give us a freedom to pray for whatever we believe to be God’s will.  Ask and you will receive.











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A Teachable Spirit

“I don’t understand why I have to learn this stuff!”  If you haven’t heard your kids say this yet, just wait, school only started yesterday.  I was one of those kids.  I just didn’t care much for school.  I was too busy playing baseball, tennis and blowing up green army men with firecrackers.  School was not a highlight for me growing up.  Of course my lack of desire for learning spilled over into my spiritual life as well.  The Bible seemed boring and irrelevant as did most of church and Sunday school.

However, that all started to change after I became a Christian.  It was during high school that I heard the gospel in a very clear way and felt in my heart that I needed Christ and needed to follow Him.  God started working on my heart and changing my lack of desire to learn and study.  Now, I am not saying I didn’t struggle with school.  I struggled all the way through college and really didn’t catch on to the academic study thing until seminary.  Probably because it was then that I felt God calling me into ministry and I had a purpose to study.  But I will say that my desires to study my Bible, go to church and Sunday school, get involved in a weekly Bible study really did change quickly in high school.  I got involved in all those things and started trying to reach out to my friends as well.  To illustrate my point, I actually took notes during the sermons while I was in high school.

Since then I have always felt a strong desire to learn and study God’s Word.  I guess that’s a good thing since I’m a pastor.  But seriously, my prayer for everyone is that they have a “teachable spirit” towards the things of God.  Have you ever heard someone say (or maybe you said it yourself), “I’ve heard this Bible story before.”  The tone with a bit of pride in it that says, “I already know what this passage is about and it’s really doubtful that I’m going to learn anything new here.”   I know I’m guilty of saying it.  But is that the attitude we should have toward the Scriptures, even if we have heard the story a million times before?  God’s Word is living and active, it will always have something new to teach us.  We will never, ever be able to exhaust the riches of God’s grace in the Bible.  That is, if we approach the Bible with a teachable spirit that says with the Psalmist,


“Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! 37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”                                                                Psalm 119:33-37


There are numerous ways to allow God’s Word to impact your heart and life.  Study and meditate daily on God’s Word, be at church every week and take notes on the sermon, be committed to a Faith & Life class (while your kids and in Sunday school), get involved in a weekly Bible study and Community Group, get involved in the men’s and women’s ministries, listen to a message on your way to work.  I encourage you to do all of the above.  Immerse yourself in learning the things of God and what it means to follow Christ.


What have I been learning lately?  Well, I have been thinking about Philippians 4:6-7 which says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


I memorized this verse in high school so you would think that I know all there is to know about it by now.  But recently this passage has given me profound comfort during times when I am anxious.  I have been able to meditate on it, pick it apart, listen to each word and understand it in a deeper way that I have never seen in it before. 


Lord, give me a teachable spirit that I may soak in your Word each day, allowing it to wash me with its grace, mold my heart and give me the courage to live it out among the world around me.


All for Jesus,


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Ever hear a song or jingle and just not be able to get it out of your head? Not too long ago, I attended the Fall Leadership Conference at Jack Hayford's Church on the Way. The worship leader led us in a worship song called, ONE WORD FROM GOD.

One word from God can make everything new again...everythings better with one word from God...so speak Lord and I will listen, show me your word...guide me today.

That song has blessed me SO much. I have it on my iPhone and on a CD in my car. I have about worn both completely out.

Reading the letter from Paul to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, I was impressed by a verse (2 Tim. 1:13):

"Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith, and love which are in Christ Jesus."

The "one word" that is speaking to me is RETAIN. As a disciple of Christ, I see so much erosion of "sound words" in the Body of Christ. Everything is done like an "Etch-a-Sketch." We rapidly sketch a worship song, sermonette, and a quick prayer we copied out of a book somewhere and then, shake-shake-shake, we are ready for the next "hit" of spiritually. The Church seems in need of a constant "fix" of the latest, greatest. Nothing seems to "stick." No stamina, no continuity, no cohesion.

I read a quote somewhere that said, "When everything is amplified, nothing is heard." I guess that is why the Scriptures tell us..."Be still and know that I am God." In the silence, in the "unplugged," unamplified moments of life, we can pause and catch that still, small voice and ONE WORD for us, for you, for me...

JESUS, Name above all names...
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Just finished Piper's new book, THINK. It is a wonderful call for us - individually and collectively as the Church - to think, to read, to reason, to meditate on our faith and on the glories of our God and our Savior Jesus the Christ. I found myself wanting to highlight almost every paragraph. Piper has a way with words that makes you think, that lead you to deep questions, and always points you to the Holy Spirit and The Bible as the sources for the answers. I heartily recommend this book to read, to share, and to THINK about.
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