Answer me

Many times I have been asked to pray for people to be healed.  I can tell you that I suck in my breath, pray and hope – but every single time the person has not had a miraculous recovery. I even wonder why people ask me to pray.

I can imagine Elijah on Mount Carmel asking God to send fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice.  I do not think the challenge was all that big to him. The fact that he doused the sacrifice and the entire altar with water showed that he believed God was God and could definitely light up the sacrifice from heaven.  But somewhere he had to be hoping that him and God were in good standing together and that there was nothing (sin) between them.  Elijah needed God to respond. 

He needed God to respond because if He did not, Elijah would have been dead.  Instead of bringing that up, Elijah decides to go after God’s honour instead. Elijah new that God had to respond because the lives of the people were at stake.  Then he thought – well no – they had all kinds of miracles take place, story after story, and yet they rejected God to follow idols that allowed them to be selfish, perverse, and not be accountable to any god but themselves. 

Desperate hope made Elijah come and kneel before God, call Him by the title used by people of Israel and he asked for two things – for God to be glorified and he would be acknowledged as a servant of God.  Best kind of prayer that one could hope God would respond to. 

I have started to pray that way too – God be glorified by doing the miraculous when it comes to praying for a healing.  Still nothing has happened, but I keep hoping because that is what hope does.

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding.  Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” – 1 Kings 18:36-37

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Courage to pray

When we look at the infinite distance we know exists between Creator and His creation, especially in light of a holy God and sinful people, we could imagine that it would be vanity and impious that any request of ours could be heard or that He could be induced to notice it with a reply. However, God has asked us to talk to Him and tell Him of our needs and He has assured us of an answer to our prayer.

So when we see David pray, he shares with us his prayer request but he also tells us in quite a bit of detail the words God uses to respond to Him and the promise that He has given him.  Because of the promise given by God, David being encouraged, found in his heart this prayer – something to great to beg for, but not too great for God to give. Many of us come in prayer to seek, but it must not only be in our mouths, but also in our hearts and that heart needs to be poured out before God.  Our faith and hope are built on the honour of God keeping His promise.

Prayer, minus the elegant tongue or even scripture memorization, demands a sincere heart – one that utters His name in child-like trust desiring no one but Him. God wants to respond immediately to a heart like this – be our security, hope, strength, joy, and supply.  

Such a prayer means that the heart has been renewed for such prayer could never come from a dead, corrupt or stony heart.  If you can pray from your heart, never doubt your relationship with God – you are both in love with each other.  If you are only able to whisper His name, share your heart in weak, feeble and fragmentary words, and you are apprehensive that maybe such a poor, broken prayer cannot be accepted, know that it is not your words, but the desire of your soul that has come before God.  Hope as long as you can, pray, for none who pray believing in the name of Jesus, will be rejected.

For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. – 2 Samuel 7:27

Walk in newness of life

To have a new life and to move and act in that new life means we are now operating with new principles and under new powers as those who have been justified and have now a new hope because of a new birth.

This walk can be quite difficult – and it helps to know that the glory of the resurrection and the complete putting off of the flesh lies before us.

The Father pronounced His final victory over sin and over death as He raised Jesus from the dead.  We join in that victory as Christ leads us into our new life – not just a different lifestyle; rather one operating from a completely redefined perspective. We are actually made new by and through our relationship with Christ. Again, this does not take away what our walk looks like or the intensity of our struggle that we will encounter.  But it does determine that there is now hope and there is a promise of victory as Christ enfolds us into His resurrection.  Our new walk is one that is done daily with God.

That is why life that has been freely given by grace is not an invitation to sin.  Our hope in a future resurrection makes itself known with the life we live now – one where sin has been put to death and we walk in newness and righteousness of life.

 It is this very promise that one day we will share in this victory that gives us the desire and power to overcome sin right now.

 “Sin can’t enslave a person who is utterly confident and sure and hope-filled in the infinite happiness of life with Christ in the future.” – John Piper

1 Peter 1:3 reminds us that living means our hope is rock solid. Our salvation can be described in the past, present and future.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:3-4

Jesus Lives, and So Shall I – ChurchFolk

God raised Him from the dead

Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. – 1 Peter 1:21

 

In these simple words, “God raised Him from the dead”, repeated again and again on all possible occasions, was the great truth of Easter first preached to the world. The Resurrection was ‘an eminent act of God’s omnipotency,’ worked before the eyes of all in heaven and earth, and it has been the glory, the comfort, and the hope of the Christian world ever since.

“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.  Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him.  Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed.  When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead;  and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors  he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’  As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “I will give you the holy promises made to David.’  Therefore he has also said in another psalm, “You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’  For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption;  but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you;  by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.  Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:  “Look, you scoffers! Be amazed and perish, for in your days I am doing a work, a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’ ” – Acts 13:26-41

Jeremy Camp – Same Power

Fear God and do what is right

Peter proclaiming to the house of Cornelius the good news is a truth right from heart of God with equity and love, sweeping away all the narrow-mindedness which, in this case, was the hope of salvation found in being circumcised or in the theology of the Rabbis.  For ourselves, we too may be wrapped up in the theology of our favourite theologian or in our faith’s dogmatism too.  What Peter preached was similar to the words Paul used in Romans —

 Because[a] if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. – Romans 10:9-10

We will only taste the full meaning of salvation when we call on the Lord by whom we shall be saved.

Believing in the name of Jesus does not refer to a general, vague sort of belief. Rather, it is specific and personal. To believe in Jesus means that I believe He is the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for my sins. I believe the promise of God, that whoever believes on Him receives eternal life as God’s gift, not based on any human merit, but only on God’s free grace. To believe in Jesus means that I no longer rely on anything in myself to commend myself to God. Rather, I trust only in what Jesus did on the cross as my hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

When Jesus Christ arrived, He destroyed the effects of evil everywhere He went. He did this openly, before witnesses, where everyone could see. He came to a world that was lost and despairing, without hope. Everywhere He went He set people free and brought again to human hearts the hope that there is a way out of the desperate bondage of fallen humanity. 

 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.  That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;  but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:34-43