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  • Unanswered Prayer Part 2

    More reasons for unanswered prayer In Part 1 we saw that were at least 4 possible reasons as to why your prayers may seem to go unanswered. The possible reasons for unanswered prayer we considered included the first two of the four reasons 1) being out of fellowship with the Lord 2) your prayer was not in the will of God. Today we look at two more possible reasons for seemingly unanswered prayer which are. 3) a lack of unity in those praying together 4) Delay in the answer from the Lord arriving. Reason 3. Lack of unity 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Wow, we better take on board the fact that a husband and wife’s prayers can be hindered by disunity. Mathew 18:19 Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. The so-called prayer of agreement requires two people to be fully agreed i.e. in unity. 4. Delay in the answer Daniel 10 Daniel prayed and fasted for Israel for three weeks, then a holy angel turned up and told him, that God sent the answer on the first day that Daniel had prayed, but a fallen angelic being called the Prince of Persia, had battled with the holy angel to delay Gods answer from coming to Daniel. Romans 1:9-10 Paul wanted to find a way to come and see the church in Rome, but Paul’s prayer appears unanswered? God had plans, and had Paul imprisoned so that he could write his epistles to the church. God can be doing something bigger than we can see. Delayed prayer can eventually increase your faith. 1 Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, there is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there arises a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, go up, say unto Ahab, prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. Elijah and the rain, the servant eventually saw the prayer answered. “Sometimes the blessing is in the prayer not being answered.” ― Andrena Sawyer. What about you, can you attribute any of the 4 above reasons given so far for your unanswered prayer? Amen

  • Unanswered Prayer Part 1

    Why do some prayers seem to be unanswered? Recently we covered a three-day mini-series called ‘Teach us to pray’. We covered a few practical aspects of prayer including, who do we pray to, and in what position etc. We also looked briefly at the 5 types of prayer, which include 1) confession of sins, 2) praise 3) thanksgiving 4) intercession and 5) petition. One aspect that we did not cover was the subject of unanswered prayer which we will now consider, is apparently unanswered prayer. We often do not talk about the prayers that appear to be unanswered. Here are the first two of four potential reasons our prayers might be unanswered. Reason 1. Being out of fellowship prevents God from answering prayer. When we enter salvation through Jesus Christ, we form a life-long family relationship which is very robust. However, our day-to-day communion with the Lord is fragile and can be easily broken through our sin. Ps 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: 1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Reason 2. God has said no because your prayer was not in the will of God. My grown-up children sometimes say that as a grandparent we let the grandkids away with much more than we did when they were kids. This is true because we have different roles as grandparents. But God is not a kindly old uncle or grandad but a zealous loving heavenly father. God has no grandkids only kids. Each generation must directly connect with him. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will , he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. The implication here is that if we ask anything that is not his will then there is no reason to suppose we should be successful in our petition. James 4: 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss , that ye may consume it upon your lusts. God promises to meet our need not our greed! Jesus, when in the Garden of Gethsemane said, Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. The Father said ‘no’. We must allow for God to say ‘no’ as He surely knows what is best in any given situation. We need to remember that the Kingdom of God is in a warzone , there is a huge battle raging between God and his army, and Satan and his troops. Sometimes the Lord needs us to step up to the plate. Also, we need to remember that God’s silence is not his absence… Amen Closing Prayer

  • Unanswered prayer Part 3

    How to avoid your prayers being unanswered In Parts 1 and 2 we discussed four possible reasons that some of our prayers might appear to go unanswered. The possible reasons were 1) being out of fellowship with the Lord 2) God has said no because your prayer was not his will 3) Lack of unity between persons and 4) A delay in the answer to your prayer. We are now going to consider, based on our four possible reasons, how we can avoid getting into the position where our prayers might be unanswered. 1) Keep in fellowship with the Lord , this includes keeping short accounts with God in terms of sin. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness . Do not think about or dwell on anything that is inherently sinful, think about things are good, and pure and honest. We should keep his commandments , there are only 4 main ones in the New Testament a) Love the Lord your God with all…, b) love your neighbour as yourself, c) love one another as I have loved you. How did Jesus love us? … unto death. d) Also love your brother who can be seen. King David, the sweet psalmist cried out to God in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 2) Get to know the will of God better by studying your bible and by listening to good sermons and remember that when you pray, that it is a dialogue, and we should allow space and time for God to speak to you. Take good Christian counsel from your minister or other Christians that you trust. We must allow God to say no , for He knows better than us. 3) Unity: You husbands must treat your wives with honour, live together in a good and Godly atmosphere, treating her as joint heirs in the grace of life . This approach applies to all Christians as demonstrated by all the (n=46) ‘ one another ’ commandments such as in 1 Peter 1:22 (b) says ‘ see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently’: 4) Delay in the answer, be persistent in prayer in case t here is a battle in the heavens . Ask the Lord if he has a bigger purpose in mind, sometimes God uses delays to strengthen our faith. It took Elijah’s servant 7 visits to go up and watch for signs of the rain. Be patient, be obedient. The late Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, whilst single, several times prayed that God would allow her to marry a certain man, but God said ‘no’ because he had someone better for her! Parting thought: Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve can deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Maybe if God does not seem to answer our prayer, we need to do what is right anyway! Amen Closing Prayer Reference materials. CCF tapes BBS098 Roger Price Prayers of Faith (see additional resources section on this website). Pete Greig, The Prayer Course Session 4

  • Dealing with unanswered prayer

    Four things we can do to avoid it We seldom talk about unanswered prayer in church. In this study we suggest four potential reasons for you to consider when your prayer seem to be unanswered. We then suggest four actions to consider of how we might avoid this for our own prayers. Reason 1. Being out of fellowship prevents God from answering prayer. When we enter salvation through Jesus Christ, we form a life-long family relationship which is very robust. However, our day-to-day communion/fellowship with the Lord is more fragile and can be easily broken through our sin. Ps 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Our sin hinders our prayers. 1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Our obedience helps our prayers. Reason 2. God has said no because your prayer was not in the will of God. My grown-up children sometimes say that as a grandparent we let the grandkids away with much more than we did when they were kids. This is true because we have distinct roles as grandparents. But God is not a kindly old uncle or grandad but a zealous loving heavenly father. God has no grandkids only kids. Each generation must connect with him. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will , he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. The implication here is that if we ask anything that is not his will then there is no reason to suppose we should be successful in our petition. James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss , that ye may consume it upon your lusts. God promises to meet our need not our greed! Jesus, when in the Garden of Gethsemane said, Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. The Father said ‘no.’ We must allow for God to say ‘no’ as He surely knows what is best in any given situation. We need to remember that the Kingdom of God is in a warzone , there is a huge battle raging between God and his army, and Satan and his troops. Sometimes the Lord needs us to step up to the plate. Also, we need to remember that God’s silence is not his absence… Reason 3. Lack of unity 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Wow, we better take on board the fact that a husband and wife’s prayers can be hindered by disunity. Mathew 18:19 Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. The so-called prayer of agreement requires two people to be fully agreed i.e. in unity. Reason 4. Delay in the answer Daniel 10 Daniel prayed and fasted for Israel for three weeks, then a holy angel turned up and told him, that God sent the answer on the first day that Daniel had prayed, but a fallen angelic being called the Prince of Persia, had battled with the holy angel to delay Gods answer from coming to Daniel. Romans 1:9-10 Paul wanted to find a way to see the church in Rome, but Paul’s prayer appears unanswered? God had plans, and had Paul imprisoned so that he could write his marvellous epistles to the church. God can be doing something bigger than we can see. Delayed prayer can eventually increase your faith. 1 Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, there is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there arises a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, go up, say unto Ahab, prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. Elijah and the rain, the servant eventually saw the prayer answered. “Sometimes the blessing is in the prayer not being answered.” ― Andrena Sawyer. What about you, can you attribute any of the four reasons given so far for your own unanswered prayer? Now we are going to consider, based on our four above reasons, how we can avoid getting into the position where our prayers are unanswered. Action 1) Keep in fellowship with the Lord , this includes keeping short accounts with God in terms of sin. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness . Do not think about or dwell on anything that is inherently sinful, think about things are good, and pure and honest. We should keep his commandments , there are only 4 main ones in the New Testament a) Love the Lord your God with all…, b) love your neighbour as yourself, c) love one another as I have loved you. How did Jesus love us? … unto death. d) Also love your brother who can be seen. King David, the sweet psalmist cried out to God in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Action 2) Get to know the will of God better by studying your bible, listening to good sermons and remember that when you pray, that it is a dialogue, and we should allow space and time for God to speak to you. Take good Christian counsel from your minister or other Christians that you trust. We must allow God to say no , for He knows better than us. Action 3) Maintain Unity: You husbands must treat your wives with honour, live together in a good and Godly atmosphere, treating her as joint heirs in the grace of life . This approach applies to all Christians as demonstrated by all the (n=46) ‘ one another ’ commandments such as in 1 Peter 1:22(b) says ‘see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently’: Action 4) Where there may be delay in the answer, be persistent in prayer in case t here is a battle in the heavens . Ask the Lord if he has a bigger purpose in mind, sometimes God uses delays to strengthen our faith. It took Elijah’s servant 7 visits to go up and watch for signs of the rain. Be patient, be obedient. The late Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, whilst single, several times prayed that God would allow her to marry various young men, but God said ‘no’ each time because he had someone better for her! Amen Prayer For a printable copy of this (and man more messages) please click the link below https://www.psalmonesermons.com/post/dealing-with-unanswered-prayer

  • What is the unforgivable sin? Part 2/2

    Blaspheming the Holy Spirit Various verses have shown us that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world including both believer and unbeliever. So, what makes the difference between the believer and the unbeliever? The unbeliever has rejected Jesus Christ and has rejected the Holy Spirit telling them that Jesus is Lord. John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is  not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This verse sates that God’s judgment can be averted by believing in His Son. Every person is responsible for his or her decision about Christ. “He who believes in Him is not condemned [judged]. The only means of salvation is to believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The believer is under no sentence of condemnation (see also John 5:24; Romans 8:1 ).  God’s judgment is a natural consequence of unbelief. The present tense of “is” (underlined above) indicates that the believer is no longer under the judgment of God. Believers are beyond the danger of eternal separation from God. To believe “in” or into Him is more than giving credence to what someone said. This expression means to have full confidence in Christ, to rely on Him alone for our salvation.  We rely on His sacrifice for our sin to save us eternally. We rely on Him, not on our works, self-righteousness, or religion like Nicodemus did at first. Only the person who does not believe qualifies for the condemnation from God . The present tense here shows that unbelievers are under the continuing effects of God’s judgment right now. Faith is the means whereby one receives eternal life. The condemnation here is not that at the end of life but is current to those who know not Christ. The Greek tense for ‘is’ indicates that those who do not currently believe in Christ already stand under God’s condemnation. People who do not trust the work of Christ for their salvation stand condemned. They do not have to do anything to be condemned they are condemned from the start by their unbelief in Jesus Christ. God makes it clear that unbelievers are currently in a state of condemnation and not, in this verse, exposed to future condemnation. This should spur on all believers in our evangelism and witnessing. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit Mark 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” v28“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Blasphemy is defined as the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things, synonymous with irreverence, insulting and disrespect of God or Christ. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit means here, calling the Holy Spirit an evil spirit. This is a lie. In the same way the unbeliever do when they persist in their unbelief and are in effect calling the Holy Spirit a liar each time, he tries to tell them that Jesus Christ is Lord. This can go on throughout their life but when they die, their time to be saved has passed and they will not be forgiven for this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees tried to attribute Jesus’ miracle of casting out demons to the power of some evil spirit rather than the Holy Spirit. John 16:8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. When the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Holy Spirit will show a) the sin is their unbelief in Jesus, b) that Jesus’ death is the only way to God, and c) that judgment on sinners is certain because Satan has been conquered by Jesus’ death. The Gospel message is Good News for believers with all our sins forgiven but extremely Bad News for those who reject Jesus Christ and by calling the Holy Spirit a liar each time tells them that Jesus Christ is Lord. Conclusions There is only one sin the bible says that is unforgivable. This one sin is ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ which insults him and calls him a liar when He tells a person that ‘Jesus is Lord.’ All true believers cannot commit this sin by definition. Only unbelievers can commit the unforgivable sin. The unbelievers would have every chance in life to believe what the Holy Spirit is saying that Jesus is Lord. All unbelievers stand already condemned by God  that is why we must be urgent to tell them the Good News about Jesus Christ. Amen Personal Prayer Much of this study has been adapted from Roger Price BBS 008

  • What is the unforgivable sin? Part 1/2

    Background information needed for biblical answer: the law, grace and salvation This may also be called the unpardonable sin. This is a back-to-basics bible study today. Today we are going on to a discuss the unforgivable sin. As you may know many Christians at times wonder (particularly when young in the faith) if we have committed the unforgivable sin.  Before we can study this question, we have got to do a fair bit of background work for as the unforgivable sin is a salvation issue. We need therefore to cover a few matters pertaining to our salvation. Acts16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. The main message from this talk is to highlight the fact that we must believe on the Lord Jesus to be saved. We are now all informed witnesses to Jesus Christ. Keeping the Law of Moses cannot produce righteousness but faith in Jesus Christ can and does save all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why was the Law of Moses given to Israel?   There are three mains because the Law was given: To show man that he was a sinner (see also James 2:10      For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in?          one point, he is guilty of all.) The Old Testament was a shadow and a pointer to the          Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). 3.      To give a set of rules that will give peace in society.   How did God provide an answer to man’s sin problem? Psalm 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit, there is no deceit. Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. In the old testament God provided a sacrificial system in which innocent animals were slaughtered so that the guilty human could have their sins covered. Matthew 7:13-14 The Lord Jesus is the bridge, or you could say, the door between man and God. Sin is no longer the barrier between man and God because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Now belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only gateway to Heaven. How narrow is the narrow gate? It is as narrow as one man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please note that the many are on the broad road to destruction and how comparatively few will find the way to eternal life. John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. The only basis for eternal judgement is belief in Jesus Christ making it the deciding factor between salvation and condemnation. Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. The Great White Throne judgement is for the unbelievers only. What a frightening sight. This judgement is for all the unbelievers and is made only on a single basis. v15 is our key verse, no unbelievers names will be in the book of life because they did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The unforgivable sin- what it is not. Any form of sexual sin Nor suicide Nor any besetting sin  Nor calling a brother a fool It is also called the unpardonable sin meaning that God cannot forgive it or pardon it. So what is it? 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If all of the above sins can be forgiven so what is the only sin that Jesus could not die for? Amen Personal Prayer In Part two we discover what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

  • Soften my heart Lord Part 2

    King Solomon asked God for a hearing heart. I Kings 3:7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant an understanding heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. Suppose God appeared to you in a dream and said, ‘whatever you want I will give it to you’. What would you ask for? In v9 above it says ‘an understanding heart’ but literally in the Hebrew, Solomon has asked God for a hearing heart. Have you ever asked God to give you a hearing heart? Solomon asked for a wise and sensitive heart that could hear directly from God so that he might govern God’s people Israel wisely. We need to learn to listen to God with a hearing heart not our ears. Conclusion God wants us to keep our hearts soft and tender before him and each other. Let us purpose to be continually filled with His Spirit, with his love flowing into us and out of us and avoid anything that will harden our hearts. Ask the Lord to give you a sensitive and hearing heart. Some further thoughts on our hearts 1. What is the condition of our hearts? a. Are they "restricted", suffering from "spiritual hardening of the arteries"? 1) Where is the love of God hindered from freely flowing? 2) By the "plaques" of ignorance, selfishness, hypocrisy? b. Or are they "wide open"? 1) Where God's love flows freely 2) Nourishing not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us! -- May we all be "taught of God" to have Hearts Wide Open! What Causes Heart Attacks? Atherosclerosis is a gradual process by which plaques (collections) of cholesterol are deposited in the walls of arteries. Cholesterol plaques cause hardening of the arterial walls and narrowing of the inner channel (lumen) of the artery. Arteries that are narrowed by atherosclerosis cannot deliver enough blood to maintain normal function of the parts of the body they supply. Reasons include, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity. Scope for spiritual heart attacks include Psalm 25:17 “The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.   Psalm 40:12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.” Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. The cure for a spiritually hard heart is to remember what God has done for you. Christ has died for you to save you from your sins, even though you did not deserve it. God loves you. God cares for you. Just as hardening of the arteries will kill you physically, so will the spiritual hardening of the arteries. Do you have a hard heart today? Ask God to soften and renew your heart today. Amen Personal Prayer

  • Soften my heart Lord Part 1

    God does not want us to be hard-hearted The heart is mentioned 779 times in the bible. When scripture talks about the heart it is nearly always talking about the seat of our very being, rather than the pump which moves the blood in our circulatory system. The bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 Above all things guard your heart. The heart is the heart of the problem Mark 7:20-23 it is from out of the human heart that evil proceeds. ‘I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart because I find myself depraved in heart and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwells no good thing’. Charles Spurgeon God himself is Chasidic- his heart is soft and full of loving-kindness and mercy. What kind of heart does God want you to have, a hard heart or a soft heart? Can God change the human heart? It is interesting that scripture talks about the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart. What do you think this means? The best explanation I have heard so far is that God simply took what was in Pharaoh’s heart and brought it to fullness. Psalm 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies, and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Many scriptures reflect God’s tender heart and mercy. Good King Josiah had a tender heart and was humble before God and openly showed it, then God heard his prayer. God will hear your soft and tender hearted prayer. 2 Kings 22:19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Medical atherosclerosis versus spiritual atherosclerosis We are going to compare what can cause us medically speaking to have hardening of the arteries to see if there is spiritual equivalent that can affect our heart, the seat of our very being. Medical atherosclerosis Medically speaking, hardening of the arteries is known as atherosclerosis. Fatty plaques usually made of the ‘bad ‘cholesterol stick to the arterial walls. This causes the arteries (particularly the coronary artery) to lose their elasticity and become hardened and stiff. The flow of blood is restricted through the arteries and in the case of the coronary arteries can lead to a blockage which we call a heart attack. Symptoms of atherosclerosis can vary with sometimes nothing obvious, or chest pain angina, breathlessness, high blood pressure etc. Statins are drugs that not only stop cholesterol binding to the arterial walls but also can to some extent remove the fatty plaques where they already exist. This to put it crudely, is like having your drainpipes cleared out! Spiritual atherosclerosis There is something about day to day living that toughens us and can make us hardened. Especially in our relationships, we can become desensitized, cynical and make us hard hearted. We often hurt the people whom we love most who as the song goes- the one, we should not hurt all. It is not just in our human relationships that can become hard hearted but also in our relationship with God. Here are the possible symptoms are hardening of heart spiritually speaking. 1)      Numbness: You stop feeling the things you should feel. a) Love for God b) Conviction over sin c) Anger over injustice.  d) Compassion for those who are hurting. 2) Dizziness: You lose spiritual equilibrium and balance in life. You become proud of yourself. You become extremely tolerant or intolerant. You become overconfident or less confident. 3) Shortness of Breath When your heart is attacked, you lose your stamina You lose your strength to fight You start things well, but you finish poorly. It is accepted practice for most health care professionals, that they keep a certain distance from their patients. However, as children of God we ought to be committed to true koinonia fellowship [1] with our fellow believers, by which we ought to lead caring and sharing lives. Thus, keeping our distance from each other is not the norm or acceptable practice. Hard heartedness will produce unforgiveness, bitterness and lack of compassion, mercy, and reasonable tolerance of people. Sometimes the hardening process is so gradual we do not notice it. Ask a biologist how to boil a frog? The answer of course is one degree at a time and that is usually how Satan hardens our hearts i.e.  one step a time. If we progressively allow things that we know are not right and compromise our beliefs, then eventually our conscience will become seared, and we may cease to care for and share with our fellow human beings. Romans 5:5 The Holy Spirit pours the love of God/Christ into our heart’s day by day. But that flow can be restricted by various things we allow such as sin, bad attitudes, unforgiveness, and lack of reverence for God etc. We need to keep our hearts wide open (2 Cor 6:11-13) so that the flow of God’s love will keep your heart soft and tender before God. Hebrews 3:15 As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." Three times in the book of Hebrews the writer tells God’s people ‘do not harden your hearts for it leads to rebellion, which in turn causes us to miss out on his blessings. Amen Personal Prayer [1] See Acts 2:42 the Greek word koinonia is translated to the English as fellowship In Part 2 we investigate why King Solomon asked God for a hearing heart.

  • The presence of God Part 6 Can affect your face

    The skin of Moses' face shone Many wonderful stories and testimonies are told of the Lewis revival in 1949. One such story is about an unconverted woman who went along to a prayer meeting and after queuing to get in, she experienced something immensely powerful. There was a child in the house and the presence of God was so strong that the child`s face shone. The unconverted woman was convicted of sin and her need for the Saviour. She received salvation and was baptized in the Holy Spirit by just looking at the child`s face. This is a fascinating story about the presence of God making a person's face to shine, but is it biblical? The story of Moses Exodus 34:29-35 29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. Verse 29; Moses did not know that his face was shining Verse 30; Others were afraid to even approach Moses Verse 33; Moses kept a veil over face when talking to men but took the veil off when talking to God. Moses’ face shone showing he had been in the very presence of the Living God. In the New Testament some people baptized in the Holy Spirit may have shown evidence on their faces. The story of Stephen Acts 6:8-10,15 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. Acts 6 Verse 3; Men full of the Spirit Verse 4; Stephen the martyr Verse 15; Face like the face of the angel, suggesting a glorious shining since holy angels have direct access to the presence of God. A manifestation that is less commonly recognized of baptism in the Holy Spirit can be the presence of joy on the face of the candidate. Many of us have experienced moves of the Holy Spirit which have brought immense joy and even laughter to those affected. Have you heard or read about such meetings during the Welsh Revival in 1904-1905? Many people claimed that the Welsh evangelist Evan Robert`s face shone as he preached. What do you think? During a revival in Scotland in the late 1830`s -1840`s when the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne entered the pulpit, before he said a single word people began to weep and were convicted of sin. Something of the presence of God shone on his face. How would you like to see that? How would you like to experience that? Do you think God would be glorified by it? So, what has this to do with us today? 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Comments Verse 8; How shall the ministry of the Spirit to be even more with glory by us as we bring the good news. Verse 12; We are not required to cover God`s glory on our faces when we speak his love or when we preach his Gospel. Believers have a new and better covenant Verse 18; As God`s face shines, so should our faces so shine increasingly each day. My conclusion is that the presence of God`s glory can be so strong that he can cause your face to shine. This is not an abstract idea, so let us pray today for such a presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that our faces will shine and bring conviction of sinners by the Holy Spirit. What effect is God having on your face today? Amen Personal Prayer

  • The Presence of God Part 5

    Blessing for others from the presence of God Our lives ought to be lives of fellowship with God and with each other (koinonia) so we must become more aware of God and His people. We all pray for family, friends, workmates, neighbours etc. but do we bless them from God’s presence? Ffald-y-Brenin is a Christian Retreat Centre and House of Prayer in the hills by the sea in North Pembrokeshire, Southwest Wales, UK. This retreat centre has been experiencing a power and unusual presence of God for several years now. One of the teachings coming out this centre is that as well as praying for our family, friends, neighbours, workmates etc. we should bless them in the name of Lord. This seems to work best when we know the presence of the Lord strongly. In Numbers 6:22–27, we find the great Aaronic blessing. This is the blessing Moses instructed his brother, Aaron, to place on the people of Israel; 22 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. I pray this over my loved ones every day, perhaps you would consider praying this too for your own loved ones? A prayer might be (for someone who has no money) Dear Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name for our friends 'John and Helen' that you provide all the material things they need today such as finance, a roof over their heads, food on the table etc. Amen However we also have the power to bless (especially from the presence of God) which might sound like this, Lord I bless 'John and Helen' in the name of Jesus Christ with every material blessing they need, I speak plenty over their lives, that they might have more than enough and be able to give to others as well. Let's finish our devotions today by praying/pronouncing a blessing over someone you know. Amen Let's do it now! Your closing prayer Full text for printout and access to other parts of this series https://www.psalmonesermons.com/post/the-presence-of-god-part-5

  • The Presence of God Part 4

    The presence of God brings us security and peace (Psalm 91) God’s presence brings us peace and security which we can find in Psalm 91. Some have called Psalm 91 God’s atomic bomb shelter or more accurately today as God’s nuclear, chemical, biological and pandemic shelter. This sounds great but where is the secret place of the Most High, where do we find this security? The best answer is that it is in his presence at the foot of his cross. Find God's total security in the pandemic and beyond We can do this by praying Psalm 91 over ourselves and loved ones. Here is a version of this prayer below. Lord Most High, we thank You that we live under Your Shelter (your presence) and that we are under Your shadow (your presence) We declare about You Lord, that You alone, are our refuge, our place of safety You are our God, and we will trust You For You will rescue us from every trap and protect us from all deadly disease Your faithful promises are like armour to us and protect us We will not be afraid of the terrors at night, nor the arrow that flies by day We will not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at noon Though a thousand fall at our side, and ten thousand are dying around us, These evils will not touch us Because we have made the Lord our refuge, and because we have made the Most High our shelter No evil will conquer us, no plague will come near our homes For You will command your angels to protect us wherever we go Lord, we reverently remind you of your promises by which you said that, You will rescue those who love You You will protect those who trust in your Name When we call on you, You will answer You will be with us in trouble You will rescue us and honour us You will reward us with long life And give us your salvation Lord we receive all Your precious promises today in Jesus’ name. Amen Make your own Prayer now Come into the secret place of the Most High at the foot of Jesus' cross. His presence will bring you great peace and security. For full text and access to other parts please click on the link below https://www.psalmonesermons.com/post/the-presence-of-god-part-4

  • The Presence of God Part 3

    Practicing the presence of God (b) continued Our lives are or ought to be lives of fellowship with God and each other (koinonia) and is a sharing of lives and so we must become more aware of God and His people. Assuming by now, that we agree that it is desirable to be increasingly aware of God’s presence, the obvious question is, how do you do it? Is it simply a matter of more; prayer, bible study, praise and worship and actual fellowship with Him whilst not petitioning Him. Well, all of this is desirable, and you will be blessed in it and for it. But how can we become aware of God's presence in our everyday life including work, chores and tasks? Matthew 22:35-40 v.37 Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Part of loving God with all your being, must be to do everything out of a love motive for Him. So according to Bro. Lawrence every task that he performed, peeling the vegetables, fetching the water, heating the soup, he would dedicate it to God. Lord, because I love you, I will prepare this meal for my brothers (whom you love). Lord, out of love for you I will do this ironing! (To meet a need for people whom you love). Brother Lawrence even got beyond this and would pick up a flower out of love to God. 1 Cor 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. The above tasks and duties are common everyday things and not particularly spiritual (unless communion). Anything we do should bring glory to God i.e. give honour or praise to Him. When we give thanks for our food, we glorify God. Recognising that it comes from Him and he gives us the grace to enjoy it. Thanksgiving brings His presence into each event in a special way. If we thank Him for our car, house etc. recognising His supply, He is glorified. Those present immediately become aware of His presence or at least of His existence. And what about thanking God for difficult people/situations? (a greater place of maturity!). Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Commit everything to the Lord in prayer. He will give you success. Invite God into all that you do (particularly any new project or venture) whether spiritual or secular. Not only will you be blessed by your increased awareness of Him, but He will prosper the venture because you committed it to Him. If you have a party, make out your first invitation to God. God is omnipresent so really it is just a question of our awareness. Summary If like Bro. Lawrence you want to live constantly in the presence of God which brings fullness of joy then practice these 3 things. 1. Commit every task to Him (invite Him in). 2. Thank him for his supply and provision. 3. Perform each task because you love Him and do it in a way that brings honour God. Amen Prayer For full text and printout and other parts of this teaching please click on the link below https://www.psalmonesermons.com/post/the-presence-of-god-part-3

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