Saturday, February 27, 2016


Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. (Colossians 4:12)

Have you ever "struggled in prayer" on behalf of someone? I'm noting today, as I have my daily Bible reading in Colossians, the different things Paul and other servants of the Lord prayed for. There are many throughout the Bible. I think it would be a good study. There are those in my heart who I do struggle in prayer for. I love that the Bible lays out for us a guide as to how we should pray for them, because sometimes we just don't really know how to. We "struggle in prayer" rather than in the flesh, bringing their situations before God, crying out to God on their behalf. When we don't go to the Lord in prayer, instead too often we walk away from a need or problem because it is too much for us, or we try to "fix it" in ourselves and fix others. Sometimes we pray selfishly even for others...for what we want to see in them, or what we want them to be for our benefit. But do we struggle in prayer for them to stand mature in the Lord, fully assured in all the will of God, that God may be glorified in them?

I thought it would be good just to bring out a few of Paul's prayers on behalf of fellow believers. My favorite is two prayers in Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:16-20
(16) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
(17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
(18) having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(19) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
(20) that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

He prayed first of all, to the "Father of all glory" - of personal absolute perfect excellency - our Father through Christ Jesus. We need to look at Who our God is, His attributes, hallowing Him in our hearts, which gives us faith in Him then, as we bring our supplications before Him. What an incredible thing that we can pray to Him! He asked for the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Unless the Lord opens our eyes, we are blind, spiritually. "Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened" - we have an inner being that is made alive or enlightened when His Spirit comes into us to make us His own children. It is only those so enlightened that can receive that wisdom and revelation that comes from Him alone. Paul prays for that in them in order that they might "know the hope of His calling" and "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."

Why would he pray this? So many go on in the Christian life as if all depended on their own ability and strength to live it, but we need to see and understand that power that lives in us, that power that gave us a very real hope of eternal salvation that cannot be taken from us, is complete, is a work of Christ alone, and is a work of power sufficient for all, which is "to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead." Do we grasp that power? That power that lives in us? Do we really see it and put our faith in it for our daily struggles, temptations, trials and sufferings in this life? Paul is praying they will see this - get a revelation of it in their innermost being. What a prayer! We certainly know that if we pray this for those we are burdened for, as well as for ourselves, we are praying according to God's will.

Then there is another prayer in Ephesians Paul prays.

Ephesians 3:14-21
(14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
(15) from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
(16) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
(17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
(18) may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
(19) and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(20) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
(21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Once again, it is through being "strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being" that He prays they would know the presence of Christ in their hearts and His love together in the body of Christ. What a wonderful prayer to pray for our homes, our families, and our churches! How can we go wrong in our relationships if we are praying for this? And God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask for or think? And that because of "the power that works within us." And all this is for His glory in the church.

So many times we just don't know how to pray. We do struggle in prayer at times, just not understanding perhaps what the cause of a problem is, what the solution is, how to pray, how to know God's will. Any time I am struggling to know how to pray, these prayers help me. No matter what the situation, when we pray these prayers, we are getting God's heart and will to work in that person's life and in ours as well.

Here is another prayer that stands out to me:

Colossians 1:9-12
(9) And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
(10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
(11) May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
(12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Again Paul prays that they would be "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might" which is what enables these prayers for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and the ability to walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him, bearing fruit, etc., to be fulfilled in them. It is God who qualifies us, gives us the power, and enables us. Our prayers bring that grace to others. By prayer we actually are able to bring His grace to ourselves as well as another. That is a great thing!!

for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, (Philippians 1:19)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

These prayers are always given in faith in the power of God, and in the will of God. They are always given with thanksgiving. How often do we struggle in prayer and then walk away as burdened as we were to begin with if not more so, because we really are not praying in faith, believing He will hear and answer, and not giving thanks for His perfect wisdom and will in taking the burden of this situation or person into His care, and working in it. As we pray we also need to "cast the care" of all onto Him, because He cares for us more than we can rightly care for ourselves or others.

Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Bible)

Do we really have faith in Him, or do we think we still have to fret and worry and take care of things ourselves? Do we trust His will and His love? When we don't, we grieve the Lord and quench His Spirit.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

When we pray according to the Scripture, we know we are praying according to His will, and we have His promise that He hears us and will answer. We can pray in faith, and we can cast the care all onto Him. We can walk in assurance that God is working, whether or not we see anything outwardly happening.

Struggling in prayer does not always mean we are praying with unbelief. I believe Epaphroditus and Paul prayed in faith, yet they struggled earnestly for the church in prayer. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but there are times we struggle with the powers of darkness in prayer, standing against them as we stand our ground for the Lord. We must be strengthened again in the power of His might in order to do so.

Ephesians 6:10-18
(10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
(11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
(12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
(14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
(15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
(16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
(17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

This is one of the most thorough guidelines for us to come before the Lord in prayer that Paul gives us through the Holy Spirit in the Word, I believe. It has precise instructions for us, and refers back to Ephesians 1-2 giving us the ground we are to stand on. Our prayers are not effective if we are not "putting on" the full armor of God and standing dressed in all He has provided for us. We don't have the strength to stand and to do spiritual battle for ourselves or others if we are not "strengthened in the power of His might" being "strong in the Lord." Key phrase - "in the Lord." Only those "in Christ" have this available to them. The world neither understands or has that armor in order to stand against the powers of darkness. In fact, the Bible tells us they are under the influence of the evil one. That's why as we pray for unsaved loved ones we must pray that the Lord will grant them the grace to have their eyes opened to the truth where satan has blinded their minds and hardened their hearts.

These are just a few of the prayers the Lord gives us in His Word and instructions regarding prayer. We can read books on prayer, others' experiences with prayer, testimonies of prayer, and so forth, but as we are in the Word itself we find our hearts molded according to His heart, and His Spirit filling us with the spirit of prayer and intercession according to His will and understanding, and empowers us with all that we need to come before Him. And if we pray according to His will, with the mind of Christ, we know we have the things we ask for. Prayer is for every child of God, no matter what his level of maturity in the Lord. It is not just for the "spiritual giant" and in fact many who think they are spiritual giants because they have learned some special formula for getting from God, are missing out completely on what God has in mind through prayer.

1 John 5:14-15
(14) And this is the confidence that we have toward 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 that we have asked of him.

Prayer is our avenue of fellowship and communion with God. It is a way for us to learn to know His heart and will as well as surrender of ours to Him. It is a way that we communicate with Him and He with us. It is our interacting with His Word which is living, as we make that communication of Him to us ours back to Him. It is vital in our relationship with God. Oh how we miss out if we are not in prayer!

Thank You Father, for the awesome privilege of prayer. Thank You for Your guidelines and promises and assurances in Your Word as we do. I pray that You'll grant us the grace to pray more and not neglect this wonderful privilege! Show us how much we are missing because we do not bring all before You, asking in Jesus name.

If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Colossians 2:6-10
(6) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
(7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
(8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
(9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
(10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power

Everyone is looking for fulfillment in life. It's amazing at how many different directions that pursuit takes people. Some try to find it in doing good to others and some seek it by taking all they can get from others. Some think giving themselves to every passion and desire will give them fulfillment. Some think asceticism and giving up everything that in any way gives pleasure will help them to find their real selves and be fulfilled. No matter what direction we choose, good or evil, our hearts are hungry to be filled with what we think will satisfy our longing for fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction in this life.

As believers we are aware that the world's way will not fulfill us. We have tried the life of sin and found it to be destructive in our own lives as well as for others in our life. We've come to know Christ as our Savior and we seek His fulfillment in our lives. But even in the church, there is controversy over what that means. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." When the church borrows philosophies from the world, from humanism, and tries to adapt them to their Christian life, there will be problems. Many times we do this without even realizing it. We hear those worldly ways of thinking so much that unless we are in the Word continually, filling ourselves with that Word of Christ, rooted, built up, and established in faith in Him, then those worldly humanistic philosophies begin to sound very good to us, and very much like truth. If we don't understand our position in Christ that we are dead with Him…dead to sin, self, and the world, and alive with Him…risen up to a new life, a new nature, a new power within us to live unto Him, then we are still living under the old way of thinking. That way of thinking tells us we must find our happiness and fulfillment in this life, and now as believers Christ is to provide that for us. We try to find it in our "calling" as if there is one calling for us and can only be fulfilled in that calling.

Even when we want to live with our whole hearts for the Lord, in Christian zeal, wanting to serve Him, we are unaware of our motives. Zeal for God is a good thing, right? We're supposed to live for the Lord. We're supposed to serve Him. We're supposed to go out and win souls, right? So in our zeal to do so, we are unaware that we are doing it for ourselves…our own fulfillment as a Christian. We're doing it for our own spiritual benefit, rather than for His glory. How do we know if this is true?

The first time I heard that I was shocked. I didn't think there was anything wrong with me zealously wanting to be busy serving the Lord. I didn't see how my seeking God and spiritual gain could possibly be something selfish. But the Lord showed me my heart, by showing me my failure of loving those around me. I put my "work for the Lord" and my "seeking spiritual blessing" and "gifts" above the person next to me and their needs. Sometimes the people right there in front of us that are a trial in our lives, or the person at church that is a trial for us, or the person at work that God put in our lives to test us, they are the ones God gave us to love and serve. Instead we look at programs and events and conferences we can be involved in and go to for our growth as what God wants for us and we don't feel fulfilled unless we are busy with them. We don't feel like we're "doing anything for the Lord." When something inspires us that we heard or read, we consider it "spiritual growth." Sometimes God chastises us and takes us aside, when a relationship is not right, until we see that all our serving or learning or seeking is nothing to Him, but that relationship is. We are meant to walk in humility and love toward one another. Are we neglecting that? If we are sensitive to His Spirit, we will begin to see that the trials and failures and hardships that come into our lives are the real things that God uses to grow us and make us and fill us.

The Lord began to show me the difference between selfish motives of serving and serving out of love. He began showing me that what I thought was my service to Him many times was wood, hay, and stubble. He also showed me that many times we think the "doing" is serving, when He is really looking for what we are "being." We have to take the time for Him to make us a vessel of honor and fill us with His Spirit, working in us a humility, grace, and brokenness before we can come out of ourselves in order to see the true needs of those closest to us, and those around us. Are we being Christ to them?

If there is a trial in a relationship in your life, bring that relationship before the Lord. Don't look at how that other person has failed you, but ask the Lord where you have failed them. Ask the Lord if you have loved them the same way you wanted to be loved by them, or respected them the same way you wanted to be respected by them, or if you have thought of their needs above your own, or esteemed them as more important than yourself, as our own Lord has done for us. Would you rather be wounded yourself than to hurt them? I found out myself that when His love was really in my heart for someone, that was the case. I would rather be hurt than to see that one hurt. I would rather suffer an offense than to "put them in their place." And as I brought my hurt and disappointment to the Lord instead of trying to fix them, I found the Lord worked in that person's heart and they began to see. That may not always happen, but when we are truly acting in love, the Lord works in hearts!

Philippians 2:3-8
3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
(4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
(5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

That's a good test every time we find ourselves in conflict. It's easy to point to the other person. Maybe the other person is reacting to us. Perhaps the Lord does need to deal with them, and perhaps they have wronged you. But all you can do is take your own heart before the Lord and allow Him to humble you, and to change you, and to make you what He wants you to be for that person. It is no accident God brought that person into your life. They are not a "hindrance" to your growth or your "work" for the Lord. Nothing can be if we are walking in the Spirit daily. Paul served while in chains. Every opportunity, whether in prison or free, was an opportunity for Christ. Rather than being a hindrance to growth or service, they are your growth and service. God is teaching you to walk in humility, grace, and love. He uses those closest to us to teach us that. Sometimes He uses our own family. Sometimes he uses friends or people in church who are difficult. Sometimes he uses enemies. But none are accidents in your life. We have to ask the Lord what He wants to reveal to us through each one.

Many times God takes away the very things in our lives we thought was our fulfillment in finding our place in serving Him. We thought we were called to a particular calling or ministry. But we find hindrances to that and we find it just doesn't happen. Something comes along to test us and things happen beyond our control. It looks like all hope for that is gone. But what is our fulfillment in Christ? It is being obedient to Him in the circumstances He puts us in, and allowing Him to have His way in us, trusting His hand. It is submitting ourselves to what He is trying to teach us. It is trusting Him to be glorified through whatever circumstances you find yourself in, and asking how He wants to be glorified in you through it. Perhaps sickness makes it impossible for you to go on a missions trip, or to be active in programs in the church or other ways of serving Him. If the Lord allows it, He has a purpose and has a plan to be glorified in you right where you are. He'll take care of the other things. Perhaps you planned on being involved in a ministry, but there is trouble in your own home and you have a rebellious child, or a sick or troubled child, or problems in your marriage. You feel that these things are hindrances and in your way. They are not in God's way. You may have to give up the "ministry" that you thought to find your niche, your fulfillment in, and this is not the plan you had for your life, but it is God's plan for you to be there for them. It is God's plan sometimes for you to give up your dreams for another person, to help them find Christ. It's God's plan for you to put others before yourself and ask how you can love that person better, and remember they are just as precious in God's eyes as you are, and that they are those who Christ shed His precious blood for as well. How much better to know that I pleased God by walking in love, that I would rather be wronged than to harm one that Christ died for, than that I was active in a lot of "doings" for Him. If I am doing, doing, doing, but not "being" my doing becomes nothing of any worth at all.

What is my real fulfillment? It is denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Christ. It is walking in an abiding relationship with Him every day, as I sit at His feet and listen to His heart, through His Word, letting Him lead me, and trusting His hand in every circumstance in my life, submitting myself under His mighty hand that in due time He might lift me up. It is giving up all seeking of my own fulfillment just to find it in only pleasing Him and not myself. It is seeking His glory and giving up my own. I may find my church does not fulfill my needs. I may find my family does not fulfill my needs. I may find my friends don't fulfill my needs. I've seen people go from one place to another seeking those to do so, and always leaving behind a path of hurt, and being hurt because they are never going to find that. But if God puts us in a place and He is the one Who led us there, than as we learn to walk in love and serve one another there, that's where we will find our place in Christ. We won't find perfection in people, and maybe we'll have to "bear with one another" for a time, and maybe we won't have opportunity to use our "gifts," but we are learning to be His church, and His children, and allowing Him to work in our hearts, and through that we become a testimony to the world and others around us. It is in that, that we are receiving true gifts from Him that can have true value to others and it is through the process that true fruit of the Spirit is developed in us and will flow through us and God is glorified in our midst. We are not independent of the body of Christ. We are His body and we must treasure that body and do all we can to strengthen it, being committed to it in love. We do so by giving up of ourselves for one another in the Spirit, as HE works in us to make us, to strengthen us, and to build us into that building where He will dwell in us forever.

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)

If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.