Sunday, October 31, 2010

From Cub's Den: Too Important

Too Important
“…for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

Do you remember the Mercedes TV commercial a few years ago that showed a Mercedes crashing into a concrete wall during a safety test? An engineer in a white lab coat walks over after the crash and kneels down to examine the damage, which is minimal. A reporter then asks the engineer about Mercedes' energy-absorbing car body. After the engineer tells us all about the unique design, the reporter asks him why Mercedes doesn't enforce their patent on the design, a design evidently copied by several other companies because of its proven success. The engineer then replies matter-of-factly, “Because some things in life are too important not to share.”

Although there are many things in life that are important to share, none of them equal the importance of sharing your faith. Faith in Christ holds the key to eternal life. This fact alone is enough to share your faith with all those who are not partakers of it. Eternal life is too important not to tell others about. Jesus shows the importance of sharing your faith in His commissioning of the apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel of Christ is too important not to share because the Bible teaches that it is God’s power to save man from eternal death (Romans 1:16).

Sharing your faith in God is vitally important because of its power to heal. There was a woman living during the time of Jesus who was losing blood at an alarming rate. She did not know what to do, or even to whom she could turn. Then she heard of Jesus, and her faith in Him made her well. “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:22). Today the miraculous power of healing has been done away with (1 Corinthians 13:9-10), but the spiritual healing is still available through faith. People cannot have faith unless we tell them about Jesus (Romans 10:14). Evangelism is vital to a dying world.

The joy you have found in God must be so great that even if you wanted to hold it in you couldn’t succeed. It must burn in you like an unquenchable fire, burning so badly you become “weary of holding it in”, and [you] cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9). What you have been taught through God’s word is a “treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14) by God Himself. His treasure is to be “guarded” by you, but it is also to be entrusted “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The word of God reveals His plan of salvation, and was presented to you for the purpose of sharing with others. The excitement of knowing God’s word is too important not to share.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From Cub's Den: Effective Prayer

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

Prayer is an effective tool provided for those who are faithful to God and His ways. God has chosen not only to give us the opportunity to approach His throne of grace, but to approach with confidence. The Greek word for confidence carries the idea of freedom of speech. When you submit to God’s will to be cleansed from your sin in baptism, you have “clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and have been given the authority to speak openly to God. Confidence to approach God is given in submission to His will.

But prayer is a privilege not a debt. In other words, God doesn’t owe us His attention. He is the authority of this world (Matthew 28:18) and His will is top priority. Even Jesus, who is our Savior, gave top priority to the Father’s will: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” (John 4:34). This eaenest desire to please God at all costs was the foundation of the Father-Son relationship between Jesus and God. As Jesus set His mind on the will of the Father, God opened His ears to His prayers and He not only heard His prayers, but He answered them.

We want that same kind of attention when we offer prayers to the Almighty God. We know God hears all prayers, but what has priority when God answers them? The writer of the book of Proverbs helps us in this matter: “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). If you want your prayers to be effective you must be willing to know God’s law. Even though we are under a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15), we are still under God’s law (1 Corinthians 9:21). God’s attention goes to those who prove themselves as “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Give your attention to God’s law so that He will direct His attention to your prayers and they will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Isaiah wrote that God’s ears are not too dull to hear prayers, but he also shows that God chooses not to hear those who serve sin: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). It is not that God desires not to hear, but sin causes a separation between the sinner and God and He cannot tolerate sin. He loves the sinner but hates the sin and those who choose to continue to serve sin rather than God do not love God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NASU). Keeping God’s law is a result of love working in those who receive the greatness of His blessings.

God’s ears are attentive to those who choose to live a life of faith: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). No man is righteous within himself (Romans 3:23), so the righteous man is made righteous through faith in Jesus (Romans 5:19). The prayers of a righteous man come from a man who knows God’s will as the ruling authority in his life (Matthew 7:21). His heart is set on things above rather than the temporary pleasures of this world (Colossians 3:1). If these words don’t describe your faith in God, make the proper adjustments so your prayers will be made effective.