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Posts Tagged ‘Seeking God

The Vain Pursuit of Sinless Perfection

Very early on in my Christian life I reasoned (along with other brothers) that since God has called us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) that this must mean that we are able to not sin (1 John 2:1).  I reasoned that if we sin, we are not truly following Christ as the Bible says that we are not to sin if we know Him (1 John 3:6-9).  I read where Paul the Apostle said to stop sinning (1 Corinthians 15:34) and where Paul said that we are to not be mastered by sin (Romans 6:11-23).

All of this lead me to conclude that we are to pursue sinless perfection.  While I had never met anyone who was sinless, I reasoned that it was possible.  I read John Wesley’s book, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and I reasoned that one could have an experience with God that would take you to a place of absolute holiness.  I pleaded with God to give me this experience of “entire sanctification” and I earnestly wanted to be holy.

All to no avail.  I have always struggled with sin.  Alwasys will.

I reasoned that there were categories of sin and that some sins were worst than others.  For example, Jesus said that Judas had committed the greater sin (John 19:11) since he had betrayed the Lord of glory.  I reasoned from the law of Moses that since God required different sacrifices for sins of omission and sins of commission then God must view our sins as different if we commit them willfully versus by mistakes or lack.  For instance, none of us pray enough since the Bible calls us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and thus while prayerlessness is a sin (1 Samuel 12:23), prayerlessness is not the same sin as sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) and while prayerlessness is horrible, prayerlessness is not listed among the sins that keep us from the kingdom in passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 21:8.

In this way, I was able to tell someone that I had not sinned that day.  I could say that while I didn’t love God perfectly or pray enough or share the gospel or give to the poor, nonetheless I hadn’t committed any willful sins.  In this way, I thought of myself as holy and pure.  I though very highly of myself.

I now see it all as nothing but vanity.  I now sit here a broken man.  I see that my pride was horrible.  I see that God opposes the proud.  Oh I would have gladly claimed the grace of God for my salvation and I would have boasted that it was the grace of God that enabled me to holiness (Titus 2:11-12) but the reality is that I was proud.  I was arrogant.  I was not holy.  I was full of flesh.

I have never ceased to need Jesus.  I never have and I never will.  My good days are still nothing before a holy God.  He is not pleased with my self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).  My works play no part in my salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is the gracious work of God by His grace and by His Spirit through His Word.  I lay aside all boasting right now and I confess that Jesus is my salvation and He alone is my hope before a holy God (Hebrews 7:25).  My salvation is complete in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I am saved not by what I do but through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:29).

While it is true that we are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) the reality is that we will always need Jesus and His grace.  Thankfully through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are holy in Him (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Jesus and His blood makes us holy (Ephesians 1:4-7).  We are called to forsake sin and turn from sin but the promise of God is that while we are not called to sin, we have One who prays for us before the holy Father (1 John 2:1-2).  Through the Lord Jesus I am able to approach the throne of a holy God (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The entire focus of the New Testament is upon the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).  He is my salvation and my hope.  Not my works (Titus 3:5-7).

I don’t want to wonder into sloppy grace (Romans 6:1-4).  Having been set free by the grace of God, why would I want to go back to a life of sin?  Yet I do struggle with sin.  I hate my sins.  I really do.  I want to be holy and pure and praise God, in Christ, I am holy.  The Spirit of God is working in me to help me to hate sin and to turn from sin.  I admit that I struggle with sin and I always will but the promise of God is to complete this work He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).

If you struggle with sin, I assure you that you are loved by God.  I need to hear that too.  God gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16) and He demonstrates His love (Romans 5:8-9).  This love from God is not mere words but actions.  The Father has sent His holy Son to die for our wicked sins.  God has reconciled us through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  My favorite verse in the Bible is 1 Timothy 1:15.  It reads beautifully in the KJV:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Christ Jesus came to save sinners.  Luke 19:10 says:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus came to save us (Matthew 1:21).  He came as the suffering servant from Isaiah 53 who would die for our sins.  He came to bring us peace with God (Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20).  Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins and it by His grace, through His blood that we are saved from the wrath of God against our sins.

Romans 3:23-25 (KJV) reads wonderfully:

23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

This salvation is freely given in Christ (Acts 16:30-31) and He is our propitiation through faith in His blood.  This is the goodness of our God.  Our God reaches down to us and save us by His grace.

Now in conclusion I don’t want to sound like an antinomian.  I am not advocating sinning. I hate my sins.  I want to be holy.  Yet I believe there is balance.  The balance is not to see Jesus as our means unto holiness but He is our holiness.  The focus of salvation from beginning to end is Jesus Christ.  It is not Jesus plus our works that saves us.  It is not Jesus plus our works that makes us holy.  It is Jesus and His work alone that saves us.  Our eyes must be on Jesus.  Hebrews 12:1-2 is powerful in that regard:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Looking unto Jesus is the key.  Jesus has sat down at the Father’s side.  Sitting represents completion.  Jesus has sat down because He has completed  the work of atonement.  Jesus is now our faithful high priest before the Father (Hebrews 2:17-18).

No doubt I will sin.  I hate my sins even now.  Yet I know that before the Father is One who prays for me.  He is my defense.  I use to believe that when I sinned, I need to compensate God and His wrath somehow.  I would pray more.  I would read my Bible a little more.  I would go out and witness to someone.  I wanted to make up for my sins.  The reality is that God sees my wicked heart at all times.  He knows me perfectly.  The beauty of the cross is that it demonstrates God’s love toward sinners still in their sins (Romans 5:8).  God loved me while I was a sinner even under His wrath but now He loves me as His child through faith in His Son (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).  If God loved me while a wicked sinner who sinned without thinking of God, how much does He still love this sinner now?

I am tired of sinless perfection seeking.  I only want to know that I have peace with God through faith in Christ (Romans 5:1).  Jesus is my salvation both now and forevermore.

“Lord help me to not sin this day but forgive me of my sins as I forgive those who trespass against me.”

Where is the Call to Holiness?

Very few people who claim to be true Christians live holy lives.  In many ways, many live their lives just like the people of this world.  They love the things in the world and pursue the world despite the call of John the Apostle in 1 John 2:15-17.  People are content to believe that God loves them enough to save them through His Son (John 3:16) but are content to live in the world and not flee from sin that first sent the Son of God to the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6).  People want to be “His people” but do not want to be completely saved from “their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The call of God is to holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  The Bible tells us that we are to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Paul the Apostle prayed often for believers to be holy and blameless before God (see 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  Paul called the Church to holiness (Philippians 2:14-15).  Paul wanted the Church to forsake sin (1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).  John the Beloved likewise called the Church to holiness (1 John 2:1-2).  In Romans 6, Paul the Apostle tells the disciples in Rome that Jesus not only has set us from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin!

So where is the call to holiness?  I fear that in our day we have many people who even preach against sin but live shameful lives when no one is looking.  God knows.  He sees al things even what is going on in secret (Psalm 139:7; Jeremiah 23:24).  He sees that man who preaches one thing but secretly is looking at pornography on the Internet.  He sees that woman who claims to be holy but she is gossiping about others.  God knows all things.  We cannot hide from Him and we must give an account for our lives before Him (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The power of holiness begins with the gospel.  In Galatians 2:20 Paul preaches what you and I must preach and live as well; that we died with Christ on the cross and are raised to walk in the newness of life by His power.  The power for holy living comes through faith in the resurrected Christ who lives to make intercession before God on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).  How can the disciple of Christ fail when we have the Son of God praying at God’s right hand for us and the Holy Spirit praying for us as well (Romans 8:26-27)?  The Lord Jesus knows our struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16) and He is more than able to help us overcome sin by His grace (1 Corinthians 10:13; Titus 2:13).

What sin is more powerful than Christ?  What sin can He not rescue us from?  He is able to rescue us from all sin.  He is able to empower us to live holy lives.  He is able to deliver us from us and He is able to help us not to be hypocrites when no one else is watching.  He is able to purify our minds as we set them upon Him (Philippians 4:8-9).  He is able to purify us from all sin (1 John 1:9).

This is an ongoing struggle.  Sin is not defeated by one prayer meeting or by one experience.  Sin must be fought with all the time.  The only hope we have is to daily walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  Daily I must look to Christ alone to help me.  I look to Him by prayer.  I look to Him in His Word.  I daily do these things.  Discipline alone is good but discipline with a focus on Christ is the true way to victory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Christ has secured our salvation and He also has secured our sanctification (John 17:17-20).  He cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  As we look to Christ alone to save us both from the wrath of God and from present sin (1 Thessalonians 1:10), we find that He is sufficient to help us in all our struggles with sin.

What final point.  The attitude I see today among some is that we just rest in Christ and don’t worry about fighting against our sins.  They believe that they are “once saved, always saved” and thus they don’t have to battle against sin.  They reason that God only sees them in Christ (imputed righteousness) and they don’t need to be personally righteous.  This incorrect thinking has led some to fall into great sins.  The Bible calls believers to forsake sin and to pursue holiness.  No where does the Bible tell us just to rest in Christ and not fight.  In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul told the corrupt Corinthian church to flee immorality.  In wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that his aim was to please Christ in light of the judgment seat of Christ in verse 10.  In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul wrote that we are to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. ”

Adam Clarke wrote on 2 Corinthians 7:1:

“These are things in which both body and soul must consent. But still withholding the eye, the ear, the hand, and the body in general, from sights, reports, and acts of evil, will not purify a fallen spirit; it is the grace and Spirit of Christ alone, powerfully applied for this very purpose, that can purify the conscience and the heart from all dead works. But if we do not withhold the food by which the man of sin is nourished and supported, we cannot expect God to purify our hearts. While we are striving against sin, we may expect the Spirit of God to purify us by his inspiration from all unrighteousness, that we may perfectly love and magnify our Maker. How can those expect God to purify their hearts who are continually indulging their eyes, ears, and hands in what is forbidden, and in what tends to increase and bring into action all the evil propensities of the soul?”

I ask the same.  How can we claim holiness while living in sin?  How can we expect to be holy while indulging our sinfulness all the while claiming to be in Christ by faith and resting in His work?  We deceive ourselves into thinking that God does not see us anymore now that we are in Christ.  Yet the Lord said in Revelation 2:2 to the church in Ephesus: “I know your works.”  How can this be if He only sees the work of Christ?

The reality is that God does see us.  He always see us.  For the disciple who truly loves Christ and is pursuing holiness, this is not a fearful thing (Psalm 121:4).  The knowledge that God always sees me brings both fear and such comfort that words can not describe.  God is able to deliver us from all sin.  It is in His power to do so.

My prayer is that the Church would pursue holiness.  Ephesians 5:27 says that Christ will have a bride without blemish.  He is sanctifying His bride even now.  I rejoice that the Lord is faithful to sanctify us.  I long for His touch.

Confessions of a Perfectionist

Note: This post is not intended to teach that we can abide in sin.  This is not my point.  I want to make that clear before I start.  The Bible is clear that we should forsake our sins (1 John 2:1).  Paul told the Corinthians to “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).  In 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5, Paul the Apostle rebukes those in the Corinthian church who have not repented of their past sinning.  In fact, the New Testament is clear that we are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14), to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), to be slaves of righteousness and not slaves to sin (Romans 6:1-23) and that to be slaves of sin shows we are not Christ’s (John 8:34-35).  John the Beloved wrote in 1 John 3:7 that he who practices righteousness is righteous.  It is not merely enough to claim “imputed righteousness” and go on sinning.  I don’t deny that we are righteous in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21) but I do deny that this gives us a license to abuse God’s grace and continue in a life of sin (Jude 4; cf. Hebrews 10:26-31).

Perfectionism is a dangerous thing.  I once aimed with all that was in me for perfection.  I strove to overcome sin by my power and I thought it was merely a choice of my will to overcome sin.  I paid little attention to abiding in Christ and strove in my strength to overcome sin.  And the more I strove, the more I struggled with sin.  I would overcome one sin only to find another sin had taken its place.

The true danger of perfectionism is pride.  I had pride in me.  Oh I would have claimed Christ and would have said that I was seeking to overcome sin because of Christ and His victory on the cross but I was only paying lip service to Him.  After all, what Christian would deny that Jesus was really the One that they were striving to obey?  In reality, I was nothing more than a hypocrite and a Pharisee all at the same time.  I was nothing more than a white washed tomb (Matthew 23:27-28).  Around others I could act so holy and pure but inwardly, I was tormented by my sins.  I hated my flesh.  I despised what I knew about me when none were around yet I continued to play the hypocrite and act like I was living in complete victory.

I see now the errors of my ways.  It was not seeking Christ that was a sin.  It was not seeking to overcome my sins that was a sin.  It was my faith in me, my pride in thinking that could gain the victory by the sheer power of my own will.  Yet my will is tainted by my flesh.  My will wants to honor me above Christ.  My will wants to live for the glory of me above the glory of Christ.  My will wants to exalt me and not turn others toward Christ.

I rejoice now though for the gospel.  The gospel is not about what I do to obtain His forgiveness.  The gospel is not about what I do to overcome sin.  The gospel is not about how I can now, by the power of my will, live free from sin.  The gospel in fact informs me that I am saved by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).  No doubt His grace teaches me to say no to sin (Titus 2:12) but my focus now is on Christ and Christ alone (Titus 2:13).  I know now that through the gospel, I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).  I know now that through Christ, though I was once dead in my sins, I am now alive in Him (Ephesians 2:1-6).  I recognize that my passion is to glorify Christ in all that I say and do and not because of my own striving, my own will power, but in light of the gospel that saves me (1 Corinthians 15:10).  I see now that Christ came into the world to save sinners (Luke 19:10) and Paul the Apostle understood that before a holy and pure God, he was sinful and lost (1 Timothy 1:15).  Our salvation is based on the Lord Jesus Christ and not on our works!  Good works flow from a redeemed life (James 2:14-26; cf. Ephesians 2:10).  The love of God grabs us and empowers us (John 14:15, 23-24).

Our part is to consistently submit to the Lordship of Christ.  This is the key to overcome sin.  It is not by making “sin lists” or by striving merely in our own power to overcome sin.  This has never worked.  The key is to focus on the Lordship of Christ, be saturated in His Word (John 17:17), and to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  To follow the flesh only spells doom (Galatians 6:7-9; James 5:19-20).  2 Peter 2:20-22 warns us against returning to the flesh while thinking we are forgiven.  We must repent of our sins but we do this by the power of the gospel and not by merely creating resolutions.

Here then is the balance.  We adore the gospel that saves us.  We acknowledge that we are saved by the grace of God alone and that Christ is our salvation.  We rejoice in the Lord for His forgiveness and for setting us free from the power of sin (Colossians 1:13-14).  We praise God for the gospel truth that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus alone (1 Peter 1:18-19) and not by our works (Titus 3:5-7).  We confess that without Christ, we would be lost sinners, hell-bound.  We celebrate the biblical fact that we are holy before God through Christ (Hebrews 10:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

This gospel truth then produces a joy in longing to serve the Lord.  I want to be holy as He is holy not because of legalism and perfectionism but because of what He has done in saving me!  I want to strive to be like Jesus and set my mind on things above and not on this world (Colossians 3:1-4) because of the work of Christ.  I rejoice that I am justified before God through faith (Romans 5:1).  I rejoice that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  This leads me toward holiness.  This gospel leads me to want to pray, to worship, to share the gospel with the lost, to seek to be pure and blameless (Philippians 2:12-15).  I want to press on (Philippians 3:12-16).  I want to forsake my sins in the light of His forgiveness of my sins (1 John 1:9) but I do not deceive myself into thinking that I have overcome sin by my power for I cannot (1 John 1:10).

So I rejoice in Christ.  I praise the Father for the gift of His Son and that I am saved, redeemed, forgiven in Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Yet I also long to be holy, to be pure, to be blameless but I know that I can only obtain holiness by God’s grace working in me.

A Night of Prayer

There is nothing more wonderful to this redeemed vessel than a night of prayer.  Nothing compares to getting on my face before God and opening His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede through me (Romans 8:26-27).  There is nothing I would rather do than to gather the saints of God in a living room and seek God’s face.  We are not there for prayer requests.  We are not there to fellowship with one another.  We are there to only touch the throne of God with our intercessions.  We are not there to hear a sermon or study our Bibles.  We are there to pray!  That is a wonderful night.

Oh saints of God, I urge you to turn off the computer.  Turn off your phone.  Turn off the world.  And get alone with God.  You will never have the power of the Holy Spirit in your life if you don’t pray.  Much prayer leads to much power.  The secret to praying is praying in secret.  The world is being entertained to hell.  Shall it be said of us that we laughed with them while they went to hell or let it be said of us that we weeped for their souls and cried out to God for the lost (Matthew 9:37-38)?  At the final judgment, will you stand before Almighty God and confess how you waisted time with this world or will it be said of you that you labored in prayer and sought His face?

Don’t neglect prayer.  Don’t neglect the discipline of seeking God’s face.  The Word calls you to prayer (Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) and you know His promises in prayer (Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-14) but the key question is will you pray?  Will you get alone with God and seek Him?  It is far easier to sit around and drink a latte and talk about God than to pray.  It is easier to study the Bible on the topic of prayer than to pray.  Sermons don’t equal prayer.  Bible studies don’t equal prayer.  Reading a book on prayer is not the same as praying.  Quoting passages of Scripture on prayer is not the same as praying.  Listening to your iPod from men of God teaching on prayer is not the same as praying.  We must get alone with God and seek Him (Matthew 6:5-6).  We must heed His call and pray!

If you find prayer boring and dry, search your own heart and you’ll see that it is because you are not seeking God for who He is but for what you can get from Him.  God longs to meet with His people.  He will meet with us if we will but take the time to seek Him earnestly (Hebrews 11:6).  Prayer is not same vain ritual with chants but prayer is a passionate relationship with the true and living God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/09/2013 at 9:35 PM

When Experience Dictates Theology

I believe the Bible calls us to holiness (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and I believe that we are to pursue holiness for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).  I believe that the Bible is clear that Jesus came to save us from not just the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin (Matthew 1:21; 26:28; Romans 6:23; 8:1-4, 9-12).  I believe that 1 John 3:6-9 clearly shows that we are not to practice a life of sin and in fact, 1 John 2:1 says that we should not sin.  I believe that the words of Jesus in John 5:14 and John 8:11 show that we are to forsake our sins.  The very nature of repentance is a cosmic change of mind and heart about sin and about the holiness of God.  Acts 3:19 makes it clear that repentance involves turning away from sin and 2 Corinthians 7:10 says it produces salvation.  Hebrews 10:19-39 makes it clear that we are not to return to a life of sin or thus we crucify the Lord Jesus all over again since we count as unworthy His precious blood to help us overcome sin.  1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that we can overcome sin by God’s grace.  Titus 2:11-12 says that God’s grace given to us in Christ Jesus helps us to say no to sin.

Yet we sin.  I sin.

The temptation then is to read the above passages and to try to make them not teach what they don’t seem to teach and that is that God calls His people to pursue perfection.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.  John Wesley defined this as “perfect in love” and not sinless perfection.  There certainly is a danger in sinless perfection teaching in that it becomes all about avoiding this sin or that sin but it doesn’t deal with the heart.  Further, the focus becomes all on what we do and not on what Jesus has done.  Our performance becomes the focus and not the Lord Jesus nor His grace.

Now I am of the opinion that God does not want us to sin.  In fact, there is no sin that His blood can not cleanse us from and can help us to overcome.  Nothing is as powerful as the blood of Jesus to cleanse and sanctify.  Those who believe they are trapped in sin need to hear the good news that Jesus can set them free by His grace.  We cannot overcome sin by our own power or discipline.  It is only by the grace of God that we can overcome sin.  The grace of God can motivate us to be holy and to honor the Lord in all that we say or do (1 Corinthians 10:31).  The will of God for us is clear: our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  God called the children of Israel to holiness (Leviticus 11:44) and He calls us, the saints of the Church, to holiness as well.

However, I know of people who claim to sin everyday.  I even wrote a post on Amazon.com about holiness through a book review.  I actually had some folks writing about how we can’t be holy and how we sin everyday.  They actually looked right at the passages on holiness and the call to forsake sin and said, “Nope, can’t be done.  I sin.  Therefore, these cannot be obeyed.”

I for one will not do this to Scripture.  Simply because I have failed at holiness doesn’t mean that the call to holiness is not real nor does not exist.  I must seek forgiveness and I will still pursue holiness.  I will not give up.  I will not quit.  Just because I fall down doesn’t mean that I will now look at 1 John 2:1 and say, “I can’t be holy and so I will stop trying to be holy.”  No!  I hate sin and I will not stop seeking to be holy.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ends with Paul the Apostle praying for the disciples and I love what he prays:

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Do you pray this for others or for yourself?  Do you pray for the Lord to sanctify people completely?  I do.  I long to be holy and I long for the saints of God to be holy.  I pray for the Lord to sanctify myself, my family, and all the Christians that I know.  I want to see the people of God honoring the Lord through faithfulness.  Paul promises in verse 24 that God will do this.  Amen!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/07/2013 at 10:00 AM

Our Lack of Prayer Shows Our Lack of Faith

We say that we believe in God.  We even acknowledge the miracles that He did in the Scriptures.  We believe He is a God who raised the dead, who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, who is an ever-present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  But I ask the question, does our prayer lives resemble our faith in God?  Or does our prayer life show that we really don’t trust God at all.  We seldom pray.  Seldom are found on our knees crying out to Him.  So few know how to pray today.  So few know how to really touch the throne of God in their intercession.

Leonard Ravenhill wrote it best when he wrote,

No man is greater than his prayer life.  The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying.  The pulpit can be a shop-window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.

Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer.  We have many organizers, but few agonizers;  many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters.  Failing here, we fail everywhere.

The great saints of God labored in prayer.  George Whitefield said, “Whole nights and weeks have I spend in intercession before God.”  John Wesley would rise every morning at 4 AM to seek God for the first four hours of his day.  David Wilkerson “tithed” his day to the Lord by spending the first four hours of his day alone with God in prayer and studying His Word.  Martin Luther would pray for up to 2 hours a day.  David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians and son-in-law to Jonathan Edwards, would often lie on his face before God for hours crying out for the souls of the Indians.  John Hyde, the great missionary to India, was known as “Praying Hyde” for his hours in prayer.  E.M. Bounds was known to pray for 8 hours a day near his death.  David Livingstone, the great British missionary and explorer of Africa, would pray for hours next to his bed and he died there.

Yet what about us?  We know the Word.  We know that Jesus said that we would pray if we are His disciples (Matthew 6:5).  We know His promises to hear us and answer us if we pray in faith (Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-14).  We know the example of the early Church (Acts 2:42; 12:5; 16:13).  We read the commands to pray in the Epistles (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 4:14-16; James 4:2-3; 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12; 4:7; 5:6-7) yet we don’t pray.  We know the promise of Romans 8:26-27, that the Spirit helps us pray but we don’t pray.  We show our lack of faith by our prayer lives.

Ravenhill also wrote, “The acid test of devotion is our prayer lives.”  What does your prayer life or mine say about our faith in God?  Let it not be said of the pagans and those who worship false gods that they are more devoted to their false gods than we are to the one true and living God.  The Muslim bows before Mecca crying out to a false god five times a day.  Can the disciple of Jesus not say that we pray more than five minutes a day?  The Buddhist sits alone in meditation for hours seeking a false reality.  Can it not be said of the disciple of Jesus that we don’t get alone with God and meditate on His Word (Psalm 1:1-3) and seek His face who is true?  The cults are known for their zeal.  Should not we be more zealous for the truth of God?

I have no doubt that God is merciful but our lack of faith in Him must disturb the angels.  No doubt God is sovereign but He has called His people to prayer and yet we would rather sit and watch television or waste time than to seek His face.  The prayer closet offers no rewards, no applause from men.  The prayer closet does offer this: the promise of Jeremiah 33:3.  I urge you saints of God to labor in prayer.  Seek His face at all times.  Our God will hear and He will restore and He will move in power as we cry out to Him.  He is more than able (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/27/2012 at 12:46 PM

Always A Disciple of Jesus

Since I have been working for Golden State Foods, I have had possibly 4 Sunday’s off total.  I work every Sunday.  This means that I miss “church.”  Unlike most Southerners, I don’t get to go to church on Sunday.  Typically, my ekklesia will come later in the week as I met with a few people to pray, encourage each other, and study the Word (sometimes).  I rarely attend a traditional church on Sunday mornings or evenings.  It’s just not for me.  The Church is.  The show called church is not.

What bothers me is that I met so many people who go to church on Sunday mornings but ignore God the rest of the week.  They don’t pray.  They don’t intercede for the nations.  They don’t read and study the Word of God.  They don’t share their faith.  They don’t worship Jesus.  Instead they fill their lives with themselves or their families all week long.  They watch ungodliness on television and movies (hey it only has a few curse words in it, it’s not that bad) and they live as if God doesn’t even exist during the week.  But come Sunday, they put on their nice clothes and head off to the “house of God” where they will join in with others to watch the concert and hear the lecture.

As you can see, I am frustrated with that picture.  I see it repeated all the time.  I have seen good, strong disciples of Jesus who were passionate about seeking God, passionate about seeing the lost saved, settle into this lukewarm Christianity.  In my case, they left our fellowship to go to a more traditional, seeker-sentitive church and became just like the people there.  They quit praying.  They quit sharing the gospel with the lost (after all, it is a seeker sensitive church and one they can invite their friends to and not be embarrassed).  They stopped reading their Bible.  They became a shell of the people they use to be.  They begin to view myself and others like me as “too tough” and “legalists” instead of disciples of Jesus.

I am convinced that God calls us to be disciples of Jesus always.  God doesn’t want us to follow Jesus a little bit.  He doesn’t want us to follow Jesus when its convent to do so.  He calls us to be disciples all the time.  Jesus said that we were to take up our crosses daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23-25).  Are you doing this?  Do you daily follow Jesus?  Are you dying to self daily?  Are you seeking to focus on the eternal instead of the temporal (2 Corinthians 4:14-16)?  Are you serious about seeking God or is this a game to you?  When you read Luke 14:25-35, would that describe you?  Are you placing Jesus first and foremost in your life as your God?  Or have you replaced Him with idols (1 John 5:21)?  When you read 1 John 2:15-17, are you struggling with any of those sins?

The reality is that evangelicals have criticized Catholics for holding that Catholics receive grace for attending mass.  I find that evangelicals think that God honors them because they show up to a place called “church” on Sunday despite never seeking Him all week long?  They believe that they have done their duty to God by simply paying their “tithes” and listening to a sermon.  How wrong are we?  God wants all of us.  He doesn’t want our Sundays only.  He wants all of us.  We are to give Him our everything and He is to become our everything (Romans 6:15-23).  Notice Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13 where he says that he is forgetting what is behind (which were some good things religiously speaking) and is pressing on for what lies in front of him which is Jesus Christ (v. 14).  That is my passion as well.  I don’t want dead religion.  I don’t want typical Sunday worship.  I want more.  I want much more.  I want to be like Jesus in every way.  I want to follow Him completely.  I want Him to dominate my mind, my heart, and my soul (Mark 12:29-31).  I want Him to reign over my everything.  I want to die to self and follow Him forever.

I challenge you to be a disciple of Jesus daily.  Seek Him with all that is in you.  Make Him your passion.  Talk about Him often.  Pray to Him often.  Worship Him continually.  Adore Him.  Bow before Him.  Preach His gospel to others.  Glorify Him in all that you say or do (Colossians 3:17).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/21/2012 at 1:58 AM

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