Leaving Laodicea
418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

September 18, 2017

Some of the hardest questions in the Christian life have to do with God not answering our prayers— no matter how much we pray or how much faith we can collectively muster.  Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?  Why didn’t God do what I prayed He would do?  Why doesn’t God love me?  Because if He did, He would not have let happen what happened?  Where was God during my time of deepest need?  I prayed to God for ________ and it did not happen.

Which inevitably leads us to ask this:  Why God?  Is the problem with me?  Am I not doing enough to get my prayers answered?  Or is the problem with You?  Are You showing favorites and am I on the bottom of Your list?  What's the problem?  Help me understand this, God, because this is hurtful and doesn't make any sense.

You're Right, It Doesn't Make Much Sense

And the reason for that is our reliance on Cliff Note theology.  We grab a few Scriptures, usually out of context, and hold on to them like a life preserver vainly trying to get them to say something they don't.  Consider these:

1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Did you notice something?  The key, according to this verse, is praying "according to His will."  When that happens, badda bing, badda boom, prayers get answered.  But when we ask for something not according to the will of God, all bets are off.  The answer will be, "Not today, not ever."

Matthew 18:19 - “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."

First, this statement by our Lord has nothing to do with prayer, but with dealing with a sinning believer.  And even if it did give us a prescription for prayer, can two people agree for world peace and the end of all wars, and it be a guarantee from the Lord?  I think not.  Why?  Because God has already revealed to us that in the future we "will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6).  God has already spoken prophetic truth to us and won't violate His Word because of our prayers.

Do you want to know the reason God often doesn't answer our prayers?  Because the reason will change the way you look at God and prayer from this point forward.  If you want to know more, then keep listening.

The following is a study on prayer.

402 - Are You a Murderer? Probably So

402 - Are You a Murderer? Probably So

May 21, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates anger with murder (Matt. 5:21-22), in much the same way He equates lust with adultery (Matt. 5:27-28).  Later, John adds the following:

1 John 3:11-15 - For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love (agapaō) one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his (Cain) works were evil and his brother’s (Able) righteous.  Do not marvel (wonder, be surprised, astonished), my brethren (fellow believers), if the world (kósmos) hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) you. We know (eidō) that we have passed from death to life, (how) because we love (agapaō) the brethren.  He who does not love (agapaō) his (personal) brother (fellow believers) abides (rest, make their home) in death.  Whoever hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) his (personal) brother (fellow believer) is a murderer, and you know (eidō) that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John also equates anger and hatred with murder.  And he states that "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."  This is a profoundly important point.  Which raises a couple of questions:

Have you been angry with a fellow Christian?
What was the cause of your anger?  Was it the holiness of God?  Or some personal preference about which you felt slighted?
Are you still angry with that person?  And if so, why?
Did you know that, according to the Scriptures, you are guilty of murder?  Why?  Because the one you hate and murmur about was created in the image of God.  And to hate someone created by God, who is also made in the image of your God, is to hate God.  You cannot love the Creator and hate His creation.

The Scriptures call this murder.  Are you confused?  Do you think hatred and murder are two different things with two different penalties?  Do you want to know what the Scriptures say about anger and murder?  Then keep listening.

399 - Signs (or Not) of the Kingdom of God

399 - Signs (or Not) of the Kingdom of God

April 30, 2017

If you'll take the time, you'll find the core message of Jesus was about the kingdom of God.  Over and over again we find summary verses like this one:

Matthew 4:23 - And Jesus went about all Galilee, (1) teaching in their synagogues, (2) preaching the gospel of (what) the kingdom, and (3) healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

In fact, Jesus said the object of the gospel He preached, and commanded us to preach, is the kingdom of God.  Consider what Jesus said in His olivet discourse:

Matthew 24:14 - "And this gospel of (what) the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

There are also certain kingdom characteristics in the lives of believers that the Scriptures point out to us as signs of His kingdom.  In essence, when believers manifest certain characteristics of the kingdom in their lives, we can know the kingdom of God is present.  And, conversely, when a believer doesn't manifest these kingdom characteristics, we can also safely assume the kingdom of God is far from them.

This is a sobering thought.  Character, holiness, and sanctification matter.  Do you want to discover more about the signs of life in the kingdom?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study of Acts 4:32-5:16.

336 - Tough Words to Fathers and Children

336 - Tough Words to Fathers and Children

February 10, 2016
In Colossians 3 the Lord confronts us with a checklist that deals with the proper attitudes we are to have in our most cherished relationships:  wife to husband and husband to wife, children to parents and fathers to children, and employers to employees and employees to their employers.

In this lesson we're going to look at some of the tough words the Lord has to say to both fathers and their children about their relationship both to Him and to each other. 

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. - Col. 3:20-21

To find out more, just keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 3:20-21.

319 - The Riches of Full Assurance

319 - The Riches of Full Assurance

August 17, 2015
In Colossians 2:2 we read the phrase: "And attaining to all the riches of full assurance of (what) understanding, (to what degree) to the knowledge of the mystery of God."  So, what does this actually mean?

To "attain" means "to possess, to move into, unto, towards, to be among."  Got that.  But what about "full assurance"?  What does that mean?

The word "full assurance" is used only four times in the New Testament and means "complete confidence, a most sure confidence, a full and perfect conviction, the full and total reliance on something or someone, to have complete understanding."  OK, but complete confidence and understanding of what?  Of Christ and the Father, to have the mind of Christ, to see things from His perspective, to understand truth as He understands truth, to have His peace and confidence and full assurance in the Father.

Is that possible?  Is this promise and prayer meant for us today?  And, if so, where do we find that kind of assurance?  How can we discover and attain the "riches of full assurance" in the things of God?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

This is a study on Colossians 2:2.

305 - How to Love Those Who Hurt Us

305 - How to Love Those Who Hurt Us

May 17, 2015
One truth in the Christian life is that we have all been hurt by those we love and by those who we thought loved us.  Whether it's our spouse, our family, a former close friend, or someone in the church, we've all suffered from the words or actions of someone else we trusted.  And the scars run deep.

So what do we do?  Mostly, we withdraw, vowing to never trust again.  We pull up the drawbridge, turn out the light, and hide alone deep in our room.  Simon and Garfunkel, many years ago, captured this so well in their song, I Am a Rock.

I've built walls, a fortress deep and mighty, that none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock, I am an island.

Don't talk of love, I've heard the words before; It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock, I am an island.

But the Christian life is not meant to be lived in bitterness, fear and unforgiveness.  Why?  Because Christ purchased our freedom and freely offers that freedom to us.  It's ours for the asking.
To find out how to love those who have hurt you or the ones you love, keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.

297 - Living in Christian Community

297 - Living in Christian Community

March 17, 2015
We have unfortunately let the emerging church people hijack the term community, or fellowship, or koinonia, and turn it into something orthodox Christianity now rejects.  And that is a shame.  Nevertheless, community is how the Lord intended us to live.  Not convinced?  Then read the first few chapters in the book of Acts.

But a few questions remain.  

How can we “esteem others better than ourselves”?  (Phil. 2:3).
How can we “love (agape) one another as Christ has loved (agape) us”?  (John 13:34).
How can we live in fellowship (koinōnia) together, “bearing each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ?”  (Gal. 6:2).
How can we live in Christian community with each other, as a loving family, as part of His body functioning together as one?
Do we even want to live that way?
And, if we do, what would motivate us to love each other more than we love ourselves and to forgive each other— no matter what?
Is that even possible today?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:2 and grace and peace.

285 - Calling the Father, Dad

285 - Calling the Father, Dad

January 22, 2015
When Jesus said, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30), He revealed truth so exciting and profound that we dare not overlook it.  When Jesus spoke these powerful six words, He was proclaiming that "All that God is, I am, and all that I am, the Father is."  Again, "I and My Father are one."

But what does this mean?  No, not just theologically, but devotionally.  What does this truth mean to me and my everyday, intimate relationship with the Father?  What does it say about what the Father is like?  About His attributes, personality and characteristics?  What can I know about the Father from Jesus?

The answers will change the way you live and pray... forever.  To find out more, just keep listening.

The following is a study on John 10:30.

277 - Forgotten Parents of the Forerunner

277 - Forgotten Parents of the Forerunner

December 10, 2014
When we consider the Christmas season and the celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus we often focus on Mary and Joseph, or the Magi and their three gifts, or maybe the lowly shepherds and the heavenly host singing "Glory to God in the highest"— to the exclusion of all else.  It seems that if the cast of characters at the birth of Christ don't rate a place in our Nativity scene or weren't around on that fateful night in Bethlehem then, we reason, they must not have been very important.

But nothing could be further from the truth.  Did you ever hear of a man, a common priest named Zacharias, and his beloved wife, Elizabeth?  The Christmas story actually begins with them.

To find out more about these two incredible people, keep listening.

The following is a study on Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

225 - The Consequences of Unbelief

225 - The Consequences of Unbelief

January 25, 2014
One of the most chilling verses in the book of Matthew is this: 

Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
In this verse, the He is Jesus and the there is Nazareth and the truth is that because of their unbelief Jesus was not able to do what He wanted to do among those He loved.  He had to cut His revelation to them short because they would not receive what He was offering them.  And the results of their unbelief were damning.  

Do you think you have ever walked in their shoes?  Probably so.

The following is a study on unbelief.