Listen To God’s Instruction

 

He who turns his ear away from listening to the law  [of God and man], even his prayer is an abomination, hateful and revolting [to God] (Proverbs 28:9 AMP).

This proverb is true for everyone, not just believers in Jesus Christ, it is a warning message for all people on earth. God’s instructions for spiritual and physical life – pertain to all. We must listen and obey God’s instruction.

Instructions

God communicates with us through his Word, his voice, and the Holy Spirit. He expects us to hear him and learn from him. There will be dry times when feel we cannot hear his voice. But that’s our problem and we can change that by pressing into Him. His instructions are vital to our daily life.

Prayers

What privilege we have to come to God in prayer. However, this proverb states that if we do not heed his instruction, our prayers become repulsive to him. Note it doesn’t say they are not heard.

Still, the lost, the brokenhearted, and the downtrodden can come to God in prayer. This is what God wants. He always hears prayers. They can learn of Him and grow to maturity. Prayer is special communication and not taken lightly (first listening—then making requests. We must listen and obey God’s instruction.

Prayer: Father, give me understanding, so I may observe what you say and heed your instruction. I know this is important and want to do it.

Listen To The Holy Spirit

The Church at Antioch was a vibrant one with them growing in the Lord. Paul’s impact on this Church took several years, but now they were ready to be a sending church—to guide and lead others to belief in Jesus Christ. They listened to the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit—The Advocate

In John 14, Jesus informed the 12 apostles that he would ask the Father to send a helper. Jesus said . . . “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative that is, the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 NLT). The Holy Spirit will actually guide followers of Jesus.

The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost nearly overwhelmed those present. The book of Acts might rightly be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit [through the apostles] to build the New Testament Church.” The astounding entrance of the Holy Spirit began God’s action with His Church.

Disciplines Ingrained

The Church at Antioch ministered to the Lord by the worshiping, fasting, praying, and waiting on God. These were strengths of the early Church. Ministering to the Lord is not a term used often. We think of these as how we—believers do things—but these actions minister to the Lord.

Then, as they waited for guidance, the “Holy Spirit spoke, Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off (13:2b,3 The Message).

Fasting, Praying, and Waiting

In my opinion, fasting and waiting are now lacking in importance on how to minister to the Lord. Fasting is often not even a part of how we submit to God to receive guidance on a regular basis (let alone in times of dire need).

The ‘action’ of waiting on God is to decline the urge to jump into ‘must do this or must do that’ which begs on our minds. Waiting to hear God’s voice is exactly what our hearts need . . . then we believers will gain rest for our souls and guidance.

Richard Foster * describes spiritual disciplines as the door of liberation for the Christian. He goes on to state that joy is the keynote of each one as well as freedom from fear and self-interest.

The Church at Antioch received guidance for what God wanted them to do when they listened to the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Father, help me apply these spiritual disciplines to enable me to hear you better. I want to hear you all the time.

Questions: How often have you skipped over these essential words “waited on God” for answers or “fasted” for answers to prayer? Can you trust the Holy Spirit to give specific or personal guidance?

* Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, p 1,2.

Gethsemane

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Eyewitness: p.234
Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 26:39
The Message: Mark 14:32-36; Luke 22:43,44
In Your Bible: Mark 14:32-36

At Gethsemane, Jesus took the disciples aside with him to pray. This would be the last time he’d speak with them prior to the daunting task he would meet at the cross. At this critical time, he needed to affirm what the Father wanted. Jesus did what we should do—we too should ask what God wants of us.

Jesus’ Earnest Prayer

The Master took those closest to him (James, Peter, and John) further aside, to be nearer in this difficult time. These three had seen his glory at the Transfiguration and would now see his suffering at Gethsemane.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” (Mark 14:34 Message).

Now we see the intimacy of his plea to the Father . . . “He went about a stone’s throw away, fell to his knees, face to the ground, and prayed [emphasis mine]. ‘My Father, everything is possible for you. Let me escape this suffering. Nevertheless, I want your will, not mine’” (Matthew 26:39 Eyewitness Stories).

The Disciples Failed In Their Vigil

  • Jesus prayed then stopped and returned to the disciples, but found them asleep. He chastened them.
  • He returned to pray, then went back and found them asleep again!
  • He returned to pray, a third time and returned to find them asleep!
  • Jesus chastened them, told them to get up and leave Gethsemane with him because his time had come.

Help From An Angel

Only in the Gospel of Luke do we find God sending an angel to comfort and help to his Son. Selah. “At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face” (Luke 22:43,44 Message).

At Gethsemane, Jesus’ deep intimate prayer was interrupted by the disciples’ physical inability to stay alert and wait for him. This should be a notice for believers today to be strong in prayer and not slumber in it! Jesus did what we should do—we too should ask what God wants of us.

Prayer: Father, I need your help to be steadfast in prayer. Please help me.

Question: How do you feel about falling asleep when you pray? It is human to do so, but yes, we feel guilty, don’t we? The Spirit will help in overcoming our weaknesses. Can Jesus can help us be more diligent here? YES.

Nothing Is Impossible with God

Eyewitness: pp. 122-123
The Message: Matthew 17: 14-21
In Your Bible: Matthew 17: 14-21

At the Transfiguration Jesus was in deep conversation with Moses and Elijah. Only three disciples (James, Peter and John) saw it all. In awe of this they realized that nothing is impossible with God.

Demon Possessed Boy

Jesus then came down to Caesarea Philippi where they met with the rest of his disciples and a large crowd. A man fell at Jesus’ knees pleading for mercy for his demon possessed son. The disciples prayed and wondered why the boy was not healed.

After his mountaintop experience, Jesus came back to the reality of his immense task. His teaching to the people and the disciples on Kingdom principles seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? (Matthew 17:17 The Message.)

When Jesus rebuked the demon, it came out of him. The boy was healed at once.

Discernment

Later when he talked to the disciples privately, they asked why they couldn’t cast the devil out. Jesus answered in a blunt manner, “Because you are not taking God seriously,” (Matthew 17:20a The Message).

Wow, these men had been given power and authority from Jesus to do miraculous wonders and help people (and they did). Now they weren’t taking God seriously! Do we do the same?

Believers, we need to be careful to do what God tells us to do and learn Kingdom Principles as the disciples did. Remember to use discernment in dealing with the devil. Jesus said, “This kind requires prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 Eyewitness). Yes, the NASB adds that later manuscripts add verse 21 in Matthew.

Absolutely nothing is impossible with God.

Prayer: Father, thank you for guiding my prayers. Help me take you seriously.

Questions: How do you fail to take God seriously in everyday life? In what way(s) do you need to use discernment in praying for others?

More Good Advice

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:2 NIV).

Colossians 4 NASB
Colossians 4 NIV
Colossians 4 Amplified Bible
Colossians 4 In your Bible

Paul concludes his epistle to the Colossians with more advice concerning prayer, evangelism, the mystery of Christ, and the conduct outsiders see in them.

Prayer and Thanksgiving

Paul connects prayer with thanksgiving (Col 1:9,12 and 4:2) and in seven other places in his epistles. After he encourages readers to heartily pray, he requests prayers for himself and Timothy who was with him. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2 NASB).

Be Prepared

Now Paul gives advice on evangelism and talking with others. He remids us to be alert for any such opportunities.

And at the same time pray for us also, that God may open a door to us for the Word (the Gospel), to proclaim the mystery concerning Christ (the Messiah) on account of which I am in prison; That I may proclaim it fully and make it clear [speak boldly and unfold that mystery], as is my duty (Colossians 4:3,4 Amplified Bible).

Prayer: Father, help me take on the responsibility to speak boldly.

Questions: Why is it important to combine prayer and thanksgiving? Is this an active routine of your prayer life?

Jesus’ Prayer in John 17

(Part Two of a Series)

“I have revealed you to those you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you entrusted them to me” (John 17:6 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: p. 232
In your Bible: John 17:6-10

Jesus delineates several aspects of what his task was here on earth including intimately showing the Father to believers.

The Work of Jesus

Jesus prayed: I have manifested Your Name [I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have obeyed and kept Your word (John 17:6 Amplified Bible).

Bible commentators* say he revealed – the character and nature of God. Jesus brought God near to man. He encouraged the humblest of believers to take the name of God on their lips, to know what God is like and to be on intimate terms and friendship with him. Jesus said – we can address God as Father.

Jesus knew all but one of the disciples obeyed and kept God’s word. A strong affirmation, since we read a great deal about their talk and actions but not much about their obedience to the Father.

Message Received

Then Jesus said, “They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you.
 For the message you gave me, I gave them,
 and they took it, and were convinced That I came from you.
 They believed that you sent me” (John 17:7,8 THE MESSAGE).

He declared that all, yes all those who are his (believe in him) are God’s and all who are God’s bring Jesus glory.

Application: Jesus brought believers into intimate fellowship with the Father. As you read the Bible, jot down the words that describe God. This will help you understand the character and nature of God.

Prayer: Father, help us take in your character and nature – which Christ Jesus revealed to us. We too have received your message.

Question: Have you considered the character and nature of God? Jesus knew the disciples were convinced Jesus was of God, where else in the Gospel of John do you see it?

* The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of John, Volume 2, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956, pp. 245-249.

Jesus Teaches More on Prayer

……you can be sure your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those [believers] who ask of him (Eyewitness Luke 11:13b).

Eyewitness: p. 146
In Your Bible: Matthew 6:5-13; Luke 11:1-13

Rabbis had a custom of teaching their disciples how to pray, John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray. But Jesus surprised them. He wanted his disciples and believers today, to know how simple prayer should be – focused on what the Father wanted for them. He did not want repetitious, long winded, or rote prayer. Prayer should be focused on these things:

  • The Father’s glory.
  • The believers’ present need.
  • The need for forgiveness.
  • Reflection on the power and glory of God.

Comparison and Contrast

After Jesus finished teaching what we call the “Lord’s Prayer,” he went into a parable about two things that contrast each other:

  • If a son asks his dad for a fish, will his dad give him something that would harm him, like a snake? No!
  • If a son asks his dad for an egg, will his dad give him something that would harm him, like a scorpion? No!

Through this parable, Jesus assures the disciples and all believers that our loving Father knows us and wants the best for us. The Father wouldn’t do anything to harm the believer or his children.

Jesus Says Ask for the Holy Spirit of God

Asking the Father for something – including the Holy Spirit – is what He wants.This entire teaching on how to pray shows the Father wants believer to move into Kingdom living. We couldn’t do it without Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Father loving us.

Application: It’s amazing that all believers and many non-believers know the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus shows believers need not beg, plead, nor browbeat God to answer prayer. The key to answered prayer is honoring God and knowing his overwhelming love.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your patience with us, as we learn more of you. Jesus’ sacrifice shows your overwhelming love for mankind. You are wonderful.

Question: Does this help you see the Lord’s Prayer and the parable following it differently? Will you see Luke chapter 11 with new eyes and an open heart about what the Father wants and offers you today?