prayer

Safe and Sound (John 17:9-10)

Do we truly realize what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us?

Our Lord gave us life. Scripture teaches that Christ was the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God. That all things (ourselves included) were created by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The Lord created man and gave him life, so that he became a living soul. Our consciousness, creativity, dreams, and problem-solving ability are all effects of this life that the Lord gave us.

And when man rebelled against God, not only through disobedience, but through an attempt to overthrow God’s power and authority through that disobedience, the Lord redeemed us from the death and condemnation that came as a result.

To do that, He became man, lived the life of a man, endured the same trials and tribulations we do on a daily basis, yet He did so without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Scripture says He came into His own, and we didn’t receive Him, nor did we recognize Him. In fact, we rejected and betrayed Him, turned Him over to the Romans and had Him crucified.

That is the greatest sin ever perpetrated in the history of the world, the sin of rejecting Christ and nailing Him to the cross.

Yet, even in that, He endured the wrath of God on our behalf, so that we could be cleared of all guilt and could stand faultless before God. He even prayed, “Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Having paid for our sins on the cross, the Lord resurrected on the third day, conquering death and the grave, and later ascended to the right hand of the throne of God where He ever lives to make intercession for us. He maintains our salvation by continually putting our cause before the Father in Heaven.

So, in John 17:9-10, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would clarify to the Father that He is praying for us. He said, “ I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”

In that statement, Jesus said that He prays for us, that we are securely His, and that He finds glory in us.

Jesus prays for us. He earnestly pleads before the Father on our behalf, and He advocates for us. He stated that He prayed for “them,” and not the world. “Them” are His disciples, and not only His disciples, but all those who would believe based on their words. Therefore, since we have all become believers based on their words, then this prayer is for us as well.

And we know that Christ prays for us, because Hebrews 7:25 says that He “ever liveth to make intercession” for us. He intercedes, advocates for us. Advocacy… we don’t often associate that word with Christ, but it is truly what He does for us.

1 John 2:1-2 says “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

John told us to sin not. That means to leave sin behind, to leave the sinful lifestyle behind, to leave “the life.”

However, if anyone sins, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He truly is our advocate.

His advocacy is one reason we are secure in our salvation, if we know Him as Savior.

Jesus said in John 17:9-10, “all mine are thine and thine are mine.” We belong to God, and in John 10, Jesus said, “no man is able to pluck them from my hand.” We have been passed from death to life, from condemnation to salvation, from guilt to innocence.

Then Jesus concludes this verse by saying, “and I am glorified in them.”

When Jesus said He was glorified in His disciples, it means His disciples bring him honor, renown, and cause Him to be well-known in a good day. This was something Jesus said had already happened. Simply by following Him, remaining faithful to Him even when all others walked away, and preaching His Kingdom, the disciples had already glorified Jesus.

When we remain faithful to the Lord, we glorify Him as well.

So, in light of this passage, knowing that Jesus prays for us, has secured our salvation, and is glorified in us, let us spend time in prayer, trusting in His forgiveness and redemption, and promoting His Gospel.

Praying for Glory, How Jesus Opened the Most Epic Prayer

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As Jesus prepared for His arrest and crucifixion, He lifted up His eyes to God and prayed the most epic prayer. Recorded in John 17, this is often referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer.” In it, Jesus prays for the glorification of God and Himself through the crucifixion, and He prays for His disciples that God would protect and maintain them in His absence.

It is really profound that our Lord, Who was God in flesh, lifted up such a prayer. It teaches us of the role prayer plays in our faith. It is an exercise of faith, and it is an alignment of our thoughts, desires and plans with God’s. To see Christ, Himself, do it is truly powerful.

Jesus opens this prayer in John 17:1 by saying, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:”

He prays that the plan of salvation, our redemption through the cross, would truly be glorifying to God. And when you discuss the glory of God, truly you must discuss the cross, because it is in the cross that the full righteousness of God is on full display (Romans 1:16-17), and in the cross that God obtains final victory over Satan.

It is in the cross that our hope lies, for without the cross, we have nothing beyond this life to look forward to. Without the cross, we are left as enemies to God, living a life of frustrated divine conflict before a death leading to eternal punishment. However, with the cross, we are redeemed and reconciled to God, made friends of God, blessed to live life in His presence with His provision and guidance, before a death that leads to eternal blessings in His Kingdom.

The glory of the Lord is ubiquitous in scripture, and throughout all of human history. God was glorified in the creation. He was glorified in the creation of man. He was glorified in ejecting Satan from heaven following his revolution there. He was glorified in providing man a way of salvation after man joined Satan in that rebellion. He was glorified in raising up a nation after Himself, then using the enemies of that nation to refine them into the people He intended on them being. He was glorified in how He led them out of Egypt, and how He led them into the promised land.

God was glorified in the birth of Jesus Christ, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His glory is such that, even non-believers have to acknowledge the incredible events that He performed, from the darkness on the earth when Jesus was on the cross, to the resurrection, to the impact Christ had on human history, even from a secular point of view.

And in the Gospel of John, we’ll see that glory come to it’s apex when Jesus pays for our sins on the cross. The glory of the Lord will come full circle when He returns and establishes His Kingdom on earth. This is deliverance for us, which should have us all praying for the glory of God. For it’s only in that glory that we have any hope.

When you pray, what are you really asking for?

Every Sunday, members and visitors to Life Point Baptist Church request prayer for a variety of circumstances. (We take prayer requests during Sunday School and morning worship, and each request is prayed for specifically). These requests range from healing, to financial provision, to reconciliation within the family, to a revival in our nation, to comfort from grief.

Each and every one of these requests is borne of a fear, a concern, a pain, or other turbulence in life. At the root of each of these requests is a desire to be delivered from the torment of the situation. In essence, each prayer request is a request for peace in the congregant’s life. This is a request we pray for, and a request we sincerely hope God grants.

If it is peace you seek in life, scripture says that God freely offers that peace. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To be justified means to be declared not guilty because the punishment has already been paid. Scripture teaches that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Each of us has broken God’s law, the 10 commandments which instruct us not to put anything before God, not to take God’s name in vain, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, to honor our parents, not to kill, lie, steal, commit adultery or covet.

Scripture also says the consequence of sin is death and eternal damnation under God’s judgment (Romans 6:23). Yet, 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ went to the cross where He suffered God’s wrath for our sin on our behalf. He paid the penalty for our sin. Therefore, all who believe that He died for their sin, and trust Him to receive them into Heaven are saved from God’s wrath, and have a future in Heaven with the Lord.

Since this salvation comes by believing in the Lord, the Bible tells us we are “justified by faith.”

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“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:1

This peace that the Bible references is two-fold. First, we have peace with God in that we are no longer enemies to God, but rather have been made friends with God, and are adopted as children into His family. Secondly, having been justified by faith, we experience a peace with God that surpasses understanding, that allows us to be in good spirits even when life around us is crashing.

This peace allows us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are good, and enables us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are bad. That peace cultivates a hope that, as we endure what life throws at us, we continue to look forward to that day that the Lord rescues us from this world and welcomes us into His eternal peace.

It is our prayer that you find that peace. Should you have any prayer requests, you can submit them below:

All Hands on Deck!

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With a number of Life Point’s members and friends facing serious situations this week, we’d like to call all of our members and friends to prayer.

There are specific prayer requests being lifted up to us for those who have lost loved ones, those battling serious illnesses, and those facing serious problems in life. We plan on praying for each and every one. If you have a prayer request to add to this list, email it to our pastor, Leland Acker, at LelandAcker@gmail.com.

If you would like to pray with us, you can do so in person at 6 p.m. Wednesday, at Life Point Baptist Church, 599 Sunrise Dr., Early, TX, or you can do so where you are.

May God hear your prayers, heal your hurt, and comfort your heart.

The Concept of Prayer Service

48423434_608600369559694_43192085209153536_o (1)Scripture says that “The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” At Life Point Baptist Church, we not only believe that prayer changes lives, heals the sick, and transforms us as believers, we have seen it happen. Over the past five years, we have seen two cancer patients turn up cancer free after intense prayer was lifted up on their behalf. These are healings that can only be explained by God’s miraculous response. This is not that televangelist “lay hands on the sick” and heal, “only if they have healing faith” approach. There is no show here. There are no theatrics. Just simple, sincere prayer, and quietly trusting God to answer.

Over the past few years, we have seen a man who was in his final days recover and return home. We have seen patients with failing kidneys see their kidney function restored. In each of these cases, the patients sought medical care as we prayed. We trust doctors, too. In each case, healing occurred for which the doctor had little explanation.

Healing does not occur in all cases. Sometimes God, in His divine will, simply tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

We have seen God provide for financial needs. And most importantly, we have seen God move in the lives of our loved ones. We have seen lives changed, souls saved, faith made complete.

For these reasons, and because scripture commands us, we pray.

Wednesday nights, Life Point meets at 6 p.m. for Prayer Service. We begin with a hymn, a congregational prayer, a message from the Bible, then we lift up our prayer requests, and then we all pray, simultaneously, individually, before reuniting in prayer to close out the service. The entire service lasts less than an hour.

So if you have a need in your life, one for which you want God to intervene on your behalf, pray. And, if you be so inclined, some join us, that we may pray with you. Then, we will all trust God together for the answer.

May God bless you. See you Wednesday.

Why happiness is so elusive…

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Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

-James 4:2-3

John D. Rockefeller built a fortune through his company, Standard Oil. Seeing a need for a reliable brand of kerosene that would not explode into flames as kerosene often did in the 1800s, Rockefeller set out to develop a safe way to refine the liquid fuel from oil, and then brand it so that anyone buying it would know they bought a safe product. Hence the name, “Standard.” As in, “This product lives up to our standards of safety,” and burns bright enough to illuminate our homes and offices to our standard. It elevated our standard of living.

Rockefeller’s shrewd business skills and ability to leverage service, money and volume built his empire. He built strategic partnerships with railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, eliminated competitors through hostile takeover and stock purchases, and never quit working to expand his empire.

To this day, the name “Rockefeller” is synonymous with wealth. Unlike many who inherit wealth, Rockefeller built his from nothing. Today, his family still benefits from his decisions.

Yet, when asked, “How much money is enough,” Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more.”

At the height of his wealth and power, Rockefeller basically owned America. Yet, even at the height of his wealth and power, Rockefeller neither found happiness nor peace. At least, he didn’t find it in his wealth and power.

The fundamental fact of life is that, if you can’t be happy where you are, with what you have, then having more will not make you happy.

That’s why James 4:2-3 says:

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James addressed discontentment among early Christians by pointing out two things. (1) They didn’t engage God in prayer about their needs and wants, and (2) their motivation was suspect.

The first situation addressed here is discontentment. The Christians to whom James wrote were not happy. They desired things that they could not have. They wanted more. They struggled for more, yet they failed. The harder they pressed, the harder the world pressed back.

The first reason those who read James experienced this torment dealt with their worldly attitudes. They wanted, and fought to have, but failed to obtain, because they didn’t ask God. They neither asked God for the blessings they sought, neither did they ask for God’s permission and direction.

These Christians lived a carnal, worldly existence. In doing so, they excluded God from their day-to-day lives. That’s an important detail to remember. When we live in the carnal, day-to-day world, without seeking God through prayer, Bible reading and meditation (deep thoughts on the scriptures), we are excluding God from our day-to-day lives.

These Christians, having excluded God from their lives, received no blessing from God. Why would He bless and reward His children who avoid His presence.

James then addressed another problem. Those who had approached God in prayer about their desires did so with impure motives.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Those who had gone to the Lord in prayer to request specific blessings did so for the sole reason of pleasing their flesh. They wanted that which they could consume, not that which they could use to bless God and others.

A good example of this would be the man who prays for the new convertible, the beach house, or for the winning lottery numbers.

So, while they did follow Biblical directives to pray, their hearts were not right. Instead of having a heart for God and His people, they were selfish. Therefore, their prayers went unanswered.

That brings us to a very pointed question. “What’s my motivation?” Are we self-focused, or focused on others? Do we see others? Or do we only see ourselves?

Happiness is defined as confidence and security. Do you feel confident that the Lord will do great things in your life? And are you secure, knowing that He will provide, protect and care for you? If so, then you are happy, whether you feel joyful or not. If you do not feel confident and secure, it might be because you are searching for confidence and security in the wrong things. At that point, nothing will provide happiness for you, regardless of how much of that nothing you have.

As for John D. Rockefeller, you might be surprised that amassing wealth and making money wasn’t his primary motivator, as he is quoted as saying, “I had no ambition to make a fortune; mere moneymaking has never been my goal. I had an ambition to build.”

Consider your ways

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Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.

-Haggai 1:5

In Haggai 1, the Lord points out how the people of Jerusalem who had returned to the city to rebuild the Temple became reluctant to do so, possibly fearing political retribution. Yet, despite that fear, the people continued to build their own houses. That prompted the Lord to respond with, “Consider your ways.”

When the Lord told the people of Jerusalem to “consider their ways,” He was telling them to check their Spiritual status, their motivations, and their choices. On that note, it’s a good idea that we all “consider our ways.”

First, let’s consider our Spiritual status. Growing up in the American South, Christianity was the assumed religion among our friends and neighbors. Nearly everyone went to church somewhere on Sunday morning. People lived a basic moral lifestyle, identified as Christian, and gasped at anything that appeared “unChristian.”

One of the most dangerous things a person can do is assume the status of being a Christian without actually having the faith that makes you a Christian. Some call this, “professing the faith without possessing the faith.”

What makes this dangerous is that a person can delude himself into thinking that he is a Christian and is going to Heaven, only to be told on Judgment Day, “Depart, for I never knew you.” Thus, the Lord warned in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In that passage, you had people who thought they were going to enter into the Lord’s Kingdom, only to be reckoned with the fact that they lacked the one key thing required for salvation, Faith.

They pleaded with the Lord, noting the many wonderful things they did. Notice how the Lord did not argue against that. They had the works, but they lacked that personal relationship with Christ that comes by faith. So, the Lord rejected them.

Therefore, it is imperative that we all take stock of our Spiritual lives to see whether or not we are truly Christians, whether we truly know the Lord as our Savior. After all, it would be tragic to spend a lifetime in church every Sunday, hosting youth camp-out events, donating to missions, and participating in the annual prayer breakfast, and wind up facing the judgment of God.

Therefore, 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Was there a moment when you made the conscious decision to turn from your sin and trust the Lord as your Savior? If that moment never happened, then your salvation is in question. Make that decision today. Reject the sin in your life, and trust Christ to save you based on His work on the cross.

Secondly, we are called to consider our motivations. Why do we do the things that we do? What drives us? What do we hope to gain?

There are many people who are motivated to make their world a better place, whether that is to be accomplished by volunteering in the community, mentoring youth, or donating to charity.

There are many people who are motivated to accumulate wealth. They seek success in their careers or businesses.

Others seek accomplishment. The money, and the impact on society is irrelevant. They just want to become a household name.

And others are motivated by the pursuit of pleasure. Such is the case of a man I saw on TV living in Appalachia, who could care less about his bank account or the state of the country, as long as there were beers in the fridge and the satellite TV service was working.

What is your motivation? While we all tend to gravitate toward one of these, scripture teaches us that we are to be motivated to glorify God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

As noted by Bro. Jim Finch, who taught Sunday School at Life Point this past week, we glorify God by reflecting His glory, which is accomplished when we do the things God would do, when we do what He tells us to do, and when we love people the way He would love them.

Finally, we are told to consider our choices. Hopefully, after the previous considerations, you have found that you have faith. If not, hopefully you found faith. Then, hopefully you’ve evaluated your motivations and realigned yourself accordingly. Now, we are to look at our choices.

Do our choices reflect the faith we profess? And do they fall in line with our motivation? If not, we need to re-evaluate our choices and make better ones.

It’s always a good time to “consider your ways.” Hopefully in doing so, we can learn, and grow as we continue to live this Christian life.

Meet God

 

When Moses approached the burning bush, God called out to him from the midst of the bush, telling him to take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground.

At that point, Moses met the God he had trusted since childhood. All throughout Exodus 3, Moses sees the attributes of God on full display.

First, Moses saw the awesomeness of God, as He appeared in a burning bush that was not being consumed by the fire.

Secondly, he saw the life of God, as God described Himself as the eternal “I AM” who was still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as they had entered eternity with him after passing on this Earth.

Thirdly, he saw God’s deliverance, as God told Moses that He had come down to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt.

Lastly, he received God’s call, as God directed Moses to be the one to lead the people out of Egypt.

From this, we learn that God is to be revered, that He is the source of our life (both eternal, and Earthly), that God delivers His people and responds to their prayers, and that God works through His people to accomplish His mission.

Want more? Check out the above-posted podcast.

Wrestling with God

The last time Jacob saw Esau, Esau vowed to kill him. Now, Jacob is returning home, and he receives word that Esau was coming out to meet him with 400 men. Would God make good on His promise to bring Jacob safely home? Or would Jacob and his family be slaughtered by Esau?

As he struggled through the scenarios, Jacob wound up wrestling with God.

This can happen to us if we don’t trust the Lord, and if we focus on our problems instead of our blessings.

Seeking the Lord

Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, couldn’t have children. She was barren, which was a mark of shame on young women during Old Testament times. In order to restore her honor, Isaac “entreated” the Lord, meaning he had a time of worshipful prayer where he poured his heart out to the Lord. The Lord heard, and the Lord responded, and Rebekah conceived.

Rebekah became pregnant with twins, who fought within her womb. Rebekah, keenly aware of the blessing God placed on her family, wondered what the fighting meant. So, she “inquired” of the Lord, meaning she followed, learned from, studied, and then asked the Lord for understanding. The Lord gave her understanding.

Jacob understood that God had given his family the blessings of Abraham. Jacob wanted that blessing. Esau was first in line for the blessing, but could have cared less. Therefore, Esau sold the birthright to Jacob in exchange for red bean soup.

All three sought out the Lord in one way or another. In this episode of “The Point,” we learn why their prayers were powerful, and why Esau’s sin was so grievous to God.