“The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth” + LINKUP

 

I’ve noticed that most people either find prayer a natural part of their Christian life or thoroughly enjoy studying the Bible. But rarely, have I met someone who says both come easily and naturally to them. Yet, it’s the two of them working together that are God’s essential means of Christian growth.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival

 

The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth

 

Bible study comes pretty easy for me. I love reading my Bible. That doesn’t mean I do it perfectly or haven’t had to discipline myself to make it a part of my daily life, but once I acquired that habit, my hunger for God’s Word grew. And now I can’t see my life without reading and studying God’s Word.

I, also, know that prayer is important. I teach others that prayer is a necessary part of our Christian life. And I pray. Or maybe I should say, I work at praying.

I have a prayer list and verses of Scripture I like to pray for my husband, myself, and those I love. I pray as part of my journaling (the most effective way for me). I’m not afraid to pray in restaurants and other public places. I pray alone. I pray with others.

want prayer to be like breathing for me. But the truth is, it’s more like work.

What comes easier for you? Is it prayer? Or is it reading and studying your Bible?

According to the great preacher D.L. Moody in his book Prevailing Prayer:

These two means of grace must be used in their right proportion. If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.

When it comes to prayer, I’ve read many books and heard more than a few sermons. I always go away more motivated and, often, excited about something new I want to incorporate into my prayer life. Other times the message is a reminder of something I know to be true. But, honestly, I find I still have to discipline myself to pray.

 

Why Pray?

 

Jesus said that prayer can move mountains (Mk. 11.23) and James said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5.16b). James went on to say:

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Hannah prayed and God opened her womb (1 Sam. 1).

Elisha prayed and a boy was raised from the dead (2 Kings 4.32-37).

Sampson prayed and God answered, even after he failed miserably:

28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life (Judges 16.28-30).

Daniel prayed and God sent the Angel Gabriel. Cornelius prayed and God sent Peter to his home. Peter’s friends prayed and he was released from prison. Paul and Silas prayed and a jailer and his family were saved. Over and over again in the Bible we see God move in response to prayer.

Jesus prayed before He chose His twelve apostles, when faced with the demands of ministry, when a friend died, on the night He was betrayed, and just before He died for the sins of the world.

We’re taught to pray (Matt. 6.9-13), encouraged to pray (Lk. 18.1), and commanded to pray (1 Thess 5.17). Prayer is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible. So, why is prayer so important?

Simply put, prayer is the best way for us to communicate with God. Reading His Word is listening to Him. Prayer is our response. Any relationship requires the give and take of both.

Prayer offers us the opportunity to acknowledge our need for God, to confess our sins and to thank Him for His many blessings. It helps us stay dependent on Him, instead of relying on ourselves.

God doesn’t need us to pray; He wants us to pray. He can perform His will with or without us, but He has given us the privilege of being part of what He’s doing in the earth.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder why I have so much trouble disciplining myself to pray, at times.

And what about Bible study?  Continue reading

“At Least It Will Be Good for Me!” September 24

 

At Least It Will Be Good for Me! - It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what's right. Yet we have a responsibility to pray for those God has placed in authority.It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what’s right. Yet we have a responsibility to pray for those God has placed in authority.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 39 & 40
Psalm 109.21-25
Proverbs 26.2
Galatians 2.1-21

 

At Least It Will Be Good for Me!

 

Isaiah 39 & 40:

Politics as Usual

 

Reading about Hezekiah made me think of some of our politicians.

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts. 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

The Prophet had just told him, Hezekiah, your choices and the accumulated rebellion of your generation are going to lead to the destruction of your nation as you know it. Your children and grandchildren are going to be taken into slavery, some will even be castrated. And, instead of calling his nation to repentance, his response was, “At least it will be good for me!”

It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly, too. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what’s right. Without a revival in our nation, I don’t see that changing.

But that doesn’t excuse us from praying for those God has placed in authority:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.1-4).

If there is to be a reprieve in God’s judgment on our nation, it’s only going to happen because the hearts of our leaders change. Only then will they make right, though painful, economic decisions. Only then will they call for racial unity. Only then will they make good moral choices, even at great personal cost.

Let’s pray for revival in our nation’s capitol and her people.

 

He who Weighs the Mountains

 

Chapter 40 makes we wonder afresh if we really understand the awesomeness of God:

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?

Though the Bible is not primarily a book about science, where it does speak of science or any other subject, it is truth! Verse 22, for example, says, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth …” He told us the earth was round long before science figured it out!

Although many theories laid out by sinful, unredeemed men contradict the Bible (remember it’s the theory of evolution), true science does not!

Chapter 40 goes on:

26 Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.

Just look up! The heavens declare His majesty. The order and magnificence of the universe speaks of a Creator. The intricacies of the human body alone confirm to anyone who wants to know the truth that nothing happened by mere chance.

God is upholding everything! He “brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name.” The host—all the stars and planets and all the universes that exist, do so because He created them. He already knows just how many there are even as we continue to discover new ones. He has already named each one of them. Just as He declared what a set of pagan parents would name their son (King Cyrus) a hundred and fifty years before, so He pre-ordained the name of each star and planet and solar system.

And if that’s not enough, it’s His power which holds each one in its place, “by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.”

What an amazing thing that the Creator of everything in the heavens above and the earth beneath invites us to have a relationship with Him!

 

At Least It Will Be Good for Me! - It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what's right. Yet we have a responsibility to pray for those God has placed in authority.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 109.21-25:

For His Name’s Sake

 

And when we have a right relationship with Him, He deals with us through His mercy and grace.

“But You, O GOD the Lord, deal with me for Your name’s sake; because Your mercy is good, deliver me” (v. 21).

 

Proverbs 26.2:

The Curse of Sin

 

“Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.”

Certainly, this can apply to the laws of sowing and reaping, but the world as a whole is under the curse of sin. One day it will be destroyed because of God’s righteous judgment and will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21.1).

 

Galatians 2.1-21:

Justified by Faith

 

When God destroys the earth, those of us who have been justified by faith (v. 16) will not be destroyed with it.

1 Thessalonians 4:

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

God is in control of everything and the best preparation we can take for the catastrophic changes coming to the world is not environmental restrictions. It’s not stocking up on survival gear. The most important preparation is the preparation of our hearts and cultivating a passion to share Christ with those who don’t know Him.

Let’s not be like Hezekiah in the spiritual sense, thinking we won’t be around to worry about all this.

 

Coming Up:

In the next few days we’ll talk more about legalism, especially in our parenting, whether or not things God hates could be part of our lives and more.

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Blessings,
Donna


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