Falling on their faces like Jesus

The people of Israel knelt with their faces to the ground when they prayed and gave thanks – Jesus as did when He prayed in Gethsemane. Should we humble ourselves and do the same?  I think that position in quite humbling and reminds us ho God is and His importance in our lives.

2 Chron 7:3 All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Mathew 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Mark 14:35-36
35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Luke 22:41-42
41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Does God hear all our prayers?

Does God hear all our prayers – the littlest to the biggest?

Well.. Yes and no.

We know God knows everything and nothing happens that God is unaware of. But… Usually when we speak of our prayers being heard, we mean “will God answer my prayers”.

We have to realize that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God, earning death.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And the quick answer before you protest “why would God allow horrible things in the world like sin?” Is found in Romans 5:21 ” so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Getting back to our topic…

Isaiah 59:2 tells us, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”

In fact John 9:32 flat out states God doesnt hear sinners, but listens to the prayers of those who do God’s will: “Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His will, him He hears.”

2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us the fellowship with God is broken when we sin:“For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?”.
1 John 1:6 confirms this, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him [God], and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”

So what is the answer, the trick, to having God hear our prayers? We must seek the kingdom of God; we must seek the righteousness of God; we must trust and obey God.

Isaiah 55:6-7, “Seek you [all people—sinners] the LORD while He may be found, call you upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Once we change and humble ourselves, turning to God through faith in Christ, which is exemplified by changes in our lives, by obedience to God, God no longer refuses to hear our prayers because of our sins. 1 John 3:22 teaches, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

But even then, once we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, whether God answers our prayers the way we would like depends on a few things.

We must not be sinning; we must ask for what God would have us ask for – it must be in the will of God – and we must ask with the right motive.

James 4:1-3
1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

1 John 5:14-15

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Where do you draw the line between magic and an inate ability provided by God?

I was recently asked, “Where do you draw the line between witchcraft and powers given to us at birth by God?”

After a bit of prayer and reading, this was my answer:
1) It is not an innate ability from God if you have to do drugs/alcohol or spell work of any kind (regardless of type of work, ie. candle/crystal/fire/sex/stone/etc) to access/exercise it,

2) It is not innate from God, if you need some one like an angel/demon/spirit/ghost/person that is not you or some thing to access/exercise it,

3) If it is evil as defined by God then it is not an innate ability from God,

4) If it is an ability that God said to not do (like tell the future, which is different than speaking for God, which is being a prophet, plus God can speak thru a person and have him tell the future, which is also being a prophet), then it is not an innate ability from God,

5) It is possible to have an ability provided by a demon and not know it comes from a demon (an example from scripture is the ability to tell the future – see Acts 16),

6) Scripture gives example after example of priests for demons/false gods being able to deceptively mimic a power God gives (see story of Joseph in Genesis 37-48, story of Daniel in book of Daniel, and story of Moses in book of Exodus), but the power from God is always better quality and/or stronger and/or more powerful and/or more accurate. But it seems all the powers given by God to man occur after the man follows God and man doesn’t get to choose. In fact, when one magician wanted the power Peter had, Peter rebuked him – see Acts 8-9.

 

The response was:
“Okay what if it’s not specifically mentioned in the bible and uses no ritual to activate or outside source such as healing. Or is that mentioned.”

My response:

Abraham prayed and God healed. Moses prayed and God healed. According to scripture, it is God who forgives and heals or prevents healing, or people are healed by casting demons out of them. Jesus (God) gave power to cast out demons, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, heal. God decides who is healed by whom and when and how.

It seems every biblical example I can find shows God healing after prayer or because of someone’s faith (an evidence of faith) or thru God giving someone the power to heal. Healing is a gift of the Spirit of God. But demons can deceive and emulate many things of God. Certainly since demons can cause sickness (as evidenced by casting out demons causing people to be healed), they can be made by higher demons to stop causing sickness which could appear as healing.

We know that God made people sick and warned them and they repented and God healed.

We also know God has worked with people who are not His. We know God treats children differently than adults.

Here are verses which deal with the particular subject of healing:

Deuteronomy 32:39

‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand

Psalm 103:2-4

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Matthew 8:16

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill

Matthew 10:5-8

5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

1 Corinthians 12:9

to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit

We must always go to the Word of God to be able to know what is of God and not of God. We can believe something is from God and be mistaken. But GOD tells us what HE has done, and what He calls sin and what He calls good. We must not confuse the influence of a demon for the work of God. Sometimes the only way to know which is which is to pray and read scripture.

1 Peter 4:1-11

1 Peter 4:1-11

“Attitude, Ascension, Administer”

 

Today’s message is taken from 1 Peter 4:1-11. If you’ve been following along in this series, you know that this was written to believers in various churches in what is now Turkey about 64AD, just a few years before Peter’s crucifixion. It was written to encourage the readers during difficult times to endure and live lives that were worthy of the name of Christ.

Earlier, Peter wrote about how we need to submit to whomever God has placed in positions of authority: government, employers, husband. Peter said we need to love and live holy. He also said that all Christians need to “live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing.”

Peter reminded us that We need to always be ready to give an answer for our hope: we are saved through faith in the resurrection of Christ, and we are baptized as a symbol of accepting what Christ has done for us.

 

1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude,

Matthew 26:36-44. BECAUSE of what Christ has done, BECAUSE Christ not only was ready to suffer for our sins, but also because Christ DID suffer in his body for our sins, we need to have the same attitude. 1 Peter 1:13. We need to be prepared. We need to ready ourselves. Ephesians 6:10-18. We need to be prepared for battle! The battle is not with other believers . The battle is with the enemy! We need to arm ourselves with the same attitude that Christ had.

 

because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

Romans 6:6-7. Christ was crucified, when we believed in Him, we too were crucified with Him. The idea is that though we may suffer doubt or not want to do what God has in mind for us, we need to be faithful. We need to battle our bodies if it comes to that, and do what God has called us to do. We need to remember that we have been crucified with Christ! If we remember that, then we can remember that we no longer NEED to sin. We have the ABILITY, through the Holy Spirit, to live as though we are dead to sin. We need to live like it.

 

2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires,

Romans 8:5-10. A Christian MUST not live the rest of his life here on earth driven by the urges of the world. We must NOT be distracted by television, by radio, by what we read – unless it is the BIBLE. We must NOT be living like we used to live, or even like we might sometimes want to live. We need to live like Christ lived!

 

 

 

but rather for the will of God.

John 6:40; Romans 12:2. The main thing God wants is for people to believe in what He has done! The fact that God loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us so that people who believe could have eternal life with HIM shows what God’s main ‘will’ is.

But the other major will of God is that we not stay like we were. We need to be transformed! We need to be changed! And the way we are changed is NOT by just going to Church on holidays or even once or twice or seven times a week. No – we are changed by learning about God – who he is, what he has done, what he will do, what he expects. We are changed by being in a relationship with Christ, by walking with Christ daily. We are changed by praying day and night – hour by hour – minute by minute. We are changed by being with other maturing Christians who will challenge us to not be stuck where we are. We are changed by reading the Bible and letting the Word of God change us.

 

3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

Debauchery is defined by the dictionary as “extreme indulgence in sensuality“. Lust is defined as “an intense longing or craving”. Drunkenness is obvious – drinking to excess. Orgies is defined as “a sexual encounter involving many people”. [1] In the New Testament times, sometimes going to pagan temples involved drunken orgies. Carousing is going to parties of drunkenness. Detestable idolatry is putting ANYTHING in the place where GOD should be in your life. Don’t be like the world! BE like Christ!

Turn to Galatians 5:19-21. When we focus on the things that used to interest us, that used to drive us, we are not focusing on God. We need to remember that GOD did it, and we need to move past the things that the world does, or that we used to do, or that we still do. We need to not do things that keep us from God, instead we need to focus on God.

 

4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

The word for ‘abuse’ is literally, blaspheme[2]. The people who did not believe lied about those who did. The believers Peter wrote to suffered shame and abuse at the hands of unbelievers, because of what they did. BECAUSE the believers would not participate in what was normal life for so many unbelievers, they were ridiculed. The same is true today. Often we get funny looks or snide comments for not living like people who do not know Christ. But you know what, if what those people say is true, change so that its not. If its not true, then ignore it, count it a blessing, and serve the Lord.

 

5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Turn to Matthew 12:36; 2 Timothy 4:1; John. 5:24. God will judge the world, through Christ. If we have Christ, then when we are examined, we will not pay the ultimate price – because Christ already paid it. We will not be condemned. However, if you do NOT claim Christ as your savior, then you will be condemned to hell. Its real. Its final. It may sound harsh – but its not. It doesn’t have to be that way for you. If you do not know Christ, then accept what he has done for you. If you accept that you are not perfect (that you’re a sinner) and that you can’t get into heaven on your own merits or works, that you need what Christ has done – if you believe that Christ is the only way to heaven and that he died for your sins so that you could be with him in his Father’s house in heaven, then you are saved and will not be condemned.

 

6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead,

Romans 1:18-23; Acts 17:26-27; 2 Peter 2:5. The Holy Spirit preached to the people around Noah in those times. The prophets preached to the people of Israel. People can see evidence of God in the world.

I’ve heard a story from a missionary who was delivering the the “Jesus” video in remote parts of the Ukraine. After showing the video, one old woman came forward weeping, and she related a story of how she had dreamed three nights before of a man coming to her telling her that she would learn the way to be with God – and it was the image of the same man who was the actor who played Jesus. She accepted Christ fully then and there!

People always have an opportunity to know God. But they have to WANT to know Him.

 

so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body,

            People WILL be judged based upon the choices they make in THIS life. If you choose Christ, then you will not be condemned. But if you choose to NOT accept Christ, if you put it off until you die, then it will be too late, and you will in fact be condemned to the lake of fire.

 

but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

But once you’ve accepted Christ, you need to live according to the Word of God. You need to live with the Holy Spirit guiding you. You need to have the right inside to match the outside. Going to church will not save you. Being the child or parent of someone who claims Christ will not save you. You need to be saved through faith in Christ. At the instant that you have this faith, you are saved. And once you are saved, you need to LIVE like it! You need to not be jealous, or spiteful, or wanting revenge, or trying to “get yours”. You need to be humble, meek, loving, kind, respectful, honest.

 

 

7 The end of all things is near.

Mark 13:31-33. Christ is going to return soon – we do not know if it will happen in a minute, or a day, or a year, or when it will happen. But the end of all things is near. We need to live like it. We need to keep our eyes on Christ and the future we will have – not be bogged down with pain and suffering and worry in this life. The end of all things is near.

 

Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Because the end of all things is near, we need to be sober minded – clear headed. And we need to be in control of ourselves. We need to not be driven by fear. We need to not be driven by greed. We need to not be driven by jealousy. We need to not be driven by lust. We need to not be driven by anything other than the love of Christ. If we do that, then we will be able to pray and pray effectively.

 

8 Above all, love each other deeply,

1 Corinthians 13:4-7. love = agape (same word, both passages). Self-sacrificing love – where one CHOOSES to love rather than has an emotion of love. This is the type of love where one chooses to do what is right for someone else, in this case other believers.

1 John 3:10-13. You should be identified by love. You need to be identified by the love you are supposed to have within you – the love of Christ. If you do not FEEL love, that’s ok. Sometimes we need do the action before the emotion comes. Sometimes we need to feel the emotion before the actions come. But you need to pray to God to help you love your brothers and sisters in Christ. You need to live according to the Spirit of GOD.

 

because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Are you someone who gets easily angered or frustrated by others? Are you someone who wants to TEACH everyone the RIGHT way? Do you need to talk about the weaknesses or failures of others, or their children? Turn to Proverbs 10:11-12; Proverbs17:9. We need to be people who love each other. We need to express that love by NOT stirring up dissention. Is what you have to say said in an attitude of love? Is what you have to say said in private, to the person who needs to hear it, rather than to your “friend” or “the pastor” (before you have gone to the person you have an issue with)? I’m not saying you should never go to someone else when someone is in sin, but there is a process for that. Have you followed that process? Do you know that process? If not, I suggest you find out and then follow it. But the first thing to do is PRAY for that person and that situation and yourself.  Be sure you are acting in love, not out of any other motivation. Love one another – for THAT is the will of God.

 

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Turn to Matthew 25:40-46; Matthew 10:41; Luke 14:12-14. Love of and for Christ involved helping those who need help, especially believers. Does a pastor need a place to stay? Does a missionary need a place to sleep? Does a believer need a place to stay? Hospitality would be you making an offer to put him up, either at your place or to pay for a motel room.

 

10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 29–31; Romans 12:6–8 (more concrete example: Matthew 25:15-30; Luke 19:13–26). Each of us is different. Each of us have different gifts from God. We have different interests, talents, and spiritual gifts. Love for Christ and others involves you using what God has given you for the good of the church universal and the local church. If you love Christ, you will seek out the gifts God has given you and use them for the glory of God. Using your gifts for God’s purposes is the will of God. Administer God’s grace in the ways that God has given, or is giving, you.

 

11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

A preacher should teach the word of God. A Bible teacher should teach the word of God. A prophet should preach the word of God – and any prophecy of the future MUST be tested by what the Bible says and whether or not the prophecy comes true (once a false prophet, always a false prophet). A believer should talk to people about God, using the word of God. All of us, who open our mouths, need to speak the very words of God! And we need to not be apologetic about it, we need to be bold about it, so that people recognize the power of God. I’m not saying be ‘in your face’, or rude, but be strong and sure of what you say.

 

If anyone serves,

he should do it with the strength God provides,

Acts 6:2-4 division of labor. Again, when we serve God, which is supposed to be daily, we need to rely on HIS power, not our own. Whether we serve tables, or clean the church, or print bulletins, or preach, or teach, or call people, or pray for others, or visit others, we need to do it in GOD’s power. When we do it in our own strength, we will tire and weaken and our attitudes will suffer and we will not be up to the task. But when we pray, and rely upon God, it is amazing how before we start, we might not have any energy, but somehow there’s always enough for God’s work.

 

so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

Everything you do needs to bring God praise through Jesus Christ. People need to look at your life and praise God. They need to look at your volunteerism and praise Christ. They need to look at your attitude and praise Christ. They need to hear your words and praise Christ. They need to look at your private life and praise God.

 

To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. [3]

Always remember, the praise and glory always go to God. His is the power that lasts eternally. He is the one who created everything. He is the one who sustains everything. He is the one who gives what we need. He is the one who works all things for the good of those who love Him. He is the one who loves us all. We need to remember, even when things are hard or difficult or bad, God is good. We need to thank him and praise him and let others know where our faith lies.


[1] Merriam-Webster Online.  Available 4/17/2005 [http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=debauchery&x=0&y=0]

[2]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 4:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Anxious, worried, fearful? Don’t be!

Worry is a lack of faith, which is a sin. WE must trust God loves us, that God cares about us, that God has a pefect plan, and that God takes care of us.

Jesus said to not worry about what you will eat or drink or whether you will have clothing – but seek GOD and HIS kingdom and HIS rightseousness and all these things will be given to you.

Matthew 6:25-33 25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

Jesus said to not to be afraid of those who can kill the body, but to fear GOD who can kill the body and cast you into hell.

Luke 12:4-6 4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Jesus sets us from from sin, and therefore we can rest in HIS hands.

Acts 13:38-39
38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

 

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Paul said that what ever is not of faith is sin, and worry shows a distinct lack of faith, so it is sin.

Romans 14:22-23 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

 

Paul said to be anxious for njothing, but make your requests known to God and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind.

Philippians 4:5-7 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peter said God cares for you, so you should casy your anxiety upon Him.

1 Peter 5:6-8 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

If we love God perfectly, we will not fear, and we love because God first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.

 

Turn to God. Trust God. give Him your fears and anxieties and needs and desires. Seek God’s righteousness and kingdom, and God will provide.

Does God always answer prayer? In what ways does God answer prayer?

The question was asked as to whether God always answers prayer. My immediate response was yes: either with yes, no, or not yet. But the ensuing discussion caused me to take a look at what scripture says about whether God always answers prayer.

AW Tozer (http://francisrosos.wordpress.com/2006/08/30/does-god-always-answer-our-prayers/), referencing I John 3:21-22; John 15:7, wrote, “The truth is that God always answers the prayer that accords with His will as revealed in the Scriptures, provided the one who prays is obedient and trustful. Further than this we dare not go.” I agree that if we expect an answer to be affirmative, then he is correct. But it seems answering prayer is always in the affirmative to Tozer. This does not deal with answering in the negative or in silence.

We can see that God sometimes does not answer. This seems to me to be an answer of silence, which is either ‘I am not answering’, ‘no’, or  ‘not yet’ answer (which would depend on whether it is answered later).

In the case of 1 Samuel 14:24-43, because it was followed by a specific answer later, I would call this an answer of ‘I am not going to answer right now’. But scripture calls it neither  a ‘no’ or a ‘not yet’. It says, “He did not answer him on that day.

In this case, the lack of answer was later followed by a specific answer of “who”. The back story is that Saul had made made an oath for the people, not allowing them to eat during the day of battle. Jonathan had not heard of the oath, so ate honey when wearied. Worse, the people responded to being so hungered by battle that they slew animal spoils of war and ate them with blood still in their bodies. Interestingly, Saul also made an altar and had people slaughter animals sacrifice there. In trying to ascertain why God had not answered Saul’s prayer (there were so many reasons why He would not in this situation), it became obvious that Jonathan was the reason.

1 Samuel 14:24-43

24 Now the men of Israel were hard-pressed on that day, for Saul had put the people under oath, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and until I have avenged myself on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food. 25 All the people of the land entered the forest, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When the people entered the forest, behold, there was a flow of honey; but no man put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard when his father put the people under oath; therefore, he put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly put the people under oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today.’” And the people were weary. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See now, how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much more, if only the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

31 They struck among the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very weary. 32 The people rushed greedily upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slew them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, saying, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have acted treacherously; roll a great stone to me today.” 34 Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Each one of you bring me his ox or his sheep, and slaughter it here and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So all the people that night brought each one his ox with him and slaughtered it there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and take spoil among them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” So the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You give them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him on that day. 38 Saul said, “Draw near here, all you chiefs of the people, and investigate and see how this sin has happened today. 39 For as the Lord lives, who delivers Israel, though it is in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not one of all the people answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Therefore, Saul said to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42 Saul said, “Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him and said, “I indeed tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!”

We have already seen God answers with “who” in the previous passage mentioned above. Now let us see an example of God answering “yes” in 2 Samuel 5:19, and of God answering ‘no, I have a better plan’ in verse 23-24:

2 Samuel 5:17-25

17 When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 19 Then David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”20 So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim. 21 They abandoned their idols there, so David and his men carried them away.

22 Now the Philistines came up once again and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of the Lord, He said, “You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. 24 It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 25 Then David did so, just as the Lord had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer

In 1 Kings 18, we see that God answered Elijah’s prayer for fire with fire which consumed wood that had been soaked in water. I would call this a ‘yes’.

1 Kings 18:33-38

33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34 And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.

36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word.37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

Sometimes God does not answer prayer. This seems to me to be a ‘no’, but God’s word says God did not answer:

Psalm 18:40-42

40 You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save, Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
42 Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind; I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.

Psalm 22:2

O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.

Its clear that, at least some times, God does not answer because He does not hear the prayers of people who have sin in their hearts.

Micah 3:4

Then they will cry out to the Lord, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.

Psalm 66:18

18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;

Isaiah 59:1-2

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

This was certainly the case with King Saul, when he was not answered by God because he had sinned and not repented.

1 Samuel 28:6-7, 11, 16-18

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophetsThen Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”
11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”
16 Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has departed from you and has become your adversary17 The Lord has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David. 18 As you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

But here is a case where even Elijah’s prayer did not receive an affirmative – he asked God to kill him. It was a selfish prayer and not in God’s will (remember that God never took Elijah’s life, but Elijah walked with God in 2 Kings 2). There was no direct ‘no’, but instead an angel came and gave him sustenance. Is this considered an unheard prayer or a ‘no’? I think it likely that God heard and gave him what was needed instead of what he wanted. I’d call this a ‘no’.

1 Kings 19:4-8

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Sometimes God answers ‘no’ – not with the word, but with action, or lack of action (as the case may be). We see this where David had his sin forgiven, but asked a prayer not in God’s will (because the child born to David and Bathsheba was to die), and so was answered ‘no’:

2 Samuel 12:13-23

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” 15 So Nathan went to his house.

Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. 16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. 18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” 20 So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child wasstill alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ 23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, buthe will not return to me.”

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are delayed because demons try to prevent angels from responding to our prayers. This is not a ‘no’, or even a ‘not-yet’, but a delayed ‘yes’.

Daniel 10:12-13

12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

Sometimes God is working in the background while we think He has not heard, and we must wait to see it come to pass. This is a ‘yes’ that looks like a ‘not yet’:

Habakkuk 1:2-6

How long, O Lord, will I call for help,

And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

“Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days—
You would not believe if you were told.
“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
That fierce and impetuous people
Who march throughout the earth
To seize dwelling places which are not theirs.

Sometimes one’s prayers are hindered because one does not live with his wife in an understanding way and does not honor his wife. Are hindered prayers a ‘no’? I think so.

1 Peter 3:7

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Sometimes we do not get what we ask because we ask with wrong motives – we are selfish. Is that an answer to prayer? I think so – I think it is a ‘no’.

James 4:3

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

We must have belief for our prayers to be answered (in the affirmative). So if we do not believe, then the answer will be ‘no’.

Matthew 21:22

22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Mark 11:22-24

22 And Jesus *answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

We must abide in Christ and ask in His name. This is not a magical litany. This is much more than simply reciting a phrase at the end of a prayer. This is asking for something that Jesus would ask for – when we ask in Christ’s name, we are asking for something He would have asked for. When I was a child, my dad had credit at the corner store and I could go in and get a loaf of bread and ask them to put it on his tab. I was buying something my dad would have me buy. But if I tried to get candy, they would not put it on his tab, because they knew my dad would never have bought such a thing. So, asking in the name of God the Son means you are walking close enough to Him to know what HE would have asked for and asking for THAT – not necessarily what you would want.

John 15:7

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16

16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

If we have had sin in our hearts, we must humble ourselves, pray, and seek God and then He will hear our prayers and forgive us.

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God has affirmatively answered prayers of Gentiles who believed in God, but were people not of God’s chosen people:

Jonah 3:1-10

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of themWhen the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Mark 7:24-30

24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

Indeed,  Jesus said that EVERYONE who asks will receive, EVERYONE who seeks will find,  and it is opened for everyone who knocks. I think its safe to say that this EVERYONE can be limited to EVERYONE who does not have sin in their hearts, everyone who turns to God will receive the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:8-13

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for afish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or ifhe is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Jesus taught people to persist in prayer, and that God will bring about justice for those who are His elect and cry out to Him:

Luke 18:1-8

 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

The answer to prayer will be yes if  we have a spirit of obedience and do what pleases God when we pray:1 John 3:21-22

21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

So no, God does not answer all prayers. Some prayers are not heard, which results in them being unanswered. An unanswered prayer is not necessarily a ‘no’, or even a ‘not yet’, but a ‘I am not going to tell you’ – which is a very different thing. This is an answer which was very different than I had expected to find when I began this research. We must always let Scripture be our guide in learning about God and life.

Looking at where scripture mentions God answering prayer – it is not always yes, no, or not yet. Sometimes God answers in depth in the affirmative. Sometimes God answers with something that is better than you had asked for. Sometimes God answers no explicitly, sometimes God answers no implicitly. Sometimes, God does not answer prayer – this is sometimes followed by an answerer to prayer, and sometimes not. Sometimes God answers but we are unaware of it – because the answer is delayed or because it takes longer than we are aware of. Sometimes our prayers are hindered because of our relationship with God or others. God’s Word says He does not hear prayers of people who hold sin in their hearts, yet it also says who ever asks will receive what they ask – but they must believe, not have sin in their hearts, be repentant from sin towards God, be in a good relationship with God through faith in Christ, obey God, and be in a harmonious relationships with others.

One of the coolest things happened yesterday…

As anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows, I post both here and on facebook. Sometimes I post a lot. Lately I have posted a few things on sexual sin.

I received a private message yesterday from a man who has been bringing his family to our church for a while now. They have been becoming friends with our church and family. We actually had lunch together a couple of Sundays ago, where I was able to open up a little about me and my family. He had seen that I had been posting stuff dealing with sex and wanted to know why I have posted so much lately on sexual sin and homosexuality. He wanted to know out of love and concern. He wanted to make sure everything was ok with me. He wanted to know if there was anything he could pray for me about. He was not judgemental (although he recoginzed the possiblity of sin in my life). He was not condemning. He was gracious and loving and encouraging.

This is the church in action. This is how Christians should act with one another.

We all have sins, which we must confess – we must agree with God that they are sins.

1 John 1:8-10

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

We must not stop gathering together – this provides the mechanism for building relationships, which is needed to encourage one another to become more like Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We must bear one another’s burdens, helping each other as we can, although we are each responsible for our own sins. We also have to make sure we dont fall into temptation.

Galatians 6:1-5

1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.

James tells us that we must confess our sins to one another, so we can pray for each other so we can be healed. Anyone who turns a sinner from his ways saves a soul.

James 5:13-20

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 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 earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Part of the purpose of going to church is to encourage one another in difficult times – and this includes when we are sinning. Our brothers in Christ should have a good relationship with us so they can come to us when they see we are not acting as we should and help us get on the right path. they can not do that if we are not open with them, or we do not have a relationship with them, or if they are not part of our lives sufficiently so they can see when we are sinning.

Thankfully, I was able to reiterate what I had said last week. I was able to try to reassure him I was not in trouble, but mentioned to him specific things which he could choose to pray about or not.

So yeah… one of the coolest things happened yesterday. A brother in Christ came to me to ask if I was in trouble and if he could pray for me. His private message challenged me to walk right in case I was not, and it was done in a non-judgemental, loving, merciful, gracious manner. The church in action. I love it!

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