Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Important Is Persistence In Praying About A Matter? - Steve McVey

I used to believe that it increased the likelihood of having my prayers answered if I prayed constantly about the thing that concerned me. I thought the longer I stayed on my knees about it the better off the outcome would be. I don't believe that anymore. God doesn't need me to convince Him to act on my behalf. Jesus once told a story that illustrates the heart of the Father toward us:

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 (Luke 18:1-8).

Isn’t Jesus telling us all that we need to keep praying and praying and praying without giving up on the Father answering our prayer? I think this view misses the point. Jesus is using an unrighteous man as His example in this story. Jesus stresses twice that this judge “did not fear God nor respect man.” He wasn’t a loving, caring man at all. He was indifferent to the needs of the supplicant and had to be worn down by persistent begging.

The truth Jesus wants us to see is that we are not to think of God that way! In this story Jesus was doing what He did so many other times, and that is to make an argument through contrast. We are missing the point if we think God is like that judge, unconcerned with people’s needs and only responding if we badger Him into it. No, Jesus’ point is, “If even an unrighteous, uncaring judge can be persuaded to act for you, how much more will the perfectly loving and good God respond to our heartfelt cries!” He isn’t telling us that we have to pray tremendous lengths of time to persuade our Father. What He is saying is that anytime and every time you pray, you can have confidence that He hears and will answer. All the time you can pray knowing that He loves you and isn’t holding out on you until you prove your sincerity by time and effort in prayer. God isn’t a Judge who needs to be persuaded. He is a Father is eager to answer you and to show you His love!

We reverse it in our minds sometimes, and believe that God doesn’t care. We think, “If we can just get enough people praying, and can log enough time in prayer, then maybe we can cause God to do something He really isn’t interested in doing. If He’s not now on our side, maybe we can win Him over through sheer effort and persistence.”

But the truth of grace is just the opposite. We don’t have to persuade a reluctant, unconcerned God. It’s the other way around. God is the seeker. He is the primary lover. God is always the initiator, so in reality the way it works is this: When the Lord gets ready to do something, He often moves the hearts of His people to pray. He moves us to pray, and we might be moved to invite others to join us in prayer. Then they can share in the process and become a part of the answer as well. When we become involved in prayer, God allows us to participate in what He’s doing in this world.

Back to the story Jesus told of the unrighteous judge: It’s important to note that in the story he told, Jesus had the supplicant appealing to a judge for help. He wanted us to see that our Father isn’t like the person depicted in this story. The judge was reluctant to answer, but our Father isn’t.

How we view God has everything to do with what expectations (faith) we have when we come to Him in prayer. I’ve already said that Jesus was using contrast to show the difference between our situation when we ask God for something and the situation of the widow in His story. There can be a difference in our expectation and approach when we come to Him because of the difference in the identities of the one the widow was beseeching and the One we are asking for help.

She was talking to a Judge. You aren’t. You are talking to your Father. That difference cannot be overstated. God isn’t a Judge who is sitting in heaven with a judicial mindset toward you that causes you to have to appeal to Him as you would ask a human judge to show you mercy and to grant your petition to the court.

Our God’s relationship to you isn’t judicial. It is relational. He is your Father and He delights in responding to our heartfelt requests. You can approach Him with the full knowledge that He doesn’t have to be persuaded to act in your best interest. His role in your life is based on His loving character. That fact gives you reason to know that you don’t have to beg Him. You don’t have to get enough people to convince Him the way somebody might show up in court with a petition signed by a multitude of people to convince the judge to rule in their behalf. Your Father is already on your side and is eager to bless you in every way. The story of the widow and the judge doesn't teach the lesson many of us have been told. In fact, it teaches just the opposite.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Most Christians live a mixture of law and grace without even realizing it. That is why so many struggle with the Faith Righteousness teaching of Paul. We claim to be fully righteous, yet still hold on to things of the law....self-effort, works to earn approval and salvation. That is not what Paul taught. He taught a complete righteousness in the "FINISHED" WORK OF THE CROSS....AND TAUGHT THAT OUR LABOR NOW IS TO "JUST REST."
Below is a great article on the message of "Faith Righteousness," the gospel that should be preached by every believer. Paul preached it and so should we! )

Faith righteousness, according to the apostle Paul, is the stumbling stone of the Gospel. In other words, more people stumble over this issue than any other doctrinal point, (Rom. 9:30-33) and nothing has changed since Paul wrote those words.

Paul's message of faith righteousness caused him to suffer persecution by nearly every religious faction, but those who fought him most fervently were Jews and Judaizers who insisted that the message of faith righteousness and grace promoted sin. As pious and noble as their claim for righteousness seemed, it was faulty at two very key levels: it overlooked the finished work of Jesus and it robbed believers of the power to live in righteousness.

Paul's argument for faith righteousness was fairly straight-forward. It was prophesied in the Old Covenant. The law never worked, no one ever measured up. This is the rest that God had promised. But the heart of the issue is explained in Romans 14:1, those who think performance makes them righteous are weak in the faith! As admirable and logical as their arguments may seem, they don't fully trust what Jesus accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection!

The opposition that Paul faced for preaching the Gospel may be different than what we suppose. In a polytheistic, Roman world there was no major issue with preaching a new god. There were, however, two very contentious issues: The first issue was the Lordship of Jesus. The idea of absolute loyalty and trust to Jesus as Lord flew in the face of everything the religious and political world was willing to tolerate; but the issue that caused more persecution than any other was the doctrine of faith righteousness.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul declared that he would not have been persecuted if he had simply gone along with the legalistic, religious world. It would have been alright to preach Jesus as Savior as long as he made righteousness a matter of works. Faith righteousness flew in the face of Gnosticism, Asceticism, Judaism, and every other form of religious belief; it was the stumbling stone and the point of contention for nearly every religious dogma.

In Romans 1:16-17 when Paul said, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, he didn't stop there. We lift this verse out of context and attempt to apply it in a very general sense. We make this about whether or not we will testify for Jesus or forward a "Christian" email. While there is no harm in that application, lifting it out of context robs it of the deepest truths held therein.

In verse 17 Paul explains, For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." The thing he is not ashamed of is the Gospel of Jesus that reveals faith righteousness from faith to faith, i.e., beginning to end. This was the source of his incredible opposition and persecution. He didn't preach a gospel that started with faith and ended in works. It was faith for everything - especially righteousness!

When he wrote to the Galatians he challenged the fact that someone had bewitched (Gal. 3:1) them by preaching another gospel, (the Greek says another of a different kind) which he said is not a gospel at all. (Gal. 1:6) It had components of the Gospel he preached but it abandoned the one thing that would give them the power to live in God's righteousness and escape the dead works and legalism wherein they had labored for so long. After getting saved the gospel they turned to was: get saved by faith in Jesus but be made righteous by your works.

It was here that Paul presented the question that the church today must answer, Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3) Faith righteousness doesn't fit the doctrinal reasoning of the carnal mind; it's just too good to be true; but that's why it's called Gospel: good news!

This Gospel, the one that reveals faith righteousness from beginning to end, is, according to Paul, the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. The impotence in the church today is the result of a watered-down gospel that starts by faith but drags man into a never-ending pursuit of performance and dead works. Few Christians really know, believe, and base every aspect of their faith on the finished work of Jesus.

As we turn our back on the grace of God, (His supernatural ability given freely) we are saved but left to survive in our own power. The more we fail, the more we turn to law, rules, and regulations to protect us, totally ignoring the warning that Paul gives: the strength of sin is the law. (1 Cor. 15:56) Law can be the Old Testament, our denominational creed, or any performance we trust to make us righteous and qualified before God.

When people attempt to live by the law they always find themselves failing. According to God's Word no one has been made righteous by the works of the law. (Gal. 2:16) When our rules are disobeyed we add more rules. At every failure we look to a new rule only to find there is no power in rules. Eventually it just becomes more than we can hope to do so we give up or become deceitful, self-righteous legalists who capitalize on self-justification! Law doesn't work because law always causes sin to grow!

Law is the strength of sin on many levels. Paul taught us that what is not of faith is sin. (Rom. 14:23) In Hebrews he warns that continuing in the willful sin of trusting in the law is like doing spite to the Spirit of Grace, treading underfoot the Son of God, and treating the Blood as a common or unholy thing. (Heb. 10: 2-29) It's a rejection of all that Jesus is and all He did. Trusting in the law alienates us from grace (God's ability) and neutralizes the power of righteousness working in our life. Christians who trust in their works for righteousness are as powerless as they were before coming to Jesus.

The greatest struggle of faith is to believe we are righteous through Jesus' finished work instead of our own works. Each time you pray or face a challenge you should remind yourself: "God answers my prayers because I am in Jesus. I am qualified for all the promises because I am in Jesus. I am free from the curse because I am in Jesus." If you started this journey by trusting Him, finish this journey by trusting Him!

As it turns out, when we ask ourselves if we are ashamed of the Gospel we should clarify the question. Am I ashamed to stand up and acknowledge that in me, in my flesh, in my ability dwells nothing that could make me righteous before God? Christ alone is my righteousness, qualification, and security before God. All that God offers me is because I am in Him. This is what I mean when I declare: Jesus is my Lord!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When You Come Together - How is it Supposed to Be?

When you come together, how is it supposed to be like? Are we functioning like the church Christ intended? Or are we like unused parts of the body that have atrophied and died? Watch all 3 parts of this powerful video (Videos loop one after another).

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."