Prayer Changes Things

Does Prayer Change Things?
R.C. Sproul

  • By prayer, Esau’s heart was changed toward Jacob, so that they met in a friendly, rather than hostile, manner (Gen. 32).
  • By the prayer of Moses, God brought the plagues upon Egypt and then removed them again (Ex. 7-11).
  • By prayer, Joshua made the sun stand still (Josh. 10).
  • By prayer, when Samson was ready to perish with thirst, God brought water out of a hollow place for his sustenance (Judg. 15).
  • By prayer, the strength of Samson was restored. He pulled down the temple of Dagon on the Philistines, so that those whom he killed as he died were more than all he had killed in his life (Judg. 16).
  • By prayer, Elijah held back the rains for three and a half years. Then by prayer, he caused it to rain again (1 Kings 17-18).
  • By the prayer of Hezekiah, God sent an angel and killed in one night 185,000 men in Sennacherib’s army (2 Kings 19).
  • By the prayer of Asa, God confounded the army of Zerah (2 Chron. 14).
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“I Will Never Leave You”

NEVER!
J.C. Ryle

Hebrews 13:5b

for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Let every believer grasp these words and store them up in his heart. Keep them ready, and have them fresh in your memory; you will want them one day. The Philistines will be upon you, the hand of sickness will lay you low, the king of terrors will draw near, the valley of the shadow of death will open up before your eyes. Then comes the hour when you will find nothing so comforting as a text like this, nothing so cheering as a real sense of God’s companionship.

Stick to that word, “never”. It is worth its weight in gold. Cling to it as a drowning man clings to a rope. Grasp it firmly, as a soldier attacked on all sides grasps his sword. God has said, and He will stand to it, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

NEVER! Though your heart be often faint, and you are sick of self, and your many failures and infirmities overwhelm you – even then the promise will not fall.

NEVER! Though the devil whispers, “I shall have you at last; yet a little time and your faith will fail, and you will be mine.” Even then the Word of God will stand.

NEVER! When the cold chill of death is creeping over you, and friends can do no more, and you are starting on that journey from which there is no return – even then Christ will not forsake you.

NEVER! When the day of judgment comes, and the books are opened, and the dead are rising from their graves, and eternity is beginning – even then the promise will bear all your weight; Christ will not leave His hold on your soul.

Oh believing reader, trust in the Lord for ever, for He says, “I will never leave you.” Lean back all your weight upon Him, do not be afraid. Glory in His promise. Rejoice in the strength of your consolation. You may say boldly, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear.”

Remember to Whom You Are Speaking

Does Prayer Change Things?
R.C. Sproul

Several recent books would have us believe that all we have to do is follow certain steps and God will give us whatever we ask. The authors say, in effect, “Follow this procedure or use these specific words and know for certain that God will give in to your requests.” That’s not prayer; that’s magic. That’s not faith but superstition. These are gimmicks intended to manipulate the sovereign God. But the one who prays like this forgets the One to whom he is speaking.

A Kind of Death Which Leads to Life

John Stott

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

…there is a kind of life which leads to death, and there is a kind of death which leads to life…What the world calls life (a desirable self-indulgence) leads to alienation from God which in reality is death, whereas the putting to death of all perceived evil within us, which the world sees as an undesirable self-abnegation, is in reality the way to authentic life.

The God Who Has a Plan

Ephesians 1
Ajith Fernando

Most people come to Christ to get a personal need met. Often we continue to view God as being primarily about meeting our needs. But God is the sovereign Creator. He is bigger than meeting our needs.  In fact, some of our needs won’t be met as we’d like.  He is not just the God who meets needs but the God who has a plan for the whole universe.

Link: Complete Sermon

Dominion Lost

Genesis 1:28

[28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Originally, man was meant to have dominion over the earth.  We are uncomfortable with words like subdue and dominion because it sounds like humans are meant to be oppressive dictators over the rest of creation.

However, Adam was not to be a dictator, but a steward.  He had no authority that had not been given to him.  He could not do whatever he pleased with God’s creation.  With God’s intention in mind, we realize that in the beginning Adam was not called to be a gardener but a protector.  His original call was to defend the creation, his wife, and the honor of God by defeating the serpent.  Instead, he did nothing as the serpent deceived his wife.  Adam did not destroy the serpent but agreed with him and joined forces with him against God, opening the door to sin and death.

After the fall, mankind would still like to believe that we are in charge.  My children are convinced that they are in charge of our house.  No one had to teach them this and it is with great difficulty that we teach them that they are not.  We are born this way.

And that is especially sad because we are not in charge.  We are not in charge of when we are born or when we will die.  We are not in charge of what will happen to us or how exactly our children will turn out.  In fact, we are not even in charge of ourselves.

Romans 7:18b-19

…For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Man was to have dominion over all creatures and even the earth itself.  Now, we have dominion over nothing.  We are not masters but slaves to our passions and circumstances.  This is bad news, but when we can admit that this is true, the Gospel becomes very good news.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The Image of God

Genesis 1:26a

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

Man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God.  When our children look like us we are proud.  We may feel differently if a pigeon or a ferret resemble us, yet despite the infinite distance between us, God chooses to make man in His own image.

No other creature is made in the image of God.  Lions are regal and powerful, but they are not made in God’s image.  Eagles are majestic and graceful, but they are not made in God’s image.  Angels never grow old and have a glory that causes people who see them to bow, but even they are not made in the image of God.  There is a special value to humanity.

Everyone does not agree on this point.  PETA President Ingrid Newkirk once said, “When it comes to feelings like hunger, pain, and joy, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”  I’d imagine her intention was to increase the value of animals, but a statement like this instead ends up devaluing human beings.

In Genesis 9:6, God says “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”  The value of human life is directly related to the fact that man is created in God’s image.  When we believe humans have no special dignity – that we are simply a mass of cells or an accident of evolution – human life means very little.

And we see the fruit of this.  In our world, more than a million children are victims of sex-trafficking every year.  The leading cause of death in America is not heart disease, but abortion.  In America alone, one million children are killed in the womb every year.

A little boy or little girl is not a pig or a rat, but the crowning achievement of God’s creation.  When one person repents, all of heaven rejoices.  The value of human life and the human soul is immeasurable, for all people are made in the very image of God.

God is Awake

Sarah Albrecht

When we respond to our fears by trying to take on the attributes of God – like, for example, omniscience and omnipresence – we will be plagued by restlessness. We think we are taking control by thinking about all the possible precautions against robbers (and there is no harm in being responsible in locking our house – so long as our trust and hope is in the Lord and not in a deadbolt) breaking in or by staying awake and looking in every place. Yet, in reality, instead of controlling the situation, we become controlled and enslaved by fear.

Omnipresence and omniscience aren’t the only attributes of God that we are tempted to take on.

We try to control situations by demanding perfect justice when we are wronged. We refuse to believe that the Holy Spirit can and is working in the hearts of men. We sacrifice relationships because people do not meet our expectations.

We try to be self-sufficient – planning for ever possible circumstance or by refusing help when we really need it. We judge people who can’t get it together. We miss out on being blessed by God through others.

We try to be perfect and good and never sin on our own accord. Instead, we become self-righteous. We are controlled by what others think of us and keeping up the image of perfection rather than trusting in Christ for our salvation. We know deep down that we are fakes. We worry that God knows this and is out to get us.

When we try to be God, we will always fail. We will quickly grow weary, and our souls will not be at peace. We feel the burden of the ultimate sin of pride when we think that we can do God’s job better than He can.

The Bible says, in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Created

Genesis 1:26-27

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

[27] So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

There are many, diverse opinions on the true nature of the human race.  Depending on who you ask, we are either godlike beings who will bring in a utopian society or we are like locusts or a virus, selfishly destroying everything.

This passage says we are neither.  Men and women were made by God, not creators but created.  Men and women are made in the image of God, not a virus but privileged above all other creatures.