Tuesday, June 18, 2013
4:24 pm edt
Developing a Mind that Pleases God
By John S. Picarello
It becomes quite clear to anyone reading the bible in both Old and New Testaments that God intends for all people on
planet earth to please Him, and to live a lifestyle that is holy, as God defines holiness in His word. The word holy simply
means separate, being “separated” from one thing to be “set apart” for something else. Those who give
their heart to Christ are literally being separated from this world’s way of living to be set apart for God’s
way of living (which is what all people living on the earth were created for).
The apostle Paul laid out some very simple
instructions for the Colossian Church to help them to live the “separated” life that God requires of all believers
(I strongly recommend you read his letter to the Colossians to understand the context of Chapter 3, which I’ve written
about here). This life journey begins by each person understanding that they are required to think biblically. To do this
they must learn to control their thinking throughout a lifelong process of maturity that conditions their mind to progressively
disconnect with the world’s value systems and basic principles of life, which are founded on the traditions of men,
and not according to Christ Col.2:8.
In these passages from Chapter 3 Paul
instructs the Colossian believers on how to disconnect from the basic principles of the world, and how they are to connect
with the way of Christ. They are taught to acquire what I call genuine biblical holiness of thought and
life. Paul is saying that each believer must continually focus their mind on making Christ the focus of their existence. If
they are genuinely converted they will naturally have a desire to pursue Christ and His way of life. They will come to see
that it is Christ who originates and develops God’s prescribed way of life on the earth see Hebrews 12:1-2.
What Paul tells them next is significant. He says "Set your mind"
on things above, not on things on the earth.” He begins to explain how they are to disconnect from the world’s
way of thinking. To “set” one’s mind takes an intentional act of their will. This requires a believer to
deliberately direct their thinking away from something and to focus it on something else. Here the apostle literally tells
them to mind the things above, not the things that are on the earth, meaning
that they are to learn how to think as God desires them to think. We are to intentionally direct our thoughts on the way of
Christ and his Apostles as our way of life, and to deliberately direct our thinking away from living according this world’s
way of life Col. 2:6-8.
In doing this the Holy Spirit never coerces or manipulates people to
follow Christ. Upon hearing the word of God, we must all make up our own mind to follow him and to align our thoughts, words,
and behavior to His standard way of living found throughout the Scriptures.
The foundation for this new way of life is Christ Himself, and integrating what he teaches is the
only way to build a solid foundation to live on Matt.7:24-25. Maturity in biblical Christianity comes through
developing a mindset that filters everything in this life through the grid of God’s written word. God’s word is
the only standard authorized by Heaven whereby we can do this. This is the only way to develop a mind that pleases God, Rom.8:5-8
Paul then comes to the heart of
the matter. He says “For you died, and your
life is hidden with Christ in God.” When a person surrenders their
heart and mind to Christ they are considered dead to the things of this world see Rom.6:1-11. This was made possible because they have died to living according to the world's way of thinking.
When a person dies they are usually buried and thus hidden from view to those who are still living. When a person surrenders
to Christ and begins to live the way of Christ and his Apostles, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that drives this new way
of life from within the believers’ heart. The world cannot see or understand this fact, so the wisdom and the power
behind this “new principle” of life is hidden from them. So now the “genuine Christian” following
Christ is dead to the world, but is alive to God and living life through the power of the Holy Spirit, something the world
can never understand, see John 14:15-17.
Finally, the apostle gives good reason for genuine believers to be relentless in keeping Christ as the main focus of their
existence. Paul says in verse 4 “When Christ who
is our life appears,” here states two very important things:
First: that Christ “is our life”
and not just a vital “part of it.” Jesus warned about this when he gave the illustration of
trying to place a new cloth as a patch on an old garment, and then again by attempting to pour new wine into old wineskins,
both attempts resulted in disaster (Matt.9:16-16). This is important because the Christian life is not lived
by adding Christ and his teaching to our current lifestyle, but by dying to our former way of life and taking Christ as our
“only” way of living. Apart from the presence of Christ dwelling within us we have no life see John 15:1-5.
Christ will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. When Christ appears on that day, all the
people of the world will then realize that the preaching of the Cross, the death, and resurrection of Christ was true, and
that Jesus Christ always was, and still is the only way of salvation that ever existed for planet earth. There will be no
excuses or defense that anyone can give for rejecting the Gospel in their lifetime on that day as they stand before the Lord
of Life, who will judge all the people of planet earth with perfect justice.
How important is it to understand the
Gospel of Christ and to follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions to direct our thinking on things above on Christ and
on way of life alone? Consider what Jesus said will transpire on the day of His appearing:
everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will
of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name,
cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I
don’t know you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
I cannot overemphasize the importance
of directing our thinking on Christ and Christ alone for our existence, and to develop an intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus prayed that all people would know Him and the Father who sent Him, for this is eternal life, see John 17:3.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
3:27 pm edt
God with our Intellect
By John S. Picarello
I write this article because
of my desire to see a new generation of Christians rediscover the power of biblical thinking. I also desire to help a new
generation of believers to understand what it means to love God with their whole mind.
Over the past 10 years or so I have been very much
surprised and alarmed at how many Pastors I know never actually teach their people how to think biblically. So many believers
today have never been trained to think thoroughly through what the bible actually teaches. So they never think through what
the bible teaches about who Jesus is, what Christianity is, the mission of the Church, and their responsibility to the Church
and society, and why they believe what they do.
I am acutely aware that our culture in western society is in deep trouble, and that a large segment of the Church in the
west has copied much of society’s cultural values and have integrated them into the lifestyle of the community of faith.
What is even more alarming to me is the shortage of Leaders who can think and discern clearly enough to see how devastating
this is to the Church and its ability to effectively execute its mission in a dark and wandering world.
For years there has been an emerging philosophical approach to
Christianity (which I call American Churchianity) that is so emotionally and commercially driven that it no longer resembles
biblical Christianity, and actually hinders any genuine spiritual maturity from taking place within their ministries. In fact,
we have far too many people who call themselves Christians, who have never been taught to properly read, interpret or apply
the Scriptures correctly.
There exists among
these Churches a leadership that neither sees nor understands the importance of making disciples who have been trained to
think deeply about the sovereignty of God, His righteousness, and the necessity of practical holiness in life. This has created
such a need for young disciples who have a thorough enough grasp of the Scriptures to engage society in an intellectual dialog
concerning the issues of our day with a noticable degree of effectiveness.
The issue at hand has been an inability to think. How vitally important it is to think deeply,
to think through the issues of life, and to think about them biblically. Many believers I speak with today do not even read
their bibles regularly. If they do read through them at all, they have never been taught to discover what the writers intended
to communicate to the people they wrote to and why.
Without doubt I believe our greatest resource in this life is our mind. We can never overstate the value of good thinking,
and the impact our thoughts have on our destiny. How we think has everything to do with the way we relate to God, to society,
and how well we live the life God has given us. It is so important to regularly examine ourselves to see how consistently
our thoughts line up with our actions, and if both are properly aligned with the Scriptures. It has been often stated that
if we change our thinking, we can change our life. That is a true statement in complete agreement with what the Scriptures
has to say on the subject of thought and conduct.
Jesus plainly taught that what we say and do stems from what we are thinking (Matt.
12:33-35, 15:19). Ralph Waldo Emerson has said “We become what we think about all day long.”
tells people to seek God and to turn away from bad thinking, because God does not think the way we do. This is the reason
we are instructed to renovate our thinking before any significant change can take place (Ephesians 4:17-24). We were created
to think along with God.
To begin a lifestyle
of thinking properly requires that we give careful attention to who we keep company with, this is because both good and bad
thinking is contagious. Intelligent godly thinking becomes sharper and deeper when we surround ourselves with people who desire
to honor God with their intellect by controlling their thoughts - “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17. If we want to think higher godly thoughts, we must keep company with people who have higher godly aspirations.
It takes a firm quality decision to develop godly thinking, and
to be responsible enough to manage that decision every day for the rest of our life. We begin by seeking first the Kingdom
of God and His righteousness, this requires that we make deep biblical thinking our highest priority. We must be disciplined
enough to take the time for prolonged focused thinking through the passages of the bible, and to write our thoughts down so
we can review them and refine them over time.
To develop a schedule for time alone with God where we can read, think,
pray, and consider what He is thinking about us, the world around us, and our responsibility in this, is a powerful tool in
drawing closer to Him and loving Him by utilizing this amazing mind He has given us.
The Apostle Paul understood the use of the mind in walking with God. He also fully engaged
his intellect, his will, and his emotions in pursuing God’s plan for the world and his own responsibility within that
plan. There will always be conflict in pursuing God intelligently. Paul taught that the mind is the battlefield where most
of the attacks from darkness take place. This is why Paul wrote in Romans 8 that our victory will depend on our yielding our
mind to the Spirit and not the flesh. This is how we honor God intellectually in spiritual warfare.
A thorough treatment of this issue would take volumes (and actually has)
to sufficiently lay out the problem and some strategic practical plans to work toward the solution. This situation of course
took years to develop, and will likewise take years to correct. As overwhelming as it is I opt to be part of the solution
and not be silent thus contributing to the problem.
I will conclude my remarks with a suggestion for a good start:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man
who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet
it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever
you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
4:56 pm edt
How Successful People Think
By John C Maxwell
thinkers solve problems, they never lack ideas for building an organization, and they always have hope for a better future.
Good thinkers rarely find themselves at the mercy of ruthless people who would take advantage of them or try to deceive them,
people like Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who once boasted, “What luck for rulers that men do not think.”
Those who develop the process of good thinking can rule themselves – even while under an oppressive
ruler or in other difficult circumstances. In short, good thinkers are successful.
I’ve studied successful people for forty years, and though the diversity you find among them is astounding,
I’ve found that they are all alike in one way: how they think!
That is the one
thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful ones. And here’s the good news. How successful
people think can be learned. If you change your thinking, you can change your life!
TO BECOME A BETTER THINKER
Do you want to master the process of good thinking? Do you want to be
a better thinker tomorrow than you are today? Then you need to engage in an ongoing process that improves your thinking.
I recommend you do the following:
Expose Yourself to Good Input
Good thinkers always prime the pump of ideas. They always look for things
to get the thinking process started, because what you put in always impacts what comes out.
books, review trade magazines, listen to CDs, and spend time with good thinkers. And when something intrigues you-whether
it’s someone else’s idea or the seed of an idea that you’ve come up with yourself-keep it in front of you.
Put it in writing and keep it somewhere in a favorite place to stimulate your thinking.
Expose Yourself to Good Thinkers
All of the people in my life whom I consider
to be close friends or colleagues are good thinkers. Now, I love all people. I try to be kind to everyone I meet, and I desire
to add value to as many people as I can through conferences, books, audio lessons, etc. But the people I seek out and choose
to spend time with all challenge me with their thinking and their actions. They are constantly trying to grow and learn.
The writer of Proverbs observed that sharp people sharpen one another, just as iron sharpens iron. If you
want to be a sharp thinker, be around sharp people.
3. Choose to Think Good Thoughts
To become a good thinker, you must become intentional about the thinking process. Regularly put yourself in
the right place to think, shape, stretch, and land your thoughts. Make it a priority. Thinking is a discipline.
Recently I had breakfast with Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, a fast food restaurant chain headquartered
in the Atlanta area. I told him that I was working on this book and I asked him if he made thinking time a high priority.
Not only did he say yes, but he told me about what he calls his “thinking schedule.” It helps him to fight the
hectic pace of life that discourages intentional thinking. Dan says he sets aside time just to think for half a day every
two weeks, for one whole day every month, and for two or three full days every year. Dan explains, “This helps me ‘keep
the main thing, the main thing,’ since I am so easily distracted.”
want to do something similar, or you can develop a schedule and method of your own. No matter what you choose to do, go to
a special thinking place, take paper and pen, and make sure you capture your ideas in writing.
Act on Your Good Thoughts
Ideas have a short shelf life. You must act on them before the expiration
date. World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker said it all when he remarked, “I can give you a six-word formula for
success: Think things through-then follow through.”
5. Allow Your Emotions to
Create Another Good Thought
To start the thinking process, you cannot rely on your feelings. In
Failing Forward, I wrote that you can act your way into feeling long before you can feel your way into action. If
you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never accomplish it. The same is true for thinking. You cannot
wait until you feel like thinking to do it. However, I’ve found that once you engage in the process of good thinking,
you can use your emotions to feed the process and create mental momentum.
Try it for yourself.
After you go through the disciplined process of thinking and enjoy some success, allow yourself to savor the moment and try
riding the mental energy of that success. If you’re like me, it’s likely to spur additional thoughts and productive
6. Repeat the Process
thought does not make a good life. The people who have one good thought and try to ride it for an entire career often end
up unhappy or destitute. They are the one-hit wonders, the one-book authors, the one-message speakers, the one-time inventors
who spend their life struggling to protect or promote their single idea. Success comes to those who have an entire mountain
of gold that they continually mine, not those who find one nugget and try to live on it for fifty years. To become someone
who can mine a lot of gold, you need to keep repeating the process of good thinking.
This article is an excerpt from the introduction to my latest book, How Successful People
Think. Available now from booksellers in the United States, it’s derived from my book, Thinking
for a Change.
Friday, May 17, 2013
10:58 am edt
The Need For Power From on High
By Charles G. Finney
Many ministers and professors of religion seem to be theorizing, criticizing, and endeavouring to
justify their neglect of this attainment. So did not the Apostles and other Christians. It was not a question which they endeavoured
to grasp with their intellects before they embraced it with their hearts. It was with them, as it should be with us, a question
of faith in a promise. I find many persons endeavouring to grasp with their intellect and settle as a theory questions of
pure experience. They are puzzling themselves with endeavours to apprehend with the intellect that which is to be received
as a conscious experience through faith.
is need of a great reformation in the Church on this particular point. The Churches should wake up to the facts in the case,
and take a new position, a firm stand in regard to the qualifications of ministers and Church officers. ...It is amazing that,
while it is generally admitted that the enduement of power from on high is a reality, and essential to ministerial success,
practically it should be treated by the Churches and by the schools as of comparatively little importance.
In theory it is admitted to be everything; but in practice treated as if it were nothing.
the Apostles to the present day it has been seen that men of very little human culture, but endued with this power, have been
highly successful in winning souls to Christ; whilst men of the greatest learning, with all that the schools have done for
them, have been powerless so far as the proper work of the ministry is concerned. And yet we go on laying ten times more stress
on human culture than we do on the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Practically human culture is treated as infinitely more important
than the enduement of power from on high.
seminaries are furnished with learned men, but often not with men of spiritual power; hence, they do not insist upon this
enduement of power as indispensable to the work of the ministry. Students are pressed almost beyond endurance with study and
the culture of the intellect, while scarcely an hour in a day is given to instruction in Christian experience. Indeed, I do
not know that so much as one course of lectures on Christian experience is given in the theological seminaries.
But religion is an experience. It is a consciousness. Personal intercourse
with God is the secret of the whole of it. There is a world of most essential learning in this direction wholly neglected
by the theological seminaries. With them doctrine, philosophy, theology, Church history, sermonizing are everything, and real
heart-union with God nothing. Spiritual power to prevail with God and to prevail with man has but little place in their teaching.
...I have infinitely more hope of the usefulness
of a man who, at any cost, will keep up daily intercourse with God; who is yearning for and struggling after the highest possible
spiritual attainment; who will not live without daily prevalence in prayer and being clothed with power from on high.
beg of my brethren, and especially my younger brethren, not to conceive of these articles as written in the spirit of reproach.
I beg the Churches, I beg the seminaries, to receive a word of exhortation from an old man, who has had some experience in
these things, and one whose heart mourns and is weighed down in view of the shortcomings of the Church, the ministers, and
the seminaries on this subject. Brethren, I beseech you to more thoroughly consider this matter, to wake up and lay it to
heart, and rest not till this subject of the enduement of power from on high is brought forward into its proper place, and
takes that prominent and practical position in view of the whole Church that Christ designed it should.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
7:05 am edt
My Mothers Day Prayer
Our Father in Heaven,
We thank you for
the loving influence of godly mothers, we thank you for our mothers who have loved and cared for us,
with love so deep and compassionate, surely beyond measure. We Thank
you for the loving influence of godly mothers.
Thank you for our mothers prayers, for the sleepless nights they stood watch when we were sick,
for the comfort they provided when we were hurt, and for their support in always believing the best
We Thank you for the loving influence of godly mothers.
We pray for our mothers on this day, celebrating
their selfless love in caring for our family. For their prayers, their smiles, and their tears, covering every aspect of our
families. For their tireless commitment to a vocation which is priceless in Your eyes...
ask you to bless them, strengthen them, protect them, and fill them with your Great love. Keep in rememberence all the good
that they have done, and fill them with a sense of your approval and affirmation form heaven, and great may
their rewards be on the day they meet you...
Oh God, We Thank you for the loving influence of
Saturday, April 20, 2013
2:42 pm edt
What Manner of Love is This?
John S Picarello
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that
we should be called children of God." - 1 John 3:1
John saw his position as a child of the most high God, and
he could not contain his joy and excitement over this astounding truth. How many believers spend any considerable
amount of time pursuing the truth of this marvelous kind of love that God has so freely lavished
upon us? "What manner of love is this" expresses John's
astonishment and wonder that God would grant such a thing.
This love, selfless and infinite, is
how God blesses us with His limitless mercy and grace. Because
He is not partial, this "agape" love of God is poured out willingly and without measure upon us all. We are not required
to respond in kind, nor would it be possible for us to do so without God's enabling
grace flowing into our hearts.
as this seems, it is actually our becoming comfortable with allowing God to love us so lavishly and unconditionally, that
imparts that very grace to love Him in return. We would then be loving Him willingly from our
hearts with passionate desire, and not as a requirement. This is also how we are
enabled to keep His word, Knowing God's love for us produces a great desire
to please Him by walking in the light of the Scriptures.
Because we are not on a merit system, and it is not possible for us to earn His affections, we must learn to rest in the
fact that God has desired to love us freely and extravagantly, even in the face of all our flaws and shortcomings. It is by God loving us in this manner, without guilt or condemnation,
that we can freely enjoy this happy state of being His deeply loved children.
Is it no wonder that John, who was the disciple who leaned against Jesus at the
last supper, should be so astonished at being the recipient of such infinite unconditional love, be
called a child of God? What manner of love is this, that we are afforded
so freely, the blessing of living as the Creator's children every waking moment of our lives? Let us therefore
be thankful and joyful to be chosen to live in such a happy state.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
3:02 pm edt
time and get to know God personally
By John S. Picarello
Intimacy with God is the secret of Faith and Power. Living in a manner that pleases God begins by getting to know Him. The secret of having a godly character
and having a positive influence on others requires faith, believing that God has called us to do what we are
and the anointing of God's Holy Spirit upon us opens the door that leads to productive
Kingdom living, and that requires time alone with God in prayer.
"Praying people are a
help to the work of God, while prayerless people are a hindrance to it. The ministry of the Holy
Spirit and prayer go hand in hand. The Holy Spirit never rests upon prayerless people. He never fills
them or empowers them." E.M. Bounds goes on to say "There is nothing whatever in common
between the Spirit of God and people who do not pray."
I agree that we must have the
Holy Spirit's influence if we are to believe God and have faith to pray effectively for the advance of the
FAITH IN GOD: is a simple command to those of us who are walking with God. It's a mystery to those
who are not intimate with Him. The word of God is filled with promises that we can use in prayer if
we believe them. To have faith that a promise will bring an answer when we pray, we
must have faith in God who makes the promise. We can only have faith in Him if we know Him. This is exactly what
Jesus meant in Mark 11:22. When we come to know a person of integrity, we come to trust that person. Trusting
the person causes us to believe what they say... the same is true with God.
Intimacy with God is personal, and it takes time alone
with Him to develop. No one falls in love with a person they are not familiar with, they must get to
know them. As we spend much time alone with God our hearts and minds are influenced by His great love for
us. His love continually draws us and fills us with great desire to dwell with Him in His Holy Presence.
When we know God intimately we will love Him with
all our heart, and obeying His word becomes easy because it is now something we long to do for the one
who has captured our heart (John 14:23-24). As we continue to keep (or walk in) His word, His truth
continues to be revealed to us. The liberty that we come to experience from living like this
is sometimes overwhelming.
Monday, March 25, 2013
11:52 am edt
Charles Finney on The Prayer of Faith
From "The Prayer of Faith"
in his book "Lectures on Revival"
... The kinds of evidence a man may have are the following:
1. Suppose that God has especially promised
the thing. As for instance, God says he is more ready to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than parents are to give
bread to their children. Here we are bound to believe that we shall receive it when we pray for it. You have no right to put
in an if, and say, "Lord, if it be thy will, give us
thy Holy Spirit." This is to insult God. To put an if into God's promise, where God has put none, is tantamount to charging
God with being insincere. It is like saying, "O God, if thou art in earnest in making these promises, grant us the blessing
we pray for."
I heard of a case where a young convert was the means of teaching a minister a solemn truth on the subject
of prayer. She was from a very wicked family, and went to live with a minister. While there, she was hopefully converted,
and appeared well. One day she came to the minister's study, while he was in it--a thing she was not in the habit of doing;
and he thought there must be something the matter.
So he asked her to
sit down, and kindly inquired into the state of her religious feelings; she said, she was distressed at the manner in which
the old church members prayed for the Spirit. They would pray for the Holy Spirit to come, and would seem to be very much
in earnest, and plead the promises of God, and then say, "O Lord, if it be thy will, grant us these blessings for Christ's
sake." She thought that saying, "if it be thy will," when God has expressly promised it, was questioning whether
God was sincere in his promises.
The minister tried to reason her out of it, and of course he succeeded in confounding her. But she
was distressed and filled with grief, and said, "I
cannot argue the point with you, sir, but it is impressed on my mind that it is wrong, and dishonoring God." And she
went away weeping with anguish. The minister saw she was not satisfied, and it led him to look at the matter again, and finally
he saw that it was putting in an if where God had put none, and where he had revealed his will expressly, and that it was
an insult to God. And he went and told his church they were bound to believe that God was in earnest when he made them a promise.
And the spirit of prayer came down upon that church, and a most powerful revival followed.
2. Where there is a general promise in the
Scriptures which you may reasonably apply to the particular case
before you. If its real meaning includes the particular thing for which you pray, or if you can reasonably apply the principle
of the promise to the case, there you have evidence.
For instance, suppose it is a time when wickedness prevails greatly, and you are
led to pray for God's interference? What promise have you? Why, this one: " When the enemy shall come in like
a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Here you see is a general promise laying down
a principle of God's administration, which you may apply to the case before you, as a warrant for exercisingfaith in prayer.
And if the case come up, to inquire as to the time in which God will grant blessings in answer to prayer, you have this promise:
"While they are yet speaking, I will hear."
There is a vast amount of general promises and principles laid down
in the Bible, which Christians might make use of, if they would only think. Whenever you are in circumstances to which the
promises or principles apply, there you are to use them.
A parent finds this promise: "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting
to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children, to such as keep his covenant, and
to those thatremember his commandments to do them." Now, here is a promise made to those that possess a certain character.
If any parent is conscious that this is his character, he has a rightful ground to apply it to himself and his family. If
you have this character, you are bound to make use of this promise in prayer, and believe it, even to your children's children.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
8:35 am edt
We Are Called to Fellowship with the King
John S. Picarello
3 Grace be unto
you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf,
for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance,
and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye
come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm
you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God
is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. God is Faithful
would like to look at two statements in the above passages from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church. The first
statement from verse 8 involves the verb “confirm” which is in the future/active tense, literally “will
confirm” you to the end or “until the end.” The verb expressed here
can be used to describe the work of confirming, establishing, guaranteeing, and stabilizing.
apostle is assuring the Corinthians that Christ will continue His work of bringing God’s people to maturity, and holiness
right up until the end. Notice how these two passages from 1st Thessalonians confirm what Paul had written to the Corinthians:
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
12 And the Lord
make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God,
even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do
The apostle is making the point that God is faithful to do what He has
promised. If God said that we will be confirmed, established, and stabilized, and He guarantees it, we are obligated
to believe Him. As believers we must be convinced that God is absolutely trustworthy in all He says. God’s
word is backed by God’s own integrity, and we can therefore, trust our lives to every word He says. So how can we as
believers come to trust God? Paul provides the answer in the 9th verse “God is
faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
God calls us to Fellowship
Fellowship with God is the secret to great faith, confidence for
answers to prayer, and seeing demonstrations of God’s power. Personal experience alone with God and His
word is the key that opens every locked door for a believer. We must be absolutely convinced that God Himself desires and
enjoys having fellowship with us.
God calls us to an intimate fellowship with Him because
this is the only way to build faith. Without knowing God faith is impossible. Faith is trust; we cannot confidently place
all our trust in someone we do not know. Fellowship is how we grow in our relationship with God, the better we get to know
Him the more we will trust Him. This is what Jesus was getting at in His guarantee to answer prayer in John’s gospel:
John 15:7 (NKJV)
7 ”If you abide
in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done
for you.” In this verse the verb “abide” means to remain, to dwell, and to continue with or in, this can
only be accomplished through fellowship. The longer we continue to regularly spend time alone with God talking His word over
with Him, and storing it in our hearts, the better we will come to know Him, and the stronger our trust in Him will grow.
paraphrase 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 with a confidence that will be imparted to us as we fellowship with God. We
will turn these passages into a prayer of thanksgiving like this:
Grace and peace always comes from you God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 We
thank you God, always for Your grace which you have given to us by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing we are enriched
by You, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in us:
7 So that we come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who
shall also confirm us unto the end, that we may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God you’re faithful, by whom we were called unto the fellowship of Your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord. "(Personalize it by praying I or me and my)
If we will continue to pursue personal
intimacy with God through regular times of honest heart to heart fellowship with Him, and to discuss His word, learning how
to turn His word into our own prayers, our faith and trust in Him will grow by leaps and bounds.
Determine in your heart that you will begin drawing
closer to God through fellowship (He will in turn draw closer to you). Allow Him to dispel all your doubts, fears, and insecurities
as you discuss them all with Him. Take His words with you; store His promises deep within your subconscious mind until your
heart retains them. In a short time you will find that you will relax and be at peace trusting Him to confirm and establish
you. Before long you will be in the habit of thanking Him continually for calling you into such a simple invigorating fellowship
Monday, February 18, 2013
10:48 am est
I am not a fan of Jesus
Pastor Kyle Idleman
According to a recent
survey, the percentage of Americans who claim to be Christian is somewhere north of 75 percent.
Really? Three out of four people
are followers of Christ?
Let's see, if the population of the United States is about 311 million and 75 percent are Christians
that brings the number of Christians to somewhere in the neighborhood of 233 million. That's a lot of Christians. I don't
see nearly that many Jesus fish on car bumpers. I don't know, maybe all the Darwin fish ate them. I'm just saying something
about that percentage is off. Because if there really are that many Christians, then why will some 35 million people in America
go to bed hungry tonight, including 13 million children?
If 75 percent of Americans are Christians, then how is it possible that 40 percent of the homeless are under the age of
18? Why are there more than 120,000 children waiting to be adopted? I could keep going, and that's just in the States. The
numbers don't add up. Jesus said the evidence that someone is one of his followers is love. So 233 million? The evidence
just isn't there.
What's the explanation for such a discrepancy? A number of years ago I read an article about the
new vegetarians. These new vegetarians don't eat meat -- most of the time. One of them explained that she was a vegetarian,
but she really liked bacon. A vegetarian, by definition, is someone who doesn't eat meat. Umm, yeah, but isn't bacon a meat?
Is it really accurate for her to identify herself as a vegetarian? If enough people who eat meat started calling themselves
vegetarians wouldn't that throw the numbers off? The discrepancy was solved by coming up with a new term to describe vegetarians
who aren't committed to abstaining from meat. They now identify themselves as "Flexitarians."
A Christian, by definition,
is a follower of Christ. So, I'm thinking that what might help make sense of the 233 million number is a new word to describe
people who identify themselves as Christians but have little interest in actually following the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps
instead of "followers," it would be more accurate to call them "fans."
The word fan is most
simply defined as, an enthusiastic admirer. And I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Some fans may even get dressed
up for church on Sunday and make their ringtone a worship song. They like being associated with Jesus. Fans want to be close
enough to Jesus to get the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them. They want a no-strings-attached
relationship with Jesus. So a fan says, I like Jesus but don't ask me to serve the poor. I like Jesus, but I'm not going
to give my money to people who are in need. I like Jesus, but don't ask me to forgive the person who hurt me. I like Jesus,
but don't talk to me about money or sex that's off limits.
Fans like Jesus just fine, but they don't want
to give up the bacon. Fans tend to identify themselves as Christians not because they are committed
to following Jesus, but for a number of other reasons. They might point to their family heritage thinking that being a Christian
is in their DNA. Like a pug nose or a unibrow it was somehow passed down from mom and dad. Fans might identify themselves
as Christians by pointing to religious rituals they've kept and rules they've followed.
what it means to be a follower of Jesus isn't nearly as arbitrary or subjective as we've made it. Jesus very clearly lays
it out in Luke 9:23. He says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and
follow me." These words tend to separate fans from followers. Followers are to deny themselves and take up a cross.
Instead of giving a theological explanation of what that means, it's probably more helpful to show what it looks like. I've
spent the last year collecting stories of fans who have become followers.
- Bowin and Lindsey each
ran their own successful business. They had a Mercedes SUV to handle their four kids. For them, following Jesus meant selling
nearly everything they had and moving to the Island of Hispaniola to bring clean water to thousands in the Dominican Republic
- For Rachelle, following Jesus meant showing
love to the women working in strip clubs. She and some of her friends started making big homemade meals and taking them
to the women in the clubs. As a result many of the women no longer know Christians as just the group of angry picketers
out front who, from their perspective, are trying to take away their job and have started to know Christians by their love.
- Jennifer and Tom had a car they rarely drove.
They decided that they really didn't need two cars and would give one of their cars to a single mom who needed transportation.
One car was a 2001 model, the other was a 2004 model. They gave her the newer one.
That's just three stories of followers.
I'm praying that there would be around 233,249,997 more. They may not be as dramatic or inspiring but my prayer is that
Christians would be known not by a fish on their bumper -- or the profile on their Facebook page -- or by going regularly
to their church, but they would be followers of Jesus who are known for their love.
by Book Tracker, the PubTrack Consumer Buyer Panel. January 2011.
Monday, December 10, 2012
8:15 pm est
Rediscovering Fixed-Hour Prayer
I have always been an advocate for daily prayer and journaling. For years I have written my own prayers
and read them aloud during my devotions. Sometimes they would take five minutes to write and twenty to thirty minutes to read
them. At certain points something I had written would resonate within me and trigger spontaneous praying about that particular
issue or person.
I found that reading prayers
regularly helped me to organize my thoughts, and it had a positive effect on my spontaneous praying as well. Like
most of us, at times I would still struggle with keeping my devotions and found I had no desire to pray, much less write a
prayer. I have tried many things over the years to keep my time alone with God from becoming dry and stale. Having a variety
of approaches usually helped to keep that sacred time fresh and fulfilling. Yet, I always seemed to be
longing for something more.
I had long been
used to reading other people's prayers, and found it quite useful and helpful supplementing my own written prayers. I soon
became accustomed to praying morning and evening prayers (usually reading them). I was especially fond of the prayers of John
Wesley or some of the reformers. Soon I was including prayers from many others across denominational lines throughout history.
I soon built a collection of prayer books that I have drawn from,
and still do. Earlier this year I was drawn to pray for the Spirit of prayer to be poured out on my life and the lives of
all who are in our congregation. In April of this year I felt particularly impressed by the Holy Spirit to continue seeking
God in that direction.
In our Spring session
of Prayer School (we hold two 4 week sessions a year, one in the Spring and the other in the Fall) we made a commitment to
seek God for The Holy Spirit's assistance and guidance in restoring a consistent, structured, effective prayer life (private
as well as corporate). I'm happy to report that God has heard and answered our prayers. As usual He answered
in an unexpected manner and in a way we would have never imagined.
It was sometime in August when I first began to read about "Fixed-hour"
prayer. Discovering its rich history going back to the Israelites of the Old Testament intrigued me, and of course it was
only natural for the early Church to continue that sacred practice.
Once I realized that there has always been a segment
of the Church keeping fixed hours for prayer, I wanted to participate in this ancient practice as well. I began experimenting
with several prayer books, such as "The book of Common Prayer" and "Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary" and a few others.
My Roman Catholic
upbringing was an asset in navigating the history and formats of fixed-hour prayer, also called
"The Divine Hours." By our Fall session of Prayer School
in October, I had come far enough along to include a session on fixed-hour prayer. I had just enough experience to give some
testimony of its blessing to me personally, and it was well received. In my search for simplicity to introduce this ancient practice to our Church
at large, I came across the writings of Phyllis Tickle. She had adapted a simple format from the Benedictine Daily prayer:
A Short Breviary and incorporated some of The Common Book of Prayer as well. Her books are simply called "The Divine
Four times a day I have been keeping The Divine hours, "Morning," "Midday," "Evening,"
and "Night time" before retiring for the night. I can honestly say Fixed-hour prayer has positively enriched not
only my own prayer life, but the prayer lives of others in our congregation as well.
of us practicing this ancient form of prayer have experienced the same awakening to the sense of God's presence
throughout the day. Passages of Scripture seem to open up to us with fresh insight in their applications, and we all can attest
to the fact that reading our prayers from sincere hearts have enriched our spontaneous praying as well.
We're only at the beginning of this amazing prayer journey, but
whether we're praying the hours alone or together, there has been an undeniable unity present among us. We are experiencing
The Spirit of prayer growing in our Church and an increasing number of answers along the way.
I suspect a growing
number of believers around the world are rediscovering this ancient practice that has helped keep the Community of saints
together through the ages and strengthened their resolve in times of persecution. How I pray for its restoration in the mainstream
of the Church here in America.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
1:45 pm edt
The Wisdom of God
By John S. Picarello
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a chance to do life over again? Maybe be a child a little
longer and not grow up so fast? I know most of us have thought this at one time or another. Especially when the complexities
of a fast paced life begin to close in on us.
So many of us can reach the end
of our rope when facing many of the anxieties within us due to so many of the issues around us. Ready to throw in the towel
and give up, we will often look back and long for the simpler view of life and the dreams that childhood afforded us. In our
drive to "succeed" we can "lose" ourselves in the daily grind of responsibilities.
Also, in looking back we can come face to face with the realization that we may not know who we really
are, or where we should be going. We may discover that we have lost our bearings and are actually wander through life aimlessly
while deep inside we're searching for meaning and God's purpose for us. This often gets complicated by so many ungodly paradigms
and the driving success orientation of a wayward culture that can sometimes contaminate our thinking.
pressing on without stopping to consider what our true heartfelt desires really are, and aligning our goals and activities
with what is really going on in our heart is dangerous. If we are not taking some time to wait in God's presence for guidance,
to rest, recover and receive life from Him, we can be left feeling lost, disoriented and worn out.
Jesus said some amazing
things that is of infinite help to those of us who have been caught up in this "performance trap" while searching
for meaning and God's purpose for our life. On one ocassion He said 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." On another ocassion it's recorded in Matthew
18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who
then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself
and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are
converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever
then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
He basically wanted people to
slow down and reconnect with God so they can reconnect with themselves. Ever notice how normal healthy children have no problems
just "being" themselves? They are totally true to themselves because they're following their hearts long before
an adult tells them to " just grow up."
Barton has said "...being a child is being relaxed and at home with yourself, with the people around you, with life
itself. And so it is with the soul at rest in God. We do not put on airs. We do not try to make things seem better than
they are. We do not pretend to be someone or something we are not. We do not hold back squeals of delight, expressions of
need or desire, tears of pain, sadness or disappointment. In times of solitude, the soul rests in God by simply being with
God with what is."
Sounds like Jesus' words to me! Try spending some much needed quiet time alone with
God. Allow God to retake the controls of your life... revisit the best part of your childhood and let Him minister to you
through it, then relax and learn to follow Him. Become like a litttle child in the presence of your Heavenly Father,
trust Him with your future... He'll handle the rest.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
7:47 am edt
My Prayer for America
John S. Picarello
Almighty God and Father,
We do thank you that on this day we may look to you for comfort and
guidance as we remember those tragic events of September 11th 2001.
We thank you for all who have served our country,
and for those who continue to do so; may you keep them and protect them as they hazard their lives to protect the freedom
that we now enjoy. We pray also for First Responders (Police, Fire, and EMS) and all who serve our communities, May you bless
them and keep them safe.
Father, we pray your comfort, your strength, and your provisions for the families of the brave military
personnel who have given their lives for this country. We ask that those same mercies be granted to all the families of First
Responders and civilians alike who have suffered the loss of loved ones on that tragic morning of September 11th
2001. May the memory and the blessing of their lives continue to live on throughout the years.
And Finally, Father, we pray for our country.
May you grant us a revival of those Godly Principles that have in the past covered us with such amazing favor, and which guided
the founding fathers in framing such laws that has helped in building this Great Nation that we call home.
May you grant wisdom and Godly reverence to all our elected officials, as well as any who serve in public capacity, and May
you rest your hand upon this Nation to keep us and guide us in the years ahead.
We ask this Father, in the mighty name of your
son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday, July 30, 2012
10:44 am edt
The Christ Connection
By John S. Picarello
Sometimes my heart is overwhelmed within me over a passage from the Bible, John 15:5 has been one
of those verses that continues to move me to tears and draws my heart out in prayer to God for others. In this passage Jesus
says to his disciples "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much
fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
of course was instructing his disciples about how life in God's kingdom works while living in this world... it also became
the foundation that the early Church built upon (you can see what power this lifestyle unleashed by reading the book of Acts).
What can be so easily overlooked in today's often method driven Church, is the simplicity and the power in those words of
Leaders have always been on a quest for new and
innovative ways to reach a lost and hurting world with the powerful life changing message of God's love. We have certainly
succeeded in creating some of the most ingenious and attractive programs for drawing people both young and old to our Churches.
In many cases Church attendance and participation in those programs have been at an all time high, and yet we all too
often lack the Holy Spirit's power from heaven which draws people to Christ himself.
I'm certainly not against new innovations or the programs, I am just making
an observation that many sincere leaders have always been aware of. E.M. Bounds a nineteenth century minister had written
that in his day "Churches were always looking for better methods while God was looking for better men." His point
was that only intimacy with God can "make a better man" by setting his heart ablaze with the same fiery passion
that the Holy Spirit gave Jesus.
My own heart continues
to yearn for more of God's Spirit in me to see and to feel as He does. The answer to all our searching for God's power, His
guidance, and His effectiveness in reaching a hurting world, I believe has always been right in front of us the whole time.
John 15:5 in all it's simplicity and wisdom.
said it the best, and I cannot improve on what he had written so I will leave you with this in his own words from John 15...
"Abiding in Him, you receive of Him His Spirit of
love and compassion towards sinners, making you desirous to seek their good. By nature the heart is full of selfishness. Even
in the believer, his own salvation and happiness are often too much his only object. But abiding in Jesus, you come into contact
with His infinite love; its fire begins to burn within your heart; you see the beauty of love; you learn to look upon loving
and serving and saving your fellow-men as the highest privilege a disciple of Jesus can have. Abiding in Christ, your heart
learns to feel the wretchedness of the sinner still in darkness, and the fearfulness of the dishonor done to your God. With
Christ you begin to bear the burden of souls, the burden of sins not your own. As you are more closely united to Him, somewhat
of that passion for souls which urged Him to Calvary begins to breathe within you, and you are ready to follow His footsteps,
to forsake the heaven of your own happiness, and devote your life to win the souls Christ has taught you to love." -
...And therein ends the lesson
Friday, June 29, 2012
12:53 pm edt
Answers From Heaven
By Pastor John S Picarello
Thursday, April 26, 2012
10:23 am edt
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Joy to the World the Savior Reigns!
3:26 pm est
By John S Picarello
For many people Christmas time is a "magical" time of
year, a season of hope where dreams can come true. It's a festive season of bright lights and music. At Christmas time there
is such a spirit of giving, and spending time with family and friends, a time of feasting and singing happy songs together.
A time for being joyful and thankful for good things, and a time to be loving and generous and kind to all!
Isn't interesting how so many people who don't know Christ personally can feel this way every year at
Christmas time? While enthusiastically singing Isaac Watts song "Joy to the World" they are actually proclaiming
the gospel of Jesus Christ! Imagine that, the answer to all of humanities ills come flowing from their lips each year, many
never realize that those words explain God's gift to them.
For those of us who embrace Christ and have placed
our heartfelt trust in Him for our salvation, the "magic" of Christmas is actually our reality all year long! In
the gospels Jesus says that He gives us His life and peace, He answers prayer so our joy would be full, He fills us with
God's love, and, He came to give us abundant life! This was so amazing to Peter that he wrote in 1 Peter 1:8 "believing,
you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
So this Christmas season read the words of "Joy
to the World" and sing them to God with new understanding and appreciation for what He has given us. Remember, while
others wait all year for the "Magic" of Christmas, we have the reality of it every day of our lives... Sing it
with all your heart, "Joy to the World the Lord has come!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
6:19 am est
Called to Fellowship
By John S Picarello
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (KJV)
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus
Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing
ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto
the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. God is Faithful
I would like to look at two statements in the above passages
from Paul's first letter to the Corinthian Church. The first statement from verse 8 involves the verb "confirm"
which is in the future/active tense, literally "will confirm" you to the end or "until the end." The verb
expressed here can be used to describe the work of confirming, establishing, guaranteeing, and stabilizing.
The apostle is assuring the Corinthians that Christ will continue His work of
bringing God's people to maturity, and holiness right up until the end. Notice how these two passages from 1st Thessalonians
confirm what Paul had written to the Corinthians:
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 (KJV)
12 And the
Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end
he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before
God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (KJV)
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
The apostle is making the point that
God is faithful to do what He has promised. If God said that we will be confirmed, established, and stabilized, and He guarantees
it, we are obligated to believe Him. As believers we must be convinced that God is absolutely trustworthy in all He says.
God's word is backed by God's own integrity, and we can therefore, trust our lives to every word He says. So how can we as
believers come to trust God? Paul provides the answer in the 9th verse "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto
the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. God calls
us to Fellowship
Fellowship with God is the secret
to great faith, confidence for answers to prayer, seeing demonstrations of God's power. Personal experience alone with God
and His word is the key that opens every locked door for a believer.
God calls us to an intimate fellowship with Him because
it is the only way to build faith. Without knowing God faith is impossible. Faith is trust; we cannot confidently place all
our trust in someone we do not know. Fellowship is how we grow in our relationship with God, the better we get to know Him
the more we will trust Him. This is what Jesus was getting at in His guarantee to answer prayer in John's gospel:
John 15:7 (NKJV)
7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for
you." In this verse the verb "abide" means to remain, to dwell, and to continue with or in, this can only be
accomplished through fellowship. The longer we continue to regularly spend time alone with God talking His word over with
Him, and storing it in our hearts, the better we will come to know Him, and the stronger our trust in Him will grow.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 with a confidence that will be imparted to
us as we fellowship with God. We will turn these passages into a prayer of thanksgiving like this:
3 Grace and
peace always comes from you God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 We thank you God, always for Your grace which
you have given to us by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing we are enriched by You, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in us: 7 So that we come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm us unto the end, that we may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God you're faithful, by whom we were called unto the fellowship of Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (Personalize it by praying
I or me and my)
If we will continue to pursue personal intimacy with God though regular times of honest heart
to heart fellowship, and to discuss His word with Him, learning how to turn it into our own prayers, our faith and trust in
Him will grow by leaps and bounds.
Determine in your heart that this Thanksgiving season you will begin drawing closer to God through
regular fellowship (He will in turn draw closer to you). Allow Him to dispel all your doubts, fears, and insecurities as you
discuss them all with Him. Take His words with you; store His promises deep within your subconscious mind until your heart
retains them. In a short time you will find that you will relax and be at peace trusting Him to confirm and establish you.
Before long you will be in the habit of thanking Him continually for calling you into such a simple invigorating fellowship
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
11:35 am edt
Ask for Anything you Want!
By Pastor John S. Picarello
During our recent series on prayer, I had touched on God's willingness and His desire
to answer prayer. This was such a notable aspect of God's character that the psalmist was inspired to write "Oh
You that hears prayer, to You shall all flesh come." - Psalm
God hears and answers the prayers of all types
of people. He has answered the sincere heartfelt prayers of saved and unsaved alike. John 3:16
tells us that God loves the world so much that He gave His only son... How could God
love the world that much and not answer their sincerest heartfelt prayers in a time of need? He is not just the God of the
Christians or the Jews only, He is the God of all flesh, Lord of heaven and earth.
The bible teaches us that God
is holy and always has been, He has always required that sin be dealt with and atoned for. God has always been the judge
of all the earth, He has always been merciful and just, He shows partiality to no one; and He has always heard and answered
the prayers of any people, who came trusting Him to help them, and called on Him in all honesty and sincerity.
God has always saved people who called on Him in faith for salvation, He has always healed the sick who prayed in faith,
and He has always provided countless blessings and provisions for those who have cried out to Him knowing that He would hear
and answer them.
God even hears and answers the cry of the animals He's created:
"He sends springs into the valleys... they give drink to every beast of the field"
"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle"
Psalm 104:21 "The young lions roar after their
prey, and seek their food from God" In verses 25 through 28 God provides food for all creatures that live in the sea,
verse 27 says "These all wait upon you, that you may give them their food in due season."
God has always
provided for all that He has created. Jesus taught the same things in Matthew 6:24-34. If we would learn to depend on God
calling on Him for all we need, He will surely give us all that we ask for in faith.
How to Ask and Receive an Answer from God
Knowing that God delights to hear and answer prayer, let's
look now at the simple directions given to us in the bible. If we will be patient, persistent, and honest with ourselves,
we will find that it is actually quite easy to learn how to receive answers from God when we pray. This is true whether
we are asking for ourselves or for others.
First, we must believe in our heart that God will
hear us, and that God rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek
him." Take some time to read the promises and the bible accounts of God answering the prayers of people.
As you begin to think over and over about these things, asking God to help you, genuine faith will begin to fill your heart.
You actually start to grow confident that God wants to answer you too. Do not try to rush this, just be patient.
Second, confess and stop practicing any known sins in your life. Here again we may ask God to help us,
DO NOT BE AFRAID! God wants to help us get free of sin. Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my
thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way
So simply spend some time with God and ask Him to show you the things that are wrong
in your life. Write them down so you can see them and ask God to forgive you and help you not to practice those specific
sins as part of your life (don't forget to destroy that paper when you're done praying).
Learn how helpful God
is, and how He empowers us to cooperate with Him. Don't try bypassing this step, trust God, He wants to position you so
that He can provide for you. Psalm 66:18 says "If I regard sin in my heart, the Lord will
not hear me." So we can see that confession (admitting we have committed specific sins) and repentance (changing how
we think and act) are pathways to answered prayer.
This process can be time consuming if you are not used to
being this honest and thorough with God. We must practice this as part of our lifestyle in order to keep our conscience clean.
God uses our conscience to speak to us and to guide us.
1 John 3:20-22 "for whenever
our heart (conscience) condemns us, God is greater than our heart (conscience), and he knows everything. Beloved,
if our heart (conscience) does not condemn us, we have confidence (faith) before God; and whatever we ask
we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
Third, and finally
learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Remember He will use your conscience to guide you. We cannot have strong faith
with a guilty conscience. Do your best not to do things that contradict the bible or that bothers your conscience. With some
practice you will become quite sensitive to those things that displease God, and you will lose your desire for them.
How to Obtain Faith
Faith begins where the will of God is known, obviously we cannot be confident if
we're unsure that God is willing to give a certain thing. The bible is filled with promises and other passages that show
us what God will or will not do. The idea is to find those promises or passages from the bible that addresses our particular
Read and think carefully though all those passages, ask God to help you understand them. One or more passages
will usually resonate within your heart (capture your attention). Those are the ones you will use in your prayer for that
particular need. The reason they captured your attention is that the Holy Spirit guided you to them. He helps you like this
through the entire process until you can pray so God will answer.
The longer you meditate on those verses and
talk them over with God, the more your confidence will grow until deep down in your heart you know that He's going to hear
Finally, you pray keeping alert for any instructions the Holy Spirit may give you. Your
clean conscience will help you, you might sense the need to make some changes or adjustment to your request. God might require
you to do something in order for Him to answer your prayer. Regardless of how He leads you, be patient and keep praying your
request as specifically as you know how until one of two things happen.
1st. The answer comes (this
is the easiest way), you will be filled with Joy knowing you prayed correctly.
2nd. You pray until
you receive assurance from God that He has heard you and answered you. You might not see the answer for sometime after this,
but you'll have God's faith and His settled peace in your heart that it's done.
Remember that it is God's sovereign
choice as to when and how He will answer our prayers. We cannot demand a time frame in which we want the answer (unless He
guides us to do that), nor can we dictate how we want Him to answer (again, only if He guides us to pray that way).
Learning how to pray like this will give you power and influence with God and people. Stay humble and remember that this
is all made possible by God's amazing grace, and His willingness to hear and answer prayer.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
2:34 pm edt
Praying God's will on the Earth
Our Father which art in heaven
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, the first thing he
taught them was to relate to God as their Father. John 1:12 states that we as covenant people are sons and
daughters of God. We being born of God, together with the rest of the family of God, have been granted authority to establish
His will on the earth through prayer and action.
In praying “Our Father,” We are declaring several things; first,
that as our Father God is the head of His household, we as his children are completely dependent on Him for everything.
Second, the bigger picture, as creator of the heavens and the earth, God owns and exercises control over all that He has made
(Psalm 24:1). His right to absolute authority over His creation is what we call the sovereignty of God.
Third, we are given His Holy Spirit to live
within us, to teach and to guide us into all that God desires and has planned to do. No family can be successful without order
and cooperation, God’s family (which is the model that all earthly families are to copy) recognizes His authority and
cooperates with His Holy Spirit and His written word to see His plans established on the earth.
2. Hallowed be thy name
God’s name is holy, to lack reverence for
His name is to disrespect Him personally (the 3rd commandment requires reverence for His name). God also requires
that we respect Him in the way we approach Him (Leviticus 10:3 And Moses said to Aaron,
"This is what the Lord spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people
I must be glorified.' ").
God demonstrates the power and holiness of His name through His obedient children.
Jesus throughout the gospels told his disciples that they were given authority to use his name to accomplish God’s will.
The Great Commission tells of God’s power that flows through His covenant people, who go in the authority of the name
of Jesus to make disciples of all nations.
The bible tells us that eventually at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will
confess that He is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father (Phil.2:10-11).
kingdom come Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
declares the destiny of all that is on the earth, this is also the purpose of the Great Commission. Here we are taught to
ask God to establish His authority and dominion in those areas we are praying about (for ourselves or for others). God’s
eternal purpose should be the basis of all our praying. When we pray we are actually asking Him to accomplish His will on
earth as it is in heaven. We are invested with the privilege and authority through prayer; to reproduce on the earth what
has already been produced in heaven, and to have things done on earth the way they are done in heaven.
It is for this reason that being thoroughly
familiar with God’s written word and using it as the basis for all our praying is so vitally important (God’s
word is His will). The Holy Spirit who inspired God’s word will use it to inspire and anoint our praying.
In conclusion; let us keep in mind that although prayer is the vehicle through
which God supplies our every need, its primary purpose is to glorify Him by seeing His will accomplished on the earth. (Ephesians
1:11-12 In Him also we have obtained an
inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory).