PRAYER

MEDITATE UPON THE LORD

“…Make me know the way I should go…Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Ps 143:8,10 ESV).

“…thinking right thought about God…that is essential to praying good prayers” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p9).

“…take more time to be still before God without saying one word….We are not ready to offer our petition until we are fully conscious of having secured the attention of God” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p48).

“It is difficult to steadfastly and unweariedly persevere in prayer….as fuel must frequently be added to preserve a fire, so prayer requires helps so that it will not languish and at length be extinguished….by meditating on…truth” John Calvin (ref#164, Feb 13th).

“A short, unhurried meditation on some fragment of Scripture and then silence quickens the spirit of devotion” William E. Sangster (ref#212, p157).

“We must meditate upon Him [CHRIST], upon what He is, what He has done, His love to us, and God’s care for us who are His people….we must look at ‘these things’ (John 17:13) that He speaks of, these truths that He unfolded.  Let us meditate upon them, contemplate them, dwell upon them, revel in them, and I will guarantee that as we do so, either in our own personal meditation or in reading books about them, we will find ourselves experiencing a joy we have never known before” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, March 13th, brackets mine).

PRAYER

PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6 ESV).

“Prayer opens our eyes to God’s glory, our hearts to His will, and our needs to His perfect provision.  It reveals, solidifies, and confirms the unity of the Spirit that we share with other Christians.  And it keeps us alert to the wiles of the Enemy.  Prayer is essential to a walk worthy of our high calling in Christ” J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p5).

“…in asking we must always truly feel our wants, and seriously considering that we need all the things which we ask, accompany the prayer with a sincere, no, ardent desire of obtaining them” John Calvin (ref#113, p567).

“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath….Poverty of spirit enters into true praying.  ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’  ‘The poor’ means paupers, beggars, those who live on the bounty of others, who live by begging.  Christ’s people live by asking” E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p32).

“’Ask’ means beg….We will never receive if we ask with an end in view; if we ask, not out of our poverty but out of our lust.  A pauper does not ask from any other reason than the abject panging condition of his poverty, he is not ashamed to beg.—Blessed are the paupers in spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 9th).

“The real beggar entreats in good earnest; he cries, he weeps, he heeds not the playing of the children, not the barking of the dogs; his wants pinch him, his stomach craves, nothing but food will please him….So it is the same with the upright and serious heart; he is really and deeply pressed down with sin, and needy of grace and comfort….and therefore let the devil or the world disturb what they can, or suggest what they will, he plies his business, he must have pardon and grace…” Richard Steele (ref#225, Sept 20th).

 “…’prayer is the falling of a tear’…Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven….Often a poor, brokenhearted one bends his knees, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears….that tear has been caught by God and is treasured in heaven.  ‘Put thou my tears into thy bottle’ (Ps 56:8) implies that they are caught as they flow.  The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).

PRAYER

GOD’S WILL IN PRAYER

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Ps 145:18 ESV).

“While our prayers should express faith in God’s hidden, sovereign plan for all things, God directs us to pray particularly for what we know to be His revealed will.  That will is not hidden from us.  It stands in full view throughout the pages of Scripture” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p112).

“Examine the character of your devotions; are they such as will stand the test of God’s Word?  Will they compare with the holy breathings of David, Job, Solomon, and the New Testament saints?  Is the life of God breaking forth within you when you pray?  Are your prayers often accompanied by brokenness, lowliness of spirit, and humble and contrite confession of sin?  Pay attention to your prayers” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 20th)!  “Prayer is a call to admit weakness” Pastor Brent Nelson.  He is seen as glorious and we are seen as needy.

“God’s revealed will appears as broad general principles, not specific directives for every circumstance” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p112).

“God purposes, therefore He promises….’Therefore I pray the promises, so that God’s purposes might come to reality.’” Lorne Sanny (ref#302, p193).  FATHER, remind me to look for GOD’s purposes, then His promises, that I may hold Him to them.

“We can pray with confidence for the increase of our faith, for the improvement of our obedience, and for the furtherance of our dependence on our Lord.  The answer to all of these prayers, of course, requires obedience to God’s Word.  God does not increase our holiness in any other way” Bryan Chapell (ref#66, p146).

“Draw near with the lowly boldness of a child and the humble confidence of a son….You cannot come too boldly, you cannot come too frequently, you cannot come with too difficult a request….” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 2nd).

PRAYER

WHAT TO PRAY FOR

“Our prayers should be expectant enough to offer God the largest possible stage on which to enact His glory” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p115).

“Come with your spiritual need…it shall be granted you….I want more grace to glorify Thee.  I want more simplicity of mind and singleness of eye.  I want a more holy, upright, honest walk.  I want more meekness, patience, lowliness, and submission.  I want to know more of Jesus, to see more of His glory to feel more of His preciousness, and to live more simply on His fullness.  I want more of the sanctifying, sealing, witnessing, and anointing influences of the Spirit….

Prayer is what keeps every grace of the Spirit in active, holy, healthy exercise….the channel through which all grace comes is prayer, ardent, wrestling, importunate, believing prayer.” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 2nd).

“We do not pray to inform God.  Neither do we pray to persuade Him, for His love needs neither to be induced nor coaxed” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p66).

“A true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty.  While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness.  The healthiest state of a Christian is to be always empty and poor in self, constantly depending on the Lord for supplies, rich in Jesus, weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Oct 11th AM).

“Prayer is your only safety—prayer for grace to help in your time of need, for reviving grace, for quickening, restraining, sanctifying grace; prayer to be kept from falling, to be held up in the slippery paths; prayer for the lowly mind, for the contrite spirit, for the broken heart, and for the soft, close, humble walk with God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 2nd).

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous” (Prov 15:29 ESV).

ELECTION

UNDESERVED MERCY

“…’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom 9:15 ESV).

“With these words, the Lord clearly claims the right to give or withhold His mercy, according to His own sovereign will….the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as seems best in His sight.  By their sins, men have forfeited all their claims on God.  They deserve to perish for their sins, and if they all do so, they have no grounds for complaint” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 25th PM).

“Choosing to sin changed basic human nature and left us unable not to sin—or totally depraved” (ref#228, p146).  “…totally depraved men and women will remain out of fellowship with God for all eternity.  The only way for any of these men and women to have their fellowship with God restored is for God Himself to take the initiative.  And the Bible declares that He has graciously chosen to do so (John 14:16).  For His own glory, God has chosen some of those depraved men and women to live in fellowship with Him” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p147).

“the people whom I formed for myself…declare my praise” (Isa 43:21 ESV).

“When we understand our own utter ruin, that we are deserving of punishment, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer quibble at the truth that the Lord is not obligated to save us…There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election, none that promotes more gratitude, and consequently, none more sanctifying” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 25th PM).

“…we are…the conquered captives of His omnipotent love.  Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine Possessor are inalienable.  We rejoice that we can never be our own, and we desire, day by day, to do His will and to show forth His glory” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 15th AM).

ELECTION

EFFECTUAL CALLING

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jer 1:5 ESV).

“Salvation transforms a person’s nature, giving him or her the ability and the desire to serve and obey God.  The unresponsive heart of stone is changed into a sensitive heart of flesh that responds readily to God’s voice (Ezekiel 36:25-27) and desires to glorify Him out of gratitude for the indescribable gift of salvation” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p147-148).

“The foundation is laid in the death of Christ; it commences in the effectual calling of the Spirit; and by all the precious assurances of grace, wisdom, and strength…it is carried forward to glorious completion” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 20th).

“All of those who are thus effectually called by God will eventually believe and be saved, even though they may resist for a time (John 6:37).  They cannot forfeit the salvation they have received (John 10:27-30; Romans 8:31-39)” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p147).

“…the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29 ESV).

“…the eternal purpose of God, revealed and provided for…is that all who are chosen, called, and justified will be ‘partakers of his holiness’ in order to prepare for complete sanctification.  Heaven is a holy place and its inhabitants are holy people…The very election of the believer to eternal life provides for and secures his holiness” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 20th).

FATHER, You knew me and chose me before I was born.  The HOLY SPIRIT is making me holy.  He teaches me the right method of holiness where my inclinations, will and affections are interested in the spiritual only with no more self-interests.  Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p89).  Thus, I happily obey You, FATHER (1 Pet 1:2).  Hallelujah.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD?

“The sovereignty of God—what do we mean by this expression?  We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God.  To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God…(Dan 4:35)… (Ps 115:3)…(1 Tim 6:15).  Such is the God of the Bible” A.W. Pink (ref#234, p18).

“God has eternally made a decree, according to which proceeds all that transpires in this time state….We cannot analyze in what manner the Lord decrees and establishes His counsel and purpose.  We know, however, that He does so and that our human terminology gives expression to the unsearchable wisdom and immovability of God’s purpose, as well as His comprehensive plan concerning all things as to the manner of their existence and the time of their occurrence” Wilhelmus a Brakel (ref#232, p7).

“The LORD has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word…” (Lam 2:17 ESV).  “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago?  I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass…” (2 Kings 19:25 ESV).

“He fixed all the circumstances in the lot of individuals and all the particulars that comprise the history of the human race from commencement to close….Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads” A.W. Pink (ref#231, p2).

“God, by definition, is absolutely sovereign—that is, He controls and superintends every circumstance of life either by direct miraculous intervention or by the ordinary outworking of His providence…it denies that anything occurs outside of God’s control” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p146).

1ST COVENANT

COVENANTS

“…God works in history to redeem His chosen ones through a series of covenants.  These covenants define His law, assess penalties for breaking His law, and provide for the imputation of Jesus’ vicarious fulfillment of God’s requirements…” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p148).

INTERVENING FATHER, Your loving will and compassion work to my advantage through the covenants You set in place.  Through them I have no question about my course with You.

“A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p515).

In sovereign authority You reveal Your desire and my part is only to accept or reject it (ref#63, p 515).  You will be my GOD and I will be Your child if I keep Your decrees and ordinances (Lev 18:5).  Moses writes that the man who can practice the perfect conformity to Your will shall live (Rom 10:5).  “If you obey…by loving the LORD…by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments…then you shall live…” (Deut 30:16 ESV).

FATHER, how I long to keep Your covenant but, my contribution makes it impossible.  I may not murder, but I certainly can’t keep Your law that says I am a transgressor even if I am angry at someone (Matt 5:21-22).  And Your stipulation is that if I fail in one point of Your law, I become accountable for all of it (James 2:10).

So, because I can’t keep Your covenant I am liable to judgment—liable to the hell of fire (Matt 5:22).  The very ordinance which You designed and intended to bring me life actually means death to me (Rom 7:10).  On my own I cannot keep Your covenant of works.

“…the covenant of works is still in force for every human being apart from Christ, even though no sinful human being can fulfill its provisions and gain blessing by it….for Christians today to think of themselves as obligated to try to earn God’s favor by obedience would be to cut themselves off from the hope of salvation” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p518).

Thank You, FATHER, for CHRIST and Your covenant of grace.

FAITH

INTELLIGENT FAITH

“…It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going….” (2 Cor 5:6-8 MSG).  “…Faith is the assurance of the heart in the adequacy of the evidence” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“When Jesus Christ and the apostles called upon a person to exercise faith, it was not a ‘blind faith’ but rather an ‘intelligent faith.’  The apostle Paul said, ‘I know whom I have believed’ (II Timothy 1:12)” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object.  The Christian concept of ‘saving’ faith is a faith that establishes one’s relationship with Jesus Christ (the object)…” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“’Faith in Christianity,’ Paul Little justifiably writes, ‘is based on evidence.  It is reasonable faith.  Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it.’” Josh McDowell (ref#275, p4).

“…defining faith…has to do with the substance (assurance grounded in reality) of our hope….It involves evidence (reliable proof) of things we can’t see.  God’s definition of faith removes it far from the realm of irrational leaps in the dark….Christian belief is based on fact” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p135).

“We shall have a full definition of faith if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit” John Calvin (ref#113, p360).

FATHER, I have found it is fatal to read something in Scripture then try to implement it in the flesh.  When I read about faith moving mountains, my carnal mind thinks, “this will take a lot of energy; I’ll have to conjure up a lot of faith.”

Moving with blind faith is like being willing to step over the cliff knowing nothing more—just closing my eyes tight and jumping—just trusting GOD to catch me.

No, no, no.  I must know my action is okayed by You, FATHER.  It is not about blind faith or my abilities; the SPIRIT must enable. There is something that must go on beforehand and it is not me talking myself into it.  It is the SPIRIT strengthening my faith by evidence giving me the confidence needed to proceed.  It is what I trust in but don’t yet see.

SCRIPTURE

MEDITATING ON SCRIPTURE

“…to pursue holiness with discipline, we must do more than hear, read, study or memorize Scripture.  We must meditate on it” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p99).

“One cannot stress too much the necessity of reading and meditating upon the Book…the Word of God is not like any merely human book.  There is a spiritual as well as an intellectual element in the apprehension of it….Therefore, we must always avoid mere knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but must allow the Spirit of God to make personal application of the Word to our own lives….God’s Word is intensely practical” Alfred Martin (ref#260, p123).

“Meditation of Scripture is a discipline” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p170).  “We must choose to meditate instead of thinking about other things, or listening to the radio, or watching television.  We simply have to decide which end of the influence continuum we want to live on and take steps accordingly” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).

“It is not necessary that we should discover new ideas in our meditation.  Often this only diverts us and feeds our vanity.  It is sufficient if the Word, as we read and understand it, penetrates and dwells within us” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83).

“Can we ever know positively that our understanding of Scripture is entirely correct?…we cannot.  But we can know positively whether we are seeking God’s truth in a manner that glorifies Him” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p132).

“’Lord, my sweetest privilege is obedience to Thee; my highest freedom is wearing Thy yoke; my greatest rest is bearing Thy burden…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 22nd).