Acknowledging Dependence (updated for 161009)
Among Apostle Paul’s ‘final instructions and benediction’ of 1 Thessalonians 5.12-25 is verse 17: “pray without ceasing”. How can we do this, since we must work to keep the roof over our heads and food in the frig? What about with sports and school and just hanging out with friends? What did Paul mean? Does this have anything to do with Deuteronomy 6.4-9? How are we to “pray without ceasing”? Did even Jesus practice this? Besides, what does “praying without ceasing” have to do with Spiritual Warfare?
- Elijah was instructed to meet with God at His mountain, Horeb, in 1 Kings 19.9-16. Remember that Elijah was running from Jezebel the wicked wife of King Ahab, who had sworn to kill Elijah because his God had humiliated and/or killed the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah,”who [ate] at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18.19-40).
- At Mount Horeb, God spoke to Elijah not through the powerful wind or earthquake or fire but through “a sound of a gentle blowing” (verse 12, NASB; “still small voice” in NKJV; “sound of a low whisper” in ESV). What do you make of the contrast? How is this an evidence of Spiritual Warfare? How, then, does this position Philippians 2.9-11?
- What is the essence of God’s question, “’What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19.13)? Like so many of us, Elijah repeats his actions and Jezebel’s intention (verse 14). But, God understands the real reason for summonsing Elijah and, ignoring Jezebel’s threat, instructs him to carry out certain solutions from God (verses 15-16).
- My contemporary application of this understanding is the CEO who must listen to God to deal with the external powerful “wind” of the economy and the competitive “earthquake” and/or the internal “fire” of corporate stresses from growth of size and complexity. The Holy Spirit speaks with “a sound of a gentle blowing”. Elijah listened carefully; so must we.
- In another, the Prophet Nathan’s instructions to King David in 2 Samuel 7.1-3 help to explain Elijah’s complaint and my application. Whereas Elijah ran to God to save him from his fears, David had experienced God overcoming his fears through conquests. Now, at ease, David envisions a Temple for God’s Ark of the Covenant.
- How does Nathan’s instruction reveal “a sound of a gentle blowing” within David’s mind and that of the CEO? BTW, I believe we hear God’s voice more intuitively than audibly.
- Consider God’s words in Psalm 50.15, 91.14-16, Isaiah 30.21 and Jeremiah 33.3 assuring of His readiness to answer our questions and assist with our deepest longings (Psalm 37.4).
- The following are examples of Biblical leaders who heard the voice of God (OT) and the Holy Spirit (NT):
- Job: God answers Job (Job 38.1)
- Abraham: leave your country (Genesis 12.1-3)
- Moses: burning bush (Exodus 3.4)
- Exiting Israelites: Commandments (Deuteronomy 4.12)
- Joshua: new commander (Joshua 1.8-9)
- David: Ephod/Urim & Thummim (Light & Perfection) re pursue enemy (1 Samuel 30.7-8)
- Solomon: asks for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1.7-13)
- Jesus: (John 12.49 exemplifying Jeremiah 7.23)
- Peter: with John, healing the paralytic (Acts 3.1-10, 16, 12)
- John: (Revelation 1.10)
- Paul: healing the paralytic (Acts 14-8-10)
B. So, how is the Model Prayer an example of “Praying without Ceasing”?
- Matthew 6.7-13 record Jesus’ instruction about succinctly worded prayers and about the acknowledgements of our prayers.
- God does not count the number of words; rather, He weighs our faith in our use of each acknowledgement. Consider 2 Chronicles 16.9a, Habakkuk 2.4 and Hebrews 11.6.
- How, then, does Matthew 6.8 frame the Model Prayer in verses 9-13?
- Driving this understanding deeper, why did Jesus say “Hallowed BE Your name” instead of “Hallowed IS Your name” in verse nine? Obviously, Jesus knew that God’s name was already hallowed. What is He saying about “praying without ceasing” through this verb? How is Jesus affirming for His present and for our future the past statement of God to Abraham in Genesis 17.7? What is the ‘Covenant’ that God has made with you? See B.6, below. Consider Galatians 3.1-29.
- How is the ‘kingdom’ different from the ‘will’ of God in Matthew 6.10? Note Daniel’s (2.44) description of God’s pronouncement in Isaiah 9.6-7 about the ‘kingdom’. How does Matthew 10.7-8 illustrate the difference? How about Romans 14.17-19? How does God describe His Kingdom to Jeremiah (9.24)? So, then, ‘will’ expresses and fulfills ‘kingdom’.
- How do Jehovah-jireh, -rapha, -rohi, -nissi, and -shalom show this? How are Philippians 4.13 & 19 and 2 Corinthians 12.10 illustrative? Was Paul saying, “I know that God’s ‘will’ includes these, and that I will experience them because I am walking in His ‘kingdom’?” What requirement did Paul understand that is expressed in John 1.12? What are the encouraging promises of Ephesians 3.20-21 and Isaiah 64.4?
- If Jesus is explaining God’s ‘will’ in Matthew 6.11-13, are these ‘categories’ of God’s will? Since God’s will involves action, as in Matthew 10.7-8, consider that the action verbs of the Model Prayer are categories of God’s will. And, therefore, which of His names fits appropriately? To wit:
- ‘Give’ in verse 11: Jehovah-jireh, -rapha, resulting in -shalom;
- ‘Forgive’ in verse 12: Jehovah-tsidkenu, since sin/’debts’ is a violation of righteousness, resulting in -shalom;
- ‘Lead’ in verse 13: Jehovah-rohi, -shammah, resulting in -shalom;
- ‘Deliver’ in verse 13: Jehovah-nissi, -shalom.
- Thus, God is the ‘Supplier/El Shaddai’ satisfying each category of Jesus’ Model Prayer. Which ‘Jehovah+’ do you see in Matthew 10.7-8? God’s will is revealed in the characteristics of His names. John (1.18) summarized this: “(Jesus) has explained [God]” NASB, “He has made Him known” ESV, and “He has declared Him” NKJV. God had said He would, in Exodus 34.10!
- Therefore, I paraphrase the end of verse 13: Your Kingdom come by Your Power to display Your Glory! This is what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 and 2 Corinthians 4.7 (9-10).
- Consequently, how do you understand each acknowledgement of Matthew 6.9-13 as you state each in your own wording? What are you acknowledging? How does this evidence ‘maturity’, as in Hebrews 5.14-6.2 and 1 Corinthians 2.6-8?
- Do you sincerely mean the words of your acknowledgment? Remember that the definition of ‘vain’ in Exodus 20.7 includes believing there is no power in the name of the Lord God. Sincerely consider the penalty! What is Paul’s conclusion in Hebrews 11.6? Also, the name of the Lord God must be ‘Jesus’ because of Philippians 2.9-11, Ephesians 1.21, Hebrews 13.8, and Isaiah 7.14. Reflect upon Proverbs 18.10 as the Source of 1 Corinthians 4.20. The ‘will’ of God expresses the ‘power’ of His kingdom, as Jesus states in Matthew 10.7-8. Note Jeremiah‘s understanding in chapter 32 and verse 17 and David’s in Psalm 8.1-9! What is your conclusion from God’s reply in Jeremiah 32.27?
- How might you word the Model Prayer in the jargon of your profession, life stage, or life style? Consider the following illustration, which I wrote in January 2016.
For Enterprise Leaders:
Our Founder, Who art in Heaven; Hallowed be Your name!
Your vision come. Your mission be done on Earth, as Your will is done in Heaven.
Give us today the customers we need, and forgive us for speaking ill about our customers, competitors, and suppliers, for we repent from speaking ill about them.
And, lead us away from the temptations of philosophies and strategies that change Your vision or mission, and deliver us from the power of satan that would confuse, conflict, and confound us.
For, it is Your righteous kingdom we seek, and Your power and wisdom we depend upon, and Your glory we desire to be our result forever and ever! Amen!
C. What does “praying without ceasing” have to do with Spiritual Warfare?
- Paul answers in Ephesians 6.18-20, restating the wording as “pray at all times” and after putting on “the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (verse 11, my emphasis). Communication with the Holy Spirit is critical to your deployment and success (Isaiah 30.21).
- How do 1 Corinthians 2.6-16 and Romans 8.26-27 explain Paul’s “pray at all times in the Spirit”? How do these verses complete the thought of Romans 8.14? How does Isaiah 30.21 make this personal? What is your picture of yourself in Jeremiah 6.16? You might see this in Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. An interesting ending verse.
- Further, anticipating an enemy’s actions is the reason armies train, football teams practice, and negotiators rehearse. Why is this what Paul means in Hebrews 5.14? How, then, would you benefit from writing a prayer to establish communications with the Holy Spirit during each attack contrary to Jehovah-tsidkenu, -jireh- rapha, -rohi, -nissi, -shalom, and -shammah? “General Quarters! This is a drill!” I remember hearing these words from my Naval commanders. They meant that all warriors were to report to our battle stations and prepare for the fight. In Spiritual Warfare, “this is NOT a drill!” But, we must be “drilled”! Are you on your “battle station”, ready for the daily fight?
- In Matthew 13.18-23, Jesus explains how satan is always attacking (Matthew 6.13).
- Verse 19: Notice that satan comes immediately to ‘snatch away’ the ‘word of the Kingdom’ that is not understood. How? Verse 23 helps us to answer by explaining that the ‘word’ produces results in proportion to our understanding; complete understanding ‘yields a hundredfold of fruit’, and with increasingly limited understanding only ‘sixty’ or ‘thirty’. Could our ‘understanding’ be the source of ‘power’ that Paul said limits God’s ability, in Ephesians 3.20? Time in meditation with the Holy Spirit results in our understanding the ‘why’ or ‘principle’ of the knowledgeable narrative (‘who, what, when, where’) of the ‘word of the Kingdom’ that is heard. This equips us for ‘how’ to ‘bear fruit’ (Matthew 13.23). God reminds Israel, in Hosea 14.8, that only He can produce fruit through them; idols never can! Jesus reminds us that He is the ‘vine’ and we are the ‘branches’ that bear fruit, but only through His nourishment (John 15.5). Paul states, in Colossians 1.6, that we must ‘understand’ what we ‘hear’. So, understand the ‘word of the Kingdom’ before satan can ‘snatch [it] away’! Pray for understanding as you hear!
- Verse 21 describes many believers today: they start ‘hot’ but ‘cool down’ over time. God describes this, in Hosea 6.4, as the morning dew that burns off quickly in sunlight. Similarly, Paul complains that Galatian believers were “so quickly deserting” Jesus and were “turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one” (6-7). In Galatians 5.9-10 (2 Corinthians 11.3-4), Paul reminds that only a little of philosophy can ruin believing faith that is not nurtured by increasing ‘word of the Kingdom’ with understanding.
- Ravi Zacharias explained this in a recent podcast (Apologetics and Worldviews, Part 1, 160924), that man has become his own measure of Biblical truth, rather than Biblical truth becoming the aspiration of man’s faith. He says that we live in an age ruled by ’empirical’ evidence; that is, man judges the reliability of the Bible through the experiences of self and other people.
- In Part 2 (161001), he says, regarding Post-Modernism, that “man [has become] the author of all being…[telling] the author what he wants [to hear]…[devolving] from objective facts to the reader [determining] if it is meaningful or not” (2 Timothy 4.3-4). College ‘safe zones’ illustrates.
- “Thus saith the Lord” has become ‘but that’s not what faith-filled so-in-so experienced’ or ‘brother so-in-so said’ (This may be illustrated by Pastor Andy Stanley‘s article, Why ‘The Bible Says So’ Is Not Enough Anymore. Also, see Dr. Michael Brown‘s response, Some important questions for Andy Stanley about the Bible. In essence, what is the role of the Bible in developing someone’s saving faith in Jesus, since apologists might have difficulty defending the Bible’s complete accuracy, according to Stanley? However, he writes: “I believe the Bible is without error in everything it affirms. I believe what the Bible says is true, is true.”)
- Jesus warns that traditions make ‘void the word of God’ (Mark 7.13). “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated” (Ecclesiastes 7.29, Good News Translation; Jeremiah 13.10). Paul warns of this in Colossians 2.8-10. Consider the illustration Solomon writes in Proverbs 25.26.
- Paul refers to this situation in 1 Corinthians 1.20-25, Acts 7.16-31, especially 21 and Ephesians 4.14.
- In verse 21, Jesus said this one had “no root in himself”. Jesus declares Himself as the “root and descendant of David” (Revelation 22.16) that was prophesied in Isaiah 11.10: “Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious” (NSAB; verses 1 and 12, also). This prophecy connects Isaiah 9.6-7 to John 3.14-15, 32. John 1.12 is a key to understanding this because of the requirement of faith to receive the anointed Jesus into the heart and into the life of the believer. Thus, Habakkuk 2.4: “the righteous will live by his faith” (double entendre’ of ‘live’; temporally and eternally).
- How is time spent in ‘understanding’ (Matthew 13.19) important to the nourishment of the “root” of faith? Paul implies that our ‘roots’ in Christ Jesus become stronger as we walk with Him (Colossians 2.6-7; Ephesians 3.17-19).
- Remember, too, the purpose of our teachers from Ephesians 4.11-13: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
- The greater our fullness of the “knowledge” that Jesus has and the stronger our “faith” like that of Jesus, the better able we will be to overcome the “afflictions or persecutions” (Matthew 13.21, Mark 4.17; NASB) and “trials and temptations” (Luke 8.13) from people under satan’s spell (2 Corinthians 4.4; Ephesians 6.12), who persecute us because of the “word of the kingdom” (Matthew 10.16-42, 19).
- We must “endure” (Mark 13.13; Hebrews 12.1-2; 2 Timothy 2.3), holding fast the profession of our faith and bringing every contrary thought or word into subjection to the knowledge possessed by Christ (2 Corinthians 10.3-6) and passed on to us (John 14.26 and 1 John 2.20-27)!
- Verse 22 (Matthew 13.22) describes other believers today: they give in to the ‘lusts and pride’ of lifestyles that are passing away and in God’s judgment (1 John 2.15-17). How is “the worry of the world” (Matthew 13.22) “pride” (1 John 2.15-16)? How is the current discussion of ‘climate change’ illustrative? How is the “deceitfulness of wealth” “lust of the eyes”?
- ‘Demas’ was Paul’s illustration to Timothy (2.4.10). How does Proverbs 25.28 relate?
- Further, Paul amplified Jesus warning about duplicity (Luke 16.13) with his statement in 1 Timothy 6.9-10: “money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith….” Ananias and Sapphira died because of duplicity; Acts 5.1-11. The Rich Young Ruler missed out on Heaven while holding his dollars; Mark 10.17-23. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6.24). What are substitutes for “money”? How does the ‘principle’ continue to apply?
- Paul writes that we must “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that entangles” (Hebrews 12.1-2) and warns of judgment (1 Corinthians 3.12-15). How do the various forms of ‘entertainment’ “entangle” us?
- Duplicity is hard to recognize, as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Tares Among Wheat, in Matthew 13.24-30, the only mention of this Parable in Scripture. One of His points is that only fully-developed Christians can be ‘salt and light’ in our world. Understanding duplicity from Easton’s Bible Dictionary’s definition of Tares: “It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine.” Do your ‘ears’ identify you to other people? How?
- “Tares” are included in Jesus’ Model Prayer, Matthew 6.13: “deliver us from evil.” How will Jesus deliver you? Ask Him, as is encouraged in 1 Corinthians 10.12-13. Look for His ‘exit’…and follow the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14)!
- Duplicity is a choice weapon of satan for deceiving through advertising (for more ‘wants’ than ‘needs’) and entertainment! But, reread 1 John 2.15-17 for the rest of the story. Is not Jehovah-jireh able? How does Jeremiah 32.27 challenge your response?
- The Holy Spirit will lead away from satan’s temptation and harm and to overcome them.
We must acknowledge our dependence upon God and fight satan’s attempts to ‘snatch away’ ‘shame away’ or ‘desire away’ God’s truth! Be confident of victory as you enjoy God’s reassuring and similar words in Isaiah 35.8-10.