Jesus “has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 NASB)
Walking through Hebrews, looking both at the example of Christ to us, and at the specific instructions to us found there, we are seeking to discover clues to who we are in Christ. In chapter 3 and now in chapter 5, we are looking at our role as priests unto God. Thus far we see the purpose of God for the suffering priest, and we see the changing of our sacrifice as priests because of Father making His Son the last blood sacrifice on our behalf. No more need for the spilling of blood, Jesus leaves us to make gifts and sacrifices of praises to God, coupled with thanksgiving.
Now, in verse 7 of chapter 5, we see in Jesus what I would call the surrendered, reverent heart of a prayer warrior. Bombarded by every enemy’s false wisdoms, “He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”
All the world of mankind around Him was coming against Him as He faced betrayal, false accusations, desertion, and denial of His reality as King and Savior, ending His earthly existence on a cruel cross at the hands of those He came to save. Along with the world’s assault, the fleshly body of Christ was coming against Him. The screams of His body was so severe, scripture describes His emotional and mental state as being distressed, troubled, in agony, a despair of such magnitude that He sweat blood from bursting capillaries.
Knowing how the devil can trouble me with his lies and accusations, though there is no clear witness of it in scripture, I believe Satan and His minions were surely, busily working his best deceptions in their attempt to turn Jesus from His appointed course.
Scripture says He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Demons ever live to tempt mankind away from God and His ways for us, away from belief and trust in God. I have to believe they were working hard to tempt our Savior away from trust in God, adding to His turmoil. The death that would come if Jesus turned from His appointed course would be the end for all mankind. Knowing this truth, with love for The Father and for us, He cried out for strength to persevere and drink His cup. God responded through ministering angels.
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Matthew 5:8-10, NASB)
Jesus continues His Priestly role as Prayer Warrior as He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. We, too, are called and equipped to pray without ceasing. The thing I feel led to point us to in our role as Prayer Warrior Priests unto God, comes from what I discern from The Lord’s Model Prayer in Matthew 6.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. …” Stop there!
This beginning of what Jesus outlined in teaching the people how to properly approach the throne of grace tells me the humility of heart and frame of mind needed before we even think of laying at the feet of God what we see as our needs. The first thing we must do as prayer warriors is recognize the way-above-my-head greatness of our God, which, in turn, causes us to realize our first need to be that of aligning our hearts with God’s will, with full realization that He knows our truest and greatest needs; and He understands the perfect solution and timing in meeting each one.
We are too small, insignificant, and selfish to truly know what our need is apart from Christ. We cannot realize what the truth of our need is, until we stand in agreement with God’s will on earth as in Heaven. Jesus knew the will of God for His life, and He sweat blood in seeking to align His desire and strength to achieving God’s will, God’s way.
Jesus exemplified this Truth in His prayer, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.” Jesus spent His hour crying out to God in order to refocus His heart to accomplish God’s will on earth as it was already seen as true in Heaven.
Beloved, we are priests unto God, according to the order of Jesus, The Christ, called and equipped to cry out to Him who saves us, seeking for His will on earth as it is in Heaven. We war against the enemy of God as we learn well the way of prayer. “To God be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:5-6 NASB)
I’ve written many times about our being the Temple of God, housing His Holy Presence on earth, fully equipped to represent The Triune and His Kingdom interests in our daily lives. As I looked at this last night and began praying about what I am to cover on this common topic, a list begins to form revealing truths of God’s Temple.
1 – The Temple of God is holy, and that is what you are! And as I often say, wherever we are, we are on holy ground, so behave accordingly. (1 Corinthians 3:17 NASB)
2 – The Temple of God is a house of Prayer, and that is what you are. So pray, realizing that prayer is communion with God, and can – and often should be – more listening for His opinion, heart, instruction, than speaking.
James says we do not have for we do not ask; and we ask and do not receive because we ask with wrong motives so we can spend it on OUR PLEASURES. Having God’s heart and unity with His opinion on life issues is vital to prayers well prayed: prayers I believe will make His heart sing. (Matthew 21:13 NASB; James 4:1-10 NASB)
3 – The house God is making out of us is a place of worship, and that is what you are. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)
4 – The House of God is a dwelling place, and that is what you are. The Spirit of God’s Presence dwells in and with us. He wants to live with, in, and through us in active, visible ways that can be seen by all we associate with in any way. God is making us into more than a place to be: He is building a place to live to the full, abundantly, impacting the world around us. (1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)
We are called to be a dwelling for God alone, there is no room for another. He wants to fill every nook and cranny; clearing and cleaning every closet and all dark corners.
As we willingly decrease to allow more room for Him, He fills us up and frees us to be more ourselves than we ever knew we could be. As He cleanses and clears away debris, He finds us, the “me” God intended from before time: a son – a daughter, holding fast to our confidence, the boast of our hope made firm until the end.
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB)
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalms 32:8 NASB
I posted this beautiful promise of God to friends today. One expressed gratitude for the truth of Father’s faithfulness to direct our path and asked us to pray for Him to direct her path in a decision she is facing. I started to reply agreement when this question hit my heart, “Why do we ask God for what He promises to do?”
It hit me that the need is not for God to do what He does; it is for us to have ears to hear, eyes to see, a mind to know with understanding, a heart to trust His faithfulness, and a willing spirit of obedience that believes His timely provision.
I noted a Scripture the other day that tells us to remind God of His promises. I asked, “Why, Lord? It’s not like You forget.” It dawns on me that the practice of reminding Him, reciting to Him what we know of Him, is not for His sake, but our own: strengthening our faith, solidifying our belief, lifting the muscle building weights of comprehensive understanding.
Got a need? Recite God’s promises with grateful heart, Beloved, and request your need so you can hear, possess, and walk out His directives with faith’s hope.
A Day of Prayer in April post
PRAISE THE LORD, BELOVED! We are coming against the strongholds of long night stressors that challenge our faith, working with the intent of preventing us knowing, trusting, and following our God as a people at rest in His hands, even in the darkest, most fierce storms.
This song, “Surrounded,” by Michael W. Smith, is the perfect starting place for our battle against the long night in our lives and the lives of those we love. The prayer thoughts for this song include:
⁃ the importance of praise.
Praising Father God, our Triune Deity, is our first, most vital weapon in any battle. God is enthroned upon the praises of His people. Praise expresses understanding of His sovereignty, His might, His greatness, and our recognition of our dire need of Him: our love for and reliance on Him. We are more apt to rest the need in His capable hands – surrendering all to Him, from a position of worship.
⁃ the importance of trusting His Presence.
Remembering God’s faithfulness to His promises that tell us He is always with us, fighting for us, and He will never – NO NEVER – leave nor forsake us, this is our second, most vital weapon in the long night season. Our strength, courage, and perseverance flow out of this trust.
⁃ the importance of realizing where He is standing.
We acknowledge that, though we feel the pressure of the enemy around us, we are first and foremost surrounded by God, even though we may not see Him. He promises to be beside us, grabbing us by the hand to protect and empower us. But also, like Elisha’s servant, we need eyes to see the army of God that surrounds the enemy surrounding us (2 Kings 6).
Think about this position, Beloved, us being in the center with God, Who is also surrounding us with His hedge of protection, as well as Him standing with His army to surround the enemy attacking us. That enemy is trapped between our faith in God and His faithfulness to us. An enemy cannot escape their loss that comes from this glorious combination: faith in God’s faithfulness. I believe that’s the reason Elisha prayed his servant’s eyes open: to strengthen his faith in the battle, that the barricade of faith not be weakened by unbelief and fear.
Thus we begin…
Surrounded: Michael W. Smith
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“The radical God-centeredness of the Lord’s Model Prayer teaches us that man’s pride has no place before the throne of God.” (Dr. Albert Mahler, The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down)
I have a decorative plate, given to me by my son, that misquotes the verse, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It says, “Give us this day THY daily bread.”
I’ve searched many translations, even looking through the oldest versions available to me, and none translate it that way, but I love the plate, not only because my son gave it to me, but because of the truth it reminds me to realize.
I, too often, fail to truly know what is best for me. I need the Father to instruct and form right desires and healthy appetites within me, leading me to seek after, recognize, and receive His best for me.
Pride hinders our ability to trust God for His best.
“”Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” Matthew 6:9-13 NASB
Note: when struggling to pray, break down the outline of the Lord’s Model Prayer into its parts. Beginning with realizing that He is FATHER, who loves you and gave His all for you, let each part soak into your hurting soul to direct your heart in prayer for the trouble before you. Add to your praying the heart of Jesus that cried out in His time of agony, “Yet not my will, but THY will be done,” and you have a heart attitude God hears and responds to in amazing ways.
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the Lord, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:19-22, NASB)
This is my greatest need, to bless the Lord in all things, praising Him with all that I am: to seek after, search out, and know my God. There is no greater need I have than to seek Him, find Him, and serve Him with a “yet not my will, but Thy will be done” heart. With this fulfilled, no matter the storms all around me, “it is well, it is well with my soul.”
MY sweet husband, in pain, says, “This is the worst day yet,” as he struggles to move. Then he begins thanking me for my care for him. That’s my husband: realize the struggle, but focus on the blessings in the midst of it.
The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible encourages us to realize the importance of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4). One of the greatest aids to contentment when trouble screams for our attention is the practice of focusing on the blessings all around us, being grateful for the good that trouble seeks to rob from us. Learning to see the beauty in life and taking time to smell the roses helps us walk a life of contentment in the midst of pain.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith ~ 1 John 5:4.
God speaks so clearly to my heart today, and He does it through a picture search. My thoughts on “Take up your cross daily and follow me,” looking for just the right pictures to portray that thought, I come across two that add new meaning to my understanding. Before covering that, lets cover the usual thought people have in that and the understanding I have long held that was added to today.
Most people I hear from on the subject believe carrying our cross means accepting our lot in life and bearing up under it as pleases and portrays Christ. The problem I too often see with this ideology is the person bearing it most often hangs their head, shakes it, and says, “Oh, it is just my cross to bear.”
Now I have no doubt that ideology can be part of bearing the cross, but it falls short of God’s teaching in that passage we use as our instruction on cross bearing. The preceding ideology hears the words of Christ, “Take up your cross daily and follow me” while forgetting the rest of the passage, and they do so with a defeated spirit that oft does more harm than good to the cause of Christ. God taught me much about cross bearing through the rest of that passage, so we go there for my understanding to date and what I call cross bearing.
“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” ~ Luke 9:23-24.
The clue to true cross bearing is the denying of self and the losing our life now so that we can gain it for eternity. It is to say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Thy will be done, O God.” It is the practice of Philippians 2:1-8:
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Before today I would have said that this is cross bearing at its best. Then I ran across two pictures that added insight to my understanding of the best cross bearing, whether we are accepting our lot as Job did, or denying self as Jesus did.
Picture 1: Praise and Promise!
Taking up our cross is made better than best when we take it up as one who is grabbing hold by faith to the promise and praiseworthiness of God, trusting Him despite our lot, knowing that as we deny self for the sake of others, He will meet us at our need and we will not miss our sacrifice for His name’s sake.
Picture #2: VICTORY!
Taking up our cross means to walk out the challenges of this life realizing the victory is already won in Christ. No thing we face in this life can defeat us if we are bearing our cross in faith, believing Christ who says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” ~ John 16:33.
Taking up our cross is not a drudgery to be born. It is not hard. Because as we learn how to take it up, it is done with hope of promise, assurance of victory, and joy of glory in Christ the King, and God our Father. So take up your cross daily, my friend, and press forward in faith with strength, believing.