8.18.2016

Praying, obeying, and abiding. A perfect trio!

This week our study group read chapter two of The Power of Prayer in a Believers Life and it was fanTAStic! Hardly a sentence was left without an underline, a highlight, or a response written in the margin. How I love reading the thoughts and convictions of godly men and women as they interact with the Word of God! Scripture is powerful and effective and most certainly stands on its own, but sometimes a writer has the ability to make Scripture come alive in a way that heightens our appreciation and understanding and makes us want to know it more. Spurgeon had that ability, and it is a blessing and a joy to be encouraged and challenged by his words decades after he put pen to paper.
Thank You, Lord, for the faithfulness of such men and women! 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 
If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full
John 15

We cannot separate Christ from the Word. In the first place, He is the Word. In the next place, how dare we call Him Master and Lord and do not do the things that He says, rejecting the truth He teaches? We must obey His precepts or He will not accept us as disciples. Especially the precept of love that is the essence of all His words. We must love God and our brethren. We must cherish love to all men and seek their good. Anger and malice must be far from us. We must walk even as He walked. If Christ’s words do not abide in you - both as to belief and practice - you are not in Christ. Christ and His gospel and His commands are one. If you will not have Christ and His words, neither will He have you or your words.

The sentence that struck me hardest was this one: how dare we call Him Master and Lord and do not do the things that He says, rejecting the truth He teaches?
The Christian life is about OBEDIENCE. "If you love Me, you will obey My commands." But the obedience should not stem from legalism or works-based faith ... it should be an outpouring of love with a desire to obey because we love God and are so thankful for His saving grace.
I can say I do this. Sometimes. But not every time. And I hate that.
This sentence ...  If Christ’s words do not abide in you - both as to belief and practice - you are not in Christ. Christ and His gospel and His commands are one ... Oh my!
Like James says - be a DOER of the Word, not just one who hears the Word and then walks away and forgets.
This paragraph really hit me hard. It is a good hard ... but one I am not done processing or praying through or figuring out how/what I need to change. I keep reading it over and over again and each time I am hit with the same power of conviction.
I want to be called His disciple! So - obey I must.

You who have Christ’s words abiding in you are equipped with those things that the Lord regards with attention. If the Word of God abides in you, you can pray because you meet the great God with His own words and thus overcome omnipotence with omnipotence. You put your finger down upon the very lines and say, “Do as You have said.” This is the best praying in all the world. So be filled with God’s Word. Study what Jesus has said, what the Holy Ghost has left on record in this divinely inspired book, and in proportion as you feed on, retain, and obey the Word in your life, you will be a master in the art of prayer. You have acquired skill as a wrestler with the Covenant Angel in proportion as you can plead the promises of your faithful God. Be well instructed in the doctrines of grace and the let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, that you may know how to prevail at the throne of grace.

I LOVE this!
I started praying Scripture back to the Lord when I was in Bible college, but I did not appreciate it then like I do now.
When I counsel women, there are times when there are literally no words. No comfort, no solution, no answers. Promises cannot be made and guarantees cannot be offered.
But I can repeat what God has already said!
You put your finger down upon the very lines and say, “Do as You have said.” This is the best praying in all the world. YES! YES! YES!
Add to this the promise that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray and VOILA! The stress and burden of praying "the right way" is lifted, and we can come before the throne of grace with peace and confidence knowing the words are perfect - because they are HIS!
If we pray this way, and end each prayer with, "Not my will, but THINE be done," there is nothing left to do but sit back in peaceful contentment to wait and see what He will do, and how He will do it. This is EXCITING, isn't it?  I want to live this way. Every day. Every hour. Which means I have to be intentional  because it will not "just happen."
Make it so, Lord! Please - make it so!

If your prayers speed not at the throne, suspect that there is some sin that hinders them. If you do not abide in Christ, how can you hope to pray successfully? If you pick and choose His words and doubt this and doubt that, how can you hope to have speed at the throne? If you willfully disobey His words, will not this account for failure in prayer? But abide in Christ, take hold of His words, and be altogether His disciple, and He shall hear you. 

I think I may put this quote on a bookmark!
How many times do believers say, "I feel distant from God," or feel like He does not hear their prayers, answer their prayers, or give them the desires of their heart? I hear it often, and embarrassingly, I have said it myself.
And here is the perfect response. A checklist if you will.
-Are you abiding in Christ?
-Do you spend time in the Word daily?
-Do you have any areas of unrepentant sin in your life?
-Are you walking in obedience?
-Do you believe His Word and His promises - or do you doubt Him?
-Are you willfully disobeying Him in any area?
Basically, if we feel distant from God or it seems our prayers are bouncing off of the ceiling, it is time to step back and take inventory of the heart and mind. An honest and thorough inventory.
I love the end: BUT ... abide in Christ ... and He shall hear you.
There it is - the secret!
ABIDE.
In Christ.
Sacrifice everything else in order to cling to Him and draw from His resources. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Why WOULDN'T we want to live this way? And yet - we don't. Well, I don't. (maybe you all do?!?)
Oh, Lord, TEACH ME what it means to abide in You. Fully abiding, completely relaxed and resting in Your plans, Your purposes, and Your grace. I want that kind of prayer life, Lord. I want that confidence and that JOY. Help me, I pray. 

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