Friday, February 24, 2012

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

John 16:23,24
23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Are there requests which are just too trivial to ask?  When people pray, "Lord, where did I leave my glasses (or my keys)?", is this a waste of time?  No.  Father God is concerned about all of the details of our lives.  Luke 12:7 says "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Are there requests that shouldn't be asked?  Yes, if one is aware of a Biblical principle that addresses a request such as, "May I be unfaithful to my spouse?"  Don't!

How about if the answer seems obvious?  If there is no Biblical principle addressing an issue, then don't assume anything is obvious.  In Joshua chapter 9 the leaders of Israel did not ask the Lord about a matter which seemed obvious.  But they were deceived and suffered for it.

And finally, are there requests which are too big, too immense, too grand for us to ask?  For example, is it a waste of time to pray for our nation or even for world peace?  No.  First Timothy 2:1,2 says,
I urge, then, ... that prayers, ... be made for ... all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives ...

So should I pray about everything?  Well, yes.  But praying can be quick.  You don't have to explain anything to the Lord God, or convince Him of anything, or argue a case, or bow your head and close your eyes.  He's right here, He loves you, and He's been watching over you as a father or good shepherd.

So ask, and receive, and experience the joy of the Lord.

Larry Carroll

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Power To Forgive

The Power To Forgive
At my church we have been blessed to have the subject of forgiveness addressed from the pulpit for several weeks, starting with Mike Ferris’ presentation on January 8.  Mike addressed this from several angles and exposed the big lie of the enemy which is:

If you forgive, you are implying that this offense was really nothing much.  It’s OK.

And he went on to say, rightly so, that there are many abuses, offenses, and even crimes, especially crimes, that have happened, and they aren’t OK, and they never will be OK.  Nevertheless, we need to “let them go” for our own well being, for our own benefit.
Jesus went further when He said in Matthew 6:14,15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We see here that we really must forgive – and we know this to be true from experience, too, since we’ve seen unforgiveness damage people, and bitterness destroy people.
But how?
When we experience an offense and then look within ourselves we find that the power to forgive is not in us. What to do? Are we trapped in unforgiveness with no hope?  It seems as if forgiveness is not humanly possible.  Is the Lord God asking too much of us?  Well, He’s asking too much of ordinary mortals, that is, people operating in their own strength.  Martin Luther wrote:
Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,”
(From the hymn:  “A Might Fortress”)
Alas…"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.  Well we know who will: Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
How does this deliverance work?
There’s an old song I love:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
It’s true.
So the first step is to “turn your eyes (the eyes of your heart) upon Jesus”.  Then ask Him to save you from your prison of unforgiveness.  Ask Him to wash you clean.  Ask Him to enable you to repent, that is, acknowledge that you (we all) are needy people and that your pride, greed, fear, and unbelief must be renounced (crucified, if you will).  Jesus is a savior and a redeemer, not just from hell, but from all that binds and torments us.
But what will keep us free?
Will we just slip back into our old habits?  Oh, Jesus will save us yet again, but this is no way to live.  We desperately need to be operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And to be operating in this power, we must be baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Mark 1:8 says that Jesus is the one that baptizes and fills with the Holy Spirit.  So, pray to the Lord and ask Him to baptize and fill you with the Holy Spirit.  He will do it.
Notice that the word baptize is used here, as it is with water baptism.  Is there any connection?  Well, water baptism signifies to all that we’re totally in, no turning back.  Same thing with being baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.  He’s totally in us and we’re totally in Him.  This is not just a Sunday morning activity anymore, this is life itself.
Now forgiveness is not just a hurdle to get over occasionally so we can get on with life – it is a core element in life itself.  Does that sound depressing?  Well, then turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord God in the Philippian jail.  Why?  They were aware of God’s presence.  In the same way, you too can do things that are humanly impossible.
Larry Carroll

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock
Matthew 7:7-11

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The promise in verse 8 is quite evident - everyone who asks receives.  "Why" is addressed below in verses 9 through 11.  "When" a promise will be fulfilled is not stated.  So, for example, Abraham had to wait 25 years to see God's promise to him fulfilled.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

So the question is, "How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?  The answer is "much, much more".  Why?  Because He is your Father, and He's an exceedingly good Father.

So ask, seek, knock, and receive - and experience the joy of the Lord.

Ah, but the tempter is still at work, as he was with Eve in Genesis 3, where he said, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?”

And today he will use circumstances to say the same thing, "Did God really mean what He said?"  Circumstances often say "No, He didn't mean it."  The Spirit of God inside you says "Yes, He really meant it."

Whose report will you believe?  Choose wisely, choose life.

Larry Carroll

All scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.