How does God answer prayer? We know how we want God to answer our prayers. We want Him to grant our requests, whatever they might be. We want God to answer “Yes!” to our prayers. God always answers the prayers of the righteous ( Jer. 33:3 ), but anyone who prays knows that His answer is not always “yes.”
Are you praying? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” ( 1 Thess. 5:17 ). Encouraging Christians to put on“the whole armor of God,” ( Eph. 6:11-17 ), Paul further instructed them to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication” ( vs. 18 ). Jesus used an entire parable to emphasize “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1-8 ). Obviously, prayer ought to be an integral part of a Christian’s life.
Are you praying? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” ( 1 Thess. 5:17 ). Encouraging Christians to put on “the whole armor of God,” ( Eph. 6:11-17 ), Paul further instructed them to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication” ( vs. 18 ). Jesus used an entire parable to emphasize “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” ( Lk. 18:1-8 ). Obviously, prayer ought to be an integral part of a Christian’s life.
Just how important is it to be at services when the church meets? Now, at the beginning of a new year, is an especially good time to consider this question. As Christians, we need to always be examining ourselves to make sure that our lives reflect true faithfulness ( 2 Cor. 13:5 ). But many people are reflecting on their lives more seriously right now than they normally would do.
God’s word is “living and powerful” ( Heb. 4:12 ). God guides us and communicates His will to us through His word ( Ps. 119:105 ). The gospel message of salvation is revealed to us in God’s word ( Rom. 1:16 ). By reading His word we understand that it is through the gospel that we are actually called to salvation ( 2 Thess. 2:13-14 ). His word guides us as to how to live a faithful, productive Christian life after coming to salvation ( 2 Tim. 3:15-17 ). It is no wonder that God instructs us to diligently study His word in order to be able to correctly understand and apply it to our lives, and to stand approved before Him (2 Tim. 2:15 ).
The Psalmist recorded Israel's prayer to God from long ago. "Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low" (Ps. 79:8). In this prayer the people are asking God to forget their former sins. The text of the Psalm would seem to fit the period of Israel's captivity in Babylon. God allowed the Babylonians to conquer Judah, destroy Jerusalem and the temple therein and take the people into Babylon as captives. In time, the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, but it was seventy years before the first of the people of Judah were allowed to return to their homeland.
In the Romans letter the apostle Paul demonstrated the terribleness of sin both in the consequence of it and in the magnitude of God's grace bestowed in dealing with it. The sin of one man, Adam, brought sinfulness and death to all mankind (Rom 5:12,14). The consequence of sin is not only physical death (Gen 2:17; 3:22-24) but also spiritual death, separation form God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:21,23). To die physically while already dead spiritually is to face the reality of "the second death," eternal separation from God (2 Thess 1:9).
The apostle Paul asked the rhetorical question "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1). Later in that same chapter he asked essentially the same question: "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" (Rom. 6:15). In both cases he gave an emphatic answer to his own question: "Certainly not!" We would do well to learn the lessons from this text on both sin and grace.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and the He is arewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). When considering doctrines ("teachings") that are absolutely fundamental to Christianity, faith in God would have to head the list. Either God is the creator and designer of the universe, or He is not. Either He is the author of all life in this world, or He is not. Either He is the source for eternal life for mankind, or He is not. There is no middle ground on these matters. Faith in God, as God, is basic to our spiritual identity. Without faith in God, all other teachings pertaining to Christianity are meaningless.
In a previous article we asked the question, "What Is The Church?" We established that a church building is not the church. The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). The church is that body of believers who have become true Christians, having been baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27) for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). As they receive forgiveness, at baptism through the blood shed by Christ on the cross, they also come into a state of salvation (Mk. 16:15-16), and the Lord Himself adds them to His body, the church (Acts 2:47).
Gary L. Hutchens