Agonizomai. This word means to struggle, to wrestle with, to contend or compete with an adversary. In Colossians 1:28-29 we see that Paul labored and struggled (agonizomai) with all the energy of God, which was working (energeo) in him, to admonish and teach everyone with all wisdom, with the goal to present everyone perfect in Christ. So here, whereas some people struggle just with their own personal problems, Paul struggled and worked (with the power of God behind him) in behalf of others.
And we can believe that, as he struggled to admonish and teach, the real struggle was with the devil (Eph. 6:10-13), and his weapon against him was prayer. For this reason, we can say that earnestness in prayer is working and struggling in prayer (by the mighty power of God) against the forces of evil. And we do it with the goal…
This is my second installment of four on this study of earnest prayer—which are excerpts from my book Principles of Prayer.
Eklenesteron. This word has basically the same meaning as ektenos, except with this word the intensity of earnestness is greater. The word appears in the New Testament only in Luke 22:44, where it describes the way Jesus prayed just before His trial and crucifixion: “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Here it seems that the reason why He prayed so earnestly was because He was so grieved and distressed over the thought of His crucifixion—where he would suffer and pay a horrible penalty for the sin of the whole world. But take note that His prayers were not weak as to feel sorry for Himself. No, His prayers were strong. As…
This is our twenty-fifth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
The Pharisee noticed right away that Jesus did not wash his hand before meal time. Yes, growing up we all were taught that we should wash our hands. But that is not as important as having a clean heart and mind. And tithing is also important, but not as important as loving God. And the way people see us and respect us is also important, but the way God sees us is most important. And it should be important to us to always be cleansed of sin and to have a right relationship with Him.
Beware of people who are like Pharisees, who always look to impress others, but care not what God thinks. They care about how they look on the outside, but inside they are dead, dead to God.
If you are having some difficulty knowing how to abide in the Word, or knowing how abiding works to bring about desire, here are five steps to follow that I think will be helpful.
Contemplate.Before I pray I always find it helpful to read something from the Bible and to think about its meaning. Think about what God has said to you from the Bible, but also what He says to you in nature—think on and remember the wonders He has done (1 Chron. 16:11). As you read the gospels, think of Jesus. Think of all His qualities and what He has done for you. Eventually you will find yourself longing for God.
Reckon.Reckon (know and believe) that He will never leave you, and that you are a member of His body. Reckon that His life flows through you as the living sap that…
This is our twenty-fourth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. 45 “You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 “You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
I will give my observations of the Pharisee first: he judged Jesus wrong in thinking that He did not know the woman; He knew all about her. He also was terribly wrong in believing that God required him to separate himself from this kind of a woman—from sinners. God wants us to befriend sinners in order to help them. But this Simon thought that it was better for him to distance himself from sinners only in order that he would appear to people to be more righteous.
Jesus knew the woman and he knew this Pharisee. He made it clear that Simon was not a good or a righteous man. And the woman, even being a prostitute, had been changed by God and was repentant.
Jesus welcomes all sinners to come to Him. And we also should befriend sinners in order to help them come to Jesus. Let us always beware of those who are self-righteous. They are dangerous.
When I heard my pastor say this morning that we need to manage our fears and walk by faith, my heart perked up. Will this be an answer to my prayers? For the last few days, I have felt aggravated by what’s going on at work, and I also know that I am struggling with fear; fear of the person that I work for. Well, last night I was not able to sleep and so I sat up in my bed with my bible in hand, trying to find a verse of Scripture to help me—but nothing. So, I prayed that God would soon show me a good Scripture passage and tell me what to do. Then this morning I really didn’t feel too good and almost didn’t go to church. Then I thought: well, maybe the Lord will give me something; maybe He will answer my prayers. And He surely did.
This morning’s sermon was from the book of Numbers, chapters 13 and 14. You may remember what happened. Twelve spies went into Canaan to spy out the land. They found that the land was very good, but that the people were huge and their cities were well-guarded. Ten out of the twelve spies had great fears; they reported that they were not able to go up against them, that they were not strong enough. They said, “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight and so we were in their sight.”
Here are a few notes that I wrote down from the sermon:
When they went into Canaan and looked around, they didn’t manage their fears and so they didn’t walk by faith.
God said, enough of the whining, just trust Me.
We are to walk by faith, not by fear.
There is a high price for not managing our fear.
“Fear is a reaction; courage is a decision.” – Winton Churchill
The people of Israel wept all night at the peril they faced, but they didn’t turn to God in faith.
“If we do not fear God, we fear everything else.” – Oswald Chambers
When we fear and don’t trust God, we will miss His gifts.
So, what should I do with my situation at work? First of all, I will be praying and will trust God in what to do. I will not let fear rule my life. I will not let myself stew over any further potential problem. I will have a positive attitude as I manage my fears. And I will follow the example of Caleb who said (in Nu. 13:30), “We should by all means go up and take possession of it [the land], for we will surely overcome it.”
Desire is the beginning and the basis of prayer. We cannot pray at all without desire. Now if you want to really deepen your prayer life, you must deepen your desire in prayer. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Pray for desire. Since prayers are somewhat meaningless without desire, if you have just a little desire, I think it would be wise to focus that desire in praying for more desire. While you are praying you may discover that your lack of desire is even worse than you thought—because you may not feel much like praying at all, for anything! If that’s the case, it may be that God is already at work in you to answer your prayer. He is creating in you what is necessary to have desire—recognition of your need, which is your first step to achieve it.
William Tyndale came around one hundred years after Wickliffe and Huss. But though there is no writing in this book on any martyrs in-between that time, we know that there were very many martyrs—thousands of them. The Roman church was relentless in killing true Christians. It was part of their Babylonian roots.
Well, Tyndale was brought up from a child in the University of Oxford, where Wickliffe taught. But he moved on to Cambridge and other schools to pursue more degrees. He became a master at translating the Scriptures, as Wickliffe was. And, it was not uncommon, wherever he abided, that priests of the church came against him, saying that his words were heresy. So, Tyndale, rather than fight, moved around from place to place seeking for places to do his translation work. He went to London and also to Germany—where he had good words and learning from Martin Luther.
Tyndale was constantly grieved that people everywhere did not have the Scriptures available to them in their mother tongue. So, it was his goal to translate the Scriptures for them, even though the evil church did the opposite. They wanted to hide the Scriptures from their eyes in order that they could delude and control the people. Some said that Tyndale’s translations were wrong, that there were thousands of heresies in it. Some said that it was not possible to translate the Scriptures correctly and that it was not lawful for the people to have them in their mother tongue, and that it would make them rebel against the church and the king.
There was one (and others also) that plotted against Tyndale. He would buy his translations, then would burn them. Another time the devil came against him so that he suffered shipwreck, in which he lost all his books, writings, copies, and money so that he had to begin his work all over again. Yet, there were some copies that survived, and Tyndale’s work became a key link in the translation of the Scriptures, even from the original manuscripts—so important.
At the end, he, being plotted against, was brought to prison in England. And by the emperor’s decree was tied to a stake and consumed with fire. As he began to be burned, he cried with a loud voice, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.”