The Father Hears Your Prayer

Jesus had a full revelation of the power of prayer and knew without any doubt that His Father heard Him when He prayed. The-Father-Hears-Your-Prayer-Photo-of-Man-leaning-on-wall

“Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me,’” (John 11:41-42).

We can have this same confidence when we pray. We don’t need to pray simply wishing that God will somehow hear us and answer us. Praying to God is not like talking to people in today’s world. God is not pondering what emails He needs to answer, He is not constantly checking His cell phone for new text messages. Our Father is not distracted, He is listening intently to us.

God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His beloved, righteous children.

We have His undivided attention when we pray.

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous,” (Proverbs 15:29).

God hears our prayers the same way He heard Jesus’ prayers.

The-Father-Hears-Your-Prayer-Photo-of-Man-on-MountainHe will answer our prayers the same way, too. We just need to come to Him the way Jesus did; in faith.

Jesus knew that everything He needed was waiting for Him in God’s presence. Our Father is everything we truly need. He readily offers the relationship and acceptance we so deeply desire. He has the wisdom to guide us through any situation. Healing for any sickness or disease is in His presence. We just have to learn to receive from Him.

We need to know that God has made Himself accessible to us. He is not a cold and distant God. James chapter four tells us that He draws near to us when we draw near to Him. We should be confident that God hears us and meets our needs when we pray to Him.

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).

Adopted by God

adopted-by-god-photo-of-baby-shoe-and-handsIf God is our Father, then that makes us His sons and daughters.

However, we weren’t naturally born into His family. He adopted us. Our being adopted was made possible by the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We are now able to find complete satisfaction and fulfillment in our Heavenly Father.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).

However, because we were adopted and not naturally born into our heavenly family, we begin with little to no knowledge of how to be a son or daughter of God.

We don’t know how to truly have a relationship with God, or even how to pray. We don’t understand what it means to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

However, we shouldn’t feel condemned for our ignorance. God does not see us as His hopeless little children who will never understand. No, our Father sees our potential in Christ and gives us everything we need to be “more than conquerors,” (Romans 8:37).

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

adopted-by-god-photo-of-man-reading-bookIf everything pertaining to life and godliness has already been given to us, how do we begin to live as sons and daughters of God?

We need an example, a teacher, a guide. God provided this perfect example through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is not only our Savior. His life on earth served as the perfect example of how to be a Son of God.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren,” (Romans 8:29).

Jesus prayed perfect prayers. He perfectly understood His standing with His Father. Jesus perfectly operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus perfectly demonstrated the love of God to the world. His life is our guide to being strong, loving, confident children of God.

We do not have to live in confusion or dismay wondering how to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. adopted-by-god-photo-of-person-learning-from-bible

We simply need to look to the words and actions of Jesus Christ in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If we have difficulty understanding God’s Word, then being in a church and following a pastor will help immensely. There are men and women all over the world who have walked the path before us who are more than willing to show us the way. Paul instructed his churches to do the same:

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,” (I Corinthians 11:1).

Whether you’re a brand new Christian, or you’ve been one for years , you can learn to be a son or daughter of God through following Christ. You’ll find purpose, relationships and satisfaction in Him.

God Is A Father

God is a Father.

The fact that God is a Father is proven by His loving actions toward His children throughout history; first the Israelites, then the Israelites and the Church. We also see proof of His fatherhood in the way His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, referred to Him. Jesus almost exclusively called God “Father”. One of the only times Jesus called God “God” is when He was near death on the Cross and God was forced to forsake Him because Jesus had taken all of mankind’s sin into Himself (Mark 15:34).

It is God’s Fatherhood that answers the question, “Why did God create the earth and man?”

god-is-father-crowd-of-peopleHe created mankind so He could have a family.  There are people who take offense at this answer.  They say, “Is God so vain that He needed to create people so He could have something to praise Him?” Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not need our praise, but He takes great delight and we find our purpose in it.

God wanted a family so He could pour His love and blessing out on them. All throughout scripture we see God making promises to bless His children and faithfully fulfilling those promises.

He gave Adam and Eve dominion over the Earth to subdue and cause it to flourish (Genesis 1:26-28). This promise continues even today.

He brought Abraham out of his home country, greatly blessed him with livestock and servants, and told him that his children would be as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore.

God promised King David that his throne would continue on forever.  It does even now through the Lord Jesus Christ.

He promised to save all of mankind from their sins and sent Jesus to die on the Cross and rise again in order to fulfill that promise.

All of God’s works since before the beginning of time have been motivated by His loving Fatherly heart.

fear-of-god-photo-of-father-handHe created us to be His sons and daughters. He gave us His Holy Spirit in order to confirm this.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” (Romans 8:15-17).

When we open our eyes to see this beautiful truth, confusion about who we are and why we’re here will fall away.  We will realize that God’s greatest desire is fulfilled by having a relationship with His sons and daughters and our greatest desire is fulfilled by having relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Perfect Love Causes Fear To Lose Power

We know that the perfect love of God causes fear to lose all its power.

When we know that we are loved and cared for by the Creator of the Universe it puts our lives and our problems in the right perspective. However, fear will try to skew our vision. Fear knows that if it can draw our eyes away from the love of Jesus, it has greatly increased its chances of destroying us.

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered,’” (Romans 8:35-36)

The things listed in these verses are all tools.  Fear uses these tools to convince us that we are separated from the perfect love of God and His provision. It uses these things as distractions from the truth. Fear tries to build them up in our minds, so we’ll view them as greater than what we have in Christ. We will see our trial as our final destination and accept it as our lot in life.

Perfect Love - Photo of man readingGod’s Word teaches us to do exactly the opposite.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:2-4).

While fear wants to use tests and trials to shipwreck our lives, God will use them to strengthen us. We need to know that God does not send the trials, but He is more than capable of using them for His glory and our good.

So, it wouldn’t make sense to think that our faith would be strengthened and God would be glorified by a trial that destroys us. He would not tell us to consider it all joy when we endure trials if He did not already have a way out for us.

The only way we grow and succeed in trials is when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Perfect Love - Photo of the Cross by Aaron Burden. unsplash.com/photos/df47UDrfi8IThe only way we fail is when we take our eyes off of Him. If we allow fear to convince us that our trials is evidence of God’s absence, then they will defeat us.

God reassures us in His word that it is impossible to for these things to separate us from Him.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:37-39).

Instead of thinking that our hardships separate us from Christ, we should have faith that victory is ours.  Whatever we go through, trials or distresses, isn’t greater than our heavenly Father or His perfect love for us. So, let’s keep our eyes on Him.  Let’s keep ourselves in the love of Christ and we will always have victory.

Escape Fear and Insecurity

fear-and-insecurity-silhouette-of-manFear of other people most often reveals itself through insecurity.

Most of us know, or have known, at least one person who intimidates us. It could be someone we went to school with, a coworker, a boss, a sibling, or one of our parents. The idea of them can awaken fear in our hearts and minds. If it’s someone from our past, even the thought of them can bring back old emotions.

Being afraid of a person doesn’t always mean that we are in fear for our personal safety, although that is a possibility.

Insecurity causes us to intentionally make ourselves “smaller” around people who intimidate us. We don’t want to get in their way or offend them.  This is because we’re afraid of how they’ll react if we “step out of line” in their eyes. However, if we’re afraid to step out of line around them, doesn’t that mean we are allowing other people to set the boundaries for our lives? So, what we’re actually afraid of is their rejection.

fear-and-insecurity-photo-of-group-of-people-blurredThis fear of rejection is what causes our insecurity. We are so concerned with earning the approval of people that even the idea of someone not liking us, or even just something about us, can set our thoughts and emotions on a downward spiral. So, we mold ourselves to meet another person’s standards.

This puts us into an exhausting cycle of earning, losing and striving to regain man’s approval. We are putting ourselves under the control of other people, our own fear, and ultimately the devil, because fear originated with him.

no-fear-in-love-quoteHow do we escape this fear and insecurity?

By knowing that we are loved by our heavenly Father.

It may sound too simple, but God doesn’t make things complicated for His children.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,” (1 John 4:18a).

When we know we are loved by the Creator of the universe, approval of man begins to lose its appeal.

If you are trapped in a cycle of insecurity I encourage you to start saying “I am loved by God,” every time you feel that fear is trying to overtake you. Allow the love of God to drive out fear, so you can live in the peace and confidence that His love brings.

Fight Off Fear-Driven Dissatisfaction

The Devil tries to bring fear into our lives through dissatisfaction. 

He uses dissatisfaction to introduce fear into our lives by convincing us we’re missing out on something we deserve to have. The devil tells us that other people are enjoying something that was meant for us. He makes us think that because we don’t have what other people have we are less than they are.

In fact that was his strategy when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Fight-Off-Fear-Driven-Dissatisfaction-Photo-of-woman-blindfolded.jpg  A photo by Oscar Keys. unsplash.com/photos/AmPRUnRb6N0“One day the snake said to the woman, “Did God really say that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” The woman answered the snake, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But God told us, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. You must not even touch it, or you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman, “You will not die. God knows that if you eat the fruit from that tree, you will learn about good and evil and you will be like God!” (Genesis 3:1-5 NCV).

The snake (Satan) twisted the words of God to make Eve think that God was holding something back. He tells her that God hasn’t given her the whole truth and that her life would actually improve by stepping out of the will of God.

Satan does the same thing to us every day.

He tries to make us believe that our life doesn’t quite measure up.  Satan tries to convince us that we are less than sufficient, and that what our heavenly Father has provided isn’t enough.

This isn’t the kind of fear that brings nightmares and cold sweats. It’s the kind that breeds a subtle dissatisfaction with our lives.

This dissatisfaction will cause us to question everything we have: Our house, our salary, our friendships, our parenting, our marriages, etc.

We should absolutely desire to improve in all these areas, but fear and discontentment will never bring growth. Fight-Off-Fear-Driven-Dissatisfaction-Photo-of-man-with-dog.jpg

Instead of growing, we will diminish. We will become angry, closed off or overly competitive.  We will begin to think the reason that we don’t have enough is because we aren’t enough.  These emotions can drive us to do unreasonable things and the whole time the force behind our negative emotions is fear.

If you were to ask an adulterer why he had an affair it’s not likely he would answer, “Because I was afraid.”  When you ask someone who was recently fired why she lost their job she wouldn’t say, “Because I was afraid.”  If you ask someone who has no friends why he pushes people away he wouldn’t tell you, “Because I am afraid.”  These people would give you a litany of other reasons: They were unhappy in their marriage; They didn’t get along with their coworkers; Other people don’t understand them.

The real reason is fear.

They are afraid somebody is using them, lying to them or has something they believe they should have.  They’ve fallen into the same trap as Eve. They’ve allowed fear to stop them from seeing the blessing of God in their lives.

That’s really what Eve missed. The Devil told her she was going to be like God and she forgot that she was already made in His perfect image.

Fight-Off-Fear-Driven-Dissatisfaction-Photo-of-woman-blindfolded.jpg  A photo by Jared Erondu. unsplash.com/photos/j4PaE7E2_WsWe can fight off this fear-driven dissatisfaction by knowing that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. The feeling of not having enough is destroyed by knowing that we are enough in Christ. We are made in the image of God the same way Adam and Eve were.

We need to remind ourselves of 2 Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that we are always missing out on something. God has already blessed us and will continue to do so. We only have to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Strengthen Your Faith

If we’re going to stay faithful and not lose heart in following God’s plan for our lives, we’re going to need to strengthen our faith daily.

How do we strengthen our faith?

Religion wants to make you think that being a strong Christian is a complicated process with unsure results.

It isn’t.

The Word of God makes it simple.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” (Romans 10:17).

This verse isn’t telling us to hear the Word once and move on. It means that we need to continually hear the Word of God. If we’re going to stand firm in our faith and be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) we need to hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word every day.

Whether we are paying attention or not, we are continually hearing something.

Strengthen Your Faith - Weight Sets Photo

It’s songs on the radio, words on the television.  It’s words from our friends and family and the list goes on and on.

The way continually hearing the Word of God will strengthen our faith, continually hearing the things of the world will sap our strength. We’ll slowly become more accustomed to the words of fear and doubt that the world is constantly speaking and we’ll believe them before we believe the Word of God.

None of us would consciously choose to weaken our faith. But that is what we’re doing when we are continually listening to everything on the news and social media. We’re wiring ourselves to believe what the world believes and to respond how they respond.

This is not God’s desire for us.

God wants to us to have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

We won’t experience the God-kind of life if we’re listening to the world more than God’s Word.

When we make the decision that we’re going to follow God’s plan for our lives, we’re going to face tests, trials and temptations. If the world is our source, then we are more likely to falter in the face of hard times.

However, when we are daily strengthening our faith by hearing the Word of God, we’ll be able to stand strong in our calling, even when times get hard. Our faith gives us the ability to believe that what God has promised, He is able to do (Romans 4:21). Instead of giving in to tests, trials and temptations, we will hold fast to God and His promises.

So, make it a point this week to turn off secular media and listen to sound, biblical teaching. It will strengthen your faith and prepare you for anything life tries to throw at you.

Fear Not- Guard Your Heart

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” (Proverbs 4:23 NASB).

The second half of this verse shows us that the condition of our hearts will direct our lives, emphasizing the importance of our ability to guard our hearts. If we have anger in our hearts, then anger will be the driving force behind almost everything we do. If a fear of rejection is rooted in our hearts, then we will spend our lives striving to earn man’s acceptance. The list could go on and on.

This truth should lead us to ask the question, “How do I guard my heart?”

Many people think this involves building high walls around their hearts so they can never be broken or disappointed. They think they have built the walls for protection, but in reality they have built their own prison. However, those who do this are being controlled by fear and the Bible reveals the exact opposite is to be done.

“For the love of Christ controls us,” (2 Corinthians 5:14a NASB).

 

Fear builds walls around our hearts.

It shuts us out from the world. It tells us that if we ever let anyone or anything close to us, then we are at risk for failure and heartbreak.

While this is true, it is also true that behind the walls our hearts will become hard and unfeeling, and we will miss the abundant life waiting for us on the outside. A life controlled by fear can never experience the fullness of God’s plan.

Being controlled by love is how we find our calling and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

He lived His life to show the Father’s love to everyone who came around Him. His heart was open to the hurting and the lost. It was even open to the self-righteous people who hated Him.

If Jesus had been motivated by fear He wouldn’t have fulfilled His purpose of dying on the cross. Without His death there would have been no resurrection. So, the love of Christ is the reason we are here today.

The best way to guard our hearts is not to build high walls around them, but rather to open them to the love of Christ. His love will soften our hearts to receive every good thing He has for us. Although it will not prevent us from experiencing failure and disappointment, it will protect us from being shattered by them. It will give us Jesus’ perspective of life and people. His love will show us that failure doesn’t have to be the end, because He will always make a way.

When our hearts our guarded by the love of Christ, then the course of our lives will always be victorious.

Unconditional Love: Relationship or Religion

We are created by God to be in relationship with Him and to know Him intimately.

Unconditional-Love-Relationship-or-Religion-Created-by-God-QuoteWe all have different talents and abilities, and a specific calling given to us by our heavenly Father. But the greatest thing we can ever do is to have relationship with Him.  That is to know and love Him, because He first loved us.

Jesus said it this way, “And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment,’” Matthew 22:37-38 (NASB)

When He said to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, Jesus is being repetitive to make a point. Our heart and our mind make up our soul. The reason He said it that way was to emphasize the importance of loving God with everything that we have.

This is the reason that a hardened heart is so crippling to our relationship with God.

It’s incapable of loving Him with everything, because it isn’t set on Him.

When our hearts are insensitive toward God we’ll look everywhere else for the peace and contentment that only He can give.

It will hinder us from knowing and loving God. Worse than that, it will hold us back from experiencing God’s love for us.

Our hearts become hardened because we believe that God’s love for us is conditional.

Unconditional-Love-Relationship-or-Religion-hearts-insensitive-QuoteWe think that it’s like man’s love and is based on our good or bad actions. This couldn’t be further from the truth. However, we accept it as truth because the idea of unconditional love is difficult for our minds to grasp.

But, if we’re ever going to love God with all of our hearts, we must first receive His love by faith.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins,” 1 John 4:10 (NLT)

Receiving His love will break down the walls we’ve built around our hearts. His unconditional love will show us that we don’t need to look anywhere else for peace or contentment.  Because we can always find peace and contentment in Him.

We’ll fulfill our purpose of loving Him with all of our hearts when we believe that He first loved us.

Looking Beyond Pain

We should never allow our pain to make us cold and insensitive to God.

Look Beyond The Pain -- Photo of Young Man Looking Out of a Window

How do we look beyond the pain though? By responding to hurt the way our Father tells us to.

We imitate Jesus. What did Jesus do in the middle of the most painful moment of His life?

He looked ahead to the promise of God.

Hebrews 12:2b, “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Let’s look at what the word “despise” really means.  It means to think lightly of, to not care for, to neglect. It is the opposite of caring about something or supporting something.

So, to despise the shame of our past means that we think lightly of it. We neglect it, and we stop supporting it.

Too many times we allow shame to define us.

We turn it into the biggest part of our identity. Instead of despising it, we exalt it. Instead of neglecting it, we focus on it. We continue supporting it.

When we choose to despise the shame, we strip it of its power over us. It is no longer our identity. It doesn’t hang over us like a black cloud.

That is what Jesus did on the cross; He despised the shame and focused on the joy set before Him.

That is why He isn’t just Jesus of Nazareth who died on a cross. He is Jesus Christ, the risen savior.

We have faith in God because He always has joy set before us.

Look Beyond The Pain - Photo of Man on wall looking at the sea and city scape

If we’re too focused on the circumstance we’ll get stuck in it and miss the joy.

Notice that joy was set before Jesus. It was out in front of Him. Jesus did not have a mindset that His best days were behind Him. He didn’t hang on the cross thinking about all the people that He raised from the dead. Jesus wasn’t reminiscing about the miracles or the times of prayer. He was looking forward to what would come after the Cross.

Jesus made a choice to look beyond the pain of His present situation to see what God had in store for Him.

It’s a conscious choice to look at Jesus in the middle of the pain. This is how we keep a sensitive heart toward our heavenly Father in the midst of adverse circumstances. We put our faith in the promises of God. We believe in the promise of joy.

This will cause us to stop identifying with the shame of our past and to know that we are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10). We won’t just be old sinners, saved by grace. We’ll be kings and priests, seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Revelation 5:10, Ephesians 2:6).