Jesus’ longest prayer is in John 17. There, Jesus prays to God as “Father”, which is his common pattern. Every time I preach about it, many people have the same question, “Should we pray to God the Father or can we pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?”
That is a common question. As a general rule, most of our praying should be to God the Father. Jesus taught us saying in Matthew 6:9, “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven”. Jesus modeled praying to God as Father repeatedly as some 165 times in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), He refers to God as Father which is His favorite name for God.
Sometimes, it is fine to pray to Jesus. There is an occasion when an early church leader named Stephen prayed to Jesus as he was dying. We read in Acts 7:59 that Stephen saw Jesus in heaven and “he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’”.
Christian prayer is most often Trinitarian. Practically, this means we pray by the Spirit, through Jesus Christ our mediator, to God the Father. Praying by the Spirit is clearly taught in the Bible. Ephesians 6:18 says we should be, “praying at all times in the Spirit”. Jude 1:20 says we should be, “praying in the Holy Spirit”. Praying through Jesus Christ is what He meant teaching us to pray, “in my name” (John 14:13-14).
There are times, however, when it is sensible to pray to Jesus or the Spirit. For example, if you are reading the Bible and reminded that Jesus died in your place for your sins on the cross, it is a good thing to stop and thank Him for doing that work on your behalf. Or, if you love someone who is far from God and not paying any attention to the bad decisions that are harming their life and relationship with God, you can pray to the Spirit to convict them of their sin as that is one of His ministries (John 16:8).
Which member of the Trinity do you feel most familiar with? How can you get to know the others?
By Mark Driscoll
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
Here are two great incentives from Jesus to become a World Christian and to dedicate yourself to the cause of Frontier Missions. As a goer or a sender.
- Every impossibility with men is possible with God (Mark 10:27). The conversion of hardened sinners will be the work of God and will accord with his sovereign plan. We need not fear or fret over our weakness. The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give the victory.
- Christ promises to work for us, and to be for us so much that, when our missionary life is over, we will not be able to say we’ve sacrificed anything (Mark 10:29–30).
When we follow his missionary prescription, we discover that even the painful side effects work to improve our condition. Our spiritual health, our joy, improves a hundredfold. And when we die, we do not die. We gain eternal life.
I do not appeal to you to screw up your courage and sacrifice for Christ. I appeal to you to renounce all you have, to obtain life that satisfies your deepest longings. I appeal to you to count all things as rubbish for the surpassing value of standing in the service of the King of kings. I appeal to you to take off your store-bought rags and put on the garments of God’s ambassadors.
I promise you persecutions and privations — but remember the joy! “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
On January 8, 1956, five Waorani Indians of Ecuador killed Jim Elliot and his four missionary companions as they were trying to bring the gospel to the Waorani tribe of sixty people.
Four young wives lost husbands and nine children lost their fathers. Elisabeth Elliot wrote that the world called it a nightmare of tragedy. Then she added, “The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’”
By John Piper
Malachi 2:1-2: “And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.”
When each of our five children were little, my wife Grace was amazing to watch. For her entire life, she had studied health and nutrition. Once the kids showed up, she knew exactly what to feed them and what not to feed them. As I asked her to inform my ignorance, she explained that the children’s digestive system meant that their little body could not process all foods. Many would make them sick or even cause them to develop lifelong allergies if they were introduced into their diet too early.
I had no idea and had I been the one feeding the kids, it would not have gone well. The old adage “you are what you eat” is apparently quite true. And what is true of your body is also true of your soul. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said that we should feed our soul the word of God and that God’s “word” was soul “bread”. Practically, when I teach the Bible at church, I am to feed the souls of our church family with the same care that Grace feeds the bodies of our family at home.
In Malachi, God, through the prophet, keeps rebuking the Old Testament pastors (called priests) publicly. These are the leaders who are also supposed to be the feeders. But they are not listening to God and feeding the people healthy doctrine. God is passionate about seeing His children well fed so they can be healthy rather than sick. This is a bit like the conversation Jesus had with Peter when He told him “feed my sheep”.
Like the priests, there are many people who God expects to feed the souls of others – pastors, ministry leaders, moms, dads, teachers, coaches, spouses, counselors, authors, friends, etc. To feed someone is a great honor, and great responsibility. This is why James 3:1 says, “…we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Who feeds your soul? Whose soul do you feed? What are you eating? What are you feeding others?
In Titus 2:1, the Bible tells us to “teach what accords with sound doctrine”. That word for “sound” is sometimes translated “healthy”? Why? Because when rightly taught, the Word of God makes the soul of a person healthy so that they become increasingly healthy from the inside out.
Is there anything you are learning or consuming in the form of content (videos, books, blogs, social media, television, movies, podcasts, etc.) that is not healthy and is making your soul unhealthy?
By Mark Driscoll
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” (Matthew 7:22)
Consider the difference between a heart of “faith” and a heart of “works.”
The heart of works gets satisfaction from the ego-boost of accomplishing something in its own power. It will attempt to scale a vertical rock face, or take on extra responsibilities at work, or risk life in a combat zone, or agonize through a marathon, or perform religious fasting for weeks — all for the satisfaction of conquering a challenge by the force of its own will and the stamina of its own body.
The heart with a works-orientation may also go in another direction and express its love of independence and self-direction and self-achievement by rebelling against courtesy and decency and morality (Galatians 5:19-21). But it’s the same self-determining, self-exalting works-orientation — whether it is being immoral or mounting a crusade against immoral behavior. The common denominator is self-direction, self-reliance, and self-exaltation. In all of this, the basic satisfaction of the works-orientation is the savor of being an assertive, autonomous, and, if possible, triumphant self.
The heart of faith is radically different. Its desires are no less strong as it looks to the future. But what it desires is the fullest satisfaction of experiencing all that God is for us in Jesus.
If “works” wants the satisfaction of feeling itself overcome an obstacle, “faith” savors the satisfaction of feeling God overcome an obstacle. Works longs for the joy of being glorified as capable, strong, and smart. Faith longs for the joy of seeing God glorified for his capability and strength and wisdom and grace.
In its religious form, works accepts the challenge of morality, conquers its obstacles through great exertion, and offers the victory to God as a payment for his approval and recompense. Faith, too, accepts the challenge of morality, but only as an occasion to become the instrument of God’s power. And when the victory comes, faith rejoices that all the glory and thanks belong to God.
By John Piper
If you are living in a broken world as a sinner among sinners, then every situation, location, and relationship you encounter requires ministry.
What is ministry? It’s not just the calling of the paid professionals, nor limited to scheduled activities on your calendar. In biblical terms, ministry is not about a time, a place, or a job description. It is a heartfelt willingness to respond to the spiritual need that God puts in your path, anytime, anyplace. This certainly includes participation in what your church schedules, but it must be far more.
We must view every dimension of our life as a forum for ministry. Marriage is ministry. Parenting is ministry. Friendship is ministry. Living with neighbors is ministry. Work is ministry. Life is ministry. And ministry is life.
When we divide our existence into two separate parts — “ministry” and “life” — guess which one gets the short end of the stick? Guess which one has to get by on your leftover time, your leftover energy, your leftover finances, and your leftover passion?
If you see ministry as something that you do when you step out of your life — that is, when the church has programmed and scheduled some form of ministry for you — then the vast majority of your life is yours to use for you.
But Scripture teaches the reverse of those priorities. It challenges us with the reality that nothing we have belongs to us. We don’t have a life divided into God’s part and our part. It’s all “God’s part,” the whole thing.
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
This means that we have been brought into relationship with God not only so that we could be rescued from us, but so that we may be part of God’s rescue of others. Our life exists for his purposes. We were given life and breath to help maximize the glory of Another. This is why life is ministry.
Remember, every facet of life is a forum for ministry. You will never face a day that is not filled with ministry need and opportunity.
Are your eyes open to the need, and are you capturing the God-given opportunities?
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13–16
By Paul Tripp