“He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular practice” (Job 1:5, NLT)
Job was a was wealthy man who had seven sons and three daughters.
He was known in heaven and on earth as a man of great personal integrity and faithfulness to God.
Job’s faith was more than a religious ritual; it inspired his behavior. So his “regular practice” was to rise early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of his children.
Job loved God and he loved his family and he was concerned about the spiritual well-being of his children.
The Hebrew word barak used here for “cursed” literally means “blessed” but is used as a euphemism for cursing. Job was concerned about his children’s behavior and their relationship with God. He wanted to intercede for any sinful behavior they may have committed.
Job’s example would indeed be a worthy New Year’s resolution!
So start the new year by making it your regular practice to get up early in the morning and offer the sacrifice of prayer and intercession for your family.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)
In the book of Philippians the Apostle Paul shares several secrets for a happy and fulfilling Christian life. Two such secrets for happiness are found in Chapter 4.
The first secret for a happy life is to overcome worry: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (vs. 6). The way to stop worrying is to start praying. Instead of worrying about it, pray about it.
And if you pray about everything, then there’s not anything left to worry about! Worry can’t reside where prayer abides!
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“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” At the end of Daniel’s time of fasting he encountered or received a vision of a heavenly being. The revelation of God’s glory shining through this mighty being was overwhelming, crushing Daniel to the ground and sending his companions scurrying for cover (vs. 7). The angelic messenger was delayed on his way to Daniel twenty-one days–the period of time Daniel had been fasting–by the prince of the kingdom of Persia, an evil angelic being associated with the Persian Empire (vs. 13). The awe-inspiring messenger encouraged Daniel by telling him that he was “greatly loved” by God (vs. 11) and that he had been sent to Daniel in answer to his prayers to give him insight and encouragement in response to his mourning and constant concern about the situation in Jerusalem. There are several spiritual principles we need to recognize in this passage. 1) Conflicts on earth are of cosmic proportions and reflect conflicts in the heavens and this will continue to the end of time when God will ultimately triumph. 2) Satan and his cohorts continually attempt to thwart God’s plans and purposes in both the spiritual and physical realms. 3) God hears and answers prayers, but in His own time. You are greatly loved by God and God wants to reveal Himself to you in more powerful ways as you endeavor to know and understand Him and His plans and purposes for you.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Did you know that Jesus prayed for you when He walked the earth two thousand years ago? In John 17 Jesus prayed first for himself (vs. 1–5), then for his disciples (vs. 6–19), and then for later believers, which includes you and me (vs. 20–26). So what did Jesus pray for us? Of all the things Jesus might have prayed for us, He prayed for our unity (vs. 21–23) and that God’s love would be manifest through us (vs. 26). While it’s easy to understand why He would pray for God’s love for us, why unity when there are plenty of other needs to pray for us? When Jesus prayed for future believers, He prayed for those of us who believe in Him because of the message passed to each generation of believers from the apostles (vs. 20). The only way we could be believers of the the apostles’ message two thousand years later is because there is internal consistency to the message and among those proclaiming it. In other words, there is unity among those who believe and declare the message so that what is believed is the same as what is declared and vice versa. If there is not unity among Jesus’ believers, then we send mixed messages and nobody knows what to believe and either believe a lie or believe nothing at all about the gospel. Unity starts with each of us individually and is built on love for one another collectively. So that’s why Jesus prayed for you: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (vs. 23).
“Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” This enigmatic command is repeated by Jesus three times in John 14-16 (see 14:13-14, 15:16, and 16:23-24). It must be important if Jesus repeats it to His disciples three times on the same occasion (at the Last Supper). What does Jesus mean to ask the Father in His name and the Father will do it? The obvious answer is that up to this point Jesus had been with His disciples in person and so there wasn’t much need to pray to God the Father when Jesus was right there with them in person to supernaturally intervene in people’s lives. Now Jesus is going away (in physical presence) and so He is teaching them a different way to ask of or pray to God that applies also to us. With each repetition of this command Jesus taught the disciples more about how this new prayer relationship with God works. When Jesus tells the disciples in chapter 14 that He will do whatever they ask in His name, He also tells them to believe that He acts by the authority of God the Father because He is of the same nature as the Father and they can act on His authority (as God) when they do the same works that He did (vs. 10-14). In chapter 15 Jesus tells the disciples that He will tell them what He has heard from the Father, that is, He will reveal God’s plans or will to them so they can be productive for God’s Kingdom (vs. 15-16). In chapter 16 Jesus tells His disciples that they can have a happy and fulfilled life because they can talk to God the Father directly in Jesus’ name. God will do what you ask of Him (and you will have a happy life) when you ask by the authority granted you by Jesus as His obedient disciple and you ask those things that are consistent with God’s character and will.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” After the temple was built and dedicated, the glory of the Lord filled the temple (vs. 1–3) and God appeared to Solomon and told him that He had heard Solomon’s prayer (vs. 12–22). God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer was a message of repentance and restoration. God’s purpose above all is to forgive his people and heal their land when they repent of their evil ways. This verse describes the process of individual and collective repentance: humble oneself, ask God for forgiveness and mercy, and turn away from sin and unrighteousness. When God’s people truly repent, then He will “heal their land,” which includes not only deliverance from drought and pestilence but the restoration of people to their right relationship with God. Be assured that God hears you and will restore you into fellowship with Him when you repent and turn away from your sin and unbelief.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The Hebrews writer encourages the Hebrew Christians to “draw near” to God’s throne because they have the privilege of a personal relationship with God. Christians can come before God confidently and without fear that they will incur God’s wrath because they have a High Priest, Jesus, Who identifies with His people because of his human experience and the sufferings he endured. Therefore, take your needs to God in prayer and speak plainly and honestly but with respect and reverence, knowing that Jesus was tempted in every area of human life just like you, yet He remained sinless, thus qualifying Him to intercede before God’s throne for you.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 6:25–34) that believers are not to be anxious because they entrust themselves to God, their Heavenly Father. Thus, Christians can present all their difficulties to God by prayer and supplication and God will answer. Now Paul does not say that God will grant all our requests. Rather, Paul says that in answer to prayer God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. Paul’s use of “guard” has the connotation of God’s peace guarding believers’ hearts and minds and giving them an inward peace in much the same way that Roman soldiers guarded Philippi as a military garrison making its citizens feel safe. God’s answer to your heartfelt prayers is His peace, which safeguards your heart and mind from anxiety.