Prayer is Relationship

Last time, I talked about grace. Those who understand what Jesus did for them live a Spirit-led life in grace. It is a life conceived by God. We live in His kingdom already and not yet. I was very emphatic about this! So you might ask, “Well then, Jeremy, what is prayer for?”

To begin with, prayer is seeking wisdom. The Bible says, if you want to know what to do, then ask. I think prayer is also to encourage. If you use the ACTS method of prayer, you’ll understand. Prayer is for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Above all, prayer is relationship.

I adore my wife, so I tell her all the reasons why she’s beautiful. That’s adoration. I also confess things to my wife. I’ll tell her, ”Honey, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” Or I acknowledge where I’ve offended her, and I apologize. That’s confession. I thank my wife for everything she does for me and our family. “Honey,” I say, “I’m thankful to you for raising our kids. I’m so thankful for how good you are to me. Thank you so much for how you serve this family.” That’s thanksgiving. Finally, I will ask her for things. I’ll say, “Honey, this is what I need from you right now.” That’s supplication.

In our marriage, we give adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. This is relationship.

God is our wisdom, our strength, our shield, and our fortress. If we want to be in a relationship with God, we need to do the same thing with Him that we do with our loved ones. Prayer is conversation with God. In prayer, we adore, confess, give thanks, and supplicate. It’s the ACTS method of prayer.

Sometimes I just look up and say, ‘You are good, God. You are so good. Here’s why. Here’s what reminds me how good you are. Here are all the things you’ve done.” I list everything I see that reflects His goodness. That’s adoration.

David did it all the time. “God, he said, “you are good.” David also confessed. Look at Psalm 51, where he said, “God, man, I messed up. I tanked it. I killed this woman’s husband so I could be with her. I blew it. Please do not take your Spirit from me in my stupidity.” In prayer, David confessed.

David was also very thankful. “Thank you, God! I can see how you’ve rescued me from my enemies. You let me hide in the cave of Adullam. I was in a cave, but you rescued me from Saul and his mighty army. Thank you.”

And David asked for the things he needed. We can do that, too. We can say, “God, I need you to provide for my needs. I need you to show me the things I need to know. I need you, in your goodness, to talk to me. God, I need wisdom. I can’t do this on my own. I need these things.”

It’s easy to go straight to the S part of ACTS. Sometimes people just ask for things and forget the rest. Why don’t you adore Him? Confess to Him? Thank Him? That’s relationship!

God is the ultimate, man. He’s the giver of life. Go to Him and tell Him, ”I adore you God, just for that. Thank you!”

That’s what prayer is for. See you Monday.

A Rhythm of Faith and Works

Grace is free and unmerited! It costs you nothing, and you do not have to earn it. You can’t earn it! Only Jesus could give you a gift this huge.

When you understand what Jesus did for you, you can’t help but confess it. The joy of it spills out of you! Your sins are forgiven! No more shame!

Through grace, you walk in the Spirit. Grace is the key to the Spirit-led life. Grace is the reason you don’t have to perform a role, or live in a works mentality, or sink into legalism. Grace empowers you through God’s love. Grace lifts your heart to share His love with all His children!

So when I see a homeless person, grace is the lens I’m looking through. I see the need and I want to help. I don’t respond to the needs of the homeless because I have to. Wanting to help and having to help are two different things. My heart does not say, “Man, if I walk by this guy and I don’t help him, I’m going to feel guilty.” That’s not love, that’s fear. No, my heart says, “This guy is in need. What can I do?” My heart says that because that’s what the Spirit says.

I’ve walked by people who are homeless and yet not helped them. The Spirit did not lead me to help. I don’t know why. Maybe the money they wanted was for drugs. We’re not supposed to fund that habit. Or maybe the Spirit had other plans.

There have also been times when I’ve said, “I’m not helping that guy, because it doesn’t look to me like he’s going to use the money for good.” But in my heart, the Spirit said, “No, you need to help.” When that happens, I listen to the Spirit, and I help.

Grace doesn’t allow you to be legalistic. Grace doesn’t allow you to have a works mentality. Paul says we’re justified by faith alone, and James says faith without works is dead, but there’s no contradiction there. It simply means that if you live by the Spirit, you’re going to act by the Spirit. You come alive with the Spirit! You bear His fruit. You are alive with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. You walk down the street and you see needs and you meet them, because that’s what Jesus did.

Jesus didn’t have to do good works to get to Heaven. But He did them. He did them all the time. And He was not tied up in a legalistic mentality. He came to fulfill the law. That means there is no law. So you don’t feed a hungry person out of fear. You don’t think, “If I don’t do this then I’ll be struck down.” You don’t worry, “If I don’t do this, then God won’t bless me.”

You’re already blessed! That’s what grace is! You’re in the Kingdom of God, a grace-filled, blessings-filled kingdom. You are full of blessings and grace. That’s why Jesus said, “Don’t you want what’s best for your children? How much more do you think God wants for you?” He definitely wants what’s best for you. He’s going to give you what you need, just like you would give your children what they need. Does that mean God has works mentality? No! It means God loves you.

That’s why you long to do good for others when you live in grace. Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked does not contradict God’s grace. It expresses God’s love. Faith and good works don’t contradict. They are one, in rhythm with each other.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Sheep, Goats, and Grace

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

This passage has had a huge impact on my life. Jesus says, “You did it to Me.” The first time I truly thought about that, I realized that when I feed someone who is hungry, I have fed Jesus. That’s awesome! When you feed somebody who’s hungry, or clothe somebody in need, or visit somebody in prison, or do anything to help the hurting, the dying, or anyone in pain, you take care of Jesus. He says, “You have done that to Me, because they are a part of Me. Whether they are living for Me or not, they’re still a part of Me. I created them.”

God created man and woman in His own image. When He did that it was as if He said, ‘I’ve created you with me in you.’

You have God’s spirit inside of you. When you were in your mother’s womb, God said, ‘I created you, in my own image. You are a part of me. Though you may sin, and though you may fail, you will be fulfilled in me.’

If some part of you, something that you love, is under attack, you feel like you’re being attacked. Don’t you? If you attacked one of my sons, I would feel like you attacked me. If you attacked my wife, I would feel attacked. In the same way, if you show my family love and care, then I feel like you love me.

We’re creations of the Almighty God and I think He feels the same way. We are part of His family. So when He sees someone that is hungry, He’s hungry. That’s what He means when He says, “If you do this for the least of these, then you’ve done this for Me.” That’s why He loves the righteous, set at His right hand.

What about those at His left hand? Here’s what He says to them:

‘Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41-46

I can hear you now. “But Jeremy,” you say. “You always talk about grace. You always talk about the free and unmerited favor of God. This sounds a lot like a performance evaluation to me. Is there a contradiction here?”

That’s a great question, and I aim to answer it in my next few blogs. See you Thursday.

Travis Ishikawa’s Faith

My teammate Travis Ishikawa testified at Giants Fellowship Day last August.

It’s so powerful! He testifies to staying in the Word, even when the outlook isn’t very clear.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35

Stay strong and hope, because God has a plan. With Him, all things are possible!

See you Thursday.

Believing Without Seeing

When Jesus left, He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Those who have not seen are the people of faith.

The disciples died for Jesus Christ.  They died on crosses.  And I know they felt some fear, because everybody fears death to a certain point.

But they cheated!  I’m sorry, they did!   Continue reading

Clay to be Molded, Part 2

The health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel might be a little bit mixed up.  It puts a lot of emphasis on the Bible’s promise that God will prosper you.  Unfortunately, people take that to mean that if they get saved, then Bam!  They become prosperous.

But that’s not going to work.  Just because you accept Jesus, that doesn’t mean you’re instantly transformed. So when the newly converted don’t become prosperous, they lose hope in God.  “Well, obviously there’s no God.  See, I’m not prosperous. They said I was going to be wealthy and prosperous, and my life’s still just as bad as it’s always been.”

There’s more to the lifestyle of Jesus than taking that first step.  Yes, you start by loving Jesus.  Yes, you embrace what He stands for.  You accept His sacrifice for you. But the time still comes when you have to figure out who you want to be, in Christ.  You have to decide who you want to be, in Christ. Continue reading

Clay to be Molded, Part I

People find themselves wondering why God hasn’t changed them. They have asked God for the things they want, but they still don’t have them. Or they have a picture of what the life of a believer should be like, but they aren’t there yet. They might be asking, “Why hasn’t God done something huge in my life? Why doesn’t God speak to me?”

I think the time comes in every believer’s life where we have to say, “God, I’m open to it.”

When you say, “God, I’m ready for a change,” I think God says, “Finally! Finally you’re ready.” But you have to truly give yourself up to Him.  Continue reading