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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Delight of the Righteous

“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1:6, NASB)

How often do we consider the repercussions of our thoughts, actions, and words? So many times we just do what springs to our minds and impulsively act on what we think? Jesus and Moses taught we are to love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That means our actions, our words, our thoughts, and our spirits must show our love for the Lord. When you think of it that way, it changes things. We begin to look at our own lives in each of these four areas and find something amiss.

David recognized the parts of the person who is wicked and who is righteous. In Psalm 1, he said the righteous are blessed. They are happy. David said the weak will not stand on judgment day. They will perish. How do we know what is righteous and what is wicked? We need to look further in the six verses of Psalm 1.

David said the wicked person walks in the way of the wicked, the one hostile to God. He or she lives in the way he/she heard persuasive leaders teach. David spoke of actions here. The wicked person also stands in the path of sinners, he said. He takes a stand means he declares with his mouth and way of life how he will live regardless of what other people say. David added and said the wicked person sits in the seat of the scoffer. He dwells and remains as one of the people who mock, deride, and scorn people who choose to live God’s way. In this David showed the wicked have become what they were taught. Their minds have been on the false leader long enough that they are haughty and perpetually deride people for their chosen way of life, especially those who follow the Lord. These three things show there is no love for God in actions, thought, or word. This person does not keep the great commandment of Christ as He taught in Matthew 22:37-40.

David tells us about a righteous person, too. In the first verse, he tells what the righteous is not – a wicked person. Then he expands that with subsequent verses. David says the righteous person delights in the law of the Lord. This person longs and desires to read and study God’s Law – His Word. He or she wants to know the Lord better and so goes to His Word. That action shows love of God in thought/mind, heart, and spirit. David also said the righteous person meditates on God’s laws ceaselessly. He or she ponders, thinks on, and speaks about what God’s Word says and about what God spoke to him or her. Studying and meditating on the Word involves the mind, spirit, and physical action - speaking.

In just one verse each, verses one and two, David tells about the wicked and the righteous. With verse three, David tells of the future of the righteous, the blessed one. He said this person will be like a tree firmly planted. He or she will be strong, healthy, have no rot or decay, and will produce fruit. The fruit of this steadfast and righteous person are good works and words, offspring who are raised to know the Lord, and continuous provision from the Lord. This person will not wither, fade in allegiance, or act foolish and senseless because of his or her meditating and pondering the Word daily and allowing it to effect change in his or her life. It will make the person’s allegiance to the Lord stronger. This truly is blessedness.

In opposition to this, David tells of the future of the wicked in verses four and five. He says the wicked will not stand, but will fall to easy seduction because it does not have firm roots in the Lord. This person does not have a strong relationship with the Lord. Besides this, David says the wicked are like chaff, the part of the food that is thrown away as useless, like corn husks and silk. They are worthless and the wind blows them away. This wind can be the easy doctrine offered by godless leaders, which can easily lead people astray. It can be the judgment God will declare upon them, too. David reiterates this point when he says these sinners – people who turned away from God and are exposed to His condemnation – will not be in the congregation of the righteous after judgment day. Their fickleness and willingness to follow an ungodly person shows their lack of love to God in heart, soul, mind, and strength. The future of wicked people is judgment, condemnation, and eternal separation from God and His children.

The Lord knows the way of the righteous, their manners, habits, and moral character. He also knows the wicked and that they will perish. The wicked choose their own leader and god and in so doing, they condemn themselves to destruction.

Are we more like the blessed righteous person or the wicked person? Do we seek God day and night - reading, studying, and meditating on His Word? Do our thoughts, words, and actions show love and obedience to God? We are supposed to love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This requires active conviction and obedience. It leads to God’s blessing us.

Alternatively are we more like the wicked? Are we easily led to consider and follow false doctrine and ideas? Do we work toward things that only gratify us now, but do not follow the Lord’s guidance in the Word? Do our actions, words, and thoughts show we are children of God or do they show we are our own masters and will not be led or “confined” to God’s ways? Are we fickle today choosing one way and tomorrow another way? This leads to God’s judgment of eternal separation from Him and His children.

For whom do you live your life, God or yourself?

Would God consider you one of the righteous or one of the wicked?

“Seek ye first His [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

For What Do You Discipline Yourself?

 “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fir only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8. NASB)

Paul taught Timothy in this passage when Timothy was experiencing opposition to his teaching of God’s way and the Gospel. He told him to have nothing to do with worldly fables – stories and inventions of the human mind – but to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. Paul said bodily discipline of little use; it can only be used on earth. Still better godliness is profitable for all things since it gives us promise here on earth and for our future life in God’s heaven.

Timothy faced ungodly people. These people sought to have followers and would say whatever it took to gain them. They tickled the ears of the people. These want-to be leaders seduced them to follow ungodly ways disguising it as godly doctrine, though it was what demons teach. Besides this, they told them not to marry and to abstain from eating certain foods. These self-important people were ungodly. They wanted followers for themselves more than anything and they had to be different from Jesus’ followers. These people even declared as unholy and unusable things God made for people to eat and use.

Are there people in our sphere who try to make themselves more important to gain followers and prestige? Are there people who try to make themselves more important than God by spouting what people want to hear? Do they declare things as good or bad contrary to God’s Word? This is why Paul exhorted Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness.

We may discipline ourselves for today and tomorrow while we live on earth, but what good will bodily discipline do for us in heaven when God gives us new bodies? If you are not a Christian, what good will bodily discipline do for you in hell when you will burn in unquenchable fire for eternity, but remain unconsumed? Godliness, Paul said, holds promise for the present life and the life to come. It is profitable now and for eternity.

This godliness Paul spoke of is reverence and respect for God lived out in our lives as obedience to Him because of our love for Him. Godliness comes from being in a relationship with God through prayer, study of the Bible, listening and heeding His teaching, and responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It comes from a close relationship with God that makes us more Christ-like each day. As Paul said, as a Christian living in this world, earthly life is a toiling, striving, and even suffering reproach because we have fixed our hope on the living God who is the Savior, Preserver, Maintainer, and Deliverer of all men, especially of those who believe in Him.

When we seek the godliness of God, we put Him first. We have hope of our future with Him in heaven. As people who put their trust in Jesus Christ and who are growing toward holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit and our love for the Father, we will be able to stand strong.

Is there someone you look up to that seeks followers, but does not walk in God’s ways? Do not follow him or her. Instead, discipline yourself for godliness. Seek God’s will in His Word, stand strong for Him, grow in your faith, and look toward your hope. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB) Seek God. Grow in godly discipline. Then He will add these things – food, shelter, clothes - to you.

Godliness –

Is your discipline growing you toward godliness?

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Person of Effective Prayer - Prays in Agreement


In the last Bible study on the person of effective prayer, we learned that this person must love Jesus. From study of the Bible, we recognized that showing we love Jesus shows our faith. A person showing love to Jesus comes by believing He is the Son of God and through obedience to His commands and teachings. The latter is not a new idea. Even in the Old Testament, God through the writers, Moses, and the prophets commanded the Israelites to obey His commandments, laws, and precepts. Many times these people equated loving God to obedience to what He commanded.

This week’s lesson is the last lesson on the person of effective prayer. In this lesson we will discover the Bible writers taught first century believers prayers should be done in agreement – with one mind/accord. Jesus taught on this, too. What is significant about “praying in agreement?” What does it mean? Why would Jesus teach us to go to our prayer closets in solitude and to pray “where two or three are gathered in His name,” too? Are these not two conflicting ideas? What is the purpose of praying with other believers? We will consider these and other questions as we go through this study. First to consider is what does the Bible say about praying with other believers?

Praying with Other Believers

Praying on Ascension Day

There are two main verses that come to most Christians’ minds when they consider prayer and praying with other believers. The first is Acts 1:14 and the second is Matthew 18:19-20. Acts 1:14 says, “These [the disciples of Jesus, with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers, and about 100 other people (vs. 15)] all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to pray, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” [NASB] In this verse, four things need consideration. First, we must consider the people who gathered to pray together. Notice the people in the upper room were not just Jesus’ disciples. Note, too, they were not just men. This group of people contained men, women, apostles, and devout followers of Christ not just the chosen twelve. The main identifier of this group is they were all believers in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and accepted the salvation He offered to all people.

The second thing we must recognize concerns the words “all with one mind.” “With one mind” comes from the Greek word homothumadon. Homothumadon means with one mind, one accord, or one passion. It carries with it the thought of multiple notes pealing in harmony to make a rich sound in pitch and tone. Basically, their minds each reached out to God with the same thoughts and cries. These believers prayed to God wanting to know what next they should do. They each believed in God and in His Son and they knew from Whom they could seek answers and direction. Other verses in the Bible that relate to prayer with other Christians seeking to be of “one mind” or being of “one accord,” both of which come from homothumadon, are Acts 2:46 & 4:24, and Romans 15:6. In the two Acts passages, the followers of Jesus met regularly as one mind to worship, fellowship, and pray. In Romans 15:6, believers in Jesus Christ met to raise their voices in one accord with praise to God. The purpose for these people when they met was joining in praying/communing with God through prayers, praise, worship, and fellowship. Their “one mind” was to focus on the Lord.

Let us return to Acts 1:14. The followers in the Upper Room had given their lives to Jesus the Christ and wanted to continue to serve Him. Since Jesus modeled for them and taught them to seek the Father through prayer, they knew what they had to do to get answers and direction after Jesus’ ascension; they had to speak to the Father. As we note from later verses of this chapter, one specific question weighed on their minds. They wondered who they should appoint to replace the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. This concern they carried to God each of them in one accord, with one mind, seeking God’s will and, based on their seeking God’s will, they chose a twelfth apostle to join them.

The next part of this verse we should note is these followers of Jesus “were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” They did not just ask God’s blessing at sunrise, bedtime, and meal times. They stayed in continual prayer. In Greek, these words “continually devoting” come from the word proskartereo. It means to devotion or constancy to a person, to be an adherent, to be steadfastly attentive to, to persevere and not faint to show one’s self as courageous, to be in constant readiness for another, and to wait on constantly. This definition has two meanings. When a person is proskartereo, that person constantly devotes him or herself to another person. A proskartereo person is attentive and alert, too, and willing to persevere during trials with courage and without fainting, growing weary, or giving up. Two sides exist to this word. The followers of Jesus showed themselves to be proskartereo (persevering) as they had just come through a time of trial and still had a constant devotion to Jesus. They still called upon the Father. The followers of Jesus remained faithful to Him. The calling to God by these followers showed their constant, steadfast devotion to Jesus. Nothing deterred them in their devotion to God and His Son, not His arrest, their association with Him, His suffering, or His departure from earth. We each can learn a lesson in this verse not to be faint-hearted in our faith.

The fourth thing we should note in this passage is these followers understood what they needed to do when uncertainty or potential harm was possible. They prayed. Remember, these believers in Jesus were Jewish background Christians. They knew about going to temple, offering sacrifices, and having the priests intercede for them to God. Here in this passage, the believers stepped out in faith on what Jesus taught them and sought the Father on their own. They did not seek an intermediary, but took to heart what Jesus said in John 16:26-27,

“In that day [after Jesus ascended to heaven] you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf, for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth form the Father.” [NASB]

These believers prayed directly to God believing He would hear and answer them. After being with Jesus, listening to His teachings, and watching Him model life with the Father, these apostles and 100+ other followers of Jesus trusted Him enough to do the only thing they believed would help them in their current situation; they prayed with one mind continually devoting themselves to each other and to God.

From this verse, we learn another attribute of an effective person of prayer is praying with other believers with “one mind.” How does this coincide with what Jesus said in Matthew 18:19-20? How does it differ?

Praying as Part of Church Discipline

Many Christians know Matthew 18:19-20 and either quote or refer to it as teaching from Jesus that people should pray together. Often people use this verse to suggest we can get more from God when more than one person prays to Him about a matter. In our study here, we will see the context in which Jesus taught about two or three believers praying together, the power available to believers who pray, the love of the Father in heaven, and the promise of Jesus.

Matthew 18:19-20 says,

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth about anything they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.”[NASB]

First, we need to recognize with the beginning of verse nineteen, Jesus referred to something He said earlier to the disciples. He said, “Again,” which means go back to what He said earlier. Jesus taught something earlier and was here trying to make it more understandable and emphatic to His hearers. He referred to verses fifteen through eighteen, and more specifically to verse eighteen.

In verses fifteen to eighteen, Jesus taught about church discipline and how to do it. With each verse, He taught them if the sinning brother refused to accept discipline what to do next about the matter. By the time we read verse eighteen, the sinning Christian had not submitted to discipline by one believer, then two or more other members of the church. With verse eighteen, the passage Jesus referred to in verse nineteen when He said, “Again,” He taught His disciples whatever you bind on earth God will bind in heaven and whatever you loose on earth God will set loose in heaven. This verse is a metaphor. Jesus told them whoever they threw into chains – judged and found guilty and unrepentant of not following the Law of God though given opportunity – that person God would find guilty in heaven and he or she would receive judgment from Him. Then again, Jesus told them whoever they released on earth from judgment and guilt due to repentance will God will find repentant and free in heaven. God would do away with their judgment on that matter in heaven.

What does this mean regarding more than one person praying in verses nineteen and twenty? Church discipline sometimes must progress to a higher level involving more people. The highest level of church discipline requires reaching out to God for His guidance and understanding of the issue and how to resolve it. If the group of believers confronting the sinning believer has reached an impasse with the confronted unrepentant believer, by the time they get to verse nineteen, they are “in accord” – “with one mind” - that they need further help from God. These church members understand the issue and acknowledge they are powerless to persuade the unrepentant believer to repent and turn back to the ways of God. Their next recourse is to take the matter to the Father. From this we learn more people praying for a particular thing does not mean the prayers have more power to make God act for us. More people praying means more people are in agreement over the matter, more people have sought God’s will based on His revealed Word, and more people agree they need God’s guidance to discern what should occur next regarding the unrepentant believer. More people does not mean more power. More people means more wisdom and understanding of God’s will. It means more agreement and understanding in a difficult situation.

More people praying = More oneness of mind =
More reception of God’s wisdom and understanding in this situation
When the confronting church members reach the point of impasse with the unrepentant believer and seek God’s wisdom and will in the matter, Jesus taught the disciples, if two believers agreed about anything, they should ask for guidance and the Father would give it to them. Notice the church members trying to bring an unrepentant believer back to God and His way of living are in agreement about the problem and the heart of the person being disciplined. They spoke about it and agreed. The next level of recourse is to take the issue to God. This passage teaches more people agree with Christ on the matter of discipline when they pray together. Along with these, the Father agrees with the united prayer of the believers in the matter, too. By praying together in one mind, they show they are obedient children of God who are effective persons of prayer who seek God’s will. Jesus said God will hear and answer them. Because these believers love Jesus as noted by their abiding in Him and belief in Him, the Father loves them (John 16:27). Since the Father loves them, He will listen to and answer their prayers.

Why did Jesus say God would hear and answer them? He told them in verse twenty. Jesus said, because the believers “have gathered together in His name”, He was with them. “Gathering in His name” is abiding in Him together. Abiding in Jesus means believing Jesus is the Father’s Son and showing love of Him by obeying His commands and teachings. The discipliners of this lesson abide in Jesus. Because of this, Jesus is with them. Jesus said in John 15, He is the vine and His followers are the branches. In John 15:7, He taught the disciples if they abided in Him and His words (His commands and teachings) abided in them, whatever they ask for the Father will provide an answer. Jesus was in the midst of the church discipliners because they love Him. Because they love Jesus and ask in Jesus’ name since they are His disciples, the Father will do what they ask. He will give them His guidance and wisdom for this unrepentant believer in the church.

In Matthew 18:19-20, we understand Jesus taught about the prayers of two or more people who come to the Father for guidance and wisdom about an unrepentant believer. Through this passage in Matthew, we find the power available for believers who pray comes in Jesus name. Jesus taught the disciples in John 14:12-14,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believe in Me, the works that I do, he will do also, and greater works than these he will do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name that I will do so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Jesus taught the disciples the Father in heaven loves them because they love the Son (John 16:27).  Finally, we learned the promise of Jesus for His followers; when we ask according to God’s will, which has a greater chance of occurring when two or three people agree and seek Him, then what the people ask of the Father He will do for them.

Other Lessons on Praying with Other Believers

Besides Acts 1:14 and Matthew 18:19-20, other passages speak about being “of one mind” with other believers - Acts 2:42 & 4:24, and Romans 15:6. In addition to these instances of believers praying with each other in agreement, other Bible passages note Christians did not always pray in their prayer closet.

We note when believers studied the Word together, they prayed together (Acts 6:4). When followers of Jesus celebrated the Lord’s Supper, they prayed together (Acts 2:42). As Paul left a city, he often taught the local believers to pray together. When Paul went to new cities on his missionary journeys, he often sought people of prayer by the riverside (Acts 16:13). When believers sought to minister, they devoted themselves to prayer (Romans 12:12). Paul taught what the body of Christ should do (Ephesians 6:18). As Paul sailed back to Jerusalem before his trial, he sought the prayers of believers (Acts 20:36 & 21:5). When Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the garden of Gethsemane, He modeled and commanded the three disciples pray to not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40-46). They were to pray for their own self and the other disciples.

Each of these Bible passages speaks about believers praying together. We can think of other passages where Christians came together to worship the Lord. Others came together to beseech the Lord. Still other passages tell of Christians studying the Word. Each of these, if done to grow closer to God, occurs through prayer seeking to be one mind with each other and God, and seeking His will and guidance. The place of joint prayer does not matter. Paul was in prison and he sought people of prayer by the river. Jesus prayed on the lake, on the mountain side, in the garden and on the cross. The disciples prayed in the upper room and in the countryside. A specific place is not important. What is important is the purpose for praying.

When you pray to seek the mind and will of God, that is genuine prayer. Praying with one mind or in agreement when praying with others is important for discerning God’s wisdom and guidance and gaining His answer. When we pray by ourselves, we seek to know the mind of the Father, which is seeking His mind/will, having one mind with God. Whether we pray in solitude or with other believers, the goal is to seek the mind of God. We do not pray in Jesus’ name to make God do something for us. Praying with other people beseeching God does not to make God more inclined to do something. It does not give us more power to make God do something. The purpose of prayer, as we understand from our main Bible passages today, is to have a mind like Christ, a mind that seeks God’s will and obeys Him. Whether we do pray in a group or in solitude, we seek God’s will. A few advantages come from praying with a group of believers.
  • First, by praying with others, we encourage the believer in his or her faith. We acknowledge as legitimate the person’s felt need and reason for prayer – one that does not go against God’s commands, laws, and precepts – then encouragement occurs for his or her prayer life and walk with the Lord.
  • From this, we then see another purpose of praying with other believers. Other people praying with a person add their “Amen” to the prayer. Amen means “so be it.” When you say “amen” at the end of your prayer, you are agreeing with God and others about that for which you prayed. You are joining God and the person to say “amen” to what God will do in answer to the prayer. This means praying is both request and thanksgiving to God because of our hope He will hear and answer our prayers.
  • Another aspect to praying with people comes from the “iron sharpens iron” thought. When a person brings his or her concerns to another person for joint prayer, those second or third prayers from their walk with God and wisdom of the years can help the one praying to grow in his or her faith and knowledge of the Lord and His ways. It can help the ones who are praying with the person in need to grow in the same way, too. From our own personal walk with the Lord, we might be a help to another believer struggling and/or that person’s faith and struggles may help the joining pray-ers grow, too.

Relevance and Conclusion

From Acts 1:14, our major passage for today’s study, we learned the importance of praying with other believers. Praying in solitude is a good and humble practice for Christians. It keeps us from distraction and keeps our heart’s eyes focused on God. Praying solitude keeps us from trying to better than another prayer to get applause from other people. Yet praying with believers is important, too. It allows us to join with others who know and love the Lord so we grow in oneness with each other and with God. It allows us to encourage others as they experience hard times and are seeking God’s guidance, protections, provision, and will. Praying with others allows iron to sharpen iron. It brings a one-ness of mind and will – God’s mind and will - about a situation or unrepentant believer. Through each of these, praying jointly with other believers provides a way for believers to be one in mind and Spirit through the LORD God so the body of believers grow together in and through the Lord. This latter best states the purpose for praying with other believers. Just as we pray ceaselessly so we can grow in our relationship with the Lord and grow more like Christ each day, we pray with others so we can grow together as the body of Christ and become one with the Father.

Praying with other believers
grows us together as the body of Christ and
makes us one with the Father.

The questions remain. They affect your prayer life now. They affect your life into eternity.

  • Are you a believer in Jesus Christ?
  • Have you asked Him to forgive you for your sins and be your Lord and Savior?
  • Are you growing into more Christlikeness?
  • Are you growing with other believers into the body of Christ?
  • Are you growing in your relationship with God?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Person of Effective Prayer - Loves Jesus


In earlier Bible studies about the effective person of prayer we learned from the Bible the person who wants to be an effective pray-er should be righteous, believe God can do what he or she asks Him in prayer, pray in solitude, be watchful and alert, pray ceaselessly, pray fervently, approach God with his or her whole being, be Spirit-controlled, and love people (even enemies). This week’s lesson from the Bible takes us to another very important aspect for a person to pray effectively. This person who prays must acknowledge and love Jesus.

Loving Jesus appears to be obvious; yet, some people do not love Jesus. How do we know this? Jesus spoke about it in John 16:26-27. He told His disciples,

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf, for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
Jesus put prayer to God in line with loving God and Himself. The questions then remain:
  • In what day does Jesus refer?
  • What does praying in Jesus name mean?
  • Where does love come from?
  • Do we love Jesus?
  • How do we love Jesus?
  •  How can we be obedient to Jesus?
  • How does love of Jesus affect prayer?

Loving Jesus and Prayer

As we delve into these questions, we will understand why obedience to God is important in four ways – it shows our love of Him, aligns our prayers with His will, changes us to be more like Jesus, and grows our relationship with God.

Let’s look deeper at the main verses of John 16:26-27. Before these two verses, Jesus told His disciples if they asked the Father for anything in His name, He would give it to them. He repeats this in verse 26 with his first dependent and independent statement - “in that day”, the day when Jesus is no longer physically on the earth, and “you will ask [of God] in My name.”

The first thing we need to note about verse twenty-six is Jesus said, “in that day.” To which day did He refer? Jesus told them about this in verses sixteen through twenty-two with a parable. He explained it in verses twenty-five through twenty-eight. “In that day,” refers to the day when Jesus no longer walked on the earth, when He would be in heaven beside the Father. Followers of Jesus in the Biblical period would receive His power through the Holy Spirit He would give to believers upon His ascension to heaven. People who become believers after Christ’s ascension receive the gift of the Holy Spirit upon belief in Jesus Christ for salvation. This Helper, one of the three Persons of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is what the people of the Old Testament did not have to help them be obedient and stay in covenant with God. Besides helping us have the power to be obedient to God, the Spirit speaks to the Father for us. He intercedes between us and the Father when we cannot to say what is in our hearts. Besides giving us power to be obedient and interceding for us with the Father, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, guides us into all truth, speaks what He hears the Father and Son say, tells what will come, leads us to live righteous lives, gives peace, ensures us we are God’s children, encourages and strengthens us when we share in Jesus’ sufferings, fills us with His fruit, and teaches, rebukes, and corrects us (John 14:15-27, 16:5-15; Romans 8:1-17; Galatians 5:16-26; 2 Timothy 3:16).

In the first independent statement of verse twenty-six, Jesus said, “you will ask [of God] in My name.” Jesus won’t be the one requesting for you. He gives each believer the Intercessor, the Holy Spirit. When a person asks in Jesus’ name, it means he or she prays with Jesus’ authority and being one with the Father. When a person unites with God through belief in Jesus Christ for salvation and His giving of His Holy Spirit, His will becomes the person’s will and what the person asks, God will answer as long as the person chooses to live life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying in accordance to God’s will. John stated this in 1 John 5:14-15. He said. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” [NASB] When we are followers of Jesus, His Holy Spirit resides in us and He intercedes for us. He does more than that. He grows us to be more Christlike and helps us deepen our relationship with God. Praying in Jesus’ name is not a magic formula for getting what you want. If what you ask is in accordance to God’s will and it will bring Him glory, God will answer your prayer. Praying in accordance with God’s will is the essence of praying in Jesus’ name.

The question remains: why would the Father want to listen to us and answer our prayers? Verse twenty-seven explains that. It says, “For the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” [NASB] God loves His children. One reason He loves us is because we love Jesus and trust He came from the Father. Besides this, Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves us before we become His child by faith in Jesus Christ and He loves us afterwards. Prayer and the love of Jesus go hand-in-hand. Without loving Jesus and believing He came from the Father, we are not His followers, Christians. If we are not His followers - people who have been made righteous by His death and resurrection for our sins - God will not listen to us. God wants to hear and answer our prayers because He loves us. He said He will not hear the prayers of unrighteous people, only of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29; 1 Timothy 2:8; James 4:3, 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 5:14-15). Since we are followers of Jesus and believe in Him and love Him, when we pray in Jesus’ name, with His power and authority, we understand God will hear and answer us.

Still, the question remains, do you love Jesus? How do you show you love Jesus? Do other people realize you are a Christian and love Jesus? What does loving Jesus mean? Does it affect our life – our words, actions, and thoughts? Let’s delve deeper into this.

Loving Jesus

Show it

Do you really love Jesus? How do you know and can other people recognize it by watching you? Jesus spoke with the Jews who challenged Him by saying they were already free because they were Abraham’s descendants, he is their father. He told them in John 8:39, “If you were Abraham’s children you would do what Abraham did.” He said they were seeking to kill Him, which Abraham didn’t do. They were doing the deed of their father [Satan, vs 44]. Abraham believed in God and He counted it to him as righteousness. His love of God showed in His willingness to obey Him when told to sacrifice Isaac on the altar. Jesus continued in verse forty-two, “If God were your Father [not Satan], you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” Loving Jesus requires acknowledging He is God’s Son. When a person acknowledges Jesus is God’s Son, that person takes the first step in loving Him. Loving Jesus requires loving the Father, too, because if a person does not love God, that person does not love Jesus whether or not the person believes Jesus came from God. You can understand a god exists, but until you believe God is the Only God, the Father of all humankind and the Maker of all creation, then you will not love Him.

Loving someone shows itself in actions, words, and attitudes. When you love a person, you go out of your way to do things for that one to show the person who love him or her. You may make meals for him/her, give flowers, send cards/emails/letters, or may be there for the person when he/she is having a hard time. Love comes from God because He first loved us (John 17:24-26), even while we were sinners. It is a covenant between two people. Showing your love is important in a loving relationship. Love bonds people tighter together. It proves to the person and other people we care about that person. The same goes for the love of God.

God showed the Israelites who He is. He went before them and routed their enemies. God provided food and drink for them. He made a nation of them and called them His people. To show their love and connectedness to Him, He gave them ten commandments to follow. These Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) comprised two main things – Love God and Love Neighbor. Jesus, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Luke, John, and Paul spoke about showing love to God by obeying His commandments.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He stated further in verses 21, and 23, “Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them.” “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and We will come to them and make Our home with them.” [NASB] Jesus said anyone who does not love Him will not obey His teaching in verse twenty-four. Obedience to Jesus shows our love of Him just as obedience to God by the Israelites showed their love for Him.

Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” [NASB] Paul taught about the Gospel and following Jesus, who followed God and His commandments. He exhorted the believers of Philippi to obey what Jesus taught – love God and your neighbor as yourself. In Galatians 5:14, Paul taught people fulfill God’s law in his reiteration of Jesus’ command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you love your neighbor, you keep God’s commandments. It shows love of God when you love your neighbor because you love God enough to obey His commandment. Paul taught people loving God means obeying His commandments.

John spoke again in 1 John 2:4-6 and 1 John 5:3 saying if we keep God’s commandments, we show our love for Him. In 2 John 1:6, he said, when we live according to God’s commandments, we show love to God. Just as Moses told the Israelites in the desert, John continued to teach that loving God requires obedience. He went further in 1 John 5:1 when he said, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.” Loving God is connected with loving Jesus. Since we love God, we should believe Jesus is the Messiah God promised to send. When we trust this, our love for God becomes love for Jesus. When we love the Father or the Son, we show it by obedience to their commands and teachings. Sometimes keeping the commandments is difficult, especially when the person whom we must love according to the commandments of God is an enemy, persecutor, or hateful person. John said in 1 John 4:19, we can love because Jesus first loved us. While we were enemies of God, He loved us by sending His Son to die for our sins so we could be in His righteous presence and live with Him forever. Paul said in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We can love other people, including those who hate us because God’s love is in each believer. Believers can love because of God’s love implanted in us and experienced by us. We know how to love because of the Father and Son’s example toward us and other people. We recognize how to love and can act on it because of the Son’s Holy Spirit who lives in us because we trust in Jesus Christ and have received salvation from Him.

Before Paul, John, and Jesus taught people to love God by obeying His commandments, Moses and Joshua taught it to the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 7:9, Moses told the Israelites God is faithful and whoever keeps His commandments God will be faithful to them and keep His covenant and lovingkindness with them. When a person keeps God’s commandments, that person shows love to God. Moses went further to say God tests believers to prove whether they love Him. He said in Deuteronomy 13:3, “The LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” [NASB] God tests us to refine and strengthen us in our relationship with Him and to make sure we really do love Him. This proves our love for Him.
Before Joshua allowed the Israelites of the east side of the Jordan to go home to their promised land, he reminded them of their covenant with God. That covenant required obedience for its effectiveness and to show the Israelites’ love of God. He said in Joshua 22:5, “Be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandment and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul.” Obedience to God and love of God go together, just as obedience to and love of Jesus go together. What does it mean, though, when we do not show love of Jesus with our lives?

Not Showing It

For the people who said they were children of God, when they did not obey Him they showed they did not love Him. Isaiah proclaimed God’s judgment on Israel because of their faithlessness to Him – for abandoning and turning away from Him. Because they rebelled against God, God would allow their country to become desolate. Even with God offering them an opportunity to receive His mercy by cleansing themselves and turning back to Him, they rebelled and God turned His hand against them. When we do not truly love God, which shows in our actions, words, and thoughts, God will turn His back on us and will not listen to us.

Jesus showed in Luke 11:37-54 the Pharisees, though God’s appointed leaders of the Israelites, led the Israelites to turn away from God. He pronounced woe upon them for disregarding justice and the love of God –
  • For putting themselves before others and God
  • For putting a greater burden of laws on people than upon themselves
  • For persecuting and killing God’s prophets and apostles
  • For hindering the people from entering into the knowledge of God

The Pharisees hindered the people from knowing the true God and persecuted God’s messengers and children. They led the Israelites astray. This rebellion against God showed lack of love for God. For this, God’s judgment would fall upon them.

Amos, like Isaiah, spoke prophecy from God to Israel because of their rebellion against Him and His commandments. If the Israelite people, person by person, loved God, they would have obeyed His commandments. Just as we do what a person who we love asks, we, too, should do what God asks and commands because we love Him.

Just as Jesus spoke about the Pharisees lack of faith and loving God, James spoke about faith that resulted in works in his letter. He did not say good works would save a person. He said, a person’s faith would show by the works he or she does. In James 2:17 he said, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” Genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in good works, which come because of obedience to Jesus’ teachings and commands. Obedience to Jesus and the Father shows our love of them. If we do not love Jesus, we are disobedient and are not children of faith. Our prayers have no power because we truly are not followers of Christ. God has not made us righteous and He will not be in the presence of unrighteousness. This should lead us to ask how we can and should love Jesus. In what ways can we show our love of Jesus?

Show It

With the many texts in the Bible, we learn and understand the way to show God our love for Him is to walk in His ways – obey Him. We realize we love because the Father and Son first loved us. Added to this, when we love the Father and believe Jesus is the Christ born of God then we love Jesus. With these, we understand the love inside of us comes from the Father. He gives love as a gift of His grace. Besides these, we learn that to love the Father and Son we must keep their commandments and teachings – be obedient. On top of these, we read in John 16:26-27 if we love Jesus and trust He came from the Father, we can ask from the Father and because of His love for us, He will hear and answer us. The questions remain. How do we love the Father and Son since we are sinful? How can we always stay strong in our faith? Jesus gives us the answer.

Abiding in Christ Jesus

The love John spoke about throughout his writings (such as John 8:42, 14:15, 21, & 23-24, 15:10, 17:24-26; 1 John 2:4-6, 3:1, 4:19, and 5:1 & 3; 2 John 1:6) and, especially when stating that obeying Jesus’ teachings shows a person loves Him, is agape love. Agape love means to dearly love another person. God puts agape love in each person. Because of God’s love for us and in us, we can show agape love to God and other people. Just as we want to be with other people we love, we should also have a great desire to be with God each day. We will want to abide with God, stay near and not leave Him because of His great love for us and ours for Him. Let us look into what abiding means. Jesus taught about it to His disciples.

The passage of the Bible most often remembered when considering abiding in Christ is John 15. In this chapter, Jesus described abiding in Him as being like a branch staying attached to the vine. He equates our staying with Him as abiding in His love. “Abiding” comes from the Greek word meno. This word means to remain, tarry, not to depart from, to be continually present, and to remain as one. When we consider that loving Jesus means obeying His commands and teachings, we understand this love would come from being continually present with God, abiding with Him. To love and continually do what Jesus commands requires choosing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit residing in us. When we are so connected with Jesus that the Holy Spirit guides us, we are abiding in His love and power. What do other Bible passages consider abiding to be?

John used the word meno fifty-three times in his letters and Gospel. Twenty of those times, meno was used to teach abiding in Christ. For John and Jesus, abiding meant showing our love of Jesus and the Father. Showing love occurred by obeying the commandments, staying with Jesus and learning from Him through His Word, living through the power of His Holy Spirit, being a disciple, knowing Jesus, bearing fruit, receiving His power, receiving Jesus’ love, participating in suffering and trials because He did, and continually being in the presence of God.  Consider these passages from John:

  •  John 1:38-39 – “And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi, where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying and they stayed (meno-abide) with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.” These people came to stay (abide) with Jesus and learn from Him.
  • John 6:56 – “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” Those who are true disciples and abide in Him will partake in each part of His life. Abiding with Jesus means learning from Him, obeying Him, and participating in suffering/trials just as He did.
  • John 8:31 – “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you continue (meno – abide) in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.’” People who study the Word, the Bible, and obey what the Father and Son commanded, are true disciples of Jesus. Abiding means learning from God’s Word and living it out.
  • John 14:16-17 – Jesus said, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be with you.” Because of a believer’s love of God and His love of them, He will give His Holy Spirit to abide with the believer. Abiding with Jesus means living with the Holy Spirit and receiving all He can give us – teaching, strength or will, power, encouragement, correction, and reproof.
  • John 15:4-5 – “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” A believer who abides with Jesus, who stays continually with Him through the Spirit, and studying and obeying the Word, will bear much fruit. When we do not abide with Jesus, we will be able to do nothing. We will have no power to overcome temptation, to spread the Word, to live fruitful, God-glorifying lives. Abiding is staying with Jesus in the Word by studying and obeying it in the world and bearing fruit.
  • John 15:6-7 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up, and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” If a person does not abide with Christ – read His word and follow His commands, live in the power of His Spirit – then that person will be pruned from the branch and thrown in the fire. That person’s non-action for God, - lack of obedience, turning away from God - will show he or she does not truly love God and is not a follower of Jesus. God will throw the person in the fire. Yet, Just as John 16:26-27 says, if we abide in Christ and live by His words, we have the power and are in tune with God’s will so that whatever we ask is in accordance with God’s will and He will answer our prayers. Abiding with Jesus means studying His Word and obeying Him.
  •  John 15:9-10 – Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. Obeying Jesus and the Father’s commandments shows our love to them and the world. When we do this, we show we abide in them and their words and love, and They abide in us.
  •   1 John 2:6 - “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” The Christian who truly abides in Christ should walk like Jesus walked – according to God’s commandments and will.
  • 1 John 2:10 – “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling.” By obeying God, a Christian shows he or she abides in Jesus. Jesus and the Father commanded us to love one another. Abiding means loving a brother.
  • 1 John 2:14b – “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” Abiding in Christ gives the believer power to overcome Satan and His temptations. Abiding in Christ gives power.
  •  1 John 2:17 – “The world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God lives (meno – abides) forever.” The person who truly loves God and believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not pass away as the world will, but will live forever with God in heaven. Abiding brings the reward of eternal life.
  • 1 John 2:24 – “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” By abiding in God’s Word and it abiding in your life, you will abide in the Father and Son. You will continually live and be in the presence of God.
  • 1 John 2:27-28 – “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you, but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. Now little children, abide in Him so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” The Holy Spirit lives and stays with each believer and teaches you all things so abide in Him. Stay with Jesus in His teachings so you will not be ashamed of what you did and shrink away from Him in shame. Abiding keeps you from sinning and being ashamed in His presence.
  • 1 John 3:6, 9 – “No one who abides in Him sins; so one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” “No one who is born of God practices sin because His seed abides in Him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” When a believer abides in Christ, he has the power to overcome temptation and acts to receive and use that power so he does not sin. Abiding gives believers the power to overcome temptation. You can tell a believer from a non-believer by the way a person acts and speaks.
  • 1 John 3:14-15 – “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Abiding in Christ gives the believer the ability to love other believers and each person.
  • 1 John 3:17 – “But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Abiding in God gives us the love of God for other believers and other people. It shows by giving what the other believer needs, like food and clothes.
  • 1 John 3:24 – “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” Abiding in Christ means we keep His commandments. We can know believers by their love of God and other people.
  • 1 John 4:12-13 – “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” Abiding in God shows our love and care for other people. We can know we are abiding in Him by this and by His Holy Spirit in us.
  • 1 John 4:15-16 – “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Abiding in God means we believe in the love of God for us, the love He showed by sending His Son to earth to die for our sins. Abiding in love means we are abiding in God and He in us.
  • 2 John 1:9 – “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” Abiding in Christ means obeying the teachings of Christ. It shows the Father and Son live in him or her.

John is the only apostle to speak about abiding in Christ in the Gospels. His words contain over half the instances of meno (abide/stay/remain) in the New Testament. Only two other verses in the New Testament besides John’s twenty speak of abiding in Christ. Paul told Timothy to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:14) He told Timothy to abide in the Word of God. Abide in Christ and stand strong in his faith and the salvation Jesus gave him. The writer of Hebrew commanded in Hebrews 13:1,”Let love of the brethren continue (meno).” He reiterated Jesus’ command to the disciples. Abide in Christ by obeying His command to love other believers. The power to abide in Christ comes from the Holy Spirit whom we choose to heed each day. By choosing to abide in Christ through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to obey the commands and teaching of Jesus that came from God and show our love of Him. By loving Jesus, which comes through abiding in Christ, we become effective persons of prayer.

Effective Praying Comes through Loving Jesus

When we abide in Christ we are able to live and act in obedience to the Father’s and Jesus’ commands. By abiding in Christ, the Holy Spirit through the Word teaches Christians how to live and how to love God and other people. Believers obtain the power and the will to obey God’s commands through the Spirit. Abiding in Christ gives Christians the power to withstand temptation and suffering. Believers cab commune continually with God through the Holy Spirit. By abiding in Christ, Christians show their love of the Father and Jesus Christ. Believers become more Christlike and their relationship with the Father grows deeper. Abiding with Christ aligns the Christian’s will with God’s will so we pray in accordance to what God desires and knows will be the best answer for each situation while bringing glory to Him.

Jesus taught the disciples in John 16:26-27, a believer prays with the power of Jesus – “in His name” – when he or she loves Him. That means the Christian accepts Jesus is the Son of God, loves the Son and the Father, and, as a child of God led by the Holy Spirit, prays in accordance to the will of God. This comes from abiding in Christ, which Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” A Loving Jesus transforms a person and his or her prayers. Praying in accordance to His will means the Christian joins with God by saying “Amen” to His plans as He works His will out in answer to your prayer. These come about because of abiding in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Relevance and Conclusion

The love of God that brings a person to oneness with Him involves the person’s whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength. When a person admits Jesus is God’s Son, trusts in Him for salvation from his or her sins, and confesses his or her sins to God, that person becomes a Christian. Being a Christian, a follow of Christ involves loving the Father and Son. Loving them requires all of one’s being. To love God dearly in this way requires abiding in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. When this happens a complete change comes over that person’s life. It changes how the Christian acts so he or she is obedient to Jesus’ teachings. That is physical change. This change affects the mind and heart of a person so he or she wants the best for other people and speaks words of truth, love, kindness, and peace to them because of God’s love in him or her that has changed his or her heart. The changes in a Christian’s spirit because of abiding in Christ show in that believer’s desire to love and obey God at all times, to be with and serve only Him each moment every day.  Genuine love of Jesus causes a genuine change of being. This believer becomes more Christlike and his or her communion with God grows deeper each day. The Christian’s prayers are so in concert with God’s will that to ask in Jesus name is asking the Lord’s will be done, just as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer.

The belief in and love of Jesus Christ the Son of God underpins the effectiveness of prayer. Through Jesus, as we abide with Him through His Spirit, God will come near and listen to our prayers. He will act on them and give what we or others need. God loved us while we were still sinners. He loves us now are His children saved by the blood of His only Son, Jesus the Messiah. We, as sinners saved by His grace, love Him and His Son, Jesus. We obey Their commands and everything the Word teaches us. We abide with Them and They with us through the gift of the Helper, whom Jesus gives each believer. From this abiding our communing brings about answer to prayer. We know we can “ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us,” as Jesus said in John 15:7. An effective person of prayer believes Jesus is the Son of God and loves Jesus with his or her whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength.
What keeps you from loving Jesus - obeying and abiding in Him?
Are you an effective prayer person?
Accept Him as the Son of God.
Believe in Him as your Savior.
Love  Him with your whole being.
Abide in Him and be an Effective Person of Prayer
“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 [NASB]

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf, for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” John 16:26-27 [NASB]