Every child of God wants to be more like Jesus. And, by God’s grace, this actually happens. The name the Bible gives to this process of becoming more Christ-like is “sanctification.” To be sanctified is to become more dedicated to God and separated from sin (Rom. 6:22). It is to live out the deep principles of salvation. In sanctification, believers become more like their Savior.
But how does this happen?
In one of the most important biblical texts on sanctification, Paul says that growing in godliness takes work: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13). In sanctification, believers work and God works. But what do those two works look like and how do they relate to each other?
As we grapple with these questions, we should not soften the force of the Spirit’s words; any interpretation that minimizes either the work of man or of God in sanctification misses his point.
We Become Like Jesus by Working God’s Will
The main verb in verse 12 is plain: Work out your own salvation. Paul is definitely not saying, “Work at your own salvation,” or “Work up to earning salvation.” Paul is writing to those in whom God had already begun a work of salvation (cf. 1:6). God is not calling the lost to get saved; he’s calling the saved to get working.
What does it look like to work out salvation, to pursue sanctification?
Sanctification Means Growing in Reverence
Sanctification is a serious work; believers work out their salvation in “fear and trembling.” Believers grow in godliness as they gain a deeper respect for God, a stirring sense of awe over his greatness. Like Joseph, we stubbornly resist offending God in any way (Gen. 39:9).
Sanctification Means Growing in Obedience
Obedience and faith are not enemies—though this can be confusing. Whenever we put obedience prior to our acceptance by God we pervert the gospel. “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in [God’s] sight” (Rom. 3:20).
Suppose someone told you, “I am terribly lonely and need a friend. I will do anything you tell me if only you’ll love me.” You would be repulsed. But it’s quite different to hear someone say, “I have a friend who loves me so much, I can’t imagine her asking me to do anything that I wouldn’t gladly do.”
It is in that latter sense that Paul talks about obedience as a reflection of a heart that is freed from sin’s bonds (Rom. 6:17; cf. Acts 6:7).
Sanctification Means Growing in Integrity
Sanctification is not mere compliance when people are watching. Paul urged the Philippians to be more faithful in his absence than in his presence. Paul contrasts “eye service” with sincere, heartfelt reverence to God (Col. 3:22). Someone who only obeys when watched is serving himself; he obeys to gain praise or avoid a penalty. Coerced obedience is a sign of spiritual immaturity.
Bottom line: Growth in godliness is hard work.
We Become More Like Jesus by Trusting in God’s Work
Without minimizing believers’ responsibility to work out their salvation, Paul further describes sanctification as a work of God’s sovereign grace (cf. Phil. 2:1–11). “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (v. 13; cf. 1 Thess. 5:23).
God’s “good pleasure” is to renew his children in true godliness. In the words of the seventeenth century Canons of Dort, he “infuses new qualities into the will… whereupon the will thus renewed is not only [turned on] and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence becomes itself active.” Paul’s message is not, “Work hard because God is working hard too.” God is not merely an example of human work. Instead, God’s gracious work in us more deeply wins us over to God and sways us to do his will.
Have you ever felt discouraged—even disgusted—about your perceived lack of progress in holiness? Have you ever feared that perhaps in the future you will be more sinful, less sanctified than you are now? These thoughts can be paralyzing. And that is exactly what the devil wants. “There’s no hope for you,” he suggests. “You’ll never amount to much of a Christian if you even are one. You’re a slave to sin. You’ve tried to fight it. But it’s no use. You’ll never be like God.”
Who has the heart to engage in work that is sure to fail?
But that is exactly Paul’s point; there is hope in succeeding! Because God is working for and in his children, their work toward sanctification is not futile. God is working in his children both to will and to do for His good pleasure! As Ligon Duncan has said, “Paul’s teaching is not that God accepts you so no change is necessary, but that God accepts you and therefore change is now possible.”
Believers must work to believe the gospel, love God, fight sin, desire eternity, and serve others cheerfully. We work to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word so that we can joyfully obey everything God says. We strive to respect our conscience when it convicts us of wrong or encourages us in well-doing. But all this work is driven by God’s work in us. God actually cares about our sanctification more than we do. God wants us to find our joy in him and to say no to everything that detracts from true happiness. Sometimes that takes a lot of work!
But here is Paul’s invigorating point: God never demands that we work for him harder than he’s working in us.
Confession of sin is necessary for fellowship with God and revival among God’s people. The word “confess” has the root meaning of “to say the same as.” Confession, then, is agreeing with God about your sin.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (TLB)
Below you will find a series of questions to help you think through areas of your life that may need cleansing. On reading these questions, as you are convicted of sin, confess it at once to God. Be willing to make it right. Then you can receive cleansing and forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.
Be sure to name your sin to God. For example: Lord, I have not put You first in my plans, or, I have neglected Your Word and prayer. Do not make even one excuse for sin of any kind in your life. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He (or she) who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
You may wish to write down the specific sins that come to mind as you read the questions. Then, when you’re finished confessing, tear the paper into bits and throw it away as a reminder that God does indeed cleanse you from “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9b). Embrace the promise of Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Step into personal revival today. Use these questions to brave the depths of your heart, knowing that as you do, your heart is safe and secure in God’s hands.
Do you have any personal habits that are not pure?
Do you allow impure thoughts about the opposite sex to stay in your mind?
Do you read that which is impure or suggests unholy things?
Do you indulge in any entertainment that is unclean?
Are you guilty of looking lustfully at others?
If you are looking for a deeply satisfying relationship with God, I encourage you to pray by faith and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are going to study the book of Luke chapterv11. Do you know what that is this morning? Do I know what that is? Not just simply to pray generally…but to actually come to God with specific requests and to get from God specific answers…
we’re turning to Luke chapter 11 and verse 1: “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”. – it was the fact that they saw Jesus praying, it was after they saw Him rise from prayer that they asked Him to teach them to pray, because they saw the way in which He prayed.
Verse 2: “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”
FOLLOW US ON:
Let’s come before the Lord, just as we come to His word, and ask His help in a word of prayer: Our dear Father, we come to Thee, as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, and we ask of Thee help, this morning. We seek the power of God to be in this place, we knock upon the door of God and ask that it may be opened unto us, and Lord, dear God, You would grace us with Thy presence. Help me I pray today, fill me I pray with the blessed Spirit of the living God. For Christ’s sake. Amen.
‘The atomic bomb will never go off, and I speak as an explosive expert’. That is what Admiral Leahey (sp?) said in 1945 – and we all know that the atomic bomb did go off. An aviation expert, Octave Channet (sp?), predicted these words, and I quote:
'Aeroplanes will eventually go fast, they will be used for sport, but they are not to be thought of as commercial vehicles'.
And we know what happens today is that thousands of people weekly, daily even, are shuttled across our world by large jumbo jets. Perhaps more significant, one man, Lieutenant Joseph Ives (sp?) in 1861, after his exploration of the Grand Canyon in the US of A, he stated abruptly: ‘The Grand Canyon is of no value at all, it is altogether useless’, he went on to say, ‘Ours has been the first and, indeed, doubtless the last party of white people to visit this profitless location’.
You all know this morning that the Grand Canyon brings in more tourists in the United States than any other scene there. But what was this? Three seemingly experts that dictated negatively about something that has been proven today to be absolutely positive. There is, as we read their statements, a spirit of negativism. In their predictions, in what they have said, it resounds [through] it all – they think of something and they say it will never, ever happen. But if you turn with me, not just to the passage that we read together this morning, but to Mark’s Gospel and chapter 11 and verse 24, we read similar words to the words that we read earlier. The Lord Jesus Christ said in chapter 11 and verse 24: ‘Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’.
I want to relate to you a personal story from my own life. On one occasion I preached within a church, and I preached on this verse that I’ve just read in Mark chapter 11. And after it, I was imploring and exhorting and encouraging the people of God to ask God for their desires according to His will, to claim His promises, to put their faith in God and His word. And after it I was pulled over by a senior gentleman in the church, and he began to go into all sorts of spiritual and theological contortions in order to show me that that verse of Scripture is not for today. Is it? Or is it not?
We read in church history of a man called George Mueller, and this man in the last century was a man who – personally speaking – he moved the obstacle of unbelief in his own life. He testified of himself that, ‘God has never failed me yet’. And in seventy years of looking after young children and orphans he testified that God – as 9500 orphans had gone through his hands – God had provided every single meal for them. In his seventy years of life he testified – and remember it’s last century we’re talking about – that he received $7,500,000 – that was last century! He declared that he had no committees, he had no collectors, there was no voting, there was no endowment or envelopes, all he had was faith in God. It was God answering to believing prayer.
One of the incidents that is written in his biography, is about when this man – George Mueller, this man of prayer and intercession and faith – was going on a journey to Canada, to preach in the city of Toronto. We read within the story that something awful happened on his journey, that a very dense fog fell upon the ship and the whole of the ocean. Suddenly, to the captain’s door there was a great knocking. And there, as the captain opened the door, was George Mueller standing there. He said to the captain: ‘Sir, I must be in Toronto to preach tomorrow’. The captain stared right into his face and he said, ‘Well sir, there is simply nothing I can do about this, because I am not moving from where I am for fear of colliding with another vessel – and you will have to wait until the weather makes that possible’. George Mueller looked at him and said, ‘In forty years of serving God I have never missed an appointment yet, and I will be there’. And he implored the captain to drop to his knees, and both of them fell on their knees and Mueller – he did not shout, he did not cry – he simply, in simple faith, implored God that He would lift the fog and that tomorrow he would be in Toronto. Then the captain began to pray, and as soon as he had started to pray Mueller tapped his shoulder and he says, ‘You don’t need to pray, sir. Because you don’t believe’. The man was a little irate, a little annoyed at this wasting – as he saw it – of his time and he walked immediately out of his cabin – only to be absolutely astonished, because the fog had lifted. Mueller stood with a look upon his face as if to say, ‘I knew it, I knew this would happen’, because Mueller was a man who knew what it was to pray to God, but not just to pray to God, but to have God answer his prayers.
Do you know what that is this morning? Do I know what that is? Not just simply to pray generally, ‘Lord, if it’s Your will I pray that You’ll do it’. Not just to come before God and pray for all the missionaries, and to pray for all the pastors, and preachers, and all of God’s people, and all of the sick – but to actually come to God with specific requests and to get from God specific answers.
There are three things that I want to leave with you this morning in relation to answers and prayer. The first thing I want to deal with is this: some of the prophets of prayer in the Old Testament. Then I want us to look at the prayer of faith within the New Testament. And then quickly if we have time I want us to look at some practical hints concerning answers to prayer.
Simply what I want to show you quickly this morning is this: that the Old Testament saints of God knew what it was to have their prayers answered. What was the key? The first thing is this: prophets of prayer. I don’t know about you this morning, but my mind goes back to John chapter 3 and verse 10, where there was a man standing there in the middle of the evening, in the middle of the night – for fear of the Jews – before the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Lord Jesus Christ turned to him concerning the new birth and He said this to him, ‘Art thou a master in Israel and knowest not these things?’. As I look at answers to prayer, I feel like him. Am I a person who has been saved for many years, am I perhaps a leader within the church of Jesus Christ – and could it be that many of us do not know what it is to pray to God and be sure of His answer? I must say, and I must confess that, in over ten years of being a Christian, I have never ever heard a message on the prayer of faith. Could that be one of the reasons why, today, so little prayer we think – or we believe – is answered, but if we look at the prophets of prayer in the Old Testament we see some mighty men and mighty women.
If you were to turn to Joshua chapter 10 this morning, you would see that man of God, Joshua, in the midst of a battle – and they were almost prevailing within the battle, but the night is rapidly approaching, and therefore they realize that they need a few more hours in which to prevail in which to get the Lord’s victory. And Joshua, realizing the distressing situation, he drops to his bended knees, depending upon God, and cries ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, moon, on the valley of Ajalon’ – and it says that in answer to his prayers God granted it, and the sun stood still.
If you were to turn to 1 Samuel chapter 1 and verses 10 to 17, you’d see a woman staggering into the temple of God and falling on her knees – she is in absolute turmoil and anguish, so much so that Eli the priest thinks she is drunk. But then he realizes that this woman can’t even find words for her prayers, her heart is breaking because her womb is barren. And then as she is before God, she cries from the depths of her soul, and Eli looks on and he asks that the God of Israel may grant thee thy petition. And as we read on in that chapter what do we find? We find that God gave to that woman, Hannah, Samuel the great man of God, in answer to her prayer.
Then, almost miraculously, more so than these events that I have been describing – if you do turn with me to Judges 15, you see here another great event, in the life of Samson. Judges 15 and beginning to read at verse 14: ‘And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi. And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? But’, it says, ‘God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he was revived’.
Often the reason why we receive so little is because we ask for so little – and most Christians want so little today, because they are satisfied with so little… Now if you’re a rationalist this morning, and you look at that, you can’t make any sense out of it. If you believe in logic today, you look at that passage of scripture and you see Samson, you can’t even make head nor tail out of him slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass – but the message this morning from the Lord is this: God can even use the jawbone of an ass. But more than that: Samson turns round to the God who has given him deliverance and given him victory and he says, ‘I have slain all these in Thy name and now I’m going to die of thirst, what are You going to do about it?’. And God cleaves a hollow in the jawbone of that ass and gives him water to drink. My friend these are only three, three of the prophets of prayer, and simply what I want to show you quickly this morning is this: that the Old Testament saints of God knew what it was to have their prayers answered.
What was the key? This is where I want to come to the prayer of faith. What was the key? Look at Luke chapter 11 again, our passage this morning: What does the Lord Jesus say?. ‘I say unto you’ – now let me say this, when the Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘I say unto you’, that means there is no argument about it. If He said it, it is true, because it is the blessed Lord Jesus Christ speaking. And let me say, in reference to the man who asked me whether this passage of Scripture was for today and for the church of Jesus Christ today: was the Lord Jesus Christ truthful? Or was He a liar? When He said, ‘When you ask, you receive what you ask for’, was He true? Or did He not mean what He said? He said it, ‘I say unto you’, what does He say? ‘Ask’, that is: vocally ask with your mouth. Ask God, cry unto the God your Maker for what you need, for what is your want, for what is your heart’s desire. ‘Ask’, and then it says ‘Seek’, that is not from your mouth, but that is from your heart – and you don’t even need to speak to pray, you don’t even need to get on your knees, you can be walking, you can be talking, you can be singing, you can be driving, but you can be seeking, you can be desiring after something in your heart, and God will answer. ‘Knock’, that is a loud asking, a loud imploring, where you implore God that He must, in answer to your prayers, give you what you ask. He has promised, ‘I say unto you’. It is a promise, it cannot fail, he has promised, ‘Ask and you shall receive’, and it is heard – it is heard in heaven.
You know it’s possible for Christians to ask too little, but it is impossible for the Christian to ask too much. Let me say this, this morning: that often the reason why we receive so little is because we ask for so little – and most Christians want so little today, because they are satisfied with so little. We need to learn what the prayer of faith is. There are four things that I want us to learn this morning. The prayer of faith is the prayer that God answered. And the first thing that you need within the prayer of faith is this: perseverance. You see it doesn’t matter how good a pray-er you are, it doesn’t matter how good a preacher you are, in fact Hoover Hodge said this: ‘I am even now convinced that the difference between the saints like Wesley, Fletcher, Edwards, Brainerd, Bramwell and ourselves is energy, perseverance and the invincible determination to exceed, or die, in the attempt to get your heart’s desires’.
It’s not someone with great talents that God needs, it’s not someone with great preaching ability or great learning that God needs, but it is men great in holiness, men great in faith, men great in fidelity, men great for God. What do we read in Luke chapter 18 and verse 7 with regards to perseverance and prayer? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself spoke and said, ‘Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?’ God has to answer! God will answer! There must be perseverance, but we dealt with that last week and I don’t want to go on too much about it. But you see effective prayer and effectual prayer doesn’t depend on the power of the pray-er. This is the key – if you want to have your prayers answered today, tomorrow and the rest of the week remember these three things: you must claim His promises, His prophecies and His providences. His promises, His prophecies and His providences.
You know it’s possible for Christians to ask too little, but it is impossible for the Christian to ask too much… In James chapter 1 and verse 6 we read: ‘Let him ask’, let the believer, the man of God ask, ‘in faith, with never a doubt’. But what is faith? What does it mean to pray in faith? I believe that many Christians today, and much of the church of Jesus Christ, has this idea that faith is something that they muster up within themselves, and they go over and over again in their mind: ‘I must believe, I will believe, God will do it’ – until they try to convince themselves psychologically and emotionally that God is going to answer their prayers. That is not biblical faith. What do we read in Romans and chapter 10? Verse 17 says: ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’. And if you break that equation down a little this morning, what it says is this: faith comes by the word of God. Hearing is the medium, faith is the method. Faith comes by the word of God, this is our faith delivered to us, but it is the promises of God that we are to look upon, we are to read and inwardly digest that will cultivate, that will produce faith within the depths of our soul and our spirit. It is the word of God, we are to take the promises of God, we are to stand upon His promises that will not fail, as we have been singing. We are to take God at His word, we are to believe Him – but what are we to believe?
I believe that faith is not without evidence. What I mean is simply this: that I could go to anyone here in this gathering, and lay my hand upon you and say, ‘You are to be healed’. Or I could go to you and tell you that you are going to get that job, or that you are going to do wondrous things for God, or that your life is going to be changed, I could say many things to you – but what is what I am saying based upon? You see, we can be sure that God answers our prayers, but we can only be sure when our prayers are based upon the word of God and are in accordance with His promises. You say to me, ‘David, well how do I pray in faith?’. Simply this: you take the promises of God and you claim them! When was the last time you did that? That is faith! Taking God at His word and bringing His word to Him and saying ‘Lord, I did not write this Book, I didn’t make this up, I am not saying this! Lord, You have said it, and You must honour Your word! You must answer!’. That is how we get our prayers answered – when we pray in accordance to the promises of God, taking God at His word. We must believe, that when we pray to Him, that He will hear us. As the Lord Jesus Christ said, if we ask bread, will He give us a stone? And when we ask God, if we ask in faith, if we ask based upon His promises, God will give us our hearts desire – because when we ask according to His promises we are giving Him, in prayer, His desires – for God works His desires through you and through I.
What kind of promises are there? Well, there are specific promises. In other words, you don’t flick through the Bible and say to yourself, ‘Well, is it God’s will that I should be saved?’. Sure you know that it’s revealed in His word that it’s His will that you should be saved – therefore what do you do? You don’t pray about it, you lift the word of God and say, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’, and you believe it, and that’s it! Specific promises. Then there are general promises. For instance – we haven’t time to look at it this morning – but in Isaiah 65 verse 24 you have a promise there, that as soon as your mouth opens in the spirit of God, to pray to God, God hears your prayer in Heaven. That’s a general promise to everyone. Then there is the desire within your heart, the providences of God, when God lays a burden upon your heart, so heavy that you are driven to your knees to pray, and implore, and cry to God for those desires. Then you can take God at His word and claim the answer.
Of course, we can pray for the Lord’s return. We’ve talked about His promises and His providences, but we can pray for His return – why? Because it’s prophesied that He will return. Remember, He reprimanded the hypocrites, the Jews, the Pharisees and the Sadducees because they were able to discern the signs of the weather, but they couldn’t discern the signs of the times. We can, because we have the promises, we have the word of God.
Do you know what God says in Malachi chapter 3 and verse 10? ‘Prove Me now!’ – God wants you to prove Him! C.H. Spurgeon has a book, and I would encourage you to get it: ‘The Chequebook of the Bank of Faith’ it’s called – 366 promises of God for each day of your life to claim. Do you know what the promises of God are? Do you know what the word of God is? It’s a chequebook from start to finish, for you to take to God, the Great Banker, and give to Him and say, ‘This is what my cheque says that I ought to have as a believer, a child of God. You are implored to give it to me!’. You may think that that is forward. You may think that that is being pushy with God. You may even think that it’s being cheeky with God – but do you know what God says in Malachi chapter 3 and verse 10? ‘Prove Me now!’ – God wants you to prove Him!
In the Isle of Lewis – you’ve heard me speak about it before, because it’s burned upon my heart – a revival took place. And there was a prayer meeting on one occasion, and it’s where it all seemed to start. And this young man got to his feet in this prayer meeting, and they had been meditating upon a verse of scripture, ‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty’ – and listen to this! He rose to his feet and he said ‘Lord, Your word says I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, are You not a Man of Your word?’. Would you say that to God? It says the building shook, and God moved through that little island like a fire, because one simple man brought, he cashed in, the promises of God for him.
Leonard Ravenhill, in his little book ‘Why no revival?’ he says this – and I’ve written it on the front of my Bible because I think it’s astonishing. He said, ‘We will sit one day in our fellowships and we will watch as some simple, newly converted soul will walk to the front and open the Book of God and simply believe it!’
This is not a book that is to be explained. It is not a book that is to be [torn] apart, and broken down, and talked about until we’re sick – but it’s a book that is to be believed! A book that is to be claimed! A book that is to be lived!
I’ve run out of time this morning, but I’d so much more to say to you all today – but just for a moment, Hebrews chapter 11 we read this, of men and women who claimed God’s promises, who took them and stood upon them. It says of them: ‘Who through faith they subdued kingdoms, they wrought righteousness, they obtained promises, they stopped the mouths of lions, they quenched the violence of fire, they escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness they were made strong, they waxed valiant in fight, they turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise’! But brethren this morning, we have received the promise – and what more can we do with it, if we claim it at the throne of grace?
In one occasion there were two bishops, Bishop Lambeth and Wainwright. And they were one of the first missionaries to China, and they had a great missionary meeting in Osaka, Japan. And on one occasion, as they were taking their meeting, there were two officials from the communist government that came in and told them that they could no longer have that meeting. And what it did was it drove those two men to their knees in prayer that evening, two of them in a little room. And the little servant girl came to call them to supper, and the power of God and the power of prayer was so great that she fell beneath it! And then his wife came up, to find out what was going on, why the little servant girl hadn’t come back, and she fell underneath the power of prayer and they altogether, when they came to their senses, went to a prayer meeting in that little upper room – and through it, two of those official’s sons were born again! The next day one of those officials that had came to them on a previous occasion, came and said: ‘You can continue with your meetings, no one will hinder you’. Do you know what it said in the newspaper the next day? ‘Last night the Christian’s God visited town’.
You know that most banks close at half past three or four, but have we ever thought of the fact that the throne of grace, one day, will close? We will not pray in glory, the way we pray down here. We can not see God do the impossible in a sin sick world, see Him save multitudes, see Him change lives up in glory – it can’t happen. It is a special blessing for the Christian, that can only happen down here. Therefore all the more reason why we should say: ‘Lord teach us to pray, but teach us to pray to be answered’.
Our dear Father we do just that, we praise Thee for the great things that Thou hast done in the past. But Lord we acknowledge Thy word and Thy promise that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And what has been done in the past, greater can be done still, if we would only believe our great and glorious God. Lord we pray now that Thou wilt take us to our homes in safety and part us with Your blessing. For Christ’s sake. Amen.
Apple and Google developed a new API for iPhone and Android that would allow app developers to create contact tracing apps for the novel coronavirus. The Apple-Google approach relies on Bluetooth connectivity between devices to determine the risk of exposure of an individual to a person who tested positive to COVID-19.
The object of such apps is for medical systems to be able to perform quick contact tracing and react accordingly. Patients can be isolated earlier and tested for COVID-19 with the help of such apps. But, crucially, participation is voluntary. It’s up to iPhone and Android users to opt-in. When they do, their privacy will be protected, and neither Apple nor Google will collect any data about users. It’ll all stay on their phones.
Several governments in Europe have been working on their own contact tracing app as well, some starting similar initiatives before Apple and Google announced their joint effort. But not all countries went for a privacy-friendly approach. The UK, France, and Germany all wanted Apple and Google to make certain exceptions that would allow these governments to run their own contact tracing app, and collect more user data. Germany announced over the weekend that it’ll drop its requests and instead follow Apple and Google’s guidelines, just as the two tech giants announced new changes for the app that will improve user privacy.
Apple and Google on Friday disclosed various changes to their coronavirus contact tracing initiative, addressing the concerns of privacy advocates.
The initiative is now referred to as “exposure notification” instead of “contact tracing,” a name that better describes the functionality of the app. These apps will notify users of potential exposure, and it’ll be up to the user and authorities to perform the actual contact tracing efforts.
Apple and Google built additional privacy protections in the app to make accidental or intentional identification of users impossible. The keys will be generated randomly, making it impossible for someone to guess them. Bluetooth metadata will be encrypted, and exposure time will be rounded up to five minutes to make it impossible for someone to identify users.
The API will also register the Bluetooth system level to avoid false positives. Bluetooth system travels several tens of feet and can penetrate walls. The farther away you are from someone, the less likely you’d be to get infected, especially if you’re living in different apartments. Without taking into account Bluetooth power levels, the app would still give you a warning.
Germany on Sunday announced that it will no longer pursue its own contact tracing app. Instead, it’ll rely on the Apple-Google approach, Reuters reported. Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a joined statement that the country will go for the “decentralized” approach that Apple and Google are championing.
Kano Deaths Some residents of Kano are living in fear over the increasing deaths in the state with no real information on what’s people in the state.
As of Saturday, unofficial reports on social media says over 600 persons have died in the state in the last seven days.
Faith Is More Powerful Than Government And Nothing Is More Powerful Than God – Trump
Bashir Ahmad, Personal Assistant on New Media to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday, expressed his concern on Twitter, over the deaths, calling on Nigerians to “drop all our differences, excuses” and Pray for Kano.
I am so worried about Kano. May Allah SWT accept the souls of all our departed and grant them Jannah. This is indeed an unusual time.
Time to drop all our differences, excuses, come and act sincerely together as brothers and sisters we are. #PrayForKano
Bashir Ahmad ✔ @BashirAhmaad I am so worried about Kano. May Allah SWT accept the souls of all our departed and grant them Jannah. This is indeed an unusual time.
The increase in the toll comes at amid the coronavirus pandemic. As of Saturday, 78 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Kano. There are however, fears that there may be more cases than recorded as the state lacks testing capacity.
Scores of people, including elites and prominent sons of the state, have been lost to a yet-to-be-identified disease, with Dala, Fagge, Tarauni, Nasarawa, Gwale, and Kano Municipal worst hit.
Among those already buried are academics, administrators, bankers, media practitioners, and businessmen.
Eyewitnesses and undertakers at cemeteries in the state said an unspecified number of people had died and were buried over the past few days. Among the prominent persons that died in Kano on Saturday were Prof Ibrahim Ayagi, Dr Musa Umar Gwarzo, Alhaji Dahiru Rabiu (former Grand Khadi), Musa Tijjani (Editor of Triumph Newspaper) and Adamu Isyaku Dal, who was a former Executive Secretary of the State Universal Basic Education Board.
Others are Alhaji Salisu Lado, Hajiya Shamsiyya Mustapha, Hajiyaj Nene Umma, Alhaji Garba Sarki Fagge, Dr Nasiru Maikano Bichi, Secretary Student Affairs, North West University, Prof Aliyu Umar Dikko of Physiology Department, Bayero University Kano, and Ado Gwanja’s mother, among others, Punch reports.
I’ve been re-reading some familiar New Testament passages over the past couple of weeks, and I am not alone it seems, as the recent report in Christian Today showed a growing number of people turning to the Bible for comfort and guidance.
YouVersion, the popular Bible reading app, revealed that engagement with its reading plans during Holy Week was 54 per cent higher than last year, and whereas 26.4 million Bible Plan days were completed during Holy Week 2019, that figure has risen to a staggering 40.6 million this year.
Like most of us of course, I have my favourite bits. For example, I have found myself being drawn back to Luke’s well-known account of those two disillusioned disciples, one of whom may well have been Jesus’ uncle, making their way to a village called Emmaus.
I reckon we could sum up their feelings in one word: heartbroken. They had entertained such high hopes for Jesus, but they had been shattered in the most horrifying way by his brutal execution. All they had left were their precious memories and their faded dreams. But suddenly, everything changed. Jesus suddenly turned up. I’m tempted to suggest they encountered the original ‘dead man walking’!
I’ve been strolling down memory lane over these past few weeks too. One or two memories are a little embarrassing, such as the time I asked God to let Father Christmas bring me some presents even though it was still the middle of July. To be fair I was only seven at the time.
Then there was the earth-shattering afternoon when a nurse turned to my heavily pregnant wife and said, “Yep, there’s the second head.” Now that did come as a shock; the doctor had said nothing about twins. Until then, we all thought her dates were a little askew!
“Does it matter?” she asked. It most certainly did. We had both resigned our jobs and were about to spend the next three years ‘living by faith’ (i.e. with no guaranteed income) while I prepared for Baptist ministry. That had come as a complete shock too. Little did I realise that Jesus would ‘turn up’ at a small prayer meeting and turn a Bible reading into a personal challenge that would change my life.
Then there was the night I baptised a lady named Jo, only to have her sister approach me at the end of the service to tell me that she had been healed of her terrible arthritic pain. That came as a complete surprise too because no one had prayed for her!
And there was that unforgettable Friday morning when we received a request from some Christian friends in the former Yugoslavia. It was the height of the civil war and they told us that they desperately needed ambulances. Within hours of beginning to pray, we received an unexpected call from the West Glamorgan Health Authority informing us that they had four ambulances they no longer needed, so could we use them?
If I’m honest, I have to tell you that I’ve simply lost count of the number of times I’ve seen God meeting people’s material needs, including my own. I can truly say that He has taken care of us over the years, often in the most incredible ways.
My recent strolls down memory lane have been anything but depressing. However, they have been incredibly challenging too. I have been asking myself what “memory making moments” I will create during this critical moment in this world’s history.
The apostle Paul seems to hit the nail on the head when he says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Challenging, yes. But exciting too, because I’ve discovered that you never know what might happen when you have the Risen Jesus journeying with you.
I want to be a true disciple of the Lord, I want to deny myself, carry my cross and follow Him, whatever the cost, whatever it takes, before I’m gone, and truly preach the gospel. I want to preach the cross again.
Benny Hinn In a recent interview with his Son-in-law Michael Koulianos, Pastor Benny Hinn shared from his heart, things he has never publicly shared.
Recall that earlier this month, the world woke up in shock as the healing evangelist renounced the prosperity gospel, announcing he was quitting prosperity preaching because the Holy Spirit was fed up with it.
“I think it’s time we say it as it is; the Gospel is not for sale, the blessings of God are not for sale and miracles are not for sale, and prosperity is not for sale,” – Pastor Benny Hinn.
In this recent interview, he shares;
“I don’t like it anymore, the word prosperity, because when you say the word prosperity, people start thinking negative about the word. I would rather say the blessings of the Lord. does God want to bless us? yes; does He want us to succeed in live, yes, of cause, He promised to meet our needs, that’s in the scripture, but when I hear a man today saying, sow this amount and claim the promise of God, it’s not in the bible. it’s not because you cannot put a price on the promise of God, that grieves the Holy Spirit, it’s an offense to the Lord.”
“When messages are preached today in some places, they abuse the truth of the message, they focus on what am I getting back, not what am I doing for the Lord I love.“
“I believe in giving, you can not love Jesus and not be a giver, because love is giving and giving is loving.”
“I said those same things, because of pressure, I was trapped. I went to a certain place not long ago, I ministered and people where healed and blessed, and the man who had me forced me into a position that I hated being in. When I went I said, this is not me anymore, I don’t want this, because they trap you into a position you don’t want to be in. Then I said, it’s time for me to tell the world, but I don’t think many would listen. This is a soul matter, this is my heart, I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit anymore. And I said Lord, I’ve grieved you a lot in my past, I don’t want to grieve you anymore.”
“I want to be a true disciple of the Lord, I want to deny myself, carry my cross and follow Him, whatever the cost, whatever it takes, before I’m gone, and truly preach the gospel. I want to preach the cross again.”
“Some of the miniters are not happy with me, it doesn’t move me at all, I only want one person (God) to be happy with me. I’m never going to go back, never, ever.“
“And I told my staff, you can’t put anything in the mail that I don’t believe anymore”.
Pastor Benny Hinn shares from the heart things he has never publicly shared. The Full Video below:
When God created the heavens and the earth he did so by speaking. He said let there be and there was. God in his great power literally spoke the world into existence. He spoke into what was void and empty. From that came this beautiful world that we see all around us.
The question I want to pose to you is, has God passed this same power and authority to you and I? Can you really speak things into existence? There are scriptures that seem to support this point of view so let’s analyze some of those so we can find the answer to this question.
Let’s be clear: your words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. That’s right, your words can speak life and encouragement to a person’s soul. They can also be discouraging words, shooting holes in people’s ambition and bringing death to their dreams.
Words Are Powerful
On a positive note, consider all the people who have been inspired by someone telling them a word of encouragement. I remember having a conversation with my pastor and I was telling him about a book I was writing. The first words out of his mouth were “how can I help you?” Those five words were a source of motivation and encouragement to me. They really inspired me and helped me to get the book done.
Understand that your words have power
But is there a limit to that power? A Commonly Misquoted Scripture In some Christian circles, you may hear people say “speak those things that are not as though they are.” Usually this is said with great faith – with the thought of bringing something that you want to pass. Let me be clear, I am not trying to discredit anyone’s faith. I have no interest in doing that because I believe people who say this truly believe. The problem is the quote of the verse is incomplete. Here is the full verse in Romans 4:17:
“(as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;” (NKJV).
(For context, the father of many nations to which Paul is referring is Abraham.)
What you notice in this verse is that there is someone who can call to being things that do not exist, as though they do. That person is God. Though your words are powerful and can have tremendous impact in people’s lives, your words alone do not have the power to call things that do not exist into being. That right and power is only reserved for God alone.
Your responsibility is to let your faith be in the God who calls things into existence and not in your own ability to do that. In other words, be like Abraham. God told him he would give him a son in his old age. Abraham believed what God said, even though it took 25 years. Because Abraham believed God, what God said came to pass in Abraham’s life. Let your faith not be in your own words, let your faith be in God’s word. Here is what we know about God’s word:
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Trusting God’s word is the greatest guarantee that you will ever have in your life.
But Didn’t Jesus Say… Listen to the words of Mark 11:23:
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (emphasis added).
When we look at this verse, we seem to have the same conundrum. What you see again is the power of your words. Does Jesus really mean that all it takes is for you to speak to a mountain and as long as you believe, that mountain will move? It appears on the surface that your words alone are being given the ability to have mountain-moving power. Before you make that final analysis, let’s consider the full context. Look at Mark 11:22:
“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God.’”
With the full context, we can now put this whole thought together. What I want you to focus on is what the object of your faith is. Is it your words or is it God? The object of your faith must be God. The power in faith is not faith itself – it is the object of that faith. It is faith in God that makes the impossible possible. Here is what Tony Evans said about this in The Tony Evans Bible Commentary:
“The most important aspect of faith, then, is the worthiness of its object. You must be trusting in the right thing. You can place tremendous faith in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus but you’ll be disappointed. If, however, you have true, vibrant faith in the God of the Bible, you have spiritual authority to access divine power.”
The result of mountain-moving faith is not coming just from “what” you say. The result of mountain-moving faith is coming from “who” you are believing in. Believe God and believe his word, for that gives you access to his divine power. It is that power alone that will move the mountains and change the situations in your life.
What Do You Do Now?
I want to encourage you to speak. Know for certain that life and death are in the power of your tongue, so speak. Speak words of encouragement, life and hope to those around you. Speak God’s promises over your life. Speak to yourself and remind yourself who you are in Christ. Speak and encourage yourself in the Lord. Speak the word of God into your situations. Speak to the mountains and challenges in your life and don’t doubt that they will move.
However, in the speaking, remember to put your faith not in the words you speak, because that is not where the power comes from. Put your faith in God who has promised to bring his word to pass. This is the true source of your power. Let your faith be solely in God and his word because we know that his word will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.
Children, Pregnant Mother among Nine Christians Killed in Fresh Herdsmen Attack
Follow us below:
Several Christians have been killed this month by armed Fulani radicals who carried out attacks in the Plateau and Benue states of Nigeria as thousands have died in the escalating violence in the West African country’s Middle Belt in recent years.
Six children and a pregnant woman were among nine people that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed in north-central Nigeria Tuesday night (April 14), Morning Star News reports.
About a dozen herdsmen armed with rifles and machetes raided Hura-Maiyanga village, in the Miango area of Kwall District in Plateau state’s Bassa County, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” sources said.
“They were armed with machetes and AK-47 rifles as they attacked us,” Hanatu John, a woman who survived the attack, told Morning Star News. “They attacked our village at about 8 p.m., and they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they shot into our houses.”
The assailants were speaking Fulfulde, the Fulani language, as they shot into homes, she said.
“Most families had already retired into houses to sleep when these Fulani gunmen came into the village and were shooting into houses,” John told Morning Star News in Miango town, where she took refuge. “As the herdsmen shot at us, we all ran out from our houses into the surrounding bushes. Some of the herdsmen chased after us and shot at us, while others were burning down our houses.”
Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), confirmed the attack.
“Hura hamlet of Maiyanga village in Kwall District, Miango Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau state was invaded last night on April 14th by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, who surrounded the entire area and unleashed mayhem on the unsuspecting natives,” Mwantiri told Morning Star News by text message. “As a result, nine persons were gruesomely killed and two injured while 33 houses were completely torched by fire. Most of the persons killed were children.”
He identified those killed as Angela Daniel, 3; David Yakubu, 15; Luka Magwa, 5; Ishaya Yakubu, 7; Aba Ibrahim, 6; Stephen Ngwe, 7; the pregnant Talatu Daniel, 32, and her unborn child; Sunday Biri, 45; and Izhe Nkama, 43.
Those killed were buried in two separate mass graves, he said. Mwantiri identified the two people wounded as Esther James, 55, and 51-year-old Lami Ibrahim.
“Additionally, over 250 persons, mostly women and children, have been displaced with no means of livelihood,” Mwantiri said.
Miango resident Grace Gye sent a message to the Plateau state government on Wednesday (April 15) decrying the Fulani terrorist onslaught on area Christians and calling on state and federal governments “to protect the people and their property.” She questioned why Fulani herdsmen were moving about freely in spite of a lockdown in the face of the novel coronavirus.
The Rev. Ronku Aka, a former Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor and now community leader of the Irigwe ethnic group, lamented incessant attacks on predominantly Christian communities.
“So many of my people have been killed over the years, including the attack of last night,” he told Morning Star News on Wednesday (April 15). “In spite of promises from the government to my people, the herdsmen have continuously been attacking our communities.”
Human rights organisations monitoring the ongoing violence taking place against Christians in Nigeria are now raising concerns of an imminent genocide.
More than 50 believers have been killed in the month of March and over a dozen more during the first week of April. Since the beginning of 2020, at least 410 Christians have been murdered. Most of the violence was perpetrated by jihadist Fulani militants.
Nigeria is ranked as the 12th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.