Called to Pray: Transforming Relationships Through Prayer

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith. More specifically today’s passage is found in the second and third chapter of this New Testament book. “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Timothy 2:1-15).

 

            “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patience, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:1-14).

 

            “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:14-16).

            When you come to the second and third chapters of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find them beginning with an incredibly powerful exhortation and admonishment. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the second chapter you will find the apostle Paul exhorting Timothy—not only concerning himself but concerning all men everywhere—that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men. Please don’t miss the incredible and awesome significance of what is found in this particular portion of Scripture for what we find here are essentially distinct elements of the Christian’s fellowship and relationship to the living God. What’s more is that not only do we find the apostle Paul speaking unto Timothy concerning these distinct elements directly linked and connected to their relationship with others but we also find him speaking of their unique relationship together with others. It’s one thing for the apostle Paul to write in this passage of Scripture concerning supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks as a part of the everyday and normal Christian relationship, however, it is something else altogether and entirely for the apostle Paul to speak of these realities in direct relationship to those before and around us. In fact if you read these words you will find the apostle Paul doesn’t merely speak of supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks being given for all our neighbors, for the brethren, and for those who might be valued and important within out lives. As you read the words found within this passage you will find the apostle Paul speaking of these distinct realities being made for and on behalf of “all” men.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am not only captivated with the distinct elements and realities of the Christian’s walk and relationship with the living God but also their walk and relationship with others. I have previously written time and time again concerning our decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ and how our decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t merely mean that we walk with and follow Him alone but that we also agree to walk with and fellowship together with those who have made the same like decision as we have. There is something truly unique and powerful about this reality and concept when you truly take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention—not only to our relationship together with the Lord Jesus Christ but also our relationship together with others. What’s more is when you read the four New Testament gospels you will find and discover the Lord Jesus Christ not only instructed us to love our neighbors but also to love our enemies. Within the four gospels and those three and a half years of public ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ we were clearly brought face to face with the fact that there was to be no distinction made within our hearts concerning our neighbor and our brethren. We know the first and greatest commandment is the love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength and that the second commandment is just like it—namely that we love our neighbor as ourselves. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize—either that our neighbor can be our enemy or there is a third commandment which more often than not is overlooked. This third commandment does not relate to our loving the LORD our God nor even loving our neighbor but rather the loving of our enemy.

 

 

            The more I think about this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the wonderful description of our relationship to others before and around us. What’s more is that not only will we find our relationship to those around us spoken of but we will also find our relationship to the heavenly Father as well. You cannot read the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding Jesus’ instruction concerning our relationship together with the living God as well as our relationship together with our neighbors. What’s more is that within the Sermon on the Mount—and not only the Sermon on the Mount but also the entire teaching of the Lord Jesus—we find Jesus drawing no boundary line and making no distinction between our neighbor and our enemy for both are equally as important and valued in the sight of the living God. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the first verse of the fifth chapter:

 

            “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness/ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:1-12).

 

            “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue that at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asket thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:38-42).

 

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

 

            “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).

 

            “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hyporcrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:5-13).

 

            “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

 

            “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).

 

            There is something truly remarkable and astonishing about the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them—not only does Jesus present us with the Beatitudes but we also find the Lord Jesus describing and speaking of our relationship with our enemies and our neighbors alike. You cannot read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and His instruction given first unto His disciples and followers during that generation and secondly unto us that we be those who not only love our neighbors but also those who love our enemies. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and not come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus giving instruction unto His disciples and followers concerning their neighbors as well as their enemies. Within this passage of Scripture the Lord Jesus clearly sets forth the reality that within our lives—not only will we have neighbors but we may also very well have enemies. The Sermon on the Mount contains strong and powerful language spoken by the Lord Jesus concerning the love we are to have for and toward our neighbors—and not only our neighbors but also our enemies. With this being said Jesus also spoke of being persecute, of being smitten on our right cheek and even forgiveness and walking a second mile with those who compel us to walk one mile with them.

 

            If you read the words which are found in the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him exhorting Timothy concerning men—and not only concerning men but also concerning their relationship together with others. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs recognize when reading the words found in the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy is that the words and language here doesn’t merely speak of and affect our relationship together with the living God but it also affects and impacts our relationship with others. With this being said I would dare suggest that it is impossible to follow the words which the apostle Paul set forth in this passage of Scripture and not witness and behold our relationship together and our relationship with those around us be dramatically transformed. What’s more is that I would both argue and contend that if you want to experience transformation within your relationships you not only need to give yourself to loving both your neighbors and your enemies but you must also give yourself to praying for those who persecute you, those who despitefully use you, those who curse you and even those who welcome, embrace and receive you. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we truly want to see change and transformation take place within our relationships here upon the earth we must not only give ourselves to loving both our neighbor and our enemy but also to giving ourselves to pray for others. It is absolutely no wonder that in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus instructed His disciples and followers to pray for those who persecute them, to bless those who cursed them and to do good unto those who despitefully used them.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous reality of these words I am reminded of and brought face to face with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this epistle you will of course find the apostle Paul beseeching the brethren by the mercies of God to present their bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto the living God. What’s more is the apostle Paul also admonished and exhorted them to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for not only does the apostle Paul then speak of knowing what is that good and acceptable will of the Father but he also goes on to write concerning our relationship together with others—both those who are in the body of Christ as well as those who might in fact be outside of the body of Christ. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the wonderful significance of the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the truly awesome truth concerning our relationship together with those before and around us in this generation. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the ninth verse:

 

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: Bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome—and not only this epistle but also the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy—and I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth concerning our relationships within the earth and within this generation. I am absolutely convinced that if we want to truly experience transformation in our relationships within the earth it must first begin with prayer, supplications, intercessions and the giving of thanks. We cannot expect transformation to take place within our relationships without and apart from committing ourselves to prayer, to intercession, to supplications and the giving of thanks for those before and around us. What’s more is that with that being said I would also like to emphatically declare that this doesn’t merely pertain to our relationship together with our neighbors but it also pertains to our relationship together with our enemies. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that even our relationships with those whom we perceive as our enemies can experience the transformation of the Holy Spirit? Not only this but would it surprise you to think about and consider that our relationships together with those who might be our enemies can indeed be radically transformed through prayer, through supplications, through intercessions and through the giving of thanks for them? We would like to think that we are somehow exempt and excused from praying for our enemies and yet the truth of the matter is that the Lord Jesus Christ clearly set forth the need to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us and to do good to those who despitefully use us.

 

            I cannot help but be brought face to face with the absolutely awesome and incredible truth surrounding the relationships we have together with others and regardless of whether those relationships are with men and women within the body of Christ or men and women who we might perceive as our enemies there is a tremendous need for transformation. We would do well in this life to recognize that any relationship we have in this world can indeed experience transformation by the Holy Spirit. Not only this but this transformation of such relationships does indeed take place first and foremost through prayers, through intercessions, through supplications and through the giving of thanks. If you turn and direct your attention to the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will indeed find the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. There would be those who would like to emphatically declare that the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is in fact speaking with other tongues. There are others who would also argue and contend that speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance was the greatest manifestation and evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work within the hearts and lives of the disciples and brethren in the early Church. Oh I have written before how I personally believe that the single greatest evidence and manifestation of the arrival and personal work of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily speaking with other tongues but the complete overhaul and transformation of the relationships men and women had with each other. Pause for a moment and consider how on the day of Pentecost it would begin with about one-hundred and twenty men and women who were gathered together in one place being of one accord when the Holy Spirit arrived and how before that day was over three thousand souls would be added together unto them. What’s more is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—not only in the opening verses but also in the latter and final verses:

 

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Partians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phyrgia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

 

            “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:37-47).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these two passages of Scripture for in the first we find the arrival, the manifestation and the working of the person of the Holy Spirit. In the second we find a powerful witness and testimony of the Holy Spirit within the lives of the brethren—and not only within the lives of one-hundred and twenty men and women but within the lives of more than three thousand souls. Pause for a moment and consider just how absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and how on the day of Pentecost and after the Holy Spirit had arrived more than three thousand souls continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Not only this but more than three thousand souls continued in breaking of bread and in prayers and how fear came upon every soul. The New Testament book of Acts clearly demonstrates that many wonders and signs were done by the apostles but also how all that believed were together, and had all things common. Not only this but we also find within this passage of Scripture the beloved physician Luke writing how all those among the brethren sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need. Even more than this we find that they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house and eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart as they praised God having favor with all the people.

 

There is something truly awesome and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of scripture for not only do we find more than three thousand souls who believe being together but we also find them having all things common. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that these three thousand souls sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need. Not only this but they also continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house as they ate their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the work and manifestation of the Holy Spirit within the hearts and lives of the more than three thousand souls who were part of the brethren on the day of Pentecost. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that perhaps the single greatest work and manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not necessarily granting utterance unto the one-hundred and twenty to speak with other tongues. There would be those who would argue and contend that speaking with other tongues as the Spirit granted utterance was the single greatest evidence and manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, however, I would argue and contend that this is not and was not the greatest demonstration and manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I am absolutely and completely convinced the single greatest evidence, demonstration and manifestation of the arrival and presence of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the fellowship, the community, the generosity and the hospitality that was fostered and created within the hearts and lives of more than three thousand souls who were part of the body of Christ in the earth.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention back to the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find the apostle Paul exhorting him concerning all men everywhere devoting and giving themselves to prayers, to supplications, to intercessions and to the giving of thanks. What’s more is the apostle Paul didn’t merely speak of supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks being made unto the living God but that such realities and manifestations within the hearts and lives of the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ be made for all men. Please do not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and reality for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful reality of our relationship together with the living God as well as our relationship with those before and all around us. Oh I continue to firmly believe that if we want to experience true change and transformation within our relationships we must needs recognize the all important necessity of prayer(s), of intercession(s), of supplication(s) and of the giving of thanks for all men. There would be those who would like to think they can experience change and transformation in their relationships simply and solely by the way they act and treat others. While I am completely and utterly convinced that we can indeed witness and behold transformation of our relationships being manifested simply by change and transformation within our own hearts and lives I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize that transformation within our relationships—regardless of whether those relationships are with neighbors and brethren or whether they are with enemies—can indeed take place as a direct result of our prayers, our supplications, our intercessions and the giving of thanks.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture is the awesome and wonderful truth which the apostle Paul wrote concerning prayers, supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks being given and made for all men. There is absolutely no room for exclusion within the words the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture for “all men” literally and simply means all men. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand that prayers, supplications, intercessions and the giving of thanks must needs be made for those among us who are our neighbors as well as our enemies. When the Lord Jesus Christ walked among us on the earth as the Word made flesh which dwelt among us He drew and made absolutely no distinction between our neighbors and our enemies. The Lord Jesus Christ instructed, exhorted and admonished us to love our neighbors as ourselves but also instructed us to love our enemies as well. The Lord Jesus instructed and prepared us to be hated of all men for His name’s sake and in the midst of that we were to pray for those who persecute us, to love our enemies, to do good to those who despitefully use us and to bless those who curse us. The Lord Jesus clearly and emphatically instructed and admonished his disciples and followers to be those who devoted and committed themselves to loving their neighbors as well as their enemies and drawing no dividing or distinctive line between the two. Despite the fact that we would like to separate and divide our enemies from our neighbors there is a great need within our hearts and lives to recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to love our neighbors and our enemies equally and alike without drawing any distinction between the two.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering this awesome and incredible truth surrounding this particular truth and I am brought face to face with the wonderful reality of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this first epistle written unto his spiritual son in the faith. The apostle Paul instructed and exhorted Timothy that supplications, prayers, intercessions and the giving of thanks be made for all men. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it forces us into the place where we recognize that there must be absolutely no distinction nor any favoritism being made within our hearts and minds concerning those whom we pray for, those whom we offer supplications for, those whom we intercede for and those whom we give thanks for. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus you must needs recognize this tremendous favoritism that can indeed exist within the hearts and minds of those who profess to be Christians. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James—not only will you be brought face to face with a powerful exhortation and admonition against favoritism which is a form of judgment within the Church but you will also find a powerful declaration concerning faith without works as being dead and abiding alone. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs recognize and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the demonstration and manifestation of faith through our works as well as a tremendous indictment against favoritism which is a form of judgment within the body of Christ. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren. Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, he commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy: and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).

            “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, D epart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body: what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

 

            Turning and directing our attention back to the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him exhorting his spiritual son in the faith concerning supplications, prayers, intercession and giving of thanks being made for all men. Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to instruct Timothy that such supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for kings and for all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul declaring how this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Oh it is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for supplications, prayers, intercession and giving of thanks must needs be given unto and for all men—enemies, neighbors, brethren, kings, rulers, governors, princes and the like. What’s more is that when you consider the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will find three different classes of people who heard the preaching of John the Baptist and who responded to his preaching and inquired what they ought to do in response to his words and message. There were the publicans who came to John asking what they must do in response to his preaching; there were the soldiers who came to John asking what they must do in response to his preaching; and there were the people who came to John asking what they must do in response to his preaching. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this particular truth—particularly and especially when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote here for the apostle Paul not only exhorts that prayers, supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men but he also goes on to declare concerning the living God how He desire to have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

            I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the words and language the apostle Paul used and I am brought face to face with the fact that not only ought supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for and given for all men but so also are all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto Nicodemus a Pharisee who came unto Him by night concerning the Father. If you consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find the Lord Jesus speaking concerning God the Father and how He so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Moreover the Lord Jesus also declared that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. These words must be carefully considered and understood when reading the words written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy for in the second chapter—not only does the apostle Paul admonish and exhort Timothy that prayers, supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men but he also goes on to declare how this must also be made for all kings and for those who are in authority that we might lead and live a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty. Moreover the apostle Paul went on to declare that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour who would that all men be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. This would also be followed by the apostle declaring how there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth of the apostle Paul exhorting supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks being made for all men. Not only this but if you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the eighth verse of this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul declaring that all men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. This is something which must needs be carefully considered—particularly and especially when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in this first epistle you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring how the saints of God must needs pray without ceasing. What’s more is the apostle Paul also instructs and admonishes the saints to be anxious for nothing but with prayer and supplication for everything. In fact I would dare say we must needs consider the words which are found in the fourth and final chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Philippi as well as the words which are found in the fifth and final chapter of the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica:

 

            “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

            “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:10-20).

 

            “And we beseech  you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24).

 

            The words which we find here in these passages of Scripture not only bring us face to face with the exhortation of the apostle Paul to not only be careful for nothing but in every thing with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving in our hearts as we make our requests known unto the living God. Not only this but the apostle Paul also exhorts us to pray without ceasing and in every thing to give thanks. I have to admit that the words the apostle Paul uses when writing unto Timothy, when writing unto the Philippians and when writing unto the Thessalonian saints are incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about them for not only does he write and speak of prayers and supplications but he also speaks of thanksgiving. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the intrinsic link and connection between prayer and thanksgiving, between intercession and thanksgiving and supplications and thanksgiving. The apostle Paul instructed us to pray without ceasing and directly linked to that is to give thanks in every thing. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for you get the sense that you cannot have prayer without thanksgiving. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand that part of prayer, part of intercession and even part of supplications is thanksgiving. Remember the words which Job proclaimed after he lost his possessions and his children—The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that linked to the prayers we pray in the sight and presence of the living God is thanksgiving within our hearts and within our souls. We cannot, we must not and we ought not make any attempt to separate thanksgiving from our prayers for at the very heart of our prayer life is and must be thanksgiving in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second half of the second chapter as well as the third chapter. It is in these two portions of Scripture we are brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding instruction given concerning women within the church and body of Christ. What’s more is that we also find instruction being giving concerning those who desire the office of a bishop. While the words and instruction we find in these passages of Scripture provide us with a powerful picture concerning what type of individual one must be in the church—and not only what type of individual one must be in the church but also what type of man and woman we must be. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words it’s the tremendous instruction given unto those who desire to obtain and step into the office of a bishop in the midst of the church. It would be very easy to read the words in this passage of Scripture and to think of it solely in terms of those who desire the office of bishop or deacon in the church, however, I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand who and what manner of men and women we have indeed been called to be in the generation in which we live as well as in the church in the midst of the corporate body of Christ. We have a great need within our hearts and lives to pay close attention to who and what manner of man and woman we are seeking to be and that we continually allow our lives, our relationships to others as well as our relationship with the living God to be radically and dramatically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives.

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