I am not sure why but I had a bit of a revelation about prayer. My son and I used to discuss whether or not prayer made a difference. People still lose jobs, lose babies, lose lives, even though prayer is a regular part of their life. I would always answer the question of whether prayer worked by saying I don't know. I have no idea why God chooses to help some and not others. But I do believe that prayer changes things.
Recently I've been thinking about prayer in a different way. Prayer is not a way of asking God to change the situation as much as it is a way of asking God to change us. We connect with God in prayer and He breathes life into us so that we can deal with the situation. It isn't that He takes our problems away but that He gives us strength and hope to deal with those problems. I know that isn't a new revelation for everyone but for me it was huge. If I approach prayer with the attitude of seeking God's strength and help for dealing with my problems instead of asking God to change my problems, I'm empowered by that. If that is my approach, then prayer does work. With no question!
Many times I've prayed for God to take the burden from me. To heal my marriage, to heal my disease, to change hearts, to change lives. God can do all of those things if he chooses. But let's face it. We live in a fallen world and our sin has consequences. Those consequences are that we remain broken and separated from God and prefer our sinful nature. But God does provide us a life line! A supernatural strength and hope to give us the resolve to live with our problems. And that is prayer. Prayer is connecting me to the life giving breath of the Father! To me this is a very promising thought! To know that when I pray, I should not only pray for that miraculous change in my situation but to pray for a miraculous change within myself even if the situation stays the same. This has given my prayer life new breath.
I have felt the power of God in times when my life was crashing in and I was thinking that He wasn't answering my prayers. But now I realize He was answering every prayer. Each prayer for peace, for hope, for the strength to make it to another day. Prayer does work and I'm so blessed that God speaks to me and allows me to speak to him through prayer.
THE SERPENT OF BRONZE
The Israelites spoke against God and Moses, so God sent fiery serpents among them because they sinned and many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-7)
God gave them a plan to escape death.
Numbers 21:8-9 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (NKJV)
1. Not one Israelite said "Looking at the bronze serpent did save me from death, because I was saved the minute I believed in the message of Moses."
2. Not one Israelite said "I was saved from death by faith alone, and looking at the bronze serpent was just an act of obedience."
3. Not one Israelite said, "Looking at the serpent of bronze was a testimony of my faith, however, it had no bearing on my sins being forgiven by the Lord and I was saved from death before I looked at the bronze serpent."
4. Not one Israelite said, " Looking at a serpent of bronze is a work and works cannot saved anyone from death."
5. Not one Israelite said, "Moses meant that we were to look at the serpent of bronze because we were already saved from death."
6. Not one Israelite said, " You must look at the serpent of bronze in order to join the local synagogue, however, it has nothing to do with being saved from death."
7. Not one Israelite said, There are three modes of looking at the serpent of bronze. 1. Looking at the serpent of bronze. 2. Talking about looking at the serpent of bronze. 3. Reading a book about looking at the serpent of bronze.
8. Not one Israelite said, "Looking at the serpent is an outward sign that we have already been saved from death."
You notice, that unlike the denominational churches of today, the Israelites did not write down some man-creeds in order to be saved from death from snake bites. They believed the words of Moses, as spoken by the Lord.
If only men today would simply believe what God says about the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.
THE TERMS: 1. Faith-John 3:16 2. Repentance-Acts 2:38, Acts 19:3 3. Confession-Romans 10:9 4. Water baptism-Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21
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