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PRAYERS TO PRAISES

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST SPENT A GOOD PORTION OF EACH DAY PRAYING TO THE FATHER. HE SPOKE TO HIM MAINLY ABOUT THEIR MISSION, THE SPIRITUAL MEANS NEEDED FOR THE AWESOME RESULT, THE STRENGTH TO OVERCOME THE MOCKERIES AND THE BETRAYALS OF HIS ADVERSARY. HE LOOKED FORWARD TO THAT PRECIOUS TIME SPENT WITH THE FATHER. IT WAS NOT AN OBLIGATION. IT WAS NEVER A DUTY. IT WAS THE VERY ESSENCE OF HIS EXISTENCE. BECAUSE WHEN HE SPENT TIME IN GOD'S PRESENCE, HIS SPIRIT OVERRULED ALL OTHER REALITY EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT HE WAS HOME AGAIN. CHRIST HAD LEFT HOME TO BE WITH US, TO LEAD US UNTO A PATH WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT, AND TO BECOME THAT ONLY PATH SO WE TOO MADE IT BACK HOME TO BE WITH THE FATHER. CHRIST'S GREATEST REASON TO PRAY WAS ABOUT OUR SALVATION THOUGH. HE PLEADED WITH THE FATHER JUST SO OUR HEARTS WOULD OPEN UP TO THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH WOULD SET US FREE. HE WANTED FOR US TO BE FREE FROM ALL BONDAGE, ALL INIQUITY, ALL OTHER SERVANTHOOD BUT A GODLY DISPOSITION. HE WANTED US TO EXPERIENCE THE JOY AND THE FULLNESS THAT COME FROM POSSESSING GOD'S SPIRIT. KE KNEW THAT THE OPPOSITE OF SUCH LIFE WAS LIKE BEING A MANSION FULL OF TERMITES. ROMANS 8:5-9 DESCRIBES OUR SPIRIT MIND REAL WELL, "FOR THOSE WHO ARE ACCORDING TO THE FLESH SET THEIR MINDS ON THE THINGS OF THE FLESH, BUT THOSE WHO ARE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT, THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT. FOR THE MIND SET ON THE FLESH IS DEATH, BUT THE MIND SET ON THE SPIRIT IS LIFE AND PEACE, BECAUSE THE MIND SET ON THE FLESH IS HOSTILE TOWARD GOD; FOR IT DOES NOT SUBJECT ITSELF TO THE LAW OF GOD, FOR IT IS NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO, AND THOSE WHO ARE IN THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD. HOWEVER, 

YOU ARE NOT IN THE FLESH BUT IN THE SPIRIT, IF INDEED THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLS IN YOU. BUT IF ANYONE DOES NOT HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE DOES NOT BELONG TO HIM.

APOSTLE PAUL SHOWS THE MINDSET OF THOSE WHO HAVE AND DO NOT HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. WHAT DETERMINES THE DIFFERENCE IS THEIR LIFESTYLE AND THE FRUITS THAT THEY PRODUCE. GALATIANS 5:22-23 READS, "BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW". THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TO ACCOMPLISH IN US WHAT THE FLESH COULD NEVER DO. HOW WONDERFUL TO KNOW THAT WHAT GOD EXPECTS US TO BE, HE HAS ENABLED US TO BE. HIS HOLY SPIRIT CAME TO LIVE IN US SO THAT WE CAN BE EMPOWERED TO DO HIS WILL. AS LONG AS WE ALLOW THE SPIRIT TO LEAD US, OUR MINDS REMAIN SET TO PLEASE GOD, MEANING HE CONTINUALLY CLEARS OUT ALL SNAGS THAT COME TO CAUSE US DISTRESS OR PAIN. HE ONLY ALLOWS THE KIND THAT WOULD HELP US MATURE AS FRUITFUL CHRISTIAN. NOT THAT HE ENJOYS PUNISHING US; BUT HE AIMS TO TEACH US THE SUBTLE DANGERS OF LIFE, AND HELPS US TO LEARN HIS WAYS AS TO HOW TO AVOID THEM IN THE FUTURE. AS 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 MENTIONS, "FOR GOD HAS NOT GIVEN US A SPIRIT OF TIMIDITY, BUT OF POWER AND LOVE AND DISCIPLINE", WE ARE TO BE ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAVELENGTH. OUR TOWER IS THE HIGHEST. WE RECEIVE THE BEST OF ALL INSIGHTS, ONLY IF WE TUNE IN, BLOCK ALL ELSE OUT OF THE WAY, AND DEMAND TO HEAR FROM GOD'S DAILY MESSAGE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS, CHRIST IS STILL PRAYING FOR US, AND WITH US; AND HE WANTS NOTHING BUT THE VERY BEST OF ALL CIRCUMSTANCES SO WE CAN PLEASE THE FATHER. HE AIMS TO REMAIN AS THE MEDIATOR HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN BETWEEN US AND THE FATHER. REMEMBER WHEN MOSES LED GOD'S PEOPLE OUT OF EGYPT. SHORTLY AFTER THAT MAGNIFICENT EVENT OF THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA, WHILE MOSES WAS STILL ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN RECEIVING FRESH INSTRUCTIONS FROM GOD, THE VERY SAME PEOPLE GOD SAVED FROM SLAVERY HAD ALREADY STARTED WORSHIPING AN IDOL. GOD'S ANGER WAS ON FIRE. YET MOSES PLEADED WITH HIM UNTIL GOD WOULD GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO REPENT AND COME TO THEIR SENSES. WE'VE ALWAYS NEEDED AN INTERCESSOR. CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT DWELLS WITHIN US KEEP US IN LINE WITH GOD'S PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR US. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO OVERLOOK THE INTENSITY OF SUCH GIFT CALLED LOVE. EVEN THOUGH GOD IS THE MIGHTY JUDGE WHO DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT WE WAKE UP TODAY, WHETHER OR NOT WE SURVIVE ANOTHER HUGE OBSACLE, WHETHER OR NOT WE'LL EVER RECEIVE FORGIVENESS FOR THAT ONE LAST ACT OF FOOLISHNESS, HE HAS PROVIDED FOR US A WAY TO ESCAPE HIS WRATH. I CALL THAT GIFT UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. WE MAY HAVE HAD A GLIMPSE OF THAT TASTE THROUGH THE LOVE FOR OUR CHILDREN OR FAMILY, OR DERA FRIENDS. YET COMPARED TO THE LOVE HE FEELS FOR US, WE CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE. GOD IS AWESOME!

SO WHERE DOES THAT LOVE TAKE US? DOES IT GIVE US A DESIRE TO BE A BETTER PERSON? DOES IT ALLOW US TO OVERCOME CERTAIN OBSTACLES? DOES IT CREATE A NEWNESS IN US SO WE WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME? THE ANSWER IS YES TO ALL OF THE ABOVE. HOWEVER, EVEN THOUGH THE DESIRE IS THERE, WE'RE STILL NOT CAPABLE TO GENERATE THAT KIND OF TRANSFORMATION. THAT IS THE JOB OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS WE ARE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE'RE SLOWLY BUT SURELY STARTING TO CHANGE WITHIN; AND THE EVIDENCE BECOMES VISIBLE TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRIT-FILLED? THE ONLY WAY TO DESCRIBE IT IS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS NOT TO BE SPIRIT-FILLED. NOT BEING SPIRIT-FILLED MEANS TO BE FILLED WITH SELF! WHATEVER WE'RE WORSHIPING TODAY IS WHAT'S GOING TO COME OUT OF OUR MOUTH. IF WE'RE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT WE'LL MAGNIFY GOD. IF WE'RE FILLED WITH SELF WE'LL MAGNIFY SELF. IT'S THAT SIMPLE. OFTEN WE HAVE A NEED TO CONVINCE PEOPLE AS TO HOW MUCH WE KNOW ABOUT CHRIST, OR HOW MUCH BETTER WE CAN DESCRIBE HIM. WE COME UP WITH ELOQUENT WORDS TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH. IF WE LOOK BACK AND REMEMBER THE TIME WHEN WE WERE 

JUST SAVED. WE KNEW A WHOLE LOT LESS, YET WE WERE FAR BETTER WITNESSES THEN. PEOPLE COULD SEE THE RADIANCE OF CHRIST THROUGH OUR EXCITEMENT. WE WERE ABLE TO REFLECT HIM INSTEAD OF SIMPLY SPEAKING ABOUT HIM. IN FACT THE LESS WE ARE, THE GREATER HIS POWER CAN BE SEEN THROUGH US. DEMONSTRATING HIS LOVE IS FAR BETTER WAY OF WITNESSING FOR HIM THAN UTTERING PLAIN WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IF WE ACT A CERTAIN WAY, WE'LL NEVER HAVE THE INFLUENCE AS IF WE WERE A CERTAIN WAY.

WHEN WE BECOME SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE, THE SPIRIT DOESN'T JUST CHANGE OUR LIVES, BUT HE ALSO CHANGES THE LIVES OF OTHER PEOPLE CHRIST LOVES THROUGH US. THEREFORE THE WORDS WE SPEAK CARRY A DEEPER MESSAGE, A REVELATION IF YOU WILL, TO THE HEARER; THAT IS, OF COURSE, IF WE WOULD MANAGE TO KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AND ALLOW GOD'S WORD TO STAND OUT. ACTS 10:44 STATES, "WHILE PETER WAS STILL SPEAKING THESE WORDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON ALL WHO HEARD THE MESSAGE". IN OTHER WORDS, PETER WAS SPEAKING WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT TOOK OVER; PETER WAS INTERRUPTED, AND LIVES WERE CHANGES THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS PEOPLE WERE LISTENING TO PETER'S WORDS, THE UNDERLYING MEANING CAME ALIVE AND GRIPPED THE HEARTS OF THE LISTENERS. WE TOO MUST FOCUS ON NARRATING A CERTAIN EVENT THAT MIGHT HAVE ENCOURAGED US TO BECOME CHRIST-FOLLOWERS, BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO CONVINCE PEOPLE INTO OUR SEQUENCE OF THINKING. GOD'S SPIRIT IS FREE TO MOVE IN ANY SEQUENCE HE SEES FIT.

A BETTER WAY OF DESCRIBING THIS IS TO BE INVISIBLE ENOUGH JUST SO PEOPLE CAN SEE CHRIST THROUGH US. THE DAYS WE'VE HAD A TRUE OR BETTER ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST, ARE THE DAYS WE WERE ABLE TO SEE PAST THE SPEAKER, PAST THE PREACHER, PAST THE LOCATION, PAST ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. THEREFORE WE OWE IT TO OTHERS AT LEAST THE VERY SAME. ANYONE AND EVERYONE CAN WITNESS ABOUT CHRIST AS LONG AS THE LISTENER IS EXPECTING TO RECEIVE A SOUND MESSAGE FROM GOD. JESUS IS GOD'S WORD. HE IS ALSO THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S LOVE FOR US. BEING ABLE TO SEE HIM IS RECEIVING GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AS WELL AS THE PLAN OF SALVATION hE BESTOWED UPON US. IN FACT, AS PEOPLE OBSERVE US, THEY MUST BE AMAZED AND PERPLEXED ABOUT THE PECULIAR ABSENCE OF SELF. SUCH QUALITY BECOMES CLEAR UNDER DIFFICULTIES OR UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCES, DURING WHICH OUR TRUE CHARACTER COMES THROUGH. NO BODY IS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH, KNOWLEADGEABLE ENOUGH, OR SMART ENOUGH TO HIDE WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE UNDER PRESSURE. WE CAN NEVER TAME THE TONGUE. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO MAINTAIN A CONTROLLED LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCE. THEREFORE WE MUSN'T AIM TO HAVE MUCH POLISH, WE MUST SIMPLY AIM TO HAVE MUCH POWER THROUGH GOD'S SPIRIT. JUST REMEMBER, WE GET SAVED BY KNOWING CHRIST. BUT WE SHOW CHRIST BY GETTING TO KNOW HIM BETTER.

THIS HAPPENED TO STEVEN. STEVEN WAS NOT ONE OF THE APOSTLES. HE SIMPLY WORKED AROUND THEM. ONE OF HIS DUTIES WAS TO WAIT ON TABLES, SERVE AND CLEAN AFTER PEOPLE. HE WAS ALSO IN CHARGE OF CARING FOR THE WIDOWS. HE IS NOWHERE ELSE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE, EXCEPT AFTER WHAT HE ENDED UP DOING. STEVEN'S HEART WAS SO FILLED WITH THE PRECIOUS WORDS SPOKEN AROUND HIM THAT HE COULD NO LONGER KEEP IT TO HIMSELF. HE MAY HAVE BEEN THE LEAST QUALIFIED AT THE TIME, YET GREATER RESULTS CAME FORTH FROM HIS CHILDLIKE BELIEF. HE STARTED DOING WONDERS AND MIRACLES NO ONE WOULD'VE EXPECTED OF HIM AT THE TIME. LISTEN TO WHAT THE BIBLE IS SAYING ABOUT STEVEN IN THE BOOK OF ACTS 6: 8-10, "NOW STEVEN, A MAN FULL OF GOD'S GRACE AND POWER, DID GREAT WONDERS AND MIRACULOUS SIGNS AMONG THE PEOPLE. OPPOSITION AROSE FROM THE SYNAGOGUE... THESE MEN BEGAN TO ARGUE WITH STEVEN, BUT THEY COULD NOT STAND UP AGAINST HIS WISDOM OR THE SPIRIT BY WHOM HE SPOKE". THIS GOES TO SHOW YOU THAT THE PRIMARY DESIRE OF A CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ABLE TO WITNESS FOR CHRIST. THE WORD USED FOR "WITNESS" IN 

ANCIENT GREEK IS THE WORD "MARTYR". THAT IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THAN BEING A MARTYR. AS A TRUE WITNESS, OUR DESIRE TO SPEAK ABOUT WHAT JESUS DID FOR US WOULD HAS TO BE FAR GREATER THAN WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO US AS A RESULT OF OUR WITNESSING. WE ARE NOT MARTYRS UNTIL AFTER WE HAVE TAKEN A CHANCE TO SPEAK BOLDLY, REGARDLESS THE OUTCOME.

OUR NEWSPAPERS ARE FILLED ON A DAILY BASIS ABOUT THE MARTYRDOM OF OTHER RELIGIONS. THAT IS NOT TO BE MISTAKEN WITH WHAT TRUE CHRISTIAN MARTYRDOM IS ALL ABOUT. GETTING KILLED AS YOU ARE TRYING TO KILL OTHERS IS A POOR REPRESENTATION OF THE WORD, OR A MISINTERPRETATION OF IT IF YOU WILL. GETTING KILLED SO OTHERS COULD LIVE IS THE TRUE ANG GLORIOUS MEANING OF MARTYRDOM. STEVEN DID JUST THAT. HE DIDN'T CARE WHAT WOULD BECOME OF HIM. HE ONLY WANTED TO SPEAK WHAT WAS IN HIS HEART. NOTHING COULD STOP HIM. NO LAW COULD USE A WEAPON OF FEAR UPON HIS TONGUE. AS A RESULT, HE WAS STONED TO DEATH. BUT JUST LIKE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST DID , HE TOO PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD FORGIVE THESE MEN'S IGNORANCE FOR THEY KNEW NOT WHAT THEY WERE DOING. THAT'S TRUE MARTYRDOM!

OUR LIVES HERE ARE TEMPORARY AS WE ALL KNOW. EVERYTHING WE STRIVE TO EXPERIENCE STAYS HERE AS WE DEPART FROM THIS PLACE SOME DAY. THE ONLY THING WE GET TO TAKE WITH US IS THAT WHICH GOD HAS CONSTRUCTED WITHIN OUR BEINGS, MEANING WHO WE REALLY ARE ON THE INSIDE, WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS WATCHING. WE MUSN'T BE INTIMIDATED BY WHAT WE DON'T HAVE OR BY WHAT WE HAVEN'T ACCOMPLISHED TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH. WE MUST BE MORE FOCUSED ON IMPRESSING GOD. THE INIQUITIES AND DISABILITIES WE MIGHT HAVE CAN BE USED TO WITNESS FOR CHRIST. ANY BROKENNES WE CARRY AROUND, WHETHER IT BE PHYSICAL OR EMOTIONAL, WITH NO FAULT OF OUR OWN, SHOULD BE USED AS A VESSEL TO OPEN SUCH CONVERSATION WITH PEOPLE IN NEED . WE DON'T HAVE TO LOOK THE PART. WE SIMPLY HAVE TO BE WILLING TO PLAY THE PART. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US AS HE SEES FIT. THAT'S EXACTLY WHY STEVEN'S NAME IS IN THE BIBLE. HE HAD WAS HUMBLE...HE WAS WILLING TO SERVE HIS BRETHREN...HE NEVER ASSUMED TO BE SOMETHING SPECIAL...GOD'S TIMING AND GOD'S INSPIRED WORDS ALLOWED HIM A GLORIOUS ENTRANCE THROUGH THE GATES OF HEAVEN.

ANOTHER CHOICE SERVANT FROM THE BIBLE IS EPAPHRAS. JUST LIKE STEVEN, EPAPHRAS WAS NOT ONE OF THE CHOSEN TWELVE DISCIPLES OF JESUS, YET HIS NAME IS DEFINITELY WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LAMB. EPAPHRAS WAS A FAITHFUL MAN OF PRAYER. WE READ THIS IN COLOSSIANS 1:7 WHEN APOSTLE PAUL SAYS, "YOU LEARNED IT FROM EPAPHRAS, OUR DEAR FELLOW SERVANT, WHO IS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF". PAUL HAD ADDRESSED THIS LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF COLOSSE TO SIMPLY CONGRATULATE THEM ON THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST AND THE LOVE THEY HAD FOR HIS SAINTS. THIS PEOPLE WERE NOT AFRAID TO SPREAD THE UNDERLYING HOPE THROUGH WHICH THEIR FUTURE RESIDENCE IN HEAVEN SPRUNG FORTH. THIS WAS THE TRUE ESSENCE OF GOD'S WORD, THE GOSPEL MESSAGE. AND APOSTLE PAUL KNEW THAT EPAPHRAS WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSURING THEM OF SUCH AWESOME REVELATION THAT COULD HAVE BEEN VISIBLE AND SOLID ONLY TO THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGHTS. BUT HOW COULD EPAPHRAS HAVE CONVINCED THAT MANY PEOPLE OF SOMETHING HE HAD NEVER SEEN WITH HIS OWN EYES? WHO WAS EPAPHRAS AND WHAT WAS HIS SECRET?

FIRST, EPAPHRAS WAS A TEACHER OF THE WORD. HE HAD TAUGHT THE GOSPEL IN COLOSSE. SECOND, EPAPHRAS WAS PAUL'S DEAR FELLOWSERVANT. PAUL MENTIONS HIS NAME IN THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS AND THE BOOK OF PHILEMON. EPAPHRAS WAS HIS FELLOWPRISONER AT THE TIME. THIRD, EPAPHRAS WAS A FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST. YET HE WASN'T JUST A SERVANT: LIKE STEVEN, EPAPHRAS WAS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST. HIS LIFE HAD NO MEANING UNLESS HE WAS EITHER TEACHING SOMEONE OR PRAYING FOR THEIR SALVATION. FORTH, EPAPHRAS WAS A GREETER OF THE BRETHREN. HE CONTINUED TO SEND 

FORTH HIS GREETINGS AND ENCOURAGING WORDS WHILE IN PRISON WITH PAUL. FIFTH, EPAPHRAS PRAYED FOR THE SPIRITUAL WELFARE OF HIS BRETHREN. WE READ THIS IN COLOSSIANS 4:12,"EPAPHRAS...ALWAYS LABOURING FERVENTLY FOR YOU IN PRAYERS, THAT YE MAY STAND PERFECT AND COMPLETE IN ALL THE WILL OF GOD". EPAPHRAS DIDN'T JUST TEACH FEW THINGS AND THEN MOVED ON TO THE NEXT BUNCH. HE CONTINUED TO PRAY OVER THE PEOPLE WHOM HE HAD INTRODUCES A PATH FAR LESS TRAVELED; AND HE KNEW THE EXTREME MEASURES THOSE PEOPLE WERE GOING TO FACE TO PUSH THROUGH. AGAIN, HE WAS NEVER CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT WAS TO BECOME OF HIM, EVEN IN PRISON, BUT HE WAS MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE RESULTS OF HIS TEACHINGS. HE DIDN'T WANT THESE PEOPLE TO BE JUST STRONG ENOUGH TO WITHSTAND THEIR NEWFOUND JOURNEY. HE WANTED THEM TO "STAND PERFECT AND COMPLETE IN THE WILL OF GOD". HE WANTED THEM TO BE SO SURE OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE THAT THEY, IN TURN, COULD SPEAK OF IT WITH CONFIDENCE AND AUTHORITY.

EPAPHRAS IS NOT A WELL KNOWN FIGURE IN HISTORY. JUST LIKE STEVEN, WE HAVE NO OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT HIS PAST, EXCEPT FOR WHAT HE STOOD FOR. HE WAS FAITHFUL TO THE LORD, AND HE WAS FAITHFUL TO THE PEOPLE HE TAUGHT. THAT IS ONE THING IN ANY PERSON'S LIFE THAT REALLY MATTERS. HE DIDN'T ASSUME A ROLE TO STAND OUT AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE: HE WAS THE DIFFERENCE. HE WAS SIMPLY AVAILABLE AND WILLING TO PLAY WHATEVER PART THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD BESTOW UPON HIM, WHETHER IT BE FREELY OR BEHIND THE BARS OF A PRISON CELL. WE MUST DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO DEMONSTRATE GOD'S LOVE FOR US, SINCE THAT'S THE ONLY REASON WHY HE SACRIFICED HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON AS OUR SUBSTITUTE.  

SUCH DEMONSTRATION IS HUGELY VISIBLE THROUGH MARY'S BOLDNESS IN MATTHEW 26: 7-13. IT READS, "A WOMAN CAME TO HIM WITH AN ALABASTER VIAL OF VERY COSTLY PERFUME, AND SHE POURED IT UPON HIS HEAD AS HE RECLINED AT THE TABLE. BUT THE DISCIPLES WERE INDIGNANT WHEN THEY SAW THIS AND SAID,' WHY THIS WASTE? FOR THIS PERFUME MIGHT HAVE BEEN SOLD FOR A HIGH PRICE AND THE MONEY GIVEN TO THE POOR'. BUT JESUS, AWARE OF THIS, SAID TO THEM, 'WHY DO YOU BOTHER THE WOMAN? FOR SHE HAS DONE A GOOD DEED FOR ME. FOR THE POOR YOU HAVE WITH YOU ALWAYS; BUT YOU DO NOT ALWAYS HAVE ME. FOR WHEN SHE POURED THIS PERFUME UPON MY BODY, SHE DID IT TO PREPARE ME FOR BURIAL. TRULY I SAY TO YOU, WHEREVER THIS GOSPEL IS PREACHED IN THE WHOLE WORLD, WHAT THIS WOMAN HAS DONE SHALL ALSO BE SPOKEN OF IN MEMORY OF HER".

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF WORSHIP FOUND IN THE BIBLE. MARY'S HEART OF WORSHIP AND HER ACTS OF WORSHIP IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD ALL CRAVE AFTER. FIRST, MARY CAME WITH PREPARATION. SHE HAD BEEN WORSHIPING CHRIST FOR QUITE SOMETIME. SHE DIDN'T JUST START WORSHIPING AS SHE WAS 

ENTERING THE PREMISES. SHE HAD BEEN IN SUCH A WORSHIP MODE THAT SHE WAS FINALLY LED TO TAKE A HUGE STEP, AND EXPOSE HER VULNERABILITY PUBLICLY, REGARDLESS OF WHAT OTHERS MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT OF HER BOLDNESS. SHE ONLY CARED TO FOLLOW WHAT WAS IN HER HEART. SECOND, MARY CAME WITH A SACRIFICE. SHE BROUGHT HER ALABASTER JAR OF PERFUME, WHICH WAS WORTH YEARS WORTH OF WAGES FOR THE PEOPLE OF THAT TIME. THAT WAS HER MOST VALUABLE POSSESSION; YET SHE HAD FINALLY DISCOVERED ONE THAT WAS A WHOLE LOT MORE VALUABLE THAN THAT. WITH SUCH OFFER, SHE WAS GIVING HER ALL. THIRD, MARY CAME WITHOUT DISTRACTION. SHE WAS SURROUNDED BY MANY, BUT SHE FOCUSED MAINLY ON THE ONE THAT MATTERED TO HER THE MOST: HER SAVIOUR. SHE WASN'T EMBARRASSED BY THE APOSTLES' COMMENTS. NOR WAS SHE OFFENDED BY THEIR DISAPPROVING STARES. HER HEART REMAINED PURE AND INNOCENT THE WHOLE TIME. AND FOURTH, MARY CAME WITH INTIMACY. THE BREAKING OF THE BOTTLE SIGNIFIED THE BREAKING OF HER HEART. AND THE POURING OUT OF THE PERFUME SIGNIFIED THE POURING OUT OF HER PRAISE AND WORSHIP. UNLIKE MANY OF US, SHE DIDN'T JUST SING A WORSHIP SONG; SHE MEANT EVERY WORD THE LYRICS OFFERED. THOSE WORDS WERE IN SYNC WITH HER HEART AS SHE BECAME THE SONG.

MARY PLEASED THE LORD'S HEART AND IN DOING SO, SHE BECAME A LEGACY. AGAIN, WE DON'T NEED TO KNOW WHO MARY WAS BEFORE SHE STEPPED OUT IN FAITH. ALL WE NEED TO KNOW IS WHAT SHE STOOD FOR AND WHAT IT TOOK TO DO THE UNEXPECTED. LIVING IN A MODE OF WORSHIP ENABLED HER TO LEAVE SOMETHING THAT WILL NEVER DECAY THROUGHOUT CENTURIES, IN FACT THROUGHOUT ETERNITY.

ANOTHER NAME FROM THE BIBLE KNOWN FOR HIS HEARTFELT PRAYER IS JABEZ. THOUGH HE WAS NOT A GREAT PROPHET NOR A POWERFUL PREACHER, JABEZ'S NAME STOOD OUT AMONG ENDLESS GENEOLOGIES. IN FACT, THE BIBLE SAYS IN 1 CHRONICLES 4:9-10 THE FOLLOWING ABOUT HIM, "NOW JABEZ WAS MORE HONORABLE THAN HIS BROTHERS, AND HIS MOTHER CALLED HIS NAME JABEZ, SAYING, 'BECAUSE I BORE HIM IN PAIN'. AND JABEZ CALLED ON GOD OF ISRAEL SAYING, 'OH, THAT YOU WOULD BLESS ME INDEED AND ENLARGE MY TERRITORY, THAT YOUR HAND WOULD BE WITH ME, AND THAT YOU WOULD KEEP ME FROM EVIL, THAT I MAY NOT CAUSE PAIN!"

THE ONLY REASON JABEZ WAS MORE HONORABLE THAN HIS BROTHERS WAS BECAUSE HE WAS A MAN OF PRAYER. HE HAD BEEN BROUGHT UP WITH A HUGE HANDICAP SINCE HIS NAME HAD MEANT "SORROW". HE WAS APPREHENSIVE OF HIS IDENTITY THROUGH WHICH HE HAD DEVELOPED A DEEPER REASON TO ASK FOR HELP. THE WAY HE STARTED PRAYING BY SAYING "OH", WE 

CAN UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WAS AN URGENCY TO HIS NEED AT THE TIME. HE SOUNDED AS THOUGH HE WAS SICK AND TIRED OF CARRYING THE PAIN, CAUSING PAIN, AND BEING A PAIN. HE WANTED TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL. HE KNEW HE NEEDED GOD'S BLESSING; HE WAS TIRED OF WAITING ON MANKIND. HE ALSO KNEW THAT PRAYING FOR GOD'S BLESSING MEANT MORE RESPONSIBILITIES. HE WAS READY TO RECEIVE THEM AS LONG AS GOD WOULD PROTECT HIM AGAINST THE EVIL ONE. HE WASN'T AS WORRIED ABOUT HIMSELF AS HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE PAIN IT MIGHT END UP CAUSING. HE COULDN'T BEAR THE THOUGHT OF THAT ANY MORE!

JABEZ'S PRAYER IS OBVIOUSLY A VERY UNIQUE ONE BECAUSE IT ATTRACTED GOD'S ATTENTION; IT HIT THE MARK, SO MUCH SO THAT GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST. HE PRAYED FOR GOD'S POWER, MEANS, AND DIRECTION. HE SOMEHOW KNEW THAT HIS OWN EFFORTS TO CHANGE DESTINY WERE FUTILE. THERE ARE MANY OTHERS WHO UNDERSTOOD THIS. HANNAH WAS BARREN AND HAD BECOME A MOCKERY AMONG OTHER WOMEN. SHE PRAYED FOR A SON AND MADE A PROMISE THAT SHE WOULD GIVE HIM BACK TO GOD. KING DAVID FASTED AND PRAYED FOR HIS SON'S HEALING. AND WHEN HE FOUND OUT THAT THE LITTLE ONE HAD PASSED AWAY, HE GOT UP AND WASHED UP BEFORE HE PRESENTED HIMSELF TO GOD IN WORSIP. PROPHET ELIJAH PRAYED THAT IT WOULD NOT RAIN, AND IT DIDN'T RAIN FOR THREE AND A HALF YEARS.

PRAYER IS THE LANGUAGE WE USE WHEN WE SPEAK TO GOD. IT IS FULL OF GRATITUDE. IT IS FULL OF HUMILITY. IT IS FULL OF EXPECTATION. IT IS FULL OF FAITH. YET THE POWER DOESN'T COME FROM OUR FAITH; THE POWER COMES FROM THE ONE IN WHOM WE HAVE FAITH. OVER THE YEARS, MANY HAVE BELIEVED THAT IF ONLY THEY WOULD REPEAT THE SAME WORDS; IF ONLY THEY WOULD MOLD IT INTO A MODEL PRAYER, GOD WOULD HONOR THEIR EFFORTS AS WELL. HOWEVER, THE REASON GOD HONORED JABEZ'S PRAYER WAS THE FACT THAT EVERY WORD LINED UP WITH THE STRINGS OF JABEZ'S HEART. HE DIDN'T JUST UTTER THEM: HE WAS THEM. GOD WANTS AN HONEST COMMUNICATION WITH US. HE WANTS TO HEAR OUR OWN WORDS, NO MATTER HOW ILLITERATE WE MAY THINK THEY SOUND TO US. HE WANTS US TO PRESENT OURSELVES TO HIM OPENLY, WITHOUT HIDING BEHIND SOMEONE ELSE'.S PRAYER. OUR WORSHIP IS COMPLETE ONLY WHEN WE'RE BEING HONEST WITH OURSELVES AND WITH GOD.

THE MOST REMARKABLE PRAYER EVER SPOKEN IN THE BIBLE CAME FROM MOSES. EXODUS 32:32 IS WHERE WE FIND, "BUT NOW, PLEASE FORGIVE THEIR SIN - BUT IF NOT, THEN BLOT ME OUT OF THE BOOK YOU HAVE WRITTEN". MOSES WAS AN ORDINARY MAN, WITH ORDINARY NEEDS AND DESIRES UNTIL GOD CHOSE HIM FOR HIS PURPOSE. MOSES EVEN HAD A SPEECH PROBLEM, YET HE WAS DESTINED TO SPEAK WITH BOLDNESS BEFORE THE PHARAOH. WE ALL KNOW WHO ENABLED HIM ANG PREPARED HIM FOR THE JOURNEY. MANY MIRACLES TOOK PLACE SO GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE COULD ESCAPE SLAVERY. MULTIPLE PLAGUES HAD TO ATTACK EGYPTIANS; SO MUCH SO THAT THEY WERE WILLING TO SHOWER THE ISRAELITES WITH VALUABLE GIFTS AS THEY SENT THEM OFF. THE RED SEA HAD TO BE PARTED, JUST SO EVERYONE WOULD MAKE IT TO SAFE GROUNDS. AND THE SAME SEA ENDED UP SWALLOWING ALL OF THE EGYPTIANS WHO HAD DECIDED TO GO AFTER GOD'S PEOPLE.

AS SOON AS THEY ARRIVED TO THE OTHER SIDE, MOSES WENT UP THE MOUNT OF SINAI TO HAVE FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS FROM GOD. WHILE HE WAS STILL UP THERE UP THERE CONVERSING WITH GOD, THE VERY SAME PEOPLE GOD HAD PROTECTED HAD ALREADY FORGOTTEN ALL OF GOD'S MIRACLES, AND THEY HAD MADE A 

GOLDEN IDOL TO WORSHIP. THIS DIDN'T TAKE LONG; IT WAS ONLY WITHIN THREE DAYS THAT THEY HAD MANAGED TO OFFEND GOD. GOD WASN'T DISAPPOINTED; HE WAS ANGRY, HE WAS ENRAGED. THAT'S EXACTLY WHEN MOSES APPROACHED GOD ONCE MORE AND UTTERED THOSE FAMOUS WORDS. HE MEANT, "IF YOU'RE NOT WILLING TO FORGIVE THEM, JUST PUNISH ME AS WELL. I'M NOT WORTHY TO GO ON. I HAVE FAILED AND I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTION. WHAT GOOD IS IT TO BE RIGHT WITH YOU WHEN I WATCH THEM PERISH? WHAT MERIT IS THERE FOR ME IF IN FACT I HAVEN'T MADE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE UNGODLY? THOSE ARE SOME POWERFUL WORDS. THEY DIDN'T COME FROM A POWERFUL PERSON. THEY CARRIED THE POWER WITHIN BECAUSE THEY CAME FROM THE HEART. MOSES HAD LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR THIS PEOPLE. HE WASN'T JUST ACTING UPON GOD'S INSTRUCTIONS. HE WAS CHOSEN BY GOD BECAUSE HE HAD A COMPASSIONATE HEART. IN FACT, HE HAD SO MUCH COMPASSION TOWARD ONE OF THE SLAVE FELLOWMEN THAT HE THREW AWAY ALL HIS KINGLY IDENTITY, AND ESCAPED TO THE DESERT. THAT'S WHERE GOD CONTACTED HIM THROUGH THE BURNING BUSH. MOSES WAS AN ORDINARY MAN WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY DESIRE TO PROTECT THE ONES HE LOVED, AND HE DIDN'T CARE MUCH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES.

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