Jesus Prays for Us

Jesus prays for us and prayed for us before he was crucified.  We know he prayed the simple but difficult words of “Not my will but yours be done.” We know how he was so anxious about what was to come, he sweated drops of blood. This is very important to remember because it was here where Jesus made the decision to go through the betrayal, arrest, beatings, and crucifixion.

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However, there is a beautiful prayer tucked in the book of John that Jesus prayers for us. Yes, us. You and me. This prayer was prayed after the last teachings Jesus taught the disciples on Maundy Thursday right before he entered the Garden.

Jesus was already nervous. He knew what lied ahead. However, he prays for all believers. He first prays for his twelve disciples and then he prays for us and all believers. John 17 is where this prayer is found.

Jesus begins the prayer by declaring he is the glorification of the Father here on earth. He accomplished all God had asked him to do. He knows his death and resurrection to follow was how he will be glorified just like he was before the world began.

He continues by praying for his disciples. He share how he taught them, giving them the words God have him. He reminds God how he watched over them. He gave them everything he had. He shared communion with them not just in the upper room but in his teachings and daily relationships with them.

In verse 11, Jesus said, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Jesus prayed for his friends despite how anxious he felt. He prayed for them even before he prayed for himself in the Garden! Jesus wanted his disciples to be united as one. He knew he was longer going to be with them. As we see later before Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection, several of them went back to their earlier professions, such as fishing. God did answer Jesus’ prayer as they were united as one in the upper room waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

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Jesus taught the disciples so much. He knew that the world hated him and because the disciples were with him, they were hated as well. Jesus knew the trials and sorrows they were to race ahead. He asks God to no take them out of this world but sanctify them (make them pure and holy). Jesus was going to send them out into the world to tell the world the good news. Jesus asked God to sanctify them before and as they went out. They had to be holy as Christ is holy. This holiness would separate them from the world but also empower them as Christ would live within them through the power of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:11).

Then Jesus prayed for us. He prayed for all who would come to know him since his resurrection and Pentecost. He prayed for unity for us as he did for the disciples. He prayed we would be one so the world would see Christ in us and would come to know him as their Lord and Saviour. He asked God to give us his glory (his Spirit living within us).

In the mist of all that Jesus went through, he not only prayed for his disciples, he prayed for us. Jesus always put others before himself. Jesus death and resurrection was for our salvation. He loves us so much he prayed for us before his betrayal and the rest of the events of that Holy Weekend.

I am personally humbled that Jesus prayed for me. I am grateful for his unselfish love. What an example for all of us. I am amazed that even in the midst of the most anxious, terrifying, and sad moments, Jesus loved you and I so much he prayed for us. And, he continues to intercede on our behalf on a daily basis. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV).

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Be assured, we are so loved Jesus prayed for us and continues to do so. We are never alone. Christ is always with us, praying for us. What an assurance! No matter what we go through in our lives, Jesus knows, he cares, and he prays. He is our example for praying without ceasing.

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Today’s one word: surrender

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:25-26 ESVUK

Surrendering my life to Jesus has not been as easy as I thought. It’s easy to sing and pray the words “All to Jesus I surrender” when things are going well. But guess what. Life hits you, and sometimes it can hit very hard.

I was busy being a minister preparing to move to a new hall. I preached every Sunday, and ran women’s programmes and toddler groups, etc. Severe fatigue kicked in and made things harder and harder to manage. This was just the beginning of a downward spiral to becoming housebound.

My health went from not just being exhausted all the time to having pain as well. Everything hurt. I got angry. I cried. I grieved. I fussed at God about everything. The last thing I wanted to do is surrender everything to him. I thought he had taken away the core of who I really am.

Then as I began to realise this was not going away any time soon, I just gave it all to Jesus. I gave him the pain, fatigue, emotions, everything.

The days are still no easy. I enjoy the few “good” days but I rest assured that God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I have to surrender myself every day to God’s will and way. I also have to surrender my family to him as my illnesses affect them.

God still uses me despite of my many shortcomings. He loves me just as I am. I continue to discover the core of who I am and I will continue to surrender all to Jesus. He is my strength for each and every day.

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Intercession and presence (based on Exodus 32)

The more we spend time in the presence of God, the more we get to know him. The more we get to know him, the more we can talk to him as a friend. The more we talk to him as a friend, the more we move his heart.

Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days talking to God. God’s presence surrounded him. The people at the bottom of the mountain feared God’s presence and stayed away from the mountain. They didn’t know how to deal with the thundering, the cloud, and the booming voice of God. They told Moses he could go up to talk to God on their behalf by they were not getting any closer.  How many times have we been afraid to enter God’s presence? Have we ever stayed away from God because we felt uncomfortable with what he was telling us?

After a while, the people became quite annoyed because they had not heard from Moses for over a month. Some thought he was dead. Because of their frustration, they demanded for another god. They fussed at Aaron (Moses’ brother) until he gave in and asked them for all their gold to create a god. They gave him jewellery, cups, utensils, etc. and this gold was made into a golden calf. The people began to worship the calf as their god.

Of course, our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw everything. He was beyond angry. God wanted to consume them and make Moses and his family into a great nation. Moses begs God to hold his wrath. Moses talked and reasoned with God has he would have with a very close friend. Just think, he spent 40 days conversing with God and just being in his presence. God trusted Moses.

Moses reminds God of how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God chose the Israelites as his special people to be a holy nation, separated from the rest of the nations around them. Moses asks God, “Why bring the Israelites out just to them?”

Moses thought the Egyptians would gloat about the deaths and then disbelieve in the one true God, despite the plagues and the drowning of their guard. Moses asks God to turn away from his burning anger. He reminds God of the promises he made Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God relented from the disaster he was going to bring on the Israelites.

Moses came down form the mountain after this conversation and saw the golden calf and the Israelites worshipping and dancing to it. He was so angry at what he saw, he threw down the tablets with the commandments God had written on them and broke them. He also burnt the calf in a fire and grounded it to powder. Then he scattered the powder onto water and made the people drink it.

Moses then asked to see who was still on God’s side. Only the sons of Levi came and stood together. Levi’s family were ordained as priests by God (see Exodus 28 + 29). The sons of Levi then killed his brother, companions, and neighbours. This was a part of God’s anger and wrath. About three thousand people died that day.

The next day Moses goes back up to the Lord and asks God to forgive their sin and if not, to blot him out of the book God had written. But God said to Moses he will just blot out those who had sinned against him. God told Moses to lead the people where he tells him. The Lord sent a plague upon the people because they worshipped the calf.

Because of Moses’ relationship with God, he was able to have them saved from being destroyed and wiped out. He also was able to see God’s glory and he was able to change God’s mind about removing his presence from the Israelites (see Exodus 33).

We too can change the Lord’s mind in situations. We can pray for our family members, friends, nations, and the world. In order to truly intercede for others, we need to be in the presence of God and follow Moses’ example…

Moses was able to talk straight with God because he

  • He had a relationship with him
  • Spent time in his presence
  • He trusted God
  • He obeyed God.
  • God saw him as a friend and spoke to him as a friend (see Exodus 33:11)

Moses had a great relationship with God. The more time Moses was with God he trusted him, talked to him as a friend and was able to move God’s heart.

I pray we will be a friend of God and that he will talk to us as a friend. I pray our relationship with God is strong and we would not hide from his presence from God’s presence but welcome it even if it feels uncomfortable at times. Remember, when Moses was first called by God through the burning bush, Moses was very uncomfortable with what God was asking him to do, yet, he obeyed, and his relationship grew substantially after this choice. May we too obey.

The more we follow Moses’ example, the more likely we will move the heart of God. Ask God to take you deeper into his presence and a relationship with him today. Every blessing.

Presence is key to intercession

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open towards Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. -Daniel 6:10 ESVUK

God has been impressing upon my heart about the necessity of being in his presence. Yes, I understand his presence is always with us. However, I truly believe God desires for us to seek for his tangible presence Spending time in his presence is key to proper intercession.

Daniel is a great example of seeking and residing in the presence of God. Daniel was well known across the land of Persia. He had “an excellent spirit and was found faithful, without error or fault” (see Daniel 6:3-4). His holy life rubbed the wrong way against the other high officials and satraps of the day. Persia was not known for their holiness or goodness. Idolatry was very prevalent. So the other officials were jealous and upset because Daniel had such a good reputation.

We all grew up with the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. The officials conned Darius into signing a decree to not pray to any other gods but theirs. Despite this, Daniel went to his house and got on his knees three times daily, praying and giving thanks as he had always done before (Daniel 6:10). Please not that Daniel as 80 years old at this point. He did not give up or give in because of his age!

The officials of course caught Daniel praying and because of the decree Darius signed, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.

Daniel kept seeking God and his presence regardless of his responsibilities and age. He sought God for himself and for his people. Because Daniel was faithful in seeking God’s presence, God rewarded him by filling the lion’s den with his presence. He even sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions!

The threat of the lion’s den did not deter Daniel from seeking God. So often, we come up with excuses as to why we don’t have the time or can’t spend time with God on a daily basis. Some Christians around the world suffer greatly because they pray and declare Jesus as Lord. They pray in secret, hide the word in their hearts, etc. Christianity is growing rapidly in places where persecution is rampant. However, here in our Western cultures, we are lulled to sleep. We don’t seem to value God’s presence as much as we value pleasing other people and moving up the ladder to get more money and prestige. If we were told we were going to be thrown into a lion’s den or killed for our faith, how many of us would truly be willing to stand up for Jesus and declare him as Lord by our actions, words, and prayers?

Most of us would have panicked if we were sent to the lion’s den. Daniel was calm (or at least it seems). He had faith that no matter what happened in that lion’s den, God was taking care of him. God’s presence was with him and shown through him.

Of course, we know that Daniel is saved from the lions. Darius was thrilled and relieved. He felt so bad he had sent him into the den that he couldn’t sleep the night before. When Darius saw that God had truly saved Daniel, he made a new decree that everyone was to call on and worship the living God. What a testimony of God’s faithfulness and Daniel’s obedience!

Daniel’s prayers in seeking God made a massive difference to Israel. In chapter 9, Daniel confesses the sin of himself and the nation. When we come into the presence of God, we will be shown what is keeping us, our nations, family, work, and churches from God. Sin has no place in God’s presence!

Daniel spends time confessing the sins of disobedience and idolatry which resulted Israel being held in captivity (see Daniel 9:1-19). Because Daniel spent time in the presence, he knew God’s heart and knew what the nation had done wrong. Daniel confessed not because he committed these sins, but because he was a part of a nation that did.

Gabriel then comes into the picture and shows Daniel visions beyond his or our own understanding about the nation of Israel and the end times. A lot of the prophecies Daniel saw and recorded have been fulfilled and continue to be.

Daniel was truly a man that God trusted. God delivered the Israelites from Persia’s hand to return back to their home. God intervened and saved Daniel from death. God showed Daniel amazing visions. God is willing to speak to those who are willing to stop, listen, and spend time in his presence.

We have to be intentional in seeking God’s presence on a daily basis. If we want to know God’s heart, we need to be in his presence. Intercession is not about spouting off a shopping list of prayer concerns, it is about sharing the heart of God on behalf of others. The more time we spend praying and seeking the presence of God, the more our hearts and lives will be changed. We will be known as having “an excellent spirit” in us. That spirit will be the Holy Spirit. We will know what to pray for those we are praying for. We know the heart of God. We will be interceding on other’s behalf, including our nation, the world, etc. because of love, not duty.

I want my prayer life to be like Daniel’s, one which seeks after God’s presence and heart every day and one that intercedes on behalf of those I know and love. Do you?

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Today’s Word- Motivate

Today’s five minute writing prompt is the word motivate. The dictionary says that the word motivate means “to provide with a motive, or a course or reason to act.”

Thsi year I really need to motivate myself to get back into writing. I desire to motive others to draw closer to God in their relationships with him. In order to do this, I write, share memes that inspire others to think, and by encouraging them through cards and notes.

The trouble is time and quiet space. I have to pace myself due to my illnesses. I struggle with pacing myself, especially with other commitments that I have to do.

I pray for God’s help in this endeavour. I need God’s help to motivate me to study and write more. But most importantly writing what he wants me to say to others.

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Principles of Spiritual Growth

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5

How is your relationship with God?  Is there a fire within your heart?  Do you still love Him like the day you first met Him or has that love grown a bit cool?  Are you growing in Him and others can see the fruit?  We all are on this journey together, growing in spiritual maturity.  Christ wants us to abide in Him and continue to draw closer to Him.  He desires us to grow, and we should not stop until we go home to be with Him.  Spiritual growth is so much more than going to church on Sunday, Bible Studies and other meetings.  Let’s look at what God has to say about spiritual growth.

God is responsible for all spiritual growth.  God is the Gardener who takes care of the soil and causes growth.  He also prunes anything that keeps us from growing in Him.  We are saved by grace and we must continue to grow in grace.  The Holy Spirit works within us to bring about change.  When we are saved, the Holy Spirit enters us and stays with us enabling us to grow in Christlikeness.  We must stay in the Vine though, we must abide in Him.  Effort, diligence and discipline on our part are necessary for growth.  2 Peter 1:5-11 says “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so short-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practise these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

We are to make the effort to grow.  God tends to us but we have the responsibility to keep in the Vine, to stay with Christ and do our part.  We cannot sit back and do nothing and expect ourselves to be changed for His glory.  We have to work out our salvation every day. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).  Jesus tells us clearly in John that we cannot bear fruit if we are not staying connected to the Vine.  He even says that those branches that are not bearing fruit will be thrown into the fire and burned.

God provides the resources for us, we must supply the effort in our own relationship.  Think about any relationship; it is no good to have only one person giving everything, and the other doing nought.  After a while, that relationship will be estranged.  Sometimes, we do not sense God or hear from Him because we ourselves have walked away maybe unknowingly, but because of our lack of effort within the relationship with Him, we have pushed ourselves away.

Spiritual growth depends on an intimate relationship with Christ.  This relationship doesn’t just stop at our salvation.  Jesus tells us that we are to remain, abide, continue in and dwell within the Vine.  There are five benefits for us being connected to the Vine.  One, fruitfulness will be evident in our lives.  Fruit will be seen in and through our character as it overflows to others.  The evidence of fruit is directly related to our maturity in Christ.  As we mature, more fruit will be seen.  The fruit of the spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Are we bearing fruit and do others see it?

When we remain in God, He will stay with us.  He will never leave nor forsake us.  This should give us security in who we are in Christ.  God is not like any other relationship we ever have here on earth.  He is not going to die as He lives forever.  God will not let us down, even though at times we don’t understand why things happen and we blame Him.  God will never abuse us.  He will not mistreat us.  God is an amazing God.  He will carry us when we hurt.  He wipes away our tears and stores them.  He comforts, strengthens and blesses us.  Rest in that knowledge that God is the same today as yesterday and forevermore, amen.

As we remain in the Vine, Christ answers prayer.  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (verse 7).  The closer you get to someone, the more you know each other’s needs and try to meet those needs.  The more we know Christ and grow closer to Him, the more we desire Him and think like Him.  The prayers we pray will be according to His will and purpose and those prayers will be answered.  This is not to say that Jesus is going to be like Father Christmas and we can give Him a shopping list and expect Him to do everything we want or ask.  God knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what we need.  God always takes care of us.  Sometimes God answers with a “no” but He has our best interest at heart.  We just have to trust that He knows better than us.

Walking in a close and intimate relationship with Christ equals joy.  Christ’s joy relates to a supernatural, inner peace, which brings emotional satisfaction even in difficult times.  We have an assurance of God’s presence in our lives.  Jesus tells us that we will have joy and that joy will be complete in Him.  Our relationship with God should be exuberant.  We should be on fire in our love for Him.  Our hearts should burn for Christ.  No matter what life throws at us, His joy will be in our hearts. We know God is with us, we know we have eternal life and we know one day we will reign forever in heaven with Christ.

We have friendship with Jesus as we stay connected to the Vine.  Jesus calls us friends!  What an honour, to be a friend of Jesus!  As friends of Christ we are able to discern God’s word.  Legalism and tradition is replaced with freedom to do what God desires without fear of man and is also replaced with partnership with Christ.

This whole process of spiritual growth within the vine starts within our own hearts and then is seen outwardly.  Loving, serving, and worshiping God are actions that arise from passion and love for Christ.  Our challenge is to keep kindling the fire within our hearts.  Spiritual growth relates to every aspect of our life.  It affects our family, friendships, leisure time and work.  It’s a process which we allow the Holy Spirit to control every aspect of our lives.  We are to grow in our personal development in belief and action.  We are to be living sacrifices being renewed in our mind.  Every part of our being changes to be more Christlike.  People will notice a difference within us. We will be different than the world.

Usually our greatest growth come from our frustrations, sufferings and/or challenges.  Suffering is a necessary, normal part of the Christian’s life.  Jesus suffered greatly.  If we are to be like Him, we must too suffer.  During these times, our faith in God’s Word is strengthen.  We rely on God more.  Suffering moves closer to our goal of being more like Christ.  Think of the times that we suffer as the time God prunes us.  Our faith grows, and our branches grow stronger.

So back to the questions I asked at the beginning, how is your relationship with Jesus?  Is it growing? Is it producing fruit?  Are you passionately in love with Jesus? Is He your heart’s desire?  If not, ask Him today, the start of a New Year, to rekindle the fire.

One Word for 2018

For the past three years I have focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 as the basis for my One Word.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

2015 was focused on thanksgiving.

2016 was focused on prayer.

2017 was focused on joy.

The words started with verse 18 and then went backwards to 16. However, I have learnt a great deal about these verses. God has taught me to be more thankful and I kept a journal for all of 2015 of all the things I was thankful for. God spoke to my heart about prayer, and I read a lot of books about prayer and prayer styles. I love the prayer movements in Wales and other places. Prayer is such a vital link to our relationship with Jesus.

This year, focusing on joy saw me starting another thankfulness journal, based on the idea from Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 gifts. My journal is 1000 plus gifts and I continue to keep writing in it things I am grateful for that the Lord has given me. When I am struggling, I look back at what God has done in my life or has blessed me with and my attitude changes.

I have learnt that joy does not depend on my circumstances. Joy is a state of the heart. Joy is delight. Joy is hope. Joy is being in a vibrant relationship with Jesus. I can be joyful no matter what I am going through because I know Jesus is with me and my soul is secure in him.

I praise the Lord for all that he has taught me these past three years.

God is leading me in a different but similar direction for my One Word of the year. My One Word for 2018 is intercession.  1 Timothy 2:1  says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

I cannot get away from this verse as this is what God is calling me to do and to be. He spoke to my heart several years ago when I first was off work due to illness to be a house of prayer. At first, I thought I was to start a house of prayer and yes, I do pray that one day I will be well enough to do such a thing. However, since praying about this and doing a lot of searching, I know God wants me to be a house of prayer, praying for everyone, our nation, my church, friends, family, etc.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have already been praying for everyone. However, I believe God wants me to genuinely intercede, stand in the gap for, people who he leads me to pray for. To intercede for someone means to “act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition” (Dictionary.com).

The word I am focusing on, intercession means an act or instance of interceding, 2.an interposing or pleading on behalf of another person, and it is 3.a prayer to God on behalf of another (dictionary.com).

I believe God is calling me to stand in the gap for my brothers and sisters in Christ and praying scripture over them as well. I am looking forward to seeing God answer prayers and knowing mighty things will happen for the kingdom. I pray God will help me pray through the Holy Spirit interceding on my behalf through me when I don’t have the words to pray (see Romans 8:26).

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