Why God Doesn’t Answer Prayers

936000_683879594970777_1307781314_nIt’s amazing how many people – including those who proclaim to be Christians – will totally ignore the Lord and not give Him praise and thanks for anything, but then when they want something or need help they decide to pray and actually expect Him to bless them. Few of them get a positive response from God and so they just go back to the world for help. It seems to them as if God doesn’t answer prayers.

Most people have no idea who God is, and they have little reverence or fear of Him and so think that He is THEIR servant to call upon when needed. The very concept of this is absolute foolishness and anyone who looks to God in this way not only doesn’t know Him, but is walking on a very dangerous path that leads to His wrath.

God is the creator of everything living (Genesis 1:1-31) and verses 26-28 says that He made us in His image. He has personally made each and every one of us.

“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me.” … Psalm 119:73

God loves us, and He placed our ancestors, Adam and Eve, in the perfect garden and then walked with them every day. He had a relationship with them – not as a ghost that hovers around taunting them, but as a real live Father who loves His children. But then when sin entered Adam, God could no longer be there because He is Holy and His presence would physically burn up anything around that had sin in it – including Adam and Eve. He loved them so much that He exiled them out of His presence and into the uninhabited world where they were unfortunately ruled by the devil. God would not leave them there, though, and so promised that He would send a Savior who would take away their sins – the sins that separated them from Him. And God kept His Word and He came to earth Himself in the person of Jesus, and died on the cross and took all the sins of mankind to hell so we could once again walk with Him.

The world is made up of two kinds of people: those who accept the salvation 4257830784_f5c9efb2f9_mthat Jesus gave on the cross and those who don’t. The ones who accept Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Savior, come to God with a heart of repentance and ask Him to wash away their sins. Then they turn away from the world and serve God with a whole heart; they study the Bible, pray for others and praise His name, giving Him glory for everything that He has done. As they grow in Him, the relationship between them and God grows and they realize that they can trust Him with their lives.

The ones who don’t know God have no idea who He is and only respond in prayer because that’s what you do when you need help. But they don’t know Him. They don’t know anything about Him and have no right thinking that He would answer their prayers. When God looks at sinners who do not have the blood of Jesus covering them, who have not repented and do not have remission for their sins, He sees one thing – and that is sin.

What does the Bible say about sin? Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” And for those whose sins have been forgiven it says, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

People who carry their sins and don’t repent will not receive the blessings of God no matter how much they supposedly pray. Their prayers will not be answered because they do not know Him and sin stands between them and Him.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” … 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

4015126591_2737b0a037_mYou can’t receive an inheritance from someone you don’t know. For example, there may be a wealthy man in my city, but when he dies I won’t be in his will because I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me. I am not part of his family and he is not obligated to leave me anything – and I have no right to expect that he would. It’s the same with God. If we are not in His family then we cannot expect to receive the inheritance of eternal life with Jesus in Heaven, or of a relationship with Him on earth. We cannot expect that He would hear or answer our prayers.

But when we know Him, we can trust Him because He hears and answers our prayers.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” … 1 Peter 3:12

If we truly want God to answer our prayers then we need to know Him. He died for everyone, but only those who accept His salvation and turn away from evil to serve Him with a whole heart will be part of His family, and will have their prayers answered.

It’s not lip service; it’s not just acknowledging the cross. Even Satan knows about the cross, but He is the enemy of God and anyone who does not accept Jesus as their Savior belongs to the devil (James 4:4).  Salvation means loving God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving people with the same passion that He loves us. God is our Heavenly Father, our Savior, our Lord and our King and there is nothing that the world can throw at us that Jesus won’t help us through, and that’s because we accept His love and His salvation and we belong to Him.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” … Psalm 23

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You’re Not a Christian Just Because You Do Good Works

2142655281_596427963d_mThere are a lot of very nice people in the world who would not hesitate to help someone if they needed help or give them money or things if they needed it. Their actions are definitely driven by love, but that alone does NOT make them a Christian. Works by itself will NOT get you into Heaven.

People in general have a very poor understanding of what being a Christian means. Webster’s dictionary defines “Christian” as one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”. And the Bible discusses this very belief in great detail.

To be a Christian, we must be followers of Christ, and to follow Christ we have to know Him, accept Him and love Him. After all, how can we follow a person that we don’t know or haven’t seen? John 3:1-5 Jesus explains how we can belong to the Kingdom of God.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

So what does it mean to be born again? How does that happen? Jesus said in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Why do we need to be saved? And saved from what? To appreciate what salvation means, we need to go back in history and learn why Jesus had to come and die on the cross in the first place.

When God made Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden, 253599_552284874793005_1213668136_na land that was perfect in every way and that even in our most exaggerated thoughts we wouldn’t be able to imagine the beauty of it. It says in Genesis 3:8 that God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, and He enjoyed their fellowship. It must have been absolutely awesome to have God come into their back yard and talk and laugh with them every day – but then, they were made without sin and so the garden was holy ground and God was able to go there.

God gave Adam one rule in Genesis 2:9 and that was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or else he would die. Adam had no intention of disobeying God because he loved Him, but Eve was tempted by the devil (Genesis 3:1-6) that came to her in the form of a serpent. She was convinced that they would become as smart as God and so she ate the fruit. It was delicious and she didn’t die so she  decided to share this with Adam. Unfortunately, Adam took his eyes off of God and put them onto his wife and ate of the fruit.

red guyTheir eyes were opened and they knew what good and evil were. Eve may have been deceived because God didn’t tell her directly, but Adam sinned because he disobeyed God. It’s interesting to note that instead of repenting and pleading with God, he blamed Eve (Genesis 3:12). “It’s all her fault, she made me do it”, and this is an attitude that has been carried down throughout history; mankind has not ceased to blame someone else for what they did.

God was more hurt than angry with them because sin had entered the Garden, His holy ground, and He could no longer visit with His children, and He had to cast Adam and Eve out of the garden. But when He did this He also promised them that He would send someone to redeem them back to Himself; to beat the devil at his own game.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” … Genesis 3:15

Now Adam faced the consequences of his actions and he and Eve were devastated to have to live in a desolate world without God, but what horrified them even more was that the ruler of the lost world was Satan. Adam had sold his birthright to the devil whose very presence kept him from the only Father he knew, so they clung on to the promise and prayed for the redeemer to come and save their children. And so every child ever born from the very first conceived child, being Able, right down to the last baby that will ever be born on earth, is born in sin and without the presence of God. There is no possibility of a single one of us ever getting back to God on our own. He removed His Spirit and there is only ONE way to get it back.

Jesus!  And so the people throughout the generations waited and looked for His coming.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” … Luke 2: 8-11

Jesus was sent to the cross because Satan knew who Jesus was and thought that if he could persuade the Pharisees to kill Him, then everything would be fine, God’s attempt to regain the world would fail and he would continue to rule the earth forever. The Pharisees also knew that Jesus was God’s Son and they were filled with evil and foolishly thought that if they killed Him on the cross then they wouldn’t have to give up their religious positions and wealth.

2830009502_d8a6bb320c_tWhat none of them realized is that no one can kill God. Jesus’ human body died on the cross, and because He was without sin He would have risen directly to Heaven at that point. However, that isn’t why He came. He came to take away the sin that we carried – the sin that caused us to be separated from God – and He took that sin upon Himself so that when He died, that sin would drive Him directly to hell. But hell couldn’t hold Him, and so He dropped off the sin and then rose again.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

When we realize the magnitude of this action by Jesus, and we believe it and receive this truth in our heart, then we receive our salvation. We are saved. We are Christians. We are no longer separated from God. We are given His Spirit and we can walk with God just like Adam did. We are one with God again. Now when we pray God not only hears our prayers, but He answers them. He blesses us. He helps us. He teaches us. He walks with us. He is our Father and our friend.

Christians adopt the heart and mind of Christ so that we want to help others, 3147461049_35b009962d_mshare with others and encourage others to know Him. We do everything to the glory of God and for the furtherance of the ministry of Jesus.  We are not perfect; we are forgiven. Although God will become our purpose for living and the reason for our being, we’ll still fall short and do things wrong or not do things we should. (Romans 3:23) But we can come before God and say sorry and He hears us and smiles at us. He doesn’t have to toss us away like He did with Adam because His Spirit is in us. We are His children and nothing can separate us from Him.

So, good works may be a nice thing to do to help others and share some positive attitude, but they will NOT make us a Christian and they will NOT get us into Heaven. Only a personal relationship with Jesus will make us a Christian, and the good works that we do then are done in love so that others can see the love that God has for us.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” … John 10:27

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Love Sinners?

As Christians we often believe that we should love each other, help and support each other, tolerate each other’s differences and spend all our time with only Christians. We become a clique unto ourselves – aka denominations – and have no tolerance for anyone outside of our own circle of friends. We forget where we came from and we forget to love the sinners.

There’s a balance that we need to find in order to truly walk in love with God and towards all people. And we can find this balance in the Bible through the acts of someone who walked the walk and who gave His life for sinners – and that is our own Saviour, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He gave His life for us so that we could be saved. Were we righteous people deserving of this salvation? No, we were sinners deserving of death. The sin that was in us separated us from God and would take us to hell, but Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to go to the cross for us and take OUR sins upon Himself so that we could spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

What makes this so very precious is God’s forgiving grace. He saw the sin and the corruption in us, and Isaiah 64:6 says that our own righteousness is like filthy rags before Him. He saw the god of this world alive in us and He knew of the horrible things that we’d done in our allegiance to this god, but He saw beyond that sin. He saw the souls of His children. He saw US!

The shed blood has become our redeeming grace and through it we are saved! Romans 5:9,10 says that we are saved from the wrath that He will pour upon those who refuse to turn from their sin. We have been brought back to our Heavenly Father because He loves us and we are now part of His family and one with Him.

God hates the sin but He loves the sinner! That’s what makes His dying in our place so very special. He loves us in spite of our sin. There have been hundreds and thousands of horrific acts of sin committed against people since the fall of Adam and Eve, and yet Christ took even their sin upon Himself at the cross. He hates all sin but He loves all people – enough to die for them.

So as Christians, we need to take our cue from the Lord and reach out to people outside of our little circle of Christian friends. That doesn’t mean that we return to the bars and the dark lifestyle that kept us in bondage because to return to that could be wrong for our own sakes. But we need to pour our concerns onto those outside of our own cliques.

We need to be friendly to all manners of people and we need to be willing to help those in need whenever we can. We can’t have a heart that helps only Christians and that ignores the needs of the sinners because we’re following Jesus and we are to be like Him. He said in Mark 2:17 that He came to call sinners into repentance and so we must also work with sinners so that they can be saved.

Jesus preached throughout Judea and He told the people about Heaven and about the love that God had for them. Thousands of people turned from their sinful ways and followed Him. Matthew 14:14-20 talks about the multitude that followed Jesus and how He had compassion on them and fed them when they were hungry. He didn’t feed only His followers; He fed all of them.

Jesus healed the sick and He cast out demons – and many of those people were possessed with the devil and didn’t have the ability to become saved, but Jesus saw their heart and He cast the demons out of them. He hated the sin but He loved the sinner.

And that’s what we must do. We must hate the sin but love the sinner. James 5:20 says that “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

Love covers a multitude of sins, and when we have compassion on those who don’t know God we open the venue of grace upon them so they can get a glimpse of God through us. And when they can see the goodness of the Lord alive in us, their hearts are drawn to Him through the Holy Spirit and they have the opportunity to become saved.

So our life here on earth is to share and grow with our Christian brethren, but our mission is to spread the gospel to the unsaved so that we can bring as many people to Christ as we can. We need to hate the sin but LOVE the sinner, just as Christ did.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  … Matthew 25:41-46

 

The Beginning of Love

God is love and everything God does is initiated in love and because of love. He created us because He wanted to have a family and He gave us everything to keep us healthy, happy and content.  This is the beginning of the Love of God.

God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and we can only imagine how beautiful that relationship must have been. Even though God saw everything and knew everything, He wanted to share His love with Adam and Eve, and His only rule that He gave to Adam was to not eat from two particular trees.

In their innocence they would likely have shown Him everything that was new every day. God would gently hold the new lion cubs that delighted Adam’s heart, and He’d stroke the precious baby songbirds in their tiny nests. He would inhale the perfumed fragrance of the roses on the perfect bush and He would walk with them barefoot on the carpet of soft green grass.

Eve would likely have prepared a delicious vegan meal and the three would have dined in peace and tranquility as they laughed and talked as any children would with their father. Evenings were a special time for Adam and Eve because God came to visit.

But as with any great story, there is always a dark side and Satan was determined to steal God’s joy by destroying His relationship with His children. He managed to deceive and convince the serpent to let him in if only just to see this beautiful garden, and then once he was inside he begged to be able to speak to Eve just to tell her that he was proud. Eve was flattered and then she was deceived when the devil convinced her that this same loving God, her father, would not kill her for eating from the forbidden tree. After all, could a father that loving do anything to hurt them?

So, Eve ate the fruit from the tree and nothing happened. She didn’t die. She felt great. She listened to the devil again and took some fruit to Adam. He knew it was wrong but he loved her and listened to her. He took his eyes off of God and committed the first sin. He ate the fruit, an act of disobedience that would change their lives – and ours – forever.

From that second on, Adam felt the cold surge of sin creep throughout his body as the devil laughed cynically through the serpent. Adam was sorry and wanted to take it back but it was too late. Sin was in him and now the presence of sin was in the holy garden.

God cannot be where sin is and so when He came for His evening meal, He called for Adam but he and Eve were hiding because they knew that they had disobeyed God, that they were no longer pure, that they felt separated from Him – and they were ashamed.

Neither Adam nor Eve had the realization of what had happened or that they had initiated the fall of mankind, but God knew – and the devil knew. Yet, God was more sad than angry because He loved them and now He had to cast them out of the perfect garden. Now they were separated from Him and they couldn’t come to Him to talk or laugh as they used to do. Now they had to live in a world that was not perfect, that was filled with tribulation and that was controlled by Satan.

It must have been a very emotional event. God was hurt beyond words; Adam and Eve were very sorry for what they did and now they would have to live without the father who they loved. But when God sent them out, He made a promise to them, that He would send a saviour who would take this sin from them and cast it into hell so that they would be pure once again and reunited with God. Adam and Eve waited and hoped every day that this would be the day of their redemption, but sadly, it was a few thousand years later, long after their passing, before the Saviour came.

And God kept His promise and Jesus, His own son, came to earth and was born through Mary so He could have a human body like ours. But Jesus had no sin in Him because He wasn’t from the lineage of Adam; He was from God. And so on the cross He took upon Himself all of our sin so that He, too, would be punished and sent to hell because of that sin. But since the sin was not part of Him, He was able to drop it off and leave it there, and then He descended out of hell and rose to Heaven where He has prepared a mansion for us and where He waits for us.

Satan thought that he’d killed God’s plan when Jesus took on that sin, and he thought that Jesus would die, too, and would have to stay in hell. Can you imagine his shock when he saw that Jesus was still alive? Or his astonishment when Jesus freed all the people who the devil thought he’d stolen from God? Or the fear that he endured when he watched Jesus rise to Heaven and then promise to return and destroy him?

Now you know why he is working so hard in this world and why crime and sin and perverseness is out of control. The devil knows his time is running out and he wants to do as much damage as he can in the time he has left.

Meanwhile, God has His children back to love and bless – and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Saviour and thank our Father for His faithfulness and for His love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life”

…. John 3:16

Christmas Faith

Our faith in the Lord is made possible because Jesus was born, and we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day because He is the promised saviour and God’s gift to us. Our faith in Him begins with Christmas faith.

After their exile from the Garden of Eden, God promised Adam and Eve that He would send someone to restore their personal relationship with Him and deliver them from the curse of this world.  This curse is that we are now separated from God and in the presence of, and under the influence of, the devil.

Jesus is the “Word” spoken by God, and in Revelations 19:13 the Bible says, “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Then in Matthew 3:17 God confirms that Jesus is this promise when right after John baptised Him in water, God says , “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Why is this important to Christian faith? Because God is a Spirit and we communicate to Him by our spirit and through His Spirit. Although we talk to Him verbally, it’s our spirits that are connected to His and so even though we live in this world, we can still be with the Lord in our spirits. But not by our spirit alone.

When Jesus died on the cross, He not only went into Hell, broke the chains of death and set the captives free, but He returned to Heaven to be with God our Father, and then He sent His Spirit to live in us. His Holy Spirit in us tells Him our prayers and praises, and also receives messages from God and gives them to us.

Even though His Spirit lives wholly in us, what He can do is limited by our knowledge and trust in Him. So, to allow His Spirit to work through us, we must develop our faith in God by studying the Bible – which is Rhema, the written Word of God – and having a constant relationship with Him. We talk to Him throughout the day, praise Him and thank Him for the good things in our lives. We see sick or injured people and we pray for them, and we lift others up in prayer who aren’t saved. This builds our relationship with Jesus because we are doing the things that He did as we carry on His mission, and this pleases Him.

It’s no different than a relationship we have with someone on earth. We have things in common, we talk often, share private issues, laugh and cry together and call each other friends. In this same light, Jesus is a friend – and the best friend we could ever have because it’s unlikely that even our close friends here would give their lives to save us, especially when some of us seem so unappreciative of the sacrifice.

As we build our relationship with Jesus, we begin to realize that He IS the Son of God, the one who sits on the throne on the right hand of God our Father, and the one who loves us so much that He actually left this throne in the first place to become a sacrifice for us on earth so that we could be reunited with God. We begin to trust Him for more things and our faith increases as we begin to see the “goodness of God in the land of the living.”

Faith is not believing in our own ability to stand for something because if that were the case, we should ask God to help us in our unbelief and to make our faith strong. Faith IS our knowledge and trust in God that gives us the confidence to speak to the mountain and have it moved.

Christmas truly is a beautiful time of year because as Christians we celebrate the promise God gave to us, the birth of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. And we celebrate the fact that we can have a relationship with God while on this earth and throughout eternity. It’s true that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th but that’s irrelevant. What IS important is that we are celebrating this awesome and miraculous event, this promise that God made that has come to pass to redeem us back to Him. And because Jesus was born we have His Spirit in us and we are now blessed of God and we can ask Him for healing, for finances, for salvation for loved ones, for anything that burdens our heart because we know through faith that God hears and answers prayer.

And this faith is made possible because of the birth of Jesus, which is the essence of our faith, our Christmas faith.