My Superhero

Valentine Superhero

My Valentine SuperHero

 

Biblical Courtship

Today, we’re going to learn and understand the Biblical perspective on courtship. Let me start with the three myths of courtship. But first let me define “courtship”.

Although there are a lot of terms we use today such as:

  • dating (getting to know/friendship)
  • going out… or out going?
  • “harana” or serenade(uso pa ba ang harana)
  • wooing or showing the best foot forward)
  • texting and social media.

But all of these are  just decorations and garnishes. They are  surface-deep only. We prefer a term that encompasses the depth of this expression.  That word is Courtship.  And Courtship has a deeper meaning – it is pursuing a relationship with the view towards marriage. That’s courtship!

courtship meaning

what courtship means

 

Courtship is certainly not for those who are too young as it requires a certain level of maturity.

What I mean is, if you are a still a student, learning the basics, you do not work at finding a mate.  No! Rather these are the things that you must learn first and foremost.

If you are a young professional,  single and independent, these are definitely one of the things you need to learn.

If you are currently married, there are things that you still need to learn. If you are already a parent, these are the things that you need to learn as well in order to teach your children.

Three Myths of Courtship

Myth #1: U-complete me.                                                                                               It’s not true! Even if you find yourself thinking and meaning these:

“He’s tall dark and handsome…so cute, I like his dimple!…

He/she stole my heart…. If only I can have him/her…

He will complete my life.

You-complete me.”

This is simply a myth. Absolutely no one can complete you. There are nine billion people in the world today, and not a single one of them will be able to complete you. If you think that someone can and will complete you, that is a mistake. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. When you get married eventually, you will realize that that person is incapable of completing you.

Myth #2: The Mr. & Ms. Right.
You maybe dreaming and looking for the perfect man/woman. One who is physically flawless, good mannered and with no vices.  So, it is as if you are looking for perfection in the flesh.

The truth is, no matter how good-looking or impeccably-mannered somebody is projected to be,  he or she is not perfect.

Look at the mirror. The person you on the mirror is not perfect. I certainly am not perfect. And my wife can attest to that. Even though I’m a pastor I am not perfect! I have my own selfishness in life.

If you are looking for Mr. Perfect sorry, you will not find him. This explains why you keep on shifting from one relationship to another.  It may also be the reason why you end up in broken ones.  And this dialogue is so devastatingly familiar to you,

“Let’s break up.

I don’t think this relationship is going to work.”

There is no Mr. Right…there is no Ms. Right! They do not exist.

Myth #3: The answer to all my problems.

“If only she could be my girl….

If I could marry her, this woman will be the answer to all my problems…. I will be the happiest person in the world.”

It is so common to think along those lines. But it is a lie! There is a big difference between “reality” and “fairy tale” romance. In reality, when you get married, there will always be challenges in the marriage. You may even find out that he/she might be the central problem that magnifies all your other problems in life…or in some cases, perhaps that extra bit of aggravation to some of your other issues.

Let’s be honest about this. Left to ourselves, all of us are bound to fail especially in our relationships. I have been married for 33 years now, and experience has taught me that believe failures and incidents of misunderstanding are inevitable. And for my wife  Maris and I, I have turned up as the guilty party for the most part.

If you are merely looking for someone who can make you laugh…or someone who can give you chocolates and flowers, it’s not courtship.

Courtship is a serious thing. 

So, if you are not serious, do not engage into courtship.

We must learn and understand the Biblical principles of courtship.

Biblical Background
Jacob took advantage of his brother Esau on two occasions:

1) He took his birth right from his brother when Esau was overcome by his physical hunger and Jacob at the time was cooking a red stew that seemed irresistible at any cost. It was in this cunning and crafty way that Jacob enticed his brother to sell his birth right.

2) When it was time for Isaac to bless his firstborn son, Jacob deceived his father by pretending to be Esau. His father longed for his favorite food, and with the connivance of his mother,  he deceived his father and got the blessing from his him instead. Consequently, Esau was furious and plotted to kill Jacob. As a result, Jacob had to flee from home. Their mother Rebekah said,  “I could not lose both of you,” and so she sent him to her brother,  his uncle Laban in Paddan Aram (Haran).

These were incidents of deception, but still God was in control. Circumstances enables things to happen for Jacob and Rachel to cross paths. God paved the the way for Jacob to be the one to receive Isaac’s blessing, to flee to a distant land undetected, and to finally meet the love of his life, Rachel. How Jacob met Rachel is our case in point today.

Principles for Biblical Courtship

I. TAKE HEED OF GODLY ADVICE, v.1.
Read v.1. For Jacob, godly advise came from  his father. Isaac was telling his son,

“Listen now, my son…I going to bless you but I command you not to marry a Canaanite woman.”

In other words, Isaac was telling his son, “Listen to my advice.”

Have you seen or noticed a person who is in love? Have you been in love? The emotion is both sweet and powerful, it is so nice to be in love. Two things are observed when a person is in love:

1) He’s out of his mind…out of self (parang lumulutang, wala sa sarili, laging naka ngisi…Laging maganda ang tingin sa mundo. Laging happy). It is because  it’s all about the initial surge of emotions.

Being in in love is an issue of the heart this is why you need people around you who can give you godly advice (Parents, Pastors, Confidante).

Jer. 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

We need to guard our hearts because our emotions can be deceiving. When overcome by our emotions, we tend to go astray. We are likely to do crazy things because we are fueled and empowered by our emotions.

There has to be someone who will neutralize this irrational behavior.  Somebody has to strike a balance. And just who’s is going to make that balance? – the mature people you can trust – Our parents, godly people who can see objectively.

Do you have these kind of people around you? They will not make the decision for you but they can influence you to make the right decision. Because when you are in love, you are not objective. In the end you make the final decision. Do you have the kind of people around you who care enough to tell you when you most need to hear that,

“He’s not right for you…

He’s not godly enough.

He’s not fit for you.

You deserve a better man.”

It is imperative to have people around to tell you the truth.

Jacob listened to his father. To all the single and unattached currently, involve your parents. Ask them for their views, solicit their opinions,

“Mom, Dad what do you think?”

Talk to them. Ask your parents, what can you say? What is commonly happening now is you conceal the actual status of your relationships.  If you were in your parents’ shoes, how would you feel?

And for those of us who are parents, please do not nag. Do talk with your son/daughter. Keep your communication lines open and accessible especially to them.

Although the world and society says that we should be the ones making decisions and choices for ourselves. There is so much clamor to exercise our freedoms and individuality. Fashionable as it may seem, this is not what the Bible teaches.

We are to seek our parents’ godly counsel. This may sound and look outdated and old-fashioned, but it’s Biblical! It is God’s way!

I remember wanting to have a daughter girl years back, but God did not grant my desire. Now, I know the reason somehow. I might be unable to graciously handle the issue of my ” daughter being courted”.  Now that my sons are now aged 31 and 19 this year, I can only imagine the scenario in retrospect.  If they were ladies instead, I would have had a very big problem on my hands.  If that would have been the case, I will brush off their suitors by telling them,

“As an ordained minister, I possess two licenses: one to solemnize marriage and another for funeral rites. “

 Listen to your parents…godly people. Get some feedback.

If you do plan to court someone, here are some guidelines:

1) Make it clear that you are courting her. Don’t just give flowers, chocolates and other gifts. When she asks you, what is this for? And you answer, “Nothing, I just want to give it to you.” Make it clear. Be a man enough to make your intentions known!

2) Approach the parents and let them know your good intention.  Have the courtesy to address her parents to tell them,

” I just want you to know that I want to marry your daughter.”

3) For the ladies or women. If you are serious with the man, Let him visit you at home. Why? Because if his intentions are pure, and is really serious, he’ll find a way to visit and know your parents.

If you have been inviting him to visit you at home and he comes us with all sorts of excuses and alibis not to do so, then this tells you that he is not serious enough for a commitment.

Never Compromise Your Belief

Never Compromise Your Belief

  1. NEVER COMPROMISE YOUR BELIEF, vv.1b-2.

In Genesis 28,  vv.1b-2.

 “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a]to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.

Do not compromise your faith. Do not go to court someone with a different faith. Court or marry someone of the same faith only.

2 Cor. 6:14,  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”

Only a Christian , one who is a disciple of Christ can give agape love – divine love.

Now you may argue and say,

“Pastor I can change him. He’s going to church with me”

We have to remember that the “joining behavior for show” is natural and expected during the courtship stage. At this point, I expect you to interject and say,

” But Pastor, he’s joining our e-group, he joined EGR, he was even baptized. He’s raising his hands when singing. He’s saying, “Praise the Lord”.

You need some time to observe. What is most important to you? It must be your faith in God. Your relationship with Him must be first more than anything else. Don’t compromise your faith. Do not forget everything you have been taught about this. Even though you may cite that,

” Because I have waited too long and here comes a cute guy…

“Pastor this is my last chance. God will work naman in his life.”

Don’t rush. Give it time. Reflect and pray. Find someone who is not just a Christian but a Christian who loves and lives for the Lord.  Don’t worry! God will always work with you. He is not a kill joy to choose someone you don’t like. He may use physical or spiritual attraction to draw you to the person.

There are many who challenged God in this area. They all failed.

“Dapat mas mahal nya si Lord kaysa sa yo. Pag mahal ka niya kaysa kay Lord magbabago yan pagdating ng araw…”

Set your non-negotiable conditions now.

1) He must have a “living” relationship with the Lord.
2) He must “love” the Lord above all else.
3) He must live a godly life. Don’t compromise your faith…

Don’t compromise your values. These are the things that are important to you. Is it serving God…don’t compromise. When your married his true color will come out. He will not go with you in serving God. Why? Because courtship is over. This will be the start of trouble in your relationship. What are your non-negotiables? (3C’s) Cute, car, cash…Set your non-negotiables…In this relationship it will remain pure. We are not going to sleep together until we are married. Non-negotiable!

Q. Do you have non-negotiables? None. That is why you are in a mess now. You need to have non-negotiables.

III. WALK IN OBEDIENCE, vv. 3-5.

Genesis 28: vv.3-5

May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

When Isaac spoke to Jacob, he obeyed. He took his father’s advice. He did not answer, “I have my own life. I’ll decide for my own” but he followed. Some of you may be walking for a long time now, strictly following God (parang nakakapagod na), don’t give up. Just continue to walk. God honors obedience. It’s been too long…it’s okay…obey! It’s tiring…obey! Why obey? Because you’d rather wait than wail! You’d rather wait than marry the wrong person. (Dahil pagpinakasalan mo na yan ano mangyayari? Broken marriage, annulment, heartaches etc). When things get rough and tough work things out because there will be challenges in relationship. That should be your agreement (non-negotiable).

Q. Are you walking in obedience?

The problem comes when you go ahead of God. You teach God what to do. No! Abide in God instead!

Q. Do you live to please God? Remember, this is how we should live as Christians.

1 Thes. 4:3-5, “…avoid sexual immorality, control your body not in passionate lust…live a holy life…”

Avoid occasions to sin. If you are single and liberal with sexual relations ( sleeping around/ one night stand)…that’s fornication. It’s a sin! When you are married and you sleep with someone else other than your spouse, that’s adultery. The Bible tells us to avoid these things. When you see it coming RUN! Run away, not run to attack! Lust takes (advantage)…love waits (because you love and respect the person)!

IV. What now?

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage,

and He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Ps. 27:14 (NKJV)

WAIT…To wait on the Lord in not passive. It is active!

WALK slowly.
The Bible had so much to say about waiting on God. Recite Ps. 27:14, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait I say, on the Lord!” Ps. 25:3 (AMP), “Indeed, none of those who expectantly wait for You will ever be put to shame.” God must always be center of all our relationships. Humbly ask the Lord to guide you each step of the way. And it is worth waiting on the Lord. Those who put their confidence in turning to the Lord will have their prayers answered and their needs met. Don’t Rush! (Take it slow…) It takes great patience while waiting on God. Courtship takes time! The first step in courtship is walk slowly…be patient…(asking the Lord for guidance…)

ACT in obedience.
First and foremost God delights in obedience. He takes delight in the obedience of His people (1 Sam. 15:22, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice…”). Your worship to the Lord is nothing apart from obedience. Your singing and raising of hands…your service and sacrifices is nothing…Our obedience brings praise, glory and honor to God. We make a name for God (not for ourselves) through careful obedience to His word. Our obedience must be rooted for the pleasure of God not our own (“…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” 1 Cor 6:19-20).

And obedience is good news…because everything God commands us is for our good. And so what God is really delighting in our obedience is our lasting joy and all the benefits of it. It is good news because our obedience is a demonstration of our faith in Him. And He loves to see our faith. By acting in obedience we show God our full dependence and reliance on Him that He knows what is best for us. We must rely on God/Biblical principles (not worldly principles) to bring the blessings of God to both the courtship and the marriage relationship. God promises to bless those who faithfully obey Him.

Q. How is your obedience to God? Is it partial (kasi it is limited to certain commands only, you only obey the things you want to obey?…is it conditional kasi it always has a condition…or complete obedience…whatever it takes, whatever the consequences because you make the Lord first and center in your life).

INVOLVE your parents.
I strongly believe that God uses godly parents to guide children to His perfect will for their lives. Most parents guide their children through their school years. They guide them regarding their friends and their career choices. But when it comes to the most important decision of all (after salvation…choice of a mate), parents are often silent or stay out of it.

Many say that parental involvement is too old-fashioned. It may be? But it is Biblical! (Listen! Parents) Parents should have an active involvement in the life (including love life) of their children. (Now listen! Children) Children are told throughout Scripture to be subject to their parents (recite Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother…” Eph. 6:1, “children obey your parents in the Lord.” Col.3:20, “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases God.”). The Bible teaches over and over again that children are under the authority of the parents. This changes only when a child leaves his mother and father to move out and get married.

Q. Would you agree that parents have more wisdom and experience than their children? Would you agree that parents can often see things that children may not see? Would you agree that children should not consider marrying someone without their parents’ blessing? Then parents involve yourselves in the lives of your children. Children…Listen to your parents…involve them in your life. Your parents’ wisdom and blessing are important! Involve your parents…

TRUST God!
This thing comes as you constantly remain and immerse yourself in the Word of God. God’s Word assures us. It gives us confident hope and trust in Him. The Word of God is absolutely sufficient to equip a Christian for every challenge. True believers stay with the Word of God regardless of the opinions of others or the secular world. His timing is perfect. His ways are right. God is completely reliable! He is trustworthy. We can trust Him! Amen.

Q. Do you really trust God?

 Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Trust in the Lord with “all” your heart – not a part, not halfway, but all. Lean not on your own understanding – don’t try to figure things out on your own. Refrain from dictating to God when or how something should happen. God is God; we are not. In all your ways – that means “all” – in everything acknowledge Him. Make His name known. Put Him first. Make Him the boss. And He will make your paths straight – it doesn’t say God will answer the way you want it, but He will direct you, lead you in the right path.

Q. How do you know if you are trusting God in this area?

Real trust means:
– No timetable – No hurry. You don’t give God a deadline. It’s up to God.
– No fixes – all things are subject to change. It’s up to God.
– No worry – it’s up to God. You put everything in the hands of God. You leave the answer to God.

Believing that God is trustworthy is believing that God will never act in any other way than that will ultimately bring good. He is God; He is faithful; and He is good. And no lack of trust in Him will ever change the character of God. He will never disappoint you, never fail you, and who is always, 100% faithful.

Wait on the Lord

Wait on the Lord

Into Life

In courtship or in any stage of love relationship, it is important that we STAY with the counsel of SCRIPTURE. Failure to abide by the WORD in these things will cause us to eventually reap serious consequences of SUFFERING, SORROW and SIN. God must be the CENTER of all our relationships. Without God you put your relationship at high risk. We can only find true satisfaction and fulfillment in JESUS who is our true superhero! I’d like to end with this quote:

Christless courtships

Christless courtships are not worth the pain and effort

Jesus alone can complete us, He alone is the Mr. Right/Ms. Right and He alone is the answer to all our problems.

 

 

This message based on Genesis 28:1-5, was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday February 4, 2017.  It is first in a February 2017 series entitled, “Be My Valentine”. This was slightly edited for publication purposes.

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Praying for the Sick

Life is full of many different moments. There are good days and there are bad days. We never know what to expect. Life is totally unpredictable. Anyone who has had an accident or has had a family member suddenly get sick, can attest that life can change radically in just a matter of seconds.

Anything can happen in life in the twinkling of an eye. That is why the Bible encourages us,

when you are suffering pray…

        when you have success pray…

         when you are sick pray…

       when you have sinned pray.

Prayer is key…prayer is vital to life.

Praying for the Sick

Healing observations from the Bible:

Observation #1: Healing is based on who God is.

 Exodus 15:26, ““I am the Lord who heals you.”

 

Healer is one of His titles. God is Jehovah Rapha.

He longs to heal us of our sicknesses…physical, emotional, mental, spiritual if we will but trust Him and walk before Him in obedience.

Observation #2: Healing is one of His benefits.

Psalm 103:2-3, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…”

One of the benefits we have in Christ is healing aside from the many benefits we have in Him (forgiveness, redemption, he crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies our desires, gives righteousness and justice etc.). We receive all these without deserving any of them.

Observation #3: Healing is based on what Jesus did.

Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we consider him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inequities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus left the heavens glory and made Himself nothing. He took the shame, His body was broken and bruised and became obedient to death…WOW! Christ sacrifice on the cross paved the way for our healing.

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds we have been healed.” The cross of Jesus never ceases to amaze us. He was wounded that we might be healed. He died that we might live.

Now, let’s examine the content of the passage. First…

I. WHO IS INVOLVED?

v.14“Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

1.  The CHURCH.

The church is the body of believers, the community of faith. The church is the PEOPLE! It was mentioned primarily to give emphasis on the importance and priority of meaningful relationships – one another-ness!

There are a lot of “one another” commands in the Scripture: Bear one another’s burden, accept one another, encourage one another, forgive one another etc. God did not redeem us to live in isolation but to live in community and to be placed in a relationship with one another.

Christians are expected by God to live in a close relationship…to live harmoniously with one another so that the rough and tough times of life, the things they face – trouble, suffering, sickness or even blessing will be dealt in the community. They are not left alone on their own. They have the community to support them…they have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and the covering of God that will keep them stronger in the faith. We need one another. No Christian is an island.

Paul when he became a Christian on the road to Damascus was immediately joined to the fellowship of believers. Ananias was sent by God to heal and lead Paul to the disciples in Damascus. In Acts 2, after Peter’s powerful message 3,000 people were saved and they were immediately joined to the church.

We are not just called to be a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ but we are also called to be a part of the local body of Christ. It is a great privilege to be a part of it but it is also a great responsibility. You are here today as part of of the church for a reason….for a purpose. You are called by God in your church to be used by Him for His glory. To be a blessing to the church. It is not an accident that you are here. This is the best place for you to learn, grow and serve the Lord.

2.  The ELDERS.

Who are the elders? They are the spiritually mature, the godly in the congregation. For qualifications of an elder you can refer to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Why the elders? Because they represent the church. They are men of prayer. They are responsible for the primary leadership and oversight of the church. They are Jesus’ under shepherds (to care for the flock) under Him who is the Chief Shepherd. Elders are responsible for the people. The responsibility of attending to the flock of God extends in the area of praying for the sick.

3. The SICK.

Read v.14. The Greek word for sick is “astheneo,” simply means“weak or without strength.” It includes any physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual problem that has become heavy to bear. Anyone in the body of Christ may call the elders of the church. Why call them and not go to them?

First, because the person is too sick to come to church so the church comes to him. Second, because the person is too sick to pray for himself…or the person is overwhelmed by a great burden. Anyone of you can call the elders of the church anytime and we would be more than willing to pray for you. Please let us know your situation. We need to know your condition. We are not God to know it. We are not omniscient. You need to call us and inform us.

 

II. WHAT IS INVOLVED?

The sick calls for the elders. They elders go to the sick person…and what are they to do? They are to:

 1. PRAY OVER the sick.

To pray over the sick implies “laying of hands.” This was a very common act by Jesus and His disciples when they prayed for people (Luke 4:40). And Jesus Himself exhorted His followers to emulate this procedure when administering healing (Mark 16:18). The elders visits the sick and lay hands on him. And in their exercise of believing and trusting prayer they are to…

2. ANOINT with oil in the name of the Lord.

Anoint the sick with oil in the name of the Lord. Anointing oil in the Bible should not be viewed as a  “magic potion.” Basically there are 3 interpretations here:

1) It is ritual – as used by the Roman Catholics. This is one of the 7 sacraments called “Extreme Unction” or the final anointing to a dying person.

2) It is literal – “to rub with oil or to massage with oil” (Gk. Chrio). For medicinal purposes as used in the olden times. Example: Dad Cres

3) It is symbolic – it simply means the presence and power of God. Reminding the sick person that “God is here you are not alone and He is able to heal you.” It builds faith on the sick person. To anoint oil is only a simple aid to faith. But the thing that matters is “anointing in the name of the Lord.” It is not just an empty putting of His name on the prayer but it signifies the divine authority with which the anointing is done – The Great Physician! It is a humbling reminder that ALL healing must come from God. What is involved? To pray over…anoint with oil…

3. The prayer of FAITH.

 v.15, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”

The prayer of faith is made by the elders in full confidence of God’s power to heal but subject to His will. Putting under our request in the will of God. The prayer of faith is a complete trust in God that He knows what is best whether He answers or not. Unwavering in confidence that God will do what is right. The prayer of faith is putting everything under the sovereign will of God.

God uses many means to heal the sick:
1) The prayer of the caring community of faith – the church.
2) The prayer of family and friends,
3) doctors, hospitals, medicines.
4) Elders of the church. Ultimately ALL healing is of the Lord. As Ben Franklin said, “God heals, and the doctor collects the fee.” Seriously, the elders pray…the church prays and leave the results to God.

III. What now?

The church should PRAY FOR THE SICK. How should we pray for healing? Simply, ASK God! PRAY! It is God who heals through the prayer of faith.

  • We should pray…

 

  • TRUSTFULLY. Because God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Yes, He can! He is able…completely able. He is El Shaddai! The Almighty God…Almighty in power…for nothing is impossible with Him (Lk. 1:35). There is no power in the elders. There is not power in the oil. There is no power in prayer. They are just instruments and means. But there is enormous power, omnipotent power, eternal power, in the name of the Lord. He alone can grant the needed healing!

Q. Will you trust God to heal you? Will you trust and give Him room to work in your life today?

  • EARNESTLY. Because the earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results, Jas. 5:16 (Living Translation). Pray earnestly…powerful, very strong, passionate, intense, determined and persistent prayer. Paul described it in Col. 4:12 as “wrestling or agonizing” in prayer. In Heb. 5:7 Jesus Himself offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears.

James personally understood this. He was a righteous man. Persistent in prayer. Paul called him as one of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church. Do you recall his nickname? He was called “Camel knees” because he was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and spending hours on bended knees, and interceding for Israel. His knees became as hard as camel’s because of his habitual prayer and kneeling before God. There are no super saints! We are all humans. We are all flawed. But we can be superb (powerful) in prayer! Every Christian can pray and any one saint can be great in prayer.

Q. How earnest/intense is your prayer? Are you developing the habit of vigorous, alive, and heart-rending prayers? Do you pray light or serious prayer?

  •  UNITEDLY. Because there is power in unity. Great things happen when the church prays in one accord. Matt.18:19-20 (the context is church discipline),

“I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”

gave an added promise of power that comes when God’s people unite in their request to Him.

Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the HS and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Severe persecution caused the believers to pray for great boldness to speak about Jesus and ask for healing and miraculous power. After they prayed God answered. The church has always been at its best when its people knelt together in prayer. The power of God never comes upon the church as it does when the church prays.

Q. What marvelous results or miracles of healing can we receive if the united believing prayers of His church/elders were to ascend to God?

  • SUBMISSIVELY. All of life and healing is in the Lord’s hands. He cares about you when you are sick. But God can choose not to heal. He decides to heal or not to heal and when to heal. Our role is to pray and pray submissively.

 Luke 22:42, “…not my will but yours be done.”

Never has any human exercised such humble, obedient and reverent submission to the Father’s will than the Son. God doesn’t answer every prayer for healing. The ultimate reason is that He is God and knows best. We can rest assure the He always acts for our good. Pray specifically and boldly, but remember that prayer is a request, not an order. Pray submissively!

Q. How do you respond to God’s “YES” for healing? “NO” for healing…?

God may not cure the believer in this life. But he always heals! Through prayer

Praying for the Sick

Praying for the sick believers in the church

we may become agents of healing to those who are sick. Why are some prayers for healing answered and some are not? There is no one answer that can fully explain God’s purposes, but I am content/confident with the words in Psalm 115:3,

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

My theology of prayer for healing: We do the praying, and God does the healing, in His own time, in His own way, according to His own will. We are to pray trustfully, earnestly, unitedly, submissively, and with all the faith God gives. If we do our part, God cannot fail to do His.

Into Life

The Lord is our HEALER – JEHOVAH RAPHA. HEALING is what He does. Jesus provided for our healing in the ATONEMENT and gave the church instructions to pray in FAITH for the sick in the name of the LORD. All BELIEVERS ought to pray for the sick. Praying for the sick is the special duty and privilege of the ELDERS of the church. God may not always CURE but He HEALS! When we pray for the sick, we are doing the work of Jesus in the world. Don’t THINK TWICE, keep praying, keep believing, and keep receiving! Jesus still heals today!

This message based on James 5:13- 16, was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday January 15, 2017.  It is third in a 2017 series entitled, “Adventures in Prayer”.

 

 

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An Edifying Vocabulary – What’s Comes Out of the Mouth Manifests What’s In the Heart

Psalm 19:14  Amplified Bible

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my [ firm, immovable ] rock and my Redeemer.

We were taught to speak as toddlers and as very young children.  And if any of us were to show signs of developmental delays in speech, we would be eventually recommended to a speech therapist.  We grew up in a “verbal” society.  Everyone talks.  The time we uttered our very first words were cause for our parents’ celebration,

“He said Mama or Dada!”

Then growing up and while we were in primary and secondary school, we heard and learned a lot more words.  We spoke and wrote our ideas down. These were the very words we use to communicate and relate to others, not just in English, but even our own native tongue, be it a foreign language or a region-based dialect. We have accumulated these words in our daily data storage that is our brain – and they have become our vocabulary. Now, what is does the term “vocabulary” mean exactly?

If you were to look up the definition of Vocabulary, you’d find one in Scribd , and it would most likely say this,

Today, I had a rather lengthy discussion with my 10 year old son, because I caught him secretly enjoying knowing some new “bad words”.  He picked them up from watching TV shows and action movies.  I don’t have to cite those expressions here…you have a fair idea of what those terms, and strings of words are.  In written form, they are depicted as those complex sequences of punctuation marks.  Some of them are derogatory, some are mere negative expressions, while others are curses and cussing.

Now I did not go through the process of letting him verbalize the “words/terms” he already knew. I did not want him to have to “utter those words with his mouth”. The following verse sums up my reason why.

Proverbs 18:21 (NIRV)

21 Your tongue has the power of life and death.
    Those who love to talk will eat the fruit of their words.

One of the ways he got them was through watching movies at home. If it were a DVD, he would set it to show “subtitles” so he would get exactly what was being said.  How did I catch him? Whenever, a bad word was said in the script, he would grin, like he was enjoying adding a new item to his inventory of cool and hip terms.  With that discovery, I just had to confront him with a barrage of questions like a 1-2-3 punch.  This is how my cross-examination went:

  • “So how many bad words do you now know?”  …followed up with
  •  “How many of these do you actually understand?”…..then
  • “Do you think you are smarter knowing these things?”….with a smirk, I then said,
  • “Do you realize that you are already sinning just by storing these things in your head?”

At this point, my young son looks at me, baffled, anticipating and wanting to understand what I was trying to teach him.  I told him that,

“whatever you store in head, becomes part of your knowledge and memory.  The more you access this data bank, like when you are repeatedly going over and over them mentally, you are practically meditating on those concepts, and he was not even aware of it.  Those words then easily pop out, whenever you experience frustration, disappointment or dissatisfaction. Even when you are just “nagulat” or “nabigla” (translated as “startled or “surprised”).  The words that are frequently accessed in that data bank, then come out…and they are not good for the ears or for the heart”

I then explain further that we sin, not when we say the “bad words”, we already sinned at the point that we thought of them.  We are affected by what we hear and what we see.  This is why we have to intentionally screen what music we listen to, and what kinds of entertainment we expose ourselves to because they directly influence our thoughts and attitudes.

I then shift his attention to Psalm  119,

Psalm 119: 9-12 New Living Translation

A snapshot from the NLT Illustrated Bible – Psalm 119: 9-12 New Living Translation

The Lord graciously reminded me of this verse which met the exact need of my heart at the moment! Here in front of me, was a “young man” intently waiting for the next set of words I was going to tell him.

“Anak (translated as “My child”) , the Bible teaches us that the only way we can keep our hearts pure is to live according to God’s word. “

I then pointed out to him, that this is precisely why we memorize verses –

“…so that these divine truths get stored first in our minds, then as we go over and over and over them (meditating), we internalize these very truths in our hearts.  

…Then, when the situation calls for it, the Holy Spirit, retrieves this relevant information and refreshes our memory, ministering to us at our time of need.  It works just like a supernatural data retrieval system.  The exact scriptural truth that you meditated on sometime ago now pops out at the exact point to address your situation at hand. “

This is exactly what this verse in Luke 6:45 is referring to:

Luke 6:45  (NIV)

45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

So memory verses, aren’t put out there to give you a hard time, they are recommended to you as immediate lifelines that you can count on.

We actually have a choice as to what to fill our minds with – and we make that choice every moment of our lives. Our choice determines our “life’s programming” so to speak. In computer parlance, it is like setting the default mode of our “life’s perspective”.  You are making the critical choice between, ” Am I going with the Bible teaches” or will I just “go with the flow”, and do what everyone else is doing? The choice we make, reaps eternal consequences down the road.

Truths from the Bible remain forever relevant no matter what the societal trend dictates. They are not just mere quotations or words of wisdom, they are the words of God. They are powerful, eternal, unchanging truths.

Hebrews 4:12 NIRV

The word of God is alive and active. It is sharper than any sword that has two edges. It cuts deep enough to separate soul from spirit. It can separate bones from joints. It judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.

 

As I tucked my boys in at bedtime to say good night, my 8-year old hugged me to say,

“Mommy, I’m sorry that I somehow mastered a lot of bad words, I did not know I was sinning against God already. Will you help me pray and ask God for forgiveness?”

At that point, my heart was filled with joy that I was not just dealing with one young man, I was actually dealing with two of them.  My youngest was listening in on our exchange the entire time. Oh the joys of parenting!

Thank you Lord, for entrusting us with these precious lives.  We are defective parents. ( I myself, lose my cool so often and raise my voice a lot,)  but by Your grace and mercy, we depend on You to transform us to become the role models you intend us to be. Thank you for Your Word that will actively transform each member of our family.  Use our lives for your glory, Lord.

I would just like to share just one more detail with you, God used a song by God Rocks to help us for this very specific issue.  It is a link to a  video of their song entitled, “Hidden In My Heart”

Our prayer is that as you listen to it, your hearts will be blessed as well.

 

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Mountain-Moving Prayer

 We are all familiar with the topic of “Prayer.”

We can define it in many ways. But let me give you a simple definition of “Prayer” – it is the communion and communication between God and human being.

It is communion because it involves a fellowship, relationship and worship. Do you know God on a personal level? Are you having fellowship with Him which means there is a relationship going on and that brings worship? It is communication because it involves a hearer and a speaker. It is a two-way communication. God speaks to us through His Word and we listen. We speak to Him and He listens. How often do you communicate with God? Do you have a regular time set aside for Him?

Let us look at what the Bible has to say from Mark 11:22-24

Mark 11:22-24 (NIV)

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

The Context

The immediate context can be found in Mark 11:12-14. The scene was Bethany about two miles South-East of Jerusalem and the time a few days before His death. As they were walking along Jesus got hungry and seeing a fig tree from a distance, they went to find out if it had any fruit, but found nothing. Jesus used the fig tree with “nothing but leaves” to illustrate the barren state of Israel due to unbelief. Jesus pronounced judgment on the tree, and on the next day Peter commented on the withered tree. So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” And the Lord used this object-lesson to teach the disciples about faith and prayer.

The question I want us to explore today is this:

Q. What does it mean to pray a “Mountain-moving prayer?”

First of all, uprooting mountain and be cast into the sea is a hyperbolic statement. It is an overstatement…an exaggeration. In this verse it is not literal but figurative and symbolic. Now, to fully understand and to give accurate meaning to the text and avoid misinterpretation let’s consider the following observations:

Mountain-moving Prayer

Observation #1: Mark 11:24 should not be taken as a blank promise.

When Jesus said, “…whatever you are for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Does it mean that you’ll get anything you ask for? Does it mean anything you want…? No, it’s not! It should not be taken as a blanket promise. We cannot isolate this text from the rest of the Scripture. One of the principles to understand a certain text in Scripture is what we call “Scripture interprets Scripture.” We use other Scriptures to give light on the meaning of a certain Scripture. We find certain qualifications (limitations, conditions) on the meaning of this text. It must be…

1. Praying in the name of Jesus, Jn. 14:14,

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Every time you pray it must be in Jesus’ name. To pray in Jesus’ name is more than putting J-E-S-U-S at the end of your prayer. To put the name of Jesus in your request (asking in Jesus’ name) is to put His character, reputation, authority, His totality…the person of Jesus Himself on the request. And so, when we talk about asking in the name of Jesus, what we’re saying,

“Can Jesus put His name on this request?” Can Jesus put His reputation, totality on this request? Would Jesus put His signature on it? Would Jesus pray the same prayer for you? Jesus must be honored in that request.

2. Praying in God’s Will, 1 Jn. 5:14,

“…that if we ask according to his will, he hears us.”

When Jesus said, “…whatever we asked for in prayer, he hears us…” part of the condition is that it must be according to God’s will. So, if we ask something outside of His will it will never be done.

3. Praying with the right motive, Jas. 4:3,

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

When we ask with wrong motive to satisfy our selfish desires…we cannot expect God to grant it because we are asking with wrong motives. It must be kingdom prayer…bold things for God.

4. Praying must be in keeping with God’s command,1 Jn.3:21-22,

“…if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

If our hearts are clean before God, no unconfessed sin, we obey him and do what pleases him, God will answer. He is willing to respond to our prayers!

5. Abiding prayer, Jn. 15:7,

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Remaining in Christ and His words conforms us to the Father’s will and it gives certainty that God will answer us.

6. Persistence in prayer, Luke 18:1,

“…we should always pray and not give up.”

We don’t just pray one time…two…three…but we continue to ask…we persist in asking God until the answer is given.

Observation #2: Some prayers are not granted.

We must understand that God may answer our prayers with a “NO.” There are specific prayers that are not granted…Example Paul…2 Cor. 12:7-9. Three times he pleaded for healing (to take away that torn in the flesh) but God answered “NO.” The reason was mentioned in verse 7 so that Paul will not be conceited or to keep him humble (because of the great revelations given him). Sometimes when God said “NO” at the moment we may not understand but later on He will reveal to us why He did not answer.

Observation #3: Believers are not promised a trouble-free life.

Believers are not promised a trouble-free life (Jas. 1:2-3; Jn. 16:33). Troubles, trials, testings come as part and parcel of life. It has a purpose…for our own good! Understand this: Anytime we have trial, trouble, testing or difficulty yes we can come to God in prayer but it does not mean God will automatically remove them away. We cannot make an assumption that whenever we bring to God a trouble, suffering or difficulty He will remove them away from us. But He promised to give us grace in facing it…

Now, let’s go back to our question

Q. What does it mean to pray a “Mountain-moving prayer?”

Mark 11:22-24 (NIV)

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Four things to challenge us…

I. FAITH-FULL PRAYING, v.22.

Recite v.22. Recite Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Mark 9:23, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” The kind of prayer that moves mountains is faith-full praying. Faith sets no limits on God’s power. Whenever we pray, we are putting ourselves into the hands of the One who is Lord, and who can do far more abundantly than we can ever ask or imagine. God is in the mountain-moving business! He knows exactly what to do to remove any and every mountain that comes our way. God is able to do anything and everything! He is willing to release His supernatural divine powers in human circumstances if He can find somebody or someone who is willing to believe Him and expect Him to do it.

Q. Do you believe that can do the impossible…move the mountain that keeps you from being the person God wants you to be? Do you believe that God can move the mountain of difficulty in your life?

I believe that God is just as much in the mountain-moving business today as He was 2,000 or 4000 years ago. What He is looking for are men and women whose hearts fully trust Him and believe that He will intervene in any and every human circumstance.

II. FERVENT PRAYING, v. 23.

 v.23. “…if anyone says to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”

Fervent prayer is bold, powerful, fearless…serious prayer. It is a kind of prayer with all your body, soul and spirit raising up your voice into heaven. It is a kind of prayer that believes that only God can do it. A kind of prayer that comes to God expecting Him to do something. Elijah demonstrated this twice in his ministry. In 1 Kings 18:38-46. He was up against 850 false prophets and challenged them once for all in a battle of really is the true God. He asked the Lord to hear him so that the people may believe God and turned their hearts back to Him. The Lord answered him and consumed the sacrifice. He killed all the false prophets. And then in James 5:17-18, He prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain for 3-1/2 years. And again, he prayed and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops.

If we are to see this nation change…this Church change…if want to see our leaders change…our life change…if we want to see our loved ones saved…it can only come by God’s intervention and it must be through fervent praying. God does not want us to approach Him hesitatingly, but rather with confidence and boldness.

Weak, little, hurried, small, lighthearted prayers that we lift up to God won’t get the job done. God is not going to change a life…make miracles…change a Church…or turn the world upside down with that kind of praying. God waits to see a heart-filled, serious prayer. If there is a time when the people of God need to lie prostrate and kneel before the Lord and pray with fearlessness, boldness, seriousness with anticipation, with excitement, with expectancy…this is the time! Say it…this is the time…to pray fervently!

Q. Is your prayer heart-filled? Is your prayer serious enough to move God’s heart and hand? Are you communing and communicating with Him or just giving Him a grocery list of your requests?

III. FAITHFUL PRAYING, Luke 18:1.

Luke. 18:1,

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Faithful praying is importunate, persistent prayer. It is a prayer that is constant, consistent, and continuous until the answer comes. God will move the mountain, but He does not give a timeframe. If you don’t give up in prayer, your mountain will give up in your prayer. The world says, “To see is to believe…” but in God’s economy it is the reverse…“To believe is to see…” We are called to believe before we can see it. We need to be persistent and to be patient in waiting for God’s answer. A prayer that moves mountain is a prayer that approaches God expecting Him to do something and not giving up until it happens.

Q. How many of us are wiling to pray with the same persistence, diligence, tenacity (firmness, holding on) and determination that Jacob had when he wrestled with an angel?

He said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me…” (Gen. 32:26).

God is looking for people who will hold on to Him, to bombard heaven, to keep on asking until the asking becomes praising and thanksgiving.

IV. FASTING AND PRAYER, Mark 9:29.

 Mark 9:29, “This kind can come out on by prayer (and fasting).”

Another kind of prayer that moves God’s heart and hand must be mixed with fasting. There are times that we need to fast. It is a great weapon to move your mountain. Fasting is a demonstration of our complete humility and dependence on God. As we fast, we are putting God first above everything. Fasting declares that our devotion to Him is more important than eating, more important than sleeping, more important than anything else

God is the mountain mover; we are the instruments; but prayer is God’s means for moving the mountain. He is looking for people who are willing to pay the price.

Q. Are you willing to pray the price? Are you willing to bear the burden of God? Are you willing to be God’s instrument for change? Are you willing to be used by God?

 

V. What now?

There is no better way to learn prayer than to pray. There is no better way to experience mountain-moving answers than believing prayer. There is no other response to God’s challenge than to PRAY more (for God’s glory and less for our own!

Read Mark 11:24…Jesus Himself gave us the secret …

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

 1.ASK God.

Are you asking God to do something that only He can do? Are you asking God to move a mountain in your life? Maybe you have asked God many times for many things but you have asked Him for things that might or may happen even without His intervention. You have asked Him for ordinary things. Why not ask Him for extraordinary things? Today, God tells you to ask for things that only He can do! Let me ask you: How many of you here are praying for God to do something that only He can do?

            2. BELIEVE God can.

If you are going to pray a mountain-moving prayer you have to believe. Believe that God can. Believe that the God who created all things…powerful… sovereign…sustainer of all things can do more than we can ask or imagine. That He can do what we ask of Him. Example: If you have a sickness and you come to God and are praying that God will do something about it…before you can really pray about that you must settle in your heart that you believe that God has the power to do something about it. Amen. Believe! Say it…Believe in God!

If you believe everything about God. If you believe everything about Jesus. How He raised Lazarus to life…how He fed the 5,000 men…how God divided the Red Sea…Whatever you ask of Him, it will be yours! God is willing to respond to your believing prayers!

Believe that God can do the impossible…incredible…extraordinary…believe that He still do…and will do today.

            3. CLAIM the answer.

Jesus tells us, “…believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” The promise of God is definite, “…it will be yours.” Because God is God, we may be sure that he is at work answering our prayers even before we pray them.

In prayer, God’s part is to move the mountain; our part is to believe and receive. The believing prayers we pray today are certain of fulfillment. Receive it…Claim it!

God honors our faith. God honors our believing prayers!

Into Life

No prayer offered in FAITH can ever FAIL. God ALWAYS answers believing prayer. ALWAYS! Nothing is too great to ASK and nothing is too HARD for the Lord. Let us be the Church that TAKES God at His Word. KEEP on praying!

 

 

This message based on Mark 11:22-24, was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday January 7, 2017.  It is second in a 2017 series entitled, “Adventures in Prayer”.

 

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