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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, November 28, 2005


TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Daily Scripture ReadingMark 11

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:12 - And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Jesus here continues His model prayer with instruction in forgiveness. We are to pray and ask for God's forgiveness when we sin and we are to forgive others. As we will see, God's forgiveness in this verse is based here on one condition: we must forgive others!

The word Jesus uses for debt is the word used in the New Testament that teaches us that sin in any form is a spiritual debt that must be paid! There are two ways our debt will be paid. Either 1) we will pay in hell for eternity, or 2) Jesus paid for us on the cross. Which do you prefer? I'll take number 2 any day! Jesus died on the cross in our place to pay the debt that was owed to God for our sin, which is a debt we could never pay - that is why hell is forever!

Our chief need as human beings is the forgiveness of our sin. If we do not experience God's forgiveness through Christ, then we cannot know God, we cannot overcome sin, we cannot live a good or godly life, we cannot please God, we cannot pray and be heard and answered by God, we cannot know the depths of true peace or love or mercy or gentleness - get the picture?! We also know how important the topic of forgiveness is because in Matthew chapter 6 verses 9 through 15, Jesus mentions forgiveness 6 times in those 8 verses!

When we place our faith in Christ, believing His claim to be the Son of God and trusting that He lived a sinless life and died for us, we do so because the Spirit of God regenerates us! The result of that faith is justification. To be justified is to be declared legally right with God! Are we righteous? No, not on our own, and not completely until we are glorified. We still battle sin. But because of Christ's sacrifice, God has declared that we are free from the guilt of sin! Now because of Christ, God can fellowship with us. You see, His forgiveness covers all our sin. Past, present, and future! But what if we sin after we are saved? Then we must understand that sin intrudes into our relationship with God.

At the point in time in which we are converted, He forgives our sin (singluar as a whole unit)as a Judge, and after salvation He forgives our sins (plural, individual acts of rebellion and transagression) as Father! Now we must not let the relationship be hindered. (see Romans 8:1, 33-34; and 1 John 1:8-9) If we sin, know we are forgiven when we confess our sin. We are to confess to God and to whomever we have sinned against. If we need the accountability to withstand temptation we must also confess to the church. We do not need to confess to any one man (like a priest or minister), though, to be forgiven - God Himself forgives us when we ask!(Luke 5:20-26) To confess means to agree with God. It's that simple - agree with God that we sinned, repenting, and He forgives us immediately! The only middle man needed already paid the price for our sin on the cross so God can instantly clean us up!(1 Tim 2:5-6).

We are also taught here that God expects us to forgive others! We don't have to wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness either - we are to forgive as soon as we are wronged!! And if we don't forgive, Jesus is teaching us that God won't forgive us! Why? Remember how important heart attitude is? Do we really humble ourselves and confess our sin and ask God to forgive us (and really really mean it) if we can't forgive others? NO! We are proud and bitter and must confess that sin as well!!

Why should we forgive others?

In summary, when we pray we are to have forgiven anyone who has wronged us and we are to expect God to forgive us when we confess our sin to Him. I want to close by quoting for you a prayer prayed and recorded by the Puritans - make this your prayer as you read the Scriptures for today.

"Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace. I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross." (The Valley of Vision : A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett)

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from True Prayer – True Power!,a sermon from Mark 11:24 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

THIS VERSE has something to do with the faith of miracles; but I think it hath far more reference to the miracle of faith. We shall say at any rate, this morning, consider it in that light. I believe that this text is the inheritance not only of the apostles, but of all those who walked in the faith of the apostles, believing in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. The advice which Christ gave to the twelve and to his immediate followers, is repeated to us in God's Word this morning. May we have grace constantly to obey it. "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

How many persons there are who complain that they do not enjoy prayer. They do not neglect it, for they dare not; but they would neglect it if they dared, so far are they from finding any pleasure therein. And have we not to lament that sometimes the chariot-wheels are taken off, and we drive right heavily when we are in supplication? We spend the time allotted, but we rise from our knees unrefreshed, like a man who has lain upon his bed but has not slept so as to really recover his strength. When the time comes round again conscience drives us to our knees, but there is not sweet fellowship with God. There is no telling out of our wants to him in the firm conviction that he will supply them. After having gone again through a certain round of customary utterances, we rise from our knees perhaps more troubled in conscience and more distressed in mind than we were before. There are many Christians, I think, who have to complain of this—that they pray not so much because it is a blessed thing to allowed to draw near to God, as because they must pray, because it is their duty, because they feel that if they did not, they would lose one of the sure evidences of being Christians.

Brethren, I do not condemn you; but at the same time, if I may be the means of lifting you up this morning from so low a state of grace into a higher and more healthy atmosphere, my soul shall be exceeding glad. If I can show you a more excellent way; if from this time forth you may come to look at prayer as your element, as one of the most delightful exercises of your life; if you shall come to esteem it more than your necessary food, and to value it as one of heaven's best luxuries, surely I shall have answered a great end, and you shall have to thank God for a great blessing.

Give me than your attention while I beg you, first, to look at the text; secondly to look about you; and the, to look above you.

I. First, LOOK AT THE TEXT. If you look at it carefully, I think you will perceive the essential qualities which are necessary to any great success and prevalence in prayer. According to our Saviour's description of prayer, there should always be some definite objects for which we should plead. He speaks of things—"what things soever ye desire." It seems then that he did not put it that God's children would go to him to pray when they have nothing to pray for. Another essential qualification of pray is earnest desire; for the Master supposes here that when we pray we have desires. Indeed it is not prayer, it may be something like prayer, the outward form or the bare skeleton, but it is not the living thing, the all-prevailing, almighty thing, called prayer, unless there be a fulness and overflowing of desires.

Observe, too, that faith is an essential quality of successful prayer—"believe that ye receive them." Ye cannot pray so as to be heard in heaven and answered to your soul's satisfaction, unless you believe that God really hears and will answer you. One other qualification appears here upon the very surface, namely, that a realizing expectation should always go with a firm faith—"believe that ye receive them." Not merely believe that "ye shall" but "ye do" receive them—count them as if they were received, reckon them as if you had them already, and act as if you had them—act as if you were sure you should have them—believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Let us review these four qualifications, one by one.

To make prayer of any value, there should be definite objects for which to plead. My brethren, we often ramble in our prayers after this, that, and the other, and we get nothing because in each we do not really desire anything. We chatter about many subjects, but the soul does not concentrate itself upon any one object. Do you not sometimes fall on your knees without thinking beforehand what you mean to ask God for? You do so as a matter of habit, without any motion of your heart. You are like a man who should go to a shop and not know what articles he would procure. He may perhaps make a happy purchase when he is there, but certainly it is not a wise plan to adopt. And so the Christian in prayer may afterwards attain to a real desire, and get his end, but how much better would he speed if having prepared his soul by consideration and self-examination, he came to God for an object at which he was about to aim with real request. Did we ask an audience at Her Majesty's court, we should be expected to reply to the question, "What do you wish to see her for?" We should not be expected to go into the presence of Royalty, and then to think of some petition after we came there. Even so with the child of God. He should be able to answer the great question, "What is thy petition and what is thy request, and it shall be done unto thee?" Imagine an archer shooting with his bow, and not knowing where the mark is! Would he be likely to have success? Conceive a ship on a voyage of discovery, putting to sea without the captain having any idea of what he was looking for! Would you expect that he would come back heavily laden either with the discoveries of science, or with the treasures of gold? In everything else you have a plan. You do not go to work without knowing that there is something that you designed to make; how is it that you go to God without knowing what you design to have? If you had some object you would never find prayer to be dull and heavy work; I am persuaded that you would long for it. You would say, "I have something that I want. Oh that I could draw near my God, and ask him for it; I have a need, I want to have it satisfied, and I long till I can get alone, that I may pour out my heart before him, and ask him for this thing after which my soul so earnestly pants" You will find it more helpful to your prayers if you have some objects at which you aim, and I think also if you have some persons whom you will mention. Do not merely plead with God for sinners in general, but always mention some in particular. If you are a Sunday-school teacher, don't simply ask that you class may be blessed, but pray for your children definitely by name before the Most High. And if there be a mercy in your household that you crave, don't go in a round-about way, but be simple and direct in your pleadings with God. When you pray to him, tell him what you want. If you have not money enough, if you are in poverty, if you are in straits, state the case. Use no mock-modesty with God. Come at once to the point; speak honestly with him. He needs no beautiful periphrasis such as men will constantly use when they don't like to say right out what they mean. If you want either a temporal or spiritual mercy, say so. Don't ransack the Bible to find out words in which to express it. Express your wants in the words which naturally suggest themselves to you. They will be the best words, depend upon it. Abraham's words were the best for Abraham, and yours will be the best for you. You need not study all the texts in Scripture, to pray just as Jacob and Elias did, using their expressions. If you do you will not imitate them. You may imitate them literally and servilely, but you lack the soul that suggested and animated their words. Pray in your own words. Speak plainly to God; ask at once for what you want. Name persons, name things, and make a straight aim at the object of your supplications, and I am sure you will soon find that the weariness and dullness of which you often complain in your intercessions, will no more fall upon you; or at least not so habitually as it has heretofore done.

"But," saith one, "I do not feel that I have any special objects for which to pray." Ah! My dear brother, I know not who you are, or where you live, to be without special objects for prayer, for I find that every day brings neither its need or its trouble, and that I have every day something to tell to my God. But if we had not a trouble, my dear brethren, if we had attained to such a height in grace that we had nothing to ask for, do we love Christ so much that we have no need to pray that we may love him more? Have we so much faith that we have ceased to cry, "Lord increase it?" You will always, I am sure, by little self-examination, soon discover that there is some legitimate object for which you may knock at Mercy's door and cry, "Give me, Lord, the desire of my heart." And if you have not any desire, you have but to ask the first tried Christian you meet, and he will tell you of one. "Oh," he will reply to you, "If you have nothing to ask for yourself, pray for me. Ask that a sick wife may be recovered. Pray that the Lord will lift up the light of his countenance upon a desponding heart; ask that the Lord would send help to some minister who has been labouring in vain, and spending his strength for nought." When you have done for yourself, plead for others; and if you cannot meet with one who can suggest a theme, look on this huge, Sodom, this city like another Gomorrah lying before you; carry it constantly in your prayers before God and cry, "Oh that London may live before thee, that its sin may be stayed, that its righteousness may be exalted, that the God of the earth may get unto himself much people out of this city."

Equally necessary is it with the definite object for prayer that there should be an earnest desire for its attainment. "Cold prayers," says an old divine, "ask for a denial." When we ask the Lord coolly, and fervently, we do as it were, stop his hand, and restrain him from giving us the very blessing we pretend that we are seeking. When you have your object in your eye, your soul must become so possessed with the value of that object, with your own excessive need for it, with the danger which you will be in unless that object should be granted, that you will be compelled to plead for it as a man pleadeth for his life. There was a beautiful illustration of true prayer addressed to man in the conduct of two noble ladies, whose husbands were condemned to die and were about to be executed, when they came before. king George and supplicated for their pardon. The king rudely and cruelly repulsed them. George the first! it was like his very nature. And when they pleaded yet again, and again, and again, they could not be gotten to rise from their knees; they had actually to be dragged out of court, for they would not retire until the king had smiled upon them, and told them that their husbands should live. Alas! they failed, but they were noble women for their perseverance in thus pleading for their husbands' lives. That is the way for us to pray to God. We must have such a desire for the thing we want, that we will not rise until we have it—but in submission to his divine will, nevertheless. Feeling that the thing we ask for cannot be wrong, and that he himself hath promised it, we have resolved it must be given, and if not given, we will plead the promise, again, and again, till heaven's gates shall shake before our pleas shall cease. No wonder that God has not blessed us much of late, because we are not fervent in prayer as we should be. Oh, those cold-hearted prayers that die upon the lips—those frozen supplications; they do not move men's hearts, how should they move God's heart? they do not come from our own souls, they do not well up from the deep secret springs of our inmost heart, and therefore they cannot rise up to him who only hears the cry of the soul, before whom hypocrisy can weave no veil, or formality practice any disguise. We must be earnest, otherwise we have no right to hope that the Lord will hear our prayer.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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