Humility in your prayer life

7Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 ESV

Last summer I spent a few weeks studying 1 Peter. It was my first time ever truly reading the book (though I read it twice for New Testament survey the previous semester) and this is a verse that really jumped out at me. The insight I gained had little to do with marriage, however.

The last part of the verse says, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” I remember reading that and thinking, “what the heck does that have to do with husbands living with their wives in an understanding way?” In my head, prayer had nothing to do with how you lived; it was just something you did with God in your spare time.

As I meditated on it, though, it suddenly started making sense. If a husband is treating his wife as if she’s weaker and less significant, he has elevated himself in his mind. Essentially, he has pride. A proud person thinks they have it figured out, so why would they need God? And specifically, in this verse, why would they need prayer? It’s as if there’s a relationship between pride and prayer.

Then in the next verse, Peter gives a list of things believers should have, and what’s the last one? “a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8. The first step to improving your prayer life… is a humble mind. Humility is a precondition for a healthy prayer life. Humility acknowledges our dependence on God.

If you want to improve your prayer life, begin developing a humble mind. Whenever you’re tempted to make a decision with your interests first, put someone else’s interests first. It will not only improve your relationship with that person, it just might also improve your relationship with God.

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Practical theology

I was having a conversation recently with a church leader I have the utmost respect for. We were talking about Bible schools, seminaries, and Christian education. During the conversation, she made a comment that was very interesting to me. She said in essence, “Most people who come into my office don’t want to talk about theology, they want to talk about their problems.”

The implication was that knowing where you stand on deep theological issues is great, but practically speaking, they won’t come up very often.

Shortly after this conversation, I was preaching a message to teenagers about obeying their parents.  The text I was using was Ephesians 6:1-3. Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3 (ESV)

 On the surface, preaching a message about obeying your parents is about as easy as it gets. No need for Bible school, seminary, or Christian education. But as I prepared, I realized there was a big theological issue at stake. Does the promise associated with honoring your parents still apply today? It would be easy to get up and tell teenagers, “Listen, you should obey your parents because if you do you’ll live a long and prosperous life.” But is that what Paul meant?

I ended up landing on the fact that this promise doesn’t apply today. I can explain that some other time, but here’s the point of this post: Our theology will shape how we respond to life. Theology may not be directly related to most of your conversations, but your theology is indirectly affecting every conversation. Because of this, it’s crucial for us to know what we believe, and why we believe it. People may not be asking about theology, but they are asking theological questions… whether they know it or not.

How have you seen this play out? Have you had a time when you recognized theology’s importance?

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Could angels be created in God’s image?

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26a ESV

8And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah 6:8a ESV

For my Hermeneutics class I was doing a project about the “divine plural”. Why does the bible say, “us” instead of “me”?

There are several different views, the two main ones being that it refers to the Trinity, or that it refers to the Heavenly Court. After studying it I personally think it refers to the Heavenly Court for a few reasons. If you want to talk about that just comment or email me.

The purpose of this post, however, is a question that I thought of while I was doing this research: Could angels be created in God’s image?

The only distinction that the Genesis 1 passage makes is between animals and humans. Humans are in God’s image, animals are not. But there isn’t a distinction made about angels. Most of the distinctions between angels and humans in the Bible deal with saving faith and positional stance with God.

It doesn’t really matter if they are or aren’t, but I thought it was interesting. What do you think? What passages shed light on the issue?

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Justification by ‘fruit’ alone?

In Bible school, it’s easy to start feeling like a better person than any of us really are. This leads to many interesting conversations about church, theology, and culture. One of those conversations recently was about salvation. The comment was made, “Realistically, only about 1/10 people who say they’re Christians are really saved.”

This actually kind of makes sense. When you look at the standards set in the Bible as often as Bible students do, it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t many who are living up to the standard. I’ve definitely looked out at a congregation before and thought, “These people don’t even get it. This is just a social experience… not a spiritual experience.”

But here’s what’s interesting. The people who make these comments, myself included, assume they’re in. They only question everybody else. The other interesting thing is all the people making these comments hold to salvation “by grace through faith”. Their argument is that if someone believes then you’ll see fruit. But at what point does fruit replace law?

If a person is saved, then yes, there will be fruit. But the reality is that fruit can also be evident in the life of non-believers. Whenever we elevate the “evidence of fruit” above God’s grace, we essentially go back to justification by the law. No one will ever be producing only fruit and no sin, just like no one can ever uphold all the commandments. If there is any standard at all by which to judge salvation besides grace alone, we’re all doomed. Thankfully, our access into grace is faith.

Have you seen this tension between fruit and law before? How do we handle the process of sanctification? Are justification and sanctification supposed to separate at all?

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Principle from Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

I’m currently reading the book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. The book has challenged me so much, and I completely recommend it.

The book is about how we make idols, or counterfeit gods, out of anything and everything. Our culture is saturated with idolatry. Whether it’s money, sex, health, children, success, leaving a legacy, having a big ministry platform, respect, etc. etc. etc.

Tim Keller does a great job building a case against idolatry, and in chapter 2 he provides an incredible picture of the disappointment that comes with idolatry by looking at the life of Jacob. Jacob’s entire purpose while he was working for Laban was to marry Rachel. She was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He worked for seven years in order to marry Rachel, but thanks to some scheming on behalf of his father-in-law, he accidentally had sex with her ugly older sister, Leah, instead.

Keller stops here in the story and makes an extremely powerful point. When you put all your hope and security on going to bed with Rachel, it’s always Leah in the morning.

Whenever we think we’ll find satisfaction or fulfillment in anything besides God, it ends in disappointment everytime. It’s always Leah instead of Rachel.

Do you have any counterfeit gods in your life? Are you seeking the peace that only God can give from something besides God? It won’t seem as awesome tomorrow morning.

 

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