Category: Prayer


by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

THREE CROSS HILL

It has been written about, talked about, and often repeated; “There’s nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 9:23).” Something else has been written and talked about but not repeated enough; “There’s nothing too hard for God to forgive.” Interestingly, Ahab was an example. He was the wretched king of Israel, who married a callous woman named Jezebel. Enemy of God’s prophets, she was a Baal worshipper, which means that the ceremonial killing of babies was routine. Killing prophets of God was a small thing to her! Ahab did wickedly at the influence of his wife. He behaved “…abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. (1King 21:26 KJV).”

Ahab desired to enlarge his farm by purchasing the vineyard next to his field. So, he offered to pay the owner, Naboth the Jazreelite, or give him another vineyard in trade. But, Naboth refused, because it was his family heritage. Disappointed with Naboth’s answer, Ahab went home, stretched out on his bed, and pouted. Jezebel noticed that something was wrong and asked him, “Why are you too sad to eat?” After Ahab explained what happened, Jezebel responded, “You are king. Get up and eat. Don’t be sad, be happy; I’ll get you the vineyard.” Without asking her how she would, Ahab did as she said.

Now, any other sinful “sane” person would have tried cunning Naboth out of his land or done something unsavory without bloodshed. Not Jezebel! She promptly planned murder. Jezebel wrote a letter detailing the plans to kill Naboth and signed Ahab’s name to it. They honored Naboth to set him up for a fall. Then, as she instructed, they sent men to accuse Naboth of blaspheming God and the king. The Israelites believed their lie and stoned Naboth to death (1Kings 21:13). After Ahab heard about Naboth’s death, he delightfully took possession of the vineyard which he coveted so much.

The LORD then sent Elijah, the prophet, to confront Ahab (1Kings 21:18-19) about the murder of Naboth and the theft of his vineyard. Elijah told Ahab of his awful fate because of his wickedness. After the prophet revealed the word of the LORD to him, Ahab fasted, put on sackcloth, and then laid on sackcloth. He was mournful and remorseful. When He observed Ahab’s reaction, God said to Elijah, “Look at that! Ahab has humbled himself before Me.” And then the LORD said, “Because he humbled himself before Me, I will not bring this punishment in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring it upon his house (1Kings 21:29).”

That is a mouth opener! This man married a Baal worshipper and was an idol worshipper himself (1Kings 16:31), which involved child sacrifice (1Kings 16:34). Ahab even built an altar to Baal (1Kings 16:32). God held him responsible for the death of the innocent Naboth and the theft of his vineyard. Nevertheless, Ahab received forgiveness after a fast of repentance.

Do you think you have done something too horrible or evil for the LORD to forgive??? If the LORD can forgive Ahab, you can receive forgiveness also!

It is not because there was a time that Ahab was so good that he deserved a second chance. No, it is because it is the LORD’s nature to forgive a repentant heart. It is as if the LORD looks for an opportunity to forgive. God is a merciful God. His mercy is everlasting (Psalm 100:5). He could have said nothing and immediately let Ahab slide into the deadly consequences of his wickedness. Especially since he did more evil in the sight of the LORD than any king before him (1Kings 16:30, 33)! The LORD sent His prophet and allowed Ahab the opportunity to do what he did: humbled himself, repented, and fasted.

That all happened years before Christ went to the cross (Psalm 103:12). Christ paid the price for our sins (“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23) by shedding His blood on Calvary (John 3:16). Therefore, forgiveness is accessible by anyone who has done anything such as theft, idolatry, and murder which is what Ahab did. Because Christ willingly died on the cross, it is, even more, assuring that if we sincerely repent, there is nothing too hard for God to forgive no matter the sin.

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:7

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In this New Year,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.

May you abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

ROMANS 15:13

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”  Psalm 16:9

That’s Today’s Single Focus 

D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

Annually, I go to see the family Physician for a regular check-up. And every year I have to fill out the same papers. However, I noticed a change in the forms. There are the standard questions, but now there are additional questions. Like, “Have you been out of the country recently?” However, there is one question that remains constant; “Who do they call in a medical crisis or emergency?” And we put down the name of the usual: parents, brother or sister, wife or husband, etc. Today, I got to thinking; when we have an emergency, who is the first person we call?

When my house caught fire, my first call was to 911. I know that it would have been unwise to call anybody else first. But, I was thinking about how, when in a crisis, God isn’t always who we reach out to first. I mean; when I saw the fire in my house, I don’t remember saying, “Lord please help,” before I called 911.

Further examination reveals that we encourage others that God is a very present help in time of trouble, but, too often, we have to say that because they had not called on him yet. Come to think about it; God is not often the very first person we call in a crisis. I’m not saying that as an indictment, it’s just an observation. I thank God for the first responders and the medical professionals, and the mechanics, plumbers and remodelers, and counselors and family and encouragers who are there responding to our 911. But, we don’t have a habit of acknowledging God first (silently or audibly) before we pick up the phone. In Proverbs 3:6, we are admonished to acknowledge God in all our ways. That’s something we really should work on.

SomethingHappens

by D.J. Martin

There is an account of a crisis experienced by the rebellious son of Ahab, who was now the king of Judah in 2Kings 1:1-17. Ahaziah fell through a lattice of his upper room. The injury became more than a bruise. It looked as if the wound was becoming a deadly crisis. So, the first thing he did was send messengers to Ekron to ask their idol god Baalzebub if he would die of his wound. God observed all of this and sent Elijah, the prophet, to turn the messengers back with a question from Him; “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to ask of Baalzebub god of Ekron?”

Because of the king’s action, God answered his inquiry, though he hadn’t asked Him.“Therefore, you will not come off your bed, but you shall surely die.” Ahaziah did everything to annul that prophecy. He continually sent troops to bring Elijah to him but failed. Finally, God allowed Elijah to say it to the king face to face. Indeed, as God had said he would, King Ahaziah died. He never heard from the god of Ekron.

Hmm…I’m just wondering what the prognosis might have been if Ahaziah called on God first.

In your time of crisis, who are you going to call first?

 

“In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You, for You will answer me.” Psalm 86:7

 

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

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In December 1944, during World War II, General George Patton’s Third Army prepared to cross the Rhine River for an offensive against Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The problem, however, was the rainy weather. Therefore, General Patton requested, from the Army Chaplin, a prayer addressing the weather condition. Within the hour, the Chaplin presented a written prayer to the General. After receiving it, General Patton had the following prayer expeditiously distributed to every soldier in the Third Army:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

The day after they prayed the distributed prayer, the weather cleared and remained cleared long enough for the allied armies to deliver an overwhelming defeat for the enemy.

A cynical world will most likely say that it was all happen-chance. However, there is no denying that these things happened after the soldiers prayed.

“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I used to attend a church where, when it was time to pray, one particular deacon prayed for an extremely long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people fell asleep while he prayed. Seriously, he was long-winded when he prayed. I’ve heard people say, “If we ever needed prayer before, we sure do need it now.” Well, that has never been truer then it is today! Matter of fact, I think we would welcome that praying deacon right about now. Just the other day, I read about a 5-year-old child bowing their head to say ‘Grace’ over their lunch, which was their habit at mealtime, and a teacher told them that they were not allowed to pray. Huh? Like I said; “If we ever needed prayer, we sure do need it now.”

Daniel faced a similar challenge during the reign of King Darius. (Daniel 6) The king set over the regions 120 princes, and over them, he appointed three presidents. Daniel was one of those three presidents. Then, Darius planned to appoint one man over all the regional leaders, including the presidents. Daniel, a man of integrity, was highly favored, by the king, for the job. The jealous leaders didn’t like that. Therefore, they searched for something to discredit Daniel but, could find nothing. So, they decided to use Daniel’s faithfulness to God against him. (Daniel 6:5) Three times a day Daniel opened his window facing toward Jerusalem and prayed to the Lord, God of Israel.

Darius conquered many nations, and though he did not worship the God of Israel, he allowed the people to continue to practice their religions. The jealous princes and presidents went to Darius and persuaded him to sign a decree which would outlaw prayer. For thirty days no one could pray to anyone except to Darius. Violators would be put down into the lion’s den. After Daniel saw that Darius signed the decree, he went to his chambers; opened the window towards Jerusalem (which was his habit), got on his knees and prayed, and gave thanks to the God of Israel three times a day. (Daniel 6:10)

Believing that this would eliminate Daniel from Darius’ favor, the princes hurried to tell the king of Daniel’s violation of the law. Darius, regretting that he had outlawed prayer, tried to think of a way around it but, reluctantly, he had to have Daniel put into the lion’s den. However, after fasting and not sleeping all night, the king hurried to the lion’s den early the next morning and in anguish called, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you faithfully serve, able to deliver you from the lions?” To the delight of the king, Daniel answered,  “O King… My God sent His angel, and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6:12-22)

Darius had Daniel pulled up from the den, and there were no scares or injury found upon him. Afterward, the king (angry at their ploy) commanded that those men who had accused Daniel, be cast into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives. Then, King Darius wrote unto all the people, nations, and languages, which he had conquered; “Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:23-27)

Look at this. After Daniel prayed; the king fasted for Daniel’s safety, Daniel escaped harm from the lions, and the king glorified the living God throughout the nations. Wow! Imagine what would have happened had Daniel not been persistently praying when they outlawed prayer. I think that Daniel went to his knees in prayer after Darius signed the decree because, “if they ever needed prayer, they sure did need it” then: when they outlawed prayer.

Think it is bad now? Imagine what it would be like if we had ever stopped praying. Then, imagine what it will be like because we never stopped praying.

“…I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:16-17

Don’t stop praying.

Pray without ceasing… 1Thessalonians 5:17

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

What outrageous times we live in! There are places where tyrants dictate how many boys or girls they can have. And then there are places where people delight in shedding the blood of innocent babies to the tune of over 60 million. I don’t know how that compares to the number killed by Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. (Exodus 1:15-22) The irony is that there are wives desperate to have children. Some of them are trying to adopt, and some are on fertility diets. Some are working out and taking vitamins. Some women are soliciting surrogates or going to fertilization specialist. And of course, there are those who are reading their Bibles, and weeping and praying.

I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting and praying. No doubt, you’re thinking, “What is this silence from heaven?” Even though you may not have conceived yet, the words of the three Hebrew men put into the fiery furnace remains true; “…our God whom we serve is able…” (Daniel 3:17)

Take a look at what Hannah did when the LORD shut up her womb. (1 Samuel 1:1-28; 2:1-10) Though she wanted children, her husband’s other wife, who was very fertile, mocked and harassed her. Hannah and her husband were devout worshippers. They were good people. Consistently, they went to the “house of the LORD,” where Hannah prayed for a child. Year after year, though she prayed, she was verbally tormented by the other wife.

As unremitting harassment and anxiety brought her to tears, Hannah relentlessly prayed. On one of their usual visits to the “house of the LORD,” she wept and prayed intensely. She prayed quietly and desperately; only God could hear her. However, when the priest, Eli, saw her moving her lips with no sound, he thought her drunk from drinking too much wine.

Notice in verse 11 of 1Samuel 1, when Hannah prayed, her request was no longer about the embarrassment or her pride. This time, her request became about the glory of God. “O’ Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of me, your handmaid, and remember me, and give me a man-child, then I will give him unto You LORD all the days of his life…”

After explaining that she was not drunk but praying, Eli, not knowing her prayer request, blessed Hannah saying, “Go in peace and may God grant the request you asked of Him.” (1Samuel 1:17) Then, Hannah left the “house of the LORD” with a different attitude. She was not anxious anymore. (Philippians 4:6-7) She wasn’t pregnant but, she left feeling very good. (1Samuel 1:18)

What happened? Eli was a confirmation to Hannah that God heard her prayer. Hasn’t that happened to you? After you’ve prayed in secret to God about something, someone from your church or the pastor says something relevant to your prayer. Then, your anxiety disappears, and suddenly peace comes over you.

In timely fashion, the LORD opened her womb and blessed Hannah so that she conceived a boy name, Samuel (1Samuel 1:20). She kept her vow, and when he was only a child, she left Samuel with Eli to serve in the “house of the LORD.” (1Samuel 1:24) But, praise God; that is not how the story ends. Hannah praised the LORD and declared His goodness and power. (1Samuel 2:1-10) Then, Eli blessed and prayed for Hannah and her husband that they have more children. (1Samuel 2:20) God answered that prayer and opened her womb again and again. Hannah had three more sons and two daughters.

Perhaps you can identify with Hannah. Could be the culture is tormenting you. Could be it is pride that makes you anxious. It could be that having a child or children is the sincere desire of your heart, so you are praying. I’m not going to tell you what I think the lesson is in Hannah’s prayer or her testimony. I want you to do that. Study the story for yourself.  Let the Holy Spirit minister to you.

However, I will point out the glaring or most obvious:

  1. Though her womb was shut, she persistently prayed to the LORD
  2. She received confirmation that the LORD heard her prayer
  3. After prayer and that confirmation, she had an inexplicable peace
  4. At His sovereign timing, the LORD answered her request and opened her womb
  5. She gave the LORD thanks

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t stop praying.

“Go in peace; and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of Him”  1Samuel 1:17

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D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

The other day, in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy, a recording of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to and prayer with the nation aired. When I heard the words of this prayer it reminded me of the blind man standing on the side of the road, who after he heard Jesus was there, began shouting, “Jesus, Thou son of David, have mercy on me (Mark 10:47)!” The people tried to hush him but, the man desperately needed healing from Jesus so, the more they tried to quiet him, the more persistent and louder he got. The blind man kept calling His name until Jesus stopped and then had the man brought to Him. Jesus made his persistence worthwhile, for He granted his request and opened his blinded eyes. Now, not only could he hear Jesus, but he could also see Jesus.

The words of President Roosevelt’s prayer also reminded me of the desperate mother who cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou son of David; my daughter is severely demon possessed (Matthew 15:22).” Jesus acted as if He didn’t hear her. But, she persisted. Therefore, the disciples said to Him; “Send her away!” When He finally acknowledged her, Jesus told her that He would not help her because of her ethnicity. But, she persisted. Then, He insulted the mother. But, she persisted. Finally, Jesus complimented her undaunted faith and freed her daughter from demonic possession.

To emphasize that we ought always to pray and never give up, Jesus told the story of a widow who went to an ungodly judge. The widow asked the judge for justice against her adversary. He refused, but she kept asking. She was so relentless that the judge grew weary of the widow’s constant approaching him with the same request. Therefore, because of her persistence, he granted her request (Luke 18:1-5). Then, Jesus said to them;

 And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? tell you that He will avenge them speedily… Luke 18:7

The Allied Forces fought against the vicious physical and spiritual forces of evil. Though many were overcome with wounds and death, the Allied Forces were persistent and eventually victorious. Life, liberty, and righteousness were well worth fighting for. Their valiant persistence resulted in setting captives free and deliverance of nations from tyranny. There are times when individuals face their own personal battles confronting physical and spiritual forces of evil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places… Wherefore put on the whole armor of God… Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance…” Ephesians 6:12-18

As the Allied Forces, the blind man, and the desperate mother; and Jesus encouraged, be persistent in prayer. Pray without ceasing. We must continually call on the name of “Jesus, son of David.” Don’t allow the strength of the evil, the length of the journey, and the difficulty of the battle to discourage. Let the desperate desire for overcoming, for healing, for deliverance, for righteousness, for freedom, and faith in Christ’s ability determine our persistence. Never give up, because “Jesus, the son David,” is able. We must pray until Jesus stops, hears our cry, has mercy on us, and rewards our undaunted faith.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. 

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. 

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won.” 

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Pray without ceasing.” 1Thessalonians 5:17

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