Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Assurance of Salvation--Part 3

“This is how we know that He lives in us; we know it by the Spirit He gave us.” 1 John

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:16-17

God’s Spirit talks to our spirit to tell us that we belong to Him. We are His children. I cannot explain it. But to those to whom this has happened it does not need explaining.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The following was written several years ago by our daughter, Heather Torosyan. I came across it and decided to share it with you.

Have you ever asked yourself the question: ‘I’ve read that portion a hundred times. How is it I’ve never seen that before?’ This may regularly happen with parts of Scripture we aren’t very familiar with, but recently it happened to me while reading one of my favorite parts of Scripture. The way the verse jumped out at me and practically bit me on the nose was partly due to reading it in a different translation. It was this:

NASP: Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.

NIV: Let your gentleness be evident to all. Phil 4:5

Forbearance is not an everyday word like gentleness is. I’d like to focus on that quality of gentleness in the believer’s life for it is the ‘gentle that will inherit the earth.’ Matthew 5:5

As Christians we really are up against a hostile world and we need to be tough. We need to have thick skins. But sometimes we spend so much time in developing those skins that out heart too becomes hard. Or perhaps we leave the gentleness to those who are naturally so, and the toughness to those who aren’t gentle naturally. We just stay in our natural personality grooves rather than developing those qualities that our faith requires of all of us.

This is addressing those of us who are naturally tough.

‘Our gentleness should be evident to all.’ We say, ‘My close friends know how soft my heart is. When someone gets to know me they will find it out.’ Well, that is not the point here. It says it should be evident, i.e. obvious, and plain as a pike staff. To whom should it be obvious? Our close friends? Relatives? No. This quality should be evident to all.

Now if you claim that the gentleness is really there, just deep down, I’d ask you to take a look to see if it is still there. The Word says ‘For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.’ (Matthew 12:34) If the gentleness is there, it will come out.

Perhaps it would be good to define gentleness. Some dictionary definitions: “amiably kind, mild, quiet, not rough, or severe, courteous, tender.” Another well-known verse enjoins us to be tenderhearted to each other. ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:32

Because qualities are so hard to describe in the abstract, it will help to think of how we see gentleness in normal life. We’ve all seen it (been it) with new borns. Some of us may even be afraid to touch a newborn because we think we aren’t gentle enough. Or we remember how our mother tenderly took care of us when we were ill. So on the emotional, spiritual and mental planes we can look after each other tenderly. Gentleness can also be a refreshing attitude to encounter. As a ‘gentle breeze is so refreshing on a hot day so we can bring such relief to each other when we meet.

To look at it now from the reverse side, when is gentleness often noticeably lacking in our lives? When are we not kind, or courteous? As this will be read mostly by folks in democratic lands, think of your love and attachment to your rights. Even a small think like someone cutting ahead of you in line brings on ‘I’ll give him a piece of my mind.’ That piece is not very gentle on the whole. Really does it matter that much? What I find I do is think of all sorts of witty remarks which of course I’d never say. Unfortunately, God looks at the heart.

We all love to champion justice, especially our own. But sometimes we are fighting real evil in the heavenlies made manifest on earth. Perhaps in fighting to stop the murder of our unborn we can get pretty stroppy. We fight the feminist as if she is our enemy. Remember, they are but pawns of the enemy to work his evil. The Lord loves them too, not just their babies.

There is always the need for balance; to love the sinner and hate the sin. If we look at God’s attitude toward sin (deserving of eternal death) and then look at the price he paid to redeem the sinner, we can begin to get a glimmer of His perspective.

Another occasion for Christians to be gentle and often fail is when they encounter sin in the life of a fellow believer. If the sin is in our own life, we are more apt to be gentle to a fault. There may be times when we are required to be tough on a straying brother or sister in our attempts to bring them back, but our heart must always be gentle towards them and that heart attitude should be evident.

Then there are those nice friendly theological debates we get into that can often deteriorate quickly into attacks on the other person’s ability to think, read, use their grey matter, etc. Such debates are good, refreshing and healthy if done in the spirit of gentleness and humility. However, sometimes the temptation to be witty at the other person’s expense is pretty hard to resist. Look for the way of escape.

As always, it’s good to look at Jesus as our example. Paul in 2 Cor. 10:1 urges the Corinthians by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. In Him we see the perfect blend of toughness toward sin (cleansing the temple) and gentleness toward the sinner.

When Jesus was dealing with the woman caught in adultery he was gentle with her. But then again he told her in no uncertain terms to leave such a way of life. He was always gentle with those who knew they were sinners and were responding to him. He is portrayed as the Good Shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep. The rich young ruler who did not respond to Jesus’ call to follow him, filled Jesus’ heart with love. Any account of Jesus with sinners that sense of gentle strength come through is there. When dealing with those set up in their own self-esteem, he was harder in manner. But his heart was still soft towards them as we see on the cross. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

In Ephesians 4:1 and 2 we are told to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, which is to be ‘completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’

Once again let it be stressed that gentleness is not only for those who are so naturally. Not a quality just necessary for mothers or people who work with children or the sick and aged. It is a requirement for all of us if we are to live a life worthy of our Lord.

As our Lord was gentle, so must we be.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Inexpressible Joy

1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” It is hard to express something that is inexpressible. Here is an attempt from the diary of a Mrs. Kitty Trevelyan quoted by Paget Wilkes in Missionary Joy in Japan (1912) “How is anyone to know the false joy from true? Well, Missis, I can’t say. I think folks can’t unless they try. As far as I know, it’s a kind of joy that makes you ready to let all the world trample on you and never mind a bit. It’s a joy that makes you feel as if you could forgive your greatest enemy, because if they only felt what you feel they would like to be your brother at once. It’s a joy that lifts you above all the joys of the earth as if they were poor forgotten dreams, and makes you ready to stoop beneath any burden or trouble in the world because of the hand that fits on the yoke. It’s a joy that makes you feel lower than the lowest upon earth, because you’ve been forgetting and neglecting Him who died for you; and it’s a joy that the whole world cannot take away, but the heart full of pride or breath of sin can dim and soil and stain. If we lived in it always, we should be as meek as lambs, as busy as bees, as happy as angels; and when we lose it there is nothing to do but to go back to where we found it, to the Lord who won it, to the Almighty who gave it. For we’re as weak as Samson with his hair shorn without it; and as strong as Samson when he took up the city gates when we’ve got it. And though it’s never to be found by looking for it, it’s always to be found by looking for the Lord.” The joy caused by the salvation of our souls is too great to shout it and too great to sing it. Although not expressed, this joy is seen because what is on the inside shows on the outside. This joy is not only inexpressible, it is glorious. It is the glory that will be seen.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Joy in Heaven

In Luke 15 Jesus tells of three parties on earth because a sheep was found, silver was found, and a son was found. Then in verses 7 and 10 he tells the reason for the stories: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent,” and “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Joy in Salvation

Habakkuk 3:17, 18 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk is anticipating a day of calamity. He describes his fear with words like “my heart pounded”, “my lips quivered”, and “my legs trembled”, and at the same time he waits patiently for the invader which will strip his farm. When this happens he will “rejoice in the Lord” and be joyful in God his Savior. He is saying that the physical environment will have no effect on his joy in his salvation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Joy on Earth

Luke 10:20 “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” The apostles returned with joy because demons were subjected to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus gave them a mild rebuke. They had their reasons for joy out of order. According to Jesus their reason was no reason at all. Heaven is the reason for joy. It is the place of joy. Jesus anticipated this joy for Himself and provided it for us. Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another Reason for Joy

Luke 10:21 “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. One of the assurances that we have on earth of our everlasting life in heaven is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13, 14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.” Romans 8:14-17 “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” With this present indwelling of the Holy Spirit we have the fruit of the Spirit, joy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always; pray continually;” We have our sins forgiven! We have our names written in Heaven! We have the fruit of the Spirit! Here we have a command to rejoice. This obedience should be normal. We get to obey with something we already have. We get to rejoice with the joy we have as the fruit of the Spirit. The command is not contrary to our nature. It is in-line with it. The command is not multiple choice. Obedience is not an option. The provision is there to rejoice. This obedience is not to be faked.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Causes of No Joy

Hebrews 12:5-11 (KJV) “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But is ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Chastening is not joyous. Chastening is the only known cause for a short cessation of joy. There are, for Christians, two kinds of trouble. The first is persecution. These persecutions come from the enemy (the accuser) because we are living righteously. They are a cause for blessing and rejoicing. The second is chastening (discipline). This chastening comes from God because we are His children and we are disobedient. This chastening is a cause of no joy. I realize that your response may be that you can think of all kinds of reasons why you are not rejoicing. They will be experiential reasons, justifying reasons. They will not be biblical. As long as you are successful in convincing yourself that your lack of joy is a normal, O.K. position for a Christian, you will not come back into the joyful life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Singing in Heaven

On Saturday night, October 18, 1947 (I think), I received Jesus Christ. My sins were forgiven. I was indwelt with the Holy Spirit. I had joy I had never known before. It was in Baltimore, Maryland at a Presbyterian Church at the corner of North Ave. and St. Paul. The speaker spoke on the early verses of Psalm 40. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” My name was written in Heaven. That was fifty-nine years ago, the joy is still there.

Here is some of the singing in Heaven with the reason in the lyrics. Revelations 5:9, 10 “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Joy in Heaven

Zephaniah 3:14-17 “Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’” The wonder of this last phrase is that God is singing with delight and joy because of the salvation of Jerusalem. God’s joy is the cause of all of our joy here and in Heaven. Believe me, if God were not joyful in Heaven because of our salvation then there is no way we will be joyful in Heaven.

These few scriptures and comments on salvation and joy make a case for a close cause and effect. But we have many saved people in this world who do not have this joy. There is always the possibility that they are not saved. However, we will assume if you are reading this that you are saved and have somehow lost your joy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Substitutes for Joy

There are three parties described in Luke 15. They were the result of finding a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. In each case, there was great rejoicing. These were parables taught by Jesus so that we would understand that there is great rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents. If it is possible to increase the joy in Heaven, this is it. The salvation of sinners is why Jesus came to this earth. It is why the whole Bible was written. This salvation includes being like Jesus. The culmination of all of this purpose and accomplishment is the singing that takes place in Revelation 5. It is one big party.

Like in all true, wonderful things, there are distortions, copies that are unlike the real. In the parables the rejoicing took place before the party. The party was held in order to have others join in the rejoicing that already was.

The world creates parties in order to rejoice. They are not the result of rejoicing; they try to be a cause of rejoicing, like the parties the Prodigal Son threw in the far country. The real rejoicing took place when he came home.

The world is trying to have one party after another. Entertainment, music, sports (participating or spectator), movies, plays, novels, pornography are no longer avocations. They have become substitutes for the real. The worldly man does not have joy in living, so he seeks a vicarious joy. He becomes addicted to something that only requires more of the same.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Assurance of Salvation--Part 2

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

This letter of 1 John was written “so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Do you want to know? Read the letter through several times. After the first two readings go through it the third time and mark every occurrence of the word “know.” It will show up with two different meanings, but mark them all. Each verse will tell you experientially how you can know that you have eternal life.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Luxury of Hatred and Vengeance

The prejudice and antipathy, at the time of Jesus, between Jews and Samaritans had been going on since the return of the Jews from exile in the 4 and 5 hundreds B.C. That is a lot of years. We have similar hatreds between Jews and Muslims for the last 1300 years. There has been something similar between Christians and Muslims and Christians and Jews for hundreds of years. We would like to say that real Christians are not participants in these hatreds. Certainly, they have the fruit of the Spirit and the Commands of Jesus, but in many cases they conform to the worldly culture around them. It is gross sin and should be confessed and renounced.

We can understand this sort of thing between Shias and Sunnis in Islam. They do not know the Father. They are taught that vengeance is right and virtuous. They do not think of it as sin.

“There is a way that seems right to men but their end thereof is the way of death.” Proverbs

God said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” However, mankind in all continents has carried out vengeance from inter-tribes in the Jungle to Nations and Religions. Sometimes these are mixed as in India and Pakistan. Sometimes economics, envy and jealousy are mixed in with the Religious difference as in Northern Ireland.

Christians are to be motivated by the commands of love, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the great commission.

We are not allowed the “luxury” of hatred and vengeance. This “luxury” is of the devil.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:14-16

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Evidence of the Spirit

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33 NKJV)

Two things strike me as I read this sentence. One is “great power” and the other is “great grace.” It seems to be possible to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus without “great power” and it seems to be possible, too, to have a body of believers without “great grace” resting upon them.
There was something special that preceded this statement:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32 NIV)

People were not attached to their possessions, and they were of one heart. Maybe this is why there was “great power” and “great grace”? No, this was another evidence of that power and grace. Here it is in verse 31:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31 NIV)

The source of this “great power” and “great grace” was that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They were all filled because they all prayed.
Are you of one heart, one soul? Are you attached to your possessions? Do you speak the word of God with boldness? Do you give your testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power? Maybe you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Why and How

Two of the most basic questions that mankind has had since the Fall have been “Why” and “How.” In both religion and science, they have caused great searches, theories, guesses and finding of fact. As a result, there has been a great advance in science. In the process of this advance, there also have been wrong conclusions in every century.

Because of man’s impatience for answers, his credulity, his mysticism, and his rebellion, we have billions of people living in scientific and spiritual darkness.
There is a basic right answer to every “why” and “how” question.

The answer is,
…the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. (Jonah 1:9 NKJV).

I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness… (Isaiah 45:6, 7 NIV)

It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. (Isaiah 45:12 NIV)

This right answer has been around for a long time. Rebelling against Him has caused a great moral problem.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32 NIV)

This right answer, “The LORD,” is the solution to the moral problem as well as the scientific problem.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:13-20 NIV)

There is another problem with the word “why” when it is formed as a question. Sometimes it is not looking for an authoritative answer, which would subsequently be accepted. Rather, it is formed in an accusatory way that assumes that there is not an adequate, authoritative answer to the question.

(An excerpt from On Beign a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Loving the Individual

Some of you have not been able to grasp loving all of the people in whole nations, or races or religions. If not, let’s start at the other end. Instead of loving the whole, let’s start with an individual. This individual must be someone who is not a relative. He may be a brother in the Lord, a neighbor or an enemy.

Jesus had something to say about each.

Brothers: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35

We are to love just like Jesus loved us, sacrificially.

Neighbors: “And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:39

This love is like we love ourselves, a lot. Jesus defined “neighbor” in a story in Luke 10:25-37. The neighbor was a despised member of another race and religion.

Enemies: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” Luke 6:27

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35, 36

We are to be kind like the Father.

You may think these are also impossible and therefore we cannot love these people these ways. Since we think we “cannot” than we “will not.” However, we have been given the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, we can! If we do not, it is because we will not. That means either we are Christians who are deliberately disobedient or we are not saved and cannot love because we have not been born of the Spirit.

If it is the first, then immediate confession of this sin is the only choice.

Here are two examples of this kind of love.

Festo Kivengere of Uganda and Sa’eed Rasooli of Iran.

They are both in Heaven but you can still imitate them.

Read Revolutionary Love by Festo Kivengere and Dr. Sa’eed of Iran by Jay M. Rasooli.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Confident Prayer

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14 NIV)

Much of prayer is wishful, hopeful, anxious or desperate praying. The following texts are God’s conditions for answered prayer.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NIV)

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24 NIV)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: love each other. (John 15:16, 17 NIV)

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord... (James 1:6, 7 NIV)

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3 NIV)

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66:18-20 NIV)

Here are the explanations for unanswered prayer: doubting, anxiety, wrong motives, iniquity in our hearts. Here are the conditions for answered prayer: confidence, will of God, thanksgiving, believing, abiding and fruitfulness, in Jesus’ name.

We have all experienced answered prayer when we violated all of the conditions but the last one: “in Jesus’ name.” If God is that faithful to us, then we can lean on His faithfulness. That is what faith is, trusting in the faithfulness of God. The preparation for believing prayer is 1) a clean heart, and 2) being saturated in meditation with Scripture (faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ). Then answered prayer will not be a surprise to us, as it was to the believers in Acts 12.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)