Although a believer should thank God on an on-going basis for all that one has received from the Lord, there is no need to pray to receive something that one a-l-r-e-a-d-y has. The same power that God used/uses to create and to sustain everything there is in the tangible and intangible realms, to raise the dead, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, etc., is available to each and every Spirit indwelt (1Cor. 2: 16), Spirit-filled (Eph. 5: 18), born again (John 3: 5, 7), Church Age believer. The one and only restriction is that the power of God can only be used to fulfill divine objectives that God has in mind (Luke 4/Matt. 4). There are many things that God creates (John 3: 6)and maintains (Col. 1: 17) independently of Man, but here in the Church Age, it is His desire to do some things through (John 15: 5) born again (John 3: 5, 7) believers (1Cor. 3: 5-9). The most significant functions that Church Age believers are called to engage in are cited in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20). These primary functions involved the spreading of the true Gospel Message and the making of disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of souls that are born again (John 3: 5, 7). The SELF-centered fallen nature in Man is more interested in what God will do, or enable them to do for themselves, than what God desires to do through them (John 15: 5/for the eventual benefit of o-t-h-e-r people (1Cor. 12: 7). The Christ-centered disciple will be motivated to engage in the evangelizing unbelievers and in the edification of fellow believers. Once saved, taking part in the Great Commission is the primary reason that a born again believer is on this Earth. At the same time, discipleship does begin with oneself. The English translators chose the English Word "disciple" when they translated the Greek word m-a-t-h-e-t-e-s, found in the original/inspired words of Scripture. A m-a-t-h-e-t-e-s is a technical student in a teacher-pupil relationship. In the theological realm, the subject matter studied is the Word of God. The long term objective of discipleship is to be used of God in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The objectives of the Great Commission is to evangelize unbelievers and to make disciples (m-at-h-e-t-e-s) out of those who are born again. The devil has had considerable success in re-writing the divine agenda, aka The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20)that the Lord Jesus Christ issued just prior to His Ascension (Acts 1: 9). That the Church was/is to function under the power of God the Holy Spirit was made abundantly clear by the Lord Jesus Christ (Act 1: 8). God the Father, God the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit always act in unison, and always consistent with the Word of God. * * * One can never be any more or any less saved than what he/she became at the moment of salvation when he/she became born again. The level of one's spiritual maturity, on the other hand, differs greatly from one individual believer to another. The level of spiritual maturity, as it relates to the individual believer, is always in a state of change, either increasing or decreasing. Depending on one's level of any given believer's spiritual maturity, there may the need to pray for the wisdom to make use of the spiritual strength which he/she already has. Human strength and determination can be a great source of power, but human power has its limitations. In the spiritual realm, human power when not connected to divine power is powerless. "...apart from Me, you can do nothing (John 15: 5 NASB)." The spiritual strength that comes from God is unlimited, but will not present itself or be used contrary to the will of God. An advancing disciple will learn soon enough the difference between what He can do and what He will do. God will allow us to come to the end of our rope to demonstrate or to remind us of our o-n-g-o-i-n-g dependence on Him (John 15: 5) if we are to accomplish anything in the spiritual realm. One can go to through an agility test to determine his level of his physical strength and capabilities at any given time, but one's spiritual strength can only be observed and measured when faced with a spiritual challenge. Experience can built confidence, but experience in the realm of spiritual combat will also reveal to those involved his/her areas of weakness that needs to be addressed. The need to identify and to make changes will never end this side of Heaven. There will always be the next thing(s) that God wants to address as one continues to be conformed the likeness of Christ (Romans 8: 29). Some of the things God desires to extract from our ways of thinking and behaving will be a painful experience, and some of the things He desires to become a part of our thoughts and actions will be a challenge indeed and come with a dear price. Trying to overcome a spiritual issue with human strength will prove to be an act of futility. Spiritual strength goes hand in hand with spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is the result of building, maintaining, and applying an edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27). This edified soul structure becomes the base of operations and the command post that provides the advancing disciple out in the field of operation with all the information and operational strategy that he/she needs to achieve success in the daily realm of spiritual combat (Ephesians 6). Even the ability to perceive the spiritual issue(s) behind what others just see as the day to day experiences of life here on Earth, is a skill that is equivalent to the one's level of spiritual maturity. The divine purpose for sending or allowing adversity is for the spiritual growth of those involved, or the spiritual growth of those who observe the success of the advancing disciple. The diabolical objective of Satan in E-V-E-R-Y spiritual challenge is to undermine one's focus on God and/or the things of God. In the case of unbelievers, the "thing" of God is the true Gospel Message. For those who have already been born again, the "things" of God are all the doctrines he/she needs to learn and apply if he/she is going to glorify God by identifying and executing the true post salvation spiritual life. A spiritual challenge is any event, large or small, in which the advancing disciple has to make a choice(s) to do, via his/her thoughts, speech, or action what would bring glory or deny God the glory that He could receive. There may or may not be other human or spiritual beings present, but the omnipresent God of the Bible is always present. When we choose to think, speak, and act in keeping with Bible Doctrine, God is glorified, When we choose to think, speak, and act in ANY alternative way, God is denied the glory. The relatively "little" challenges of every day provide us with the opportunity to be trained and prepared to handle the more serious issues of life or death that are on the way. I put quotation marks around the word"little" because there really are NO "little" challenges once we learn that the glory of God hangs in the balance. We all fail from time to time, but how well we handle the daily challenges is a good indicator of how well we will handle the more the more challenging issues that life will bring to us. Peter sincerely believed that he had reached a high level of spiritual maturity when he declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny You, All the disciples said the same thing too. As it turned out, Peter denied even knowing Him (Matt. 26: 72), let alone being one of His disciples. As for the others, they ran away when He was taken into custody (Matt. 26: 56). Both of these events fulfilled prophecy (Matt. 26: 31, 34/Zech. 13: 7). * * * Difficult spouses, rebellious children, annoying neighbors, unreasonable/demanding bosses, discourteous/negligent motorists out on the road, personal insults, abuse, rejections, , disappointments, health issues, wealth issues (on and on the list goes) are all "every day" factors that the devil will make use of to distract our souls from focusing on God and/or the things of God. For some souls, the day to day spiritual challenges can raise doubts about the existence or the significance of God and/or the things of God. Even Scripture (1Cor. 15 19 NASB) concedes that, "If we have hoped in Christ (for what we get) in this life (on Earth) only, we (believers) are of all men to be pitied." I am not saying (nor am I eliminating the possibility) that such challenges are all demonically inspired, but the devil will certainly make use of such things to get or to keep our focus off God and/or the things of God. There are 168 hours in every week, and the devil is committed to one of them to the destruction of our spiritual lives (1Pet. 5 :8, 9) The more committed a born again believer is to identifying and executing the true post salvation spiritual life, the more intense and frequent the challenges are going to be. The absence of challenges is not a good indication. It could be that the devil is pleased to leave you alone since he already has you where he wants you to be. Spending a weekly 1 hr. "in Church", and maybe a half an hour each day of the week in private Bible study will not progress us if we do not apply what we are (should be) learning to how we think and what we are doing during the remaining 164 hrs each week. Keep in mind that if we are progressing, we are regressing. Even in our sleep, our minds process the information that we chose to store away in our memory banks of our soul structure during the previous period of consciousness. Therefore, It does matter (Luke 8: 18) what we expose ourselves to, especially on an ongoing basis. This applies to the good (Bible Doctrine) and to the evil that bombards our soul structures each and every day. Both God and the devil make use of virtually every means of communication out there. One cannot help but be impacted and influenced by what we exposed to on a regular basis. Keeping the evil that the world has to offer at bay is as much a part of of building an edified soul structure as is taking in the Word of God. Evil, in this sense, is ANYTHING that runs contrary to the, "...mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2: 16 NASB)." Many Christians pray, asking God to deliver them from evil (Matt. 6: 13), but take no proactive action to steer clear of the various means through which the devil promotes evil on a daily basis. It's like asking to be kept warm and then go outside in the winter without proper clothing. Spiritual ignorance is a choice that we make. God cannot command (as He does - 2Peter 3: 18) Church Age believers to grow in His knowledge and then not provide the means to do so. Not knowing what the mind (thinking) of Christ is on any given subject, opens the door to all kinds of evil that the devil's world has to offer. The more we accept what the fallen nature within us and the world around us has to say, the more we reject what God has to say. Being friends with the world makes us enemies of God, and being friends with God makes us enemies of the world (James 4: 4). "You (spiritual) adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4: 4 NASB italics mine)." When you open your mouth to speak, do people expect to hear what the world or what God has to say? By what we choose to think, say, and/or do, we are spokespersons for one side or the other. There is no such thing as neutrality in the spiritual realm. * * * In the realm of spiritual combat, the devil, his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil, and humans who unwittingly or knowingly do his bidding, know what buttons to press and when to press them for maximum effect. Once any source of distraction or adversity gets the best of us, we are in danger of compromising what should be our 24-7 intimate and personal walk with the Lord. We are all human, and as a human being we are going to react when offended, at least in our minds if not overtly. The indication of one's level of spiritual maturity is how long it takes to recover and conduct ourselves, in thoughts and actions, in the way that glorifies God. For some, its a matter of seconds, for others it can take much longer. For some they spend most of their time out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God, plotting and/or executing revenge against those they have chosen not to forgive. Like a sniper, they wait for the opportunity to have a clear shot and fire away with the ammunition they have stored away for such an event. We are usually the strongest spiritually when we have depleted our human assets and willpower, because it is then that the power of God accomplishes through us what we would not otherwise have accomplished with the limitations of our human resources (2Cor. 12: 10). "Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12: 10 NASB)." They say that the jaw muscles (that keep our big mouths shut) is one of the strongest muscles in the human body, yet how many of us can keep our mouths shut and not give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4: 27) when we are offended. "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, and full of deadly poison (James 3: 8 NASB)." "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that is may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4: 29 NASB)." In other words, if you don't have something good to say, don't say anything at all! Just because what you have to say may be factually true, it does not mean it alright to say it. "...but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man (Matt. 15: 11 NASB)." There are times to speak and there are times to remain silent (Eccl. 3: 7b). When one's tongue is not submitted to the control of God the Holy Spirit, it is NOT the time to speak. * * * The amount of time its take to put an insult or offense aside and return to a frame of mind (and actions) that glorifies God is known as one's recovery time. For the spiritually mature, advancing disciple, the recovery time after being offended is a matter of seconds, often times not even displaying any overt reaction to the offense received. For a spiritually weak believer, the can take much, much longer as he engages in retaliatory plans, thoughts and actions, either immediately or at some time in the future. Spiritual weakness goes hand in hand with spiritual ignorance. Spiritual ignorance that is not knowing what or how he should handle the spiritual issue/challenge. Spiritually ignorant and/or weak believers should not expect to have the ability or the wisdom to make use of and/or experience the spiritual strength required to address difficult challenges. Do we respond with understanding, forgiveness, empathy and compassion, or with thoughts, words, or actions of judgment and retaliation. No one has control over the amount or intensity of the spiritual challenges that the thoughts, words, or actions of others are going to bring to us on any given day, but Spirit indwelt/filled believers DO have the spiritual strength to respond to it in ways that glorifies God. What remains to be seen is rather or not the advancing disciple will choose to apply it. Anyone can be "Christlike (Romans 8: 29)" as long as things are going his/her way, but the test of one's level of spiritual maturity comes into play when he is put the test. For those who have reached a moderate stage of spiritual maturity, they have developed the ability to see such tests each and every day. God does not test us for Him to see how well we are doing. The omniscient God already knows that. He tests us for US to see how well we are getting along on the road to spiritual maturity. * * * Human nature looks upon individuals in positions of great political, "religious", military, social, and financial influence and control as being among the "most powerful" men and woman on Earth. The truth is that NONE of them can to anything to anyone, individual or group, if God does not decree it or allow the things they do, good or evil, to take place. Again, accepting all that God allows to take place can be a high hurdle to overcome along the road to spiritual maturity. The more one leans towards God and the things of God, the more he leans away from the devil and the things of the devil's world (Luke 4: 6). The more one leans towards the devil, his ways, and the ways of his (Luke 4: 6)world, the more one leans away from God and the things of God. Every one is on one of two roads. (Matt. 7: 13, 14). The easy road to traverse is broad and wide, but leads to destruction of one kind or another. The difficult road is narrow and requires much strength as it is an uphill grind all the way. One's choice of road is reflected in the daily decisions and activities he embraces. Spiritually weak (previously defined) try to get along with one foot on the straight and narrow road to avoid the wrath on God, but with the other foot in the devil's playground in trying to get the "most" out of life here in the devil's world. The end result of such a strategy is one becomes a "successful failure" (Rev. 3: 16, 17). "Successful in that he/she secured a home in Heaven. Failure in that he/she failed to identity and reap the eternal rewards of the post salvation spiritual life. Note that in the Rev. 3: 16, 17 (NASB) scenario, the believers involved had in fact secured "success" as the world defines it, but were, "...wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked in the eyes of God. For the advancing disciple, it is NOT the 1Cor. 12-15rewards or the fear of discipline (Hebrews 12: 6)that is foremost on his/her mind, but the glory of God. Earthly prosperity (3 John 1: 2) WITH God is a wonderful blessing that one should enjoy without any qualms. But if being earthly prosperous means being eternally poor (Rev. 3: 17/Matt. 6: 20), it will end in eternal regret (1Cor. 3: 15). Whatever strength (spiritual or human) one has, it IS either being spent on the things that do not last, or it is being invested in the things that are going to last for all of eternity. See Doctrine of Stewardship. Want to know where one's heart is, follow the money (Matt. 6:21)! * * * Whatever God decrees or allows to take place has a divine purpose behind it, even though at times we will not be able to perceive it. It is in times like these that the quality of one's faith and commitment are put to the test. God is either in control of all things or He is not God. See Doctrine of Sovereignty. True, God has the power to do anything He wants that is consistent with His own character and nature, but keep in mind that God was not created to fulfill our will. We were created and to fulfill His. It does not take a lot of strength to pray (communicate) with God when we are in fellowship (close personal relationship) with Him (1Cor. 13: 14). The answer to any prayer request that is inconsistent with the plan of God will receive a "No" response. Praying "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ( )" means to approach the throne of grace under the authority given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is NOT "prayer insurance" and does obligate God to respond in the way(s) that we desire. Its not that God does not answer all prayers, its that we don't always get the response we want that upsets us. Every prayer request IS answered yes, no, or not right now. See Doctrine of Prayer for more details. * * * Self-centered (our "normal" state of being) souls will ask,"What has god ever done for me?" Christ-centered disciples will respond by pointing to the cross. Without which we would all get the Hell that we all deserve! We will all face disappointments during our time here in the devil's (Luke 4: 6) world. Some (Book of Job) more than others. There is nothing more frustrating to the devil or that brings greater glory to God than when evil has thrown its best punch(es), only to have the targeted advancing disciple get back up and move forward in the plan of God. The devil will not miss any opportunity to challenge our faith or to offer a distraction. Distractions can come in the form of adversity or in what appears to be a blessing. Spiritually mature, advancing disciples will come to the point where they have no "other" will, but to do identify and fulfill the individual plan that God created us to accomplish. Many "Christians" never entertain or remain in post (after) salvation discipleship long enough to learn what their individual spiritual gift (1Cor. 12) is, let alone where and how it is to be used of God. Like the Lord Jesus Christ, born again (John 3: 5, 7), Spirit-indwelt (1Cor. 3: 16), Spirit-filled (Acts 4: 31/Ephesians 5: 18), Church Age believers have access to full divine power (John 15: 5). This power can ONLY be used to fulfill God's will and not for our own benefit outside of the plan of God (Luke 4/Matt. 4). In past dispensations, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and the accompanying benefits/power, could come and go (Judges 16: 20, 28). Here in the Church Age, the born again (John 3: 5, 8)believer is permanently indwelt (1 Cor. 2: 16) from the moment of salvation (John 3: 16/Titus 3: 5/ Eph. 4: 9) forward, until the soul departs the body at the moment of physical death. Although permanently indwelt, the born again believer must CHOOSE to submit him/herself to the leading of God the Holy Spirit, if one desires to be in a position where God can produce "divine good" through him/her (John 15: 5). Living in (any) sin that is not confessed (1John 1: 9) and forsaken (John 8: 11) places the believer in an environment in which he/she is out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God. Believers out of fellowship with God are not in a frame of mind conducive to producing divine good. Having, but not making proper use, the necessary tools (accurate doctrine) in one's tool chest (edified soul structure) is like a tradesman who has the best power tools on the market, but fails to connect them with the correct power source to make them functional. Keep in mind, that, "...apart from Me you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5 NASB)" in the spiritual realm. This reiterates the need to be in fellowship with God, and the need to be Spirit filled. The born again believer does not have to ask for the power to do anything that is within the plan of God, but he must connect with the power source that he already has. The advancing disciple prepares him/herself by stocking up on the various tools (accurate doctrine) in his/her tool box (edified soul structure - Matt. : 24-27)." Showing up at the work site without the proper tools will accomplish nothing. Having the right tools, but not being connected (in fellowship) with the power source will accomplish nothing. When we plug in or attach the power source to a power tool in the secular realm and it does not start, the first thing we do is to check the power source source, and then the tool to locate the problem. In the spiritual realm, the power source is always "on", but we don't always select the right (doctrine) to get the job done. There is nothing "wrong" with the tool (itself), but one can not drive nails with a saw, not can one make a clean cut with a hammer! Skills, in both the secular realm and in the spiritual realm, are developed over a period of time, often after much trial and error, until we are willing to listen to and be taught by those who are more advanced in the trade. We are NOT all mechanically inclined or handy with tangible tools in the secular world, but the advancing disciple is (or can be) fully trained (Luke 6: 40), equipped (Eph. 4: 12) and divinely gifted (1Cor. 12:) to complete the work/ministry that God has in mind for each and every Church Age believer. There are secular issues and things that one must attend to here on Earth. There is nothing wrong with hobbies and diverse interests, as taking part in such things is what sets the stage for the rank and file Church Age believers to minister (evangelize/edify) to those he/she interacts with in the midst of these activities. At the same time, unless there is a daily time slot set aside to spend sanctified time, exclusively devoted to God and/or the things of God, one is not going to be trained, equipped, and prepared (1Pet. 3: 15) to identify and respond to the spiritual needs of one self or others. "...always being ready to make a defense (of the Faith) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is (seenby others) within you, yet (do so) with gentleness and reverence (1Pet. 3:15 NASB mine)." Note that the, " who asks you" phrase teaches that if you are executing thetrue post salvation spiritual life of discipleship, there will be no need for you to seek persons to either evangelize (present the Gospel Message) or to edify (share principles of Bible Doctrine). God the Holy Spirit will bring them to you! * * * Sometimes, God allows things to take place for us to become aware of areas in which we have not (yet) acquired the right "tools" to do the job, or have not (yet) developed the associated skills for maximum effectiveness. Sometimes we have the right tools (accurate doctrine/power source), but lack the desire to make use (apply) them. Instead of praying for the strength to deal with, endure, or overcome a problem. Disciples need to take a moment to examine ourselves (2Cor. 13: 5) to determine what tools (doctrines) are not in our tool box (edified soul structure), and /or why we are not connecting with the power source that we, as a born again believer and advancing disciple already have. Man asks, "WHY?", such and such a thing has happened. The advancing disciple asks, "WHAT?", is it that God is saying to me by sending or allowing this thing to take place. Are we trying to address a spiritual issue with the wrong (human) power source? Are we missing the right tools (accurate doctrine) in our tool box (edified soul structure)? Do we lack the spiritual maturity to make use of the right tool(s) and power source? God has already make His power source (John 15: 5)available to each and every Church Age believer they day one was born again (John 3: 5, 7) when his/her body became a temple indwelt by God (1Cor. 3: 16), with a regenerated (Titus 3:5) human spirit. God has already provided the advancing disciple with the means (Matt. 7: 24-27) to have a complete "set of tools" to get His job done (Eph. 4: 11, 12). God has already provided us with all the logistical support that we need to accomplish His objective(s) in each and every situation we find ourselves (Phil. 4: 19). One should thank God for all that he/she has already been given, but there is no need to ask God for something that he/she already has. What one may need to pray for is the courage and the wisdom to make use of the strength that he already has.
Just because the world at large is going down the toilet doesn't mean that we have to go with the flow!h