The Little Train That Wouldn’t

steam engine with conductor

We are all probably familiar with the children’s story of “The Little Train that Could.” It’s the perfect story for young kids, and the moral of the story is exceptional – you can’t overcome unless you try. When you try, it may seem impossible, but ignoring the crowd and pressing on, you can overcome difficulties. 

As I said, it’s a great story. But have you heard the story of the little train that wouldn’t? There’s a good message in this story, too.

The Little Trains

The air that morning was crisp, so Mr. Conductor pulled on his denim jacket over his striped blue overalls. Putting on his conductor’s hat, he cocked it ever so slightly to the right and then walked out of the train station. Mr. Conductor ambled over to the switchyard early that morning. The train tracks looked so bright and shiny because of their daily use. On today’s crisp, sunshiny day, the polished tracks looked like silver ribbons scattered across the switchyard. They made Mr. Conductor very happy.

All the little trains were polished and repaired the night before. All were ready for service, and all were on their own train tracks. All were in the same excellent condition. Mr. Conductor looked them over, and they made his heart feel good. He loved these trains.

When the trains saw Mr. Conductor, they each cranked up their engines and tooted their horns. They were excited to begin the day’s assignments. Mr. Conductor read out loud the train schedule so each little train knew the part they would play in making their customers happy and Mr. Conductor proud of them.

The train engines Juan, Amy, and Jimmy each heard their names as Mr. Conductor read off the day’s schedule. The little engines were eager to get started. Juan had a hefty load to deliver to Awesome Creek. Amy had a load that would easily break, so she would need to use all of her skills to make her delivery to Fine’n Dandy. And Jimmy was given just one rail car to pull. It was small and would be easy to deliver to Master’s Crossing.

The Little Trains Begin Their Adventures

Mr. Conductor was careful to get each train engine connected to their rail cars. Stepping back, Mr. Conductor was filled with pride for each of the train engines. Looking at his pocket watch, he saw it was time for them to get started, so he changed the signal on the railroad tracks to “Go.” Juan immediately groaned under his heavy load, but he knew Mr. Conductor wouldn’t give him more than he could pull, so Juan tugged and pulled, and soon he was heading down the tracks.

Next, Amy began her journey. Amy had to be very careful as she started pulling her fragile load. Slow and steady was the only way she would be able to deliver her cargo unbroken, but she wasn’t worried. She, too, knew that Mr. Conductor would never ask more of her than she could endure. So, ever so slowly, Amy began her journey.

By this time, Mr. Conductor had walked back to the train station. He hadn’t stood outside watching the little trains because he trusted them and he knew they each had received the best assignment for them.

When Mr. Conductor sat down in his office chair and looked out of his office window, he was concerned. Juan and Amy were already out of sight, but Jimmy hadn’t moved at all! Mr. Conductor hurried out of his office to the railroad track that Jimmy the little Engine was quietly sitting on.

Trouble In The Trainyard

“Jimmy,” Mr. Conductor called out, “why haven’t you started your trip to Master’s Crossing? You’re going to be late and disappoint the mayor and townspeople.” Jimmy huffed and blew out a massive blast of steam, but he didn’t say anything. 

Mr. Conductor asked again, “Jimmy, why aren’t you going to Master’s Crossing?” Jimmy replied. “Mr. Conductor, I don’t think I can, and I don’t want to get in trouble with you. If I pull this load, I may not get to Master’s Crossing on time, or something in my cargo might get broken.” 

Mr. Conductor was sad. He said, “Jimmy, you’ve made me sad because you don’t trust me to take care of you. You know I gave you this assignment because I know what you can do. Why would you doubt me?”

Jimmy, the little train engine, was sad because he knew Mr. Conductor was right. Mr. Conductor called out to Jake, the engineer, and some trainmen to disconnect the rail car from Jimmy and connect it to the little train engine, Raj. Then Mr. Conductor asked Jake, the engineer, to please park Jimmy back in the rail yard. Jimmy would miss out on his adventure today because he wouldn’t trust Mr. Conductor.


Matthew 25:29 (ESV) – The parable of the talents
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

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The Story of the Coffee Droplets

coffee cup sitting on coffee beans

A small array of coffee droplets were pooled upon my desk, forming a rough outline of Lake Michigan. They had arrived from sloshed coffee from my morning coffee cup; I like coffee cups.

The droplets did not land someplace that I could easily ignore, a place where I could clean them up later. Instead, they were positioned directly in front of my keyboard. I was thankful they had dodged my computer, but I was annoyed that I had to deal with them before getting down to business.

Looking around, I discovered that I didn’t have a single napkin, paper towel, old rag, or even a shirttail to remove Lake Michigan from my desk. Bummer. So I made my way back to my home, for you see, my office is separate from my house and I don’t walk well. Retrieving a bit of paper towel, I hobbled back to my office.

Sitting down, paper towel in hand, I looked at the droplets and saw a life lesson. How amazing that four or five drops of coffee, in just the right place, stopped my work, sending me off on an errand, and disrupting my morning plans.

A Few Drops of Coffee

Every day Godless people make plans. Some own lots of stuff and have lots of people at their disposal. But you and I can be their few drops of coffee. 

Psalms 16:1-2 (ESV): The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Prayer: God lead us I pray so that our prayers and our actions disrupt the world’s plans of iniquity. Help us to be bold and allow You, our God, to use us like drops of coffee. In the Name of Your beloved Son, Father, we pray.

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Wobbly Stool – Conclusion

3 legged stool - conclusion

Our key Scripture for this series is found in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Holy Spirit in us is one thing, and the Holy Spirit on us is another.

DL Moody

Luke’s Baptism Account

Luke wrote about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism is something Jesus does rather than the universal imparting of the Holy Spirit that came from Father God (1). Luke’s account (2) is obviously not about the salvation of the Apostles since Jesus had already imparted the Holy Spirit into His disciples (3). What we see is that Jesus was quoting what John the Baptist prophesied at the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry (4).

The baptism Luke wrote about in Acts is Christ’s baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ first Holy Spirit baptism was recorded in Acts, chapter 2. This baptism was what John the Baptist prophesied (6) and what DL Moody was referring to for the baptism “on” believers. 

Paul’s Baptism Account

So, we have the universal imparting of the Holy Spirit that Paul wrote about. For all Christians, the Holy Spirit desires our fellowship, leads us into all truth, helps us pray, is the seal of our salvation, and will be with us forever. We can summarize the work that the Holy Spirit does for all believers is this: He guides, comforts, and provides.

The Holy Spirit Brings Power With Him

What if you want more of God? If you feel like your prayers aren’t what they should be, if when you pray with people it seems there’s something lacking, if you know God has a job for you but you don’t know what it is, then ask Jesus for more of the Holy Spirit. Ask Jesus to baptize you as He did the 120 in the upper room (7). Then you can say as Paul said, “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (8)”

Though Christian men and women have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, yet He is not dwelling within them in power; in other words, God has a great many sons and daughters without power.

DL Moody

Conclusion

Living for Jesus is an exciting adventure. Thankfully, He provides all we need to do what He desires us to do! That wobbly stool will be rock-steady when we are fully engaged with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


References:
1) John 14:16: And I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
2) Acts 1:4–5: And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
3) John 20:19, 22 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you…” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” 
4) Luke 3:16: “I [John the Baptist] baptize you with water, but he [Jesus] who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
5) 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
6) Acts 19:4-5 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”  5 On hearing this, they were baptized in[a] the name of the Lord Jesus.
7) Acts 1:13-15: 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.  14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120)
8) 1 Corinthians 14:15: “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

Wobbly Stool – Part 3

3 jegged stool - part 3

Our key Scripture for this series is found in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we sometimes create a wobbly stool. We embrace the truth of the Trinity of God. We pray to Father God, and we fellowship and follow Jesus, but we don’t always know what we should be doing with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit For All Believers

Apostle Paul wrote that all believers receive the Holy Spirit when they are reborn. And this truth is no doubt based on the promise Jesus made when He said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” (John 14:16 )

So, when did the disciples get saved? Let’s read John 20:19, 22 which takes place after Jesus rose from the dead: 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you…” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

We can’t be certain when all of the Apostles personally received Jesus as their Savior but they would have done so before Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit into them.

After the ascension of Jesus, “Then they [the Apostles] returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” (Acts 1:12) In Jerusalem there were about 120 believers as well as the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14-15)

Summary

1. Paul wrote about the universal imparting of the Holy Spirit into every believer in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

2. After Jesus rose from the dead, He entered a locked room where the Apostles had gathered. Jesus breathed the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit into the Apostles. (John 20:19-22)

3. After the Apostles received the Holy Spirit in them, then Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9). 

4. Next, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12) to wait for Christ’s promise. 

5. The promise was for power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them (Acts 1:8). 

We see that Jesus was quite busy during the time after His resurrection and when He ascended into Heaven. All of His activity was in preparation for establishing His Church and empowering believers to go into all the world and make disciples in every nation. This assignment is still being fulfilled through missionaries and laypeople. 

Tomorrow we will look at the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit and what that means for us.

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A Wobbly Stool – Part 2

3 legged stool - part 2

[Summary from Part 1: When it comes to our relationship with God, I think we sometimes create a wobbly stool. We embrace the truth of the Trinity of God. We pray to Father God, and we talk with Jesus, but we don’t always know what we should be doing with the Holy Spirit.]

In the Apostle Paul’s benediction, found in 2 Corinthians 13:14, we read, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

When we received Jesus as our Savior, we received the Holy Spirit. However, through the grace of Jesus Christ, we can go deeper. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk “but in power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20

The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it. – DL Moody

God wants you to be that straight stick and for people to see you alongside the crooked ones, not to fellowship with them but to provide a reference for the people in the world of what Godliness looks like.

That’s a high calling and one that is not easily attained. If what the world sees and hears is only doctrine and history then few people will respond to God’s call. What people want is to be touched by God, to experience God, so they know the difference between the stimulants of this world and the power of God. 

We can’t fake the power of God. For most of us, our salvation experience included someone witnessing to us. A Christian told us about their personal salvation experience and the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in their salvation. When we received Jesus, we experienced that power of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. When we prayed the sinner’s prayer, we KNEW we were unholy and utterly lost. And then we were made clean and reborn and knew the Holy Spirit was inside us.

This truth is confirmed by what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

From this passage of Scripture, we know that every believer has received the Holy Spirit. God lives in each of us. And through us, God touches the lives of others. How wonderful is that! But there’s more. We’ll look at the “more” tomorrow in part three of “A Wobbly Stool.”

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The Wobbly Stool

3-legged stool

Have you ever sat on a three-legged stool where one of the legs was shorter than the other two? I’m not easily annoyed, but I find wobbly 3-legged stools distracting. I don’t own any of these stools, so the only time I sit on one is if I’m visiting someone. The moment I sit down, I know I’ve got a challenge because a wobbly stool is so distracting that I find it quite difficult to follow our conversation.

Wobbly Theology

When it comes to our relationship with God, I think we sometimes create a wobbly stool. We embrace the truth of the Trinity of God. We pray to Father God and talk with Jesus, but we don’t always know what we should be doing with the Holy Spirit.

In the Apostle Paul’s benediction, found in 2 Corinthians 13:14, we read, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

First, notice the order Paul used for the Triune God – Son, Father, Spirit. This order is different from most accounts (2 Corinthians 1:2;), and the Holy Spirit led Paul to do this. Paul is saying that there is equality within God. We find no wobbly stool in God.

In our Scripture, Paul begins with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we receive the love of God through the grace of Jesus Christ. We have fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the love of God, because of the grace of Jesus Christ. Our understanding of this completeness in God is how we avoid a wobbly theology.

Now, in my experience, I have met many Christians that carry a wobbly stool with them. When they speak of the things of God, they fumble a bit, for they tend to leave the Holy Spirit out of their thoughts. In truth, their faith in God is wobbly. Christ and the Father are fully understood and acknowledged, but the leg of the Holy Spirit is shorter. He is not ignored. It’s just that the believer doesn’t know what to do with the Holy Spirit. That creates wobbly faith, and none of us want that.

The Shy Person of God

Sometimes the Spirit is referred to as the shy Person of God. This perspective is because many references in the Bible show the Holy Spirit pointing us to Jesus, which is His ministry in this world, today. However, He has a very active role in the lives of believers. 

When we pray, we can (should) ask the Holy Spirit to direct our prayer. The Triune God should be active as we pray. The Holy Spirit will help us remember people and circumstances that we need to bring to Father God. He will reveal things in us that need to be dealt with. The Holy Spirit will also reveal to us things we would never have considered, which require prayer. I could go on, but let’s move ahead.

As today’s Scripture reveals, we should be in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. He (not it) desires a profoundly personal, deeply impactful relationship with you. 

I am going to continue this wobbly stool idea in my next blog post. For now, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26) – Amen

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A Returned Man

Occasionally, I stray into other aspects of Christianity, however, my heart’s desire is to focus on Jesus. To glorify our Savior, to help the lost find Him, and the saved to walk closer to Him. The mission statement for this site is “Finding Christ in Christianity.” For no matter what the topic is, it’s all about Jesus.

So, today, let’s take a moment and consider Jesus healing a leper. This account is found in three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Here’s the passage from Matthew 8:2-3:

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Leprosy Was An Example Of Sin

Leprosy was a “type” for sin: it was loathsome, spreading, incurable, and the Israelites were to avoid lepers – just like sin. Yet Jesus, seeing the leper’s faith, reached into his condition, into “sin”, and touched the man; saved that man. Jesus made the leper clean.

The leper was a Jew. We can be confident of this because God’s Word points out explicitly the few times Jesus healed people outside of Jacob’s progeny. So from this account of the leper, we know that Jesus is willing to touch those that have been grafted into the vine of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus will reach into a Christian’s life, touch them, and cleanse them of their leprosy, their sin.

You may have memorized 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So now think of this healed leper when you pray, asking Jesus to reach in and touch sin, the sin that’s in you. Your desire is not only to be delivered from your sin but to be cleansed from all your unrighteousness. And Jesus will do this, if you are willing to change your life.

Jesus Returned The Man

You see, Jesus didn’t just remove that man’s leprosy, He returned that leper back to his fellow Israelites. The cleansed man could once again worship, celebrate, and fully participate with his Jewish brothers and sisters. This is what Jesus expects of us when He forgives our sin. We are to return to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our local church, to submit to the leadership Christ has provided us.

Rest in Jesus. Don’t sin, but if you do sin, remember Jesus is our advocate. You can take comfort in these words of Jesus in John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

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Create!

Amish barn raising

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When a dad sees his son or daughter playing at sweeping the deck or a mom sees her child standing beside her mixing imagination while she mixes the ingredients for a cake, their hearts just about burst with joy. 

Our heavenly Father is the same way. All people have some measure of creativity because we all are in the image of God. But, when we are reborn, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us; the God of all creation comes into these jars of clay.

God’s Creativity in Us

When creative God abides within people made in His image then marvelous creativity bursts forth. Yes, I’m talking about you! Let’s see God’s creativity in three passages of Scripture:

For by him (the Son of God) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16

And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. – 2 Samuel 6:14

“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” – Jeremiah 18:2

Emulate God’s Creativity

God’s Word affirms His creativity. God’s Word declares His pleasure in His people emulating His creativity. Just as their child’s imagination blesses a parent, so God is blessed when His children dance and sing and paint and create pottery. Let’s not forget that before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was a tektōn. Most Bibles translate this Greek Word to mean carpenter, but this Greek Word was a common term for an artisan/craftsman– Wikipedia

God wants His children to be creative. When we are, we are worshiping the Creator. So, receive this liberty from God. If God has given you dance, then dance. If He has given you musical skills, then use those to glorify God. If God has given you artistic skills, skills to paint, sculpt, sew, craft wood, or clean tombstones, then do so to the glory of God. Whatever creativity God has placed in you, be emboldened to use it. That’s why God gave it to you. Use it in honorable ways; ways that pull people to God the Creator.

Be Confident

Are you unsure of what creativity God has given you? You can glorify God through the use of software or farming or auto repair or custodial work. Wherever God has placed you, He has provided the means to be creative, ask Him, seek His provision, knock on the door of His opportunities, and you will receive. And the God who created everything that is seen and unseen will be pleased when you imitate Him.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash, picture of an Amish barn raising.

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Envy

person cutting paper that has the word envy printed on it

Our world has lost all respect for the things of God. From casual sex to envy, these and more are free from our society’s concerns. What kids espoused in the 1960s, “Free Love,” and transcendental meditation, has now thrown Godliness into the trash heap of history and has filled the resulting vacuum with lies, Godless rhetoric, and content-free promises.

Today, I was on one of my go-to sites for Bible study when I saw the following advertisement:

One of the Seven Deadly Sins

 Within Catholicism, envy, a synonym for coveting, is one of the Seven deadly sins. And within all of Christendom, envy is denounced because it is specifically called out in the Ten Commandments:  

Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

It’s not shocking to me that the kids of the greatest generation have cast off the Godly constraints that allowed the one true God to bless America, for that is the way rich kids behave who’s parents worked their way out of poverty. 

Kids of the Greatest Generation

Too much, too soon, too easily, are the hallmarks of the nouveau riche. For those of us that still believe that there’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, that have placed our faith in the resurrected Son of the living God, whose hope lies not in this world and its accolades but in the glory of heaven which has no sun for the glory of God is its light for us, we are to be holy for God is holy

For us that are in Christ Jesus, by faith children of God, to casually receive and allow worldly sins which the enemy of God uses to damn those made in God’s image, to allow those sins to permeate our lives, now that is just unacceptable and needful of repentance.

Whew. I hope you recognize my passionate plea as one grounded in love and my desire for all of us to have a deeper life with Jesus. Amen.  

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My Beloved Son

elderly hands folded in prayer

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17 ESV

Prayer is a Healing Activity

Prayer is a healing activity for us. As believers, we pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But when we get alone with God (Matthew 6:6) and pray to the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hears us, consoles us, and acts on our behalf.

As part of our healing, before we pray, we need to settle any matter where someone has something against us (Matthew 5:23). As we enter into prayer, we believe that God is and that He answers prayers (James 1:6), knowing that “if we worship God and do His will, God listens to us (John 9:31). 

Preparing for Prayer

Entering prayer, we draw near to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We are entering our prayer time with confidence (1 John 5:14-15). We give thanks to God (Matthew 6:9-13). We confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9 ) and forgive anyone that has wronged us (Mark 11:25). As we pray, we should take time to be at peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

We Ask

Praying, we go before our Father, praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18 ). We pray on behalf of others that are in need (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We ask our Father for spiritual things, material things, emotional things, human things. We ask because our God has told us to ask (Matthew 7:7) and we remember that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37)

We pray to our Father, trusting that the Spirit leads us as we pray, and we know that Jesus is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5 ) between our humanity and God’s divinity. Most importantly, we pray for the will of Jesus, our Lord. That is what Jesus meant when He taught us to pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13). 

God’s Beloved Son

So, whether we begin our prayer in the name of Jesus or close our prayer in His name, when bringing His name before our Father, I think it’s good to acknowledge that our petitions are in the name of God’s beloved Son (Matthew 3:17).

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