Tag Archives: Romans

Matthew 16:18 – The Dry-Stone Wall Church

Before my prayer time on the evening of the 11th January 2013 I just felt that God was saying he had something special for me but I didn’t know what.  As is usual these days he was already there waiting for me to come into the place of prayer in his presence, not the other way round. I was saying ‘Thank you that your presence is already here’, not ‘Please come, Lord’.

 When I walked back into the living room to spend time with him he literally knocked me to my knees by the weight of his presence. While on my knees God gave me a glimpse of Jesus building his church in a vision. What I saw was a physical representation of the spiritual reality.

 The church was made up of rough stones, not dressed stones, and the building method Jesus was using was that of dry-stone walling.  This I easily comprehended and understood as I was brought up in Derbyshire where almost every field boundary is a dry-stone wall!

It was not a dry-stone wall like you sometimes see these days will regularly shaped dressed stones, but was one made up of irregular stones of different sizes and shapes.  In a dry stone wall there are faced stones which you see on the outside of the wall, within the wall you find many smaller stones which are used for packing and to stabilise the whole wall.  The whole church was being built on top of a large slab of bedrock, and the builder was Jesus. There was also a small bell tower on top, an open one and contained a single bell.

Boulder and Bedrock.

 ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ Matthew 16:18 (NRSV)

Here Jesus tells Peter that he is a ‘petros’, a ‘stone’, a ‘rock’, a ‘boulder’. He may be substantial in size, but he is separate from the bedrock.  He is one of the big stones built into the bottom of the dry stone wall of the church.

On the other hand he is not the ‘petra’, the ‘bedrock’.  The ancient city of Petra is called that because it was built out of the very bedrock itself.  That bedrock is Jesus himself and the fact that he is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ Matthew 16:16 (NRSV) as Peter stated on the Father’s revelation.

In this Scripture, as in the vision it is Jesus who is building his church. It is not you or I, it is not the pastor or elders or anyone else, it is Jesus. We need to make sure that we do not try to take credit for something which is not of our doing!

Bell Tower and Bell.

A bell makes a very pure sound and so should our preaching of the gospel. Living lives in holiness should be an integral part of our message that speaks volumes. We should also not complicate the gospel. The message is simple, we were dead in our sins (Ephesians  2:1) as all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory that God wanted mankind to have (Romans 3:23) so Jesus came and paid the price by the shedding of his blood on the cross to take away our sins (1 Peter 2:24). He then rose again and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Acts 2:33), when we trust in him we have eternal life which starts now (1 Timothy 6:12) and he sends the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33) to enable us to live lives that are both holy (Ephesians 1:4) and a demonstration of his power on earth (Acts 1:8).

There was only one bell, not many. Unity in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) is very powerful. God is calling us to live in unity as Christians. To come together in worship, humility, prayer and intercession as a united people. ‘If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NRSV). In past revivals God has moved because of the prayers of a few, this time I feel he wants more of his people praying in faith for him to move in power and reveal his glory. Are we prepared to come before him as a humble people united in prayer?

 Faced not Dressed Stones.

The fact that the stones were faced but not dressed is in fact significant. In the Old Testament God told Moses, ‘But if you make for me an altar of stone, do not build it of hewn stones; for if you use a chisel upon it you profane it.’ Exodus 20:25 (NRSV). This was one thing that separated an altar to the Lord from an altar to a false god, as their altars were generally made from dressed stones.

We are all different, like the stones being used to build the church building. We are to be in unity, but not uniformity. We are to celebrate our differences and be the individuals God wants us to be, then we will truly all fit together as he builds us into his church.

The visible stones were faced. In the past many people in churches have been taught not to reveal their struggles, but God is calling us to be honest. We can neither fool him, nor non-Christians with our religiosity, they see straight through it as easily as God does. In fact hypocrisy switches non-Christians off very quickly and is very bad witness, and it is one thing that makes God very angry as it is spiritual pride! We need to ask him to help us to be real, both with him and with all others whether they are Christians or non-Christians. Faced stones also look clean and fresh, we need to let Jesus knock off anything that will get in the way of his light shining through us.

 All important.

Not all of the stones were visible, but the hidden stones used for packing are incredibly important in the making of a dry-stone wall. This is also true in the church. As Paul says ‘the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect’ 1 Corinthians 12:22-23 (NRSV). We need to learn to raise up the encouragers, the intercessors, those with administrative and practical gifts so that their service is a joy not a burden as can often be the case because they are the lifeblood of the church and are central to its stability.

Jesus is building his church, and we are the living stones being built into its structure (1 Peter 2:5), although the vision I saw was of a physical structure it represents the spiritual structure of the church. Let’s be the church that Jesus has called us to be!

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Prayer Lists

What place should prayer lists have in our personal and corporate prayer?

If you have read some of my other posts on this site then you will know that I am not a fan of prayer lists.  I shall explain why I dislike them, and also what their good points are (and I do admit that prayer lists do have good points).

I shall look at why I dislike them first by asking a few questions, I am doing this on purpose so that when you then look at the good points of prayer lists it will actually put those good points in perspective.

Let’s first define our terms.

What is a prayer list?  A prayer list is a list of things or people that you feel that it is necessary to pray about.  In its simplest form it would just contain names or headings, but will often contain more detailed information.

What is a prayer outline?  A prayer outline gives you points around which you can focus your prayers, again these may just be single words or headings, or may give you more information.

Are prayer lists biblical?

This is a very simple question, ‘Are prayer lists biblical?’, or to put it another way will you find a prayer list anywhere in the Bible?  God at times asks people to pray, or not to pray about specific things.  People asked other people to pray for them and what God was doing in and through them (e.g. Ephesians 6:19-20).  But nowhere do I find a list of things to pray for.

By contrast I find plenty of prayer outlines.  Here are a few examples that I have personally used, and the situations I prayed about them for.

  • Psalm 96 – I prayed through this for about 6 months, praying for Israel and her place in God’s plan of salvation of the world, and place in God’s present and future plans.  From it I was led onto other scriptures which I also prayed through including Romans 11.
  • The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) – I have prayed through this in various ways, at various times over the years, and I look forward to many more years of getting to know it better.
  • I have used many, many scriptures as bases for prayer, and all the prayer outlines I now write for Kingdom Revival Prayer are completely based on scripture.

Do prayer lists deepen your prayer life?

What I mean here is, ‘Does it draw you closer to God and to know his heart in how you pray?’.  Let’s be honest here, in general the answer will be a resounding ‘NO!’.  In fact, one problem with prayer lists is that praying for things on prayer lists can be a good way of avoiding going deeper in your prayer life with God.

It is not wrong to pray for things and people, but prayer should be a conversation not a monologue.  What is more, prayer is most effective when you really touch the Father’s heart in prayer because he has first touched you and shown you what is really in his heart.  This is how Jesus acted and prayed, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.  The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing’ (John 5:19-20 NRSV).  When you pray in this way you know that God is listening to your prayers, even if the ultimate outcome is not the one you hoped for!

Now a prayer list can be a springboard for moving into deep places with God, but as one can often get in the way it is not the one that I would generally recommend, and would say that having the starting point of scripture is generally preferable.

Depth of prayer is important.  If you read accounts of revivals then you will see that God led deep prayer, intercession and repentance are a feature, and are key to that move of God taking place.

Do prayer lists broaden your prayer life?

If the only prayer list you have is a list of your immediate family, friends and only about your local church then the answer may well be no, in all other cases the answer will be yes!

This is the main area where prayer lists can be very good.  They can give you a wider perspective of what is happening elsewhere in the church and in the world.  Basically this is where prayer lists really shine, especially those that have been put together prayerfully and skillfully.

In conclusion.

Prayer lists, as I have said before in The Tyranny of the Prayer List in a Meeting and Growing Beyond It! are good slaves, but very bad masters.

They can have a place in broadening you prayer life, but our ultimate basis for prayer should always be scripture, and we should also always be seeking to deepen our prayer lives and not use prayer lists as an excuse for not asking God to do so.

Do you use prayer lists?  Are they a help or a hinderance to you?  What do you think!

More Effective Prayer

#15habits Guest post Thanks to Theresa for allowing me this opportunity to guest post on The Bountiful Reaper, and may you be abundantly blessed by God!

More Effective Prayer

James 5:16 (NKJV)

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I would like say at the outset, that I am on a journey, the desire of my heart is to become everything in Christ that it is possible to become, to know God intimately and live in his presence 24 hour a day, so that God is glorified in everything I do.

This post is part of that journey, a journey to deeper intimacy, and discovery of God and his righteousness, that we have in Christ.

I have been going around the mountain for years, and circumstances have forced me into seeking a deeper relationship with God, a relationship that I have been asking God for for years in prayer, though I have never made the effort to go deeper, I have been waiting for God, and have never waited on God until now, I have plenty of head knowledge, but not enough heart knowledge, and this journey is about getting the knowledge from my head to my heart.

When I look at the scripture above, I absolutely believe in the truth of what it says, we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

And it is that particular word righteousness in both of these scriptures that I would like to explore, and encourage a renewed zeal for the righteousness of God. If scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness, then I believe there is profit found in a deeper righteousness!

Before I continue a quick definition of what righteousness is and what righteousness allows.

The simplest definition is Right Standing or relationship with God, allowing us to enter his presence.

I have been of the understanding for many years that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, the bible does tell us that. I do not dispute the evidence of positional righteousness, as seen in Romans 3:22a (NKJV)

even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

And in Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

And also in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

However I have come to believe through much searching and seeking God, that although there is a positional righteousness by Grace through faith alone in order for our salvation to occur, it does not stop there, I believe that there is also a deeper relational righteousness, not our own righteousness, which will profit us nothing and is as filthy rags, please read on, and discover this relational righteousness that we as Christians need to seek after.

In my opening scripture from James 5:16. I believe that the righteousness referred to there is a relational righteousness, not something we are but rather that we are able to become.

If we look at the Philippians 3 verse in context, see below Paul talks about the relationship he desires in order to fully experience the positional righteousness so that it becomes a relational righteousness by faith, in Christ from God. In other words, the more I become conformed to the image of Christ, through deeper relationship, the more I become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Philippians 3:7-10 (NKJV)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…

The same is true of 2 Corinthians 5:21

If we look at the context, bearing in mind that these were Christians Paul was speaking to, we read

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NKJV)

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It clearly shows a relational focus rather than a purely positional one, as a result of our reconciliation with God we are able to BECOME the righteousness of God in Christ, as we seek his face, God wants that deeper intimacy with us, and I absolutely believe that signs and wonders will follow.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Also Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I look at it like this, if the presence of God had to be present in this room right now, would I feel as if I was going to die because of the sin in my life?

Right here right now in my life the answer is a definite yes to that one. So what do I do about it?

I keep pressing in and keep seeking his face, keep praying, and confessing my sins as he reveals them to me, reading his word, waiting on him, listening, praising and worshipping. Seek, Seek, Seek, those who seek him with their whole heart and mind and strength will find Him!

So does this mean that, my prayers are currently ineffective?

The answer to that is no, all prayer is effective, there are just in my understanding degrees of effectiveness, The more we pray the will of God the more effective our prayers are, the prayers of Jesus were 100% effective, He tells us that he did nothing that the Father had not told him to do, and there are many out there who have the same 100% rate, and they are impacting the world, yet even those people seek to get deeper with God every day. Put on Christ daily, the Full Armour of God, immerse Yourself in Him, daily, all day, we need to become like Jesus, a reflection of Him, complete death to self!

God is limitless, and we have not even scratched the surface of what is available to us in terms of blessing when we become the righteousness and holiness of God in Christ Jesus. I have an absolute hunger to get as much of God as I can get, so that he can be glorified through me, we are all labourers called to the harvest!

We all can attain,  and I know I will attain that level of righteousness mentioned in the opening verse, I have made a choice, and I am not going to stop seeking more of God everyday, until I die or he returns, and I have to choose to do that everyday, it is my choice, God will never force me to do it, it is a decision of my will every single day, his mercies are new every morning, and it is my prayer that every Christian will attain it, in the meantime I thank God for his mercy and Grace and for the Gifts of healing from the Holy Spirit, yet I long to see the day when we will start to operate fully in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, with signs and wonders that follow, doing the things that Jesus did and the greater things he said we would do. I pray for a unity of spirit, and of mind as we put on Christ daily, that the Church the bride of Christ may present herself Holy and Glorious in his sight! And pray effective fervent prayers that avail much! So be it.

One Question remains to be asked. How much do You want it?

Shalom Rav
Glory to God
Richard
speaktothismountain