For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
The verse above tells us that death is the result of sin. Needless to say we sin (or miss the mark) just about everyday. Regardless of who we are or how “saintly” we may seem to be (or think we are), the reality is we all fall short.
There are 2 important thoughts worth meditating about the words “keys of the kingdom”. First of all - Jesus did not say key but keys. That means there’s more than one, at the very least 2. Secondly, when Jesus said these words, keys were not what they are today. Today keys are usually used to open locks and doors, less and less used to lock them. For instance a padlock is opened by a key but is locked by a simple click. Car doors and even doors in homes are opened by keys but can be locked without the use of a key. In Jesus’ day keys were used to open and to lock.
The picture Jesus was giving us was two-fold:
1. The keys handed to us allow us to enter into the very throne of God. These keys give us access into all of heaven’s best: His presence, His grace, His love, His wisdom, His mercy, His provision, His kingdom!
2. Secondly these keys lock out the trash of hell. These keys lock out the things that hinder us: Guilt, pride, anger, envy, lust, bitterness, self-pity, lack, secret sins and others.
What are these keys exactly: Prayer that unlocks, prayer that locks. Prayer opens the doors that gives us access to the best of God’s Kingdom and shuts out the offerings of Hell. These keys fit perfectly to open and to lock. Use them today!
Last night I was talking with Pastor Donnell Jones a friend from Washington DC. After a while he warned me that the signal would soon be fading as he entered basement parking. This got me thinking about how our prayer signal can sometimes be basement level. Jesus told a parable that may help us get a good connection:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector."
Prayer is for everybody. As this parable shows it is even for the sinner. Some people think God only hears the prayers of the righteous. This is a wrong assumption. If this were true then who would get saved.
Nope, God hears everybody’s prayer. At least I know that’s what happened to me back in February 6, 1984. After a long time of absence I prayed and God answered which got me started in a relationship with Him that is now running 22 years and counting.
While God hears all prayers not all prayers connect with Him. Some do and some don’t. Ever met a person who did not connect with you. It’s something like that. Except with God it is not about preferences with personality but something much deeper, after all He sees everything, we are naked before Him.
This how not to connect:
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
Praying about ourselves in self-righteousness, feeling privileged and entitled because of the good things we have done is never the way to go with God. Worse is when you compare yourself with others.
This is how to connect:
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Acknowledging our distance and that we are undeserving sinners is the first step. The second step is to come anyway - trusting in His grace and mercy to accept us. The whole point of prayer is not that we have it all together rather is we don't that's why we pray. This is the best way to connect with God.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
Last night I met with my Thursday night small group. I asked the group to talk about some of the things they wanted to thank God for from last year. I was expecting a short "thank you God for this and for that" -- but that's not what I got. Each man had a story to tell.
First there was JB who had quite a list: from his father's stable health condition to favor with clients and bosses. Then he testified about how God provided a new car for him and a sudden down pour of finances in the last 2 months of last year. He also told us about how God provided for new furntiure and appliances for his condo. Most of all he was thankful for how God has drawn him to Himself.
The next guy was Niel. His was also very similar. Like JB, Niel is single too and in his 30's. He told us about the 2 new cars that he got last year and the news of a house that was to be given to him this year by his uncle/boss. Most impressive was how God healed him of his insomnia.
Finally Alex talked about how God has transformed his heart. He recounted a time when he called me for lunch last year because God had accosted his heart. He knew it was time to get serious with God. From party animal to a fulfilled and fully satisfied man. He was just all too thankful for knowing God in a deeper and more real way. Alex too had his fair share of financial miracle. He wanted to do some renovating on his house but had only 10,000 to do it with. But he felt he needed to start, and he did. He still can't explain it but the renovation has been ongoing and he has since spent 200,000.
I was so encouraged by the testimonies of these men. I too had much to thank God for. If you want to read about it click: https://joeybonifacio.multiply.com/journal/item/31
The summary of the evening: God is faithful and He answers prayer.