What do I do when my prayer life is bombarded by evil thoughts? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you on this Friday, and here is our phone number, 833-THE-CORE. We'll be taking calls for the next 25 minutes or so, so now's the time to call 1-833-843-2673. Now, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites.
In fact, you can watch us right now on YouTube and Instagram Live, and send us your question that way, or you can always email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Ruth, who's calling in from Pennsylvania. Ruth, what's your question for Adriel?
My question is this. I'm responding to a lady, actually not responding to, but having a problem with reading scripture. Now, she says she's finding it difficult to read every day or to fit it in. My problem is that I read it every day, but am frustrated because I don't understand what I'm reading. And I don't feel the zest, the love of God. I'm doing it more out of duty and obligation. I don't feel God's presence, I have.
And I think what's at the core of my fear is that R.C. Sproul once, in one of his sermons, said that there are people who are not chosen, who are not the elect, who, even if they try to come to Christ, they can't. Because they're not among the chosen.
And I guess I just wondered, is that the case with me? Ruth, the struggle that you feel to read the Bible and then to read the Bible and have your affections stirred, we might say. Sometimes we approach our prayer closet or reading the scriptures and we try to do it, but it just feels like our hearts are cold. That's something that every single believer in Jesus Christ has experienced. And thank God that we are not saved by our feelings, but by Jesus Christ.
Because our feelings change every day. Yes, there are seasons where we really feel, as you said, the presence of God. Maybe it's in the context of worship or prayer or studying the scriptures or just being out in nature and being overwhelmed by God's common grace, and yet there are also times where it's like, okay, I think I'm doing everything right, and yet I feel so distant from the Lord. And the question is, in those seasons where we feel maybe distant from the Lord, are we going to trust in our feelings or are we going to trust in what God has said in His word, His promises, His truth? I think a part of maturing as Christians is learning to rely more and more on God's word, His sure word and promises, and not so much on our feelings, because if our feelings for us are what determine, okay, am I really saved, am I not saved? If it's a feeling that I have, well, it's just going to be a spiritual rollercoaster ride.
There are going to be times where we feel really good and there are going to be times where we feel pretty miserable, and then we're going to question, well, maybe God has abandoned me, maybe God has left me. Now, with regard to understanding the word of God, it is so important. One, I think having a consistent practice of reading the Bible is one of the ways you can grow in that understanding.
The Bible is a big book, and the context is so important, and the historical background, we're separated by thousands of years, and so really immersing yourself in it daily, and that doesn't mean you have to read a ton, but just that daily habit of reading scripture helps to acquaint you more and more with the text. And so I think that that's really important, so I would say keep doing that, and do that prayerfully. Every time we approach the Bible, we should pray and say, God, illuminate my mind. Help me to receive your word. And this is precisely how the apostle Paul prayed for the churches that he cared for and helped to oversee. Writing to the Ephesian church, he says, For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe. You say, I want you to have that spirit of wisdom and of revelation.
I want your mind to be illuminated so that these great truths that we receive in God's word, they don't just sort of pass through our minds, but they burrow deep inside of our hearts. And so every time you approach the Bible, I want to encourage you to pray. And then also, you know, we don't read the Bible in isolation. We read it as a part of the church, the community of faith. And that's not just your local church, which is important. And what I mean by that is, you know, as you're reading things and you have questions, it's great to be able to go to your pastor and say, okay, I was wrestling through this passage in the book of Romans or in the book of Ephesians or in the Old Testament, so that you're not on your own. But we also read with the whole church, with believers throughout, you know, the history of the church, gathering their insights as well. And so we're together in this, not reading in isolation. And it's through that, that consistent pattern of reading, of being under the ministry of the word, of being in Christian community, prayerful that we continue to grow in our understanding.
So don't give up. Continue to do what you're doing, and don't base your relationship with God primarily on your feelings, but on what God has revealed in His word. And I think what you'll find is as you continue to pursue Him, you're going to experience those other, you know, other seasons of, okay, wow, it does really feel like I'm close to the Lord now, and God is speaking to me through the Scriptures.
And then there are times where, sometimes for no reason at all, sometimes it's, you know, we've quenched the Holy Spirit through sin or something like that, but oftentimes it's just, our feelings change, and that's okay. But going to the Lord again and again and saying, God, rekindle that passion, that love for you. Help me to follow you, to obey your word, even when I don't feel like it. God, help me to follow you. In Jesus' name, and may God grant you that, Ruth, and bless you as you continue to seek the Lord. You know, Adriel, just a follow-up question for you. I know for myself, when I got a study Bible several years ago and started really understanding the context of certain books and certain verses, it really helped the Bible to come alive for me in a whole new way. Yeah, I think that that can be helpful. You know, the one study Bible that I recommended before is the ESV study Bible.
It's been out for several years now, but there's a lot of great historical background stuff there. And let me just add one thing, because Ruth, you said you'd listen to a preacher who seemed to be saying, you know, that there are some people that want to be saved and they're crying out to God, but that God just won't save them because he hasn't chosen them, they're not elect. But really, that's not the, I think there was a misunderstanding there. That's not the way in which we want to think about salvation or God's grace, because Jesus says, the one who comes to me, I will in no wise cast out. There isn't one person who calls upon the name of the Lord sincerely to whom the Lord says, ah, yeah, no thanks, not interested. No, when we come to God, when we cry out to him for his mercy, we have the hope that he hears us and that he answers our prayer, that he receives us.
And so it's so important that we understand that. Otherwise, you know, we're in a situation where we feel like, man, I'm sincerely crying out to the Lord, but maybe he just doesn't care about me, maybe he just doesn't love me. And the fact of the matter is, that's not what the Bible teaches. We call to the Lord and pray to him, and he says he is near to all those who call upon him in truth, that if we draw near to him, he will draw near to us. That is a promise that God has given you in his word. And so you can take that to the bank as you draw near to the Lord, Ruth. God doesn't distance himself from you.
He draws near to you. Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, maybe something going on at your church that you're concerned about. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Jim calling in from Tennessee. Jim, what's your question for Adriel? Well, you might think this is a trivial question, but I'd like to know, did Jesus drink wine?
The reason I'm asking this question is, more than once I've heard some people say they have an alcohol problem. Well, Jesus drank wine, and nowhere can I find it. I see where he ate and drank with sinners and tax collectors and that sort of thing, but it does not specify that he drank wine.
Hey, Jim, thank you for your question. It does seem to me that just a surface reading of the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus did on occasion have wine. Of course, he was accused in certain contexts by the religious leaders of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners, because he would eat and drink with sinners.
Now, obviously, the way in which they're approaching this situation is totally wrong. I think that we can say, yeah, Jesus drank wine, but he never got drunk. Drunkenness is a sin. And when individuals who have a problem with alcohol try to justify their drunkenness by saying that Jesus drank wine, therefore, I should be able to get drunk, there's a huge issue there, because Jesus was against all sin.
He never sinned, and the apostles make it clear. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. And so it's not one of those things where it's like alcohol is in and of itself evil or sinful any more than food is. The issue is that people take these things and they abuse them and they overindulge. They commit gluttony.
They get drunk, those types of things. And so I think somebody who's making that argument, I think it's fair for us as Christians, for you as a Christian brother, to confront that person and say, hey, if you have a problem with alcohol and you're trying to justify your sinful behavior by pointing to the fact that Jesus was accused of being a drunkard, just because he was accused of that doesn't mean he ever was one. No, he never got drunk. He never sinned. And because he never sinned, you have the hope of forgiveness, but don't use Jesus to try to justify your sins. And the sad reality is, friends, isn't this what so many people do? We want a God who will justify our sins, not a God who justifies sinners. And what I mean by that is we have no problem finding loopholes and justifications for the things that we want to do, the sins that we want to commit so often, and then pointing the finger at others and saying, okay, those are the real problems out there, when instead we need to repent, we need to confess our sins. It sounds like this is exactly what this individual needs to do.
There can be an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, view of alcohol, and it sounds like this person has that. And so pray for them, and again, if it's fitting, provide that stern exhortation, that stern rebuke even, in saying, hey, don't use Jesus to justify your sinful behavior. Thanks for reaching out, Jim. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. In fact, you can leave a voicemail for us on our voicemail system 24 hours a day.
833-THE-CORE is our number. I also want to mention a great free resource that we have available. This is actually the last day we're going to be offering this on Core Christianity, but it's wonderful if you're a parent or a grandparent. It's a way to learn God's word through song. Yeah, this free download helps unpack why we sing as Christians, and it also gives you some suggestions for what to sing. There are 10 great hymns of the faith with devotional reflections you can use together with your family. Learning and reflecting on the words of these hymns is a great way to dig deeper into your faith and worship the Lord on your own or together with your family.
And so get ahold of this resource. It's called 10 Songs to Sing as a Family. Again, it's free, and you can get it over at corechristianity.com forward slash radio. And just a reminder again, today is the last day we'll be offering this on the radio tab, so check that out, corechristianity.com forward slash radio. Well, let's go to a voicemail from one of our listeners.
This is Paula. I have a question for Pastor Sanchez. I am concerned about constantly being bombarded in my prayer life with evil thoughts and how to take control of those thoughts, knowing where they've come from.
How do I handle this? I'd appreciate your input. Thank you. Sister, how much each one of us just struggles, I think, with distraction in prayer?
It's so easy. Whether it's evil thoughts or it's just, oh, I gotta pick this up at the grocery store or a conversation I had the other day, we are so easily distracted in prayer. And so I think a couple of things. One, with regard to the source of the evil thoughts, I'm not entirely sure. Sometimes there really is spiritual warfare that's taking place. Sometimes if an individual, if we fill our minds with evil things, those things come up again and again. So one of the questions I think we can ask ourselves is, okay, what am I filling my mind with?
Am I feeding it with good things or am I filling it with social media 24-7 and just being bombarded with all of these stressful things, that that could be an issue? And so I think of the encouragement that Paul gave to the Philippians in Philippians 4, verse 8. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. And so maybe taking a step back and saying, Lord, okay, help me to meditate upon that which is good and true and beautiful. Your word, your promises, your people. Help me, God, to fill my mind with those thoughts.
And so that's one approach. But I think when you're in the middle of prayer and you're struggling with these thoughts, just being able to say, honestly, Lord, help. You know my mind, you know the things that I'm struggling with in this situation, these thoughts that I'm having, and I know that these thoughts aren't coming from you. I don't know if they're coming from the evil one.
I don't know if they're coming from my own heart. But, Lord, help. Help me to fix my eyes upon you in prayer and to pray to you focused. And one thing that might be helpful for you, and I've done this as one who also struggles with distraction in prayer, is maybe get a prayer journal. You know, a small book where you can write your prayers down. I've found that if I'm writing my prayers down, it's easier to keep that train of thought, that focus, as I'm writing. And so that could be something for you. Also, praying through the Lord's Prayer.
That's really helpful. Jesus gives us the words there in Matthew's Gospel in the Sermon on the Mount. And so Matthew chapter 6 is what I'm referring to. And so praying the Lord's Prayer, and you can just pray it word for word. Or another thing that you can do is maybe stop at each petition. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Stop there and focus on that one petition.
What does it mean to hollow the name of God? What does that look like, and what does God answering that prayer look like in my life and in my community? And focus on that and do that with each petition. And so finding ways to focus your prayers and not beating yourself up when you're struggling with distractions, but instead taking those distractions to the Lord. And maybe even depending, you know, you mentioned evil thoughts, but sometimes we just get distracted with a conversation we had or thinking about a family member. Maybe that's the Lord at work in your life reminding you of someone to pray for. And so you can even use sometimes those distractions as a way of praying for people in your life.
Thank you so much for your question, and I hope that that's helpful for you. And that God blesses you as you continue to pray to Him. Paula, thanks so much for calling in and for listening to CORE Christianity.
We do appreciate you. And like Paula, you can leave us a voicemail. In fact, you can call this weekend and leave a voicemail on our system, 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Just a little programming note for you. After we conclude this live version of CORE Christianity, we're going to be recording a second program.
If you didn't get a chance to call in in the last 25 minutes or so, you can call in for about another 30, 35 minutes at this number, 833-THE-CORE. We'd love to get your question. We also love getting your emails, and we receive them all the time at questionsatcorechristianity.com.
Here's one from one of our listeners named Pam. Interesting question here, Adriel. She says, my daughter and son-in-law listen to what they say are prophets on YouTube. They are going to a three-day convention that features these prophets. My question is this. Do you believe there are prophets today? In my opinion, after the Church received the Holy Spirit, we no longer needed them. What is your take on these people?
Thank you for that question. I think that prophets were an extraordinary office that you had. In the Old Testament specifically, you had prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah, Ezekiel, and God raised them up to be annexed to a part of the kingdom, the theocracy in Israel, and their job was essentially to testify against Israel when Israel had sinned, to bring God's case against them.
Now, in addition to that, they gave these great promises, the promises of the new covenant, for example, Jeremiah 31 and so forth, so these great promises of the coming Messiah, the salvation that God would bring. But they had a very specific role, especially in the Old Testament, those Old Testament prophets. In the New Testament, you don't have the theocracy, the kingdom of Israel in the same way. Now you have the Church, and in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians, it talks about prophets in the New Testament Church. I take it that that office in particular was more of an extraordinary office, that it was not going to be something that continued in the life of the Church ordinarily. And evidence for that is, you look at places like 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, as the apostles are establishing local churches there, they're giving qualifications for elders, for deacons, for preachers, pastors, but you don't have a bunch of information about the prophets, per se, and it is my sense that the apostles themselves knew, these are extraordinary offices that are here for the establishing of the Church. There's a context that sometimes people will go to to make this point, and I think it's a legitimate point, is in Ephesians 2, verse 20, where the apostle Paul, he's talking about, you know, the Jew, Gentile church that God has created, built, he says in Ephesians 2, 20, on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ, Jesus himself, being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
So they're foundational, they were foundational to that early building up of the Church. Now, that doesn't mean that God can't speak in extraordinary ways today, or providentially lead or guide someone today, in a way that's not, you know, how we typically think about it, is preaching the Bible or studying the Scriptures. God can do that, God is free to do whatever he wants. But ordinarily, no, we shouldn't go looking for prophets to lead us and to give us the secret insight into God's Word.
We should go to church and be committed to local churches where we're growing together under the ministry of the Word and faithful, sound Bible teaching. And let me just add this, one of the things that really concerns me, when people will sort of take that title to themselves, I'm prophet, you know, so and so, they're claiming or can claim to speak on behalf of God, that's, I've seen that abused. I've seen people make those kinds of claims and then say things that are contrary to Scripture or say things to manipulate people. And so you really have to be really cautious with that. And certainly anybody who's sort of taking these offices or this office onto themselves, I mean, that raises all sorts of red flags.
And I would say, stay away. If, you know, the primary ministry that we're receiving, the way we're growing as Christians, is through YouTube pastors and preachers and not in the local church, there's a real problem. There's nothing wrong with watching things on YouTube.
We're live on YouTube every day, so I'm not going to knock that. But you need to be in a local church, accountable to a pastor, where the Word of God is faithfully taught. Your main diet, you know, the main way you grow as a believer shouldn't be through YouTube.
There isn't proper accountability there. You don't know whether or not this quote-unquote pastor or prophet, you know, somebody assuming that title, has really been qualified, is qualified to teach the Word of God. Qualified according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus chapter 1. There are so many people these days who aren't qualified, who are just out there teaching and preaching and have never really studied theology, have not delved deeply into the Scriptures.
They just have a lot to say. And maybe they're gifted, but that's not what we're called to pursue. And giftedness alone doesn't mean that someone should be a pastor, and certainly, you know, that they're a prophet. And so, Bill, I mean, I'm sure that you see this same thing happening in the church today and that it's concerning to you as well. Yeah, you know, I think one of the overarching issues is so many people that are looking for this emotional high, this kind of supernatural faith. And as you said, that's not the ordinary Christian life.
No. And so that, so, brothers and sisters, I mean, the encouragement is to dive deep into the Word daily with that first call, thinking about that first call. And it's in that that God is at work and you can be satisfied in His work. God bless. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, go to corechristianity.com forward slash radio, or you can call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833, the CORE. When you contact us, let us know how we can be praying for you. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
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