Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Work of Prayer

Have you ever needed to pray for someone and it is plain hard work to do so? You know that lifting the other person up before the Lord, pleading on their behalf is exactly the right thing to do. You want to do it, but there are so many hindrances, and you don’t know if you can wade through them all to get to praying. You have to go to your job, or do some chores at home. A neighbor drops by and seems depressed so you don’t want to excuse yourself immediately and end the visit. You receive a letter or email that you think should have a quick response, but you can’t find the right words and it takes a long time to write an answer. Eventually, you find yourself pouring  a cup of coffee and sitting down for no reason. Been there? Done that?

These interferences all seem to be acceptable priorities – except maybe the coffee! How can you get to where you need to be to pray?

To begin with, my friend, God is your first priority. Your day will be a lot smarter all the way through when you put the Lord first. Worship HIm, seek Him, study his Word, and let Him know that you are His for the day, no matter what. It may be that He will impress you to pray for the needs of others right in this first-fruits time of the day you are spending alone with God. It may be this is time for you and Him alone, and He will provide another time for intercessory prayer later. However it happens, let the Lord arrange your day from beginning to end.

When Jesus Christ the Lord is your priority, everything else you have to do flows from His arrangement. Your spouse and family are next, and then your church family, and your work. Some people preach that “ministry” comes right after family, but you will find that everything you do is truly ministry when you are properly focused. The light of Christ will shine from you while you are praying, and while you are doing menial tasks, and while you are enjoying a meal with family.

Our God is good. He wants you to have an orderly life. He created us to know Him and because we will always slide off the right path without His guidance, we must accept His direction for each day.

I am ready to get to work for the Lord; are you?


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Is This for You?

“Increased progress in grace is the result of greater consciousness of sin.” – Andrew Murray, The Prayer Life.

God, in his holiness, burns with hatred against sin, so do not deceive yourself that he will overlook the slightest offense.

Indeed, all deception is sin (satan is the father of lies), so deceiving yourself that God overlooks some things is a stroke against you in iteself.

Here is one common example:  you attend church on Sunday and there repent of some sins on your mind, which is the policy or rule for taking communion. You consider yourself clean and worry-free for another week. Those un-Christ-like thoughts and spoken words even as you walk out of the church are irrelevant – to you. Feeling holier than the scruffy person sitting just in front of you is irrelevant – to you. Gossiping about every other church attendee around the lunch table that day is irrelevant – to you.  Breaking the speed limit to get to a restaurant before the after church rush is irrelevant – to you. These things are completely relevant to God, and he is grieving over the hypocrisy.

Dare you mock God? Do not be deceived, brethren, whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Galations 6:7. Your pretension of obedience and selfish delusions will lead to greater filth in your life. God says man is born to evil as the sparks fly upward. Job 5:7. Let me ask you this: did Christ die for you once a week?

In the foot washing event in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, Christ told Peter that he, Peter, had been washed, and only his feet were dirty. Apply this, Christian, to yourself. You are cleansed, washed in the blood of the Lamb. Now, how often, then do you wash your feet?

Well, how often do you physically wash? Once a week? Or every time your feet are dirty? In Christ’s time, men wore sandals and walked through dirt, dust, dung. The only Bible record we have of Jesus riding during his ministry years is when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion. He WALKED among men, through all the filth of men and beasts in his path. His disciples walked with him. Think you they only washed their feet once a week, or maybe once a year at the Passover? (Some Christians only visit a worship service once a year.)

They washed every time they entered a house. Households had the custom of showing respect to their guests by providing for this cleanliness.

Think about this: your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 6:16. YOU ARE GOD’S HOUSE. Keep it clean. There can be no agreement between God and sin. If you want true communion with the Lord, 24/7, get washed up and stay clean. Read 1 Corinthians 10. If you partake of the cup of demons all week long, you have no fellowship with the Lord at all. And then you dare mock God by repenting on a day you choose?

Remember, when you are saved, by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior from sin, you are washed all over. You stay clean by “washing your feet.” Every time they get dirty. Know this, my loved ones, my dearest family of God, keep practicing washing up your feet, and after a while, you will avoid the filth in the first place! Jesus Christ was the sinless, SPOTLESS Lamb of God, slain for the world. You will become more and more like him in your cleanliness.

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The Sacrifice

A lady with a sad face sat in the back row seating of a small suburban church. Typically this church’s attendance for Sunday morning services was about 50 to 75 people, so this woman, a visitor, was very much noticed. An usher had greeted her warmly as she entered but didn’t leave his post to find her a seat near someone outgoing and friendly. So she slid into a back seat.

Mrs. Thompson, a regular, across the aisle in her claimed back row where she could see everything, wondered about the visitor. Was she someone off the street? You know – one of those wicked people looking for a handout? Was she somebody’s relative and they just didn’t see her come in? That usher should have asked! Maybe she was invited and whomever invited her wasn’t coming today. These speculations roamed through Mrs. Thompson’s thinking as she sat still and tried very hard to look at the sad-faced woman without letting on that she was looking.

Mr. Spiegel, an elder, saw the visitor arrive from the front of the hall where he was aligning the collection plates, candles, and perfectly symmetrical floral bouquet to a higher degree of neatness. He had a rush of temper that the morning routine would be disarranged by the effort it would take to welcome someone new to the church. It was just too mean of Reverend Dobbs to require the elders to perform such service. Anyway, it could wait until after the service. Maybe she would slide out the door too quickly to be grabbed by the elders.

People wandering in after the sad lady glanced toward her and hustled to their own usual seats. Looking down at their watches, they all knew they had perfectly timed their arrivals for just the beginning of the service. It was a real pain to get there a few minutes early and have to pretend to be silently praying during the prelude.

Just as the lay leader stood to open the service, somebody’s cell phone rang a raucous, jazzy ringtone. The general reaction was nervous laughter with some real guffaws from the teenagers and people in the vicinity of the ringing started checking their pockets and purses. A couple of image worriers looked over at the visitor. Not to worry; she was looking down and apparently oblivious.

After that, the service went fairly smooth. The little choir did their best to impress the visitor. Mrs. Voche, who always sang a little flat, was absent, which helped. When the offering was taken, the sad lady put an envelope in the plate as it passed down the row; people who could see that warmed to her a bit. Reverend Dobbs preached a snappy little message that didn’t require getting the pew Bibles out and trying to find the right page without looking foolish. He looked over at the visitor twice, but she did not appear to be payng attention.

Promptly as scheduled, the service ended with a flourish of singing and a collective sigh of release. A hum of chatter filled the room. Elders nodded at each other, making eye contact to see who would tackle the visitor. Meanwhile, the sad-faced lady stood up and looked around her. Her face was no longer sad! Instead she seemed peaceful and pleasant and her face now looked glorious. She moved toward the door, quietly greeting people near her as she went. Elder Spiegel finally approached her, but he didn’t speak his party piece. The lady took his hand, looked warmly into his eyes and said, “God’s grace to you, sir.” At the door, she did the same with Reverend Dobbs. Then she left.

Later, when the treasurer of the little church opened the envelope the lady had placed in the offering plate, he found a small amount of cash, plus a note. He called the minister and the elders, and they read the note. The following Sunday morning, it was read aloud to everyone. This is what the note said:

Dear church people; Recently, I have experienced a very great trial. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, walked through every moment of this trial with me, and my heart overflows with gratitude for His goodness. He truly does sustain and protect us in every circumstance. As things have become easier, I asked the Lord how I could show my gratitude in a way that would help other people. He directed me to visit your morning worship service and to pray for every difficulty I saw, because you know you have trouble and secretly everyone is wanting to change. So today I have been with you and prayed for everyone and for your church in general. I do not know your specific needs, of course, as I write this note, but you can be sure that God is poised to do a wonderful work with you and your church. So I decided to give you a heads up that you have been prayed for, and you should begin praying for change yourselves. Be encouraged! The Lord has seen your need and He is already answering! Sincerely, Mrs. Z.

And the changes began that very week. Soon the little church was wide awake and seeking to please God. Mr. Spiegel still had to arrange the offering plate in a row – but nobody minded. Mrs. Thompson began sitting around different seats and getting acquainted instead of speculating. She even signed up to be a greeter. Reverend Dobbs began studying the Bible for his messages instead of newspapers and theology tomes. The choir members encouraged Mrs. Voche to sing a solo in a lower key that suited her voice. Everyone got to know the Lord a whole lot better because the new changes all demonstrated His love and goodness, and soon the whole community around the church felt the impact for Christ.

The sad lady never came back, unless – is that her, wearing the cheerful expression and sitting near the front?

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Faith That Works

Please read James 2:14-26

Faith is what you believe.  Christian brothers and sisters, if we want others to know the truth about God, then we must act on what we believe.

If I tell someone that God is love, because that is what I believe, the best way for that person to believe what I say is to demonstrate God’s love. As a musician, sometimes all I have to do is sing God’s praises, or a song that relates to the other person’s need. My actions back up my faith. We must not be ashamed of the gospel!

Many times Christians get snarled up about faith and works. Some do obey God from love for him, they believe everything he says and go from there. This is acting in faith, and plain obedience means letting Christ work through you. Alternatively, many Christians work to prove themselves. To whom? How this flushes out is that they are constantly trying to prove themselves to themselves and to other Christians. Life becomes a treadmill. Ultimately, faith is totally excluded and all their works are ineffective and worthless. Christ is not first in front of them; people-pleasing has replaced him.

James points out the example of Abraham, who listened to God and BY FAITH prepared his only son Isaac for sacrifice. Can you even begin to imagine that? You can read the whole story in Genesis 22. Try believing what Abraham had to believe, that God is asking you to sacrifice your child from whom God had also promised a great nation would come forth. Remember that Abraham’s wife was barren and that Isaac was also born miraculously when Abraham was about a hundred and Sarah ninety years old. Hebrews 11: 18-19 says that Abraham believed that God was able to bring Isaac back from the dead, if he was sacrificed. Of course, we know that even as Abraham was poised to slay his own son in obedience to God, God told him to stop and provided a lamb for the sacrifice, instead. (This story always gives me pause to think of the Lamb God has provided for all of us; Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for your sin and mine.)

Are you a believer? A follower of Jesus Christ? Is there something you are thinking about right now that you know the Spirit is telling you to do? Acting in faith, so that you don’t get snarled up in human works, begins with this: put one foot in front of the other like Abraham climbing the path that day with Isaac, and begin to do what you know to do. The Lord is with you, and he will complete the work he has begun in you.

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Being A Christian

You are a Christian . . . you have given Jesus Christ your heart . . . you understand that you have a whole new life . . .  but the “first love” of trusting the Lord has waned. Now what?

It is like falling in love with a person whom you marry and then have to work out that marriage in every day circumstances. There’s no doubt in your mind that you love your husband or wife and that your husband or wife loves you. You made a commitment and that’s that. However, it’s hard, hard work to be married and carry out that commitment to each other. Part of the problem seems to be that you are always trying to recapture those first days of overwhelming sky-high affection when you KNEW this person was THE ONE. But you can’t. What you see now is what you get, and it’s boring. There is nothing new there to grab your interest any more.

Boredom is a sign of pride. You are looking for something for yourself!

The key to unlock passion in love is to be a giver. You love someone; give yourself away to that person. Do what honors the person you love. What do you need for yourself, anyway? Think about it. In those early days, if your love was genuine, all you wanted to do was what served the other person best. We are created to be givers, not takers. Our fulfillment is in giving and serving. How this works is that by giving, we receive what we truly need!

What did Jesus do? He gave his life for you. As soon as you knew that, you gave your life to him. He is your greatest love, and the first Person whom you honor and serve. As long as you are seeking to honor and serve Christ, all the passion and joy and overflowing presence of your love keeps welling up new. Trying to recapture old stuff is irrelevant, because what you know now is greater and far better than the feelings with which you began. This love has purpose and deep meaning.  YOU KNOW that because the door to Christ’s love for you is wide open, his love flowing toward you is unhindered. Can you rest a moment and just feel his passion for you; his joy in you?

Christ is the Bridegroom, and we, the church, are his bride. When we first come to Christ, we are excited. We want everyone to know him. Our hearts have changed, and our priorities have changed. Then the daily grind interferes with our romance. We have to start digging deep into God’s Word and praying deep prayers and work at keeping the romance alive by serving the Lord. And many Christians give up, right there. It’s too hard, and too much, and they start thinking Christ doesn’t deliver what they expect, so never mind. But Jesus does deliver! You still know that, buried under the self-pity.

Christ does not let you go. There comes a point when you desperately want your relationship with him to be restored. What can you do? Communicate.  Give him yourself. Pour everything you have been holding back out to him. Give, give, give. Tell him what is good. tell him what is bad and rotten. Feel his tender, forgiving arms come around you. You love each other; now go on from here.

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God Will Tell You

Psalm 104! That is one place to read how Almighty God has planned and cares for his creation. Read in many, many places in the Bible how God plans to deal with evil and all of his plans for the Earth. You can beleive God because he is the Creator and the Supreme Authority. He never changes and his word never fails. Nothing and no one can interfere with what God wants to do.

Nothing exists without the explicit direction of the Living God.

He has revealed to us, his people, exactly what his plans are for the future regarding the heavens and the earth. He hates sin, so he sent Jesus Christ to be made sin for us and die as the ultimate sacrifice for us, for our sin. Then Christ rose from the dead to PROVE he has conquered sin and evil (for the wages of sin is death). He made complete and total access to himself for us and all we have to do is believe Christ.

Jesus Christ reveals the very heart and mind of the Father to each person who believes. We know he is in control of creation. We know how the earth will end – and it isn’t by the puny way of fuel emissions from men. It will end when God says so, and his power and majesty and glory will be seen by everyone. There will be no question who is in charge. There will be a new heavens and a new earth and the new Jerusalem, beloved city of God. Read it for yourself. Read the Bible. God has told us plainly what he is doing. There are far greater issues of life at stake for you than what you eat, what you wear, what you drive, what you see in the news.

Does God want you to be ignorant of where your particular life is going today? Absolutely not! It isn’t a mystery, and if it is to you, it shouldn’t be. You can trust Christ for everything, and the Holy Spirit will tell you where you must go and what to do. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. If you are not paying attention to his will for your life, you are hardening your heart from him and wallowing in darkness. This bears repeating: God’s will for you IS NOT A MYSTERY. Everything God says is true, and he doesn’t leave any loopholes; that is, there is no way to sneak around what he says. He has a plan for your life, and it is the best plan. So why would anyone want to slip out of it, anyway? God is love.

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door is opened.

May the Lord touch you today for understanding of his glorious truth.

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Joy In Doing Right

Psalm 97:11 says that the Light shines on the godly and joy on those who do right. The Light is Jesus Christ: He is the Light of the world.

In this world, we always have trouble, and we can easily forget the joy of the Lord. Things that we hope for don’t happen, and we wonder if God is ever going to answer our prayers on certain matters. Doubt drags on us when we know we should have faith in God, and that makes us struggle with guilty feelings.

In 2 Timothy, chapter 4, there is a formula for experiencing your joy and gladness in following Christ. In Galations, we are told that joy is fruit from the Holy Spirit, so when you are open to him, you can receive his fruit. Being human, we also need practical wisdom for living out daily life in this manner. 2 Timothy 4:5 has wisdom for this:

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

1. “Watch thou in all things” can be paraphrased, “Keep a clear head.” Romans 12:2 tells us to have our minds renewed. Clear thinking is a must for godly activity. Minds and thinking are renewed by READING GOD’S WORD.

2. “Endure afflictions” is just what it says, and more; we have no reason to be afraid of suffering for Christ. Did he not suffer first and most?

3. “Do the work of an evangelist” simply means to WORK at bringing other people to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We can’t do that by sitting in a corner. You don’t have to stand on street corners and proclaim the Gospel unless God calls you to do that. Everyday life and how you live it speaks for God – or not. So work at living so that you are PRO GOD.

4. “Make full proof of thy ministry” sounds difficult, doesn’t it? Actually, it just means to complete what you know God wants you to do. Never give up. He is never going to leave you alone in your ministry. He is with you every moment to lead and strengthen and help you accomplish this.

These four actions are positive for knowing the Light shines on you, and you will receive joy in the process. To obey God is always the way to success. When you have joy, you have assurance that you are doing well.

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