Prayers Answered with Pranks

April 22, 2019 at 11:18 am | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jesus continued teaching His disciples about the model for prayer with this concluding thought:

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

Luke 11:11-12

What do we make of this strange illustration which sounds so foreign to our modern ears? Can you imagine a child asking his father, “Dad, may I have some bread?” and the father responding with some sort of cruel practical joke? “Okay, Son, I have some bread for you right here… [reaches behind his back]… Ha! JK! It’s really a rock! Did you break your tooth?”

Or the son asking, “Dad, what do you have there? Is that a fish? I wanna see…” and the father responding, “Sure, Son, here you go… Whoa, it’s a snake – look out!”

It sounds ridiculous, and it just gets worse: “Dad, I’m hungry, how about an egg?” Dad: “Hmmm… I dunno – try this instead!” [hurls a scorpion at him].

Maybe I’m just obtuse, but this seems like a really tough passage of Scripture. The disciples were trying to make sense of the correct model for prayer and Jesus started going on about this crazy dad terrorizing his son. And I’ve read several commentaries which go to some length to assert that maybe a loaf of bread can look like a stone, and maybe a fish can sort of look like a snake. After all, neither have arms or legs, they say, so Jesus must have been teaching about deception, warning against being deceptive in prayer. And I’m certainly no scholar, so that might be the correct interpretation, but an egg being confused for a scorpion? Seriously?

I tend to think that Jesus was being humorous here (albeit with a serious point), and that we just don’t “get” the ancient Near-Eastern connotations with our Western modern mindset. I draw this conclusion because the next verse reveals what I believe to be Jesus’s point:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:13

God is “our Father,” but he is not like “A father.” In other words, earthly fathers are evil. (If you are a father who is reading this, that is probably not very affirming, but that’s what it says.) Jesus wants us to talk to God the way a child talks to his dad, and, while an earthly dad is not always competent, appropriate, or trustworthy, even a really sketchy earthly dad who loves his child wouldn’t give the kid a scorpion or a snake in response to a serious request for food. Based on this line of reasoning how much MORE will God (the perfect Father) give His Spirit to those who ask HIM?

It seems like Jesus was changing the subject when He brought up the Holy Spirit, but He really wasn’t. The Holy Spirit – to Old Covenant believers – was not a permanent indweller. Rather, He was given at specific times for specific ministries. When my kids ask for candy, I won’t give them a hand grenade, but I might give them an apple instead. I – despite being evil – WANT to give them good gifts, but I don’t always get it right when deciding what’s “good.” Our Heavenly Father, on the other hand, has given us the Holy Spirit, and He’s always good. The Bible says that He will guide us into all truth. We need to ask God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we can be confident that He will help us.

A Recipe for Importunate Prayer

March 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Luke, parables | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Prayer is an expression of faith. A lack of prayer – by which I mean private prayer time, praying when there is no one else around – shows a lack of faith. I once heard a preacher say that we need to pray in two different ways: with our with our boots on and with our boots off. “Boots-on” prayer is when we pray through our prayer lists. This is the hard work of prayer. “Boots-off” prayer is our worship of God in prayer, and it should not feel like hard work. It should be joyous. In the event that you find all of your time spent praying to be difficult or awkward, this is not, however, an excuse to stop doing it. Prayer is like most spiritual disciplines. Often our “have to” comes first, but if we are PERSISTENT, our “want to” will catch up to our “have to.”

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:2-4

Our preparation for prayer should include seeing needs, noting them down, reading the Bible, sticking our noses into the spiritual walk and lives of our friends, listening to people when they talk so we can pray about their desires, fears, and needs. Even the first part of our prayer ought to be preparation for the rest of our prayer, getting God-centered and God-focused, seeking to make our will conformed to God’s will, so that we can ask God for what He wants us to have with confidence and passion.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Luke 11:5-8

Vance Havner used to jokingly remark how accurate this parable was in portraying unexpected company always seeming to show up at your house at the most miserable times. Notice the studied ambiguity whereby it’s unclear precisely whose “importunity” is being highlighted. It works either way. If it’s the borrower’s importunity, then it’s his “need” that is the cause of the friend rising at midnight. If it’s the lender’s importunity, then it’s his fear of shame in refusing the plea of his friend. We might define “importunity” as embarrassing insistence. Think of it like this: take need + urgency + persistence + shame and stir them all up in a pot and you’ll get “importunity.”

Let’s say the person who needs the bread at midnight is us. There is something we want, and we believe it is very, very important and that it is in God’s will, or maybe we want to know whether it IS in God’s will. The idea that we would pound on our neighbor’s door at midnight shows how crucial it is.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Luke 11:9

The words translated as “ask” and “knock” have a connotation of persistent asking and knocking, so if even a grumpy sleepy person will respond to your “importunity” – your obvious need – when you stay after him long enough, how much MORE will your Heavenly Father respond to you, His child, when you are persistent?

This is NOT teaching that God is reluctant to help us, but if we bug Him enough, He will finally cave. It’s showing that persistence helps us to be more DEVOTED to Him.

Now let’s say that “importunity” Luke 11:8 refers to the feeling of the lender – the person whose door is taking a pounding at midnight – and he starts to feel embarrassed, perhaps a type of second-hand embarrassment for the person who considers him to be his friend, but also because of his own reluctance to help out, and what what a refusal to help would say about him.

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Luke 11:10

This is NOT teaching that we need to chide God, and say, “Lord, I can’t believe you won’t even make it so that I can pay my house note this month. I mean, COME ON, Lord, I really serve You, You know? After all I’ve done for You…” hoping that “God’s face will get kind of red and He will say, “I know, you’re right, what was I thinking..? Here you go – hey, psst, don’t tell anyone that I’m slow to answer prayers, all right? I have enough trouble getting people to come to Sunday School as it is!” That’s NOT the meaning of this passage.

However, we know from Scripture that God is zealous about His Name, and He is in the business of getting glory for Himself, and that one of the ways He does that is by answering prayer, so it is right and good – not as a manipulation tactic, but as a way of calling upon the promises of God – to speak to Him about His Own glory. Moses and other Old Testament patriarchs did this. “Lord, You’ve delivered us from Egypt when we had no hope, and You promised to bring us into the promised land, and it’s totally our fault – we’ve broken the Covenant, not You – but, Lord, You know what the heathen are gonna say. They’re gonna say You weren’t powerful enough to fully deliver, or You weren’t big enough to keep Your Word. Lord, don’t let us be the cause of Your glory seeming to be diminished.”

When we honestly pray for God to glorify Himself in answering our sincere petitions, God has authorized and encouraged us to be persistent about that.

In Whose Name Do You Pray?

March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Question: When I pray I usually end my prayer by saying something like, “in Jesus’s name,” but other people say, “In ‘Your’ name we pray.” Which one is right?

Answer: I’m not sure there’s a “right” or “wrong” to this one. I think it may depend on to Whom you are praying. Jesus, in His model prayer, taught us to pray to God the Father directly (Matthew 6:9). Of course, we only have access to the Father through the Son, Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. However, you can also speak directly to Jesus in prayer. If you are praying privately, then you do not need to be concerned about formalities, but, on those occasions in which you may be called on to pray publicly, in my opinion it’s best to clarify which member(s) of the Trinity (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) to Whom you are praying, and to pray in the name of Jesus (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17), rather than just ending in an ambiguous, “in ‘Your’ name.” I wouldn’t be dogmatic on it, though. Certainly there is room for disagreement.

Prayer for Preparation, Provision, and Perfection

March 11, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:4 (emphasis added)

Previous definitions of prayer in these lessons included: talking to God; coming into God’s presence in order to submit to His will; and asking for God’s help. Now we can add that prayer is a restoration of fellowship with God.

Almost every time – if not every single time – you pray, you have sinned. When we pray, it is important to “confess” our sins – to get in agreement (I John 1:9) with God about our sin. Sin does not dissolve your RELATIONSHIP with God if you are a Christian, but it can hinder your FELLOWSHIP. “Forgive us our sins” is simple, but this does not mean that’s all we need to say. It means that there should be a simplicity about our admission that we were wrong and God is right. Elaborate prayers for forgiveness can easily turn into excuses, and, as Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe would sometimes write, an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:4 (emphasis added)

Let’s add another definition of prayer: Prayer is a ministry planning session with God. Not only is it somewhat hypocritical to expect forgiveness from God while refusing to forgive others, but one of the first steps in effective Christian ministry is taking an inventory of our own hearts. Bitterness in our hearts will grow into a trap that defiles us and those we are trying to help. In prayer we deal with the stuff that only God knows about us. That is a great freedom and a great privilege.

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:4 (emphasis added)

Prayer is a key to sanctification. Look at Jesus’s instruction. He did not say to ask God to lead us away from SIN, but to lead us away even from TEMPTATION. The request for deliverance from evil has a connotation of being delivered from “the evil one,” referring to Satan. Evil is not a personal entity, but Satan is. This is not a prayer for deliverance from his claim on your soul. It is a prayer for deliverance from his influence.

It is very gracious for God to allow us a part in our own sanctification, and to ordain prayer as one of the means for us to do that. It is much more difficult to sin, or to contemplate in a speculative way the things that tempt us, while we are in direct contact with our Covenant Partner.

Prayer helps us in our preparation, with our provision, and on our way to perfection in Christ.

A Prayer Meeting for Need-Meeting

March 1, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 11:2 (emphasis added)

When we pray we can ask for God’s will to be done IN OUR LIVES and IN THE WORLD. These desires can be prayed separately or they can be combined. Jesus taught His disciples to pray for them in reference to “Thy Kingdom come,” so we recognize that we want to see God’s Kingdom advanced in this world, and that that it would be pointless – as a citizen of that Kingdom – to see ourselves “advanced” outside of it. Imagine a missionary going to China and praying for his own position to be improved to the exclusion of the people he came to reach for Christ’s Kingdom. That would obviously be wrong.

We can pray for our children, but not just for their health and their grades and their careers and their future spouses. Instead, we pray that those things will be working together to advance God’s Kingdom in this world. We can pray for our own health and our spouses and our jobs and our finances and our church and our influence and prosperity, but not so that we can be more comfortable. Instead, we pray that those things will be working together so that God’s Kingdom can be advanced in this world through us: “as in Heaven, so in earth.”

How is God’s will done in Heaven? With immediate obedience. With unquestioning loyalty. With fear and trembling. With exultant joy. With complete assurance. And with an eye toward future fulfillment. We look forward to the “sweet by and by,” but one of the things that’s going to make the by and by so sweet is that it’s going to come OUT OF the nasty now and now.

Simple definitions of prayer include: talking to God; coming into God’s presence in order to submit to His will; and asking for God’s help.

Give us day by day our daily bread.

Luke 11:3

From where did you get the food you ate this week? From the store? Indirectly, from your checking account? From your paycheck? From your job? From your employer? From your education and skills and experience? From your background/family? You could, in some sense, attribute your daily bread to all these sources, but Who was ruling over all these things and working them together just so you could eat and not die? God was, but was He obligated to do this? Is He obligated to keep doing it or to do it tomorrow? Jesus taught the disciples to pray as though they needed God every day, because He has not only ordained the situations and things we need to survive, but He has ordained prayer as the means by which we get those things. “Daily bread” may be seen as a synecdoche for all our daily “needs,” including our clothing, health, shelter, and other provisions.

It is important to remember, though, that Luke 11:2 is not an instruction to butter God up for Luke 11:3: “God, You are really awesome – and You are really nice – and You could really kick our butts if You wanted to – but we KNOW that Your name needs to be hallowed, and we’re really more concerned about your will than ours… NOW GIVE US WHAT WE WANT! OR AT LEAST WHAT WE NEED! No, the model prayer given by Jesus to His disciples is designed to be a truly God-centered prayer, not a man-centered prayer. “Lord, give us our daily bread, because if You do not give it to us, we recognize that we could not get it anywhere else.” The prayer calls it “DAILY” bread, not a year’s supply of bread in advance. “We trust You for today, and we now that You hold tomorrow in Your hands. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. You know what we ‘need’ better than we know what we need. Give us ‘day by day,’ don’t give us too much – keep us VERY close to You, Lord.”

How to Talk to God

February 15, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Luke | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Luke 11:1

Knowing that Jesus was God incarnate, and (incorrectly) thinking of prayer only as asking God for help with something we can’t do on our own, we might think it remarkable to find Jesus praying in the Gospels, but it really drives home the importance of prayer. Jesus’s prayer life must have been really phenomenal. If Jesus “had” to pray, how much more should we think that we absolutely MUST pray? “Teach us to pray,” said one of Jesus’s disciples. They didn’t ask Him to teach them how to preach, or how to do miracles, or even how to serve and minister. They asked Him how to PRAY.

Luke Chapter 11 contains a version of what is often called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is not a prayer that Jesus Himself prayed, and it was never intended as a magical formula to be repeated word for word. When I was in elementary public school we prayed “The Lord’s Prayer” and said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. From what I understand, times have really changed regarding prayer in schools, but it is designed to be a model, not a mantra. Perhaps I should add that it IS okay to repeat it word for word at times, but it is better to incorporate its principles into your PERSONAL prayers.

Praying is simply defined as talking to God, although we could probably come up with a more theologically impressive definition that incorporates words like “intercession” and “supplication” and “petition.” You normally develop a friendship with someone while talking to them. When we pray, does God talk back? It depends on what we mean by talking back, but I DO believe prayer involves both speaking and listening, and, most importantly, that Bible study and prayer go hand in hand, since the Bible is the one sure way to know what God has to say to us.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 11:2

God is “our Father” in the sense that He created us, but, even more so for true Christians, in the special sense of the “new birth.”

Why do you think Jesus made a point of adding “which art in Heaven?” For one, it reminds us of God’s sovereignty. For another, it reminds us of our eternal home. It reminds us to have an eternal perspective. It reminds us of our citizenship. If we are praying out loud in the presence of others, it reinforces the idea for the listeners that we are praying to THE ONE TRUE GOD. It reminds us of His position OVER us – His power and our submission.

“Hallowed be thy name.” For God’s name to be “hallowed” means for it to be venerated, to be esteemed, to be considered and treated as holy, with reverence and respect. “Hallowed” is connected with the idea of holiness, so God’s name is set apart as different. It is to be treated with both love and awe. It is not to be trifled with – as the 3rd Commandment teaches us. God’s name is to be hallowed by us personally when we pray, and we should pray that it would be hallowed in this world. Blasphemy (taking God’s name in vain) was punishable by death in the Old Testament. Today it is almost the sine qua non for popular entertainment.

“Thy kingdom come.” Many times we are guilty of praying in direct contradiction of this model. We pray, “Lord, let my will here on earth be done in Heaven,” instead of asking God to cause His Heavenly will to be done here on earth – and especially in our own lives. We use prayer the way a pump is used on a sinking ship. It ought to be used as the plans for the ship, to help determine whether or not to set sail, whether to raise the sails with the hope that the wind will blow, the guiding of the rudder, the dropping and the raising of the anchor, and the preparation for the possibility that we may have to go down with the ship.

Here’s another simple definition of prayer: coming into God’s presence in order to submit to His will. In answering His disciple’s question, Jesus did not intend to give a word-for-word memory device, nor did He prescribe a posture of kneeling, standing, lifting of hands, or bowing the head. They wanted to know, “How do we think when we pray? What should we talk to God ABOUT? For what should we ask Him?”

Some of the best prayers in the Bible were answered in wonderful ways. Hannah prayed for a child and she got Samuel. Joshua prayed and Achan’s sin was uncovered. Jacob prayed and Esau didn’t get his revenge. But these prayers were made in submission to God’s will, and that needs to be our attitude in prayer also.

When Things Get Real

January 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jeremiah had placed himself in a collective position with the people: not just speaking on their behalf, but speaking as one of them. Perhaps we should pray this way when praying for our children and our spouses, when praying for our church, when praying for our nation.

The Lord answered Jeremiah in Chapter 15. We say that He always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

Jeremiah 15:1

This was not an insult to Jeremiah. Actually, it was something of a compliment, but even the most influential of God’s servants and prayer intercessors would not be able to dissuade Him from what must be done. The Lord told him to “let them go,” as if He would allow them to choose their own form of judgment – although any of the four choices would be terrible: death by disease, death in battle, death by starvation, or humiliation and slavery.

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Jeremiah 15:2

God made it clear to Jeremiah that He had no delight or joy in this. He does not rejoice in the death of the “wicked,” much less His own people.

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

Jeremiah 15:5

He recognized that, without Him, they would be utterly alone and defenseless in a hostile-to-God world.

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jeremiah 15:6

They had done this to themselves. They had “forced” God to do it. How heartbreaking that God’s right hand, which longs to stretch out in deliverance and comfort and protection and provision, would now be stretched out – heart-wrenchingly – in destruction. We see the use of anthropopathism and anthropomorphism in the description of God being weary. Time and again He had “repented” – reconsidered venting His wrath, and relented in mercy to allow more opportunity for the people’s repentance – and now He was sick of it. He had only been taken advantage of time and time again. Oh, never let us say that our God is some cruel impersonal force! Let us never say that He is not merciful and longsuffering, nor that He dispositionally “wants” anything for us other than the absolute best – which is repentance, faith, and obedience to Himself.

The Lord’s lamentation provoked Jeremiah’s lamentation, but it was a confused lamentation, because it was a real, human lamentation. As “great” as Jeremiah was, Jeremiah was a man. When his emotions took control – when they eclipsed his faithfully rational mind – He expressed bad theology, but at least He sought God while doing so, rather than trying to consult some worldly philosophy, false idol, or his own imagination.

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

Jeremiah 15:10

Jeremiah’s “woe is me” was a curse upon himself, as he was able to see himself only as cursed because He was hated like a bill collector, forgetting that, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

The Lord did not coddle Jeremiah in response. Instead, He let him know that, if he thought he had it tough now, he would soon have reason enough to reevaluate how tough it could really get.

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

Jeremiah 15:13-14

Jeremiah pleaded for God to help him, based on what he had done for God.

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Jeremiah 15:15-17

But then he blamed God, and dared to question God’s method and honesty!

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Jeremiah 15:18

God’s response to this was to give Jeremiah an opportunity that He would not give again to the nation as a whole who had squandered it: Repent.

Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

What do we stand to lose if we fail to follow God? Our freedom? Our health? Our prosperity? Our lives?! We can’t always control how God will treat our countrymen, or even our kinsmen, but we can make sure that we are surrendered to Him, that we are trusting Him, and that we consider it an honor, rather than a betrayal, to suffer for Him.

Sobering Up, Sobering Down, Sobering All Around

October 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Posted in I Peter | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

As Christians our attitude as we are being prepared for glory (especially in suffering) should be an attitude of expectancy. But how do we maintain this attitude? We can’t just go around looking up at the sky, hoping that Jesus will come back any second, and ignoring everything around us. We can’t be lazy, but we can’t be overly fanatical either (although, for those of us who have seen much apathy on the part of those who ought to be serving Christ zealously, it would seem something of a relief to have to cool down a hot-headed fanatic rather than trying to warm up a bunch of corpses).

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7 (emphasis added)

“Be ye therefore sober” in that verse means to keep your mind steady and clear – to “stay cool,” to “chill out.” The opposite of “sober-minded” is “mania” or “frenzy.” At least 12 times in the Bible, the exhortation or option is given to be “sober” (II Corinthians 5:13; I Thessalonians 5:6,8; I Timothy 3:2, 11; Titus 1:8, 2:2,4,6; I Peter 1:13, 4:7, 5:8).

Revelation Chapter 12 is a great chapter to study and apply, but do not base your entire Christian life on Revelation Chapter 12. Some people are so excited about proving their interpretation of end-times prophecy that it’s like they think they’re on the planning committee. We need to move from the planning committee to the welcoming committee. When is Christ coming back? When He’s good and ready (and He’s already good).

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7 (emphasis added)

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.

Mark 14:37-40

This may give us some insight into why the Holy Ghost used Peter to write I Peter 4:7. Like all of us, at one time he needed to learn the importance of being sober and praying.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12

Love covers sins, the way that Japheth and Shem covered Noah’s sin, although Ham wanted to turn it into a spectacle.

Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

I Peter 4:9

It is important for Christians to share the homes that God allows them to manage.

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I Peter 4:10

Identify and use your spiritual gift(s), or, more practically, USE and identify your spiritual gift(s).

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

I Peter 4:11

Old Testament Prayer

January 5, 2018 at 10:59 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Question: In Exodus Moses talks to God and relays messages back and forth between God and the people. Did people in the Old Testament pray in the way that we do?

Answer: That’s a really good question that forces us to think about the nature of prayer. We know that people prayed in the Old Testament, even before Exodus. Two notable examples are Abraham in Genesis 20:17 and Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:12-14. After Exodus the Old Testament is replete with all kinds of prayers in all kinds of situations. Many of the Psalms are in the form of prayers, although sin could always serve as a hindrance to prayer (Psalm 66:18).

It is possible that in Exodus 2:24-25 when God heard the “groaning” of the Israelites in their bondage in Egypt that this groaning was a type of call to God for help, but it is also possible that, after hundreds of years in Egypt, the people had forgotten about Abraham’s God and did not practice prayer. It may be that through the ministry of Moses and the priesthood the practice of praying to the one true God was reinstated.

Your reference to Moses, though, is especially astute, because it reminds us that, while Moses interceded with God on behalf of the people, under the New Testament we have a better Intercessor (Romans 8:34) and Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) that allows us to call upon the Lord in His Name freely whenever we want (Hebrews 4:14-16).

To My Wife: Thank You

December 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

As we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, I am so thankful for a wife that has been faithful to pray for me over the years. I am convinced that her prayers have been one of the chief means through which God has seen fit to deliver me from many sins, to grant me great blessings, and to protect me from much danger and evil.

I also want her to know how grateful I am for her influence on our daughters. With each passing year I recognize how much they become more and more like her – which is a very good thing! By God’s grace, I desperately want the children that He has entrusted into my care to be faithful, kind, compassionate, joyful, teachable, and to have a desire to know Christ in deeper and more mature ways. God has certainly used my wife to accomplish this in their lives.

My wife and I serve in a local assembly of believers (a “church”). We believe that this is God’s plan and will for nearly every believer. My wife has a strong commitment and love for our church family. There is no doubt that my own ministry there would be much weaker and less effective without her help and partnership.

After 26 years of marriage, my wife and I have certainly had our share of arguments. As someone who grew up playing competitive sports, and who now “argues” for a living, I have a real aversion to losing an argument. I am thankful that when I lose an argument with my wife (which is often, simply because she is usually objectively right while I am objectively wrong), she doesn’t think of it as “winning.” She thinks of it as graciously dealing with a problem, “working things out,” or having a disagreement. I love her for this.

When my wife and I said our wedding vows we promised to love each other for better and for worse. The vast majority of these last 26 years have been “for better” moments (at least for me!), but we have had some “for worse” moments, too. We’ve come through these “for worse” moments by the grace of God, but His grace at these times has shown brightly in and through the faithfulness, strength, wisdom, humility, and perseverance of my beautiful and brilliant wife. I love her very much and thank the Lord for her – and for the gift of 26 years of marriage.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.