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by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is,
the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15)
see prayer as a conversation with God. We talk to Him and He talks to
us. Sometimes He talks to us through the Bible, sometimes through
circumstances, sometimes through other people and sometimes by
controlling our minds and putting thoughts and impressions there. We
have to be careful when we think God is speaking to us because sometimes
Satan convinces us to do things by using all the same techniques that
God uses. He even puts Scriptures into our minds. However, he misuses
them even as He did with the Lord when the Lord was being tried after
his forty days and nights in the wilderness.
with God is a great privilege. However when we pray, we are quite
frequently asking God for some need. A conversation with God can
certainly be a request since God is able (and willing) to do exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). However, a
conversation should not be a memorized speech nor should it always be
just requests. When we speak to our fathers (and God is our Father),
they would think it strange if we wrote out our conversation. If we
needed our fathers to run errands for us, we might give him a list of
things that we need or want him to do. Otherwise we would speak
respectfully, but we would also speak normally. We should have a
conversation with him.
are a lot of things about prayer that I do not understand. I do not
understand how some Christians can sincerely pray for our current
president to be reelected while others just as sincerely pray for the
challenger in our system. Whose prayer is the Lord going to answer?
Perhaps this difficulty arises because our prayers are not Scriptural.
The Lord guides us as to how to pray in these cases. He set an example
when He prayed in the garden before his crucifixion saying, "Not my
will but Yours be done (Luke 22:42)." In addition, He tells us to
pray for those in authority. Perhaps if we were more inclined to obey
God in these matters, He just might take the man that we did not want
leading us and have him make decisions that are best for us. If the man
that the Lord puts in office is really wicked, he might even be turned
into a God fearing man just like Nebuchadnezzar
was in Daniel 4. This is the best way to pray, and God will no doubt
honor those who have these kinds of conversations with Him.
prayer should be more than requests. The Bible talks about praising the
Lord, blessing the Lord and thanking the Lord. These are the kinds of
conversations that we normally have around the Lord's table when we
remember Him. We call that meeting a worship meeting, and it is; but we
can and should be worshiping at other times. Worship is more than the
Lord's supper, it is more than uplifting praise music, it is more than
just saying words. It is true devotion seen in true obedience. We should
be in the "attitude" of worship all the time. That would keep
us from being in the "attitude" of complaining and grumbling.
Worship cannot be easily defined, but it can be easily seen in the lives
of those who are true worshipers. One aspect of worship is a thankful
verse for today says that praise and thanksgiving are
"sacrifices". A sacrifice costs something so praise must not
be natural or easy. Sometimes it is very difficult to just say thank you
to someone who has done something nice for us. We all want to do
something in return. God has given us victory through the resurrection
and we are to thank Him for it (1 Corinthians 15:57). He has given us
His Son (John 3:16). To the believer in Christ He has given us eternal
life (Romans 6:23). We who were without hope (Ephesians 2:12) have now
been given hope, that is we have been given a future filled with
blessing. But all of these things would be cheapened if we tried to pay
for them. They are priceless. The only way to properly value the Lord
and the things He has done for us is to say, "Thank you."
week in my personal prayer time, I am going to spend my time in
blessing, praise and thanksgiving rather than in asking even though I
have many things that I would like to request. The Lord says in Matthew
6:32 that He knows our needs. So while there is a time and place for
asking maybe there is also a time a place for not asking so that we can
be solely occupied with praising and thanksgiving. The Psalmist says
thanksgiving and praise pleases the Lord more than the sacrifice of an
ox or bull (Psalm 69:31). The Lord is a gracious giver, I am going to
try to be a more thankful recipient. I am going to just say, "Thank
for the week of October 7, 2012
Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew
people want to be leaders—they might not admit it, but facts are
facts. From the time we are about two years old we have a tendency to
want to tell others what to do, and we tend to throw temper tantrums if
we don't get our own way. Most two-year-olds like to be "in
charge". I wonder if anyone has ever aspired to being a true
follower? You can't have leaders without them.
Eve was created from Adam's side, she was made to be someone that
complimented him and made him complete. She was a help "meet"
or a help that was appropriate or suitable for him. She messed things up
for both of them when she failed to remember that he was the leader and
she was the follower.
we are going to have a President, we also need a Vice-President and a
chief of staff. If we are going to have number one's, we need to have
number two's (and three's and four's and maybe more). If we are going to
have people in charge, we need to have people that are submitting to
them. I have listened to a lot of good teaching on how to develop
leaders. We teach that we should be followers of the Lord and we teach
that we should submit ourselves to others. However, I have heard
absolutely no messages on how to be a good number two unless it would be
in connection with the women's role in the church. But in the church,
the emphasis of most ministry is on how to develop leaders in the
church, not followers of the leaders. I do not generally get the idea
that being a follower is just as important as being a leader. I was in a
coffee shop this last week listening to two men holding a Bible study on
"elders". I heard them talk about the qualifications of
leaders; but I didn't hear them talk about the qualifications of
followers, and I listened carefully since I had been thinking about this
topic. I think we need to train followers to be good followers just as
we need to train them to be future leaders.
a follower of the Lord requires self denial since most of us really want
to be number one. We want to order others, not be ordered by others.
However, good followers make their leaders look good. Women today have
trouble accepting their role as followers in the local church and in the
home. It is difficult to have a good team in the home when both husband
and wife try to take the lead. No company can run efficiently with
everyone "doing what is right in their own eyes." Workers need
to be properly organized and there needs to be clear lines of authority
or confusion results. Thus, we do have to have good leaders. However,
being a good follower is just as important as being a good leader. My
question is, "Should we only be followers until we get the chance
to be leaders? Or could a person please the Lord by aspiring to be a
good follower that never wants the pressure and criticism and insight
that it takes to be a good leader?"
Bible talks about the gift of "helps" (1 Corinthians 12:28).
Phoebe was a " succourer"
or helper or possibly assistant of many (Romans 16:2). She was commended
for her role in the work of the Lord. There are many
"followers" that know more and are more technically proficient
than the people to whom they are subject. But a good leader recognizes
his own limitations and uses and develops abilities in his followers
that compliment his abilities. He sets the goals and the boundaries and
then turns the gifted loose to "help" him accomplish those
goals. A good number two or number three knows how to get the job done,
but they also know that they are making the "boss" look good,
and likely he will get the credit. That is why a good follower has to
deny himself by losing his ego and being satisfied when he or she knows
that the job couldn't have been done without them.
twos in the Scriptures include Joseph in prison and in Egypt. We look at
him as number one but he was really making number one look good. Pharoah
knew a good man when he was introduced to one. Daniel was a number two
even though we like to think of him as number one (See Daniel 2:48).
Mordecai did quite well as number two (Esther 10:3). As a matter of
fact, number two's in the old testament often appeared to be the number
one's even though they themselves were subject to others.
need to train more number two's. We have plenty of number one's. We make
the Lord look good when we are truly His followers. We make the leaders
in the church look good when we learn to be good followers of them.
for the week of October 14, 2012
Lord IS Coming!
he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to
them, 'Do business till I come.' (Luke 19:13)
Lord has promised to come again. One aspect of His second coming is
given to us in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the church is going to be
caught up to be with the Lord forever. This is the hope and the comfort
of every true believer. Another aspect of His second coming is given to
us in Revelation 1:7. This coming is associated with Israel, not the
church. This coming causes mourning, not joy. But the Bible speaks of
only one second coming, it does not speak of two. Both of these events
are part of that second coming. I believe these two events will be
separated by about seven years. The first part of the Lord's second
coming removes Christians from coming judgment on the earth. A believer
in Christ is saved from all aspects of God's judgment. The second part
of the Lord's second coming will be to reveal Himself as King of Kings
and Lord of Lords and to set up a righteous kingdom on the earth.
we look at some of the Gospel parables having to do with his second
coming, it is easy to want to apply the teaching in them to the church
when in fact they are probably dealing with the attitude of the nation
of Israel as they wait for the Lord to come and set up His kingdom. But
while the interpretations may have to do with Israel, surely there can
be an application of those principles to those of us who are awaiting
the catching away of the church and who are not expecting to be here on
the earth when the Lord begins judging the world for rejecting Him.
of the principles that the Lord gives us while we wait for His second
coming is given to us in our verse for today. We are not to use the
second coming as an excuse for not working. This would apply to us in a
practical way as well as in a spiritual way. Paul says in 2
Thessalonians 3:10 that if a people won't work, neither should they eat.
Now I am certain He is talking about those who can work and not about
the handicapped, sick and elderly who cannot work. In this passage, the
Lord delivers to his ten servants, ten minas. Each servant apparently
got one. I believe this parable tells us that while the Lord is "in
the far country", that is, in heaven, we all have equal
responsibility to help advance the Kingdom in whatever way we can.
principle having to do with the Lord's second coming is given to us in
Matthew 25:15 where three servants were given talents. One was given
ten, one was given five and one was given one. The talents were to be
used according to their differing abilities. They were to do business
with the talents while their Lord was gone and they had to give an
account when He returned. The principle here seems to be that we each
have differing abilities that we can use for the Lord while He is away.
We need to be good stewards or our abilities and not be comparing
ourselves to others who have other abilities.
we have a parable in Matthew 20:1-16 where laborers are hired to work in
the vineyard. Some are hired early in the day and some are hired
mid-morning, some at noon and some near the evening. He had promised the
first hires a denarius for the day. But he paid all the hires the same
thing. Here we see that the Lord gives us all equal opportunity to be
fully rewarded for serving him whether we are saved late in life or
early in life. The same opportunity for reward is also available to
those saved late in this dispensation rather than early in the
learn then that we who are believers all have the same responsibility to
use our differing abilities while the Lord is tarrying. We all have
equal opportunity for a full reward no matter when we are saved. We
should not be like the five foolish virgins who are sleeping rather than
"occupying" while they are waiting for the Lord (Matthew
25:5). Those who are not taking their responsibilities seriously and who
have no love for the Lord--considering Him to be a "hard man"
(Matthew 25:24), are going to be cast into outer darkness (Matthew
25:30). That is the destiny of unbelievers.
Lord's return is almost never preached on as a motivating reason for
dedicated service to the Lord today. While unbelievers are saying
"Where is the promise of His coming? (2 Peter 3:4)", we who
are truly saved should be encouraged to do business for Him while we
wait for His coming. After all, the Lord IS coming!
for the week of October 21, 2012
that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His
wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing
soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalms 107:8-9)
you ever been out hiking on a hot day when you ran across a stream of
clear cool water coming out of a rock formation? Do you remember how
satisfying it was when you put out your hands; and, after letting the
water cleanse them, you put some of that water to your mouth? There is
just nothing like a clear cool drink provided by our Creator on a hot
day, is there? But wait, some of us carry something better with us now.
It may be Gatorade or some energy drink, but for many of us water
provided by our Creator just does not satisfy any more. Yet the Lord
said that the water that He gives will satisfy forever (John 4:13-14).
But does it really?
the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they came to the Red
Sea and the Lord used the Red Sea to separate them forever from the
Egyptians who wanted to enslave them. The Red Sea opened up for the
Israelites and closed over the Egyptians. The Israelites were
miraculously delivered, but after being delivered they were hungry and
thirsty. Then the Lord miraculously gave them water and manna. The manna
was bread from heaven. In Exodus 16:31, we are told that manna tasted
like wafers made with honey. In other words, it was almost good enough
to be dessert. They ate that bread for nearly 40 years and at the end of
the 40 years they thought that this manna tasted like pastry made with
oil (Numbers 11:8). They were tired of it and they wanted some of the
stuff that stinks that they had eaten in the land of Egypt (leeks,
onions and garlic). The Lord tells us that He is the true bread the
comes down from heaven In John 6:35 Jesus says to
them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never
hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." But is our
hunger and thirst really satisfied?
can identify with the children of Israel. They were a people who
experienced great miracles but never expected the next one. They were
bored with their lives in the wilderness, they were bored with their
miraculous food, and they were bored with their miraculous water. They
forgot what the burden of Egypt was like and how it felt to be liberated
from that bondage. They started looking back instead of looking forward,
but in looking back they forgot the burdens and only remembered the
pleasures. They kept asking the "what if" questions. What if
we lose our jobs? What if gas goes to $5.00/gal? What if I lose my
health insurance and get sick? When we begin asking the "what
if" questions and when we begin to look backward and not forward,
when we begin to look down instead of up, when we begin to look at and
compare ourselves to others who seem to have it better, we are in danger
of expecting men to help us rather than the Lord. We won't lose our
salvation, but we will lose our power, our joy and our strength.
Jeremiah says, "Cursed is the man who trusts in man." He also
says, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord." (See
Jeremiah 17:5-7.) Is the Lord really the One Who satisfies?
kept looking forward, not backward. He said, "Brethren,
I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those
things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)." We need
to remember what it was like when we were unsaved, without God and
without hope. We need to remember that our journey as Christians is an
adventure with the Lord and that when we follow where He leads, there is
excitement and joy when we see His protecting care and mercy to us in
this life. There may be times when the journey becomes long and the food
become boring, but I will take that to the stinking garlic of Egypt any
are different. When my wife and I go out to eat, I want to buy something
that I know I will like. She likes to buy something
"different" that she hasn't tried before. I understand that we
are all different, but when it comes to spiritual things, I will take
the tried and true over the exciting and new any day. Call me boring if
you want. But you will also have to call me satisfied.
for the week of October 28, 2012