Friday, July 31, 2015

Prayer: A Treasure Undiminished

"The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridles the rage of lions, hushed the anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescues cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.
Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm.  It is the root, the fountain, the mouth, of a thousand blessings." ~Chrysostom
Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of grace. Let us spend hours on our knees imploring the mercies of heaven.  And as the prayers and praises go up, the blessings will come down.  Persist in fervent prayer, my friends!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

David: A Heart for the Lord

If we were to pick the person, aside from Jesus, who delighted in God’s law the most, based on what we can see through Scripture, it would probably be David.  In Psalm 119, David says that he delights in God’s Word at least nine times.  All the other verses in this amazing love poem speak of David’s love for God’s Word.  Over and over he exclaims, “Oh, how I love Your law!”  God’s commandments are ever with him, he thinks on them all the day.  

David’s love overflows for the precepts of the Lord, describing them as,
  • His delight (vs. 24)
  • His counselors (vs. 24)
  • Good (vs. 39)
  • Comfort in affliction (vs. 50)
  • Faithful (vs. 86)
  • Exceedingly broad (vs. 96)
  • Ever with him (vs. 98)
  • His meditation (vs. 99)
  • Sweeter than honey (vs. 103)
  • A lamp to his feet (vs. 105)
  • A light to his path (vs. 105)
  • A heritage forever (vs. 111)
  • The rejoicing of his heart (vs. 111)
  • Right concerning all things (vs. 128)
  • Wonderful (vs. 129)
  • Faithful (vs. 138)
  • Pure (vs. 140)
  • Truth (vs. 142)
  • Everlasting (vs. 144)
  • A great treasure (vs. 162)
  • Righteous (vs. 164)
  • Righteousness (vs. 172)
Even from this list, we can see how in love David was with the Word of God.  I believe a big part of this adoration was his dedication to spending time in the Word through memorization.  In fact, several times declares how he has placed (and will continue to place) the law of God upon his heart.

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” ~Psalm 40:8

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” ~Psalm 119:11

“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” ~Psalm 119:16

“My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law.” ~Psalm 119:109

“For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.” ~Psalm 119:83

“I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.” ~Psalm 119:93

 “I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts.” ~Psalm 119:141

“Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.” ~Psalm 119:153

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.”  ~Psalm 119:176

David says here that although he is small and despised, although he has gone astray like a lost sheep, and although he has afflictions and has become as a wineskin in smoke, he does not forget the commands of God.  Why?  Because these are important to him, they, as he says in verse 93 are his life.  They guide him back to the path, they comfort him in his afflictions, and they bring him joy even in the midst of his rejection by man.

Notice Psalm 40:8.  
“I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” ~Psalm 40:8
Because David delighted to obey God and to do His will, he wrote God’s law upon his heart.  We too should be memorizing God’s Word out of a desire to please Him through obedience.  Our yearning for obedience should come from a holy fear of the Lord, in such a way that we are willing to do anything, as long as we are in the center of God’s Word, including memorizing the Bible.

David’s passion for God’s Word poured forth in all that he did.  The Word swirled within his mind constantly, influencing the way he acted and the way he talked.  His love for God and obedience to His Word prompted obedience as David hid God’s Word in His heart.  What about you?  Are you a man after God’s own heart, willing to obey the Lord in this area?  Are you eager to develop a love for the word and an intimate relationship with your King by hiding His Words in your heart?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ask, Seek, and Knock

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  ~Matthew 7:7-11 (emphasis mine)

Over the course of my fast from the internet (more about that here), I came to understand the truth of this passage in far greater depths.  This is not a “maybe” sort of thing, rather Jesus says that if you ask, seek, and knock, you will most certainly be rewarded.

This is a promise I heard proclaimed loudly as I read through the book Wresting Prayer, by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  They shared Scripture after Scripture that all demonstrate the power we have in prayer.  If we ask, we most certainly will receive.  They wisely pointed out how we may not always immediately see the answer to our prayer (and it may not be in the form we have most been expecting.  But the answer will come.  Our job is to keep asking (like the story of the persistent widow).  Their writings inspired and encouraged me in my spiritual prayer walk.

This is a promise I claimed as I prayed throughout the two weeks.  I have spent many hours in prayer during these last few weeks.  Prayer for myself, my family, and other needs.  It was tempting to become discouraged, as some of the requests seemed almost impossible to fulfill.  But I remembered this passage and chose to believe.  The Lord gave me faith, and then blessed that faith.

This is a promise I saw answered during my time with Him.  According to His great mercy, He lavished His “good things” on me, an undeserving wretch.  There were many times when I felt unworthy of the calling to which I had been called, but the Lord gently reminded my heart that those whom He calls, He also equips.  And, as I asked Him for wisdom and guidance, He gently equipped my heart so that I might be pleasing to Him.  He graciously whispered truths into my heart and lovingly guided my steps.

This is a promise I watching being fulfilled in a hundred different ways.  During one of the two weeks, I served at our church’s VBS.  I cried out to the Lord on many different levels for the various and endless needs of that time.  We say many ways in which the devil tried to attack us (spiritually and physically), and yet he always failed, because of the power of God that was poured out on the place due in part to the many prayers of His people.  I saw the Lord answer many different specific prayer requests throughout the week.  He truly was faithful!

And He continues to be faithful.  Although I have finished my fast from the internet, He continues to answer this prayer.  I encourage you all to ask.  Seek.  Knock.  And your Father who is in heaven will pour out His good things and manifold blessings on the heart that is willing to receive them.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fasting From the Internet

Greetings in the name of the Lord, beloved friends!

Several of you may remember last year, that around this time I took a break from the internet for a month.  The rewards of spending extra and undivided time with the Lord were incalculable! [Read more about that here

I feel the Spirit of the Lord drawing me once again away into an undivided time in His presence.  According to my schedule however, it will only work out for me to fast from the internet for two weeks.  Let me discuss a few of my reasons for doing so:

The internet can be a good thing, but oftentimes it is used as a tool of the enemy to destroy our time.  A fast of any kind is designed to break our lust for and dependence on that thing from which we are fasting.  So my fast from the computer is designed to break any dependence or lusting I may harbor for this earthly thing.

I compare the internet--especially social media--to sugary food (like candy).  After all, it is pleasant in the moment, but destroys your body on the inside.  As one spends more time eating this sugary food, the healthy things don't seem as appealing.  We only want to eat the sweet things instead of the morsels that are actually good for our bodies.  However, as we wean ourselves from the sugar-coated food and eat those things which are nutritional--like salad--those healthy things begin to taste better and better!  So it is with God and His Word.  As we wean ourselves off of the pleasures of this world and feed on Scripture, we will come to value it and long for it more and more!

So because I am fasting I will not be posting anything, or answering any of your questions for the next two weeks.  You are welcome to submit any comments/questions, and to fill out the survey of my book, but I won't be able to reply to anything until July 27th.

The Lord has invited us to pursue Him wholeheartedly.  He wants a deep and intimate relationship with Him more even than we desire one with Him.  And so, I invite you all to join me on an internet fast.  It doesn't have to be for two weeks, it can be as long or as short as the Spirit leads and your schedule allows.  Surely He is worth more than this internet.  Let us demonstrate that by pursuing Him instead of the empty things of this world.

I know it is easy to glance over something like this and not really think about it, so I encourage you to pause what you're doing right now and think about it.  Can you hear the gentle voice of your Lord calling you to abandon the things of this world and pursue Him?  Will you answer His call?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Growing In The Knowledge Of God

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2; Emphasis added).

I have found it to be so true that the more I truly know the Lord (not just in my head, but in my heart) and experience the reality of who He is, the more I have grace and peace flowing in and through my life!

The two verses after this one are equally powerful:  “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue...”

Did you hear that?  How can we receive the manifold blessings of God?  Through the knowledge of Him!  By knowing Him intimately and personally.  Continue reading:

“ which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

How amazing!  Through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we recognize and really come to know the exceedingly great and precious promises of the Lord.  I have found this to be true in my own life.  The more I come to know the great love of the Lord, the more I realize and come to claim His promises s my own.  The promises were there all the time, but as I studied His character, I became more aware of these exceedingly great promises and the more precious they became in my sight.

And it is through all this that we become partakers of the divine nature.  It is through this that we can escape the corruption of lust that exists all around us.  Wow!

Yet what is the root of these manifold blessings?  Where do we attain grace and peace, precious promises, and freedom from lust?  It is through the knowledge of the Holy One.

How do we come close to the heart of the LORD?
--Read the Scriptures—for in them He is revealed.  This is a peak into the very heart of God!  Get to know this book and you will get to know the heart of the One who wrote it.

--Talk to Him throughout the day.  This turns your eyes once again upon the One who made you and paid the price of blood to redeem your life.

--Praise Him!  Declaring your adoration for the Lord is one way to meditate on Who He is.  As the truths of His nature and character become more real to us, He will become more real to us.  Oftentimes we know that He is faithful and loving, but we don’t really understand what that means.  There are many songs that have explored the depths of His character qualities; sing these to the Lord!  Praise Him from your heart and you will get to know His.

--Memorize and meditate on Scripture.  What better way to really learn of the character of our King than to meditate on His words that have been hidden in our hearts?

One final warning:  I know it is tempting to think that we know all there is to know about God, especially if we have been raised in a Christian home and have grown up hearing stories about Him all our life.  I can say this, because that’s exactly the way I felt, a mere couple of years ago.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Lord and pretty much had it covered.  But then, as I really began to actually study God’s Word and learn about Him, I began to learn how much I had yet to learn.  Job 11:7 puts it well: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”  The answer? No one.  But we can certainly begin.  Although we will never know all there is to know about God, we can know some and continue to understand more of His nature as we spend more time with Him, for Proverbs 8:17 says, “...those who seek Me diligently find Me.”  Let us seek the face of our Lord.

In closing, 2 Peter 3:18 exhorts, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pray For Our Nation

Last time, we discussed the importance of praying for our nation and our leaders.  So I thought it would be appropriate to include some quotes from our Founding Fathers about the importance of prayer and even include a prayer from George Washington.  May they inspire and encourage you to approach the throne of grace on behalf of our nation!

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
– George Washington

“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work.  Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.”
– George Washington

“The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better.”
– Samuel Adams

“As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him.”
– John Adams

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?”

– Ben Franklin

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Praying For Our Leaders

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Jeremiah 29:7 – “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

These verses highlight the importance of praying for our leaders.  And indeed, this is an important command and duty that we, as Christians, must perform.  As we have discussed in previous articles, prayer is powerful.  It is a strong offensive weapon that we have been given.  Praying for our leaders, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-4, is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.

As 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that when God’s people humble themselves, pray, and seek God’s face, turning from their wicked ways, God will heal their lands.  Instead of being angry about the decisions our country has made, let us be proactive in taking our country before the Lord in prayer. And He will surely hear our cries.  Even if He doesn’t immediately answer our prayers, He is saying them up in bowls in heaven to one day pour out as judgement upon this world (see Revelation).  Do not underestimate the power of prayer, especially when the body of Christ comes together in unity to pray for our nation.

As citizens of this country, we are only passing through.  We belong to heaven.  Yet, as the Israelites were commanded when in exile, we must pray to the Lord on behalf of this nation, for when it prospers, we prosper.  Our leaders need strength.  They need wisdom.  Instead of shouting at them to make the right decisions and throwing a fit when they don’t, let us aid them through prayer.  Let us intercede on their behalf, asking that the Lord would give them understanding and that His will would be accomplished through their lives.

Think of it! You can have a real role in our government—without leaving your room!  Although you might never physically see the results of your prayers, you will never know how great the impact will be.  Never forget, “…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).  So pray, my friends!

Let us join with Thomas Jefferson in praying for our country: “Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Note:  This page looks like a great tool on prayer for our nation.  It sounds like it updates often with different specific prayer requests that can be brought before the Lord.  Check it out!