Saturday, April 30, 2016
5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. (Gen 13:5-13)
We should not sit in stern judgment concerning the choice Lot made for we all have made them in times past, and many still do so as a matter of habitual greed. Our churches have far more Lots today than Abrahams. Many who know God well, yet know Him not well enough to surrender their frail and imperfect wills to Him, populate not only the pews of churches around the world, but regrettably the pulpits, too. Many clergymen make it a point to learn who gives the greater treasure in offerings so that they can gage the impact of their sermons to please, and not offend, the one with deep pockets. The Apostle James elaborates a great principle regarding that same circumstance: 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:2-5)
Great and climactic decisions are often more easily made than the steady, day-by-day adherence to the principles that follow in trail of that decision. Lot agreed to follow Abram (later Abraham) from Ur of the Chaldees – to leave familiar surroundings and possessions to go out in uncharted waters following the command of the God of Abraham. Lot did so without so much as a whimper. But along with perfect obedience to God comes blessings. Those blessings had made of Abrahams nephew, Lot, a wealthy owner of much sheep. So far, Lot and Abraham have gotten on swimmingly well. But the material blessings begin to burden territorial concerns. Lots shepherds strive with the shepherds of Lots benefactor, Abraham, over water rights. Perhaps less driven by concerns over worldly concerns than Lot, Abraham calls his nephew forward and shows him the territory round and about upon which the two are living. 7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abrams cattle and the herdmen of Lots cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
The magnanimity of Abram (Abraham) is abundantly obvious from his initiation of a resolution and his willingness to have second choice on Lots preference of land grant. A man who acts out of the will of God rather than his own will always demonstrate the same magnanimity of the Lord in dealing with others. So Lot takes assessment of the choice offered by Abram – an assessment far more inclined to worldly concerns than Godly ones. 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. What a woeful thing for men and women to choose the attraction of the world over the important consideration of righteous conduct in choosing with whom they will pitch their tents.
Lot chose the fertile plain of the Jordan Valley, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. How tragic!
Three stellar points emerge concerning the character of Lot vis avis Abram.
1 Lot lacked a devotion to God that was demonstrated in Abrams character. Every place he went, Abram built an altar there to the Lord. There is no record of Lot ever building an altar – even after escaping the devastation of ill-chosen city – Sodom! But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
2 Lot was worldly-minded. The Lord hates a high look. . . . . him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. (Psalm 101:5) Did Lot defer to his elder uncle, or did he, without hesitation, choose what he believed was the most personally profitable for himself? 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
3 Lot made wrong decisions because he used his own reason and not that of prayerful contemplation. He LOOKED toward Sodom. He chose the wrong side of the land to dwell in. He PITCHED HIS TENT toward Sodom. That was also to enhance his opportunity to gain the wealth from the filthy commerce of Sodom. We have said many times, especially to the young among us, that sin is a direction whose grade grows steeper as we travel in the wrong direction. In pitching his tent toward Sodom, Lot set in play a number of further wrong decisions that would place his very family in grave jeopardy. Finally, Lot became part of the political establishment of Sodom. He moved into that wicked city – so very wicked we get the term sodomy therefrom – and became an official at the gate. When the destroying Angels came to Sodom in the gloaming of the evening, 1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. (Gen 19:1) Please do not tell me that you have not made wrong decision, uninformed by prayer, that you came to regret. Lot did, indeed, come to regret his decision to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Decisions we make similar to that of Lot will often have perilous consequences for our innocent children. What was the price that Lot paid for his selfish decision to bring his family near to the very seat and throne of sin? Only three of Lots family were saved. We know not for certain how many perished for we do not know if he had sons in Sodom; but we do know Lots wife perished by looking back perhaps in regret to the city she had loved. His two sons-in-law died in the devastation as well, refusing to leave that sinful hotbed. (sorry for the pun). And the two daughters of Lot, plagued with the sinful and sensuous atmosphere of Sodom, engaged in a reprehensible relationship with their own father from which two cursed sons were born. We may consider Lots decision simply unwise and uninformed. That would be a correct assumption, for it was based on carnal considerations and not prayerful and Godly ones. Did God at any point send due warning to Lot of the peril of his soul if he remained in Sodom? Yes, God sent very stark warning just as He does to other nations and peoples who heed not His Counsel such as our own sinful nation. Chedorlaomer, with other kings of the vale of Shittim, invaded and defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. With what result? 11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abrams brothers son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. (Gen 14:11-12)
So Lot and his family, having been captured by enemy kings, became a once-again burden to his uncle, Abraham. Abraham could not allow his nephew to remain a captive and slave of the enemy, so he raised an army from among his people and rescued Lot, his wife and daughters, and property from Chedorlaomer and slew that king. There were two who came out to meet Abraham following the victory – the King of Sodom, and Melchizedek, King of Salem (King of Peace). Melchizedek is a mysterious figure that seems to meet many corresponding points in character of our Lord Jesus Christ. He served Bread and Wine to Abraham – perhaps the first shadow of the Communion, and Abram gave tithes of all to Melchizedek. But what of the King of Sodom? 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine. (Gen 14:21-23)
We are not to profit from the treasures of sin. What hath Light to do with Darkness? We should be free of any obligation to workers of iniquity. CASE CLOSED!
Friday, April 29, 2016
25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. (Ezek 34:25-26)
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
In the sub-continent of Asia, the land is bathed by an abundance of rain during certain seasons of the year in India and the nations of Indochina such as Vietnam. The rains arise suddenly out of a sky that just moments ago was clear and sunny. The rains may cause flooding at times and are a detriment to pleasure, but a blessing to the abundance of crop production. It is the rain that is often cursed by the people and not the winds that have caused the rain. The southwesterly winds build over the sea of the Indian Ocean bringing the moisture-laden air masses over land where they discharge that moisture in torrential rains. It is the wind that brings the blessings of the rain, for the rain is not the cause of itself – IT IS THE WIND – the Monsoon!
The blessings accruing to the Elect of God are not the Giver of themselves, but the gift of the Giver. Those blessings often come in torrential floods in the Monsoon Season of God. It may seem awkward that we seldom wonder from when blessings come – we may not even acknowledge them but rather consider them well-deserved. But when hardship and affliction occur, we always wonder why God is doing this to us. We are fickle and our natures are sometimes like the will-o-the-wisp. The Winds of God (by way of His Holy Spirit) are the means by which God sends showers of blessing upon us, but we often believe that the blessings are delivered either by happenstance, or by the simple and routine workings of nature. But God is the Giver of all spiritual blessings and graces as well as those of the temporal need of the Elect. God not only blesses the Elect with temporal blessings, but all people and creatures of His good earth. But the spiritual blessings are broadcast upon the Elect alone since they are the only ones able to receive them.
Today, I ask each of us to take a moment to consider what a blessing is life itself – to have opened our eyes on the day of our birth to the blinding beauty of God’s green earth. Do you ever wonder why the earth is covered with green vegetation? According to scientists, green is the most relaxing and peaceful of colors. So God puts the best before His creatures – a color with which we will never become bored. Many are heart-broken at the loss of a loved one, a pet, or a small son or daughter. They question the loving god who gave the gift. Even a child is a temporal gift that is time-dated. But a child is also a spiritual gift through which we propagate the family, the church, and the nation. If a precious little daughter is taken by the Lord at the tender age of six years, should we mourn so much more deeply the loss of future years of the gift, or should we give profound thanks to our Father in Heaven who gave us those six years? But not those six years only, for the child is even presently enjoying eternal bliss with the Father as we speak.
It is important for us to remember that God is not only the Giver of blessings, but the Father of every blessing and is the personification of BLESSED! Let us review, briefly, many spiritual blessings revealed in Ephesians 1 & 2. But before I began, I wish to thank God for His blessings in allowing me to daily meditate and share my commentary on His beautiful Person and Word. He gives me the greatest joy and comfort when I am studying His precious Word. I hope you will feel the same blessing.
We read in Ephesians how The Giver of Blessings and the blessed are so jointly partakers of that state of Blessing that God is: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Eph 1:3) Please note some of the profound blessings we enjoy in Christ:
1) We are chosen and elected in Christ in eternity and not temporarily, of without the security of future promise. Christ did not lose a single soul placed in His hands by the Father, except that son of perdition’ who was Judas. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph 1:4) Can you see what an amazing gift salvation is to you, having been chosen in Christ before the worlds were made?
2) The soul’s security in Christ in a covenant inviolate. God never breaks His Word even if we are weak in faith at moments of distress or sore temptation. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Eph 1:5 (KJV) There is further confirmation of this great promise in 2nd Timothy: For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Tim 1:12)
3) It is the work of Christ that has made us acceptable to God – not any of our own works that are as filthy rags. 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph 1:6) We could never clean our hearts of sin – only Christ could do so through His imputed righteousness.
4) We have a grant and title that can never be annulled. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Eph 1:7)
5) There is no shadow of turning with our Lord. (James 1:17) James is making reference, before the Pope realized the earth was a sphere, to the turning of the earth on its axis bringing the shadow of night upon the earth. Jesus has no night – only brilliant Light of Day! Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Heb 13:8) We have redemption in reality and not a ‘maybe.’ God will not do as our friends do – forgive us our sins one day and remind us of them the next.
6) The union of the Christian with his Lord is an indissoluble union. 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Eph 1:10) Becoming One with the Lord means to take His Mind upon us and surrender our own disparate wills to His. Then are we One with Christ, One with the Church, and One with God the Father & God the Holy Ghost!
7) There are times when the treasured gift of a friend is a thing of cherished beauty, but age blemishes the luster, and we view the gift as a lesser treasure; but the blessings of God actually mount in value as time passes since they are eternal in nature. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Eph 1:11). But wait, we have already received that inheritance, have we not? When the Testator dies, do the recipients not receive His grant of inheritance at that moment? YES!
8) The salvation we have received cannot be disowned by us, why? Because we are sealed by the Royal Seal of God. The seal of Pontius Pilate was not sufficient to keep the stone over the entrance to the tomb of Christ. But the seal of God on your life cannot be broken. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Eph 1:13)
9) That seal of God is a bond floated as our earnest on the wings of the Holy Ghost to stand as earnest of our everlasting hope and salvation in Christ. 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:14)
10) I love the second chapter of Ephesians for its clarity in describing our total lack or ability to amend our lives and come to Christ, and stresses that it is Christ whose works have brought us to the exit of the tomb. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; (Eph 2:5) A dead man can do NOTHING to awaken himself from the dead, Neither could Lazarus. He lay dead and putrifying in the tomb for four days ere his cold, dead heart heart the Voice resounding from one wnd of Eternity to the other saying, Lazarus, come forth! And Lazarus came forth from the dead, as you and I have done at the moment of hearing that same Voice. He came forth trailing the filthy rags of his own sin, but Christ commanded them to loose him, and let him go! (John 11:44) He has done the same for us while we were the walking dead (dead in trespasses and sin). Being unable to awaken ourselves from that death, Christ called, and we heeded the Voice.
11) When the devil has recognized his ancient defeat and capitulates leaving the field to the Victor, there will be that continuing peace that passeth all understanding. That peace is not a truce, or an armistice, but a permanent and eternal peace resulting from the unconditional surrender of the Enemy of our Souls. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Eph 2:14)
12) That permanent peace will rest upon that Rock of our Salvation – a Foundation that can never be removed. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. This is only short list of blessings. Count your blessings and see what the Lord hath done!
Thursday, April 28, 2016
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matt 6:6)
What did our Lord mean when He made the statement above in Matthew 6:6? Did He mean that prayers made at other times and in other places are not valid? Not at all! There are two kinds of prayer – private and communal. Our Lord, in His Word and Works, taught us BOTH. When He prayed, He often resorted to the seclusion of the mountain height, or the garden solitude, to unburden His soul to His Father in Heaven. Before taking decisions of grave import, He often prayed long, private prayers as: And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12) This mountain prayer session occurred prior to naming the twelve apostles on the next morning. In this case, the seclusion of the mountain is equivalent to the privacy of the closet. As one climbs nearer the mountain peak, the world below falls away and there is only one view and that is toward Heaven. Our vision can more clearly be focused on things not of this world.
But are all prayers to be made in the closet, or some secluded place? What is the shortest prayer of the Bible? Are all of a private concern? We have examples of the two shortest prayers of the Bible which reflect both a personal, and a general (or communal), prayer. This first prayer was uttered by the disciples in general: And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. (Matt 8:25) The prayer was, Lord, Save US! The more personal prayer which was uttered out of fear and desperation was that of Peter who had begun to sink in the swirling waters of the Galilean Sea: And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (Matt 14:29-30) The first illustrates a communal prayer, the second a personal and private one.
Immediately following our leading text today, our Lord demonstrates a few other characteristics of prayer (including a model communal prayer). 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matt 6:7-8) The salient point of our Lord’s further qualification of prayer is the principle of sincerity and lack of public and prideful display. How strongly He admonished the Pharisees for their long public prayers to be seen of men: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (Matt 23:14) You will search in vain for this verse in its context of your corrupt NIV, ESV and other modern wonders of phony translational deceptions. Perhaps it conflicts too much with the modern theology of ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ gospels, or for fear of the clergy that men might interpret their own greed (of the clergy) for filthy lucre to be represented in that precise verse.
Our Lord then proceeds to illustrate the perfect Communal Prayer – the Lord’s Prayer! It begins with Our Father – not MY Father, or YOUR Father, but OUR Father. This prayer can be said in worship with relevance to every member of the congregation. It asks for nothing but that the Kingdom of God come to us, God’s will be done both in earth and in Heaven, for our daily bread, for forgiveness of our sins, and for deliverance from evil. Please note the absence of greed in this prayer, and its general application to all of us of faith. What a refreshing thought that all of our prayers would stipulate that His Will, not ours, be done – for His Will is always a perfect will and one that accords abundantly with the wants of our souls.
This devotion is limited in scope. Men of far greater stature and spiritual nature have written extensive works on prayer that will feed the soul of those seeking a deeper meaning and understanding of prayer …..men such as E. M. Bounds, for example. But we need reminding of the simple processes of geometry if we undertake navigation projects just as we need reminding of God’s Word on prayer when we feel a deep need in the heart. But let me stipulate that no one, other than the Lord, can teach us how to pray. Prayer is not a subject that is separate and apart from the simplicity of God’s Word but, rather, encompasses all facets of it. No father or mother has to teach a baby when to ask for food. He cries out in hunger, and the nourishing milk is forthcoming. The same is true of prayer. The more simple, direct, and heart-felt a prayer, the greater the ears of the Lord to hear it. You may aver, But God hears ALL prayers. No, He does not choose to hear all: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalm 66:18)
God does not ALWAYS answer our prayers according to our praying. Why not? Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3) We often ask for things that we desire instead of that which is edifying. I will point out below a few addition characteristics of the prayer life of the saints of God.
Because there is an expected response to prayer – a response that the supplicant often does not wait to hear. We sometimes stress our desires as if to a ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and wait for the Genie to grant our wish. That is not the nature of real, Godly prayer, and God is Sovereign and never obligated to grant our demands for wealth and other such things. Prayer is ‘effectual’ for the sincere appellant. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16b)
We pray to be spared temptation: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt 26:41)
We pray because we are commanded to do so: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. (Luke 18:1) How is it possible to pray always? We pray always by making our lives a fitting prayer to God in the testimony we live out day by day.
When to pray?
When confronted with grave decisions: And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. (Luke 6:12-13) As well, we pray in moments of danger as did Peter when sinking in the sea. The foxholes of mortal combat makes Christians of every man!
We should make it a point to pray at three cardinal points of the day. If we prayed at mealtime, this would be satisfied in breakfast, lunch, and dinner (supper for those from Tennessee). Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17) We should, as well, seek the face of the Lord early every awakening day: O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee. (Psalm 63:1)
We pray continually. Continual attitudes of prayer depends upon a continual acknowledgement and awareness of God’s will for our lives. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. (Romans 12:12) Observe patience and rejoicing attend a continual prayer attitude toward God.
Do not cease to pray! Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thess 5:16-18) It is that phrase, In everything over which many stumble. They prefer to give thinks only for those benefits of God that coincide with the will of the supplicant.
Pray both in times of affliction as well as rejoicing. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (James 5:13) Even sorrow can be turned to rejoicing if one will resort to hymn-singing which, by the way, is merely a musical prayer. Do we mean it when we sing: Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me?
Pray when we have carelessly transgressed against another. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. (James 5:16a) If the problem is ALWAYS the fault of the other, better pray a special prayer for yourself!
How to pray?
We pray in the Spirit, but we cannot pray in the Spirit if we are obsessed with the WRONG spirit. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Eph 6:18) But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. (Jude 1:20)
We perform a labor of prayer in remembering all for whom we pray and for specific aspects of need. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (Col 4:12) There are times when the need of prayer for others is urgent and great, yet we may foolishly think our present mundane duties of greater importance.
It is important that we pray with understanding unless we are praying FOR understanding. I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Cor 14:15) Not in some contrived ‘unknown tongue’, but with understanding!
We must pray in faith, with Holy hands – not doubting the result to be the Will of the Lord even if not our own. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Tim 2:8) Not wavering in faith: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:6 (KJV)
What to pray for?
The answer to this question can best be summarized in Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42)
For laborers for the Lord’s Vineyard to be sent to us. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matt 9:37-38) And we pray for all men, as well. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Tim 2:1-2) As distasteful as it seems to me to pray for our current President, I am obligated to do so – not for his wicked ways, but for the salvation of his soul like unto that of Saul on the Road to Damascus.
Perhaps the most important aspect of prayer is to pray for understanding of God’s will for, with that understanding and conformity to it, we shall always be on Holy ground with the Lord; For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Col 1:9-11)
Here is the eleventh Commandment of Prayer and the loop-hole breaker: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:6 (KJV) The term ‘careful’ used here does not mean caution, but do not be overburdened with care for the temporal things of life. Eternity is far longer than your moment of vaporous existence on this planet. We ask for our wants with thanksgiving, if we have prayed in the Will of God for those things, for it is certain that God will always grant what it is His will for us.
I realize I have plagiarized God’s Holy Word to a great extent in this devotion; however, God’s Word is not copyrighted and you may be certain, I have permission of the Author. (*___~)
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
I believe that there are many Christians today who confute faith for grace. Without the Grace of God, there would be no faith – for faith is a gift of God’s Grace. True belief and faith is a creation in our hearts by the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit working to draw us near. Since grace is a free gift, the disposition of the heart of man cannot act on its own to draw near to God – it must first be drawn there by grace. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15) The Tenth of our Thirty Nine Articles of Religion of the Reformation Church of England bear this biblical truth out in its doctrinal statement: The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing (preceding or drawing) us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
The great Reformer, Martin Luther, made the grace of God the centerpiece of his work – Bondage of the Will – as posited by the 8th & 9th verses of Chapter Two of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (and many other biblical references): For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9) So you believe you did a good deed in coming to the Lord? Without grace drawing you there, you could not have approached.
The subject of Grace is one of the two profound aspects of the Holy Bible along with the Law of God. Without God’s Moral Law there could be no grace for there would be no sin. And, to the Arminians among us, what is sin but the transgression of God’s Law. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4) To deny that God’s Law is morally binding on the Christian is to deny the grace made available by Christ in redeeming us by means of that very Law.
It would take more than Martin Luther’s great book to inform us of all of the aspects of Grace, In fact, it would take sixty-six books that we have in the Holy Bible. This devotion cannot cover but a tiny range in meaning of grace, so we will confine our commentary on the sufficiency of grace to the Christian only.
As a believer in Christ, you should know that the grace of God is always and forever sufficient for you in every condition of life. It is, as well, sufficient at the moment of the sleep of Death that separates the Elect from the Heavenly Paradise of God. Death is an open door to the Elect, and prison bars for the wicked.
How is grace sufficient for us?
1) When we are weak and life’s challenges seem insurmountable, we have a Friend to whom we can appeal. In the words of that lovely old hymn by the German hymn-writer, Edmund Lorenze, Are you weary, are you heavy hearted? Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus alone. Jesus will not always remove the challenges, but He will make us able to overcome them. Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isaiah 40:28-29)
2) Are we tossed about on a sea of cares, lost and without a Star to guide us? We have that Bright & Morning Star to set our course to. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matt 18:11)
If we are lost, Christ has already sent a search for us.
3) Are you sickly and wasting away in illness and misery? Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:14-16 (KJV) Having been drawn to Jesus by just a little knowledge of who He was, the woman taken with an issue of blood was healed by the little spark of faith granted to her by the grace of God. (see Matt 9:20)
4) Are you desperately poor? There is no greater poverty than that of the soul. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Rev 3:18) That gold tried in the fire is the Word of God. Whoever buys the Word of God by means of the faith granted by grace shall be rich indeed. Not only outwardly rich, but inward so. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. (Prov 23:23) What is the receipt of our purchase? It is a thorough and continuing study of the Word of God in His Holy Book.
5) Are we blind to the Light of God’s Word? anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As we have said before, there are many walking about today who are dead (Eph 2). There are also many who have eyes to see and ears to hear but see and hear not. Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18) (see also Ps 115:5, 135:16, Matt 13:15) If God has planted that spark of faith in our hearts by grace, our understanding will rise to the knowledge of what God’s Word means to us, and our eyes will be opened as surely as those two on the road to Emmaus at the breaking of the bread. (Matt 9:30)
6) Do we suffer an inordinate fear over the troubles of life or of our loved ones? Remember Jairus whose little daughter lay dying? And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. (Mark 5:22-23) But, alas, it seems Jairus had tarried too long in finding Jesus for as Jesus was speaking, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? Mark 5:35 But may I kindly remind the reader that it is never too late to seek the mercy and grace of Jesus! The compassionate eyes of our Lord caught the desperate sorrow in the eyes of Jairus. 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. Mark 5:36 (KJV) We all know the end of that story. The tears of sorrow for Jairus may have been for one night, but joy came in the morning when Jesus spoke to the twelve year old daughter of Jairus, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. (Mark 5:41)
7) Are you hungry? Our Lord Jesus Christ can feed you with an abundance that exceeds your hunger: And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. (John 6:11-12) But from which appetite does your hunger arise? From a hunger for things of the world, or of Heaven? He will always provide for our wants (needs) in this life, but a greater provision will He make for our blessings in glory.
8) So your heart is filled with sorrow? He will come to you and turn your tears of sorrow to tears of joy just as He did for Mary Magdalene at the Garden Tomb. (see John 20) 1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. . . . . I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:1-3,18)
9) So the road ahead is marred by the fog of doubt and perplexity? The Lord has equipped us with an amazing array of faculties to guide the ship of our souls in every kind of storm, but the greatest compass we can own is that of a good conscience, duly informed by the Word of God. It is that still, small voice that came to Elijah by the mountain rock. (1 Kings 19:12) Please remember that the great stones and floods of life remain to the Christian as to the heathen, but we have that Voice behind quietly whispering to us. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21)
We have discussed only a meager portion of the ways in which God’s Grace is sufficient unto us. His grace is so very abundant and broad that our ships can never traverse the fullness of that vast Sea of Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; but isn’t it a great joy to sail that Sea in faith?