How will you redeem the time at HOME

We’re all being urged to self-quarantine at Home during this COVID-19 panic. How will you be spending the time?

Will you be WASTING time or REDEEMING the time?

Here are 4 things we can do to REDEEM the time while we’re confined at HOME.

 

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7 MYTHS about Prayer

Image result for praying hands

 

The misunderstanding of prayer is hurting people. It’s leading them astray into frustration and faithlessness. It’s not uncommon to hear of people’s exasperation at ‘unanswered’ prayer. Still others are ‘on the outs with God’ because their prayers are unfulfilled.

Not only that, but mockers are using it against the faithful when they see evil in the world. They say things like, “your thoughts and prayers are meaningless.” In one sense they’re right because they’re attacking the MYTHS about prayer that many believers are telling!

We must understand prayer. We need to teach it to people. To this end, here are the top 5 MYTHS about prayer.

 

The first MYTH is that MONEY & prosperity shows up without effort. I’ve heard people say, “if God had meant for me to be rich, I would be rich.”

He does want us to be financially secure and has given us laws about money that we can follow to become financially secure. Laws like…

Debt: “…borrower is servant to the lender.” [Prov 22:7]

Work: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]

People pray for financial prosperity while simultaneously break the rules of God about finances.

The 2nd MYTH is that God will say YES to every petition. Experience should show them this is wrong and scripture says it directly.

If you doubt, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” [Jas 1:7]

And, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [Jas 4:3]

God gives no guarantee when we ask amiss.

A 3rd MYTH is that God will TAKE away all pain & evil. Where did you get that? This is the one the MOCKERS cite in their criticism of God. “Since there’s so much evil in the world God is either powerless, unkind or non-existent.”

This myth assumes that heaven is on earth. It’s never taught that way in scripture. Heaven is a place prepared for the obedient faithful (but I repeat myself) after the destruction of the world & it’s evil. [2Pet 39-10; Rev 21:4]

The 4th MYTH about prayer is that God will HEAL everyone everywhere of everything. That’s absurd. This myth misses the teaching about the purpose of miraculous healing done by Christ and the Apostles in the first century.

Miraculous healing (1 of 9 spiritual gifts) were for the express purpose of showing God’s confirmation of those who were teaching the Gospel and the New Covenant of Christ. In one instance, Jesus said, “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” [Mark 2:9-11, emph mine seb]

This is just one of many proofs to show that the miraculous healing of that day was for the purpose of confirming the word of God.

Does God want good health for us today? I believe so because the bible teaches it, but not in the way MYTH tellers say. We need to learn about this and teach it accurately.

The last MYTH about prayer is that God will just beam SCRIPTURE into their mind without study. It’s true that God gave inspiration to some for the purpose of revealing His will and they wrote it down for us today [Eph 3:3-4]. It IS NOT TRUE that you should expect that same inspiration today. When you read what is written you can;

BELIEVE, UNDERSTAND, PROFIT, PLEASE GOD, & KNOW GOD’S WILL.

[John 20:30-31; 2Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 2Pet 3:15-16]

Misunderstanding prayer is making spiritually weak and lazy believers. God wants us to pray to Him, but He also commands it be done “according to His will” [1John 5:14] which means we must know what He wants and be obedient to His will.

This morning’s sermon will cover this and more about Godly prayer.

—Spencer

SWAG of God

 

“I’m so blessed.” Yes, but not all are saved!

You’ve heard your non-Christian friends and family say, “I’ve been so blessed.” The evidence seems to support it.

For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” [Psalm 73:3]

How can they be blessed…?

  • if they’re outside of Christ?
  • if they’ve not put on Christ in Baptism? (Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27)
  • if the prayers of sinners are an abomination? (Prov 28:9)

It can be confusing and raises some serious questions. Are their denominational beliefs being accepted by God? Is their unfaithfulness to God’s word being ignored by God? Is God saying to the wicked, “good job, keep doing what you’re doing.”

I knew of a doctor that told a somewhat healthy alcoholic, “whatever you are doing just keep on doing it.”

 

WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?

It may surprise you that they are being blessed, but not in the way you might think. There are BLESSINGS from God that every living person receives, regardless of their belief of Christ or their obedience to the Gospel. Even ATHEISTS receive these blessings.

If you’ve ever attended a trade show you know that the exhibitors give away promotional products called ‘SWAG’ (Stuff We All Get). It’s stuff everyone gets just for showing up.

God has given us His own version of SWAG, which are certain blessings that come from just having the privilege of being born.

The SWAG of God can be categorized into 4 areas:

FIRST, there are the SEASONS & natural blessings we all get.

for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the UNJUST.”

[Mat 5:45b] (emph mine seb)

There are all kinds of natural blessings that God created when He created the Earth. We enjoy gravity, scientific innovations and all kinds of medicinal properties in the natural world. Our discovery of these things has provided us “blessings” that ought to be attributed to God.

The inventor of the MRI (Raymond Damadian) is a 6-day creationist.

The mistake we make is presuming that God is personally blessing YOU or sinners.

SECOND, we all can enjoy WISDOM of God when we read and study His word. The Proverbs are a prime example. There are wisdom laws created by God that apply to all. Paul also wrote about the Law of Sowing & Reaping in Gal 6:7.

To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion” [Proverbs 1:4]

We’re mistaken if we believe that God is also SAVING us when we are following His moral code without having obeyed the gospel. Cornelius (Acts 10) is an example of a good, yet unsaved, person.

THIRDLY, God gives everyone ACCESS to know of Him. Not everyone will avail themselves of this knowledge, but it’s out there for all.

but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

[Jno. 20:30-31, cf. Acts 10:1; Eph 3:3-4; Jude 3]

Many are mistaken thinking that God is saving them upon faith alone. He certainly is not.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]

FINALLY, The GOSPEL blessing is available for all. God is no respecter of persons.

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” [Acts 10:34-35]

Although this blessing is available, not many will obey the gospel. [cf. 2Thess 1:8-9; Heb 5:8-9; Acts 2:38; Mat 7:14]

The GOSPEL blessing is in Christ Jesus, He is the only way, and any can obey the GOSPEL. [cf. John 14:6]

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” [Titus 2:11]

Just because it’s available to all doesn’t mean all will obey it. The mistake some make is that since this blessing is given to all then all are saved. That’s a grievous error.

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” [Romans 10:16]

 

WHY HAS GOD DONE THIS?

God wants everyone to be saved and to go to heaven.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2Peter 3:9]

Since this is true, He provided evidence to man of His existence.

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” [Acts 14:17, cf. Rom 1:20]

Please, don’t miss out on the SPIRITUAL blessings, only available to TRUE CHRISTIANS, because you’ve mistaken the physical blessings as approval from God.

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]

—Spencer

Why Would God Say NO to Our Prayer?

The world misunderstands how prayer works, and the mockers use those errors to attack the church. We must understand it otherwise we may fall into temptation and lose our faith.

Here are just a few of the misunderstandings about prayer:

  • When bad things happen in the world, mockers attack when someone says, “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
  • When a prayer is not answered, the weak in faith and those that don’t understand, get angry with God and fall away. One fellow said, “Me and God aren’t on speaking terms.”
  • When God says no, some doubt their own faith and become disillusioned about the effectiveness of prayer.
  • Others fall into atheism when God doesn’t give them what they ask for in their prayer. Perhaps a sick child passes away despite the ongoing prayers. David teaches us a better way. [2Sam 12:16-23].
  • Some get weaker. Paul was told no in 2Corinthians 12:7-10, but he became stronger. We can too, once we learn why God might say no to our prayer.

 

WHY WOULD GOD SAY NO?

AGAINST HIS WILL. Let’s face the facts, some of our prayers are not according to His will. We don’t know what He wants because we don’t read His word and we ask for things God has never promised to give. It’s incumbent upon us to know what He wants.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

[1John 5:14]

 

 

MISUNDERSTAND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. God looks to those in Christ as His children and is training us as a Father does with a child. Would you give your young child everything he may wish? Certainly not, and God won’t either, because He loves us too much to give us something for which we are too immature to handle.

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” [Hebrews 12:9-11]

 

 

INDECISIVE PRAYER.  Our prayers are duplicitous, or in opposition with other prayers. We shouldn’t expect anything if we’re praying against ourselves or if we doubt that God can answer. Some even begin their prayer with, “God, if you’re there…”

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” [James 1:6-8]

 

 

SELFISH PRAYER. For some, prayer is nothing more than having a genie in a bottle. You see something you want so you pray for it, as if God is just sitting on His throne granting wishes.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” [James 4:3]

 

 

SINNER PRAYER. This is not the prayer of the sinner asking God for enlightenment as Cornelius did [Acts 10:1-2]. Which, when he heard the word of God, he obeyed the gospel in Baptism. No, I’m referring to the prayer of an unrepentant sinner. If you’re asking God for some blessing while you’re disobedient to His word, living in an unsaved condition, don’t expect a single thing from Him. It’s a worthless prayer because God has said that He doesn’t heed the prayer of the sinner.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,” [Isaiah 1:15-16]

 There are many more such examples of God promising a NO to those who continue in sin. [Joh 9:31; Job 27:9; 35:12; Ps 18:41; 34:15; 66:18; Pr 1:28; 15:29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; Jer 11:11; 14:12; Eze 8:18; Mic 3:4; Zec 7:13; Joh 21:25]

 

 

CONCLUSION: You see, we ask and do not have because we ask AMISS [James 4:3]. It’s proven that we can pray in vain error. When we ask AMISS, don’t expect anything from God.

For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” [James 1:7]

My prayer is that you come to a full understanding about prayer so that you can have the confidence that your petitions to God are heard according to His will.

—Spencer

Another Bible Reading plan 2019

It’s that time of year again when this bulletin is dedicated to helping you find the right bible reading program.

Before I introduce to you the plans for 2019, let’s remind ourselves as to why a regular plan for reading the bible is so valuable.

  • A life without the Bible is an empty life. God has given to us all things pertaining to life & godliness. [2Pet 1:3]
  • We will make mistakes by not knowing it. [Mat 22:29]
  • We’re commanded to study it. [2Tim 2:15]
  • The Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]

Now, let’s look at some plans for 2019.

THE CHRONOLOGICAL daily reading plan. This plan has you reading the entire bible in 1 year in chronological order. You can find these online, or through an app on your smart phone. Some of these apps will even read the bible to you.

THE 30-DAY PLAN FOR NEW CONVERTS. This plan leads the new convert through bible from the fall of man through the redemption of mankind in Christ Jesus.

THE 61-DAY OVERVIEW OF THE WHOLE BIBLE. This plan touches just the highlights of the whole bible. This is a good plan for someone who wants a reminder of major events or is trying to just get an overview before a more complete reading of the bible.

THE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY PLAN. This plan has a focus on the New Testament. Each day of the week has a theme as follows:

  • Mondays – Read from the Gospels [89 chapters]
  • Tuesdays – Read from Acts [28 chapters]
  • Wednesday – Read from Paul’s letters (Romans – Philemon) [87 chapters]
  • Thursday – Read from the Old Testament [929 chapters]
  • Friday – Read from the General letters (Hebrews through Revelation) [56 chapters]

As New Testament Christians, this plan has a focus on the New Covenant and allows you to read through the New Testament several times in a year (just 5-10 chapters per day), with ACTS being read about 10 times in a year depending on your reading speed. You would need to read about 15+ chapters on Thursdays to complete a reading of the Old Testament.

Imagine, by this time next year you will have read about the Lord’s life 4 times, the beginning of the church up to 10 times and the instructions from the Apostles 3,4 or 5 times!

THE PROVERBS A MONTH PLAN

With any of the above plans, a great addition would be to read from one chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 30-31 days in a month, and there are 31 chapters of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is an excellent book for helping with daily living principles.

The breakdown of the book of Proverbs is as follows:

  • 1-9 the value of Wisdom
  • 10-30 are the sayings of Solomon with a mix of topics.
  • 31 is the word of King Lemuel’s Mother about the godly woman.

A FEW TIPS for Reading the Bible Daily.

  • Just Start. You don’t want to be saying, “I wish I read more” this time next year.
  • Set an appointment for yourself to read your bible. Nothing ever gets done until it’s scheduled.
  • Pray before and after each time you read. [Jas 1:5-6]

There is no downside to reading from God’s word, only an upside. Even if you miss a day, you have a plan to stay on track, keep it interesting and help you to grow.

If you live in the Borger, TX area and would like to study with someone, click here.

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

Ask Jesus into your heart

We’re told to ‘ASK JESUS INTO OUR HEART’ so that we can be saved. The only verse in scripture remotely close to that is John 14:15-21 partially quoted here: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

But they don’t like that, so I ask, “HOW DO YOU ASK JESUS?” Their reply, “ASK JESUS.”

So, I did… and Jesus said…

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him HEAR.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye BELIEVE not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Luke 13:3 except ye REPENT ye shall ask likewise perish

Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall CONFESS me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Now that we’ve asked Jesus, are we to obey His words?

Be careful how you answer,

Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him,

2Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Must we OBEY the Master of the Universe, the Creator, the one who has been given ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on Earth? Mat 28:18

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?

BUT AREN’T WE SAVED BY FAITH ONLY?

Do you know there is only ONE verse in the entirety of scripture with those words (FAITH ONLY) placed side by side?

James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and NOT by faith only. 

I find it interesting, in the denominational world, they remove the word NOT from James 2:24, but they don’t remove it all together. They take it a place it back inside the scriptures at Mark 16:16;

Mark 16:16 as understood by the denominations:

“He who believes and is (NOT) baptized will be saved;

WHAT DOES IT REALLY SAY?

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

GIVING THANKS

One winter, while a junior in high school in Fairbanks, a friend of mine invited me to have dinner with his family (we called the evening meal ‘dinner’ in Alaska). As his dad was plating the food and delivering it to the table one at a time, his mom began eating having been served first. As my plate was set before me, I refrained from eating as a courtesy toward the host. Mr. LaPerierre noticed me waiting and asked, “Spencer, are you waiting because you’re wanting to say grace?” At that moment, his wife, fork in mouth, looked at me with wide mortified eyes, filled with the realization that she may have committed a grievous faux pas.

Has something like that ever happened to you, folks begin shoveling food in their mouths before everyone even has a chance to sit down, much worse, discovering mid bite that a prayer of thanksgiving was going to be offered? Perhaps you’ve been the one with the fork in your mouth.

It’s called different things in different places. Some call it, ‘giving thanks’, ‘saying grace’ ‘asking a blessing’ or simply, ‘the blessing.’ As families come together this week to celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, the above scenario will likely repeat as folks stumble through an awkward and unprepared prayer, while the rest choke down a premature mouthful or pause mid chew.

Is it your habit to ‘say grace’ for your food?

It may not, and not just for Thanksgiving. According to a recent poll, only about 43% of Americans pray before a meal. Of those that pray, the researchers discovered they only pray 2-3 times per week. When they examined denominational backgrounds, 52% of Catholics, 60% of Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals prayed before taking a meal. Interestingly, 80% of African American families prayed, regardless of religious affiliation.

It was surprising to learn so many folks were actually praying in America. However, surprise gave way to disgust as the pollsters found that it wasn’t necessarily God being thanked. Eleven percent who claimed to be atheist, agnostic or irreligious said a prayer. An atheist man, cited in a news article about the poll, said that he and his wife give thanks to the spirits of his food. When they eat beef, they thank the four-legged spirits, and the winged ones whenever they eat chicken. When eating veggies, he thanks the veggie spirits. Sounds like a veggie tale to me.

What does the Bible say?

Many who are reading this article already have a good handle on this subject, and I hope that had we been asked, we would have skewed the polling higher. Prayer is as much a subject of scripture as God Himself. We all know that it says, “Pray without ceasing” in 1Thessalonians 5:17, but did you know that verse 18 says “in everything give thanks?”

Among the “everything”, food is a daily opportunity to “give thanks.” We ought to be thankful for our daily food, “which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth” [1Timothy 4:3b].

Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, lived an example of praying before eating. In John 6:11 He, “took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.” Then, during His final meal with His disciples, “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” [Luke 22:19]. On the very night that he would be betrayed, Jesus knowing all things, was thankful. How simple a thing it is, and so worthwhile, to pause and to pray.

 

 

Our most Holy and Righteous Father,

Thank you for this beautiful day

For we know Father, only you can make our day.

Thank You for this food,

Which You created

And for the nourishment within it.

May it provide us the strength

For continued service in Thy Kingdom.

Please forgive us our trespasses,

For they have been many,

And we have been weak.

Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.

Amen.

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

School, Money and Nuclear war

ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR has arrived for our young ones. Parents are scrambling for last minute school supplies, a panic that will be repeated for another reason the day after Thanksgiving. Excitement (or anxiety) is building up in the little hearts as the 1st day of school approaches. Their minds wondering, will the teachers be nice, will their friends be in the same class, will the lessons be difficult, all in anticipation of the chiming bell that brings school into session.

Moms are asking themselves, “will my little baby have friends, play nice and excel in all that he does?” Dads have worries too, “will my kid have the courage to face the perils of the playground, will he stand up for the weak, or will he be one of them, or worse, will he be one of the bullies?”

Let us remember the teachers who are under pressure to teach to a test instead of helping our children to fully understand the 3 R’s in favor of political correctness. The struggles of maintaining order in the classroom as more children enter the school from broken and dysfunctional homes. Just one question…

Did you think to pray?

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. [1Peter 5:6-7]

In many homes, the worries about money loom large as the accounts dwindle under the mounting pressures of debt and doubt. Moms & dads hoping their jobs will still be there tomorrow, fearing what new program the government will roll out to “help.”

Did you think to pray?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Matthew 6:20-21]

Then there’s the constant worry about food, water and health. Is our food GMO’d into poison, has our drinking water been contaminated, and when will cancer affect me? All of it seems so impossible to control, what are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? [Matthew 6:25]

Did I mention North Korea? The threat of war, the rattling of sabers, by a despot in a foreign country that many of us will never see. A dictator who appears to be channeling the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Mao. The uncertainties of our own leaders who appear to be more concerned for the next election rather than the current conditions. What are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

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. [1Timothy 2:1-2]

There are plenty of things to worry about in this world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos we call life. But there’s comfort in the scriptures. It tells of a man named Lot whose soul was ‘vexed (tormented) daily’ by the lawless deeds of those around him. [2Peter 2:7-8] The comforting part is in vs 9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

Our world is beset with Sweat, Sorrow & Sin and our Souls are tormented every day to the point we don’t know what to do. Remember, “God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but we’ve got to remember to pray!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6]

Lastly, we don’t serve a God who doesn’t understand. Our Savior lived on this earth and faced the very same things we face, and He prayed.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:15-16]