Did you think to pray?

Dallas prayers

 

Late Thursday evening, as bedtime approached for many, gunfire rang out in downtown Dallas. In an apparent response to violence against black lives, a shooter (or multiple shooters), took aim at Dallas Police officers, injuring 12. The trouble continued well into the morning and we awoke to the news that 5 officers had been killed.

This article makes no attempt to clarify the issues surrounding the racial tensions of our country, it’s only purpose is to ask; DID YOU THINK TO PRAY? In our songbooks we have a song of the same title. The scriptural reference for this song is Philippians 4:6.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

So, did you? Did you think to pray as peace has seemingly turned to chaos? For Christians, prayer is our first line of defense against chaos. Prayer should be continually offered by those calling themselves the children of God. It’s commanded; “Pray without ceasing.” [1Thessalonians 5:17]

Certainly we offered prayers for our family, friends and the innocent who may have been affected by the violence. Friends (sisters in Christ) of mine were mere blocks away from the Dallas shooting. Is that where our prayers ended? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the others? Did you pray for the police officers, the peaceful protesters, or the myriad of others caught in the crossfire? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the shooter? We are commanded to pray, but those prayers are to go beyond just the folks we like. Our Lord and Master taught;

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you[Matthew 5:44]

It may be difficult to pray for someone who has committed such heinous violence, just as it’s difficult to pray for those with whom we don’t agree, but the command is there. Can we ignore the commands we find uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, Christians ought to pray for ALL MANKIND…

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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth[1Timothy 2:1-4]

It’s good that we pray for those we may call enemy, or those we dislike, along with those we love. It’s good because it’s nearly impossible to hold hatred in your heart for whose whom you’re praying. That is good, our God is so wise, for it’s hate that is the promoter of violence [Proverbs 10:12]. Hate can end in our prayers. It’s only then can we experience peace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus[Philippians 4:7]

Remember to Pray.

spencer

We Ought to pray

THE LORD TAUGHT US that we ought always to pray and to not lose heart [Luke 18:1]. This parable tells the story of a woman who pleaded with an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversaries, which he eventually did due to her persistance in her requests. The lesson is explained in vs 7, 8; “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Life is full of sorrow, said the preacher [Ecc 1:18]. If you’ve ever experienced the ocean waves, you may understand what I mean. The pains and troubles of this life sometimes overtake us, and keep on overtaking us as wave after wave of sorrow washes over us, preventing us from standing, oftentimes, suffocating us of all hope. Life on Earth is like that. We all have pain which makes it all the more imperitive that we ought to pray.

Lest we add sorrow upon sorrow, we need to stop and pray to the only one that can provide help. Let us remember the lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

The Lord has taught us to pray. Go to a quiet place [Mat 6:6], and pray to the Father who sees in secret. When we study the comforting word [2Cor 1:3] we learn how to pray and for what to pray in difficult times.

It’s in these times that I pray….

Most gracious heavenly Father, my great master and most righteous friend. I know that you are full of all goodness, mercy and grace.
[John 15:14; James 1:17; 2Cor 1:3; John 1:14]

I Thank You Father for what has gone right in the midst of what is wrong. Thank you for the breath that I have, the food you’ve provided and the salvation given through Christ Jesus.
[1Thess 5:17-18]

You’ve commanded me to cast my cares upon you, for you care for me. Therefore, I bring to you my sorrow and worries, seeking your guidance and help, according to your will.
[1Peter 5:7; Luke 11:2].

I pray for wisdom and remembrance of Your godly instructions of what to do in difficult times. Knowing that You Father, give with all liberality. Help me to remember all that you’ve taught through your word that I may know how to proceed.
[James 1:5; John 14:15-24; 16:13]

May your peace come upon me as I think upon the good things of life helping me to think clearly that I may endure what has befallen me.
[Phil 4:6-9]

May a blessing be upon those that are fighting against me. Help me to do good to them that hate me and to love them and forgive them as you’ve forgiven me. Please forgive me of all unrighteousness.
[Mat 5:44; Mark 11:25; 1John 1:9]

May You grant unto me boldness that I may endure the difficulties of life and to take purposeful action knowing that as a child of Yours, You are always beside me.
[Acts 4:29; Hebrews 13:5]

Finally, I pray knowing that today will be a great day. Though every day is filled with some sorrow, it’s even more so filled with your goodness. Because You live, I can face the day! May my light shine through this darkness and into the darkness of this sinful place.
[Phil 3:1; John 14:19; 1Peter 2:15; Mat 5:16]

That’s what I would do. Then I get busy, for I fear boredom. It is the enemy to my thoughts. I get up and go do something of service. What can you do? According to the scriptures, there are many things you can do. God has given us a talent to serve Him, each according to our own ability [Mat 25:15].

We serve Him through…

Diligence in our vocations. Ephesians 6:5-8
Diligence in the raising of our children. Ephesians 4:1-4
Diligence in service for our brethren. Mat 25:31-46
Diligence in our display of hope during trouble, knowing that salvation is upon the true believer. 1Peter 2:15
And Diligence in our sowing the seeds of the kingdom. Mat 28:18-20

— Spencer

San Bernardino & The Problem of Evil

HOURS AFTER THE SHOOTING in San Bernardino, cries for the victims lit up social media. Political rhetoric was also spewed, yet there were also calls for prayer for the victims and for our land. Unfortunately, alongside those petitions for God’s help, shouts that God doesn’t help rang from the voices of the unbelievers. Even the New York Daily News printed a headline, “God isn’t fixing this.” Here’s just one example of many twitter complaints against prayer…. 

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil TWITTER blog

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil HEADLINE

Why didn’t God stop the San Bernardino shooting?

This exemplifies part of our trouble with our evangelism, the problem of evil. The argument goes like this, “If God exists, then why is there evil (like this shooting in San Bernardino)?” It is a valid question. It’s an objection that many people have and without a legitimate answer, will keep many without hope. We need to be able to answer this question. It’s going to come up for you, as folks wrestle with understanding during troubling events such as this.

We have hope, because God has given it to us [1Peter 3:15], so let’s consider some answers to this question, the problem of evil: 

Answer #1: The question itself actually proves the existence of God, rather than disproves Him. The fact that people recognize evil means that they understand good. Without God, there can be no such thing as good or evil. 

If Evil exists, as they cry against it, then there must also be a good. If there is good and evil, there must be a standard (absolute moral law) by which to differentiate the two. If there is an absolute moral law, there must be an absolute moral law giver, GOD. If there is no absolute Moral Law Giver, then there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, then there is no good nor evil. 

Answer #2: Love & free will. Love is the greatest ethic. 1Co 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 

This truth is recognized by every person on the face of the planet. Paul suggested that some things had no laws against them; Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 

In order to have LOVE, you must have the freedom to NOT LOVE. This is contained in our FREE WILL. Otherwise you just have automatons, instinctually motivated animals. FREE WILL is one of the greatest gifts received from God. With the ability to choose LOVE, comes the ability to go against it. With that comes all the problems (evil) that are associated with not loving. 

When FREE WILL exists, LOVE can also exist along with EVIL, and since the original question suggests that there is an ABSOLUTE MORAL LAW, God also exists. 

God has given mankind freedom of choice. He gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice. [Genesis 2:16-17] Their choice was plain — obey and live or disobey and die. Their choice was made through and by their own will having been influenced by Satan. Who is willing to say that since God foreknew the outcome that He forced or ordained Adam and Eve to sin? We commit evil by our own desires and lusts [James 1:13-14]. Mankind today still has freedom of choice. [Joshua 24:15] People can choose today whether or not they will serve God. [Revelations 22:17] Both the Psalmist [Psalm 119:30] and Mary, the sister of Martha [Luke 10:42], are examples of this principle. 

God’s grace has appeared to all people [Titus 2:11] yet millions reject it. Each person is accountable to the Gospel call [2Thessalonians 1:8, 14; John 12:47-48]. Those who reject the teachings of Jesus are held responsible [John 5:24; 8:24] The Bible teaches us that each person is free to choose to obey the gospel, or not to take advantage of God’s grace. It clearly shows one may resist God’s grace, His truth and His authority [Acts 7:51; Romans 13:2; 2Timothy 3:8]. 

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
2Peter 3:9
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. 

These verses teach that man has free will to choose. With the ability to choose, we can choose evil (as this couple did in San Bernardino) or we can choose to do good. 

Answer #3: God will bring every work into judgement. God is the Judge of all [Hebrews 12:23]. All shall bow at Jesus’ feet, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” [Philippians 2:10; John 5:22, 27]. And every person shall be judged, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:10] 

_____________________________________________________

 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [Romans 12:19]

­­­_____________________________________________________

 We as Christians can take comfort knowing that God is real, God is not dead, He is in power and that He will repay every evil. Let Him have His way with thee. [1Peter 5:6]

Spencer Blackwelder
evangelist for the Franklin St. Church of Christ in Borger, Texas

6 things you can do for YOU today

Last week, I detailed 5 things that you can do for the church. In other words, what you can do for each other. As I pondered that article, I came to the realization that in order to help others, sometimes you need to prepare yourself.

Regardless of our situations, whether we need support or not, we can still provide help and encouragement to one another, but sometimes we need to help ourselves.

When I studied to become a Firefighter / EMT, so many years ago, I learned that in order to be of service to others, I needed to prepare myself. We spent much time in training for scenarios, practicing what we might do during an emergency. This article looks at 6 things you can be doing for yourself in preparation for the “emergencies” of life.

The inspiration for this list is Eph 6:10-18, where Paul gives instructions to the Christian about how to be strong in the Lord and how to stand against the wiles of the devil. This is the passage where Paul tells us to put on the “Whole Armor of God.” Let’s examine these things that we can do for ourselves today…..

  • Put on Truth – We need to spend more time in the Word of God, which is truth. [John 17:17] We accomplish this by diligently studying God’s word. In it we find the truth on life and godliness, the truth on relationships, work, joy and best of all, how to be saved. 

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

  • Breastplate of Righteousness – We can be good. Our parents had the same warning for us whenever we went out, “be good.” Being good as a Christian is more than just being nice, it’s doing God’s will. Paul wrote that we were created for “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” [Eph 2:10] We can change our attitudes, help our sorrows if we get busy. Idle hands is the devils playground? [2Th 3:11; 1Th 4:11; 1Ti 5:13]  

1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

  • Preparation of the Gospel – Remind yourself that you are a child of God, saved by Jesus the Christ and you are not your own. [1Cor 6:19] Let the peace of God, [Rom 5:1] comfort you. If we remember the “Rock” upon which our faith is built, [Mt 16:18], the confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, then the peace which surpasses understanding shall keep our hearts. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  • Shield of faith – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” [Hebrews 11:1] and without faith it’s impossible to please Him vs6. In another passage, the disciples asked to have their faith increased, [Luke 17:5]. We can and should increase our faith. Faith is being fully convinced. Polls show that Americans are not fully convinced about God, Jesus, heaven or hell. Let’s increase our faith by looking at creation which “declares His handiwork.” [Ps 19:1] Let’s examine the evidence, both inside the scriptures and without. He’s given us plenty of evidence to know that He exists. [Rom 1:19-20] 

Joh 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

  • Helmet of Salvation –This is a reminder to us that we need to be saved and are saved by obeying the gospel [2Thess 1:8], through the putting on of Christ through Baptism. [Ga 3:27] As Christians, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to repent. Unless we repent, we cannot expect salvation. [Luke 13:3] As we live a penitent life, we can lift our heads in confidence knowing that Jesus blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. [1John 1:9] 

Ac 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

  • Pray – You can pray for yourself. Not just in the wishing form that is normally associated with the praying for ourselves, rather, let us pray asking God for things that make us better equipped to handle life’s troubles. Below are just a few things we should be asking God to supply……

Jas 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,

Ac 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Life is hard at best and downright sorrowful at worst. I have no idea how folks make it through life without God. He has provided a prescription for Christians to follow, a cure that heals the pain of this life and rescues us from death, providing eternal life. Would you try it, His prescription, after all He is the Great Physician. [Mr 2:17]

Spencer Blackwelder, Evangelist in Borger, TX