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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ENTERING HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING

Have you ever thought about the benefits of giving thanks to God? There are many. I think the most prominent of them is simply closeness to God. We enter His gates with thanksgiving. We come into his presence in praise.


In Leviticus 7 Moses was told to institute a feast of thanksgiving. The barbeque was identified as a “fellowship offering of thanksgiving." We certainly enjoy fellowship with family and guests in our celebration of the Thanksgiving Holiday. If you are separated or estranged from family at Thanksgiving, you will miss your loved ones more than the turkey and dressing. We fellowship around the Thanksgiving table, by the warmth of the fire or in front of the TV watching football or the Macy’s Parade. But the fellowship spoken of in Leviticus 7 was with God Himself. The King James Bible translates it as a “peace offering.” The feast was to initiate and celebrate peaceful fellowship with God.


As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving, we also draw near to the person of God to whom with give thanks. It is fellowship with Him that blesses our Thanksgiving table and the fellowship with one another around it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PRAYER IS NOT A CONDEMENT


Prayer is not the seasoning for the real meat of Bible study. It is not a necessary additive to the real work of the church. It is not something we do briefly before we begin to worship. It is not to be a perfunctory way of opening to a sermon. I think it might better be thought of as the marinade that must saturate every aspect of Bible study. Prayer is the fire that cooks real spiritual meat; that warms the fellowship; that empowers discipleship; that prepares everything we do for and by God on the earth.

My nephew once told me a story from the church in China. A traveling evangelist was introducing the gospel to two remote mountain villages. He was very much afraid he would not be able to return to these new believers for many months. So he devised a plan to disciple them in his absence. He painted scriptures on small rocks and gave them to individuals in the villages. He told each person to memorize the verse and pray over it all day every day for a month. Then they were to share with the church what God told them in their verses. The man needed to leave before any believers were at all mature in the faith. And sure enough he was away even longer than he expected. Years had gone by before he was finally able to make his was back. He feared he would not find anyone remaining faithful. But when he arrived he found the churches thriving with many strong leaders in their midst.

What would God do in your life if you memorized a single scripture and prayed and meditated over it day and night for a month?

 


 

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Like One Who Takes off Your Yoke

Hosea 11:4 has a marvelous phrase describing God's love.
He comes to us "Like one who takes the yoke off our necks." You can almost feel the comfort of the donkey when his master removes the yoke, rubs him down and fills his feed bag.
It is a great blessing to have a purpose given by God. It is crucial to the sense of significance in life to hear our Lord say, "Take my yoke upon you." But He also comes to us as the one who lifts the yoke from our shoulders and satisfies our souls.
I can be overwhelmed by the needs God has allowed me to see and to tackle. But when we come to Him in prayer we trust Him to do what we could never do. We rest in His power. I find myself regularly strengthening my faith by praying, "I am trusting this to You. You are God Almighty."
I also come to Him for solace. I find the comfort of His love in the embrace of prayer. I take a weekly Sabbath from writing, my primary occupation in these days. I occasionally find this difficult. I am anxious to complete something, or my mind is bubbling over with ideas. It is an act of faith to allow my Heavenly Father to remove the yoke. He who owns the field is in charge of the plow He has yoked to my heart. Are you resting in prayer?
 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

PRAYING FOR CONGRESS


This is a big week for politics in America. I need to say I am not sympathetic with believers who put their hope in politics. However hopeful or cynical you may be about the election this week, it is crucial that believers join together in prayer for those who govern our country. In his first letter to Timothy Paul admonished us to pray for them.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Do you pray every day for our president? Are you praying for God’s hand on individuals in Congress?

The reason the scripture gives for this is so we may live peaceful quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. It is important to understand that government affects our lives as much today as it did in the Roman Empire where Paul urged Timothy to lead people to pray for their ungodly leaders. For many of us the complexities of politics are too complicated to unravel. But they are not too complicated for God. I read a review in Books & Culture this week of a book called The Myth of Persecution. The book disputed the stories of persecution in the early church. The author made the pedantic distinction between persecution and prosecution. She said it was not persecution if Rome was simply prosecuting Christians for shaking up the fragile stability of the empire. I suspect the same distinction could be made about much 21st century persecution.

Government effects our lives even if it is not necessarily aimed at persecuting Christians. We are living in days when Christian values are no longer a major influence upon the thinking of those who make the laws and determine the values of our culture. Make no mistake, spiritual and cosmic issues are involved in politics. But we pray to the God who is sovereign over the Kings and governors of the earth.