A couple of more thoughts related to a call we received this week on Prayerline.
You will remember that the woman said that she was “offended” because she thought we were “taking prayer lightly”...we were “communicating with one another”, while one prayed another was writing, etc.
She stated that this was “very sad to me, very offensive to me”.
Then with a righteous, declarative voice stated that “I am a southern baptist, and we…”
Her phone was cutting in and out, so portions were unclear. But, it is clear that she was speaking of the awe of God and reverence of God.
This is good.
I am not questioning her faith.
I am not questioning her prayer.
I am making some observations.
She could only “see” prayer in a particular style. Anything else was “offensive.”
It goes without saying...though I’ll say it… ...that we are not to “take on an offense” for God.
She was exalting her experience, her denomination, her “style” above God…
Now, hear what the Lord has to say about prayer. He says much, but one particular passage comes to mind.
1 Thess. 5:17
“Pray without ceasing.”
We are called to never cease praying.
What does this mean?
Well it can’t mean to “never cease assuming the position.”
If I were to say to most of us “let us pray” we would immediately assume a position like a group of spiritual Pavlov dogs.
Some would bow their heads.
Some would close their eyes.
Some would genuflect.
Some would kneel.
Some would question “but we are not ‘in church’ ?“
Prayer is simply communion with God.
We are to be in constant, never ceasing communion with the Lord.
Yes, there is a time of private prayer.
Yes, there is a time of quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer.
Yes, there is a time of corporate prayer.
Yes, there is a time of loud, unrestrained crying out to the Lord.
But, the reality is that all that we do is prayer/communion...either to/with God...or to/with something else...
I was asked recently, “doesn’t God already know what we need...what we want, etc. Why do we have to ask?”
Prayer is not for the benefit of God...He doesn’t have to be “clued in” to what is happening with us.
It is for us.
It is for us to hear the Lord.
It is for us to receive the revelation of the Lord.
It is for us to hear the heart of the Father.
True prayer comes from the throne of the Lord through us to Him.
True prayer comes from us to the throne back to us.
It is a symbiotic mystery that is to never cease.
We know that in the Lord we live and breath and have our very being.
This is the life of the Spirit...the life of prayer...the life of the true believer in the Lord.
How then are we to react when we have an encounter with someone who has...well...?
The Word tells us…
The context of the passage above explains our response…the Spirit fires off a series of commandments...
1 Thess 5:14-22
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always
17 Pray without ceasing
18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil
Our response to the caller?
“be patient with all”
“in everything give thanks”
More later...too long now… ...but, there are a couple of interesting things yet to examine…
Here is a phrase… “upon your night bed”...think on it.
Also, there is a phrase in the passage above that is often asked, often taught about, but rarely do folk realize that the answer is so simple and straightforward. Do you see it?
Today’s reading from the “So That’s Why?” Bible consists of pp. 1167-1172.
“Pray Without Ceasing”
As most you you know, we do a weekly, local television program called “Prayerline.” It is a “call-in” program...folk call us and we pray together.
You can watch previous episodes here…
One of our calls this week was particularly revealing.
It came at the very end of the program...only had a couple of minutes…you can view the call here...
...well...it is not ready yet… ...I’ll forward a link/post on facebook/youtube later...
- the lady had never viewed the program before…glad she joined us...
- she told us that she was recovering from a particular medical procedure…
- she then asked what “denomination” we were...
- she then proceeded to tell us that we were being flippant/irreverent in prayer and therefore she was offended..
There is so much to address...will do so over a couple of days…
First, she was recovering from an intense medical procedure.
This must be remembered.
Second, she had never viewed the program before.
Third, apparently she was being exposed to a “new style” of prayer…?
It is revealing that the first thing she desired to know is “what denomination you are.” Why do we always want to run to man-made distinctions and divisions rather than the Lord?
I do not pretend to know why she asked the question.
Perhaps she would have felt better if we were from her denomination...this is likely. Later in the brief conversation (which was a little confusing...had a bad connection) she mentioned her affiliation. I told her that I came from the same and was an alumni of the flagship seminary. Her vocal countenance and words softened.
Perhaps she wanted to a rationale for her feelings of “being offended”…
I don’t know.
But this I do know.
She associated prayer with a particular environment and behavior.
In and of itself there is nothing wrong with that.
But, if we take the next step and take offense on behalf of God then we have a problem.
(Never allow yourself to “be offended” on behalf of God.)
Prayer is simply conversation and communion with God.
This particular program is very conversational...we speak with God as we are speaking with one another...we take notes as we pray...check the internet prayer requests as we pray…we pray with our eyes open...we pray with our eyes closed.
She thought we were being irreverent and flippant in prayer.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We know that in the Lord we live and breath and have our very being.
Yes, there is a time to pray “in the closet.”
Yes, there is a time to pray “on the mountaintop.”
Yes, there is a time to pray corporately in quietness.
Yes, there is a time to pray corporately...loudly...all at once...every voice lifting up his voice unto the Lord.
The Lord says it best…
1 Thess 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
Every word we speak has power.
Power to bless, or, power to curse.
Let us choose today to speak forth only the blessing of the Lord.
Pray, without ceasing.
Today’s reading from the “So That’s Why?” Bible consists of pp. 1149-1154. Press on.
“Surrounded with Favor”
Pray for Amber and her family.
Her dad died this past Monday...tragic event.
In difficult times it is good to be reminded that we are not alone.
The Lord reminds us repeatedly in His Word...dozens of verses...that He is with us, He will not forsake us, He will walk us through all things…
Today, I’m drawn to the following…
1 Listen to my words, Lord; consider my sighing.
2 Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to You.
3 At daybreak, Lord , You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.
11 But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You.
12 For You, Lord , bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield.
(from Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 by Holman Bible Publishers.)
Especially in difficult times may we take refuge in the Lord.
In difficult times let us shout for joy unto the Lord...forever.
Let us boast about Him.
The Lord shelters us.
The Lord blesses the righteous ones...even in difficult times.
He surrounds us with favor like a shield.
Therefore, never forget. If you are true believer, then you are surrounded with the favor of the Lord.
Let us live in His favor.
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“Be A Man!”
It is time for the Body of Christ to “man-up” (thanks for the phrase Flipper!!)
What do I mean by that?
Hear the Word of the Lord…
1 Cor 13:11
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Children speak as children.
Children understand as a child does.
Children think as children.
But, when we become men (yes!! and women ) we are called to “put away childish things.”
This is speaking of maturity in the Lord, maturity in the faith, maturity in the walk of trust in God.
The context in which this verse is found is important.
1 Corinthians 13 is the great love passage…read the pertinent portion…
1 Cor 13:8-13
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues; they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Think on this a moment.
We are to put away childish things.
What are these?
I believe that they are the things that are often seen in children, things which are “driven out” by the “rod”…
- etc. etc.
Most of the things with which we struggle arise from our not “putting away childish things.”
I continue to be amazed at how easily the enemy deceives professing believers. We so readily stumble into childish behavior because we do not know the commandment of the Lord.
Now, there is a distinction.
We are to be “child-like.”
We are not to be childish.
It is time to “be a man.”
How is that done?
- Put away childish things. The Lord will reveal to each of us that which is “childish” in our lives. Seek Him. Listen. Be obedient. There is a conscious role to be played in continually “putting away” the childish. The Lord reveals and empowers us to do so.
- Love. The true manifestation of living “as a Man” is that we walk in love. We are the very Presence of the Most High God...His love being evident with every breath.
The Body of Christ in Corinth had all they needed…
1 Cor 1:4-7
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Yet, there was strife and struggle among them. They were living as men, not “being a man.” They were exalting personalities and “individual worship”, allowing sin, they were suing one another in civil court, they were arguing over “spirituals” (spiritual gifts), they were confused over some issues… hummm… sounds familiar...
1 Cor 3:1-3
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
1 Cor 3:4
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.
Put aside childish things.
Put on love.
Do not be children in your thinking.
As related to evil, have nothing to do with it.
Be mature in your thinking.
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“Heresy, Idolatry and gods”
Well...interesting things in the news today.
Check out the Podcast for an audio take on events.
We know that the Lord reveals to us in His Word that in the last days many things will occur.
Men will hire to themselves teachers that would tickle their ears.
Deception will increase.
Evil will increase.
False prophets, false teachers and false doctrines will increase.
The world will turn to one central leader...the man of lawlessness.
1 Tim 4:1-3
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
There are many other things.
We are seeing the foundation for much of this taking place today.
I admit. I’m amazed at how rapidly things are progressing.
Many within the “professing church” are deceived, teaching a doctrine of demons. Examine this article…
Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal church Katharine Jefferts Schori states that the problem the Episcopal church is facing is "the great Western heresy -- that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God." She continues, "It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus, that individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being."
I agree that salvation does not lie in recanting a particular formula.
Salvation is related to confession, repentance, receiving, walking in the Spirit…
Yet, to say as she did, that to be saved as an individual is “heresy” and idolatry… hummm…
This is the fruit of several things:
- the Episcopal/Catholic belief that salvation is “through the church” alone.
- lack of understanding of the Word
- lack of regenerative encounter with the Most High God.
While “the church” is squabbling over the foundations of the faith, the world continues to worship at the throne of their self-imposed leaders.
Today, the President of the united States of America met with Pope Benedict. It was an interesting meeting with photo-ops. Especially revealing was the President’s introduction of his staff to the Pope. The bowing, the kissing of the ring, the adulation...sad thing.
Yes, we are to honor one another.
Yes, we are to love one another.
Yes, we are to walk in deference to one another.
But, we are not to worship man.
We are to worship God.
Therefore, stand firm in the Truth of the Lord in His Word.
Resist the temptation of the evil one to compromise.
Continue to ask the Lord for revelation, enlightenment, illumination and understanding in the things that are happening. He will provide.
Pray for those on the Prayer page - Pray for…
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