Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. (Isaiah: 58:1)
Today marks the 67th annual National Day of Prayer.
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalms 11:3)
Franklin Graham calls on Christians to, “Pray that as a nation we would return to God. As we call on God, let us do so by genuine faith, believing that He hears our prayers. God can heal this great land, for which our forefathers fought and died. We need spiritual renewal, we need a revival in America, and we need each and everyone to pray.”
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Professor Eugene Merrill from the Dallas Theological Seminary tells us that fear of God or manifestations of the divine are a subcategory of “fear” throughout the Bible. So, in addition to “fear” as dread or terror, “fear” meaning reverential awe, worshipful, and respect dominates biblical passages. Everything must be read in context.
David and Solomon agreed that it is God alone we should fear in the sense of having an awed respect. Perhaps they discussed it often, as the biblical passages below suggest.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalms 111:10)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
William Eisenhower of the Fuller Theological Seminary nicely describes the fear/respect paradigm. “As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me…. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless.”
“Fear of the Lord,” he agrees, “is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”
For the believer, the fear of God is not the irrational fear of the unknown, but a reverent fear of (respect for) the One who lovingly revealed himself in the creation of his universe, and the recreation of mankind through the death of his Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe. (Isaiah 8:13-14)
But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/evangelists,-ministry-of#sthash.oeSHdTqH.dpuf
But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” (Luke 4:43)
Donald McGavran was a missionary and Founding Dean of the School of World Mission, at Fuller Theological Seminary, in Pasadena, California. He spent his career as a missiologist, studying the interaction of the gospel and church with culture in order to identify and overcome barriers to effective evangelism and Christian conversion.
His findings challenged and changed the way missionaries identify and prioritize groups of people for missionary work today. His writings also influenced the successful evangelism of Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. (more…)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. (Colossians 1:9-10)
The “tool” that helps me most in my praying for folks is using the Psalms! For instance, I may take Psalm 91 and use the phrases from the Psalm to pray for folks on this prayer list.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-8)
So my prayer may go something like this: Lord, would you help _________ sense “rest in the shadow of You, the Almighty.” Would they believe and know and experience that “You are their refuge and fortress.” Help them to feel that “you have covered them with your feathers and under Your wings they find refuge.” Please help them to sense deep hope as “Your faithfulness protects and shields them!” Amen!
I find praying the Psalms helps me find the words to use to pray for others and helps me not get distracted in my praying.
Try praying this Psalm for the requests on the prayer list!
Battling in prayer with you!
This Easter we remember the secret of true discipleship—we are subject to the will of Christ, and we know that, as Dante says, “In His will is our peace.”
My future I can leave;
safe in Thy care;
I place it in Thy hand
and leave it there.
It is so sweet to feel
My whole life long
Thy loving plan for me
Cannot go wrong.
I know that thou wilt choose
The best for me,
And I can be at rest,
And trust in thee!
Griffith Thomas, W. H. (2016-12-29). The Apostle John: Studies in His Life and Writings (Kindle Locations 951-958). CrossReach Publications. Kindle Edition.
In his book titled, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, John Sexton makes his case that both faith and doubt are at the core of religion and baseball.
Among his many stories that reveal the connections between the joys of loving baseball and joyful spiritual life, Prof. Sexton, who served as the fifteenth President of New York University, from 2002 to 2015, and is a Boston Red Sox fan, tells of the years of struggle and doubt between team championships and the toll it took on the Red Sox fans.
Founded in 1901, the Red Sox were among the American League’s eight charter franchises. Between 1903 and 1913, they won five World Series championships. Then they suffered through one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history, waiting 86 years — a long time in the wilderness — before winning the team’s sixth World Championship in 2004.
Prof. Sexton writes that for years, Red Sox fans were consumed with doubt and darkness. Grasping for understanding, some fans even believed they were cursed because they sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920! Even the players shared “the institutional memory” of losing seasons. Doubt, confusion, disbelief were rampant.
Then, in 2004, a miraculous comeback against the Yankees changed everything. Down three games to one in the best of seven series, the Red Sox players decided to believe in themselves. Casting out their demons, the team played like high-spirited, fun-loving, confident boys, enjoying every minute of the game. They even converted their fans into believers, which redoubled their own strength. Against all odds, they beat the Yankees.
The Red Sox went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals that year. Logic suggests that Boston won the World Series because it had better pitching than St. Louis. However, Prof. Sexton maintains that casting off doubt and embracing faith is a far more interesting explanation.
Since their “conversion,” the Red Sox have won two more World Series.
Laura Ingrahm’s FaithZett has a timely article by Michael Anthony on what we can we learn from the life of Billy Graham. You can read the article here, but the important takeaways are listed below.
First, Billy Graham had an unwavering commitment to speaking the truth in love. He was a master at this dying art.
Second, Billy Graham never saw people as the enemy. He knew how to love the sinner and hate the sin.
Third, the source of Billy Graham’s humble courage was not his own. It was the byproduct of spending time with his Savior, Jesus.
Fourth, there were far better orators than Billy Graham. Yet, Billy Graham was used above them all. Why was this?
Finally, Billy Graham believed that truth was not relative. It was and is absolute.
It’s up to each of us to carry on the work of Billy Graham.
He has been such an influence on my life that I am proud to say, “I came to the Lord through Billy Graham.”
Here’s my story.
I was 8 years old when Billy Graham came to NYC for the 1957 Crusade. My mom and I sat on the balcony for one of the afternoon sermons.
The place was full—wall-to-wall. We were up so high, Billy Graham was the size of a pinpoint standing at the lectern. Yet, it was emotional to see and hear someone so on fire for Christ.
When Pastor Graham invited everyone to come forward and commit to the Lord, I turned to my mom, hesitated, and then said, “Let’s go.” I still shake a bit when I think back to that day, to that minute.
We took the elevator to the basement where hundreds of people were standing around. I wondered when I would get to see Billy Graham up close. After a while, we were moved to a room and met by a young man who prayed with us and gave us some literature.
I didn’t meet Billy Graham that day, but that wasn’t the point. I did make a public commitment to Christ.
Best day of my life.
If you have a Billy Graham experience you would like to share, please contact me. I will work with you to publish your story here,
Rev. Graham was asked, “If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?”
To this he replied, “With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives.”
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Look across the valley, there’s David sitting alone, except for his sheep, in an open field with the sun shining on his face. Contemplating nature in his pastoral seclusion, David realizes that nature understands what many people do not; and it’s so obvious that it leaves ungodly men without excuse.
The heavens declare the glory of God. The expanse shows his handiwork. Day after day they pour forth speech, and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their voice has gone out through all the earth, their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-6)
And yet, as beautiful as his work is, the Lord’s word is a greater gift. Pastor Matthew Henry wrote, “The Holy Scripture is of much greater benefit to us than day or night, than the air we breathe or the light of the sun.”
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:7, 10)
As loving parents counsel their children, the Lord counsels humanity to steer clear of temptation and not to turn from his teachings. There is a reward in keeping God’s commandments.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:10-11)
Through Jesus who took our nature upon him, may our hearts and actions be guided by the excellence of the word of God.
When they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ closest followers sat in a room in Jerusalem, waiting ten days for His return. They stayed busy, replacing Judas, praying, reading, and discussing Scripture. It was a time of preparation for their new life in Christ
Let’s too start 2018 in prayer to the Lord.
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Surely, I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:3-4)
The Holy Bible was written by men who were divinely inspired. It’s God’s revelation of Himself to the people of this world and the perfect treasure of divine instruction. But after almost two centuries, about five thousand complete and partial copies of the Greek New Testament (the translation with the most supporting material), and thousands more of other complete or partial versions, how do we know that the New Testament of the 21st century faithfully reflects the original content?
In the absence of original documents, textural critics have reconstructed original texts by taking advantage of the many copies available. This is done by recognizing changes in writing style, sources of copies, and writing material used, in addition to readability. Although it seems counterintuitive, this work is easier because so many copies were created over time. If the numbers are few and the time gap is wide, the original is harder to reconstruct with confidence. However, if there are many copies and the oldest existing copies are reasonably close in time to the original, textual critics can be more confident in pinpointing the exact wording of the original.
DA Carson and Douglas Moo in their book, “A Quick Introduction to the New Testament” tell us that the letters and gospels were originally hand-written on separate scrolls using all capital letters, without spaces and very little punctuation. There were two options for making copies. Professional copiers in a scriptorium worked as a team that included a reader, several scribes, and a copy editor who checked each copy against the original, often using ink of a different color to make the corrections — not that much different from today. More commonly, copies were made by laypeople eager to obtain another letter by Paul or a written account of the life of Jesus. The former method was more professional. The latter was cheaper but less accurate.
Over time, scrolls gave way to the codex (handwritten manuscripts in book form), which enabled readers to look up passages quickly. The exclusive use of capital letters (uncials) gave way to cursive (conjoined) script with lower case letters (miniscules). The writing material changed from papyrus to parchment and vellum, and these characteristics were combined with patterns of readings thought to reflect a particular locale. Each helps date the manuscript.
The development of the printing press made it easier to compare translations and make revisions. When Johann Albrecht Bengel, a Lutheran pastor, published his print edition of the Greek New Testament in 1734 he developed rules (a “critical apparatus”) to distinguish between unintentional errors and intentional changes in source material. Based on five criteria that have stood the test of time, Pastor Bengel found that, in general, the more difficult reading was likely to be closer to the original.
The point is that Christians have always been are profoundly textual people. Our access to a unique history and unique Person by whom we are saved was above all based on the written word. Thanks to the diligent work of scholars and transcribers, Christians today are equipped with astonishingly accurate and detailed information. Our New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. In the entire text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in doubt (about 400 words), and none affects any significant doctrine.
“Perhaps too,” conclude Drs. Moo and Carson, “it is worth speculating that we may be better off without the originals, for we would almost certainly have treated them with idolatrous reverence focused more on the mere artifact than on what the manuscript.”
Much of this post was excerpted From: D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo. “A Quick Introduction to the New Testament.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/cZ-4I.l
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
Researchers at Cornell University conducted a survey of a thousand adults (over 70 years old) from different backgrounds. They collected advice on topics ranging from marriage and careers to parenting and aging. Of particular interest is what the elders said about happiness.
These oldsters learned over the course of their lives, lessons that could have been known by simply reading the Bible.
Listed here are their most frequent lessons learned followed by corresponding thoughts from the apostles, Paul and Matthew.
Eliminate unnecessary worrying
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25)
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
As one man said, “It seems to take a lifetime to learn how to live in the moment, but it shouldn’t. I wish I could have learned this in my 30s rather than in my 60s. It would have given me decades more to enjoy life in this world.”
Resolve: read the Bible and enjoy life now.
Happy New Year from everyone at Bent Creek Baptist Church.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the best you’ve got anyway.
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.
This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
This prayer is often associated with Mother Teresa. The original was authored by Kent Keith.
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8)
In 1816, Joseph Mohr penned the poem that would make him famous around the world.
Two years later, on December 24th, 1818, Mohr, a priest at the newly established parish of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria, gave the poem to organist, Franz Gruber. Mohr asked him to write a melody for two solo voices together with accompaniment by guitar.
Later that day Gruber gave Mohr his composition. The priest liked what he saw and included it as part of the Christmas mass that evening. Mohr sang tenor, with guitar accompaniment, while Gruber sang bass. According to Gruber, the song was met with “general approval by all” in attendance (mostly shipping laborers, boat builders and their families).
By 1955 Silent Night had become the most recorded song in all history.
The literal translation may surprise you.
Silent night, holy night!
All are asleep; alone awake
only the faithful and most holy pair,
Gentle boy with curly hair,
sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent Night as sung by Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McEntire.
“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
All works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest,
“Glory to God in the highest” — not a wish, that so it might be. Rather, an affirmation that so it was.
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Not external peace, nor internal peace. Rather, it is Christ himself — “the man, the peace.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
“How do you say thank you for something so wonderful it defies description, something so large you can’t take it all in? Something so precious you fear losing it, so unique you know there could never be another one like it? Something so full of meaning you can’t comprehend it, so simple you can’t understand it? Something so priceless you can never afford it, so abundant you could never exhaust it.
How do you say thank you for something you’ve never seen yet love more than anything you’ve ever held in you arms?
What words do you choose to express feelings that go beyond your ability to articulate them?”*
Say, “Thank you!”
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Merry Christmas from all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church.
* The Daily Wad: Choice Tidbits to Enjoy Throughout Your Day. By Paul Anderson
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Christmas: the hinge of the world’s fate, the turning point of life. It is the most important thing that ever happened — or at least the beginning of it.
Walter Russell Mead, writing in American Interest tell us, “Whether we know it or not, whether we appreciate it or not, we are part of the Christmas Event that has turned history upside down.”
“It’s not by accident,” continues Dr. Reed, “that we date the birth of Christ as the year 1 and why traditionally the world’s history was divided into BC, before Christ, and AD, anno domini, the year of the Lord.”
From all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church, Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating the Lord’s birth, and seasonal greetings to everyone else.
However you understand the meaning and purpose of your life, may Christmas be a time of reflection. May it bring you closer to those you love, more generous to those in need, and more in tune with your hope, your duty, and — with the help of our merciful God — your destiny to become.
Merry Christmas and God’s speed on that journey.
The early Christians did not rejoice because of better things to come.
They rejoiced because Christ had come.
God’s unspeakable gift was not provisional.
They rejoiced because it was final.
“We cannot remind ourselves too often that it is not our believing in things that makes them true. We believe them because they are true. (Handel H. Brown)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Spend time this week to reflect on what God has done. Feel free to read each passage below several times and reflect on key words and phrases. Recognize and verbalize what’s important to you and your family.
December 18-20: Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son (Matthew 1:18-25)
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
December 21-23: The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
December 24-25: (Psalm 130:1-8) This is one of the psalms likely sung as worshipers “ascended” to Jerusalem during one of the annual festivals. They express longing for deliverance and forgiveness of sin. They are waiting for God to bring the redemption He has promised.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church.
The text of the hymn “O Happy Day” was written by Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). It is said that he wrote his hymns as summaries of his sermons and intended to help his congregation express their response to what they were being taught.
O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
And live rejoicing every day:
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.
It’s done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.
Now rest, my long-divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest;
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heav’nly pleasures fill my breast.
High heav’n, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.
“Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out by thee,
And the changes that will surely come
I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on serving Thee.
I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do,
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.”
Thus, brother, “go thou thy way till the end be;”
and “thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
Bruce, A. B.. The Training of The Twelve (p. 379). Public Domain. Kindle Edition.
But, I will sing of your strength, and revel at dawn in your mercy; You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress. (Psalm 59:16)
Lamentations is a book of sorrowful songs or poems. It’s author, Jeremiah, wrote about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He warned of its destruction, watched it take place, and then sadly reflected on it in order to teach God’s people that disobedience to the Lord results in immense suffering and distress.
Jeremiah also wrote that restoration would come.
For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:31-32)
There’s hope in the midst of despair when we wait on the Lord.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:21-32)
It’s important to know that even when we stray the Lord offers compassion and restoration. Better yet, he offers hope even when the source of suffering and condemnation is outside of our control.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24)
But what did Jeremiah mean by the word “wait”?
Here, the Hebrew word “wait” is translated qavah, defined as “look for,” “hope,” or “expect.” Waiting on the Lord does not mean stopping all activity, quieting ourselves, and emptying our minds with a blank stare.
We wait for something we expect. We wait in anticipation and expectation.
Wait on the Lord in anticipation and expectation. Expect anything from God that is consistent with his nature. Expect God to do anything that he has revealed as his will, or implied from his character. He is faithful, dependable, and reliable. The Lord does what he says he will do.
Then said Jesus to him, “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)
David Hume lived in the 18th century. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. He believed that miracles were singular events that differed from the established laws of nature. Therefore, miracles violated all prior experience and were not possible based on reasonable belief. This position reflects the view of many skeptics today.
Mr. Hume’s position presupposes that the actions of Jesus must fit into the rational world of science. “But suppose, just suppose,” says Professor N.T. Wright, that miracles offer a glimpse of a deeper truth. Suppose the miracles of Jesus signal a new creation, with him fully in charge. What if miracles are his way of sharing with us a glimpse of what happens when God’s kingdom on heaven and earth come together? In doing this, why would Jesus feel confined to the laws of physics?
“Jesus,” says Professor Wright, one of the world’s leading Bible scholars, “seems to be the place where God’s world and ours meet, where God’s time and ours meet.” Jesus is the place where God’s matter — his new creation — intersects with us.
Miracles in the New Testament meant more than “simply” healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and raising the dead. Everything in the gospel narrative, including but not limited to miracles, is extraordinary. Those whose vision is limited to what they see using conventional spectacles risk missing the larger significance of Jesus’ miracles and their meaning in the new world order.
Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon-day. (Psalm 37:4-6)
Pastor Tommy reminds us of the most wondrous gift any Christian can have: “Delight in the Lord Jesus!”
“The Psalms,” he said, “help us delight in the ultimate King of the universe!”
Similarly, more than 150 years ago, Pastor Joseph Charles Philpot, preaching at Zoar Chapel, reminded his congregation of the close and intimate connection between the humbling teachings of God in the heart and our delighting ourselves in him.
Take time to read these Psalms. Turn the words into prayers of delight. We can do this because he has forgiven our sins and because he has given us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will. (John 16:16)
First he is here. Then he is not. We ask, why do the messages seem contradictory? Why can’t faith be simple? What is the foundation of my faith?
Yet, Jesus said…
It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (Acts 1:7)
Patience is the key. Writing about the truth of Easter, Marcus Borg, Professor of Religion at Oregon State University, tells us, “The remarkable congruence between the way that he taught and the way his life ended means that he himself becomes the incarnation [the embodiment] of the Way.”
During his time on earth Jesus was faithful. He forged a new path for us — a path leading directly to him. Professor Borg continues, “He died at Passover, when the Passover lambs were sacrificed; and he died in Jerusalem, the location of the temple and sacrifice.”
It was poetry — his crucifixion and death. In time and space, a stark contrast and alternative to existing religious law, freeing the Jews (and later Christians) from physical sacrifice and the officials who impeded a one-on-one loving relationship with the Father.
Then, after death, Jesus was faithful in his return to move his Kingdom forward. Step back and be amazed. Not in our time but in his, the foundation of his love and promise is strong. Our faith and redemption are built on the solid foundation of his love and sacrifice. Indeed, he is a strong and mighty tower.
And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
In high school, my service for Christ had more to do with a sense of duty, and so it came from a heart that “had to” instead of “getting to.”
This also made service something that was easy for me—fitting in my time slots. The focus was on doing more of jobs that I like and activities that made me feel like I’ve fulfilled my duty.
A Changing Perspective
Now, when I serve, the Lord has taught me that I get to serve Him. It is a lot different now. It’s a joy and a honor to do work for Him.
Now, I seek out times to serve the Lord. Lately outside of my BMW (Florida Free Bible, Mission, & Work Training Center) ministries, I’ve been helping run a youth group in a small church, right down the road from the Teen Missions base. In addition to the usual BMW ministries, I’ve been working at the Teen Missions property helping get things ready for their yearly mud run to help orphans afflicted by aids in Africa (photo).
I hope this series of blogs has added to your knowledge of BMW and my experience there. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences.
Previous posts in this series
Mark 13 tells the parable of the sower. The farmer scattered some seeds on good soil, some on the path, some on rocky soil, some among the thorns.
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Mark 13:20-23)
Yet, where each seed lands is beyond its control. How might seed on rocky soil experience everlasting joy? How does seed on the path not become trampled? Is there any way that a seed among the thorns might still be fruitful? Are they doomed?
The answer lies not around us, but within us. Contrary to our natural inclination, surrender is the first step to safe passage toward a joyful and fruitful life. Full surrender is an act of love to Christ.
Inside our scared exterior is just someone who wants to be loved. And there’s no greater love than the Lord.
The first step is ours to take. So, wave your white flag.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
To win this battle we must be skilled in using our weapons.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Love: Outgoing concern for others. True concern for all of mankind. Not being self-centered. Doing for others what is right, despite their character, appearance, social status, etc. (I Corinthians 13).
Joy: Related to happiness, only happiness requires right circumstances where joy does not. Jesus Christ felt joy though He faced heavy trials (Hebrews 12:2). We should all be joyful having been called by God.
Peace: Peace of mind and peace with God (Philippians 4:6-7).
Kindness: Behaving toward others kindly, as God has behaved toward us (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Goodness: Generosity of spirit that springs from imitating Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4-5).
Faithfulness: Being reliable. This describes a person who is trustworthy and will always stand up for God’s way. We can count on, and should work at imitating, the faithfulness of God (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5).
Self-Control: Discipline which gives us victory over the wrong pulls of our mind and body (I John 2:15-17).
As with all tools it takes time and experience to use them well. Hammers will hit your thumb. Crayons will draw outside the line. Sewing needles will prick your finger.
Never be discouraged. Pick up and start over. In this, Peter the Apostle may be our best example.