Saturday, February 12, 2011

A House of Prayer

"And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."  
Matthew 21:13

I couldn't sleep this morning, so I thought that I would post the last thought for this week.  Our guest this year at the 2011 Prayer Conference was Doug Small.  Doug is president of Alive Ministries: Project Pray.  He is also a field director for Awakening America.  Finally, Doug is the Church of God liaison for prayer: see COG Prayer Initiative.  I thought that I would share three items that He said or that I have read from one of his books, Transforming Your Church Into A House Of Prayer.

The first thought centers around the verse above.  All of the activities of the temple at the time of Jesus led to a situation where the workings of the "church" were a barrier to a personal relationship with God.  Here is a paragraph from the book mentioned above: "It was the desire of Jesus that the Temple be a house of prayer for all nations.  Instead, it was full of religious activities with the priests in their rich garments, the sacrificial ceremonies, the formalities of pomp and priestly procedures, the rituals and rites of cleansing and consecration, repentance and restitution.  In the midst of all the elaborate and sacred ceremonies--the blowing of the shofar, the fire and smoke, the blood of the altar and the water of the laver--the wonder of all the simplicity of communion with God, had been lost.  Getting to God had become a complicated maze."  Is it not the same today in many ways?  

God help us to not allow the church, the bride of Christ, to stand in the way of Christ, the only means of salvation!

At prayer conference we were reminded to pray from an open Bible.  Doug mentioned that if you went to the probate court and asked for a "pink Cadillac" from the estate and it was not a part of the estate, the executor would remind you that you can only receive from what is in the will.  The New Testament is Christ's last will and testament.  It became a binding document for true believers upon the death of Christ.  Too many do not receive their desires as they do not line up with the "will".  Those praying from the provisions of Christ's will are surely heard if they press on in prayer. 

God Help me not to add my own fleshly wishes as a wish list of things that might hurt my relationship with you or my witness to the world! (And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.  Psalm 106:15 )

The third thought is related to the idea that  the church, at times, is getting in the way of relationship rather than being a tool to enhance a believer's relationship with Jesus.  We spend too much time on other things and too little time actually praying.  Preaching should be a means by which we hear more to take to prayer as well as prayerfully consider what we have heard.  Look at the above verse again.  Tie it to Paul's statement in First Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;"  Notice the stress on prayer? Look at the exhortation of First Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."  

God help us to restore the sweet incense of prayer to our lives, homes, and to your church!  Forgive us for our inattention and indolence in our walk with you!   Restore us to a place where we literally pray without ceasing!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today's Prophetic Headlines

Here are a few news articles to ponder in prayer.

Israel and the Middle East

White House Fudges on Whether it Would Save Israel - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel watches Mubarak ouster with trepidation

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Steps Down -

Muslim Mob Burns Down Churches, Storms Courthouse | Worthy Christian News

Christian Persecution Continues Amid Egypt Turmoil | Worthy Christian News

Godlessness in the Last Days

The rot in values that is causing America’s decline

As His Custom Was!

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."  Luke 4:16

Jesus went to church!  I know that really means He went to synagogue, but the point is that He fellowshipped with others weekly.  He was in worship service as a matter of habit.  He went faithfully!

So many today are doing just the opposite of what Jesus did.  It has become such an epidemic that many churches are closing their doors at times they when they once worshiped.  I have talked to many discouraged pastors and members lately who lament over the vast numbers of folks who simply don't attend church as faithfully as they once did.  It appears that they have become bored with their Savior.  Like the Israelites in the wilderness, they loathe this Manna all the time.     

If we are to follow Jesus don't you think that He would lead us to a place of corporate worship and prayer on a consistent basis?  He was ever faithful to His Father's house, so why wouldn't He?  Where was He when His parents could not find Him after a trip to Jerusalem?  When He left the crowds and crossed the lake where did they find Him? (John 6:59)  Read the gospels again and count the miracles, signs, and wonders that Jesus did while in the church!  Don't just wear a bracelet or a T-shirt with a catchy acronym--let the Spirit lead you to live as Jesus did.  

He went when it was convenient and when it wasn't.  He went when He was threatened and mocked or when treated with honor.  He went with hypocrites and demons in the congregation and when the house was full of saints. He went when life was peaceful as well as when life was turbulent. He went when the people were amazed at Him and when they wanted to throw Him out.  Jesus didn't make excuses!  

He wasn't there to impress.  He didn't just go because He had a position.  He was not there to be seen.  He went when it was "boring" and when there was great excitement.  He was in church!

Be like your savior! Let it be said of you, "As his/her custom is."

Don't be a church forsaking "saint?"

  "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."  Hebrews 10:25

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Immutable Word

We spent much time considering God's immutability--the quality of being unchanging.  Therefore, if God is eternally unchanging then what about His word?  It would have to be unalterable as well.  There is no wiggle room, then, to change His word to say something other than what He declares.  Peter Hitchens (brother of the infamous athiest, Christopher Hitchins) affirms, *"The second atheist problem is the unbelievers' assertion that it is possible to determine what is right and what is wrong without God.  They have a fundamental inability to concede that to be effectively absolute, a moral code needs to be beyond human power to alter."  In essence, you simply cannot change the laws, precepts, and teachings of God without accountability to God for it.  Maybe that is why Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, wrote, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"  Jeremiah 5:30-31  The people were altering God's word, speaking falsely in His name, or adding to and deleting from His word.  He concludes with a rhetorical question that speaks of divine retribution, "...what will ye do in the end thereof?"

I ran across this article.  It is not news.  It is not newsworthy.  It is yet another example of an attempt to make sin sound legitimate.  It is yet another attempt to change the values of this nation in opposition to the clear and definite directions of God.  Notice the many comments in the comments section where people alter, add to, take away from, misinterpret, or reinterpret the word of God.  The author of this article and those who agree with or seek to strengthen the argument are more than likely unawares or seriously underestimating their inability to change the immutable word of the immutable God! 

My Take: The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs

I knew that my comment would be moderated, so I copied it.  Here it is. It is the first I have made on this specific news venue.

"Personally, I think this is some of the most ignorant and uninformed foolishness I have ever read. God is God; He is an immutable God! He does not change His mind at the whim and fancy of men or the railings of a godless society or the ramblings of a so-called "minister". That is the essence of the verse, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.' Also see "For I am the LORD, I change not;". He does not change His word even when every news agency and TV show of fallen man tries to change His mind for Him. He does not now nor ever will follow the false notion of what is "politically correct". Those who use the concept of, "judge not" as some here have done are hypocrites–which literally means to underjudge. You have underjudged the message of the Bible. You have missed the many other times in the New Testament where men are told to be discerners of truth as in 1 Peter and Jude, 1 John and others. He has clearly taught that homosexuality, as well as pedophilia, adultery, and a whole host of other sins are wrong. They are society killers. Don't drag the Almighty down to your foolish notions of what is right and wrong and seriously consider the words of His prophet, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20
Yet in His infinite love for a fallen race, the race of Adam, He has provided a gracious atonement, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16"

God Bless!  
*Hitchens, Peter;  The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing
Page 141

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I have been chewed up by too many for not being faithful to my blog for the last few months.  I repent!  I will get back to work on it as much as possible.  

"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."  Psalm 55:6

Anyone who spends any time with this Psalm clearly understands that David is under great stress.  Though we are unsure when David wrote this individual lament (many feel that it was written in response to the situation with Absalom and the council of Ahithophel) we are sure that he knew where his answer was.  It was in God Almighty. 
The stress of this trial was so great that David wanted to fly away from it as if he had wings like a dove.  However, running is never the solution.

During the 1980s, I was sharing this verse at a pre-trial confinement facility.  The thrust of the message was that we can stand firm in Christ as fleeing will only compound the problem.  The next morning I received a call from the warden who asked what I preached.  Laughing, he said the inmates in my group should have seriously listened.  They had attempted an escape that night and had been caught rapidly.  Each one eventually had time added to their sentences for the escape.  True story!!!  

It is the same with any trial you face.  Don't run from the problem.  It only adds to the discomfort.   However, there is a safe hiding place.  Run to Jesus!  What began for David as troubles so great that he could not stand ended as a victory of faith in an Omnipotent Savior!  "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."  Psalm 55:22