Shall We Pray?

Natl Day of Prayer

Shortly after Dallas Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost folded. It came to the point of bankruptcy. All the creditors were ready to foreclose at twelve noon on a particular day. That morning, the founders of the school met in the president’s office to pray that God would provide. In that prayer meeting was Harry Ironside. When it was his turn to pray, he said in his refreshingly candid way, “Lord we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.”

Just about that time, a tall Texan in boots and an open-collar shirt strolled into the business office. “Howdy!” he said to the secretary. “I just sold two carloads of cattle over in Fort Worth. I’ve been trying to make a business deal go through, but it just won’t work. I feel God wants me to give this money to the seminary. I don’t know if you need it or not, but here’s the check,” and he handed it over.
The secretary took the check and, knowing something of the critical nature of the hour, went to the door of the prayer meeting and timidly tapped. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and president of the school, answered the door and took the check from her hand. When he looked at the amount, it was for the exact sum of the debt. Then he recognized the name on the check as that of the cattleman. Turning to Dr. Ironside, he said, “Harry, God sold the cattle.”

Today we are being asked to spend some time seeking the Lord in humble prayer for ourselves and our nation.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote this in 1863 calling the nation to prayer.

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

Will you Believe? Shall we pray!

“What Does It Mean When They Say…”

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bob passport

“How Do You Walk in the Spirit?” 

“How do you just ‘Give it to God?'”

Walking in the Spirit refers to living in dependence upon the leading and directing of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches us that every true believer has the Holy Spirit indwelling them from the moment of salvation. The Spirit of God regenerates, seals, and sanctifies the child of God. In addition, He leads the child of God in the ways that God wants His child to go. So simply put, to “walking in the Spirit” means to live sensitive and submissive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

A technology that has been around for a while now serves to illustrate what this means. It is called “Dynamic Positioning”. It is used on deep sea platforms that must stay in a set location in order to do drilling but are only kept in place by constant correction made by thrusters on the sides of the platforms. By means of computers they are constantly checking their exact location by GPS and then making very minor adjustments to keep themselves right where they are supposed to be.

So the Spirit-filled child of God will be listening for and responding to God’s Holy Spirit all through the day! So as Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). In other words, since the Spirit has given us God’s Life, let is learn to trust the same Spirit moment by moment in this life!

Sometimes people will say “Just give it all to God” or “Just Let Go, Let God!” but what does that mean and how do you actually do it?

This speaks of dedicating some circumstance, decision or issue in your life to the Lord and then truly believing that He is in charge and going to do what is best for you. It is a popular way of saying “Really trust God about this matter and stop striving to make things turn out the way you prefer.”

If a child should fear a commercial airplane might crash and was allowed to enter the cockpit. The child might ask to help “steer the plane” out of his insecurity. Perhaps a pilot knowing the plane was being controlled by the plane’s computer might even allow the child to sit in his lap and put his hands on the controls. The child might even fear that the plane was changing course and think he was in real danger. The child’s attempts to “steer” the plane at that point are of no consequence and doing nothing to help the plane stay on a safe course. The plane is being controlled beyond the child’s awareness and above the child’s comprehension.

In the same way, “Giving it to God” means truly accepting that God is in control and then choosing to rest in His ability to keep His promise to work all things out for our good and His glory.

Kingdom Reversals

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So many things in God’s Kingdom are backwards from our way of thinking or reversed from the value system we have been raised with.

“The first shall be last and the last first” Matthew 19:30

“Blessed are the poor” Luke 6:20

“God chooses the base things and the despised” 1 Cor. 1:28

The one I want to think out loud with you about for a few minutes is how God uses the broken.

When we find something is broken we either repair it, replace it or simply stop using it.

In my garage I have a million watt spotlight that I bought eight years ago. It is amazing! If ever there is a burglar trying to hide in my neighbors bushes, he won’t have a chance! If I need to signal a passing commercial airliner at 35,000 feet, no problem! The only thing is… it’s broken! It stopped working seven years ago. Not sure why.

I refuse to throw it away. It might start working again on it’s own! Besides I paid 20 bucks for it!

I can’t fix it – no one sells parts!

I won’t buy another one. Why should I? The cops haven’t bothered to ask for my help and the airlines routinely fly overhead ignoring the awesome potential that I used to have!

Bottom line: It’s broken and simply one more piece of garbage that I have refused to admit that I have on my shelf.

On the other hand…

Jacob lived for 20 years knowing the Lord as his God. He had met the Lord that crazy night in Bethel in a dream. He made a deal with the Lord to be his God.- how kind of him! (Gen 28:21). However, Jacob continued to live pretty much the same as he always had BEFORE meeting the Lord. He figured out what he wanted (including who he wanted to marry) and worked hard for it. He made some good business deals and struggled to better himself personally and financially. Finally, he felt led to go home.

However, while on his way there, with his large family and servants and flocks, he hears that his brother Esau is coming to meet him. The problem is that the last Jacob knew, Esau was planning to kill him for stealing his birthright by deceiving their father Isaac

Now Jacob was in trouble., He wasn’t young, single or able to simply run from his sins as he had before. Now he was responsible for his wives, his sons and for protecting their assets. He does do what he can which is to divide the family into two groups sending them ahead and also send gifts by his servants to his brother, hoping to assuage his brother’s wrath and desire for revenge.

Then after he has done all he can, Jacob is left alone. This is often when it happens.

The Bible records that an angel wrestled with Jacob in the night and in the end cripples him by touching the socket of his thigh. Suddenly  Jacob is a broken man. He is in hurting, alone and he has absolutely nothing but God to cling to and in whom to trust. At the very lowest point in Jacob’s life, when his past sins are coming back to haunt him and he has nothing but fear and regrets around him, God changes his name to “Israel” which means “Governed By God”.

Now, a shattered man is ready to face whatever lies ahead.

Not because he is strong but because he is weak.

Not because he is so usable but because he is completely broken.

Now, Jacob becomes the example God can point to for anyone who wishes to live and die in faith.

I love the postscript on Jacob’s life in Hebrews 11:21

By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

Right to the end of his life Jacob “Blessed, worshiped and leaned

Wouldn’t it be great if you could be this usable to the Lord?

You can! But you must realize God intends to break you:

Not like my spotlight that sits broken and unused on the shelf.

But like the Twixt bar you break to share with a friend!

Remember what it says about the loaves “Jesus blessed them and broke them and gave them

The breaking is the preparing of the Lord for the giving of the blessing to someone else!

Which Way Do I Go?

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Alice meets The Cheshire Cat in a tree. It constantly grins and can disappear and reappear whenever it likes. Sometimes it disappears and leaves its grin behind.

On one occasion, Alice is perplexed as she approaches a fork in the road.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” she says. 

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” says the Cat.

“I don’t much care, where” says Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter much which way you go” says the Cat.

How true.

How important it is for us as believers to discern the purposes and the direction of God for our lives. Sometimes, it feels as if we are sailing the seas of life, blown by winds, drawn by currents wherever time and chance direct our sail-less dingy to go. 

However, we must remember God’s wonderful promise in Psalm 32.

      “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;

       I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  

       Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,

       Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,

       Otherwise they will not come near to you.” (Psalm 32:8-9)

So according to God’s Word “There is a way you should go”. That means there are plenty of other ways you should NOT go!

Most of us have learned there are many different ways to fall off a cliff, but only one road that is leads to the other side of the mountain. 

How do I discern the will of God? How do I know which way to go?

Much could be said. Much more has been written. But perhaps we can simplify it.

Often our tendency is to consult only the outward circumstances or merely our own desires and perhaps even block out unwanted counsel from godly friends. Remember God wants to direct you but you do need to step out in faith trusting He will steer you as you “step” out to do His will. You cannot steer a parked car and God won’t often steer a “parked Christian”.
As Paul the apostle set out on the first missionary journey he began to get direction of where he wasn’t suppose to go (as he attempted to go there). Then, as he got to the road’s end and no doubt was seeking the Lord, God gives him further direction.
The saying here is helpful “Do what you know and you will know what to do”. Remember, following the Lord is  like walking with a lantern. You can see only a few feet ahead of you when you are carrying a lantern. However, as you take a step, you discover now you can see farther than you could before you took the step! That’s how it is with God’s direction: Step By Step!

First. Pray.

James says “You have not because you ask not. If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask.”

Remember even someone as godly as Joshua was misled because he leaned on his own understanding rather asking the Lord for direction.

Then consider the following:

This illustration shows how to line up five crucial factors that will help a person seek and understand the will of God. Each light represents a factor and the safety of the harbor represents God’s will. As we line up the lights (factors) we can sail safely into the harbor (God’s Will).

Happy Sailing!

Serving or Loving?

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“Serve One another” Peter directed .(1 Peter 4:10) “Love one another.” Jesus commanded (John 13:34, John 15:17) and John repeatedly reminds us. (1 John 4:7, 2 John 1:5)

While It’s possible to serve people without loving them it’s virtually impossible to love people without serving them.

Love serves. Why? Because “Love does not seek it’s own. (1 Cor. 13:5) The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s selfishness!

This is why Paul writes  “Through love, serve one another” (Galatians 5:13)

The question is “Am I merely serving people or truly loving them?”

Jesus asked Peter the question three times: “Simon, Do you love me?” Each time, Simon Peter affirmed that he did love Jesus (even though it wasn’t with the highest type of love available). Each time, Jesus answered Peter’s affirmation with a call to serve: “Feed my sheep.”

If we love the Lord, one evidence should be that we serve His people.

Without realizing it, we can serve folks without really loving them. When that happens, our joy fades, our sense of privilege dissipates and our feeling of being unappreciated intensifies.

When Martha was serving the Lord and the guests within her home, she sensed that she was doing more than her fair share of the work. She was sure that she was being left with all the work while her sister Mary was being lazy and just enjoying the Lord’s Word.

Martha asked Jesus to take up her cause and speak to Mary about her failure. However, Jesus commends Mary’s choice to sit at His feet and listen and gently reproves Martha’s unloving busyness!

Do you delight in serving people and see it as a true privilege? Or has it become a routine, a responsibility, a duty? Our internal attitude towards what we are doing often is our first “red flag” that we have stopped loving and begun instead serving by “impulse power” rather than Spirit-infused love.

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (Gen 29:20)

Love oils the wheels of service.

“O, then I should just quit the ministry altogether.” you say. “I’m an unloving person and a hypocrite!” That’s exactly what the enemy would whisper into your ear and have echo inside your mind. Don’t buy it!

The answer isn’t to beat yourself up and condemn yourself. You need not resign serving as an usher or ministering in the nursery. No, the antidote is to confess it to the Lord and admit you are empty. That isn’t so much a sin as much as an admission that you simply need more of the One who, so loved, that he laid down His life for others.

The answer isn’t to disconnect yourself from people’s needs as much as it is to get yourself back under the faucet of God’s abundant supply of love. Jude writes “Keep yourself in the love of God.” Love for people comes from God not from somewhere within our self. Our job is to stay near enough to the source that we continually experience God’s heart for the needs of the people around us.

Jesus remains passionate about His bride and her needs. Just tell the Lord you need a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit who’s primary fruit is God’s agape love. Then watch, as He gives you renewed and enlarged capacities to love the people around you. When that happens, Spirit-filled serving will just begin to flow!

What’s Next?

Life is full of the past.

Look around. It’s everywhere and pretty hard to miss.

My car testifies of each of the times I parked too close to someone else’s. My body reveals the evidence of surgeries, accidents, and injuries with each scar having it’s very own story to tell. The trees carry within their rings a living history of the good and bad winters and even the stars shine their past every single night.

The past. It’s hard not to notice it because God has chosen to record it in so many ways. Must be important. Perhaps that is why even the Eternal One, the perfect Son of God has scars that remain on his glorified body. He has a story that needs to be remembered.

But what of the future?

The world around is strangely silent when we look in the other direction. “What happened?” is far easier to answer then “What’s next?” You can’t look at your body too see it’s future or up at the stars to see some distant tomorrow. No, the future lies veiled in a mystery that is beyond man’s ability to sneak a peak into. Or does it?

God throws down the gauntlet and challenges the many “gods” of this world with these words “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.” (Isaiah 41:23)

Only God has knowledge of those things that have yet to take place. God knows the future as well as we know the past. Indeed, better. Sometimes I forget the way things happened. My memory improves or even exaggerates the past. I find I am a poor record keeper of even my own life! God’s memory  on the other hand is crystal clear and absolutely correct. He always remembers perfectly and knows the future accurately.

Better yet, God has given us previews and peeks into the future. These prophecies in scripture reveal enough of the future to encourage us as well as to motivate us to believe His Word and obey His will.

In an old song a little girl asks her mother some questions “Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?”. Her mother tells her “Whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see.”

God chooses to leave the particulars of most of our lives concealed. However, The bigger picture of world events including the future of His people and the future of those who reject Him are not as shadowy question marks. No, God has lifted the veil and told us boldly in advance what we can expect. He has given us significant detail about the time right before the end. We who live in it will be hard pressed to miss it if we will open eyes open and look for it.

The future isn’t as much a mystery for the child of God as it is for the unbeliever. When they shake their heads and say “What is the world coming to?” We should be ready and say “I’m glad you asked.” Then, simply add “If you have a few minutes I’d be happy to tell you!”


More Fire!

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Let’s call her Cathy.

She gave her life to Jesus through our street witnessing team that shares Christ down at the beach on Saturday evenings. The next day she came and met me after the morning service and told me what had happened the night before. We prayed and celebrated her decision. With her daughter in hand and a brand new life ahead of her, she agreed to come out and be baptized later that same afternoon. It was a great day!

She hasn’t missed a Sunday or Wednesday night service since. Hungry for God’s word and desiring to grow in her new found faith, Cathy has come up for prayer and to update me on how she is doing. Her smile betrays the peace she is experiencing even though she has no friends or family in our area and is currently out of work and homeless. You would never suspect it.

This last week after service, Cathy came up to me and said “I really feel God’s presence and power when I’m here at church but I don’t feel it so strong when I am not.” Then she simply added “But I want to.”

That is not something that only Cathy experiences. It is in fact a universal experience of Christians everywhere. Why is this? Can anything be done to enjoy God’s presence all the time instead of just at church?

Jude writes this: “But build yourselves up on your most holy faith.” (Jude 20).

Faith, like a muscle can and must be exercised to grow. Most of us are old enough to know this when it comes to our physique: it’s “Use it or lose it brother!” This is also true of our faith. If you wish to grow in faith rather than waiting for church to start, you must exercise your faith while you are NOT at church!

On one occasion early in his spiritual development, David was strengthened in his faith by Jonathan, his brother-in-law. However, there came a time when Jonathan wasn’t around and David was in deep trouble. We read  “But David encouraged himself in God.” (1 Samuel 30:6). You have to learn to do the same.

How do we do that?

Solomon wrote “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out.” (Prov 26:20) Now, he was speaking of gossip and the strife it produces. However, the principle is also true of our faith in God. Paul writes “He who sows to the flesh will reap from the flesh corruption. He who sows to the Spirit will reap from the Spirit, eternal life”  (Gal 6:8) There are things that fuel our spiritual life. We must know what they are and how to keep those things in ready supply.

Read God’s Word and Pray every day!

These two spiritual disciplines are each modeled in the life of Jesus Christ.  They enabled Him to live in constant intimacy with His Father and also in victory over the enemy. As I pray, I release my burdens and fears to the Lord. As I read and believe my Bible, the fires of my faith are stoked because “Faith comes by hearing the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)

“Is not my Word as a fire, saith the Lord?” (Jer. 23:29)

Martin Luther once commented “If I should neglect prayer for even one day I would lose a great deal of the fire of my faith”

Daily Bible reading and prayer are God’s ways to privately ignite our faith and excite our passion for Christ. Remember, all you need is to come close enough to the fire. When that happens, you will catch!