DO YOU? ARE YOU? WILL YOU?

Do you believe a consistent study and understanding of the scripture is necessary for real spiritual growth?

Do you only quote, or do you take seriously the command to study to show yourself approved unto God, skillful in using the Word, as as to rightly understand it?

Do you know some part of your attitude, action, character, or disposition that has been significantly affected by your personal study of the scriptures in the past three months?

Are you presently involved in a consistent and continuing plan of Bible study by book, chapter, or subject?

Are you a milk-fed Christian, almost totally dependent on spiritual nourishment previously digested by a preacher and hand fed to you?

Are you serious about your personal responsibilities to study the Bible? Continue reading “DO YOU? ARE YOU? WILL YOU?”

Do We or Do We Not?

There is a passage in Matthew 25 it seems we have often overlooked.  This chapter is a part of what is called the “Olivet Discourse” of Jesus, which actually begins in Chapter 24 and continues through Chapter 25.  The cause for the discourse was Jesus’ answer to the well-known question of the disciples, “…What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

We are very familiar with the first several parts of this significant portion of scripture.  We are assured that wrs and rumors of wars, false prophets, the abomination of desolation, and the sun and moon being darkened, and budding fig tree are definite signs of the end of time, and know that we are seeing them fulfilled.

We are, also, sure that we should heed not only the story of the virgins who foolishly did not have enough oil but also the warning of the wicked and slothful servant who did not multiply his talents.

The question is, though, have we overlooked the last part of Matthew 25? Continue reading “Do We or Do We Not?”

The Mockery Of Purple

They called Him “King.”  They tried to make Him look like one.  They even gave Him a crown.

What they called Him was a bad joke that was not funny.  They were playing and pretending with the purple robe, and the crowning was not only painful, it was humiliating.

By choice He was at their mercy.  The exhilaration of their own power gave them poor judgement of their attitude and actions.  Would it not have been enough to simply carry out the orders to get rid of Him?  Why taunt Him, teasing and humiliating?  A beating and an old coat to send Him on His way to rejection would have been enough.  Oh, but, no . . . they called Him something they didn’t mean, attempted to make Him appear more than what they really felt HE was, and they hurt Him. Continue reading “The Mockery Of Purple”

A Place In the Sun

I first noticed it as I hurriedly turned a corner, making my way on down the walk.  A tiny little plan t had sprouted in a very unlikely place.  Cradles in a crevice, shaded by the corner of the building and a small shrub, it had crowned itself with a frail little bloom.

“How did you get there?” I mused out loud, noticing the strange bend of its spindly stem.

Almost daily I watched as it struggled in its shady spot.  It strenuously pushed itself around the corner at an odd and difficult angle as it reached upward, ever seeking the sun. Continue reading “A Place In the Sun”

A Commitment To Excellence

Several years ago I read an interview with Mary Crowley, the highly successful developer and owner of the Home Interiors enterprise.  The question was asked, “What are some of the basic principles of how you approach your work and how you approach your life that have made you more and more successfully.”  Her answer was simple: “I have a commitment to excellence, and never give up.  Whatever the job is, do it the best you can, and make it shine.”  With this she also imparts her deep feeling that everyone is on the team, and everyone is serving others, not just doing a job.  Over a period of 25 years, her initial investment of $5,000.00 had grown to over $400 million that year. Continue reading “A Commitment To Excellence”

The Confusion Of Christmas

Man’s mind is a significant skirmish field for the emotions.  The constant tug-o-war between what we ought to do and what we do, how we ought to feel and how we feel interjects confusion compounded with guilt into the maze of life.  Those who are trained in the science of the mind and emotions tell us that the Christmas holiday season is one of the peak times for upset emotions.  Many reasons make up the basis for this.  The contrast of memories of carefree childhood holidays versus the pressure of the adult world of holidays can cause confusion by the paradox of how we would like to feel and how we feel.  Peaceful and happy holiday scenes and melodious strains of “sleep in heavenly peace” contrast drastically with the hectic holiday pace, late hours, pressure and frayed nerves.  However, a real look at the first Christmas reveals a great similarity between their day and ours. Continue reading “The Confusion Of Christmas”

A New Year

There is something about the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one that causes a pause in life’s machinery for most of us.  It provides us with just enough time for a little introspection.  This affects us in various ways – from a sigh of relief that the old year is passed, hope at the promise of a new year, a creeping dread that this year may not be much different than last, or it may be a time of anticipation and hope as exciting plans are made for the future.  Some of us may end up with just a good case of the “I’m so tired” blahs as we slide from one year to the next.

However, through the years, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that if I will approach this final holiday of the holiday season with faith and hope, it can truly make all the difference in the world.  If my evaluation of the previous year – and my anticipation for the coming year – are both filled with thanksgiving I become more and more aware of the gifts God has given me. Continue reading “A New Year”

The Priority of Prayer

As Apostolics, we are firmly rooted in the Book of Acts where, in every chapter, prayer is either mentioned or alluded to.  For Apostolics, there is no priority preceding prayer.  Without the modern marvels of communication and travel, the book of Acts church made a global impact.  This impact traveled on the wings of prayer around the corner and to the four corners of the then know world.  Prayer continues to be the prerequisite for global impact in the twenty-first century.  All of our extensive plans and expanded efforts will require extreme prayer to impact our world.

 Without Acts 1, there would be no Acts 2.  Prayer was the priority of the apostolic church.  It was born in a prayer meeting and it will thrive only in an atmosphere of prayer.  The back door of the prayer room will become the front door of evangelism.  Evangelism without prayer is like an explosive that has no detonator.  Prayer without evangelism is like a detonator that has no explosive.  Together the church can blow the gates of hell off their hinges.  It was said of the early church that they turned the world upside down.  That is global impact.

 Apostolic doctrine must be accompanied by the apostolic agenda and priority of prayer.  This will produce the power for effective impact.  Acts 6:4 clearly sets the apostolic agenda:  “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer; and to the ministry of the word:” and please note that prayer precedes the Word.  How would Acts 10 read if the apostle Peter had been too busy with plans and programs to pray in the middle of that notable day when Cornelius turned the handle on the door of the Gentile world, opening it for the gospel?  The door of evangelism for the continent of Europe swung open on three hinges of prayer:  Lydia’s prayer meeting by the riverside, the deliverance of the demonized girl as Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayer meeting, and the prayer meeting in the jail.

Prayer meetings were the pivotal points of the early church.  It was while Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting that the lame man was healed, which produced a ready audience to receive the message, resulting in multitudes believing.  After an earth-shaking prayer meeting, the words “multitude” and “believers” appear again.  The impact of preaching is absolutely dependent on the priority of prayer.

 A praying disciple by the name of Ananias was led in a vision to a praying religious leader by the name of Saul, and by praying and going, the religious system was cracked, and the greatest persecutor of the name of Jesus was turned into its greatest proponent.

 The apostolic agenda of prayer (first) and the word made the early church effectively impacting:

  • They affected the religious world of their day with the conversion of Saul and a great number of priests.
  • They affected the business world of their day as noted by the conversion of Cornelius.
  • They affected the ethnic structure of their day as noted by the conversion of Grecians, Romans, and others.
  • They impacted individuals, people groups, cities, villages, nations, and continents.

 They kept the priority of prayer.

 Apostolic doctrine must be accompanied by the apostolic agenda of the priority of prayer.  It has been said that you can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

 The fire of revival will never fall on empty altars.  A sacrifice at the altar has always been required before the fire falls.  It has always been so and remains so even in the twenty-first century.

 Real global impact is not dependent on our preaching, singing, planning, organizing, or working.  All of these will contribute, but prayer is the first essential.

 Let it be said of us as it was of the early church, “…they continued . . . in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Don’t Miss Christmas!

 

“All went to be taxed…”

How many times I have read this with sober concern, but today I smiled at the practical interpretation that came to my mind.  I have special insight into what makes the holidays special to so many.  It is women.  They bake, they cook, they shop, they sew, they clean.  They work hard on the dramas and the music.  They write notes and cards to distant relatives and friends.  They pack baskets of food and gifts of goodies to share with those they love.  And, of course, this is all in addition to their usual 24-hour-a-day job.  How taxing the holidays can be!

Disrupted schedules, stringing lights, standing a tree, extra dress up occasions, extra company and extra expense can make the holiday taxing for men, too.

With all this added tax . . . Don’t miss Christmas!

The pots and pans will soon be empty. The wrapping paper will be crumpled and cast aside. Decorations will be packed away for another year. Friends and relatives will all go home.  Bills will eventually be paid. Holidays come and go. Christmas is eternal.

Christmas is the greatest gift ever given. For the stress of the season to dull our joy for this gift would be much like a child who prefers to play with the wrapping paper and ribbon, ignoring the gift  it brought.

At the first Christmas season those who were sensitive to the event worshiped and were blessed. Mary’s soul magnified the Lord.  The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. Wise men fell down and worshiped Him. Old Simeon held the infant Jesus and worshiped God. Anna, the wise widow, gave thanks unto the Lord.

Too busy with the seasonal stress to be sensitive, the innkeeper missed the opportunity to be among the first worshiper. Could Herod have been the fourth king if he had not been so troubled and too busy with his own plans and affairs? Don’t miss the marvel of Christmas in its profound simplicity.

Relieve the strain of the holidays. Sing with joy at any moment. Look at the stars and pause to wonder. Snuggle a baby in your arms and give thanks. Comfort a stranger. Give a gift of expressed appreciation. Surprise someone with words of affirmation. Capture again a child-like heart.

It’s Christmas! Emmanuel – God with us.

That’s what really matters.

–Thetus Tenney

When Faith and Fear Collide

Sitting in the little prayer chapel near my house, slowly I surveyed the furnishings.  Among them were the altars, a few cushions, some chairs, a Bible and a little leather bound book of God’s promises.  All of them had been carefully put there to make this a place of welcoming comfort.

On this day, however, comfort eluded me.  My spirit felt overwhelmed; my heart was heavy and my mind was clouded.  My day was  filled with frustrations and plagued by problems.  Sickness swirled around me.  There was  friction between me and the people who mattered to me.  Even my hand felt heavy with the cluster of urgent requests that had brought me to this place of prayer.

What was I to do?  Discipline and duty had brought me here, but how was I to rise above the despair and desperation I felt?  Faith seemed far-fetched in that moment.  The conflict of my mind and heart told me that fretting and faith did not flow well together.

The story of Hannah’s plight helped me in my quandary. When her adversary “provoked her sore for to make her fret”…”in bitterness of soul she prayed unto the Lord and wept sore” (See I Samuel 1).  She poured out her sorrowful spirit and the abundance of complaints and grief before God, weeping the words, “Look on my affliction!”  All the daily annoyance, the grief of family worries, and the torments of life seemed to fuel the thrust of her prayer.  Her voice was not heard–only her sorrow, grief and pain spoke for her.  Where was faith in this sad situation?

It is not spoken.  Hannah’s faith is evident only in her willful decision, what she did and where she went when fretting besieged her faith.  Can I fret and have faith, too?

The frantic father of the demonized boy cried to Jesus with tears, “I do believe; help thou mine unbelief” (See Mark 9:14-29).  Belief and unbelief, faith and fear, praying and fretting all rolled together–such a mess, but so human.

Again, on that day in the prayer chapel, the Word brought life to me, separating my troubled thoughts from the good intent of my heart.  Reflecting on Hannah’s fretting and the father’s fear gave me a fresh understanding of faith.  Hope for help was there, and that hope took all three of us to the right place–to Him who can be touched with the feelings of our weakness.

There are times when we do not know how to pray as we ought, but our groanings are understood by the Spirit (Romans 8:26).  In these troublesome and worrisome times, fear and fretting may weaken my faith, but it does not necessarily negate it. The strength of my faith is never the object, it is only the means by which I reach Him.  He  is the object of my faith, and He is able!

David’s prayer in Psalm 56 expresses it so well.  In verse 3, he said, “what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  In verse 11, he said, “In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid…”  When my fears seem to overwhelm my faith, I still trust in God’s faithfulness.  Then my fears are quieted and faith moves me on.  The important thing is not my paralyzing fear nor my powerful faith, but I know in whom I have believed and He is able;  He is faithful (II Timothy 1:12).

When fear and faith collide, trust holds me secure!