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!

Why Pray?

Why should we pray?  Does God need help?  Is He not able to do anything He desires?  Is He not self-sufficient?

Careful reading of Ezekiel 22:30-31 can help answer these questions.

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 22:30-31

It is very apparent from this reading that God desired to avoid exercising just and deserved judgment. He actually sought for someone to ask, to intercede, that judgment be diverted.  Finding no one, God, bound by His own justice, meted out deserved judgment.  If no one intercedes, God must exercise judgment when He does not want to.  Why is this?  His justice demands judgment.  His love seeks an intercessor to intervene.

God does nothing in the realm of human redemption outside of the plan of prayer and intercession. This is underscored by many Biblical references to prayer and multiple entreaties, urgings and invitations for us to pray.  A translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, I ask you to ask—seek, I entreat you to seek, knock, I urge you to knock.”  The importance of prayer is made evident as there are 667 references to prayer found in the Bible. God invites us, urges us, and commands us to pray.

Furthermore, the importance of prayer is underscored by God’s binding Himself to unequivocally answer.  “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).  “…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2b).

In light of this, the entire responsibility for prayerlessness or ineffective prayer must rest on us.  His promises to answer are always circumscribed by His will, but any truly yielded child of God would never will anything outside of God’s will.  So, there is no “small print” on God’s part in the plan of prayer.

The plan of prayer is God inviting man into partnership with Him to implement His word and will in the affairs of men.  Man does have a will.  God tells us that whatever we bind or loose on earth, the same will be done in heaven (see Matthew 16:19).  In Luke 10:19, we are told that He has given us power (authority) over things on earth.  We are the “deputies” with full authority.

The scheme of prayer also encompasses God’s plan to fulfill His purpose for a bride that will rule and reign with Him.  Prayer becomes the training arena.  It is the apprenticeship for the eternal position of ruling and reigning.  We practice enforcing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.  We bind, loose, agree on earth and reign in life!  God will not act without our exercising our will in prayer to intercede for His will to be done.  He will not sabotage His training program to bring us into full stature, into our inheritance of the ruling, eternal partnership with Him.  His part is complete and He gives us the opportunity, through prayer, to enter into this partnership as joint heirs with God.

John Wesley said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”  S. D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray” and “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

Prayer is—should be—the main business of the church.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is entering into partnership, “joint heirs,” with God.  What He has willed in the heavens can be done on the earth.  His word that is settled in heaven completes its circuit on earth as we declare in prayer, with faith believing, that His word is true.

God had declared His intentions, His will in Jeremiah 25, “…Because ye have not heard my words…land shall be a desolation…shall serve the King of Babylon seventy years.  I will recompense them according to their deeds….” Years later, Daniel reads the prophecy of Jeremiah and realizes the time for deliverance from Babylon is near and sets himself to seek the Lord by prayer and fasting for the fulfillment of the prophecy.  The prophetic promise had to be prayed into fulfillment.  God declared His will from His eternal perspective.  Man prayed it into earthly reality!

In Exodus 25, after the incident of the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf, God’s intentions were to consume them in the fury of His anger.  Moses interceded on the basis of the covenant promise made to Abraham and God spared the people.

God’s law and justice dictate judgment and consequences.  God’s love and mercy wait patiently for an intercessor to plead the case.  God’s word is settled in heaven.  Our prayers bring them to reality in the earth.  As we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” our prayers become the discipline training of our future ruling and reigning with Him.

Why pray?  God waits for our will to bring His will to earth.

What If She Had Not Been Faithful

My salvation, my whole life as I have known it, probably depended on a simple saint who was faithfully committed to prayer meeting.

It was in the early ’30’s when walking was more common than driving.  Port Arthur, Texas was the place. A young couple from central Texas had moved there to work in the oil refinery. They called a small apartment home for themselves and their three young children.

Church attendance was not on their weekly agenda.  In fact, it was not on their agenda at all. But a faithful prayer warrior changed that.

Every morning a little before nine o’clock, a little lady passed in front of their little apartment with her Bible under her arm.  To the young mother inside the little apartment it soon became a part of her morning routine to watch for the little lady who always passed her door a little before nine o’clock.

Where is she going every day?  Why does she always have a Bible under her arm?  Who is she? What is this about?

Then one morning, some would say as fate would have it, she stopped and knocked on the door.  (From my vantage point, I know it wasn’t fate, but unspoken faith from a fertile heart.)  When the young mother stood face to face with the lady from the sidewalk, she received an invitation to an old-fashioned tent revival.  Few words were spoken, but the simple invitation seemed to speak to the young mother all day from its resting place on the dresser. By five-thirty in the evening the children were bathed and dressed for going out and supper was on the table.  A little bewildered, the hardworking young man looked at his lovely dressed-up wife, wondering.

“We are going to church tonight,” she explained.

Willingly, he agreed.

It was a strange experience–the tent, the people, the praying, the preaching.  But at the close of the service the young father said to his wife, “You go and pray.  I’ll stay with the children.”

Kneeling at an altar, she was totally transformed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

Among those gathering around was the little lady from the sidewalk with the Bible under her arm.

“Where do you go every morning?”

“We have nine o’clock prayer meeting every day.”

“Could we come?” asked the young couple.

“Well, we normally don’t have prayer meeting on Saturday morning,” the Pastor interjected, “but we will if you want to come.”

Saturday morning, nine o’clock prayer meeting found the young couple joining the faithful saints.  Prayer was made.  Baptism was explained.  Both agreed to baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.  Now, it was the young man’s turn for transformation as he broke the waters of baptism, speaking in tongues, filled with the Holy Ghost.

The young couple were my mother and father, E. W. and Johnnie Ruth Caughron.  These events transpired before my birth.  Consequently, I was born into a Sprit-filled home. My parents’ dedicated ministry carried them in soul-winning revivals and building of churches from Texas to Alaska.  Dozens and dozens of preachers were called and hundreds and hundreds of saints were impacted by their ministry.

What if the little lady on the sidewalk with the Bible under her arm had not been faithful to prayer meeting? I shudder at the thought–I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

VICTORIOUS PRAYING

As Nation rises against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and the ultimate battle between good and evil intensifies, there is an urgency to put on the whole armor of God and joint the battle action of “…praying always…” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

Attacks of the enemy may be fierce with fiery darts and the warriors may grow weary in the good fight of faith, but great victories are coming for those who follow Him who wears the Victor’s Crown!  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords leads a victorious army (Revelation 19:11-16)!

God’s parade of heroes did not stop with the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Abraham, Sara, Rahab, and Gideon will be joined by some of us who will, through faith, subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, obtain promises, quench violence, escape destruction, become strong, fight valiantly, and turn to fight the armies of the enemy (Hebrews 11).

One of the great heroes of biblical battles was General Gideon (Judges 6 and 7).  The victory God gave to him is one of the most astounding feats of war ever recorded.  He came from hiding, full of fear and questions, but he because a warrior full of faith with authority.  Read his story in Judges 6 and believe the following:

  1. There is power in one person committed to God’s cause.  “Go…thou shalt save Israel…have not I sent thee…thou shalt smite as one man…”
  2. Angels become in involved in human lives.  “the angel of the Lord appeared to him…”
  3. God has confidence in us in spite of our lack of confidence.  “I am the least in my Father’s house…The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor…”
  4. God is patient in our preparation and mobilization.  “…shew me a sign…that thou talkest with me…(and the angel said) I will tarry until thou come again…”
  5. Miraculous confirmation can follow commitment.  “…there arose up fire out of the rock and consumed the flesh…”
  6. Commitment is expressed in action.  “…Gideon built an altar…”

The Lord instructed Gideon to throw down the altar of Baal in his family and to build an altar to the Lord where it stood.  It is interesting to observe that Gideon built the altar where he pulled down the stronghold.

Gideon enlisted corporate effort.  In fear, but by faith he took ten others with him.  If two of you agree…one shall chase a thousand; two shall chase ten thousand.  Small prayer groups agreeing together are a mighty force for personal victories that are multiplied into spreading, far-reaching effect.

And remember – God is faithful! The Lord had said Gideon would smite as one man and verse 31 confirms that “…one hath cast down his (Baal’s) altar.”

Remember when Gideon’s army, though separated into smaller groups, surrounded their common enemy and acted with the force of unity, a great victory occurred all around the enemy’s camp.

“And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran…(Judges 7:21)…”for the battle is not yours, but God’s”  (II Chronicles 20:15).

Humble Desperation

Do the words contradict each other?  Maybe not.  When we have done everything we know to do and yet have not achieved desired results, we are humbled.  But if what we desired is very important to us we will become desperate.

Jacob was not an humble man.  He was ingenious, self-reliant, and manipulative.  He had a knack for handling things himself.  He had learned to make things happen.  He knew God, received the promises of inheritance from God, but may have been “too smart for his own good.”

His “roots” were right.  His attitude was wrong.  His desire was for the right thing.  He wanted the blessing and received it, but receiving the blessing did not bring the ultimate fulfillment.  He continued in his self-reliant, manipulative, ingenious ways until, in desperation, he had to recognize he was not in control.  Humble, but persevering, he prevailed when he had failed. It seems a bit strange to me that there is no record of Jacob communicating with God between his first encounter at Bethel until he is commanded to return to his homeland (Genesis 28, 31).  Perhaps he did, but it appears praying, talking to God, was not his strong point.  His only reference to God is when he became angry at Rachel’s despair because of her barrenness.  “Am I in the place of God…,” he snapped, side-stepping the issue because he couldn’t control it (Genesis 30:2).

God will suffer long to bring an heir of promise into divine destiny. He even allowed Jacob to use the riches of his blessings to try to manipulate receiving the fulfillment of his promise.  He was on his way to the land God promised him.  Esau was an obstacle.  So in order to find favor, Jacob recounts to Esau all of the blessings God has given to him (Genesis 32:5).  He then reorganizes to be more effective and impressive (Genesis 32:7-8).  In a last attempt at controlling the situation he gives abundant gifts from what God had given him (Genesis 32:13-20).  But none of this worked to bring the desired results.

In spite of his character flaws and his self-sufficient ways, God was committed to fulfill his promises of great blessing and continual presence to him. However, this could only happen after he faced God alone, separated from all God had given him and done for him in circumstances he could not manipulate or control (Genesis 28:10-15).  In desperation, he wrestled until God touched him and changed him.  Only then could he move into the inheritance the Lord had promised.

Humble desperation comes when we quit talking about who we are and what God has given us, and are willing to admit that we are not smart enough, spiritual enough, or rich enough to receive the fullness of the promise of the great and massive last day outpouring.  We cannot manipulate revival.  We may mask what we know God wants to do by exploiting what God is doing.  Could our busyness in counting and our impressive talk of organizing and planning only postpone an encounter with God that could bring the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of the fresh outpouring we dream of?  Jacob tried this.  He was an heir to the promise but he had to reach a point of humble desperation to fully receive what had been promised.

We are heirs of the promise.  We have been blessed abundantly.  Our leadership has formulated plans and programs that have increased our effectiveness.  The blessings of God upon our fellowship are often discussed and for these things we are thankful.  Our giving, out of what God has given us, has escalated.  All of this is good but the deep desire of our hearts will only be fulfilled when we separate ourselves alone with God and in humble desperation prevail with Him until he touches us in a way that will change us.

No amount of growth, giving, talk or trying will take the place of a spirit of humble desperation.  We must forget our self-sufficiency in our spiritual work, our ability to make things happen, our effectiveness in impressing people and focus on seeking God in humble desperation.

Yes, the promises are true.  Yes, they are ours for the believing.  Yes, we are a people peculiar to Him, called by His name.  But God is always drawn to the humble, and the desperate, not those who proclaim His blessings for the sake of impression or attempted manipulation.

Desperation is a result of facing a need beyond our ability and control.  Humility is an acquired attitude.  Scriptures are replete with admonitions for us to humble ourselves (Matthew 18:4, Luke 18:14, James 5:6, Psalms 35:13).  Humility is an honest appraisal of ourselves, recognizing what God has done for us and who we are in Him, but knowing we haven’t received all or become all He wants.  Humility brings honesty concerning our need.  In view of the need for a massive harvest of souls in this world we must guard against our thanksgiving becoming braggadocios and numbing our sense of need for God.  The Psalmist reminds us “…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble” (Psalms 9:12).

In the much claimed promise of II Chronicles 7:14, we should note that “humble” precedes “pray.” Prayer is the basic and essential ingredient for revival, but it must flow from a humble heart, desperate for God to touch us and change us.

All that we are is not sufficient.  All that we have is not enough.  All that we can do will never suffice.  Our only hope is to wrestle in prayer with humble desperation. The world waits for the church to pray the promise into fulfillment.

The Lord of Hosts is With Us

The many descriptive names of God were given by revelation in time of need.  Jehovah Saboath – the Lord of hosts—is one of the compound names of Jehovah Lord).  No less than 260 times this powerful descriptive name of God appears in the scriptures.

“The Lord of hosts is with us…”—when nations rage (Psalm 46:6, 7).

“The Lord of hosts is with us…”—when there is war in the earth (Psalm 46:9,11).

“The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory”—and mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8, 10).

“The Lord of hosts…”—will fight and defend (Isaiah 31:4, 5).

Abraham gave us Jehovah Jireh, “the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:13, 14).  Moses gave us Jehovah Rapha, “the Lord that healeth” (Exodus 15:26).  But, amazingly, Jehovah Saboath, “the Lord of hosts” (a revelation not of provision, but of extreme power) is introduced to us for the first time by a woman—a praying woman named Hannah.

Hannah, a desperate, praying, weeping, worshipping woman of faith and praise was pressured by the pain of personal problems which she could not control; but Hannah prayed.  She turned her trouble, grief and torment into intercession.  Her continued intercession was beyond the ordinary because Eli did not recognize it.  Her desperate intercession led to revelation of all the divine and heavenly power available for her need when she called on…the Lord of hosts.  Her weeping intercession was miraculously answered and she altered history with her prayer.  What a testimony to the power of a woman’s prayers!  What a testimony of the power of the Lord of hosts.

What prompted her to such heights of appeal as…the Lord of hosts?  No one had ever used this title before in prayer.  Saboath is derived from root words which mean army or the verb which means “wage war.”

Perhaps she had been influenced by another woman, Deborah, who had lived in the same mount Ephraim and had initiated great faith.  In her song of victory over the seemingly impossible odds of the enemy, Deborah sang, “…I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel…They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera…So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might” (Judges 5:3, 20, 31).

Do you need the Son of Righteousness to arise?  Have you, as Hannah, struggled on for too long with sad countenance, painful problems, and taunted by your enemy?  You may fell helpless, but there is a God, the Lord of hosts, whose throne is established in the heavens, who rules over all and whose heavenly host excels in strength to do his commands (see Psalm 103:19, 20).

Regardless of the circumstances, the Lord is high and lifted up as Isaiah saw him in his day of grief and confusion.  Isaiah used the powerful, descriptive name, Jehovah Saboath, 62 times.

The Lord of hosts is a predominant and powerful description of God which we can focus on in these days of spiritual attack and desperate need.  The distressful times in which Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi lived caused these great prophets to use this name over 85 times in 20 short chapters.

What could a shepherd boy with a slingshot and stones do up against an armed giant?  When David faced Goliath, there was more involved than a rock and a sling.  “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts” was David’s strategy and power (I Samuel 17:45).  All David had was a need, an appeal, faith, and the Lord of hosts.  It was enough.  When David took the strong hold of Zion it was because “…the Lord God of hosts was with him…” (II Samuel 5:6, 10).

Paul assures us that spiritual war and attack will come, but we have a parallel force of power through God to pull down strongholds we can handle with earthly weapons (II Corinthians 10:4).

“Resist the devil, and he will flee…” (James 4:7).  “Resist” in word study can be defined as “the armies are arrayed against.”  We do not have to cower in depressed weakness and fear.  In prayer, through faith, we can call on the Lord of hosts—Jehovah Saboath—the revealed name of power for help in time of need.

Why did Hannah call on the Lord of hosts?  Faith’s initiative enabled her to reach beyond the restrictions of present circumstances.  No one had ever prayed like she prayed, but her need and her desire enabled her to reach beyond the ordinary.  She boldly reached for the power of God in prayer.  That power is still available.

Abraham asked, “…is anything too hard for the Lord” (Genesis 18:14).

Jeremiah answered, “…there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

The possibility of the impossible has been proven over and over again by people like us who were most often provoked by desperate needs to appeal through prayer and initiate faith in the power of God, who is able to do more than we can think or ask.

So, look up, there is more available than what you can see!  “…be strong…saith the Lord…for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:4).

And if God, the Lord of hosts, is for us, nothing else counts!

The Fire That Makes the Difference

“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)

As Pentecostals we understand the part—“ with the Holy Ghost”—but what about the fire?

More than 300 times fire is mentioned in the bible.  It is often a symbol of God, His judgment or His acceptance.  The angels, as ministers of God, are compared to fire.  At His second coming, Jesus will appear in fire.  The Holy Ghost is compared to fire.  Fire and sacrifices are often linked together.

Abraham took fire with him to Moriah (Gen. 22:6).  Peter warmed by a fire in the temple courtyard (Matt. 14:54).  Paul helped build a fire on the island of Melita (Acts 28:2-3).  Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire in the tabernacle (Lev. 10:1).

However, there is one fire that makes the difference—the fire of God’s holy, manifested presence and power.

“And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar….which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 9:24)

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven…and the glory of the Lord filled the house…and when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down…they bowed…and worshipped…” (II Chr. 7:1,3)

In both these instances, there had been much planning, work, activity, and sacrifice from the people.  However, it is when they had waited before the altar that the fire of God fell and the people were affected.

The fire that makes the difference comes on those who tarry at the altar of prayer and sacrifice. There is no substitute for the fire of God.  The “strange fire” offered by Nadab and Abihu is clearly man’s attempt to act in the things of God without seeking the mind of God!  Death is the result of this careless spirituality!

A new millineum is open before us—a new decade, a new year, a new month, a new day.  The most important thing we can do is to wait at the altar of prayer until the fire of God, His manifested presence and holiness, comes in its fullness of power.  And if we do, when we do, He will come, and the people will bow and worship.

As the royal priesthood of the New Testament church, we need to be aware of our responsibility to the altar.

“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning…The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Lev. 6;12-13)

Prayer is the priority to preaching, studying, organizing, working, planning, singing, and shouting.  Paul wrote “…first of all….prayers…” (I Tim. 2:1)

God’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but what have we made it?  (Mark 11:17)

The maximum or minimum results of all our efforts in the new millennium, will be determined by the ministry of prayer.  It will be the fire that will make the difference.