A HOUSE OF PRAYER

Also behind the doors and their posts
You have set up your remembrance;
For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me,
And have gone up to them;
You have enlarged your bed
And made a covenant with them;
You have loved their bed,
Where you saw their nudity.

Isaiah 57:8


It has been said that Spurgeon was once asked the secret of such success in his ministry. Taking the individual by the hand and leading them to another room, he showed a crowded room of people, on their knees, praying for his ministry. Nothing that I know of could be more appreciated than the knowledge that there are those who are daily standing with me in prayer. I was recently visiting my home church, and was assured by many of that truth: “I pray for you every day.” Without that support, I probably would have faltered beyond repair. Instead, God continues to give me the physical, spiritual, and material backing to carry on His work today.

Remember me having said something about the discontinued prayer meetings in our churches. The reasons may be numerous. Some of our churches have so many meetings, for so many ages, that people find it impossible to keep up with the pace, and the first thing cancelled on their schedule is prayer meeting. I realize that some of the problems I have already mentioned are there, but I am also aware that in a lot of cases, both parents are working and schedules are as the saying goes, “like a chicken with its head cut off.”

Isaiah has a beautiful thought that is in reference to the Millennial blessings that shall exist, and not be relegated to Israel alone: “For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” He adds to it this verse: “The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel declares, ‘Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered’.” (57:8)

Things are changing and we are enamored with numbers, and programs, and music, and the list goes on. (Check your Bulletin) I check the illuminated signs outside of the churches and coffee clutches; ice-cream socials and bingo are all there, but there is seldom a sign that says: PRAYER MEETING in This House of Prayer.

Just a thought that is floating through my brain!

A BRIDLED TONGUE

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

James 3:2


Have you ever said something that you wish you had never said? I have. And then, trying to bail myself out of that predicament, all I did was to get myself into deeper trouble. Had I stopped, apologized, and said what I had intended to say, the subject would have been dropped. Instead it has followed me like an old hound dog. Others, in their love toward me, have been most gracious. It is I that hear it being repeated even in these, my later years.

From what James says in the second verse of chapter 3, “If any man does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well”. I draw a sigh of relief because I feel that I am not alone, yet, the same experience causes me to feel as though I could crawl under something and hide.

I have built boats and kayaks, and know what James is referring to when he describes the tongue is like the rudder of a ship. Certainly it is small in comparison to the craft itself, but it can turn the vessel in any direction it needs to go. It is a masterpiece and the person who controls it controls the ship.

James again hits at the problem of the tongue and likens it to a small flame of fire. That very small flame can set a forest on fire. “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” And where did it say it originated: Hell!

Might we not read further and see how it is virtually impossible to tame this rascal. You can tame beasts, but your tongue?

We do not want to try to bring fresh and salt water out of the same fountain. It is not realistic!

The only possible remedy is to go to the Savior and ask Him for the remedy which He alone can supply. Lord! Through your Holy Spirit, help us to control this little “rudder”. If you are sincere you will experience His enablement.

NO CONDEMNATION

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1


Sweeter words to any Christian cannot be found than in Romans 8:1…”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is more than just a breath of fresh air; it is the sudden realization that where I was, a sinner condemned to eternal damnation, I am now “in Christ Jesus”, and that places me in a position of righteousness before God. I have been “born” into His family and that cannot be changed, I cannot be unborn!

Additional information in that passage indicates that I was under condemnation by the Law established by God. It was like a mirror reflecting each and every sin that I had ever committed – the reason being that those were the things relating to the flesh. I had batted zero.

God sent His Son Jesus, in the flesh, as an offering for sin. “He condemned sin in the flesh so that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” The picture is vivid, I am no longer under the old law, but under a new law – that of the Spirit, and am therefore under a spiritual law, one of “life and peace”.

This transaction placed me “in Christ Jesus”. He has forgiven my past, He has forgiven my present, and He has forgiven my future. While I may falter in my walk and break my fellowship, it is impossible to lose my relationship; I remain His child. I am a spiritual child of the KING.

No condemnation because of regeneration. It is now a matter of sanctification. Hence, I leave behind my past and move from day to day in a more mature relationship. It becomes a matter of the “filial” association.

What sweet words and a wondrous truth… No Condemnation.

WHY WE LOVE PSALM 23

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.


Even the people who shun the likes of Christians are ready to have Psalm 23 read at their funeral. It just seems so “funeralish” to the human ear when it is repeated. In reality its contents cover almost every facet of our lives. It covers our Life, our Death, and Eternity.

In that hospital room we sensed how close she was to parting from us. The life she had lived was a good one and as hard as it was to accept this thought in our brains, none of us sought to leave, this was her trophy moment.

Suddenly she passed me her hand and said: “Would you read the 23rd Psalm. I reached for my Bible, which I did not need, and repeated the 23rd Psalm. It was for all of us present a very sacred moment. She took a few breaths and was ushered into the presence of the Lord. ”Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

It is essential to have our faith in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone, to be prepared for the moment of death. That being the case, we need to know and follow the Shepherd in life, resting in the knowledge that He is more concerned for us than we are concerned for Him. That “shadow of death” is only a shadow, and shadows cannot hurt you. I read somewhere: “It is one thing to talk about Jesus, but in the valley you learn to talk with Him.”

There is no greater joy in a person’s heart than to know that the Shepherd is my Shepherd. I face each moment of each day with the knowledge that He, in charge of the sheepfold, will even remember my name and specific need.

PREFERENCE OR PREJUDICE

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1


Do you sometimes find yourself searching for a word that is most appropriate for the occasion? Recently I was doing exactly what I am talking about with the two words mentioned above… Preference and Prejudice.

With everyone in the public arena exploiting situations, it is apparent that sometimes their selection of vocabulary is not always the best choice. The endeavor to create an atmosphere of divisiveness and produce argumentation is deplorable. It is typical of someone who is intent on assigning blame, as over a gentle spirit that would resolve a problem.

I cannot help but feel that with our elections two years in the offing, many of those who were elected with other people’s money, and supported by the taxpayers for their salaries and retirement benefits, are losing any thought that might relate to “a soft answer turns away wrath”. (Proverbs 15:1) In fact it would do us all good to read the entire 15th chapter of Proverbs. Someone told me when I became a Christian, “read a chapter of Proverbs each day. It contains the wisdom of the wisest man who ever lived.” Knowledge is one thing, but wisdom is altogether different. Another friend of by-gone years said: “Wisdom is getting to know things from God’s point of view.

Preference has to do with selection of one thing over another. Prejudice involves an opinion without an anchor. One has to do with a thought through conclusion, while the other is void of facts.

Choose words that bespeak Jesus in every situation.

READY TO THROW A STONE

So when they continued asking Him,

He raised Himself up and said to them,

“He who is without sin among you,

let him throw a stone at her first.”

John 8:7


Many are they who though unable to remember much of what the Scriptures say, are adept at recalling this story in John 8. Here we have another effort on the part of the Scribes and the Pharisees to entrap Jesus. To agree with those who supported this law would bring disagreement with those who opposed the continuation of this law.

Jesus, understanding the subtlety of the question; “this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?” Jesus simply bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. Oh that we might know exactly what was written! God, knowing the hearts of those posing the question, and those of us of subsequent generations simply allowed it to be unrecorded.

You can seldom satisfy one who is intent on destroying you, so He continued to write, and they to persist in securing an answer. His answer is most humbling to arrogance of this nature. “He, who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8:7)

We endeavor to determine if one of our sins, or that of another, is bigger or smaller. In so doing we are determined in our thinking that one is more or less significant just to ease our conscience. Jesus continued writing and while doing so, an exodus occurred… ”they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones.”

If you read the passage you see how Jesus looked up and seeing only the woman, He asked: “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? “To which she replied: “No one Lord.” Jesus said: “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

A mighty work of the conscience was produced: Every person leaving as they experienced guilt. The woman recognized a work of her conscience in being exposed to Jesus; He recognized that her life direction had changed during his writing on the ground. One of the most exciting demonstrations of forgiveness… ”Go. From now on sin no more.”

Take time to read what happened next: “Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of Life’.” (8:12)

A LITTLE PIECE OF BREAD

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14


There comes a moment in each of our lives that has a direct effect on our future. Agreed, there can be many of those encounters that create multiple positives or negatives, depending on a host of other experiences. Let’s look at Elijah, who got in a confrontation with Ahab, who had married Jezebel- a godless woman- who led Ahab “like a sheep to the slaughter.”

Elijah, a prophet of God, confronted Ahab and related “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand; surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 1 Kings 17:1)

With these multiple backgrounds and encounters, God said to Elijah, “Go to Cherith… drink from the brook… the ravens will provide for you there.” (The word “Cherith” means GRACE) That beautiful word is demonstrated by God from Genesis to Revelation.

Sometimes we go through experiences that make us wonder what and why God has allowed it in our lives… ”the brook dried up”. Our recourse is Psalm 27:14… ”Wait on the Lord”. God still has a plan! “Arise; go to Zarephath” (Sheltering house) “Stay there!”

What God told him was that he had a widow there who would provide for him. Not the most pleasant thought, but as it unfolds exactly as God had said: The widow was gathering sticks to prepare her last meal for she and her son. Elijah sounds somewhat terse in telling her: “Go and do as you said, but make me a little bread cake first… and afterward, one for you and your son.”

Elijah made her a promise: “For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth’.”

It happened! The bowl and the jar remained filled as God had promised. Remember, God gave the promise… Elijah conveyed it… the widow experienced it.

REJOICE

Rejoice in the Lord always.

Again I will say, rejoice!

Philippians 4:4


It might be as old as the hills (like my age), but when I heard it the first time, almost 40 years ago, it was like a major discovery. Bill Pierce, on his evening program said, “My mother had a motto pinned above her kitchen sink that said: “Not Somehow, But TRIUMPHANTLY!”

There are those who can find something to complain about, no matter the circumstance. They pull the complaint blanket over a beautiful situation by starting with the little word, “But”. You know the direction they will pursue, and you feel as though a bull just hit you with both horns and not all at once, but over and over.

The Apostle Paul was cognizant of the problems that confronted the Philippian believers when he wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4) He knew them well enough to repeat, “again I will say, rejoice!

Recall. This is the guy who had persecuted any and all who made a profession of being a believer and follower of the Lord Jesus, and he had done this under the conviction that he was doing it as a follower of God, a devout Pharisee! At his conversion, (Acts 9) God had not only saved him, but had told him he must “suffer” as a result of this Damascus road experience. (Acts 9:16)

To these Philippians he says REJOICE! You have your struggles because of your beliefs and opposition from others. Rejoice, as I have learned from my experiences. (Persecuted, stoned and left for dead, imprisoned, plus multiplied other confrontations) I rejoice because God saw me through it all and counted me worthy.

“NOT SOMEHOW, BUT TRIUMPHANTLY!”

BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

John 21:25

I cannot say for certain, but in all probability, I was recommended to read the Gospel of John as the first Book of the Bible after inviting Jesus Christ to become my Savior and Lord. Another probability was that for the first time I became aware of these verses at the end of Chapter 21. “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (NASB)

Often, over the course of these 60+ years in the ministry I have encountered many who want to argue over the contents of this sacred book, The Bible. They have referred to it as a compilation of myths, hearsay, etc. Not being an argumentative person, I simply ask if they have read and studied Genesis through Revelation. I have never encountered one who has both read and studied the Bible from cover to cover. The next question of course is quite simple: “Have you a right to have given your opinion or drawn your conclusion without digging through its history or contents.

John, who was present from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, speaks as a hands on person. He has recorded the Gospel of John, not as hearsay, but as one who has been an observer, listening and seeing the various miracles and sermons, parables, crucifixion, and resurrection encounters – As he says a list that is endless.

I cannot claim to be a theologian or one who dissects every word of the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic, but I can say that I am satisfied with John’s conclusions concerning Christ. Recall John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Son’s of God, even to them who believe on His name.”

A PROMISE OF POWER

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

John 14:16-17

In John 14, Jesus made a promise to his disciples. There are numerous aspects to that promise, but our focus today is on: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (v16, 17)

We need to first realize that the Holy Spirit is not an It, but a person. He is part of the triune godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each possessing particular ministries to us. Christ made the promise to his disciples that He would ask the Father and He, the Father, would send another Helper (of the same kind) who would be with them forever.

As a result of that promise, the disciples gathered and waited in anticipation of what would take place, when and how. When the day of Pentecost had come they experienced the fulfillment of that promise – the Holy Spirit descended on each one personally as a tongue of fire and they began to speak in tongues “as the spirit gave them utterance”. In the context we know this to be languages of the people.

Jesus had made a promise that was now being fulfilled and that would guarantee a continuation. All too sad is that we see the modern church depending on all types of gimetry to take over the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to convict and convince people of their need of the Savior. We have all types of programs to raise funds, to attract people to enter our services, to convince them to discover that we have the best to offer… and we discontinue our prayer meetings. I read somewhere in years gone by: “Fill the cup with incense, and load the altar with odorous wood, but fire is still needed to send out the fragrance… So the prayers, talents, genius, and other gifts need fire from above, before they can achieve results.”