Thursday, July 9, 2020

Prayer Myths (Pt 2)

Prayer is a significant part of the Christian life. Yesterday I wrote about three myths we often hold regarding prayer. Today I would like to share three more myths that seem to be common in the church.

Myth #4: God knows everything anyway so there is no reason to pray.

Yes, God knows everything, but he still invites us to pray. Matthew 6:8 reminds us that our Father "knows what you need before you ask him." But the very next words out of Jesus’ mouth are, "Pray then like this..." Prayer reminds us of our dependency on God. It enhances our intimacy with God. When we are honest with God in prayer it brings us to a place where we are better able to hear from God. The fact that God knows everything should motivate us to pray, knowing that God already knows our needs and is anxious to answer. Sometimes God is simply waiting for us to ask.

 

Myth # 5: God is obligated to answer my prayer, especially if it is formulated correctly (e.g. we get someone to "agree" with us in prayer, or we close our prayer saying, "In Jesus name...").

 

Prayer is not an incantation that God is obligated to answer if we get the formula right. Prayer is heart communication with our Father. Praying in Jesus name has nothing to do with tacking on the words, "In Jesus name, Amen" at the end of our prayers. Getting someone to "agree with us in prayer" is not what Matthew 18:19 is talking about. That passage needs to be understood in the context of the Old Testament principle of two or three witnesses. You don't walk up to someone who knows nothing about a case and say, "I'm going to testify in court today. Will you come and agree with me that what I'm saying is true?" Neither should we ask someone to "agree" with us in prayer. Rather, when two or three people independently sense that God is moving them to pray about something, that is evidence that this is truly from God. They are in agreement and can pray in agreement. If we were somehow able to obligate God to answer in a particular way because we have formulated our prayers correctly then God is no longer sovereign. We become the ones in charge. In that case, God must do what we tell him. He is no longer God, but god.

 

Myth 6: If prayer is not "answered" it is because you didn’t have enough faith.

Jesus said that faith like a grain of mustard can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Obviously then the key to answered prayer is not the quantity of faith. A mustard seed is pretty small. The object of our faith is more important than the quantity of our faith. When we are focused on the quantity of our faith, we have faith in our faith. God calls us to have faith in him. Like a good father God knows that sometimes what we ask for is not in our best interest. Like children, we can't always see that, but God knows. God sometimes withholds answers to prayer because he loves us. Unanswered prayer is not necessarily about a lack of faith.

 

There are many more myths and misunderstandings about prayer that I have heard over the years, but these seem to be most prevalent everywhere I go. By exposing some of this wrong thinking my hope is that we will be more motivated to chase after what prayer is really about. May God truly teach us to pray.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Prayer Myths (Pt 1)


Prayer is one of the guiding principles of the church that I serve. It ought to be one of the guiding principles of every believer. But to understand prayer we must first understand some myths about prayer that we have often bought into.

      I.     There are Myths that We have Believed About Prayer:

Too often there are ideas about prayer that become a part of church culture but are not particularly biblical. Below are 6 myths about prayer that seem to have become a part of how we think as believers. Let me address a few of them.
Myth #1: The more people you have praying the better chance you have of getting God to answer your prayer.

How is this true when James reminds us that "The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working" (Jas 5:16b ESV)? Here God says that one man's prayer is powerful. Nowhere do we hear God saying that the prayers of many people are powerful. There is something comforting about knowing that many people are praying for me. But the number of people praying does not make the prayer more effective. Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Mt 18:19). Prayer is not a numbers game where God is waiting for us to reach the right number of people before he answers. Answered prayer only takes two or three.

Myth #2: Some prayers are better than others. If you find one that works use it often.

 How is this true when Jesus told us that the Gentiles "heap up empty phrases," but that we are not to pray in that way? (Mt 6:7) When we approach prayer as though it is about finding the right words in order for it to work, then prayer has become an incantation to manipulate God, not a heart communication with God. Prayer is not about finding the right formula, but about pouring out your heart to God who cares. The Psalms are songs and prayers. Each one written in a different setting concerning a different need or experience. Prayer is like that. Don’t fall for the myth that certain prayers move God better than others.

Myth #3: God is reluctant to answer. Persistent prayer will irritate him enough that he will finally give in.

Luke 18:1-8 is often quoted to support this claim. Jesus told a parable in order to communicate that we should never lose heart and quit praying. The story is about an unjust judge who responds to a woman's pleas because of her persistence rather than because her request is just. But, God is not an unjust judge. The reason we keep praying is not because our persistence will irritate God enough that he will eventually answer, but because he is a just judge and will therefore hear our pleas. Therefore, don't stop praying. Prayer is as much for us as for God. It is in prayer that we realize our dependence. It is in prayer that we hear from God even as he hears from us. God’s answer comes in his time. In the meantime don’t stop praying.

These are three myths that I have fallen for and seen people fall for over the years. There are others, and I intend to address more in a following blog. Sometimes I think we make prayer too hard. We think it is about finding the right formula. Prayer is just about being honest with God. Lord, teach us to pray.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Priority of Prayer


One of the guiding principles of the church that I am serving is that we must be girded in prayer. Introduction: Prayer ought to be a priority in our lives as believers. The Scriptures make prayer a priority. In Philippians 4:6 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In Ephesians 6:18 he taught the Ephesian church to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” James reminded believers that, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Jas 5:6). We are challenged in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” In Luke 18:1 Jesus “told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” To the early Church prayer was a priority. In seventeen out of twenty-eight chapters in Acts prayer is specifically mentioned.

Jesus made prayer a priority in his own life. “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Lk 6:12). I Luke 9.28, “about eight days after these sayings [Jesus] took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.” The disciples saw the priority of prayer in Jesus life and asked him to teach them to prayer. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1). Luke 22.39-41 says that it was Jesus custom to retreat to the Mount of Olives where he challenged his disciples to pray. Prayer was a priority in Jesus’ life.

We say that prayer is important, that it is a priority. So why is it that we pray so little? Why is it that prayer is so hard? Daniel prayed despite a law against prayer, and despite the fact that it landed him in a pit filled with hungry lions. Would we have been with Daniel, or would we have complied with the law? Perhaps it is time that we make our first prayer that which the disciples asked of Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1).

Friday, July 3, 2020

Unity in the Faith (Pt 3)


John 17:20-23 (ESV)
[20] “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, [21] that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. [22] The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, [23] I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

God calls us to unity, not uniformity. Unity must have a focus or foundation. The foundation of our unity is that system of belief we call the faith. But why is unity so important? The truth is, that we sometimes find ourselves in a church where the only thing we have in common is the faith. We may differ on politics. Many people are quite passionate about their political beliefs. We may differ on our entertainment preferences. One person loves to talk about movies and the arts. Another person has no idea who an actor is, or what is significant about a play, but they love adventure sports. Still another is enamored with team sports. One family is African-American, another is Hispanic, a third is Native American, and still another has a Scandinavian background and thinks Christmas isn’t Christmas without lutefisk. How can there possibly be any unity among such a diverse group, and why should we work toward it?

Unity takes respect, honor, good listening, and hard work. If it is not a priority then we may decide it is not worth the effort. It is easier to separate and find a church where everybody is like me. There are at least three biblical reasons why unity is worth the effort. First, in John 17 Jesus prayed for unity. Unity is both the desire of Jesus and the answer to Jesus’ prayer. His words to the Father were, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one” (Jn 17:20-21). This was his last prayer before the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest, and his crucifixion. It was his deep desire. When we do the hard work of unity we become the answer to Jesus’ prayer.

Second, there is a reason why Jesus prayed for unity. Unity convinces the world that God sent Jesus. He prays, John 17:23, “. . . that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me.” The world often points to the monochromatic makeup of the church, and the diversity of denominations as evidence that what we preach about Jesus is not true. How can it be true when there is so much divisiveness within the body? When we talk as though our church is the only church with the true truth, we actually hinder the gospel. When we are constantly pointing out how wrong everyone else is and why we have a corner on truth, we undermine the truth that God sent Jesus. Certainly there are churches that have abandoned biblical truth. We need to speak out about that, and preach the truth. But sometimes we act as though the only church in the world that preaches the truth is our little flock and we’re not sure about some of us. Unity convinces the world that God sent Jesus. Disunity does just the opposite.

Third, unity convinces the world that we are disciples of Jesus. Four chapters earlier, in John 13:34-35, Jesus said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Unity not only convinces the world that God sent Jesus, but that we are truly disciples of Jesus. When we, as believers, love one another, accept and honor one another, work to understand one another, and embrace our differences, that is something the world does not do. That is the amazing thing that convinces the world that we are disciples of Jesus whom God sent.

In short, unity is foundational to evangelism and discipleship. Disunity undermines our very purpose as a people of God. Why is unity important? Because it is the answer to Jesus’ prayer, and convinces the world that God sent Jesus and we are his disciples. Do the hard work of unity. Learn to listen, embrace, and love. Let the world see Jesus in his church.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Unity in the Faith (Pt 2)


God calls believers to unity. Unity, as I wrote in an earlier blog, is not uniformity. We are not the same, but we are one in Christ. One of the guiding principles of the church I am currently serving is Unity in the faith. That raises the question: Why in the faith? Why not unity in purpose? Why not unity in diversity? Why not unity in love? Those are all good statements. To understand why unity in the faith is our guiding principle, we must first answer the question: What is the faith?

Acts 6:7 says, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” In Acts 13:8 a man of political rank was interested in learning more about Christianity. Elymas the magician sought to turn him “away from the faith.” In Acts 14:22 Paul and Barnabas were “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.” In Acts 16:5 “The churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.”

The Faith is that body of beliefs that define Christianity. To be in the Faith means, to be a Christian, a believer. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to “stand firm in the faith.” Faith is the foundation of what it means to be a Christian. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Ephesians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace through faith. Faith is foundational.

When a person comes to Christ we do not tell them, “If you want God to forgive you, accept you, and save you, then you must agree to obey him perfectly by keeping these laws.” We do not say, “You must go through these rituals.” We say with the Apostle Paul, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). That is the foundation of Christianity, and as such, it is what unifies us.

Should we be unified in purpose? Certainly! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to a unified mission of making disciples in all the world. Should we be unified in diversity? Absolutely! It is our diversity that gives us strength. The Spirit of God works through a diversity of gifts in the body. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4). It is in that diversity of gifting that the church is strengthened, edified, and built up. Should we be unified in love? Of course! Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, “. . . I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (Jn 17:23). Jesus taught his disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Of course we should be unified in love. But purpose, diversity, and love are all built on something more foundational. The faith.

Not all churches have great diversity. Not all churches are clear on their purpose. Not all churches love each other well. But it is the unifying truth of the faith that brings them together and prompts them to work toward unity in the other areas of community life. So, what is the faith? Paul clarified it for the Corinthians like this:
[1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
[3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [9] For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. [11] Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Cor 15:1-11).
Despite our differences in maturity, despite our differences of background, color, language, or family, despite our differences in political persuasion, despite our differences in worship preferences, even despite our differences in location, it is that faith that unites us as believers in Jesus Christ. Why unity in the faith? Because the faith is foundational. It is time that we stop dividing over these things when God calls us to unity in the faith.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Unity in the Faith (Pt 1)


One of the guiding principles of the church I am currently serving is, unity in the Faith. That statement raises several questions. What is unity? What is the Faith? Why unity in the Faith rather than unity in something else? What is it that unifies believers? Etc. Throughout this week I will attempt to answer at least some of these questions. Let’s begin with the question of unity. What is unity?
Jesus prayed, in John 17:20-21
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
His prayer was that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, would be one as he and the Father are one. What does unity between the Father and the Son look like? After asserting, “So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God,” the Athanasian Creed goes on to say,

There is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

There is one God, but three coeternal, coequal persons. That is a mystery we cannot wrap our heads around, but we can believe it. The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but Father, Son, and Spirit is one God. When Jesus says that he and the Father are one, he is not talking about uniformity. He is talking about unity. They are coequal, coeternal, and one God, yet they are not the same.

We can learn from this about our own call to unity. We are called, as believers in Jesus Christ, to be one, but we are not called to uniformity. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” The text then goes on to say, “the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12:12). The Body of Christ, the Church, is one, yet many members with different gifts. There is both unity and diversity within the Body.

We often confuse unity with uniformity. Uniformity means that we agree about everything. Uniformity means that we all think exactly the same. That is not unity. Unity recognizes that we are unique individuals with unique gifts and callings. Because God has called you to a particular ministry or passion does not necessitate that the whole church is called to that same ministry. Because we have differences of opinions on how things should be done, or what we should be doing does not mean that we are not in unity. Unity recognizes and respects the fact that God has gifted each of us differently. Each part is needed. Each perspective is valuable. In 1 Corinthians 12:15-20 the Apostle Paul teaches,
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
Unity means “many parts, yet one body.” Unity means that we agree on the core tenents of the Faith while honoring the differences within the Body. Unity means that we embrace together the mission to which God has called us while respecting the different gift, perspectives, and callings that God has placed on each individual. Unity is not uniformity. We are called, as believers, to unity. We are not the same, but we are one in Christ. Is that what the World sees when it sees us?

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Psalms 27:11-14 (ESV)
[11] Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
[12] Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
[13] I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
[14] Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

In a world that feels like it has gone crazy and is out of control, in a world where honest people are locked up in their homes while anarchists take over their cities, in a world where good is called evil and evil is called good, these verses speak loudly. This is a Psalm of David. He gave his country hope when he killed Goliath with a stone. He served his king by playing music for King Saul when he was oppressed. He protected people and refused to kill the king when he had the opportunity. Yet he was attacked and chased all over the country fleeing for his life. Still, his prayer was “Teach me your way, O LORD. . . . Give me not up to the will of my adversaries. . . . I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD. . . . Wait for the LORD.” In these days may we too learn to wait for the LORD and trust in him.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Grounded on the Word (Pt 3)


2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)
[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms, guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word. For the church that I am currently serving as an Interim Pastor, that means four things. I wrote yesterday about grounding our understanding of morality, and our practice on the Word of God. We also want to be grounded on the Word in terms of our theology and stewardship.

I have friends who have strayed from orthodox Christian beliefs. My observation is that they allowed their emotions to drive their understanding of the Scriptures rather than allowing the Scriptures to drive their theology. When we come to the study of God’s Word we cannot begin with a sense of what we believe to be right or true. We must begin with the following questions:
1. What does the text actually say?
2. What does the text mean?
3. How would the original audience have understood the text?
4. How does that apply to my context?
Too often we begin with question 4 and rarely get to the other three questions. But question 4 must come last or it will adversely color our understanding of the Word. Our theology must be grounded in a careful exegesis of the Word of God. Exegesis is a $50 word that means that we draw out of the text what is there rather than reading into the text what we expect or want to find.

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Awhile back I was shopping for a car. I found one online that I liked, and made arrangements to go see it. The car I saw online looked like a deep forest green to me. When I drove in the yard where the car was, there sat a dark blue car. I said to my wife, “Where it the green car?” and She said, “What green car? The car is blue. The car in the picture online was blue.” My expectations and misperception almost convinced me that someone had pulled a switch. When we come to the scriptures assuming that we know what it will say, we risk the same error. We risk reading what we expect the Word to say rather than paying attention to what it actually says. We must be careful to handle God’s Word carefully. Our theology must be grounded in a careful reading of the Word.

Our stewardship must also be grounded in God’s Word. This deserves a whole sermon in itself. Stewardship is about more than giving money. We were designed to oversee and care for God’s creation. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen 1:26). As believers in Jesus Christ we recognize that nothing we have belongs to us. We are stewards of all that we have. When we fail to understand this, our “stuff” becomes our god. Our possessions begin to possess us. Stewardship is about recognizing that all we have belongs to God.

Gifts, tithes, and offerings, are a simple recognition that all we have belongs to God. As believers we do not give simply because we are commanded to give. We are told to give because we need to be reminded that our stuff is not ours. It has been my observation over the years that those with nothing are often more willing to give than those who have much. The more we have, the more our stuff controls us. When we have nothing we more readily recognize those in need, we identify more quickly with them, and we more easily let go. The United States of America is a wealthy nation. We, of all believers, need to learn to loosen our grip on what we have or we risk serving the wrong god. Stewardship is grounded on the Word of God.

A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word. We need to ground our understanding of morality, practice, theology, and stewardship. on the Word of God. Anything less is like building on quicksand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grounded on the Word (Pt 2)


In a previous blog I wrote that “a life and a ministry guided by public opinion is like a leaf blowing in the wind. A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word.” What does being grounded on the Word look like? For the church I am currently serving as an Interim Pastor, it means four things. I’ll write about two of them today. It means being grounded on the Word in terms of our understanding of morality, practice, theology, and stewardship.

To be grounded on the Word of God means that my sense of morality is determined and defined by the Scriptures. The Book of Judges ends with these words, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 21:25). The first time I read that I thought, “Wouldn’t that be great if everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But then I realized what that means. It means that each individual gets to define morality for himself or herself. It means that society lives with no standards of right and wrong. It is the very thing that Moses warned them not to do. He said that when they got into the Promised Land, “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes. (Deut 12:8). Rather, they were to do “what is right in the sight of the LORD your God” (Deut 13:18).

Anarchy has been the cry of many in recent days. But no society can exist in anarchy. Anarchy is an absence of order or regulation. I find it interesting that the anarchists who have taken over a portion of Seattle found it necessary to put into place a regulation for addressing disagreements and offenses. In their society without rules they have established a Conflict Resolution Advisory Council. No society can exist for long without rules. It is just reality that when you have more than one person there will be disagreements. Rules are necessary. When rules of morality are left to the individual then someone is always the underdog. Someone is always taken advantage of. When rules of morality are left to public opinion then they are constantly changing, creating systemic anxiety. Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Mt 7:24). What we believe to be right, moral, and true must come from something bigger than ourselves. We look to the Word of God to establish our sense of right and wrong.

Further, we look to the Word of God to establish our sense of how we are to live and how we are to do church. Those practices that are neither established nor condemned by God’s Word are open for debate. For example, whether we meet together Sunday morning or Sunday evening, whether we meet online or face-to-face, whether we meet at 10:30am or 11:00am, whether we meet outside or in a building are questions of preference. The Bible does not speak to them. But, whether we meet and what we do when we meet are defined by the Word. We meet to worship corporately and to teach God’s word. The early church came together for “teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Ac 2:42). The Psalms call us to worship. Worship, teaching, communion, fellowship, and prayer are the practices of the church. How those are practiced and when they are practiced will vary or change, but worship, teaching, communion, and prayer occur when the church comes together. The practices of the church are grounded on the Word.

We cannot build strong societies nor can we build strong churches by public opinion and ever changing morals and practices. Who we are, what we do, and how we live must be grounded in something bigger than ourselves. We look to the Word of God to define our morality and our practice. The question “Where stands it written?” should guide every decision and practice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Grounded on the Word (Pt 1)


Psalms 119:17-20, 97 (ESV)
Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.

Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

Psalm 1 starts out, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:1-2). The same word for delight is used when Samuel asks, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD?” (1 Sam. 15:22). We delight in His law and He delights in our obedience from the heart.

There are at least three different words used in Psalm 119 to indicate that we, as believers, should delight in, take pleasure in, or enjoy God’s Word. Delighting in, pleasuring in, and enjoying God are demonstrated by delighting in His Word. It is one thing to enjoy a worship experience, or to revel in the outward expressions of God’s glory which we see in nature, but if that pleasuring, that reveling, that enjoying is truly in God then we will find ourselves drawn to His word as well as to his worship. If this is not true in our lives, if we do not find ourselves drawn to the scriptures of our God, then perhaps it is the experience we love rather than the God of the experience. Can we say with the Psalmist, “Thy law is my delight” (Ps 119:174b), “Great are the works of the LORD; they are studied by all who delight in them” (Ps 111:2)?

Do you have an ever-increasing love for God and His word? As believers in Jesus Christ, one of the guiding principles of our lives and ministries should be a love for God’s Word. His Word should guide us in areas of morality, practice, theology, and stewardship. Our lives need to be grounded, but not grounded on just anything. They need to be grounded on the Word of God.

A life and a ministry guided by public opinion is like a leaf blowing in the wind. A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word, but that necessitates that we actually know the Word. “How blessed is the man who . . . . his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:1-2). May we learn to love the Word of God as did the Psalmist.


Prayer Myths (Pt 2)

Prayer is a significant part of the Christian life. Yesterday I wrote about three myths we often hold regarding prayer. Today I would like t...