Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

Judah had a new king. His name was Hezekiah. He loved God and wanted to obey him even though he was only 25 years old!

Long ago the Israelites has split into two kingdoms; Judah in the north and Israel in the south. Both of them worshipped idols and disobeyed God’s commands. So God punished them, and sent the Assyrians to trouble them.

Does God still punish us when we sin? Yes, He does. He uses Daddies and Mommies and Policemen and Soldiers and Elders at church to punish us and teach us to do what is right. God does this so we can learn to obey Him and stop sinning.

Then God sent Hezekiah. Hezekiah broke up Judah’s idols and tore down the places where they worshipped them. Hezekiah obeyed God and taught his people to do that too. He fought the Assyrians and Judah’s other enemies the Philistines.

Israel did not obey God and they did not have a king like Hezekiah. So God sent the Assyrians to conquer them and they did. They tore down their cities and took their people far away from home to a strange place to live. Do you think this would have made everybody in Judah afraid? Yes, it probably did.

A few years later the king of Assyria—he had a really long name, Sennacherib—sent an army to Judah and captured many of their cities as well. Then he told king Hezekiah to give him money to go away! King Hezekiah was very afraid and gave a lot of money to the king of Assyria. He even took the gold off the doors of God’s temple!

Do you think this was a smart thing for Hezekiah to do? Was he trusting in God?
No, he was hoping this money would make the Assyrians go away.

But the money did not stop the Assyrians, and Sennacherib sent an even bigger army to Jerusalem the main city of Judah where Hezekiah and all the army was staying. The army surrounded the city and trapped everyone inside.

Then messengers came and shouted for everyone to hear, “Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord.” They said, “Hezekiah is lying when he says that the Lord will deliver you.” They told the people that the Assyrians would give them good food and land. They said that the God of Judah was just like other gods they had defeated before.

When the messengers stopped speaking no one spoke. Their words made everyone very sad and Hezekiah was very upset. What do you think he did? He did what all of us should do when we are upset. Hezekiah prayed! He also told the priests to pray that God would hear the bad things that the messengers had said and would deliver them.

The King of Assyria was very impatient with Hezekiah. Why did he and his people trust in God? Why didn’t they just give up and let him win? Didn’t they see that they were going to lose anyway? So the king sent Hezekiah a very very nasty letter. He said that God was a liar and would not be able to save him even though that’s what God promised to do.

Now Hezekiah trusted God. He took the letter to God and prayed. He said, “Oh Lord God of Israel, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made heaven and earth. Hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to scold you. The kings of Assyria are powerful and have destroyed many nations, so save us from Sennacherib so all the kingdoms of earth may know that you are the Lord God.”

Soon after Hezekiah prayed to God, Isaiah the prophet came to him with a message from God. He said, “Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib King of Assyria, I have heard.” Wow!! Hezekiah must have been glad! He had chosen to trust in God and God had not failed him.

Does God do what he promises? Yes He does!! And he did for Hezekiah too, for on a certain night after Hezekiah had prayed, the Lord sent an angel into the Assyrians camp. The next morning when some of the soldiers began to wake up they realized that God’s angel had killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand of them!! Their army was mostly dead!!

God had heard the prayers of Hezekiah and answered them by destroying his enemies. We too should pray to God when we have troubles. He does not always answer in the way that we think He should, but when we pray with obedient and faithful hearts we can know that He will hear us and do what is best for us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Musings #1

Particular convicting thoughts that spontaneously arise from my Scriptural study which may or may not be true and accurate interpretations of the Scripture. Should I wish to present something more defensible you will find some other title such as "Dogmatics" or "Theological Treatises." That being said, please feel free to chime in with any objections or observations as you feel so inclined, but please to not expect this set of thoughts to hold a hard line on any point.

Do you groan?:

Do you groan? I know I do not. Or are you not afflicted by the Christ likeness that you have been called to? I know I am not. Why not? I am not sure, except that I am out of touch with the effects of the curse. In our mechanized western world we have distanced ourselves from the effects of the fall, or at least we act like we have.
You see when Adam sinned God did not only curse the Serpent, Eve, and of course Adam, he cursed the earth as well. "Cursed is the ground for your sake..." Gen. 3:17. Reading that passage before I always thought of the affect this had on Adam (and consequently us). Now, because Adam sinned, I have a car that breaks down, a flower bed to weed, a roof to patch, and any number of other problematic areas of life that evidence the earths rebellion against the dominion of man. But now will always read that passage with Romans 8:18ff in my mind. The earth did not ask for Adam's rebellion, it did not ask to be cursed and yet it has been, and now is suffering from the affects of the fall as well. And so the earth groans, in fact, all creation groans under the strain of sin's poisonous influence.
Do you groan? Inanimate objects, senseless animals, geological forces, planetary systems all groan, do you? They know the troubled age that we live in...that age between sin and redemption. They long for the final revelation of the Sons of God so that all may be put to right and they may return to their deathless, submissive state of perfect harmony. No more pain, no more destruction, no more suffering. Do you long to see God's perfect work of glorification in your life? In Creation? Or do you not even feel the effects of sin? Has this life's cares and temptations numbed you to the pain and so removed your sense of urgency. Like the mortally wounded soldier filled with morphine we lie on the battlefield unaware of our danger and the pain that should warn us.
Wake up and look around you! Chaos, pain, wickedness--these are all around and inside of you. Do not dull your senses to them, but turn them over to great physician who has sent His Spirit to translate your delirious mumblings into just the words He needs to hear. Do not worry for this battle will only make you stronger and prepare you for the victory that is coming. Do not seek after the quick, cheap morphine of this life to dull your pain, rather groan. Groan to the God who has made you and is working in you even through the challenge and heartache of this life. Only He can enable you to see the hope that is before you, and by His purpose call you to be one of many of His Children.
Are we not more sensible than the earth? Are we less intelligent than the wild beasts of the field? Are we more dull than the mountains round about us? Even they know the pain of the fall. Even they long for the end of this futility. Even they groan. Do you groan? I know I do not, and so I am numb to that which should drive me to Christ and make me to long for His return.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Dear Son #1: Death

My Dear Son,

Few things in life are certain. One thing that is certain in this life is that it will end. Perhaps it will shock you to have me address this topic first to you, but I believe it is one of the most important that I could ever discuss. Do you think I am morbid? Well you might with this depressing start to our correspondence. But I beg you not to, for death is not morbid or at least it shouldn’t be for us.

“How can speaking of death not be morbid?” I hear you say to yourself. For the man who has been embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ death can have no sting, death is only the passage into eternal joy and peace. We do not look at death as the end of our lives, we look at it as the beginning of eternity! When we die we shed the constraints of time and rise above the rising and setting of the sun to dwell in the light of the eternal son who will complete all that we have be wanting and cleanse us of all that we have not wanted.

I have so much I want to write to you about, but I believe it is best to begin at the end as it shapes so much of how we live at the beginning. You see when you are young it is easy to believe that death is far off. Eternal decisions, eternal choices are not as urgent. Certainly you may believe in Jesus as your Savior, and you may be trusting in Him for salvation, but your life will not have the urgency that it needs if you do not consider how short your time here on earth is. Time will not wait for you to decide how you are going to impact the world for Christ. Life is not a marathon, life is a sprint. Many think, “I should pace myself and prepare for the long run ahead.” And before they know it the finish line is before them and they have lost because of their delay. They are those who look back on their life asking, “What have I accomplished?”

Do not fear death, for Christ gives you victory over it, rather fear the brevity of life and live knowing you have only so much time to accomplish all that the Lord has called you to do. Run the race as Paul instructed you. Run it so that when you finish you may fall before the Lord and hear His commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Run as one who has already died in Christ and now may live in newness of life, a grace filled life full of joy and zeal for the glory of God.

But what does this mean practically? Begin early in your life to commit your ways to the Lord. As soon as you are able form habits of memorizing His Word and meditating on it daily. Learn the art of private and public prayer by practicing it. Study the Lord’s prayer and Paul’s prayers, and the Psalms until when you pray you find yourself praying the Lord’s words back to Him. Practice making a business of studying spiritual things, and ministering to and serving those around you. Speak to others about the Lord as they see His work in your life and recognize it. I will speak to you more on this later.

As you plan your career consider what you are good at, but also what will best enable you to expand the kingdom. One career may offer high pay which you may use to build the kingdom, but it may require waiting to have a family. Another career may force you to move around so much you cannot set down roots long enough to have any spiritual influence on those around you. Yet another career may provide you with the path of least resistance…beware of not challenging yourself, you will become disillusioned and frustrated before you know it.
Pick a wife who lives with the same desire to accomplish all that her short years will allow her. You want the woman you marry to be hard to keep up with. If you don’t ask yourself, “How can I expect such a godly woman to accept me as her spiritual head?” at least once you should re-evaluate why you want to marry this woman. You see, if you marry a woman who has no concept of the brevity of life, she will fill her time with frivolity that will do nothing but distract the purpose of your home. Pick a woman with urgency and with spiritual zeal and she will push as you pull your family through life and nothing will stop you from (by God’s grace) pushing the Gates of Hell into full retreat. In short, pick a wife like your mother.

There is much more I would like to say, and hopefully much more I will in coming days, but let me leave you with this final thought. Living as one who sees his death keeps you from delay. As that great man of God J.C. Ryle put it, “Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan cares not how spiritual you intentions may be, and how holy your resolutions, so long as they are fixed for tomorrow.” (Thoughts for Young Men, Pg 7) Listen to him, listen to me!! Don’t wait to plan your future, don’t wait to map out your strategy of life, don’t wait to pursue the life of a godly man, don’t wait! This is the day that the Lord has made, don’t wait to form good habits, don’t wait to grow in godliness, take hold of your life today and resolve to daily put to death your sin and pursue Christ-likeness with all your heart. Live as one already dead and death will hold no disappointment for you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Hobby

Hello to everyone who may someday read this. I must say I didn't expect to find you reading this as it is not the type of thing most people read. But then you aren't most people are you. You are you, and don't you deny it! You are one of the few people in the world who has carved out the time to reach out and touch your mouse button in a quest for deeper learning and now you have found me. You have found me, but whether you have found deeper learning, that is for you to decide. All I can offer you is my simple hobby-to write. I love to write and have concluded that this will be my outlet. "Write about what?' you may ask, and rightly so. "Why write at all?" you may also ask, and with the same degree of rightness.

The answer to the former goes without saying, but then what am I typing for if it isn't to say something. I want to write about everything, as long as it is not my own personal daily doings that will bore you to death and yet somehow draw you into an obsession with those same doings that will subdue your consciousness with their inanity. Not to say there isn't a place for blogs of a personal nature, there simply isn't a place for one about me. No, I hope to present articles of interest, entertainment, and edification on a variety of topics. Some of the topics you may see here (or may not) would fall into the following categories: Father to Son--A series of Paternal letters advising sons on the various areas of life that will confront them; Odds and Ends--A series of odd observations on life in general; Love and Marriage--A series and marriage; The ministry of the Church--I think you get the idea.

The answer to the latter is a bit more worrisome to me. In all
truthfulness (not just some of it, mind you) my writing is really more for me than anyone else. As I make that confession I realize that I am in danger of arrogance and perhaps a bit of that narcissism that I previously claimed to be avoiding. Please permit me to explain myself. I have long enjoyed writing, but simply didn't do it. I have long had thoughts, but simply didn't think them out. In this blog I hope to do both. Whether you are able to profit by the result is only for you to decide, but remember as you read, this is a hobby.

Yes, dear Reader, consider the path you are starting down. As with any hobby, before there can be the gleaming, vintage roadster--there must be the rusting hulk in the garage; before there can be the finely crafted dining set, there must be the wobbly, scarred chair. But if you are the adventurous type or are simply like the neighbor who comes to watch the rusted hulk sanded and painted to gloss or the rough chunks of wood carved into beauty, I invite you to read on. Read with patience, but read nonetheless.