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Friday, June 29, 2007

Pray the Word

Is your spirit overwhelmed within you? David's was.
Are there times when it feels like the Lord is distant from you? David knew such times.
Do the cares of this life overwhelm your mind? David knew the feeling.

In Psalm 143, David gave us a model prayer for such times. He knew what it meant to feel all these things. He knew fear, he knew distress, he knew confusion, he knew oppression. David knew trouble. And David knew that the answer to trouble is prayer. Read Psalm 143 today. You'll see David asking that God would:

  1. Answer him quickly (vs. 7) - the need was urgent. Do you need God to answer you quickly today? Ask Him.
  2. Let him experience the mercy, the unfailing love of God again (vs. 8) - David needed to "feel" God's love in his life. Do you need that today? Ask God for it.
  3. Show him the way he should go (vs. 8). Are you wandering? Need directions? God has the map - ask Him for direction.
  4. Teach him to do God's will (vs. 10). Just what does God want from you? What is His will for your life? Ask Him.
  5. Preserve his life, and bring him out of trouble. (vs. 11) We usually don't need encouragement to pray when we're in trouble - that's when it comes somewhat naturally. Even so - are you in such a state? Ask Him.

Now I don't know that Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 are in chronological order. However, they sound like it when you read them together. David is crying out in prayer in Psalm 143, and then in Psalm 144:1 he is shouting in triumph "Blessed be the Lord, my strength!"

I encourage you this morning to learn to pray the prayers of the Bible. David's prayer here is a wonderful example. And when we learn to pray the way the Bible teaches us to pray, we will, like David, experience the triumph of seeing those prayers answered. We will learn, as David did, that "happy is that people whose God is the Lord." (Psalm 144:15)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rock or Sand?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV)

You probably remember that Bible passage from Sunday School, don't you? Or maybe you remember it from the little song:

The wise man built his house upon the rock,
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
The wise man built his house upon the rock,
And the rains came-a tumble-in down!

It's a familiar passage, but did you ever stop to meditate on what the Lord is saying here? There are two kinds of people - wise and foolish. There is something that is common about both the wise and the foolish - both HEAR the Word. The distinguishing factor is that the wise PUT IT INTO PRACTICE while the foolish do not.

What are you building your house upon? Rock or sand? Are you one of the many who listen to the Word of God on Sunday, and then live the rest of the week as if you hadn't heard it at all? Or are you one of the wise who hear it, and spend the week trying to put it into practice? Rock or sand? Wise or foolish?

May God help all of us today to listen to His Word. But even more importantly, may He help us to put it into practice.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ten Minutes Per Day

Here is an alarming statistic I heard recently - 65% of "Bible believing Christians" have never read the New Testament completely through. This is disturbing because it is simply not possible for a believer to grow in their faith without the Word of God. Consider what Paul said in Romans 10:17, "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." And Peter said it, too, in 1 Peter 2:2, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby."

You can read through the New Testament in a year if you will just read one chapter every day. Actually, there are only 260 chapters in the New Testament, so you'll make it through in less than a year if you remain faithful. Of course, even if you are a member of the 35% who have read it through, you should continue to do so. Don't stop with just one time through, keep right on reading!

For most readers, one chapter per day will take ten minutes or less. Is your growth in faith and spiritual health important enough to invest ten minutes every day? Getting started is the hard part. Just open your Bible with your morning coffee - start today. And keep doing it until it becomes a habit.

And if you don't have a Bible to read, we will provide you one! Let's ensure that unfortunate statistic is not true of Randolph Christian Church!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jogging While Working

The morning commute is a wonderful time to spend with God. I've been trying really hard lately to turn off the radio and just spend that time talking with the Lord. Try it sometime. You'll quickly learn that you can pray quite effectively while you're driving. (Just don't close your eyes while praying!) And prayer is not the only thing that you can do... just spend some time observing things around you as you drive. Ask the Lord to teach you things, even on your morning drive.

She was jogging.

I turned right at the light and there she was in the distance, jogging toward me. But something didn't seem quite right about her. As the gap between us narrowed, I realized that she was not alone. She was pushing a stroller in front of her as she ran. I could not help but appreciate her dedication - both to her responsibilities as a mom, and to her physical health. She had found a way to balance both.

So many of us today struggle with balance in our lives. It's summer time, and many Christians struggle to balance recreation and rest (both wonderful things, and needful) with our responsibility to worship God faithfully on the Lord's Day. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 NIV) And any time of the year, we all struggle to balance our work lives, our family lives, and our responsibilities to worship God by regular and personal Bible reading and prayer. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Psalm 119:16 NIV)

First of all, let me say that if we are too busy to read our Bibles, then we are too busy and need to stop doing some things. God never gives us a responsibility and then makes it impossible for us to fulfill it. If you simply don't have time to read, then you are simply doing something God doesn't want you to do. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:17 NIV) But sometimes, it's not more time we need... it's more efficient use of the time we have.

We need to learn to jog while we work.

Listen to the word of God in your car while you drive. There are CD versions and cassette versions, and even MP3 versions that you can obtain - many for free. Listen to it while you jog, or however you choose to work out. While setting aside some time that is dedicated to God and His Word is important, it's also important to make everything we do "word centered."

We need to learn to jog while we work.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Ebenezer

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

That's the first verse of one of my favorite hymns. "Come Thou Fount" dates to 1758 and is an example of a truly great hymn that is brimming with truth about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But it's the second verse I'm thinking about this morning.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

I'm thinking about it because I read 1 Samuel 7:12 this morning in my devotions: "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us."

Everytime I sing this favorite hymn, my thoughts are arrested by that phrase "here I raise my Ebenezer." What does that mean? But when we study the scripture we see the answer. Ebenezer means "stone of help." Samuel raised a monument and named it Ebenezer to remind the children of Israel that God had helped them and always would.

Do you need a reminder today of God's amazing grace, love, mercy and help in your life? Think back on all He's done. Raise your Ebenezer and remember how good our God is.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our Dwelling Place

"Look at all that water!" I came running into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. And sure enough, there was water... lots of it... covering the entire kitchen floor. Apparently, our aged dishwasher just couldn't hold it in any longer, and let go all over the floor.

When we are children, we can't wait to become adults so we can buy what we want and be what we want and furnish our lives in our own way.

When we become adults we long for the days when we were children, for we soon learn that the things we buy only break, and we never seem to find satisfaction in those things we thought would define us. Most of us have had the heart breaking experience of finding that first ding or that first rust spot in our precious first car. Things simply don't last.

But think about this encouraging truth in the Bible - Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. (Psalm 90:1 NIV).

Are things falling apart around you today? Remember that He is our real home. And He never falls apart. The real riches He provides will last forever. Take some time this morning and thank the Lord that He is our dwelling place. He is our home.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Could you do it?

Sharing your faith is difficult for some believers. And yet, the Bible teaches that we should do our best to do just that. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

We are working hard on providing some tools that you can use to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I mentioned in an earlier post that we will be distributing free gospels of John this Lord's Day - free to anyone, and meant as a tool for sharing the gospel. We also have tracts which you can simply hand to someone who needs the gospel.

On our church website, we have a simple plan of salvation that you can use in explaining the gospel. Here is another one that you may like better. And here is yet a third presentation of the gospel that uses online animation.

Study all of them - memorize the verses and the different approaches. The more familiar you get with the gospel, the easier it will be to share it with those you are praying for.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Do you have an email personality?

You gotta love the Dilbert comic strip, by Scott Adams. My family buys me a Dilbert desk calendar every year for Christmas, and one of the highlights of my day is reading the daily humor.
"Tina, why did you call me a flaming #3%!!?," asked Dilbert.

"I'm so sorry," replied Tina, "that was my e-mail personality. My real-time personality is kind and gentle."

"Oh. Okay," replied Dilbert as he walked away. But in the final frame of the comic, Tina is seen feverishly typing, "Never speak to me again, you miserable clump of decaying compost!"
In the silly world of Dilbert, that's kinda funny. We all know people who have an email personality that is far different from their real-time personality. And it's not just email where this shows up. Some are different in their car than they are in person... different on the phone than in person. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Although I laughed at this comic strip, I also found myself asking the Lord for help, for I see a little too much of myself in there. Do you? Let's determine, brothers and sisters, that we will be real all the time. Not one thing on Sunday morning, and something completely different the rest of the week.

Christianity is not a casual thing that we put on once in a while, but rather a continuous reflection of Jesus Christ living in and through us. "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20)

Let's put aside the email personality and be real.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tell Them!

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:8,10)

Sometimes when I read the Word of God, a phrase or verse seems to jump off the page at me. Such was the case this morning with this passage. I could not help but wonder HOW IN THE WORLD there could be a generation that did not know the Lord. Where were the Fathers? Where were the Mothers? Where were the preachers and prophets? Didn't ANYBODY SAY ANYTHING? How could an entire generation be raised by a group of people who knew God, and yet none of them ever learned of Him?

Let us ensure that is not the case. Fathers, as we remember Fathers' Day this weekend, let's determine we will TELL OUR CHILDREN about the Lord. And it's not just Dad's job, Mom. You can TELL YOUR CHILDREN, too. And maybe we should also mention that we need to TELL OUR PARENTS and TELL EVERYBODY WE MEET about the Lord Jesus.

At Randolph Christian Church, we are working on several tools that will help you TELL THEM about Jesus. This Lord's Day, we will be providing free copies of the Gospel of John to anyone who will commit to give it away. We are in the process of printing postcards that will be available, free, for you to use in sharing the good news of Christ, and we always have tracts in the tract rack in the foyer.

Let us not be guilty of knowing Jesus saves, and yet letting a generation arise that has never heard that good news.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fathers and Mothers

This coming Lord's Day, we will be celebrating Fathers and Mothers with a picnic and BBQ immediately after the service. I hope you can make it to this, and I hope that if you have friends and loved ones (especially fathers and mothers) who might enjoy it, you will encourage them to come.

I was thinking about dads and moms this morning. And I was thinking about yesterday's sermon - A Mother's Wisdom, from John 2. For some reason, the Lord has really been hammering me about Mary's words in vs. 5, "Whatever He says to you, do it." And as I pondered it this morning, it suddenly struck me that His Father said the same thing. Remember when that voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM?"

It's common for we who are parents to say to our children, "Listen to me!" But both Jesus' father and mother said the same thing - "Listen to Him!"

I know, I know, you just heard this message yesterday in church. But I guess the Lord wants me to repeat it today. Are you listening to the Savior? When He speaks through His word, are you listening? Are you doing what you hear Him say? Sometimes we get the impression that it's difficult to obey the Lord, but remember how He described it in Matthew 11:30 - "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

He did all the heavy lifting on the cross. May God help you and I to do our part now in living a life of obedience and submission to Him Who loved us that much.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Too Much To Do? SLOW DOWN!

I could feel the scream rising in my throat, and I could feel the blood pressure rising in my ears. Suppressing the scream, I reached down and picked up the handkerchief from the floor, where I had just dropped it.

It was one of those mornings where I was in a tremendous hurry. When that happens, I usually try to perform my morning ablutions and dress at warp speed. Unfortunately, I have developed a problem in the last few years where I drop things. For no known reason, when I pick something up, it will simply leap out of my hand on onto the ground. It has become somewhat chronic. And when I'm in a hurry, and trying to move quickly, it becomes acute - thus explaining the handkerchief which was now on the floor for the third time this morning.

As I stooped to pick it up yet again, the thought occurred, "Why don't you just slow down a little bit? Maybe things will go a little smoother." And so I did. And things did go smoother.

Have you ever noticed that you can accomplish more in life if you slow down? There is definitely a point of diminishing returns, when more activity does not mean more productivity. It just means more activity and more stress. Are you there? If so, may I encourage you to slow down.

Jesus said to the disciples one day, "Come apart and rest for awhile." You need to slow down, and spend time with the Lord. It may seem like you cannot afford the time, but in reality you will have MORE time. No matter how busy you are, you need to set aside some time every day of the world to pray and read your Bible. When you slow down, you'll discover that things go smoother.

It's one of God's principles that applies in every area of life. When we invest ourselves in God, we always have greater returns. Invest money in God through tithes and offerings, and you will always have more money. And investing time in God pays back in the same way - you will have more time.

Do you have too much to do? SLOW DOWN.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Work Like Blazes

I like the following thought from Dr. David Jeremiah's daily email devotional:

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. John 9:4

In Today Matters, John Maxwell wrote, "If you want to reach your potential, you need to add a strong work ethic to your talent. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow shared much insight when he wrote, 'The heights by great men reached and kept / were not attained by sudden flight, / but they, while their companions slept, / were toiling upward in the night.'"

God gave us talent, and our parents and teachers provided the training. We've got to supply the toil.

The Bible says, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17, NIV). Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (NIV). And 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (NIV).

Have you been procrastinating instead of jumping into a task at hand? Tackle it today for the glory of God.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Happiness is the Lord

Did you ever get a song in your head and you can't get rid of it? For hours, it just plays over and over and over and over in your head! Arrrggghhh!!! Make it stop!

Well, imagine if you had a song playing in your head for YEARS. There is one particular song that I have had playing in my mind for years (not constantly, thank the Lord), but enough to keep the tune and thought before me. I first heard the song when I was a teenager at the Randolph Christian Church. The song is:

Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.
Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start;
I've found the secret, it's Jesus in my heart!

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that's worth the living,
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord,
Happiness is the Lord,
Happiness is the Lord!

(Words and Music by Ira F. Stanphill)

I really don't mind that song playing around in my mind, because the Lord uses it to remind me of a very important spiritual truth. If I would be happy, I need to find that happiness in the Lord, and in His Word. There is no other source of happiness.

The Psalmist said:

O the happiness of that one, who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked. And in the way of sinners has not stood, And in the seat of scorners has not sat; But -- in the law of Jehovah is his delight, And in His law he meditates by day and by night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Happiness is the Lord!

(By the way, if you want to get that song started in your own head, listen to it here.)