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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:13b
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Daily Scripture ReadingRevelation 21-22

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:13b - For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

In this last phrase of the model prayer, Jesus gives us a truth that is proclaimed throughout Scripture. He ends this lesson on how to pray by using a small portion of a praise exclamation that David gave in the Book of Chronicles. Remember, David was not allowed by God to build the Temple because he was a man of war. He had been a warrior most of his life. God intended however for David to organize gathering everything that would be needed for his son Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

As Jesus is closing this prayer He returns to a concept that resonates throughout the pages of the Bible. God is everything, man is nothing! Even in the context of 1 Chronicles David is praising God for the peoples generous giving. Why? Shouldn't the people get credit for their sacrifice and hard work? After all, aren't we what really matters? NO! When we stop and give it a good look we continue to come up with the same message. God is all that matters! He is God, holy and awesome. He reigns in majesty. It is only His goodness and grace that allows us any part in His creation! God made us according to His own will for His own good pleasure and He saves us by His choosing so that we can fellowship with Him.(Luke 12:32; Eph. 1:3-14) He has need of nothing and yet makes Himself available to us on a personal level because we need everything. There is nothing we can do for ourselves without messing it up. There is nothing righteous in us. And in the case of David's rejoicing - it was God who was the Source and His people were the resource He used to provide for the building of the Temple so that God could tangibly live among His chosen people. (Now He lives in our hearts – we are His temple - 1 Cor. 6:19-20). So even the people's sacrifice and generosity were attributed to God and His working in their hearts. (Phil. 2:13; 2 Thess. 1:11-12).

Jesus is teaching us again about motive and heart attitude. We must understand in the deepest parts of who we are that it all comes from God! He is the Provider for EVERYTHING we will ever have or need! If we have something it's because God (who owns it all) has given it to us! This may sound foreign to some of you. What a low view of humanity I must seem to have. But when you really see God for who He is you can't help but be humbled and ask along with David "what is man, that You are mindful of him?" That can also be translated "who are we, that You would even think about us?" If we have difficulty seeing God for who He is then we really can't see ourselves for who we are. And most churches today focus all the attention of praise and worship and preaching on ME! What can God do for ME? What do I matter to God? How can I live a better life with God's help? There is a lot of ME and I in today's church and not very much of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They exist only to meet our needs and give us whatever we fancy. HOGWASH! We must place proper value on God. We gather for worship to proclaim our love to Him and to praise Him for Who He is and for all He has done. He should be central. If He isn't, then it really isn't a church but just a religious social club! IT'S ABOUT HIM -- not us!

To gain a proper view of God I want to quote David in 1 Chronicles 29:10-20. Read this and just picture in your mind the magnitude of this event. And then ask yourself if the last time you went to church you felt like this about God when you left. If not, pray the Lord revives your church!

Jesus teaches us to pray always with this attitude about God:

"Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said: 'Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand You make great and give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given to You. For we are aliens (temporary residents) and pilgrims (transients) before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also , my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You. And give my son, Solomon, a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.' Then David said to all the assembly, ' Now bless the LORD your God.' So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king."

Can you see the glory of God? What do you think about Him after reading this passage? Today we must take to heart the lesson Jesus has taught. God is everything. We are nothing. With that perspective whatever we face today won't seem that big after all, will it?


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from True Prayer – True Power!,a sermon from Mark 11:24 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

II. Having thus asked you to look at the text, I want you now to LOOK ABOUT YOU. Look about you at our meetings for prayer, and look about you at your private intercessions, and judge them both by the tenour of this text. First, look about you at the meetings for prayer; I cannot speak very pointedly in this matter, because I do honestly believe that the prayer-meetings which are usually held among us, have far less of the faults which I am about to indicate, that any others I have ever attended. But, still they have some of the faults, and I hope that what we shall say, will be taken personally home by every brother who is in the habit of engaging publicly in supplication at prayer-meetings. Is it not a fact, that as soon as you enter the meeting, you feel, the case of many praying men (to speak hardly perhaps, but I think honestly) lies in having a good memory to recollect a great many texts, which always have been quoted since the days of our grandfather's grandfather, and to be able to repeat them in good regular order. The gift lies also in some churches, especially in village churches, in having strong lungs, so as to be able to hold out, without taking breath for five and twenty minutes when you are brief, and three quarters of an hour when you are rather drawn out. The gift lies also in being able not to ask for anything in particular, but in passing through a range of everything, making the prayer, not an arrow with a point, but rather like a nondescript machine, that has no point whatever, and yet is meant to be all point, which is aimed at everything, and consequently strikes nothing. Those brethren are often the most frequently asked to pray, who have those peculiar, and perhaps, excellent gifts, although I certainly must say that l cannot obey the apostle's injunction in coveting very earnestly such gifts as these. Now, if instead thereof, some man is asked to pray, who has never prayed before in public; suppose he rises and says, "Oh Lord, I feel myself such a sinner that I can scarcely speak to thee, Lord, help me to pray! o Lord, save my poor soul! O that thou wouldst save my old companions! Lord, bless our minister! be pleased to give us a revival. O Lord, 1 can say no more; hear me for Jesu's sake! Amen." Well, then, you feel somehow, as if you had begun to pray yourself. You feel an interest in that man, partly from fear lest he should stop, and also because you are sure that what he did say, he meant. And if another should get up after that, and pray in the same spirit, you go out and say, "This is real prayer." I would sooner have three minutes prayer like that, that thirty minutes of the other sort, because the one is praying, and the other is preaching. Allow me to quote what an old preacher said upon the subject of prayer, and give it to you as a little word of advice—"Remember, the Lord will not hear thee, because of the arithmetic of thy prayers; he does not count their numbers. He will not hear thee because of the rhetoric of thy prayers; he does not care for the eloquent language in which they are conveyed. He will not listen to thee because of the geometry of thy prayers; he does not compute them by their length, or by their breadth. He will not regard thee because of the music of thy prayers; he doth not care for sweet voices, nor for harmonious periods. Neither will he look at thee because of the logic of thy prayers; because they are well arranged, and excellently comparted. But he will hear thee, and he will measure the amount of the blessing he will give thee, according to the divinity of thy prayers. If thou canst plead the person of Christ, and if the Holy Ghost inspire thee with zeal and earnestness, the blessings which thou shalt ask, shall surely come unto thee." Brethren, I would like to burn the whole stock of old prayers that we have been using this fifty years. That "oil that goes from vessel to vessel,"—that "horse that rushes into the battle,"—that misquoted mangled text, "where two or three are met together, thou wilt be in the midst of them," and that to bless them,"—and all those other quotations which we have been manufacturing, and dislocating, and copying from man to man. I would we came to speak to God, just out of our own hearts. It would be a grand thing for our prayer meetings; they would be better attended; and I am sure they would be more fruitful, if every man would shake off that habit of formality, and talk to God as a child talks to his father; ask him for what we want and then sit down and have done. I say this with all Christian earnestness. Often, because I have not chosen to pray in any conventional form, people have said, "That man is not reverent!" My dear sir, you are not a judge of my reverence. To my own master, I stand or fall. I do not think that Job quoted anybody. I do not think that Jacob quoted the old saint in heaven,—his father Abraham. I do not find Jesus Christ quoted Scripture in prayer. They did not pray in other people's words, but they prayed in their own. God does not want you to go gathering up those excellent but very musty spices of the old sanctuary. He wants the new oil just distilled from the fresh olive of your own soul. He wants spices and frankincense, not of the old chests where they have been lying until they have lost their savour, but he wants fresh incense, and fresh myrrh, brought from the ophir of your own soul's experience. Look well to it that you really pray, do not learn the language of prayer, but seek the spirit of prayer, and God Almighty bless you, and make you more mighty in your supplications.

I have said, "Look about you." I want you to continue the work, and look about at your own closets. Oh, Brethren and sisters, there is no place that some of us need to be so much ashamed to look at as our closet door. I cannot say the hinges are rusty; they do open and shut at their appointed seasons. I cannot say that the door is locked and cobwebbed. We do not neglect prayer itself; but those walls, those beams out of the wall, what a tale might they tell! "Oh!" the wall mighty cry out, "I have heard thee when thou hast been in so vast a hurry that thou couldst scarcely spend two minutes with thy God, and I have heard thee, too, when thou wast neither asleep nor awake, and when thou didst not know what thou wast saying." Then one beam might cry out, "I have heard thee come and spend ten minutes and not ask for anything, at least thy heart did not ask. The lips moved, but the heart did not ask. The lips moved, but the heart was silent." How might another beam cry out—"Oh! I have heard thee groan out thy soul, but I have seen thee go away distrustful, not believing thy prayer was heard, quoting the promise, but not thinking God would fulfil it." Surely the four walls of the closet might come together and fall down upon us in their anger, because we have so often insulted God with our unbelief and with our hurry, and with all manner of sins. We have insulted him even at his mercy seat, on the spot where his condescension is most fully manifested. Is it not so with you? Must we not each confess it in our turn? See to it then, Christian brethren, that an amendment be made, and God make you more mighty and more successful in your prayers that heretofore.

III. But not to detain you, the last point is look upward, LOOK ABOVE. Look above. Christian brethren and sisters, and let us weep. Oh God, thou hast given us a mighty weapon, and we have permitted it to rust. Thou hast given us that which is mighty as thyself, and we have let that power lie dormant. Would it not be a vile crime if a man had an eye given him which he would not open, or a hand that he would not lift up, or a foot that grew stiff because he would not use it. And what must we say of ourselves when God has given us power in prayer, and yet that power lies still. Oh, if the universe was as still as we are, where should we be? Oh God, thou givest light to the sun and he shines with it. Thou givest light even to the stars and they twinkle. To the winds thou givest force and they blow. And to the air thou givest life and it moves, and men breathe thereof. But to thy people thou hast given a gift that is better than force, and life, and light, and yet they permit it to lie still. Forgetful almost that they wield the power, seldom exercising it, though it would be blessed to countless myriads. Weep, Christian man. Constantine, the Emperor of Rome, saw that on the coins of the other Emperors, their images were in an erect posture—triumphing. Instead thereof he ordered that his image should be struck kneeling, for said he—"That is the way in which I have triumphed." We shall never triumph till our image is struck kneeling. The reason why we have been defeated, and why our banners trail in the dust, is because we have not prayed. Go—go ye back to your God, with sorrow, confess before him, ye children of Ephraim, that ye were armed, and carried bows, but turned your backs in the day of battle. Go to your God and tell him that if souls are not saved, it is not because he has not power to save, but because you have never travailed as it were in birth for perishing sinners. Your bowels have not sounded like a harp for Kir-haresh, neither has your spirit been moved, because of the defenses of the tribe of Reuben. Wake up, wake up, ye people of Israel; be astonished, ye careless ones; ye who have neglected prayer; ye sinners that are in Zion's own self, and that have been at ease. Wake up yourselves; wrestle and strive with your God, and then the blessing shall come—the early and the latter rain of his mercy, and the earth shall bring forth plenteously, and all the nations shall call him blessed. Look up then, and weep.

Once more look up and rejoice. Though you have sinned against him he loves you still. Ye have not prayed unto him nor sought his face, but behold he cries to you still—"Seek ye my face;" and he saith not "Seek ye me in vain." Ye may not have gone to the fountain, but it flows as freely as before. Ye have not drawn near to God, but he waiteth to be gracious still, and is ready to hear all your petitions. Behold, he says unto you, "Enquire of me concerning things to come, and concerning my sons and daughters, command ye me." What a blessed thing it is that the master in heaven is always ready to hear! Augustine has a very beautiful thought upon the parable of the man who knocked at his friend's door at midnight, saying, "Friend, give me three loaves." His paraphrase of it runs something like this—I knock at mercy's door, and it is the dead of night. "Will not some of the servants of the louse come and answer me?" No; I knock, but they are asleep. Oh! ye apostles of God—ye glorified martyrs—ye are asleep; ye rest in your beds; ye cannot hear my prayer. But will not the children answer? Are there not children who are ready to come and open the door to their brother? No; they are asleep. My brethren that have departed—with whom I took sweet counsel, and who were the companions of my heart—ye cannot answer me for ye rest in Jesus; your works do follow you, but you cannot work for me. But while the servants are asleep, and while the children cannot answer, the Master is awake,—awake at midnight too. It may be midnight with my soul, but he hears me, and when I am saying "Give me three loaves," he comes to the door and giveth me as much as I need. Christian, look up then and rejoice. There is always an open ear if you have an open mouth. There is always already hand if you have a ready heart. You have but to cry and the Lord hears; nay, before you call he will answer, and while you are speaking he will hear. Oh! be not backward then in prayer. Go to him when you reach your home; nay, on the very way lift up you ears silently; and whatever your petition or request may be, ask it in Jesu's name, and it shall be done unto you.

Yet, again, look up dear Christian brethren, and amend your prayers from this time forth. Look on prayer no loner as a romantic fiction or as an arduous duty; look at it as a real power, as a real pleasure. When philosophers discover some latent power, they seem to have a delight to put it in action. I believe there have been many great engineers, who have designed and constructed some of the most wonderful of human works, not because they would be renumerative, but simply from a love of showing their own power to accomplish wonders. To show the world what skill could do and what man could accomplish, they have tempted companies into speculations that could never remunerate apparently, so far as I could see, in order that they might have an opportunity of displaying their genius. O Christian men, and shall a great Engineer attempt great works and display his power, and will you who have a mightier power that ever was wielded by any man apart from his God—will you let that be still? Nay think of some great object, strain the sinews of your supplications for it. Let every vein of your heart be full to the brim with the rich blood of desire, and struggle, and wrestle, and tug and strive with God for it, using the promises and pleading the attributes, and see if God does not give you your heart's desire. I challenge you this day to exceed in prayer my Master's bounty. 1 throw down the gauntlet to you. Believe him to be more than he is; open your mouth so wide that he cannot fill it; go to him now for more faith than the promise warrants; venture it, risk it, outdo the Eternal if it be possible; attempt it. Or as I would rather put it thus, take your petitions and wants and see if he does not honor you. Try whether if you believe him he doth not fulfill the promise, and richly bless you with the anointing oil of his Spirit by which you will be strong in prayer.

I cannot refrain from adding just these few syllables as you go away. I know there are some of you that never prayed in your lives. You have said a form of prayer, perhaps, many years, but have never prayed once. Ah! poor soul, you must be born again, and until you are born again you cannot pray as I have been directing the Christian to pray. But let me say this much to you. Does your heart long after salvation? Has the Spirit whispered, "Come to Jesus, sinner, he will hear you?" Believe that whisper, for he will hear you. The prayer of the awakened sinner is acceptable to God. He heareth the broken in heart and healeth them too. Take your groanings and your sighs to God and he will answer you. "Ah," but says one, "I have nothing to plead." Well, but plead as David did—"Pardon my iniquity, for it is great." You have that plea—say, for his dear sake who shed his blood," and you shall prevail, sinner. But do not go to God, and ask for mercy with thy sin in thy hand. What would you think of the rebel, who appeared before the face of his sovereign and asked for pardon with the dagger sticking in his belt, and with the declaration, of his rebellion on his breast? Would he deserve to he pardoned? He could not deserve it in any case, and surely he would deserve double his doom for having thus mocked his master while he pretended to be seeking mercy. If a wife had forsaken her husband do you think she would have the impudence, with brazen forehead, to come back and ask pardon for leaning on the arm of her paramour? No, she could not have such impudence, and yet it is so with you—perhaps asking for mercy and going on in sin—praying to be reconciled to God, and yet harbouring and indulging your lust. Awake! awake! and call upon thy God, thou sleeper. The boat is nearing the rock, perhaps to-morrow it may strike and be shivered, and thou be cast into the unfathomable depths of everlasting woe. Call on thy God, I say, and when thou callest upon him, cast away thy sin or he cannot hear thee. If thou lift up thy unholy hands with a lie in they right hand, a prayer is worthless on they lip. Oh, come unto him, say unto him, "Take away all iniquity, receive us graciously, love us freely," and he will hear you, and you shall yet pray as prevailing princes, and one day shall stand as more than conquerors before the starry throne of him who ever reigns God over all, blessed for evermore.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:13a
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

Daily Scripture ReadingLuke 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:13a - And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

The Greek word used for temptation is a word that is used in Scripture in two ways. It can be used to refer to trials or testings, and it can be used to describe temptation to evil. A trial is good in that it confirms our faith, temptation is bad in that it leads us toward sin. So which does Jesus mean?

Lets take a close look at this verse in the light of all the Word of God. We know that James tells us that when we enter trials we are to have joy because the trial of our faith will produce endurance. The trial itself may seem overwhelming and harsh and difficult to walk through, but He will bring us through. The testing of our faith, when we pass the test, will produce a stronger faith in the end. (James 1:2-3) We also know that James tells us that when we are tempted it isn't God doing the tempting! Each of us is tempted when we are drawn away by our OWN LUST! (James 1:13-14). So if trials are good for us and God won't tempt us, then why does Jesus teach us to pray that God would "not lead" us "into temptation"?

Jesus is teaching us here to share our innermost thoughts and feelings with God! Of course He knows that God won't tempt and that trials are good - but Jesus also knows the devastation that sin brings. In the garden He even prayed that if it was God's will to employ any other means to save mankind than the cross, He wanted God to do so! "Let this cup pass from Me", He said. He knew the cost of our sin. But He also knew He could trust the Father. "Nevertheless, not My will but Thine." He was willing to undergo the crucifixion and separation from the Father knowing that it was God's will.

When we are faced with sin and temptation and testings of our faith, Jesus is teaching us that it's okay to express ourselves to God!! We can let God know that we don't want to be tempted for fear that we might fail and fall into sin. And who wants to have their faith put to the test? It isn't usually a pleasant experience. You see, in our relationship with God He wants us to know Him and trust Him more and more. He knows us already. He even knows what we need before we ask - but remember, that doesn't mean that He doesn't want us to ask!

The joy of fellowship and the truly amazing thing about relating to God is that He wants to hear about our lives. He wants to hear us pray about everyday concerns and problems and difficulties. Of course He won't lead us into evil, but He wants us to express the truth that don't want to go there, too! We know that the people we can truly trust are usually the people who know the most about us, right? They know all our secrets. God knows, too. And He wants to share Himself with us on that same deep level of intimate trust!

Jesus is not afraid that God will open the door to temptation. He is stating a fact about the level of fellowship and relationship that God desires. We can tell God anything and everything!

We know this, too, because He goes on and prays, "but deliver us from the evil one." In our relating to God we must admit and realize that the devil does exist and that he wants to accuse and confuse us today! There are those who think that the devil is a myth! If so, Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by a myth. No, the devil is real. He is an angel that was thrown out of heaven when he rebelled and sinned against God. He said, "I will be like the Most High." He was filled with pride and wanted to take God's Throne!

Now the devil, we are told, roams the earth in search of people to devour - to destroy and control (1 Peter 5:8-9). He loves to accuse us of sin and to confuse us as to the truth (Matthew 13:19). And Jesus teaches us to pray and to expect God to deliver us from the evil one. Remember, we used to be the devil's children, now we are God's (John 8:44).

So Jesus is teaching us to tell God everything (which I also expect husbands and wives to share everything, too. Then they are open to one another, submit to one another, and can provide accountability to each other on a level that no other person can! Just as we have no secrestr from God ew should not have any secrets in the family.). Give Him our all! Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (all that we are and have). Trust Him to protect us from both evil and the evil one! And know that He is always there.

Some people don't like to tell God everything. They think their lives will bore Him, or they think of God like another person who might not be able to take what we are about to say. HA! God can take it. And He wants us to be open and honest with Him. Tell him how we feel, and what we want. And in the process we will see Him change our hearts and minds to fashion us into the likeness of His Son. When we are completely open with God it makes it that much easier for Him to break us and shape us and conform us into His image!

Dread temptation, knowing that we are prone to fail and fall. Embrace trials that we might grow strong in our faith. Cling to God - and tell Him everything! That is how Jesus is teaching us to pray!

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from True Prayer – True Power!,a sermon from Mark 11:24 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

And surely, my brethren, it were enough to restrain all lightness and constrain an unceasing earnestness, did we apprehend the greatness of the Being before whom we plead. Shall I come into thy presence, O my God, and mock thee with cold-hearted words? Do the angels veil their faces before thee, and shall I be content to prattle through a form with no soul and no heart? Ah, my brethren! we little know how many of our prayers are an abomination unto the Lord. It would be an abomination to you and to me to hear men ask us in the streets, as if they did not want what they asked for. But have we not done the same to God? Has not that which is heaven's greatest boon to man, become to us a dry dead duty? It was said of John Bradford that he had a peculiar art in prayer, and when asked for his secret he said, "When I know what I want I always stop on that prayer until I feel that I have pleaded it with God, and until God and I have had dealings with each other upon it." I never go on to another petition till I have gone through the first." Alas! for some men who begin "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;" and before they have realized the adoring thought—"hallowed be thy name,"—they have begun to repeat the next words—"Thy kingdom come;" then perhaps something strikes their mind, "Do I really wish his kingdom to come? If it were to come now where should I be?" And while they are thinking of that, their voice is going on with, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;" so they jumble up their prayers and run the sentences together. Oh! stop at each one till you have really prayed it. Do not try to put two arrows on the string at once, they will both miss. He that would load his gun with two charges cannot expect to be successful. Discharge one shot first, and then load again. Plead once with God and prevail, and then plead again. Get the first mercy, and then go again for the second. Do not be satisfied with running the colours of your prayers into one another, till there is no picture to look at but just a huge daub, a smear of colours badly laid on. Look at the Lord's Prayer itself. What clear sharp outlines there are in it. There are certain definite mercies, and they do not run into one another. There it stands, and as you look at the whole it is a magnificent picture; not confusion, but beautiful order. Be it so with your prayers. Stay on one till you have prevailed with that, and then go on to the next. With definite objects and with fervent desires mixed together, there is the dawning of hope that ye shall prevail with God.

But again: these two things would not avail if they were not mixed with a still more essential and divine quality, namely, a firm faith in God. Brethren, do you believe in prayer? I know you pray because you are God's people; but do you believe in the power of prayer? There are a great many Christians that do not, they think it is a good thing, and they believe that sometimes it does wonders; but they do not think that prayer, real prayer, is always successful. They think that its effect depends upon many other things, but that it has not any essential quality or power in itself. Now, my own soul's conviction is, that prayer is the grandest power in the entire universe; that it has a more omnipotent force than electricity, attraction, gravitation, or any other of those secret forces which men have called by names, but which they do not understand. Prayer hath as palpable, as true, as sure, as invariable and influence over the entire universe as any of the laws of matter. When a man really prays, it is not a question whether God will hear him or not, he must hear him; not because there is any compulsion in the prayer, but there is a sweet and blessed compulsion in the promise. God has promised to hear prayer, and he will perform his promise. As he is the most high and true God, he cannot deny himself. Oh! to think of this; that you a puny man may stand here and speak to God, and through God may move all the worlds. Yet when your prayer is heard, creation will not be disturbed; though the grandest ends be answered, providence will not be disarranged for a single moment. Not a leaf will fall earlier from the tree, not a star will stay in its course, nor one drop of water trickle more slowly from its fount, all will go on the same, and yet your prayer will have effected everything. It will speak to the decrees and purposes of God, as they are being daily fulfilled; and they will all shout to your prayer, and cry, "Thou art our brother; we are decrees, and thou a prayer; but thou art thyself a decree, as old, as sure, as ancient as we are." Our prayers are God's decrees in another shape. The prayers of God's people are but God's promises breathed out of living hearts, and those promises are the decrees, only put into another form and fashion. Do not say, "How can my prayers affect the decrees?" They cannot, except in so much that your prayers are decrees, and that as they come out, every prayer that is inspired of the Holy Ghost unto your soul is as omnipotent and as eternal as that decree which said, "Let there be light, and there was light;" or as that decree which chose his people, and ordained their redemption by the precious blood of Christ. Thou has power in prayer, and thou standest to-day among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. Thou has power over angels, they will fly at thy will. Thou hast power over fire, and water, and the elements of earth. Thou hast power to make thy voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, thy voice shall wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself shall listen and the hand of God himself shall yield to thy will. He bids thee cry, "Thy will be done," and thy will shall be done. When thou canst plead his promise then thy will is his will. Seems it not my dear friends, an awful thing to have such a power in one's hands as to be able to pray? You have heard sometimes of men who pretended to have a weird and mystic might, by which they could call up spirits from the vasty deep, by which they could make showers of rain, or stop the sun. It was all a figment of the fancy, but were it true the Christian is a greater magician still. If he has but faith in God, there is nothing impossible to him. He shall be delivered out of the deepest waters—he shall be rescued out of the sorest troubles—in famine he shall be fed—in pestilence he shall go unscathed—amidst calamity he shall walk firm and strong—in war he shall be ever shielded—and in the day of battle he shall lift up his head, if he can but believe the promise, and hold it up before God's eyes and plead it with the spell of unfaltering reliance. There is nothing, I repeat it, there is no force so tremendous, no energy so marvellous, as the energy with which God has endowed every man, who like Jacob can wrestle, like Israel can prevail with him in prayer. But we must have faith in this; we must believe prayer to be what it is, or else it is not what it: should be. Unless I believe my prayer to be effectual it will not be, for on my faith will it to a great extent depend. God may give me the mercy even when I have not faith; that will be his own sovereign grace, but he has not promised to do it. But when I have faith and can plead the promise with earnest desire, it is no longer a probability as to whether I shall get the blessing, or whether my will shall be done. Unless the Eternal will swerve from his Word, unless the oath which he has given shall be revoked, and he himself shall cease to be what he is, "We know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

And now to mount one step higher, together with definite objects, fervent desires and strong faith in the efficacy of prayer there should be—and Oh may divine grace make it so with us!—there should be mingled a realising expectation. We should be able to count over the mercies before we have got them, believing that they are on the road. Reading the other day in a sweet little book, which I would commend to the attention of you all, written by an American author who seems to know the power of prayer thoroughly, and to whom I am indebted for many good things—a little book called The Still Hour, I met with a reference to a passage in the book of Daniel, the tenth chapter I think, where, as he says, the whole machinery of prayer seems to be laid bare. Daniel is on his knees in prayer, and Michael the archangel come to him. He talks with him and tells him that as soon as ever Daniel began to set his heart to understand, and to chasten himself before God, his words were heard, and the Lord had dispatched the angel. Then he tells him in the most business-like manner in the world, "I should have been here before, but the Prince of Persia withstood me; nevertheless the prince of thy nation helped me, and I am come to comfort and instruct thee." See now. God breathes the desire into our hearts, and as soon as the desire is there, before we call he begins to answer. Before the words have got half way up to heaven, while they are yet trembling on the lip—knowing the words we mean to speak—he begins to answer them, sends the angel; the angel comes and brings down the needed blessing. Why the thing is a revelation if you could see it with your eyes. Some people think that spiritual things are dreams, and that we are talking fancies. Nay, I do believe there is as much reality in a Christian's prayer as in a lightning flash; and the utility and excellency of the prayer of a Christian may be just as sensibly known as the power of the lightning flash when it rends the tree, breaks off its branches, and splits it to the very root. Prayer is not a fancy of fiction; it is a real actual thing, coercing the universe, binding the laws of God themselves in fetters, and constraining the High and Holy One to listen to the will of his poor hut. favoured creature-man. But we want always to believe this. We need a realizing assurance in prayer. To count over the mercies before they are come! To be sure that they are coming! To act as if we had got them! When you have asked for your daily bread, no more to be disturbed with care, but to believe that God has heard you, and will give it to you. When you have taken the case of your sick child before God to believe that the child will recover, or if it should not, that it will be a greater blessing to you and more glory to God, and so to leave it to him. To be able to say, "I know he has heard me now; I will stand on my watch-tower; I will look for my God and hear what he will say to my soul." Were you ever disappointed yet, Christian, when you prayed in faith and expected the answer? I bear my own testimony here this morning, that I have never yet trusted him and found him fail me. I have trusted man and have been deceived, but my God has never once denied the request I have made to him, when I have backed up the request with belief in his willingness to hear, and in the assurance of his promise.

But I hear some one say, "May we pray for temporals?" Ay, that you may. In everything make known your wants to God. It is not merely for spiritual, but for everyday concerns. Take your smallest trials before him. He is a God that heareth prayer; he is your household God as well as the God of the Sanctuary. Be ever taking all that you have before God. As one good man who is about to be united with this Church told me of his departed wife, "Oh," said he, "she was a woman that I could never get to do anything till she had made a matter of prayer of it. Be it what it might, she used to say, 'I must make it a matter of prayer;'" Oh for more of this sweet habit of spreading everything before the Lord, just as Hezekiah did Rabshekah's letter, and there leaving it, saying, "Thy will be done, I resign it to thee!" Men say Mr. Muller of Bristol is enthusiastic, because he will gather seven hundred children and believe that God will provide for them; though there is nothing in the purse he is only doing what ought to be the commonplace action of every Christian man. He is acting upon a rule at which the worldling always must scoff, because he does not understand it; a system which must always appear to weak judgment of sense, not upon common sense, but upon something higher than common sense—upon uncommon faith. Oh that we had that uncommon faith to take God at his word! He cannot and he will not permit the man that trusteth him to he ashamed or confounded. I have thus now, as best I could, set forth before you what I conceive to be four essentials of prevailing prayer—"Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them."

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

BONUS ARTICLE: Does Your Worship Please God?

Monday, November 28, 2005


TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Daily Scripture ReadingMark 11

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:12 - And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Jesus here continues His model prayer with instruction in forgiveness. We are to pray and ask for God's forgiveness when we sin and we are to forgive others. As we will see, God's forgiveness in this verse is based here on one condition: we must forgive others!

The word Jesus uses for debt is the word used in the New Testament that teaches us that sin in any form is a spiritual debt that must be paid! There are two ways our debt will be paid. Either 1) we will pay in hell for eternity, or 2) Jesus paid for us on the cross. Which do you prefer? I'll take number 2 any day! Jesus died on the cross in our place to pay the debt that was owed to God for our sin, which is a debt we could never pay - that is why hell is forever!

Our chief need as human beings is the forgiveness of our sin. If we do not experience God's forgiveness through Christ, then we cannot know God, we cannot overcome sin, we cannot live a good or godly life, we cannot please God, we cannot pray and be heard and answered by God, we cannot know the depths of true peace or love or mercy or gentleness - get the picture?! We also know how important the topic of forgiveness is because in Matthew chapter 6 verses 9 through 15, Jesus mentions forgiveness 6 times in those 8 verses!

When we place our faith in Christ, believing His claim to be the Son of God and trusting that He lived a sinless life and died for us, we do so because the Spirit of God regenerates us! The result of that faith is justification. To be justified is to be declared legally right with God! Are we righteous? No, not on our own, and not completely until we are glorified. We still battle sin. But because of Christ's sacrifice, God has declared that we are free from the guilt of sin! Now because of Christ, God can fellowship with us. You see, His forgiveness covers all our sin. Past, present, and future! But what if we sin after we are saved? Then we must understand that sin intrudes into our relationship with God.

At the point in time in which we are converted, He forgives our sin (singluar as a whole unit)as a Judge, and after salvation He forgives our sins (plural, individual acts of rebellion and transagression) as Father! Now we must not let the relationship be hindered. (see Romans 8:1, 33-34; and 1 John 1:8-9) If we sin, know we are forgiven when we confess our sin. We are to confess to God and to whomever we have sinned against. If we need the accountability to withstand temptation we must also confess to the church. We do not need to confess to any one man (like a priest or minister), though, to be forgiven - God Himself forgives us when we ask!(Luke 5:20-26) To confess means to agree with God. It's that simple - agree with God that we sinned, repenting, and He forgives us immediately! The only middle man needed already paid the price for our sin on the cross so God can instantly clean us up!(1 Tim 2:5-6).

We are also taught here that God expects us to forgive others! We don't have to wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness either - we are to forgive as soon as we are wronged!! And if we don't forgive, Jesus is teaching us that God won't forgive us! Why? Remember how important heart attitude is? Do we really humble ourselves and confess our sin and ask God to forgive us (and really really mean it) if we can't forgive others? NO! We are proud and bitter and must confess that sin as well!!

Why should we forgive others?

In summary, when we pray we are to have forgiven anyone who has wronged us and we are to expect God to forgive us when we confess our sin to Him. I want to close by quoting for you a prayer prayed and recorded by the Puritans - make this your prayer as you read the Scriptures for today.

"Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace. I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross." (The Valley of Vision : A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett)

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from True Prayer – True Power!,a sermon from Mark 11:24 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

THIS VERSE has something to do with the faith of miracles; but I think it hath far more reference to the miracle of faith. We shall say at any rate, this morning, consider it in that light. I believe that this text is the inheritance not only of the apostles, but of all those who walked in the faith of the apostles, believing in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. The advice which Christ gave to the twelve and to his immediate followers, is repeated to us in God's Word this morning. May we have grace constantly to obey it. "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

How many persons there are who complain that they do not enjoy prayer. They do not neglect it, for they dare not; but they would neglect it if they dared, so far are they from finding any pleasure therein. And have we not to lament that sometimes the chariot-wheels are taken off, and we drive right heavily when we are in supplication? We spend the time allotted, but we rise from our knees unrefreshed, like a man who has lain upon his bed but has not slept so as to really recover his strength. When the time comes round again conscience drives us to our knees, but there is not sweet fellowship with God. There is no telling out of our wants to him in the firm conviction that he will supply them. After having gone again through a certain round of customary utterances, we rise from our knees perhaps more troubled in conscience and more distressed in mind than we were before. There are many Christians, I think, who have to complain of this—that they pray not so much because it is a blessed thing to allowed to draw near to God, as because they must pray, because it is their duty, because they feel that if they did not, they would lose one of the sure evidences of being Christians.

Brethren, I do not condemn you; but at the same time, if I may be the means of lifting you up this morning from so low a state of grace into a higher and more healthy atmosphere, my soul shall be exceeding glad. If I can show you a more excellent way; if from this time forth you may come to look at prayer as your element, as one of the most delightful exercises of your life; if you shall come to esteem it more than your necessary food, and to value it as one of heaven's best luxuries, surely I shall have answered a great end, and you shall have to thank God for a great blessing.

Give me than your attention while I beg you, first, to look at the text; secondly to look about you; and the, to look above you.

I. First, LOOK AT THE TEXT. If you look at it carefully, I think you will perceive the essential qualities which are necessary to any great success and prevalence in prayer. According to our Saviour's description of prayer, there should always be some definite objects for which we should plead. He speaks of things—"what things soever ye desire." It seems then that he did not put it that God's children would go to him to pray when they have nothing to pray for. Another essential qualification of pray is earnest desire; for the Master supposes here that when we pray we have desires. Indeed it is not prayer, it may be something like prayer, the outward form or the bare skeleton, but it is not the living thing, the all-prevailing, almighty thing, called prayer, unless there be a fulness and overflowing of desires.

Observe, too, that faith is an essential quality of successful prayer—"believe that ye receive them." Ye cannot pray so as to be heard in heaven and answered to your soul's satisfaction, unless you believe that God really hears and will answer you. One other qualification appears here upon the very surface, namely, that a realizing expectation should always go with a firm faith—"believe that ye receive them." Not merely believe that "ye shall" but "ye do" receive them—count them as if they were received, reckon them as if you had them already, and act as if you had them—act as if you were sure you should have them—believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Let us review these four qualifications, one by one.

To make prayer of any value, there should be definite objects for which to plead. My brethren, we often ramble in our prayers after this, that, and the other, and we get nothing because in each we do not really desire anything. We chatter about many subjects, but the soul does not concentrate itself upon any one object. Do you not sometimes fall on your knees without thinking beforehand what you mean to ask God for? You do so as a matter of habit, without any motion of your heart. You are like a man who should go to a shop and not know what articles he would procure. He may perhaps make a happy purchase when he is there, but certainly it is not a wise plan to adopt. And so the Christian in prayer may afterwards attain to a real desire, and get his end, but how much better would he speed if having prepared his soul by consideration and self-examination, he came to God for an object at which he was about to aim with real request. Did we ask an audience at Her Majesty's court, we should be expected to reply to the question, "What do you wish to see her for?" We should not be expected to go into the presence of Royalty, and then to think of some petition after we came there. Even so with the child of God. He should be able to answer the great question, "What is thy petition and what is thy request, and it shall be done unto thee?" Imagine an archer shooting with his bow, and not knowing where the mark is! Would he be likely to have success? Conceive a ship on a voyage of discovery, putting to sea without the captain having any idea of what he was looking for! Would you expect that he would come back heavily laden either with the discoveries of science, or with the treasures of gold? In everything else you have a plan. You do not go to work without knowing that there is something that you designed to make; how is it that you go to God without knowing what you design to have? If you had some object you would never find prayer to be dull and heavy work; I am persuaded that you would long for it. You would say, "I have something that I want. Oh that I could draw near my God, and ask him for it; I have a need, I want to have it satisfied, and I long till I can get alone, that I may pour out my heart before him, and ask him for this thing after which my soul so earnestly pants" You will find it more helpful to your prayers if you have some objects at which you aim, and I think also if you have some persons whom you will mention. Do not merely plead with God for sinners in general, but always mention some in particular. If you are a Sunday-school teacher, don't simply ask that you class may be blessed, but pray for your children definitely by name before the Most High. And if there be a mercy in your household that you crave, don't go in a round-about way, but be simple and direct in your pleadings with God. When you pray to him, tell him what you want. If you have not money enough, if you are in poverty, if you are in straits, state the case. Use no mock-modesty with God. Come at once to the point; speak honestly with him. He needs no beautiful periphrasis such as men will constantly use when they don't like to say right out what they mean. If you want either a temporal or spiritual mercy, say so. Don't ransack the Bible to find out words in which to express it. Express your wants in the words which naturally suggest themselves to you. They will be the best words, depend upon it. Abraham's words were the best for Abraham, and yours will be the best for you. You need not study all the texts in Scripture, to pray just as Jacob and Elias did, using their expressions. If you do you will not imitate them. You may imitate them literally and servilely, but you lack the soul that suggested and animated their words. Pray in your own words. Speak plainly to God; ask at once for what you want. Name persons, name things, and make a straight aim at the object of your supplications, and I am sure you will soon find that the weariness and dullness of which you often complain in your intercessions, will no more fall upon you; or at least not so habitually as it has heretofore done.

"But," saith one, "I do not feel that I have any special objects for which to pray." Ah! My dear brother, I know not who you are, or where you live, to be without special objects for prayer, for I find that every day brings neither its need or its trouble, and that I have every day something to tell to my God. But if we had not a trouble, my dear brethren, if we had attained to such a height in grace that we had nothing to ask for, do we love Christ so much that we have no need to pray that we may love him more? Have we so much faith that we have ceased to cry, "Lord increase it?" You will always, I am sure, by little self-examination, soon discover that there is some legitimate object for which you may knock at Mercy's door and cry, "Give me, Lord, the desire of my heart." And if you have not any desire, you have but to ask the first tried Christian you meet, and he will tell you of one. "Oh," he will reply to you, "If you have nothing to ask for yourself, pray for me. Ask that a sick wife may be recovered. Pray that the Lord will lift up the light of his countenance upon a desponding heart; ask that the Lord would send help to some minister who has been labouring in vain, and spending his strength for nought." When you have done for yourself, plead for others; and if you cannot meet with one who can suggest a theme, look on this huge, Sodom, this city like another Gomorrah lying before you; carry it constantly in your prayers before God and cry, "Oh that London may live before thee, that its sin may be stayed, that its righteousness may be exalted, that the God of the earth may get unto himself much people out of this city."

Equally necessary is it with the definite object for prayer that there should be an earnest desire for its attainment. "Cold prayers," says an old divine, "ask for a denial." When we ask the Lord coolly, and fervently, we do as it were, stop his hand, and restrain him from giving us the very blessing we pretend that we are seeking. When you have your object in your eye, your soul must become so possessed with the value of that object, with your own excessive need for it, with the danger which you will be in unless that object should be granted, that you will be compelled to plead for it as a man pleadeth for his life. There was a beautiful illustration of true prayer addressed to man in the conduct of two noble ladies, whose husbands were condemned to die and were about to be executed, when they came before. king George and supplicated for their pardon. The king rudely and cruelly repulsed them. George the first! it was like his very nature. And when they pleaded yet again, and again, and again, they could not be gotten to rise from their knees; they had actually to be dragged out of court, for they would not retire until the king had smiled upon them, and told them that their husbands should live. Alas! they failed, but they were noble women for their perseverance in thus pleading for their husbands' lives. That is the way for us to pray to God. We must have such a desire for the thing we want, that we will not rise until we have it—but in submission to his divine will, nevertheless. Feeling that the thing we ask for cannot be wrong, and that he himself hath promised it, we have resolved it must be given, and if not given, we will plead the promise, again, and again, till heaven's gates shall shake before our pleas shall cease. No wonder that God has not blessed us much of late, because we are not fervent in prayer as we should be. Oh, those cold-hearted prayers that die upon the lips—those frozen supplications; they do not move men's hearts, how should they move God's heart? they do not come from our own souls, they do not well up from the deep secret springs of our inmost heart, and therefore they cannot rise up to him who only hears the cry of the soul, before whom hypocrisy can weave no veil, or formality practice any disguise. We must be earnest, otherwise we have no right to hope that the Lord will hear our prayer.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Prayer and Forgiveness

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Introduction for the Week

Giving, Praying, Fasting
When Pleasing God is Our Priority
Matthew 6:1-21

Part Three – Prayer and Forgiveness
Matt. 6:12-15

This week we are going to finish our look at the model prayer given by Jesus to His disciples. After we close out that study, hopefully with lots of good application of the lessons learned, we will deal with the next two verses in the Sermon on the Mount. These two find Jesus following up on His model prayer with a word about forgiveness. How important is forgiveness to our prayer life? How important is it to our Christian life in general?

The answer is that forgiveness is NECESSARY for growth in our walk with God, both in our prayer life and in our personal life! In fact, Jesus says that if we do not forgive others then the Father will not forgive us. We will see that forgiveness is a fruit produced by a repentant, humble, and thankful heart. Jesus thinks it important enough that He tells us that if we come to offer a gift to God (worship – which includes prayer) and there remember that we have offended a brother, we are to go be reconciled and make it right before we come before God. We are also told that if we have been sinned against by a fellow believer or been offended by them in any way we are to go to them privately and make things right! (Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 18:15).

This process of seeking and granting forgiveness is referred to in the church as “church discipline.” Actually, the church only becomes involved if two believers cannot be reconciled without their help (Matthew 18:15-20). The act of discipline between believers is to be an everyday relational reality – each believer always striving to make sure that things are right with those around him – to be free of offenses and offending!! That is what it means to esteem others as better than yourself! (Phil. 2:3-4).

As we learn several more facets of worship and requirements for worship this week, I am including a devotional written from Matthew 6:12-15 that deals with our model for praying as a means of fellowship and communion with God and the all important topic of forgiveness. I have given a format for family worship which includes a verse for the day, study of the Puritan Catechism, time in the Word, devotional thoughts, daily readings from two sermons by Charles Spurgeon titled True Prayer – True Power! from Mark 11:24, and Forgiveness Made Easy from Ephesians 4:32; recommended Scriptures for further study and meditation, and recommended songs to sing to God’s glory.

(The hymns are taken from our church hymnal, "The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration". Note for Church Members: If you do not have this hymnal at home, you are encouraged to take one home from church for use during the week. These hymns appear in most hymnals available today and the words are also listed in the links provided for musical accompaniment at the Cyber Hymnal.)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Phillip's Phunnies - Puns, Jokes, and Word Play

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Timely Jokes, Puns, and Word Play (gathered from the internet):

You Don't Say

The world's full of apathy, but I don't care.

I'm still not sure if I understand ambiguity.

I used to think I was indecisive ... but now I am just not sure.

Don't be redundant by repeating yourself. Twice.

Job Related

Psychology Conference Topic:
"Everything you always wanted to know about phobias but we afraid to ask."

For the theologians:
The difference between theory and practice in practice is greater than the difference between theory and practice in theory.

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

What first appears to be a sloppy or meaningless use of words may well be a completely correct use of words to express sloppy or meaningless thinking.


You don't have to be a farmer to be outstanding in your field.

If a parsley farmer is sued, could they garnish his wages?

Two Cows:

"Daisy, have you heard?"
"Moo. Heard what Buttercup?"
"There's going to be a Farmers Market at the town hall next week."
"That's good, let's sell our farmer and see if we can get a better one."

Farmer Joe Feels Fine:

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company responsible for the accident to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" asked the lawyer.

Farmer Joe responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the..." "I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?"

Farmer Joe said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..." The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was fine. Now, several weeks after the accident, he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say."

Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ol' Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident, a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning, so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?"

A Poem - Ups and Downs

We chop down trees but chop up wood;
We draw down wrath, we draw up wills,
We run down foes, we run up bills;
We eat food up, we down a drink,
Which is a little strange, I think.
We turn down offers, turn up noses--
Just one last thought and then this closes:
We should remember, we poor clowns,
That life is full of ups and downs.

A Poem - Mary's Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb
His fleece was black as soot
And everywhere that Mary went
His sooty foot he put


What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
Pumpkin pi.

What are unhappy cranberries called?

What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children?
If your father could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Why can't you take a turkey to church?
Because they use fowl language.

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all.

How can you make a turkey float?
You need 2 scoops of ice cream, some root beer, and a turkey.

Why didn't the turkey eat dessert?
He was stuffed for dinner.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Daily Bread

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day – Matthew 6:11
Give us this day our daily bread.

Daily Scripture ReadingJohn 6

Puritan Catechism
Question #7: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:11 - This part of the prayer may seem foreign to us today in the United States. Why would we need God to supply us daily with bread to eat when we can go down to the corner market and buy more food than we can eat in a week? But before we make any assumptions, let's stop and take a look at what Jesus is saying. After all, even though God's Word was written and preached at a certain time in history, we must remember that His Word is TIMELESS! It reflects for us the character of God, and in fact is a revelation of HImself to us. The Living Word and the written Word have this in common - they are the same yesterday, today, and forever! You see, God's Word really does apply to us and our lives right now, today! (And if your pastor is not teaching God's Word and applying to your daily life, then he is failing at his job. He must apply God's Truth to your life on a daily basis!!)

So what does this verse tell us about praying? Jesus is, after all, teaching us how God expects us to pray. And as Jesus continues with the model prayer, He asks for God to supply a daily need for bread in the life of the one who prays. This teaches us that we are to look to God for our daily provision. Whether it be spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical, it is God who supplies our every need. In the day Jesus preached this, most of the people there that day would have to stop by the market place to find something to cook and eat every single day! Bread was a real daily necessity.

Now, though, we must look beyond the need for food. Bread in this verse for us represents the totality of our physical needs. There are things that we need every day. We do need food, clothing, health, a job, family, friends, etc. There are things that we need every day whether we admit it or not. And ALL of these things are provided by God. We might foolishly depend on ourselves, but without God's gracious provision, no matter how hard we worked at it we would have nothing!

A matter of truth is established with this verse. God is our Provider. James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights..." Get that! EVERY GIFT is from God and everything we have is a gift! We, contrary to the American Dream, don't own anything. It is all His and He gives it to us to use as we have need. Jesus is teaching a perspective to have when we pray and His words simply point to the truth. It is all HIS!

To say, "Give" when addressing God notates the need and dependence we have on Him. We must learn that the first part of humility is admitting that we have needs. The second is that only God can meet them! We are dependent. We need God. We couldn't take another breath without Him! And this single sentence in the model prayer sums up that total dependence on God. He must give us DAILY what we need to continue living to His glory -- and if He doesn't give it we either don't need it or He will be taking us home to be with Him! If we really need it, on a daily basis He gives it!

Sadly, the opposite of this verse can be seen in our lives. We are taught in church at an early age that if we have an emergency or a situation that we get ourselves into and can't get out of, then we can always call out to God and He will come to the rescue like a superhero! To use a word picture, imagine that our life is signified by a car driving down a highway. As we drive along the highway of life suddenly a situation arises, a supposedly unfortunate circumstance - we have a blow out. A flat tire forces us off the road for a while. To fix the flat we hurry to our trunk, open it up, and pull out the spare tire! We put the spare tire on and drive to a service station where they fix the flat - which is good because the spare is only a doughnut spare and can't be used except in an emergency, besides, it is only good to drive slowly and carefully - we can't do everything we want to do when the spare is out! The flat is fixed or replaced and in no time at all the spare is neatly tucked away and we are off back down the road! Isn't this how we treat God? Truly, we act as though He is nothing more than a SPARE TIRE. He is the small, mostly useless spare tire that we pull out in case of an emergency when there is no other way to get where we want to go. And as soon as the flat or circumstance is fixed and we don't need Him anymore back He goes into the trunk, forgotten until the next emergency!

Don't think about using God like that! He is the giver of life and the provider of every single day by day need that we have. To see Him any other way is to cheapen Him and His grace! God is not the spare tire!! In fact He is the boss. He makes the road we drive. He lays the plans and paths for our lives. He is so far above our simple lives that it really is amazing grace that He takes the time to care about us daily!

Today - remember, we are dependent on Him and Him alone for everything we might need. And He promises that we can trust Him, He never changes, never lies, and will never leave or forsake us. He even promises that every single circumstance we encounter is another opportunity to see His glory and our good as He cares for us!

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from A Discourse on Delight in Prayer by Stephen Charnock.

4. Uses.

A. Of information.

1. There is a great pleasure in the ways of God, if rightly understood. Prayer, which is a duty wherein we express our wants, is delightful. There is more sweetness in a Christian's asking, than in a wicked man's enjoying blessings.

2. What delight will there be in heaven! If there be such sweetness in desire, what will there be in a full fruition! If there is joy in seeking, what is there then in finding! Duty hath its sweets, its thousands; but glory its ten thousands. If the pleasure of the seed-time be so great, what will the pleasure of the harvest be!

3. The miserable condition of those who can delight in any thing but prayer. It is an aggravation of our enmity to God, when we can sin cheerfully and pray dully: when duty is more loathsome than iniquity.

B. Of examination. We pray; but how are our hearts? If it be for what concerns our momentary being, is not our running like the running of Ahimaaz? But when for spiritual things, do not our hearts sink within us, like Nabal's? Let us, therefore, observe our hearts closely; allow them not to give us the slip in our examination of them; resolve not to take the first answer, but search to the bottom.

1. Whether we delight at all in prayer,

2. How do we prize the opportunities of duty? There is an opportunity of an earthly, and an opportunity of a heavenly gain; consider which our hearts more readily close with. Can we with much pleasure follow a vain world, and heartlessly welcome an opportunity of duty, delight more with Judas in bags, than in Christ's company? This is sad! But are praying opportunities our festival times? Do we go to the house of God with the voice of joy and praise?

3. Whether we seek excuses to avoid a present duty, when conscience and opportunity urge and invite us to it? Are our souls more skillful in delays than in performances? Are there no excuses when sin calls us, and studied put-offs when God invites us? Like the sluggard, folding our arms, yet a little while longer? Or do our hearts rise and beat quick against frivolous excuses that step in to hinder us from prayer?

4. How are our hearts affected in prayer? Are we more ready to pray ourselves asleep, than into a vigorous frame? Do we enter into it with some life, and find our hearts quickly tire and fatigue us? Are we more awake when we are up, than we were all the time upon our knees? Are our hearts in prayer like withered sapless things, and very quick afterwards if any worldly business invite us? Are we like logs and blocks in prayer, and like a roe upon the mountains in earthly concerns? Surely what our pulse beats quickest to, is the object most delighted in.

5. What time is it we choose for prayer? Is it not our drowsiest and laziest time, when our nods are as many, or more than our petitions; as though the dullest time, and the deadest state of mind were most suitable to a rising God? Do we come with our hearts full of the world, to pray for heaven? Or do we pick out the most lively seasons? Luther chose those hours for prayer and meditation wherein he found himself most lively for study.

6. Do we not often wish a duty over? As those in the prophet that were glad when the Sabbath was over, that they might run to their buying and selling? Or, are we of Peter's temper, and express Peter's language? It is good to be here with Christ on the mount.

7. Do we prepare ourselves by delightful and enlivening considerations? Do we think of the precept of God, which should spur us, and of the promise of God which should allure us? Do we rub our souls to heat them, Do we blow them to kindle them into a flame? Do we send up quick prayers for a quickening spirit? If thoughts of God be a burden, requests to him will not be a pleasure. If we have a coldness in our thoughts of God and duty, we can have no warmth in our desire, no delight in our petitions.

8. Do we content ourselves with dull motions, or do we give check to them? Can we, though our hearts be never so lazy, stroke ourselves at the end, and call ourselves good and faithful servants? Do we take our souls to task afterwards, and examine why they are so lazy, why so heavy? Do we inquire into the causes of our deadness? A gracious soul is more troubled at its dullness in prayer, than a natural conscience is at the omission of prayer. He will complain of his sluggishness and mend his pace.

9. If we find we have a delight, let us examine whether it be a delight of the right kind.

a. Do we delight in it because of the gift, we have ourselves, or the gift of others we join with? A man may rejoice in hearing the word, not because of the holiness and spirituality of the matter, but because of the goodness of the dress, and the elegancy of the expression. Ezek. 33:32; The prophet was unto them as a lovely song; as one that kind a pleasant voice. He may, upon the same ground, delight in prayer. But this is a temper not kindled by the true fire of the sanctuary. Or, do we delight in it, not when our tongues are most quick, but our hearts most warm; not because we have the best words, but the most spiritualized affections? We may have angels' gifts in prayer, without an angel's spirit.

b. Is there a delight in all parts of a duty? Not only in asking temporal blessings, or some spiritual, as pardoning mercy, but in begging for refining grace? Are we earnest only when we have bosom quarrels and conscience-convulsions, but tire when we come to pray for sanctifying mercy? The cause of this is a sense of discomfort with the trouble and danger, not with the sin and cause.

c. Doth our delight in prayer and spiritual things outdo our delight in outward things? The Psalmist's joy in God was more than his delight in the harvest of vintage, Psalm 4:7. Are we like ravens that delight to hover in the air sometimes, but our greatest delight is to feed upon carrion? Though we have, and may have a sensible delight in worldly things, yet is it as solid and rational as that we have in duty?

d. Is our delight in prayer a humble delight? Is it a rejoicing with humbling? "Serve the Lord with gladness, and rejoice before him with trembling," Psalm 2:11. If our service be right, it will be cheerful, and if truly cheerful, it will be humble.

e. Is our delight in prayer accompanied with a delight in waiting? Do we, like merchants, not only delight in the first launching of a ship, or the setting it out of the haven with a full freight; but also in expectations of a rich return of spiritual mercies? Do we delight to pray, though God for the present does not delight to give, and wait, like David, with an owning God's wisdom in delaying? Or do we shoot them only as arrows at random, and never look after them where they strike, or where to find them?

f. Is our delight in praising God when mercy comes, answerable to the delight in praying when a wanted mercy was begged? The ten lepers desired mercy with an equal cheerfulness, in hopes of having their leprosy cured; but only the one who returned expressed genuine delight. As he prayed with a loud voice, so he praised with a loud voice, Luke 17:13, 15. And Christ tells him, his faith had made him whole. As he had an answer in the way of grace, so he had before a gracious delight in his asking; the others had a natural delight, and so a return in the way of common providence.

C. Of exhortation. Let us delight in prayer. God loves a cheerful giver in alms, and a cheerful petitioner in prayer. God would have his children free with him. He takes special notice of a spiritual frame, "who hath engaged his heart?" Jer. 30:21. The more delight we have in God, the more delight he will have in us. He takes no pleasure in a lumpish service. It is an uncomely sight to see a joyful sinner and a dumpish petitioner. Why should we not exercise as much joy in holy duties, as formerly we did in sinful practices? How delightfully will men sit at their games, and spend their days in gluttony and luxury? And shall not a Christian find much more delight in applying himself to God? We should delight that we can, and have hearts to ask such gifts, that thousands in the world never dream of begging. To be dull, is a discontentedness with our own petitions. Delight in prayer is the way to gain assurance. To seek God, and treat him as our chiefest good, endears the soul to him. Delighting in accesses to him, will enflame our love. And there is no greater sign of an interest in him than a powerful estimation of him. God casts off none that affectionately clasp about his throne.

To this purpose,

1. Pray for quickening grace. How often do we find David upon his knees for it? God only gives this grace, and God only stirs this grace.

2. Meditate on the promises you intend to plead. Unbelief is the great root of all dumpishness. It was by the belief of the word we had life at first, and by an exercise of that belief we gain liveliness. What maintains our love will maintain our delight; the amiableness of God, and the excellency of the promises, are the incentives and fuel both of the one and of the other. Think that they are eternal things you are to pray for and that you have as much invitation to beg them, and as good a promise to attain them, as David, Paul, or any other ever had. How would this awaken our drowsy souls, and elevate our heavy hearts, and open the lazy eye-lids to look up! And whatever meditation we find begin to kindle our souls, let us follow it on, that the spark may not go out.

3. Choose the time when your hearts are most revived. Observe when God sends an invitation, and hoist up the sails when the wind begins to blow. There is no Christian but hath one time or an another a greater activeness of spirit. Choose none of those seasons which may quench the heat, and dull the sprightliness of your affection. Resolve beforehand this, to delight yourselves in the Lord, and thereby you shall gain the desire of your hearts.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Your Kingdom and Will

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day - Matthew 6:10
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Daily Scripture ReadingMatthew 13

Puritan Catechism
Question #7: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
As Jesus continues to give us the basic elements of prayer, He now adds to the address the first request. He has taught us to address our prayers to God our Father with the realization of Who He is. He is God, Holy and awesome. And He wants to commune with us!

Jesus' first request of the Father is that His kingdom come! What does He mean by that statement? Jesus is asking, as we should, for the kingdom of God (the work of God) to come to completion! He is asking for the Day of the Lord! The day that the redemptive plan of God is complete. The Day that every enemy is subdued. At that Day, He will have called the righteous to blessing and condemned the wicked to judgment. For His kingdom to come is for His redemptive program to come to completion.

This verse could be translated, "Let Your kingdom come now!" It is a cry for the instantaneous climax of all History! Jesus wants the kingdom now! We must express that desire, too. It is much like the prayer offered by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:22, "O, Lord, Come!" Interestingly, His coming will mean blessing and reward for the righteous and a curse and the second death in hell for the unrighteous. It will be a Day of life and death, of blessing and cursing, of heaven and hell! And yet our heart cry must be, "O Lord Come!"

The original language for the phrase translated "O, Lord, Come" or "Even so, come" is the word maranatha. It was a one word prayer in the Church of Acts! In 1 Cor. 16:22, the word maranatha directly follows the word anathema. Remember from Galatians, anathema means accursed! In that verse Paul writes "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!" In Greek he wrote "anathema, maranatha!" It almost sounds like a play on words doesn't it? When He comes some will rejoice; others will be thrown into everlasting torment!

When we seek His kingdom, we are not seeking to influence government or society, we are seeking to bring people face to face with Jesus in the hopes that today will be the Day of fulfillment of God's eternal plan. In another place Jesus says to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field because the fields were white unto harvest.(Matthew 9:37) You have probably heard that preached as souls ready to be saved. NO! In the context Jesus is saying that the souls in the harvest are about to be collected and thrown into the fire!! There is not much time before judgment, so preach the gospel as often as we can! Who knows when time might be up?

On one hand we are to pray expecting the fulfillment of God's plan NOW! On the other hand we are to work as never before to spread the gospel message so that everyone that we are able to give the truth to might hear the truth about God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus continues to teach us how to pray. Stop and think about that for a moment. Jesus Himself is teaching us how to pray! For all the books in Christian bookstores about prayer (as good as some of them are), if we really want to know how to pray we must go to the source! We must go to the One who can tell us exactly how to please God by communing with Him! Jesus is teaching us about God. About His Name, His Holiness, His Kingdom, and now about His will!

We are told to pray that His will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven! I want to start by looking at His will, then we will look at the difference between earth and heaven as it pertains to His will.

What is God's will? How can we find it? Will God show us His will or do we have to discover it on our own? If we really want to know what His will is then we must search the Scripture. It will tell us all about His will!

This list is not comprehensive, but it will give us a place to start in talking about God's will for our lives.

It is God's will :

1. That the elect be saved - Romans 6:23; 8:29-30
2. That we be sanctified and holy - 1 Thess. 4:3, 1 Peter 1:13-21
3. That we be obedient doers of the Word, not just hearers - James 1:22
4. That we love one another - 1 John 3:11
5. That we deny self - Luke 9:23
6. That we worship Him - Rev. 19:10
7. That we keep His commands - 1 John 5:3
8. That we love Him - Matt. 22:37-38
9. That we love others - Matt. 22:39
10. That we walk daily with Him - Galatians 5:16

Indeed, if we are walking in the Spirit, encouraging others, loving God and our neighbors, and we aren't violating Scripture, we can do whatever we want. Remember, when we delight in Him He gives us the desires (not the object or thing we desire, but the very desire itself) of our hearts!!

Now let us look at the difference between heaven and earth when it comes to His will. Of course God is sovereign, so His will is ultimately accomplished every day. But what affects that will (from our perspective, not His) in our day to day life? We fight our flesh, our sin nature, our temptations and lust. We combat our self-will and our pride. It's WAR! There is quite a bit here that can interefere with our desires and our obedience to the Word of God. And remember, as Redeemed individuals though we are no longer dead and bound in sin, we can freely choose to sin.

To pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is to truly seek after and desire total surrender to Him and His Word in our daily lives! We are told to pray in a way that reveals the desire we have to put off this flesh and finally leave this corruptible for the incorruptible. To lay sin aside once for all! Wouldn't that be nice? It will only be possible when God has glorified this sinful body and made us just like Jesus. Then we will be completely and forever free from sin!

It is to be our hope, our aim, to see His will done in our lives as easily here as it will be one day there in heaven. That is what it means to pray that His will be done, right here on earth in my life today, just like it is done in heaven. Nothing can stand in God's way! Nothing can stop or overpower Him. He is Lord! But are we faithful and obedient slaves??

"Your kingdom come." O Lord Come! MARANATHA!

“Your will be done.” Amen.

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from A Discourse on Delight in Prayer by Stephen Charnock.

2. Whence this delight springs.

A. From the Spirit of God. Not a spark of fire upon our own hearth is able to kindle this spiritual delight; it is the Holy Ghost that breathes such a heavenly heat into our affections. The Spirit is the fire that kindles the soul, the spring that moves the watch, the wind that drives the ship. The swiftest ship with spread sails will be but sluggish in its motion, unless the wind fills its sails; without this Spirit we are but in a weak and sickly condition, our breath but short, a heavy and troublesome asthma is upon us. "When I cried unto thee, thou didst strengthen me with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3. As prayer is the work of the Spirit in the heart, so does delight in prayer owe itself to the same author. God will make them joyful in his house of prayer, Isa. 56:7.

B. From grace. The Spirit kindles, but gives us the oil of grace to make the lamp burn clear. There must not only be wind to drive, but sails to catch it; a prayer without grace is a prayer without wings. There must be grace to begin it. A dead man cannot rejoice in his land, money, or food; be cannot act, and therefore cannot be cheerful in action. Cheerfulness supposes life; dead men cannot perform a duty, "The dead praise not the Lord," (Psalm 115:17), nor dead souls a cheerful duty. There must not only be grace infused, but grace actuated. No man in a sleep or swoon can rejoice. There must not only be a living principle, but a lively operation. If the sap lurk only in the root, the branches can bring forth no fruit: our best prayers without the sap of grace diffusing itself, will be but as withered branches. Grace actuated puts heat into performances, without which they are but benumbed and frozen, (Reynolds). Just as a rusty key will not unlock a door, rusty grace will not enlarge the heart. There must be grace to maintain it. There is not only need of fire to kindle the lamp, but of oil to preserve the flame. Natural men may have their affections kindled in a way of common working, but they will presently faint and die, as the flame of cotton will dim and vanish, if there be no oil to nourish it. There is a temporary joy in hearing the word; and if in one duty, why not in another? Why not in prayer? Like a fire of thorns that makes a great blaze but a short stay, Mat. 13:20.

C. From a good conscience. "A good heart is a continual feast," Prov. 15:15 He that hath a good conscience must needs be cheerful in his religious and civil duties. Guilt will come trembling, and with a sad countenance, into the presence of God's majesty. A guilty child cannot with cheerfulness come into a displeased father's presence. A soul smoked with hell, cannot with delight approach to he heaven. Guilty souls, in regard of the injury they have done to God, will be afraid to come; and in regard of the soot of sin wherewith they are defiled, and the blackness they have contracted, they will be ashamed to come. They know that by their sins they should provoke his anger, not allure his love. A soul under conscience of sin cannot up to God, Psalm 40:12. Nor will God with favor look down upon it, Psalm 59:8. It must be a pure heart that must see him with pleasure, Matt. 5:8. And pure hands must be lifted up to him, 1 Tim. 2:8. Jonah was asleep after his sin, and was outdone in readiness to pray even by idolaters. The mariners jog him, but could not get him, that we read of, to call upon that God whom he had offended, Jonah chap. 1. Where there is corruption, the sparks of sin will kindle that tinder, and weaken a spiritual delight. A perfect heart and a willing mind are put together, 1 Chron. 29:9. There cannot be willingness without sincerity, nor sincerity without willingness.

D. From a holy and frequent familiarity with God. Where there is a great familiarity there is a great delight; delight in one another's company, and delight in one another's converse; strangeness contracts, and familiarity enlarges the soul. There is more swiftness in going to a God with whom we are acquainted, than to a God to whom we are strangers. This encourages the soul to go to God; I go to a God whose face I have seen, whose goodness I have tasted, with whom I have often met in prayer. Frequent familiarity makes us more understanding of the excellency of another; an excellency understood will be beloved, and being beloved, will be delighted in.

E. From hopes of receiving. There is a delight which arises from hopes of enjoying. "Rejoicing in hope," Rom. 12:12. There cannot be a pleasant motion where there is a paralysis of doubts. How full of delight must that soul be that can plead a promise, and carry God's hand and seal to heaven, and show him his own bond; when it can be pleaded not only as a favor to engage his mercy, but in some sense a debt to engage his truth and righteousness! Christ in his prayer, which was his swan-like song, (John 17) pleads the terms of the covenant between his Father and himself; "I have glorified thee on earth, glorify me with that glory I had with thee before the world was." This is the case of a delightful approach, when we carry a covenant of grace with us for ourselves, and a promise of security and perpetuity for the church. Upon this account we have more cause of a pleasant motion to God than the ancient believers had. Fear motivated them under the law; love motivates us under the gospel. He cannot but delight in prayer that hath arguments Of God's own framing to plead with God, who cannot deny his own arguments and reasonings. Little comfort can be sucked from a perhaps. But when we come to seek covenant-mercies, God's faithfulness to his covenant puts the mercy past a perhaps. We come to a God sitting upon a throne of grace, upon Mount Sion, not on Mount Sinai; to a God that desires our presence, more than we desire his assistance.

F. From a sense of former mercies. If manna be rained down, it does not only take off our thoughts from Egyptian garlic, but quickens our desires for a second shower. A sense of God's majesty will make us lose our showy self-satisfaction; and a sense of God's love will make us lose our dumpishness. We may as well come again with a merry heart, when God accepts our prayers, as go away and eat our bread with joy when God accepts our works, Eccles. 9:7. The doves will readily fly to the windows where they have formerly found shelter; and the beggar to the door where he hath often received alms. "Because he hath inclined his ear to hear me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live," Psalm 116:2. I have found refuge with God before; I have found my wants supplied, my soul raised, my temptations checked, my doubts answered, and my prayers accepted, therefore I will repeat my appeals with cheerfulness.

I might also add other causes; as a love to God, a heavenliness of spirit, a consideration of Christ's intercession, a deep humiliation. The more unpleasant sin is to our relish, the more delightful will God be, and the more cheerful our souls in addresses to him. The more unpleasant sin is to us, the more spiritual our souls are; and the more spiritual our souls, the more spiritual our affections; the more stony, the more lumpish and unable to move; the more contrite, the more supple. Another cause is a spiritual taste: a report of a thing may give some pleasure, but a taste greater.

3. Reasons. Without cheerful seeking we cannot have a gracious answer.

A. God will not give an answer to those prayers that dishonor him. A flat and dumpish attitude is not for his honor. The heathens themselves thought their gods should not be put off with a sacrifice dragged to the altar. We do not read of lead, that lumpish earthly metal, employed about the tabernacle or temple, but the purer and most glittering sorts of metals. God will have the most excellent service, because he is the most excellent being. He will have the most delightful service, because he bestows the most delightful and excellent gifts. All sacrifices were to be offered up with fire, which is the quickest and most active element. It is a dishonor to so great, so glorious a majesty, to put him off with such low and dead-hearted services. Those petitions cannot expect an answer, which are offered in a manner injurious to the person we address them to. It is not for the credit of our great Master to have his servants dejected in his work: As though His service were an uncomfortable thing; as though God were a wilderness, and the world a paradise.

B. Dull and lumpish prayer does not reach him, and therefore cannot expect an answer. Such desires are as arrows that sink down at our feet; there is no force to carry them to heaven: The heart is an unbent bow that hath no strength. When God will hear, he makes first a prepared heart, Psalm 10:17. He first strings the instrument, and then receives the sound. An enlarged heart only runs, Psalm 119:32. A contracted heart moves slowly, and often faints in the journey.

C. Lumpishness speaks an unwillingness that God should hear us. It speaks a kind of a fear that God should grant our petitions. He that puts up a petition to a prince coldly and dully, gives him good reason to think that he does not care for an answer. That husbandman hath no great mind to harvest, that is lazy in tilling his ground and sowing his seed. How can we think God should delight to read over our petitions, when we take so little delight in presenting them? God gives not mercy to an unwilling person. The first thing God does, is to make his people willing. Dull spirits seek God as if they did not care for finding him: such tempers either account not God real, or their petitions unnecessary.

D. Without delight we are not fit to receive a mercy. Delight in a mercy wanted, makes room for desire; and large desires make room for mercy. If no delight in begging, there will be no delight in enjoying. If there be no cheerfulness to quicken our prayers when we need a blessing, there will be little joy to quicken our praise when we receive a blessing. A weak, sickly stomach, is not fit to be seated at a plentiful table. Where there is a dull asking supply, there is none, or a very dull sense of wants. Now, God will not send His mercies but to a soul that will welcome them. The deeper the sense of our wants, the higher the estimation of our supplies. A cheerful soul is fit to receive the least, and fit to receive the greatest mercy. He will more prize a little mercy, than a dull petitioner shall prize a greater, because he hath a sense of his wants. If Zaccheus had not a great joy at the news of Christ's coming by his door, he would not have so readily entertained and welcomed him.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship