Did a runaway slave inspire the bestselling novel of the 19th century? And did the unprecedented success of that novel ignite flames of public opinion that led to the Civil War? Find out as we continue our story of the extraordinary life of
“Josiah Henson: The Real Uncle Tom.”
When the snow flies in Michigan, I like to get my grandkids, grab our plastic sleds, and go slipping and sliding down our backyard. We zoom down the hill for about 10 seconds, and then climb back up for more.
When I travel to Alaska with a bunch of teenagers, we also go sledding. We are hauled by bus nearly to the top of a mountain. We jump on our sleds and, for the next 10 to 20 minutes (depending on levels of bravery), we slide at breakneck speeds down the mountain, holding on for dear life.
Ten seconds in my backyard or 10 minutes down an Alaskan mountain. They’re both called sledding, but there is clearly a difference.
I’ve been thinking about this in regard to prayer. Sometimes we do the “10 seconds in the backyard” kind of praying—a quick, spur-of-the-moment prayer or a short thanks before eating. At other times, we’re drawn to “down the mountain” praying—extended, intense times that require concentration and passion in our relationship with Him. Both have their place and are vital to our lives.
Jesus prayed often, and sometimes for a long time (Luke 6:12; Mark 14:32-42). Either way, let us bring the desires of our heart to the God of the backyards and the mountains of our lives. By Dave Branon
Prayer was the essence of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. He often withdrew to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 9:18). Sometimes He spent long hours communicating with His Father (Luke 6:12; John 17) and other times He prayed short, quick prayers (Matt. 14:19; Luke 23:34,46; John 12:27).
Lord, please challenge us to pray constantly—both in
short sessions and long. As we face the valleys, hills,
and mountains of our lives, may we lift our hearts
and minds to You in constant communication.
The heart of prayer is prayer from the heart.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
It would seem that in a world of such plenty, there should be great contentment. Yet even in the most prosperous countries, the opposite is true in most cases. Why are so many people unhappy, anxious, unsettled, and discontent?
First, it’s because most of the world does not know Jesus Christ personally. Second, many people, even in privileged circumstances, are living on “leftovers”— emotions and attitudes left over from the way they were raised.
For instance, those who as children felt they could never measure up to expectations are likely to experience feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and guilt as adults; they may also deal with resentment and hostility. And grownups who walk away from responsibilities or commitments when they don’t get their way are frequently the ones whose parents caved in to their every desire. This is why it’s so detrimental to respond to children’s temper tantrums by giving in to their demands.
The adult pitfall of low self-esteem often is created by a lack of childhood acceptance and affirmation. It’s important for children to learn that they are of tremendous value to Christ—their sense of security should come, not from possessions, but from a personal relationship with Him. Otherwise, they may grow into materialistic adults.
The behaviors that bind us start early. By the same token, positive mindsets can also be ingrained at a young age. Let’s take this as a strong reminder to regard children as the gifts they truly are.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” (Philippians 1:3-4)
One would suspect from his frequent use of the phrase “you all” that the apostle Paul had come from Alabama or Georgia! But, in his writings, “you all” is not a southern idiom but a warm expression of Christian fellowship. His heart was burdened, not just for a few close friends and loved ones (as in most of our own prayers) but for “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
He assured the Philippian church that he was, in every one of his prayers, praying for “you all.” He told them of his confidence in their continued growth in Christ, that it was altogether fitting for him to believe this of “you all,” thankful that “in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace” (Philippians 1:7).
He wrote in a similar vein to the Thessalonians at the start of his (chronologically) first epistle: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Paul had a long prayer list.
To the Roman Christians he wrote: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). Then he wrote his benediction: “Now the God of peace be with you all” (Romans 15:33). He concluded his message to the Christians at Corinth: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Peter and John used the same expression in their writings, for they also were large of heart and concern. Finally, these are the very last words of the Bible: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). HMM
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. —Hebrews 9:27
It was the belief in the accountability of man to his maker that made America a great nation. Among those earlier leaders was Daniel Webster whose blazing eyes and fiery oratory often held the Senate spellbound. In those days the Congress was composed of strong, noble statesmen who carried the weight of the nation in their hearts and minds.
Someone asked: “Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought that has ever entered your mind?”
“The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my accountability to my Maker,” he replied.
Men like that cannot be corrupted and bought. They do not have to worry if someone listens to their telephone calls. What they are in character and in deportment results from their belief that they will finally be accountable to God.
Lord, help me to live my life today in such a way that, should You call me tonight to stand before You and give account, I would have nothing of which I would need to be ashamed. Amen.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29
A page in church history reveals that the godly Macarius of Optino was once told that his spiritual counsel had been helpful.
“This cannot be,” Macarius wrote in reply. “Only the mistakes are mine. All good advice is the advice of the Spirit of God; His advice that I happen to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it.”
There is an excellent lesson here which we must not allow to go unregarded. It is the sweet humility of the man of God who was enabled to say, “Only the mistakes are mine.”
He was fully convinced that his own efforts could result only in mistakes and that any good that came of his advice must be the work of the Holy Spirit operating within him.
Apparently this was more than a sudden impulse of self-depreciation, which the proudest of men may at times feel; it was rather a settled conviction that gave set and direction to his entire life. His long and humble ministry which brought spiritual aid to many reveals this clearly enough.
It is our belief that the evangelical movement will continue to drift farther and farther from the New Testament position unless its leadership passes from the modern religious star to the self-effacing saint who asks for no praise and seeks no place, happy only when the glory is attributed to God and himself forgotten!
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:23
I am not surprised that I still meet people who do not believe that Jesus Christ is going to return to earth. In fact, some of them, armed with their own Bibles and interpretations, are insistent on setting me “straight.”
One gentleman has written saying that I have it all wrong, and that Paul did not mean what I had said he meant, as I applied Paul’s statement to everyday life.
I took time to write a reply: “When it comes to saying what he meant, Paul’s batting average has been pretty good up to now. So, I will string along with what Paul plainly, clearly said.”
I did not figure I needed someone to straighten me out—particularly someone who had decided the Bible does not mean what it says.
No one is going to argue me out of my faith in what God has revealed and what God has said. As far as I am concerned, it is a fact that Jesus is coming again! The question I do raise is this: Are we prepared spiritually for His coming? Are we tolerating conditions in our midst that will cause us embarrassment when He does come?
Dear Lord, grant me courage to live today—indeed, every day of my life—as though You were coming back this afternoon.