The Failure To Pay Close Attention

mountain top
The high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days. —2 Chronicles 15:17

Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.

Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.

by Oswald Chambers

Praying With Power

James 5:13-18

Have you ever watched a runner near the end of a race? Every muscle strains with the athlete’s desire to finish first. The moment is full of intensity and determination. This is the same kind of fervent desire God wants to see in the believer’s prayer life. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).

Believers at times use certain key phrases—“in Jesus’ name” or “if it is Your will”—as if such expressions were enchanted. People convince themselves that if a particular phrase is used, God will surely be pleased and answer the petition. But strength is not found in the words we say, because the Lord cannot be forced to do anything outside His will. The power of prayer is in God’s reaction. He responds to petitions of the righteous by releasing His supernatural power toward the object of their concern.

A prayerless person is a powerless person. When we devote little time to communicating with the heavenly Father, we can’t expect to see dramatic results. God’s power is released in response to our zealous desire for His intervention. A fervent petitioner, believing his Lord will intercede, is determined to pray through every barrier that Satan erects. He stops only when God answers or if the Father makes clear that the request is outside His will.

Wise believers devote time and energy to requests of great importance. Through our relationship with Christ, we have been made righteous, which means that we have the opportunity to communicate with the Lord through prayer.

Resemblance

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Some time ago, the New York Times reported a study showing that couples who are happily married for long periods really do begin to look alike. Even if the man and woman bore no resemblance at their wedding, they showed marked resemblances later in life. Moreover, the more marital happiness a couple reported, the greater the increase in facial resemblance. The change is apparently due to decades of shared emotions and similar lifestyles.

As time goes by, Christians should increasingly resemble Jesus. After all, we’re the bride of Christ, and we share His emotions and lifestyle. Romans 8:29 says that God has predestined us to be “conformed to the image of His Son,” and according to 2 Corinthians 3:18, the Holy Spirit transforms us by stages into the image of Christ.

Today someone will study your attitudes, words, and deeds. Make sure they see Jesus in you. We are His reflectors to the world.

Christlikeness is the will of God for the people of God. John Stott, in his final sermon

Recommended Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

The File, Card Mentality

My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times…. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. —Psalm 119:20,24

When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form, this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system—and the file-card mentality….

The slave to the file card soon finds that his prayers lose their freedom and become less spontaneous, less effective. He finds himself concerned over matters that should give him no concern whatever—how much time he spent in prayer

yesterday, whether he did or did not cover his prayer list for the day, whether he gets up as early as he used to do or stays up in prayer as late at night. Inevitably the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled. And even if under such circumstances he succeeds in making his prayer amount to something, still he is suffering tragic losses and binding upon his soul a yoke from which Christ died to set him free.

Oh, Father, I pray that prayer might never become for me “a duty to be fulfilled.” Fill me with freedom in my times with You. Amen.

There Is a Finality in the Biblical Revelation

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Hebrews 2:1

There are men in our day who have studied the Bible and come to the conclusion that since God is vocal in His universe, there is no such thing as an inspired canon of Scripture containing a full body of revealed truth that can serve as the one final source of doctrine and practice.

These teachers reason that if God is still speaking, then we must keep our minds open to further revelation given, it may be, through poets, philosophers, scientists and religionists of various kinds. They would insist that wherever new truth is discovered or new and advanced ideas are brought forth, there God is speaking again as He once spoke by the prophet and seer in olden times.

While we grant such men the right to believe what they will, this one thing is settled: whoever, for whatever reason, denies the finality of the biblical revelation and insists upon a continuing revelation having the same authority as the sacred Scriptures has shut himself out from the name of Christian! He is simply not a Christian in the scriptural and historic meaning of the word.

Between the ideas of a fixed biblical canon and a constantly speaking God there is no contradiction! The point I make is that if the living voice of God were not speaking in the world and in the hearts of men the written Word could have no real meaning for us.

Instruct, Then Exhort

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… teaching and admonishing one another. COLOSSIANS 3:16

The godly men of old through whom the Scriptures came to us were faithful in their exhortations to personal faith and godliness, characteristic of the early church.

The apostolic method of teaching, instructing and encouraging was based on solid and fundamental Christian doctrine. This was Paul’s method in his New Testament letters. First he gives his readers the scriptural reasons for certain Christian actions and attributes. He provides the basis and reason—then he exhorts the readers to respond appropriately.

We do not know if Paul was the human writer to the Hebrews, but the method of exhortation is like Paul’s. We are assured that Christ is greater than Moses and greater than the angels and that He purchased mankind’s salvation.

Then the exhortation: If all of these things are true, then we should keep on loving one another, keep on praying for one another. It is a good and gracious argument: Because we have reasons for doing something, we ought to do it without delay and without reservation!

Lord, today I pray for all the biblical instruction presented by professors in our Christian institutions and by pastors in our churches. May Your Word be taught with Spirit-anointed clarity and power. Amen.