VIDEO True Prayer, True Power!

Feb 1, 2011

This sermon should illustrate clearly enough why Charles Spurgeon is considered ‘The Prince of Preachers’. This was preached half way through the 19th century: and yet, the message still gets across, loud and cloud, when it is read out the way it was originally preached! Preachers: please notice the excellent structure. A good structure is present in all his sermons. Also, notice how half of the sermon is taken up with actually looking at what the text says. Yet, Spurgeon has a way of doing this without it being really boring! It is so practical and descriptive and real. Spurgeon has a clear purpose and goal in mind: to help us be better at prayer. One of the best messages I have heard from him.

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Unraveling the Mysteries

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:104

I have always enjoyed the wit and insight of Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz. One of my favorite cartoons drawn by him appeared in a book about young people in the church. It shows a young man holding a Bible as he tells a friend on the phone, “I think I’ve made one of the first steps toward unraveling the mysteries of the Old Testament . . . I’m starting to read it!” (Teen-Ager Is Not a Disease).

Psalm 119 overflows with the writer’s hunger to understand and experience the power of God’s Word each day. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97). This eager pursuit leads to growing wisdom, understanding, and obedience to the Lord (vv. 98–100).

Lord, thank You for the Bible, which gives us wisdom and understanding.

The Bible doesn’t contain a magic formula for “unraveling the mysteries” in its pages. The process is more than mental and requires a response to what we read. While some passages may remain puzzling to us, we can embrace those truths we clearly understand, and say to the Lord, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (vv. 103–104).

A wonderful journey of discovery awaits us in God’s Word.

Lord, thank You for the Bible, which gives us wisdom and understanding to follow Your pathway of life today.

A commitment to read and follow God’s Word begins a daily journey of discovering His love and power.

By David C. McCasland 

INSIGHT

Psalm 119 is well known as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is an acrostic psalm where each section begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm praises the goodness and value of God’s law. The law is a reflection of God’s character; as we look at the law, we learn about Him.

As you spend time studying God’s Word this week, reflect on what you learn about the character of God.

J.R. Hudberg

Expressions of God’s Goodness

Lamentations 3:22-25

Imagine someone asking you if God has been good to you. What ideas pop into your head? Do you think about material possessions like a luxury car or a big house? Those things are nice, but even if you do not have any external signs of His blessing, you can still say that God has been good.

God’s goodness is expressed through His mercy. We usually talk about the Lord’s mercy in relation to His salvation plan, which provides for our rescue from slavery to sin. However, God is also concerned when we are suffering. The blind beggar Bartimaeus called out to Jesus for mercy, and the Lord responded by healing the man’s eyes (Mark 10:46-52). Nothing in Bartimaeus deserved mercy, but it is God’s nature to respond to the needs of His beloved children.

God’s goodness is expressed through His grace. None of us, no matter how well behaved we might be, deserve God’s favor. Yet because we are helpless to save ourselves, the Lord in His goodness took our guilt upon Himself and suffered the death penalty in our place. Upon salvation, we are invited to live by God’s grace and thereby constantly receive His support and help.

God’s goodness is expressed through His love. The Pacific Ocean, as vast as it is, seems like barely a drop compared to the Lord’s boundless love. No sin we can commit could ever place us beyond the reach of His faithfulness.

Think of all that the Father has done for you! He sent His son Jesus to die for your sins. Now He offers you mercy and grace to live by. The heavenly Father is indeed good.

Acceptable Sacrifice

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Our text instructs us that we, as a corporate church and as individuals, are designed for the purpose of offering up acceptable sacrifices to God. These are not animal sacrifices as before but “spiritual” sacrifices made “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” What kinds of spiritual sacrifices are acceptable?

Prayer: An amazing scene is recorded for us in heaven, for an angel is seen at the altar offering up to God incense mingled with “the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 8:4, see also 5:8). Our prayers are precious to Him.

Giving: The use of our financial resources for the furtherance of His Kingdom becomes “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

Praise: In some way not fully comprehended by us, we can “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Good work and sharing: “But to do good and to communicate [share] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). Remember, we are saved entirely by God’s grace but also created specifically unto good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Ourselves: We have a distinct privilege in that we may “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

God is a magnificent God! He can be trusted with our prayers, our resources, our praise, our works, and our lives. His perfect sacrifice has made it possible for our sacrifices to be meaningful. JDM

A greater than Solomon is here.”

1 Kings 10:1-13

1 Kings 10:1

Far off as she was, the glory of Solomon reached her, and she was moved to visit him, not only out of curiosity to behold his splendour, but from religious motives, that she might know more concerning the name of the Lord. Alas, there are thousands who show no interest in Jesus, though he is near them, and his gospel is preached in their streets. Sad is it that Solomon should attract a stranger so far away, and Jesus should be neglected by those who are near.

1 Kings 10:3

When sinners come to Jesus he will solve all their difficult questions, and both reveal and remove all their secret disquietudes. He is ever ready to communicate of his wisdom to all who come unto him, and they shall never in any instance find that their difficulties surpass his skill.

1 Kings 10:4-9

In like manner, although the gospel report concerning King Jesus greatly extols him, yet the experience of the believer discovers in him a wealth of grace and goodness which no tongue could have expressed. Jesus must be personally realized by each one of us, or we shall never know him. O that many who now despise the Redeemer would see him for themselves, they would at once change their indifference into adoration.

1 Kings 10:10

Even so, when a heart truly knows King Jesus it brings tribute to him. Nothing is too good, too costly, too precious for Jesus. If we could lay the whole world at his feet, it would be “a present far too small.”

1 Kings 10:13

We may also confidently add that our Lord Jesus will be in no ones debt; for all that we can possibly give to him he will make a hundredfold return, yea, he will grant us whatsoever we ask, he will give us the desire of our heart.

Matthew 12:42

Matthew 12:42

The queen of Sheba came from far, with great difficulty, running great risks; and yet the mass of mankind are utterly careless about a greater than Solomon, and will scarcely cross the streets to see Jesus, who has power to bless them eternally.

 

Jerusalem the golden,

With milk and honey blest,

Beneath thy contemplation

Sink heart and voice oppressed:

I know not, oh I know not

What joys await us there:

What radiancy of glory,

What bliss beyond compare!

 

They stand, those halls of Sion,

Conjubilant with song,

And bright with many an angel,

And all the martyr throng:

The Prince is ever in them,

The daylight is serene;

The pastures of the blessèd

Are deck’d in glorious sheen.

 


Let us pray, the Lord is willing,

Ever waiting, prayer to hear;

Ready, his kind words fulfilling,

Loving hearts to help and cheer.

 

Let us pray! our God with blessing

Satisfies the praying soul;

Bends to hear the heart’s confessing,

Moulding it to his control.

 

Let us pray! our life is praying;

Prayer with time alone may cease:

Then in heaven, God’s will obeying,

Life is praise and perfect peace.

 


As apple trees among the trees

Of all the wood appear,

So my Beloved ‘mongst the sons

Is beautiful and dear.

 

I sat down under his shadow,

Sat down with great delight,

His fruit was sweet unto my taste

And pleasant to my sight.

 

He brought me to his banquet house,

His banners o’er me move;

Stay me with flagons, comfort me,

For I am sick of love.

 


He’s chiefest amongst ten thousand

The fairest of the fair,

His head like gold is glorious,

Like clouds his raven hair.

 

His body is like bright iv’ry

With sapphires overlaid,

His limbs are as marble -pillars

In golden sockets stayed.

 

His countenance as Lebanon,

His mouth as cedars moved,

Yea! he’s altogether lovely!

This, this is my Beloved!

 

This is my friend, if him ye find,

Where’er your footsteps rove,

Say, daughters of Jerusalem,

That I am sick of love.

 


Judah! lo thy royal Lion,

Reigns on earth a conquering King:

Come, ye ransom’d tribes of Zion,

Love’s abundant offerings bring;

 

There behold him,

And his ceaseless praises sing.

King of kings! let earth adore him,

High on his exalted throne;

 

Fall ye nations, fall before him,

And his righteous sceptre own:

All the glory

Be to him, and him alone!

 

Is It Time for You To Make An Attitude Adjustment?

2 Corinthians 11:27

I remember an employee we once had in our ministry who got distressed because she was transferred to an area of the ministry that didn’t have air control to suit her taste. Those in charge tried to adjust the thermostat to her liking, but they could never seem to please this individual. First it was too cold, and then it was too hot. And that was just the beginning. Next, this person complained because her office didn’t have a window. Nothing we could do seemed to please this worker.

Because I believed this employee had great potential, I personally went to her to discuss her impossible-to-please attitude. If that employee was going to reach the level God desired for her, it would require a serious attitude change on her part. I wanted this unreasonable complaining to stop. When we hired this person, we had never agreed that she would be provided with a window or that we would meet the ideal atmospheric conditions she demanded.

I talked through these complaints one at a time with this employee. We had bent over backwards to make this person happy; now it was time for this employee to quit complaining and make an attitude adjustment in order to make me happy. Her constant complaining was bringing a spirit of discord into our organization that I didn’t like. I decided I would not tolerate it any longer.

When I first spoke to this person, she showed thankfulness for the correction. But by the next week, she was back at it again—mumbling, murmuring, complaining, and sowing seeds of discord. The temperature wasn’t right; the chair at the desk wasn’t comfortable; the lunch hour wasn’t the exact time she desired; there was no window in her office, and on and on and on. When I saw that this employee wasn’t going to make the attitude adjustment I required, I decided to make an adjustment myself by removing her from our staff. That was that person’s last week in our office.

It is unacceptable for us as Spirit-filled believers to be complaining people. After all, we are the ones who claim to possess the power of Almighty God!

To constantly complain about small annoyances such as those mentioned above is unacceptable. If it’s possible to fix those little inconveniences, then fix them. But if the air can’t be adjusted to your liking or if you can’t have an office with a window, it’s time for you to put a smile on your face and do a good job for your employer with a happy attitude. He didn’t hire you to grumble and complain. He hired you to be a blessing!

The fact is, sometimes we don’t get to have everything just the way we’d like to have it. Yet even in those moments, you and I should serve with all our might. If we are being paid to do a good job and to be cooperative with our employer and fellow employees, then we need to do what we are being paid to do! The day we give up that servant’s attitude to become a source of constant complaining is the day we cease to be a blessing and become instead a hindrance that is no longer needed on the team.

If you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of God, it’s time for you to get tough! You can do your job with joy, no matter what circumstances surround you! You can be victorious in any environment, even in working conditions that aren’t exactly what you wish they could be. Besides, if you can’t handle tiny inconveniences such as the ones we talked about earlier, how in the world do you ever think you’ll be able to stand against the devil and the strategies he will try to use to assault you when you step out in faith?

As the apostle Paul continues telling us about his experiences in Second Corinthians 11, he lets us know that he has faced all kinds of inconveniences in order to obey the will of God. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy those inconveniences, but he didn’t allow them to affect his attitude or to keep him from fulfilling the task God had given him to do.

Let’s look at a few of the inconveniences Paul endured as he marched forward to obey God.

In Hunger and Thirst

In Second Corinthians 11:27, he tells us that he endured “hunger” and “thirst.” The word “hunger” is the Greek word limos. The word “thirst” is the Greek word dipsos. These words refer to being hungry from a lack of food or thirsty from a lack of drink.

This means there were times when Paul didn’t have sufficient food to eat. This doesn’t mean he was poor and therefore couldn’t buy food. But in this verse, Paul is recalling times of inconvenience when food simply may not have been available to him and his fellow travelers.

Paul no doubt traveled through inhospitable, barren terrain where food was not abundant. Also, because of the great distances between some of the cities to which Paul and his team walked, it wasn’t always possible for them to carry enough for their journey. In such times, they would simply run out of food and drink.

Yet this lack of food and drink didn’t affect Paul’s desire to go onward to the next town. Hunger and thirst was only an inconvenience—certainly not enough to hinder him from pressing on ahead.

To make sure we understand how serious this deficit of food was from time to time, Paul went on to say that he was “… in fastings often….”

In Fastings Often

The word “fastings” is the Greek word nesteia. It refers to skipping or foregoing meals voluntarily. In this case, Paul and his team probably skipped meals because there was no time to eat. The word “often” is pollakis, and it means many times, often, or frequently.

The apostle Paul and his team kept a rigid routine and a busy schedule. Eating food was obviously not a high priority on his list of things to do. First and foremost, he wanted to accomplish his God-given objectives for each day and for each city where he labored. This doesn’t mean Paul was against eating. It simply means his thoughts and focus were not on the comfort of food.

I know that when I travel to hold leadership meetings and crusades in the territory of the former Soviet Union, I am so focused on what I am called to do that personal comforts are always a last consideration. I frequently forget to eat because I am so consumed with the work before me. This is the kind of “fastings often” Paul makes reference to in this verse. Eating was not the highest priority on his mind.

I have personally known many people who took a missions trip and then swore they would never take another one because they didn’t like the food they were given to eat on the trip. I am astonished when believers are so finicky about what they eat that they allow the issue to steal their joy and affect their obedience to God.

It perplexes me when people bewail that the food doesn’t taste like food “back home.” Of course it doesn’t! They’re not home! Then after grumbling about the food, they go to an evangelistic crusade where they expect to exercise spiritual authority to cast out demons. But how in the world do they ever think they’ll have power over demons if they don’t even have enough power to be thankful for a meal that is placed in front of them?

The phrase “in fastings often” tells us about Paul’s priorities. He didn’t take his trips to taste and experience the local menu. He went to get a job done. Good food or bad food, he went where the Lord told him to go. Time to eat or no time to eat, he was determined to succeed at the job he was given to do. Nothing as insignificant as food had the power to knock this man out of the race.

But how about the next inconvenience he lists? He went on to tell us that there were times when he and his team were also “… in cold and nakedness.”

In Cold and Nakedness

This phrase could refer to many instances in Paul’s life. For instance, he may be remembering the “cold” he felt as he treaded seawater after one of his three shipwrecks (see October 22 and October 26).

Paul may also be remembering the “cold” he felt during one of his many imprisonments. Ancient prisons were notorious for being damp and cold. Prisoners often contracted terrible cases of lung disease and died prematurely on account of these damp conditions. To make a captive’s stay in prison even more miserable, the captor would often strip him almost naked before throwing him into the cave-like cell. It isn’t possible to state definitely what Paul is referring to in his statement about “cold and nakedness,” but whatever event he is remembering, it’s obvious that it was not a pleasant experience.

In the former Soviet Union where we live, all public buildings and apartment complexes are centrally connected to a city-wide heating system. The heat is turned on for the entire city on a set day every fall, and the heat is turned off for the entire city on a set day every spring. Regardless of the temperature, the heat is not turned on or off until that date on the calendar. And once it is turned on, there is no thermostat in buildings, so the best way to control the temperature is either by opening the windows to let the cold air in or by closing the windows to retain the heat.

If it turns cold before that date in the fall when the heat is turned on, it means the entire city experiences the cold that permeates every apartment and office. Sometimes when the weather turns cold earlier than expected, the citizens may live in the cold for quite a lengthy period of time. When that happens, there is nothing people can do about it except dress in warmer clothes and try to keep themselves warm. Complaining won’t change the situation, so people learn to work and function in the cold.

I admit that this isn’t a pleasurable experience, but grumbling about the cold doesn’t make the days pass any faster. Therefore, people mentally adjust to the inconvenience; then they live and work in the cold until the day finally comes when the city turns on the heat. Everyone survives the temperature because they have no choice. They make the mental adjustment to deal with the cold and are therefore able to live through the inconvenience.

Sometimes that is the way it is with life. We don’t always get what we want or live in the style we prefer. But if we’re not getting exactly what we want and we can’t do anything to change the situation, we have a choice: 1) We can constantly complain and make it worse on ourselves and everyone else; or 2) we can make a mental adjustment and decide that we’re tough enough to handle the situation until things change. The second choice is the one God wants us to make, for this is the one that demonstrates the attitude of Jesus Christ in our lives!

So if you’ve been grumbling or complaining about a situation that just can’t be fixed to your liking, it’s time for you to quit grumbling and to start rejoicing. Put praise in your mouth, and choose to be positive. As you do, you will find the strength to endure any hardship you are facing with joy.

As you make the choice to endure this hardship in the joy of the Lord, the Holy Spirit will fill you with a spirit of victory. And in the end, you will find that you came through the difficult situation you were facing much more quickly than you ever imagined you could!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, please forgive me for the times I’ve been a whiner and a complainer! I am so sorry that I’ve made life miserable for the people who work with me at my job or at church. I recognize that I complain more than I should, and I admit that I have been wrong. I repent for my wrong behavior, and I’m asking You today to help me make a mental adjustment. Help me learn to be thankful for the blessings I have and for the salary my employer pays me. Help me to serve with a happy heart and to be a continual source of blessing instead of a continual source of complaint.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am a blessing to my employer, my boss, my director, my supervisor, and to my pastor. They see me as a team player and a fine example of a Christian worker. My attitude is positive. I am willing to do what I am asked to do. I am never a source of contention; instead, I am a constant source of blessing to those who are over me. They are glad I work under them because I exhibit such a cooperative spirit of joy and thankfulness.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. What are some of the inconveniences you face at your place of employment or where God has called you to serve? Are these annoyances really so terrible that you have a right to be upset about them? Or does God want you to deal with these inconveniences in the joy and the power of the Holy Spirit so you can gain the victory over them?
  2. If your employer, supervisor, or pastor has tried to adjust things to your liking, have you expressed your thankfulness to that person for his or her attempts to please you? Remember—the person in authority over you didn’t have to do anything at all to please you. So have you ever thanked that person for trying?
  3. Is God telling you to make a mental adjustment so you can function victoriously where He has called you to live, to serve, and to work? What is that adjustment you need to make in your attitude?

 

The Reward For Integrity And The Consequences For Duplicity

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3)

 

Bob danced around SEC regulations for years before finally getting caught. Twice. And twice he lost his broker’s license. Today his wife supports him, since his name is mud in the business community. Yet he continues to excuse his aberrant behavior.

 

Sam covertly exploited young men sexually for 3 decades before being exposed… All the while carrying on a public ministry in the Name of Christ. Today he is divorced and alienated from most of his friends of many years. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

 

Andy finally let his Christian brothers know of his alcoholic struggle of many years… After his wife demanded that he move out of the house. For years I surmised there was a serious problem of some type, but he would never allow me, or anyone access to his personal life.

 

Proverbs compares the righteous with the duplicitous:

 

RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE: UNRIGHTEOUS PEOPLE:

 

 

Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner. (13:6)

 

 

He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall. (28:18)

 

 

The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out. (10:9)

 

 

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires. (11:6)

 

 

(See Psalm 25:21; 73:18-20; 125:5; Proverbs 26:11)

 

The reality of it is that God rewards people of integrity, while the double-minded can look forward to harsh consequences for their actions.

 

QUESTION: Given the present state of your secret life, into which column do you fall? If it is the “unrighteous” column, are you prepared to live with the inevitable consequences of your double life?

 

 

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