We ought always to pray

Luke 18:1-14

Our time will be well spent if we study one of our Lord’s discourses upon prayer. It consists of two parables.

Luke 18:1

To commence prayer is easy, but to continue in it is another thing. We too often flag and grow remiss, and so we lose the blessing.

Luke 18:5

He was a wicked, unfeeling man, ready enough to pervert justice and grant the suit to the oppressor; his petitioner was a poor woman, bereft of her natural protector, and quite unable to affect his hard heart by her sad tale; yet her importunity won her suit, he was afraid of being tired to death, and therefore he attended to her cry. Every part of the parable strengthens our case, for we deal with a faithful and gracious God, who is ready to hear us; we are poor and feeble, it is true, but we have a powerful Advocate in the great Husband of the church; therefore if we do not obtain our request the first time, we should pray again and again, and never cease till our importunity obtains its end.

Luke 18:7

They are no strangers, but “his own elect;” surely he will hear them.

Luke 18:8

The prayers of the suffering church will not have long to wait. God’s time comes on.

Luke 18:8

It is so scarce that even He who best can discover faith will hardly find any of it. Shame upon our unbelief.

Luke 18:11

He stood by himself as if too holy to be touched by others, and his prayer was indeed, no prayer, but a self-glorification

Luke 18:12

Under the pretence of praising God, he praised himself. It is all “I,” “I fast,” “I give,” and so on. Nor was this enough, he indulged in uncharitable reflections upon others, making at the same time a list of his own virtues and a catalogue of other men’s failings, and crowning all with a sneer at his neighbour.

Luke 18:13

He confessed his sin, he smote upon his heart as the cause of it, he pleaded for mercy, and he had an eye to the atonement, for his prayer really meant, “Be propitious towards me through sacrifice.”

Luke 18:14

He had a sweet sense of pardon in his breast, and the other had it not, for indeed he had not even asked for it:

Luke 18:14

From all this let us learn to pray importunately, but not proudly. We must be earnest, but yet humble. We may be bold, but not arrogant. Lord teach us to pray.

 

The Lord their different language knows,

And different answers he bestows;

The humble soul with grace he crowns,

Whilst on the proud his anger frowns.

 

Dear Father! let me never be

Join’d with the boasting Pharisee;

I have no merits of my own,

But plead the sufferings of thy Son.

 

Bringing Correction Into Someone Else’s Life

2 Timothy 2:24

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are trying to help someone who isn’t listening or paying attention to what you are trying to tell him? Should that happen to you in the future, don’t allow yourself to get so angry that you lose your temper and say or do something you will later regret!

It’s frustrating to try to help someone who stubbornly sits across the table, peers at you in total defiance, and reacts to your counsel as if you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. But from time to time, everyone faces situations like this. Perhaps it happens when a parent tries to speak to his rebellious child; when an employer tries to bring correction to an employee; when a pastor speaks the truth that a church member doesn’t want to hear; or when someone tries to lovingly communicate his concern to a friend who he believes is making a mistake in his life.

As you begin the process of bringing correction into a person’s life, put yourself in his shoes. If you were the one sitting there, would it be easy or difficult for you to hear what is about to be said? Would you feel wonderful about receiving correction, or would you feel a little embarrassed?

If the person you are correcting acts closed or puts up a wall of defense at first, it may be that he’s just embarrassed or reacting out of insecurity. Therefore, don’t stop the conversation unless you can see that he’s definitely just being combative and is completely closed to your input. In order to discern the true situation, you need to be patient and slow in judging his reaction to your correction.

When Paul wrote and instructed Timothy how to bring correction into someone’s life, he stressed the need to be “patient” when giving correction. In Second Timothy 2:24, he wrote, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” The Greek word for “patient” is aneksikakos. This is a compound of the words anechomai and kakos. The word anechomai means to endure patiently, to bear with, or to have a tolerant attitude toward someone or something. The word kakos is the Greek word for evil or for something that is bad.

When these two words are compounded into the word aneksikakos as they are in this verse, the new word portrays an attitude that is tolerant and that bears with a bad, depraved, or an evil response. Paul was telling us that when we attempt to bring correction into a person’s life and his response is wrong or even terrible, we are not to get all flared up about it! Getting upset won’t make the situation any better. Instead, we are to grab hold of the power of God, look that person in the eyes, and bear with him until he calms down and hears what we are saying. In other words, sometimes we just have to put up with a person’s reaction, whether it’s good or bad.

 

Because the word aneksikakos is used in this verse, Second Timothy 2:24 could be rendered:

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. That means you must put up with those who don’t act too thrilled when you sit down to correct or instruct them. You have to be patient and tolerantly bear with them and their reactions until they finally hear what you are trying to express to them.”

In Galatians 6:1, Paul warned us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” When I am about to give correction, it has always been helpful for me to remember how difficult it might be to sit on the other side of the table and hear a superior correcting me. So before I correct someone, I first consider how I would want to be told if I had done something wrong, just as Paul suggested: “… considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Before you charge into a room to correct someone, first take some time to pray and really think about the best, the most peaceful, and the most positive way to speak these words of correction or even words of rebuke. Do it in the right spirit, and don’t permit yourself to get upset if you see a response that isn’t exactly what you had hoped for. Just hold tight, be calm, and bear with the person you’re talking to a little while as he adjusts to the idea of being corrected. If he ultimately refuses your correction and remains defiant, you may have to take a different route. But at least in the beginning, be patient with that person if he doesn’t respond the way you hoped.

This is exactly what the apostle Paul is talking about when he stresses that you must be “patient” when you bring correction into someone’s life. So why not ask the Holy Spirit today to help you become more temperate when people under your authority don’t respond exactly as you had wished? Be patient and believe that they will eventually come around!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You to help me be kind and patient when it is essential for me to bring correction. Help me to not be offended if the person I’m trying to help doesn’t respond at first the way I wished he would have. Help me to put myself in that person’s shoes and to sympathize with how he might feel. I ask You to give me the wisdom to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. I also ask that You give the other person the grace to hear what I am telling him so he might see that I have his best interest at heart and that I am only trying to help him.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I have the mind of Jesus Christ! When it is needful for me to speak correction to someone else, I do it with love, kindness, and patience. I refrain from allowing anger to rise up inside me. I am careful about the words that come out of my mouth, and I refuse to participate in vain arguing. I remain in control of myself as the Holy Spirit works mightily inside me. My words bring life to all who hear and receive them!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of a time in your own life when someone had to bring correction to you? How did you fare in the way you received it? Were you opened-hearted—or offended and defiant?
  2. What did you do when you were being corrected that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you if you were the one trying to bring correction?
  3. When it’s necessary to bring correction to someone, what should you do to make it easier for that person to receive your correction?

 

A Secret Love Affair

Let’s admit it! Many of us have been carrying on a secret love affair for years!

 

And doing a pretty good job of masking it from our fellow believers in Christ. And why do we continue the “affair”? Simply because we love how it:

  • Panders our appetite for sensual gratification
  • Entices our eyes and caters to the greedy longings of our mind, and
  • Fosters our desire to live a life of pretension.

The “love affair” to which I am referring is our surrender to the evil values of this world system that governs the goings on of mankind; a system which is headed by none other than Satan himself – “The Prince of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30)

 

If we have capitulated to this Prince by currying a “love affair” with his domain, we have a serious problem. You see, as professed followers of Jesus Christ, God will not allow us the luxury of two loves:

 

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

 

We simply cannot have it both ways: Loving the “world” and loving God.

 

So how does one extricate oneself from a “love affair” with this world? Jesus’ prayer to the Father concerning the 12 disciples (Judas excepted), the night before the cross, gives us insight into the answer to that question:

 

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:14, 17)

 

The inner transformation affected by the disciples’ intake of the Word of God signaled to the world that they were no longer one of them. So the world “hated” them. In a similar vein, Paul stated that he was “crucified to the world and the world to (him).” (Galatians 6:14b). He in kind had grown to hate the “world system.” In other words, both sides had written the other off because there was no longer common ground for fellowship.

 

SO… THE BIG QUESTION IS: Are you resisting the world’s seductive charm by the inner change that results from consistent, and disciplined meditation upon God’s Word?

 

If not, you are choosing by default to foster your “love affair” with the “Prince of this world‘s” dominion. And in so doing you have become God’s adversary, because “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).

 

 

VIDEO Saint Augustine

Apr 2, 2017

Augustine of Hippo, Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; (13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Blessed Augustine, and the Doctor of Grace (Latin: Doctor gratiae), was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius (modern-day Annaba, Algeria), located in Numidia (Roman province of Africa). He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Era. Among his most important works are The City of God and Confessions. According to his contemporary, Jerome, Augustine “established anew the ancient Faith.” In his early years, he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the neo-Platonism of Plotinus. After his baptism and conversion to Catholicism in 387, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and perspectives. Believing that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, he helped formulate the doctrine of original sin and made seminal contributions to the development of just war theory. When the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople closely identified with Augustine’s City of God. In the Catholic Church, he is a saint, a preeminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinians. His memorial is celebrated on 28 August, the day of his death.

The Millennial Reign

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4

If you visit the United Nations in New York City, look for the sculpture by Soviet artist Yvgeny Vuchetich of a man beating a sword into a plow. The sculpture depicts Isaiah 2:4 and suggests the mission of the UN is to convert implements of war into tools of peace. But that mission cannot happen by human effort, for the passage in Isaiah talks about the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The Bible is filled with information about this future golden era in which Christ, having returned to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation, will reign on earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). The prophet Isaiah described the harmony and happiness of this period (Isaiah 11:1-9).

As believers, the Millennium is not to be feared. It will bring peace, prosperity, purity, prolonged life, and personal joy. It will be a time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and it will serve as a prelude to eternity (Habakkuk 2:14).

The kings of the earth will not usher in a reign of peace; it will be the Prince of Peace who subdues these warring nations who will then begin this millennium of peace. Wilbur M. Smith

God Is Present in Dark Times

Genesis 39:1-23

In this day of instant news, we regularly see images of calamity in our world. And on a personal level, we experience seasons of hardship as well. The same is true of friends and family who encounter job layoffs, marital troubles, difficulties with children, and other challenges.

As Christians, we have a heavenly Father who has promised to be with us in our struggles. We can rely on Him—He knows what will happen before we do; nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:13). He sees in the darkness of troubled times as clearly as He does in the daylight (Psalm 139:11-12). Through His Spirit, He offers us the comfort, strength, and wisdom to persevere.

The story of Joseph illustrates this truth. After being rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers, he was falsely accused by his master’s wife and imprisoned. But in the midst of those terrible times, the young Hebrew man experienced God’s presence and favor.

I doubt Joseph comprehended the Lord’s intentions during his slavery and imprisonment. But later on, as second-in-command to Pharaoh, he understood God’s purpose in allowing those difficult years. In the end, Joseph testified to what he knew to be true. His brothers had meant to harm him, but God used all the hardship to accomplish His good plan (Gen. 45:4-8; Gen. 50:20).

When troubles hit, remember what is true and take heart. The indwelling Holy Spirit has the resources to provide what we need, equip us for the journey, and sustain us with His presence throughout the dark days. Nothing can stop the purposes of our Lord from being carried out (Isa. 14:27).

In Christ Jesus

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

One of the key doctrines of Christianity is the union of the believer with Christ. In fact, the expression “in Christ” or its equivalent is found over 160 times in Paul’s epistles alone. Since, in God’s sight, we are “in Him,” all His attributes and accomplishments are credited to us as well.

For example, Paul said even to the carnal Corinthians that “of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). To the Romans (see today’s verse) he said that being in Christ frees us from the judgment, since Christ has already borne our judgment.

To the Galatians, Paul emphasized that “ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The Ephesian epistle has many such expressions, the most comprehensive being Ephesians 1:3: “[God] hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” To the Philippians, he promised that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). The Christians at Colosse were assured that “ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10).

Even when we die, we “sleep in Jesus” and, when He comes again, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16). Paul even wrote to Timothy that God’s “own purpose and grace” had been “given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). These are only a few examples of the marvelous blessings shared by all who are “in Christ Jesus.” We should be willing gladly to acknowledge “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:6). HMM