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When we pray February 2, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Holiness, Holy Spirit, Pray, Prayer.
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What happens when we pray?

Emilie Griffin says the following in her book, Clinging – The Experience of Prayer.

“What happens to people who pray is that their inward life gradually takes over from their outward life.”

I think this is one of the keys to understanding the life of holiness. So often we feel the need to struggle and strain to produce holiness from the depths of our being. Like it was there all along. We just needed to squeeze it out. But that is not the way it is. Rather, as we pray and seek holiness, the Holy Spirit begins to change us slowly from the inside out. And the end result is that we are not squeezing holiness out of ourselves so much as allowing it to flow from our heart that has been changed by God.

How does this fit with your understanding of Holiness and Entire Sanctification?

It reminds me that I must maintain a residence in my heart fit for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Only then will I be able to live a holy life. Only then will people see Jesus in me.

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And now I lay me down to sleep May 1, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Mature Christian, Pray, Sleep.
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And now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

The little prayer that you and I may have prayed before we went to bed each night may be very similar to the one written above. It seems to me that it was somewhat self-serving, wasn’t it? We prayed for ourselves. In our limited view of ourselves and of God’s grace and mercy, we prayed that we would somehow make it to heaven if we died in our sleep.

But our parents went to bed later that night also. I was very fortunate to have Godly parents who prayed for me every day. And as apparent myself now, I wonder what my parents were praying? What were the things going through the minds of our mom and dad as they lay their heads on their pillows each night?

How are my kids doing in school?
How are they doing working at their jobs?
Is their job rewarding?
Are they making friends?
Are they making the right friends?
How are they getting along with their friends?
Are these friends helping them become more Christ-like?
Are they involved in a love relationship?
Is it a healthy relationship?
Does that person bring out the best in my son or daughter?
What is God’s will for their future?
Are they open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives?
Are they becoming young men and women of God?

That list above is a very different set of thoughts than what went through my head as a child. The thoughts and prayers are no longer quite so self-serving. In fact, it is all about someone other than ourselves. It is completely focused on those lives that God has entrusted to us to raise, to train and to live before as examples of what it is to be a mature person and, more importantly, what it is to be a mature Christian.

So what does this mean to me?

I think it means that my job as the primary prayer warrior for my children is no where near over! From the perspective of a 46 year old, I can more clearly see the impact of the things that are on the list of questions above.

But, let me say very quickly. I am very blessed. Both of my kids are growing and maturing and making great decisions. Both are actively seeking and following God’s will as it is being revealed to them.

Be encouraged you parents of young children. Keep praying. God is still on the throne!

Ready to preach, pray or die at any given moment March 24, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Die, Paul, Pray, Preach.
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I have used that phrase for so many years now that I don’t even remember where I picked it up first. I think I first heard it from Reuben Welch, author of the best selling book, “We Really Do Need Each Other”.

My best friend, Dave Woods’ called me on it recently when we were visiting his church in Ohio. And my friend, Billy Long called me on it last week in Bible study. So what does it mean to me?

Ready to Preach?

Paul said in Romans 1:15, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” KJV

The NASB says, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

For these reasons mentioned in the preceding verses, he was ready, if he had an opportunity, to preach the gospel at Rome. Though it was a public place, though it was a dangerous place, where Christianity met with a great deal of opposition, (remember, the Roman Emperor was fond of dipping Christians in tar and impaling them on pikes and then lighting them on fire to light his parties) yet Paul was ready to run the risk at Rome, if the opportunity came to him:

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the best known preachers of the late 1800’s wonders if Paul didn’t use the words “I am ready” as his motto. Almost the first words out of his mouth when he was saved were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

Ready to Pray?

Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.”

Mark 13:33 says, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”

Mark 14:38 says, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly [is] ready, but the flesh [is] weak.”

Luke 21:36 says, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

James 5:16 says, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

But, I caution you. Praying is sometimes the easy part. The hard part is often the “taking our hands off and letting God deal with it in His timing” part. Or the “patiently waiting upon the Lord” part.

Ready to Die?

For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain. But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Philippians 1:21-26 KJV

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Philippians 1:21-26 NIV

We all have a somewhat natural fear of death and dieing. I suppose it is partly because of the reluctance of leaving our loved ones. God has given to us beautiful and loving relationships, and the thought of being separated from these relationships is difficult. We are never ready it seems to let them go. We hear the phrase “hang on for dear life”. Often we are hanging on too dearly to this life.

Part of the fear comes from the unknown. There is always a certain fear of the unknown. For the unsaved, there are many unknown factors concerning, death that if they were known, they would have an even greater fear of death. For the believer, if we only knew all of the facts, we would have no fear at all. Rather, we would be like Paul, willing to be absent from this body that we might be present with the Lord.

In Philippians 1:23 Paul speaks of his mixed emotions, he had a desire to depart from this body and be with Christ, which he said was far better, yet he felt a necessity to live a little longer because of the loving relationships and he felt that they still needed his spiritual guidance.
In his letter to the Corinthians he mentioned how that we who are in these bodies often groan, earnestly desiring to be freed, not that we would be unbodied, but we longed for our new bodies in heaven.

So what does this mean to me?

I address this post primarily to men today. And the message to us as men is this. You and I are called to be the Spiritual leaders of our homes. I can think of no better way to live before our wives and children’s eyes than like Paul writes about in the passages that we have looked at in this blog post.

Paul was ready to preach – And maybe that is just a poor choice of words. What he is saying to us that we are to be ready to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To give a reason for the hope that lies within us. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

Paul was ready to pray – There is nothing more important that we can can do than to pray. Pray for ourselves, lest we fall into temptation. Pray for our family and loved ones. Pray for our leaders in the Church and in the government.

Paul was ready to die – He says late in his life that he has run the race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,” 2 Tim. 4:6-7 NIV

Are you ready for whatever God will put in your path today or this week?

Are you ready to meet Him if He were to call you home right now?

Would you like to be?

You can be! By the authority of God’s Word and in the power of the Holy Spirit you can be ready to “preach, pray, or die” at any given moment.