Prayer


 

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Prayer - The Grand Finale

Key:
Time is running out. Don't kill time. Don't just spend time, invest time. Pray for these consequential things God has explicitly adjured us to pray.

Let Us Reason Together:

Pray for all men
Doesn't it make sense to pray "first of all" for "All men" 1 Tim. 2:1, just like God told us to do. Yes, pray for Joe 's toe, yes. pray for Jack's back, yes, pray for Jane's pains but my soul "first of all" pray for "all men." That is a mite bigger and more important that Joe's toe. You enter the big leagues of prayer when you do. Your prayers may a much bigger impact to pray for all men. And what do you pray for all men?

This is good
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" 1 Tim 2:3. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin" James 4:19. Now dear people, this is not a trivial thing or passing thing but God says it is sin not to pray for "all men." And He says it is "acceptable." The Greek word here means it is "pleasing." There is not a one of us who does not want to "please" God. Then pray for "all men" and you will be pleasing God. Doesn't that make sense? Enoch had this testimony, "that he pleased God" Heb. 11:5. You will be in good company when you pray what He told you to pray!

Pray for their salvation
"Who would have all men to be saved" Vs. 3. Not one of you reading this wants anyone to go to hell. Then pray for all men to be saved. Are they all going to be saved? No, but you will have a part in everyone who gets saved and that is a pretty important pray to pray. Make sense? Of course it does, then do it.

Pray "for Kings."
"First of all, pray for kings" 1 Tim 2:2. He is far more influential that Jack" and his back. Our prayers do make a difference. If you don't believe that then you are in bad shape spiritually. I genuinely believe we can make a big difference in this world. If every Christian prayed "FIRST OF ALL" for Kings, the rulers of this world, it would make a profound difference. That is big time praying, isn't it? Pray for them to be saved. If one ruler got saved, think what a difference that would make to the whole nation. Then pray "Thy will be done on earth." Luke 11:2 through that king. That, dear people, is what the Lord Jesus taught us to pray in response to the disciples asking "Teach us to pray" Luke 11:1.

Pray for all in authority
"First of all, pray for all that are in authority" Vs 2. Someone brought to my attention that this should include all in authority in every venue of life, businesses, schools, homes, military, and on and on. WOW is that every big time. When you pray like that every day your prayers are the most important thing you can imagine.

Why pray for these?
"That we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" Vs 2. Are we living that kind of life in the world today? Absolutely not. It is a terrifying life. Whose fault is it? It is our fault for not praying what God almighty told us to pray "first of all." NOW, doesn't that make sense? I hope to tell you it does.

Decision Time:
"But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat." Look around you. The enemy has done an incomparable job of sowing tares today. What are you going to do about it? Say just like you sing, "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back." Get out of the stands and get in the game. If we had a resurgence of prayer we might just see a return to "a quiet and peaceable life." Pray and preach until we see heaven come down and glory fill our souls.
 


The Race to Glory

Remember this, digest it into your being - you were created in the "image of God." That is awesome. You are not some heap of junk, some beat up and battered Model T Ford. Then you were redeemed, not with silver and gold, "junk stuff" but with the precious blood of Christ. Are you ever valuable to God. You are an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. Howard Hugh's heirs got a paltry 2.5 billion dollars. No royalty in the world are heirs to such great treasures as you are. You have a mansion reserved for you in heaven. The Taj Mahal, as exquisite as it is, the Biltmore Estate, as lavish as it is, Buckingham palace as unique as it is, all pale into nothingness compared to your home in heaven. Finally, you have been called of God to be an ambassador for Christ. Now be the best one you can be to the glory of God.

Recently, while preaching in Indianapolis, I went to see the Indy race track. They took us around the race track in a van. They had only one race a year with 400,000 fans. It is the largest sporting event in the world. Then we went through the museum and hall of fame. We saw the pictures of all the winners, the trophies, the films of rare moments, the hall of fame. It was fabulous. Finally they had a 15 minute movie of the history of the races. At the close, beautifully done, they showed the theme of the Indy 500, "THE RACE TO GLORY." I almost came unglued as I thought, No, we Christians are the only ones in the real "RACE TO GLORY." Run that race well. There are no trial runs. There is a great prize to be won. You can be a winner. Go for it.

In 1978 it was my privilege to preach on the beautiful Island of Fiji. Thirty minutes before the service a man invited his neighbor to come hear this man from the United States. He came and God broke his heart over his sin and he received the Lord Jesus. God called him to preach. He started a church that is now flourishing. A year ago I met a student studying for the ministry from Fiji who was saved in that same church. He is my grandson in the Lord. What a privilege. God wants to do the same for all of us. Let's get in on it.
 


Your Eternal Retirement Fund

When my wife and I began to think seriously about retiring from full time ministry and there were serious factors that were forcing us to do so, we began to put more and more into retirement funds. Are we ever glad we did. It is paying off immeasurably now. The more that "day of His appearing" approaches the more I am moved to put more and more into our eternal retirement fund. Will I ever be glad I did for all eternity? I surely hope you are doing the same. It just makes a whole lot of sense.

Today there is a constant roar, as it was with the rockets, with the whole earth shaking. Any day now it will stop suddenly, for those of us who are believers, and we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It will all be over for us here, but it will be only the beginning in eternity with our Lord. There will be no more praying, witnessing, leading people to Christ, or laying up treasures in heaven. Then, and perhaps it will be uncanny, will come the Judgment Seat of Christ when we shall all give an account of everything done in the body, whether good or bad. We will be able to change nothing then, but we can now.

It was a sad day when the prophet lamented, "And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You (Isa. 64:7). Thank God that day has not yet come to us. Will you stir up yourself to pray and take hold of God in behalf of yourself, your loved ones, your country, and the whole world?

Are you disturbed at what is happening in our world today? Would you love to behold sweeping, dramatic changes made for God and for good? Remember, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). Let's enlist in the army of Christ, our Commander-in-Chief. Let's go to war for Him. Put on the whole armor of God and enter the spiritual battle for the souls of mankind, the salvation of our country, and His glory.

You and I can change the world. Oh, we will not bring in the kingdom or make the world perfect, but we can make an impact to turn the world right side up and fill our Jerusalem (whether it be your neighborhood, your school, your place of employment, or the "uttermost part of the earth" with the Gospel, which is "the power of God to salvation" (see Rom. 1:16).

Let's pray to God with our hearts and preach the Gospel to "every" person with our lips until we experience genuine revival in our time.
 


Pray for our Current Culture

Over the last half-century, earth-shattering events have occurred to the extent that Mr. Average American is left breathless. To the Christian whose "redemption draweth nigh" these would seem to be signs that the end or consummation of the age is near. Bible-believing Christians still believe that Jesus is coming at any moment. Wars and rumors of wars have increased from one or two going on at a time until there are innumerable wars being waged simultaneously all over the world. They have increased in frequency and intensity. Earthquakes and volcanoes erupt in the most unexpected places, famines and floods are killing millions, hurricanes and cyclones wrecking havoc as never before. As you read these words, millions of people are dying of starvation on every continent with the exception of Antarctica, which is mainly inhabited by penguins and polar bears. Famine is of such proportions that it staggers the imagination.

Lawlessness is rampant as Jesus prophesied it would be (Matt. 24:13). Evil men and impostors become increasingly worse (2 Tim. 3:13). Violence and senseless killings scare the daylights out of us all. These earth-shattering and shaking developments are far more explosive and volatile than rockets. Israel has become a nation, and millions of Jews have returned to Israel which many believe is the budding of the fig tree, a sign that the end is near.

Now, we are viewing events in the media, if not in person, beyond our most horrible nightmares. What is happening is not a "Nightmare on Elm Street." It is "Reality on Main Street U.S.A". Who would have believed our courts would have legalized murder in the womb of a mother? Who would have conceived in their wildest imaginations that homosexuality would become "acceptable" as an "alternate lifestyle"? Who would have believed we cannot read the Bible or pray in our public schools - and in most schools not even teach the Bible as valid literature that has helped shaped our civilization.

Are we seeing a repeat of Romans one where the people "did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness; sexual immorality, wickedness, covetous, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them". God said all of this is the "beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:8). The word "sorrows" in the Greek is the word "birth pains". The more frequent the pains and the more intense the nearer is the coming of the child. The events described above are all more frequent and more intense by the way. That means the coming of the Son of God must be very near! Does that ever describe our nation and world? Does it not scare you to death for those who do not know the Lord? Does it not stir you to get serious and serve the Lord with a fervency and faithfulness as never before?
 


The Grand Finale

The "grand finale" on July 4, l960 in Washington D. C. was a fireworks display with half a million people, sprawled around the Washington Monument, watching. All day one event followed another as the crowds celebrated the statehood of Hawaii and were to add the fiftieth star to "Old Glory." There was a concert by the U.S. Navy Band. Speeches were given by top officials welcoming Hawaii into the U.S.A.

Finally the fireworks were to begin. Then we heard the sound of the first three rockets as they went "swish, swish, swish." In a few seconds the boom of fireworks exploded, and the sky lit up with the breathtaking spectacle of the sparkles covering the sky. The "oohs and aahs" were prolific, and then there was thunderous applause.

This continued for almost an hour. One display was of fireworks that emblazoned the United States flag in red, white, and blue across the night sky. Another formed the Statue of Liberty and another the visage of President Eisenhower. Then there was "the sound of silence." We all anticipated the grand finale, a demonstration to end all demonstrations. It started, not with two or three swishes but with dozens one right after another. The night sky was ablaze with scores of rockets zooming and booming one after another. The ground shimmied and shook with the constant roar of the "rocket's red glare." It was exhilarating but also eerie. On and on the display continued for minutes that seemed like an hour Then it ceased as suddenly as it had begun. There was a deafening silence that froze the masses to a standstill, and it was all over. A sense of awe pervaded the entire atmosphere.

All day long we "hear of wars and rumors of wars, see that ye be not troubled for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there shall be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in divers places. All of these are beginning of sorrows" Matt. 24: 6-8.

The word "sorrows" in the Greek is the word for "birth pains." The more frequent and more intense the pains the sooner the birth. Like those fireworks, when they became more frequent and bigger we knew the end was near. So today, as the wars, famines, earthquakes, etc., become more frequent and intense, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your hears; for your redemption draweth nigh" Luke 21:28.

All of this should draw us to our knees with a sense of awe and make us pray as never before.
 


Wait on the Lord

Now, be still and let God instill into your mind whatever else you should pray for. He will often call to your remembrance, from far away, a person who has a special need you may never have heard about, but He wants you to have the privilege of being an intercessor on their behalf. A godly missionary to Africa once reported about her hour of humiliation. She went through a hell on earth as she was beaten and raped. In the midst of this unbearable ordeal, she was suddenly filled with the peace of God. Several years later, on furlough, she was speaking in a church. After the service a lady asked her if she remembered what she was doing at a specific time on a specific day. She thought through the time differences and found it was that hour of humiliation.

The lady testified, "I was awakened and overwhelmed with a burden to pray for you. I prayed for a long while and went back to bed. There was no peace. I got my husband up, and we prayed together. We agonized until we had a peace that everything was all right." They both burst into tears as they realized how good God was to bring them together in prayer at a crucial time so they could rejoice together as sisters in Christ. Now that's prayer at its highest. Oh, to be a part of such precious moments. Your heart was stirred by this account. You want to be used of God just like that, then do it. Get in on it. Wait on God and let Him use you in such a deep and eternal way.

Talk to Men About God

Now that God has talked to you, and you have talked to God, it should lead you to talk to people about God. Feeding on the Word, worshiping the Lord, and witnessing to the lost make up the triad of a balanced Christian life. There is a world all around us going to hell, and most people do not care. Do you? Do not let those around you die and spend eternity in hell without offering them an opportunity to go to heaven.

Jesus offered that woman at Jacob's well a drink of the water of life (see John 4). Married five times and now living with a man to whom she was not married, she was an unlikely prospect. She drank of that "living water" and then persuaded the whole city of Sychar to come to that fountain of living water. Many more drank of the water of life as she did. May we follow in her train!

My wife and I were on visitation in five below zero weather. We went to a home, not on our list, through a very unusual circumstance. As we shared the gospel with the lady of the house, her husband was at work, she burst into tears and was gloriously saved. She and her husband were ready for divorce. She was so miserable she thought about suicide. That very day, while washing dishes, she threw a plate at the wall and broke it into a hundred pieces, she was so unhappy. Then she told us, "I have prayed all day that God would send someone today to tell me how to be saved." "The harvest is truly is plentiful." You aspire to be used of God. You want to get in on being used like this too. "Keep on praying" for souls and you will run into those already prepared just like that. Praying will prepare you and God will prepare them and bring you together. You help change the world when you do! Isn't that thrilling beyond comprehension?

The bottom line is that God wants to bless you and make you a blessing. Remember Sennacherib taunted Hezekiah and his people, ridiculing Hezekiah, trying to discredit him before the people. He told the people Hezekiah's God could not deliver them, don't trust Him. There is no immunity from the attacks of Satan and his henchman today. You will hear voices tell you, you can't do this. You cannot see miraculous answers to prayer. Don't you believe them. Be like Paul and say, "I believe God" and let the power of God and power through prayer permeate your life until you see "rivers of living water" flow through you.

Summary

KEY: You can have a private audience with God every day. You can discover things and receive things others never do. There are many precious jewels waiting to be found. "Be still and know that I am God". What a discovery!
LET US REASON TOGETHER: No one eats one big meal each Sunday and nothing the rest of the week. Why do Christians think they can live without feeding themselves daily. No wonder so many are weak and sickly spiritually. Remember a child of God will never become a man of God without he Word of God.

DECISION TIME: "But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?" You do what you really want to do. Make up your mind right now that, from now on, you are going to have a quality quiet time with God every day.
 


Thank the Lord

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving...and be thankful" (Ps. 100:4). Do enter into prayer with thanksgiving. Never pray without thanking God for His Son the Lord Jesus. Never pray without thanking the Lord Jesus for suffering and dying for your sins. Never pray without thanking Him for saving you. This will keep your heart warm and your prayer life fresh. Thank God for His goodness. Thank Him for His many blessings. "Name them one by one," as the hymn suggests. Tell God what you are thankful for. "In the last days . . . men will be . . . unthankful" (2 Tim. 3:1,2). Have we ever arrived? "Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17). Even the Lord Jesus expected thanks when He was here. Be sure you give thanks now that He is there!

Praise the Lord

"Enter into His courts with praise: and bless His name" (Ps. 100:4). Bless His name! That is pivotal to spiritual success. Jesus taught us to pray, "Hallowed be Your name." Truly, "His name is wonderful." Become profoundly familiar with Isaiah 40-45 and meditate on the fact that He alone is God and there is no other. "His glory will He not give to or share with another" (42:8). These chapters can cause your heart to be filled with praise, and you will hallow (bless, revere, praise) His holy name as never before. Spend the first few minutes just praising the Lord. "Whoever offers praise glorifies me" (Ps. 50:23). I mentioned before, tucked in my Bible I have the words to fifty favorite Gospel hymns and songs. In my quiet times I often go over them and am filled with praise.

Petition the Lord

Now you are ready to petition your Heavenly Father. How do you do that? "Let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). Slowly and thoughtfully go down the list and ask Him for each of the requests before you. You do not have to beg nor do you have to explain in verbose detail. Remember we are not heard for our "many words" ["much speaking," KJV] (Matt. 6:7). He has known all the details, even before the foundation of the world. Just air your requests before Him. Please do not try to tell Him how to answer the prayer. He reminded us, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways" (Isa. 55:8). Sometimes you hear people drone on and on as though God does not have the vaguest idea of what's going on. In times of crises and troubles you may become like Hannah who said, "I have poured out my souls before the Lord" (1 Sam. 1:15). That is fine, but do not feel it is necessary to wail or whine in order to grab God's attention or gain His empathy or sympathy, for "We have a high priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb 4:15, KJV).

The Power of Two

Get you a prayer partner. "If two of you shall agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven". (Matt 18:19). Oh, the power of two. "One shall chase a thousand and two shall chase ten thousand". "Two are better than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up" (Ecc. 4:9). "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Jesus sent the disciples out "two by two". Why? "Two shall chase ten thousand". Husbands and wives must "agree" together, pray together and get their prayers answered. Get a friend you "agree" with on prayer and pray together. Get on the phone, if for only five minutes daily, and pray together for those most important things you desperately need and want. Don't dally, don't ramble and blabber but pray first and foremost then if you have time talk and fellowship. It is powerful. I envision this as the turning point in your life as you find a partner and pray together daily.

How Long Should You Pray?

"Sweet Hour of Prayer" is a beautiful thought but totally unrealistic for 99 % of us. "Could you not watch with me one hour" (Matt. 26:40) asked Jesus of Peter. The answer is no, for most of us as well as Peter. How long, is wrong. Just cover your prayer list. You can pray through the Lord's prayer list easily in five minutes and it will really seem like only a couple of minutes. Praying for the eight things we are told to pray can also be prayed through in ten minutes and it will seem like only five minutes. To pray for your personal list of family, friends, missionaries and ministries can be done in a relatively short time. With a written out prayer list, I promise you, it will make time of no consequence. You will be shocked at how long you pray and yet, it will seem like but a very few minutes. The key is a specific prayer list to keep you on track. It is no great holy thing to just stay on your knees for an hour and your mind wander while you ramble with "vain repetitions" and "many words" and not pray for what we are told to pray! Please do not pray without a prayer list.

In What Position Should You Pray?

Should you be kneeling, sitting, standing, walking, or lying down? All of the above. Make a word study of "kneel" or "kneeling". It is rich. Jesus knelt (Lk. 22:41), "fell on the ground" (Mk. 14:35), "fell on his face" (Mt. 26:39), and prayed on the cross several times. The psalmist prayed on his bed, (Ps 63:4). Several places it states people "lifted up their hands" in prayer. Several have told about praying as they pace back and forth in their closed study or office. One preacher, who started a church and built it to an attendance of 1800 did almost all of his praying pacing in his office or the auditorium of his church. Praying while walking or jogging or walking a treadmill is good. Praying in the night watches in bed when you can not sleep is a great way to pray. This is one of my favorite ways to pray. Many sit and pray. When and how and the way you pray is limitless. "Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish's belly". (Jon. 2:1). The main thing is to pray.

Talk to God

People often become excited about talking with a so-called celebrity. How much greater, how much more profitable, how much more exciting to talk to God! You can, you know. He invites you to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16). You never get a busy signal. You have a "hot-line to heaven." Use it! God Almighty answers all calls Himself! You never get a secretary who gives you options and buttons to punch. Imagine that! Everyone has problems, needs, or crises when they must get in touch with God. He's ready when you are. Try the pray-as-you-go plan. Life is fragile, handle it with prayer.
In one of Ketcham's great cartoons, Dennis the menace says to his little friend Joey, "I say my prayers every night because God is a regular listener!". What a great truth that is and what an incentive to pray.

If your son were in the war at the front lines, wouldn't you want to hear from him? If he came in at night and had access to a phone and did not call, would it bother you? Would it hurt you? God is eager to hear from us after we have been in the battle all day. Let's give Him a call every day.

Stir Up Yourself to Pray

What energizes and encourages you to pray? Music, more than anything, stirs me up to pray. There are several tapes of music that fire me up to pray like a boiler runs a steam engine. Often I will play one in particular as I study or write or just sit and meditate and before long my heart is stirred to pray with a passion. In my Bible and beside my bed are the words of about 50 of my favorite gospel songs on several sheets of paper. All I have to do is go through them, sing them to myself and the tears will start to flow from my eyes and prayer from my heart. This prepares me to pray as nothing else can. Giving out tracts, sharing the gospel, seeing someone saved or just looking at the multitudes, as Jesus did, will prepare me to pray. Find what ministers to you and motivates you to pray and then work at stirring up yourself to seek the Lord.

Make a Prayer List

More important than the length or the loudness of your prayer is the list of your prayer requests. More people have become an abysmal failure at prayer because of the lack of a written prayer list. Maybe the top secret to success in praying is the prayer list. We are all human, so we can forget for whom we should pray and for what we should pray. You can be sure that Satan is going to do all he can to make you forget to pray with persistence and perseverance as God has instructed you. Isn't it astounding how seldom you hear anyone pray for "kings" and "all in authority" or for "the peace of Jerusalem?" Such neglect is incredible. Why don't preachers from the pulpit and people in the pews pray for these matters? You and I are surely aware that "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).

If you want to be a part of what God is doing around the world, if you want to help change the world, if you want to be involved in earthshaking events, if you want to influence world leaders and rulers, then make a list, so you will be sure you pray for the right things. One danger is to make the list too long. Divide the list into sections. There are many persons and items you will want to pray for daily. There is the Lord's prayer list, the eight things for which God tells us to pray and the personal prayer list of Jabez. Then, all of your loved ones who are not saved should be included. Your children, your families, and your saved loved ones should be on your heart to pray for each and every day. Specific needs of these should be listed, lest you forget.

Not long ago a friend asked me, "How do you keep from getting mechanical in prayer when you use a pray list all the time?" That is simple. Do not leave your first love (Rev. 2:7). At the beginning of every prayer thank God for saving you. Thank Him for the Lord Jesus' suffering and dying for your sins. Remember the song "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross." There's the clue.

In the Tabernacle, the fire from the brazen altar, where the lambs were slain, was used to burn the incense on the altar of incense. Any other fire was "strange fire," unsanctioned fire and condemned by God. The incense is the picture of prayer ascending to God (Rev. 5:8). To fire you up and make prayer warm and from the heart, utilize the fire from the cross. The words of the song "When I survey the wondrous cross" sums it all up for us.

Master It

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth no to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). For the one who wants to be serious about growing spiritually there is no substitute for study. A usable reference Bible is the first requirement for a true disciple. The old standby that many of us cut our teeth on was the Scofield Reference Bible. For forty years I used it, and it, too, has been worth a year in Bible school.

The Ryrie Study Bible is superb. It is the Bible I have studied from and preach from since it first came out. Dr. Ryrie's notes are so clear. He has an ability to explain deep and difficult doctrines so clearly and simply that the newest Christian will understand the truth so easily. His outlines of each chapter make it so easy to teach from. His thousands of notes are like having a commentary at your finger tips as you study your Bible.

Nelson Publishers have put out the "Nelson Study Bible." There is nothing like it. It has more helps than any Bible I have seen. There are 15,000 expository study notes! It is so scholarly and yet so spiritual. It is a veritable Bible Institute sitting on your desk. The 350 "word studies" and 100 "in depth" studies are unique to any study Bible in existence. This Bible is a must for any teacher, preacher or new Christian who really wants to learn and use the Bible.

A complete concordance is another essential. An excellent way to study the Bible is through word studies. Merely reading every verse that contains the word "good things," "fasting," "prayer," "think," "mind," "salvation" just in the book of Hebrews is fabulous, or any other subject will grant you a remarkable wealth of knowledge and good health spiritually from God's Word. A Bible dictionary will add considerable information and inspiration as well. Then, of course, reading a doctrinally sound commentary on the Book of the Bible you are studying will assist you in learning faster and from the writings of godly authors. Make sure to be a lifelong student of the greatest book of all, God's infallible Word.

Whatever you do, get into the Word and let the Word get into you. When you are in heaven, where "time shall be no more," you will be eternally glad you did. This is how God speaks to us today, through His Word, the sole source of eternal truth. Those who can, of course, should endeavor to attend an evangelical Christian college, Bible school, and/or seminary. Wealthy and wise are those who pay the price to receive a Christian, Bible-based education. One of the greatest statements I ever heard is "You take care of the depth of your ministry and God will take care of the breadth of your ministry." That is absolutely true. Don't be a party to the "blame game." Stir up yourself. Recently I saw a cartoon where the little boy broke his mother's vase. As she had her hand on her hips and looked at her son he said, " El Nino did it." Don't blame the apathy permeating the church on anyone else. You stir up yourself to pray whether anyone else does or not.

How to Have God All to Yourself

"Every child of God ought to spend time with his Father every day." Children need time with their fathers. How much more, Christians need time with their Father. Such an awesome appointment should be a "quiet time" for He says, "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). Unquestionably we need to get alone with God for He wants our undivided attention to say some eternally important things to us through His Word. Conversely, we need His undivided attention for we have some extremely important things to say to Him through prayer! Is He on your daily agenda? Do you have an appointment with God every day? Is it top priority? Did you keep it today?

"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). Babies are lovable and cuddly, but thirty year old spiritual babies are tragedies. "A child of God will never become a man of God without the Word of God." "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe" (Heb. 5:12-13).

What a pathetic picture, yet it is multiplied millions of times all over Christendom. Why? Because so many do not drink the milk or eat the meat of God's Word consistently for spiritual growth and strength. Books are for information, the Bible is for transformation.

Paul's pastoral perception was, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

Every pastor is burdened for and burdened with a nagging nursery of baby believers. He is often cursed with and cursed at by the carnal Christians. Insisting on their own way, they whine and whimper like unweaned, bawling babies. They fuss and fight like carnal Christians in trivial pursuit. They never seem to grow up; they have difficulty ever learning how to get along with others; they are never able to feed themselves, crying all the while, "I'm not getting fed as I should." They constantly need to be bottle-fed or spoon-fed all the days of their lives. They have no concept of becoming mature enough to feed and care for others. They just sit, soak, and sour. Often destructively, they are a drag on the church. What a woeful waste of lives and gifts! "Be transformed by the word of God or conformed to the world."

"But solid food belongs to those who are of full age [grown up], that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). Thank God for those who have grown up, for those who eat the meat, for those who are productive in the kingdom of God. How greatly the Church needs the maturation of every believer in the body of Christ. Dinner time, for the child of God, is that effective and enjoyable "quiet time" with God when He talks to them through His Word and they talk to Him through prayer. Spiritual growth and maturity will not come about by just eating one big meal on Sunday. Every child of God needs nourishment from God, daily. Apply yourself wholly to the Scriptures and the Scriptures wholly to yourself. How do you have that quiet dinner with God all by yourself? In too many homes the noise of the television has supplanted the quietness of being alone with God.

Get Ready

How do you start? A moment of prayer can help set the stage. Pray as the psalmist did: "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law" (Ps. 119:18). You cannot beat that. Most get what they ask for; nothing. To prepare your heart, find what stirs you to pray. Reading the lyrics of hymns, meditating on Scripture, calling to mind your favorite verses, counting your blessings, or reading a page from a daily devotional book can touch your heart and spark a desire for these momentous moments with God.

Wash Your Hands Before Eating

Start your quiet time as most of us would with any other meal, by washing your hands before you eat. The priests of the Old Testament, before they entered the tabernacle to worship God and partake of the shewbread, the food of the priests, had to "wash their hands and their feet" at the laver, "lest they die" (Ex. 30:21). We as believer priests should do the same today. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated you and your God; and your sins have hidden his face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2). Thankfully, the promise of God is, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Now, present day priests can enter the Holy Place, the throne of grace, for fellowship with a Holy God by "lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubtings" (1 Tim. 2:8).

Listen to God

There are two basic elements in personal devotions: 1. God speaks to you through His Word, and 2. You speak to and with God through prayer. What He says to you is far more significant than what you say to Him, even though, when you are in fellowship with Him, He hangs on every word of your prayers to Him. By the way, it is always polite to let the other person or the most important person speak first. A sad thought is that the Bible is like soap, often those who need it most use it least.

Where to Begin

Once I had an occasion to call a renowned Bible teacher and author. He greeted me with, "Sumner, I just read your book on the Tabernacle." Man, was I honored that this man of God had taken time to read my book! The highest compliment you can give an author is to say, "I have read your book. Think how God feels when you can say, "I have read Your Book." Have you read God's Book from cover to cover? Most have not! Make a goal to do it this year and begin right now. An excellent goal is to read your Bible through at least once every year by reading four chapters a day. In recent years my method has been to read through a different translation of the Bible each year. That has opened up exciting new insights. Reading and studying God's Word can become thrilling for you.

Wait, don't start in Genesis, if you have never read the Bible all the way through. Most who start in the Old Testament get bogged down before going very far. Start with the Gospel of John. Why? Because "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life through His name" (John 20:31). John's Gospel helps Christians to have absolute assurance of their salvation. The New Testament, usually makes far easier and more interesting reading than the Old Testament for most Christians. When you finish John, keep reading through the rest of the New Testament. Believers can become grounded in the doctrines of the Bible and the duties of the Christian life with this approach. "The blood makes us safe and the Bible makes us sure," read it.

Once through the New Testament, go to Genesis. A person who has finished reading the New Testament is more likely to complete the whole Bible. If you happen to bog down in the Old Testament, move again to the New and read Matthew. This will revive your interest and keep you going. Then, go back to where you left off in the O.T. If again you are tempted to quit, read the Gospel of Mark, get your second wind then go back to the O.T. Later, insert Luke, until you finish the Bible.
You can easily go through the entire Bible in a year by reading four chapters a day. Actually, you could read through a whole Book of the Bible, especially the Minor prophets and many of the N.T. epistles, at one sitting. Whatever you do, apply yourself wholly to the Scriptures and the Scriptures wholly to yourself. The Bible should not just inform us but transform us.

Dad, you are the head of your home. That gives you awesome responsibility. Your children see you watch TV by the hour. They see you read the paper, the sports and the comics. Let's be men of God and show them that the Bible is very important. Remember the wise word, "What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say." You wife will be glad to follow your directions when she knows you have been getting directions from God in His word. Your children will obey you when they see you obeying God. Here is a great statement, "The Bible will not be understood until we obey what we do understand." How true that is.

While in seminary I repaired books in the library. I had the privilege of rebinding Dr. Harry A. Ironside's Bible. In the back he kept a record of his Bible reading. He had just finished reading through his Bible for the seventy-fifth time! No wonder, every Sunday back in the 1940s, his Biblical preaching packed over 4,000 people into Moody Church in Chicago. By the way, "A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn't."

I think the greatest illustration I ever heard was given by a black preacher years ago. In his inimitable way he was preaching from 1 John and was quoting, "I write to you little children, I write to you fathers, I write to you young men." Then he shouted out, "Brethren, the Lord's written you a letter, and you ought to read your mail!" That's powerful. Will you read your mail today and every day the rest of your life? God has something very important to say to you. Do you have a few minutes for the eternal God?

Mark Your Bible

Every earnest student of the Word ought to have a study Bible, in which he can mark verses that answer questions, abundantly bless his life, and add spiritual principles to live by. Underline these verses or mark them with a highlighter, so you can readily locate and review them later. Make notes in the margin of your Bible as God gives you spiritual insights. Someone noted, "a dirty Bible means a clean life, and a clean Bible means a dirty life."

Memorize Scripture

"Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Ps. 119:11). Memorize the Word of God. Someone said, "The best place to hide God's Word is in your heart". Verses that help you or can assist you in sharing the Gospel with others are good to memorize. If you are new at all this, obtain a list of special-promise verses from your pastor or a Bible teacher. Early in my Christian life I memorized hundreds of verses by going through the Navigator's system. Doing this was worth at least one year of seminary. If you memorize one or two verses a week, and review them daily for seven weeks, you will have them for a lifetime. Formulate a plan to store up spiritual food for the hard times. You will eternally thank God for this practice.

Meditate on the Word

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Josh. 1:8). This was the advice for those entering the promised land. As we would say today it is for those entering into "life more abundantly" John 10:10. Meditating on the Word of God is how to digest the spiritual food you have taken in and to internalize it. God promises you will prosper if you meditate on and obey His Word. Psalm 1 declares you will be fruitful if you meditate on God's Word.

Meditate means "prolonged, concentrated thought." Think on every word, every phrase, and every clause in the verse, and the Holy Spirit will point out truths and treasures that will refresh and reward you. Learn to meditate on the Word of God and it will open a floodgate of insights and inspiration that will astound you. After fifty-seven years of walking with God and studying the Bible, I now believe meditating on Scripture may be the most profitable exercise of my spiritual life. It is an exciting means of gaining spiritual insight and instruction from the Word of God. Just as prayer and fasting go together, so memorization and meditation fit together as a hand in a glove. Practice it, perfect it, and profit by it as you think about a verse or passage you have read or recall.

This is one of the most sacred, serious and scary things I have ever written! Moses went into the tabernacle. "All of the people rose up and worshiped" and "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face" (Ex. 33:10,11). Only Adam and Moses ever did this. Adam before the fall and Moses since the fall. Moses prayed one phenomenal prayer when he prayed, "Please show me Your glory." (Vs. 18) The next highest request would rank about 10 on a scale of 1-100 while this hits the 100 mark with a bang. That is ineffable, when you think about it.

Moses "was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water" (Ex 34:28). He prayed and fasted! Now comes the climax, "so when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai...that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone and they were afraid to come near to him" (Ex. 34:29,30). There is a radiance on the faces of those who really spend time in His presence. You know what I am talking about. You be one of these. You won't know your face is shining but others will. You will be so unique. You will be so different. You will be so inspirational. You will stand out from the "crowd".

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror (the Bible) the glory of the Lord, (this is what Moses prayed for) are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). Here is the formula. Here is the provision for what Moses received to a much lesser degree, of course. Right now I am as weak as water just thinking about the potential of this. If one million, of the 50 million "born again" Christians, had faces that "shone" like that, we for sure would make and impact on this world. "They looked to Him and were radiant" (Ps. 34:5). This is "the time of your visitation" (Lk. 19:44), get in on it. There is a stirring within you. Maybe you feel like the two on the road to Emmaus who said, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Lk. 24:32). Is your heart burning within you? Do you hunger for more? God put that hunger there (Phil 2:13). Don't miss it. Respond to God and get in on it. Get alone with God until you radiate with the glory of God. My heart just cries out right now, "Oh God, help us to get alone with You and meditate on Your word until our hearts burn within and our faces glow outwardly from within."

 

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