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Pray for My Upcoming Ministry! (September through November)

Friends: It’s so good to be in the battle, right? Would you pray for the following opportunities for ministry for me and Linda?

September 23-24 – Heritage Retreat, Camp Elim, Woodland Park, Colorado. I’ll be speaking to the supporters of the Camp on 2 Corinthians 12 and the theme will be “Living NOW in Light of the FUTURE.”

September 28-October 7 – Linda and I will be in the pagan land of New Jersey. I will speak to the believers at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel on September 29 and October 6. In Sunday School I will discuss I Timothy 3 on those two Sundays. I will also conduct a Saturday seminar on October 5 on my book Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. We will stay with Linda’s 93-year-old mom and catch up on missed episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”

October 18-November 11 – I will travel to Ethiopia and Zambia to teach in two schools there. Please pray for my preparations for that trip — and for safety!

November 16-17 – Cedar Valley Bible Church’s “Second Coming Conference” in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My theme will be “What Difference Does the Future Make? The Practical Application of Prophecy” and I will be preaching on three passages: I Thessalonians 4, 2 Peter 3, and I John 3.

I really want to dedicate this next year to seeking to influence churches in the area of friendship evangelism. Please pray for opportunities to have my “Unlike Jesus” seminar in many places!

Thanks for your prayers, my friends!

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2019 in ministry

 

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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 7

Linda and I are looking forward to September 23-24 when we will be speaking to the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado. These posts give me the opportunity to work on my messages (from 2 Corinthians 12) for the Heritage Retreat.

Let’s look at our text one more time:

Paul’s experience of heaven was dramatically different from the often silly and unbiblical reports of people who say they have toured heaven.

We don’t need their testimonies — we have the Word of God to guide us.

We saw that the first challenge in Living Now in Light of the Future is that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-6).

Our second challenge from this text is that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2 & 4 & 7). Having a clear focus on the future does not mean that we try to explain all the sights and sounds of heaven — but we allow its superlative nature to silence us into awe and wonder!

Let’s notice a third challenge from our text that will help us live now in light of the future. Because of the reality of our future we are given —

III. A Practical Primer on Prayer (vv. 8-9)

“Primer” is an old word meaning either (1) an elementary book for teaching children to read; or, (2) any book of elementary principles. Well, we don’t have a book here, but we are given — through Paul’s example — a model of prayer which we ought to follow.

There are, of course, various kinds of prayer in the Scriptures. I find it helpful to use the ACTS formula (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). Here in 2 Corinthians 12 Paul’s prayer is of the supplication kind, don’t you think? He has a desperate need — and he brings it to the Lord for resolution.

What is Paul’s need? He is talking about an incredible, superior experience of getting a glimpse (both auditory and visual) of heaven! What possible needs could he now have?! Ah, he receives a “gift” for his experience. He says in verse 7 – “in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” What?!?!?!

God gave Paul a “thorn in the flesh” which Paul describes as “a messenger of Satan”! Scholars have long debated what Paul’s “thorn” was (malaria, Judaizers plaguing him, etc.). My suggestion is that it was a vision problem, for he says in the book of Galatians things like “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (6:11) and “if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me” (4:15). He does refer to this thorn as his “weakness” (vv. 5, 9ff), a Greek term which normally refers to a physical problem.

[One can’t help but think of another “Saul” who had a similar experience. Of King Saul we read — “Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (I Sam. 16:14)].

What do we learn about PRAYER from Paul here?
1. We learn that it is never wrong to pray for something more than once. Paul “pleaded with the Lord” three times for the thorn to be taken away.
2. We learn that we are to submit to God’s will and not become disillusioned when God doesn’t answer our prayers as we think He should.
3. We learn about His sufficient grace — that it becomes most real to us in our “weaknesses.”
4. We learn that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

You may have heard the story of Bill’s meeting with his pastor. “Pastor,” he said, “I have the worst temper! I fly off the handle at my wife and my kids. It’s terrible! I guess it’s just my ‘thorn in the flesh.'” “Bill,” the pastor said, “your temper is not your ‘thorn in the flesh.’ It’s your wife’s thorn in the flesh! But it’s your SIN!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — PRAYING IN the Holy Spirit!

Some Christians tend to overemphasize the Holy Spirit, while others of us tend to overlook Him. Because we need a balanced, biblical view of our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we are writing these posts, asking how are we to relate to Him? Because He is personal, we can pray to Him — and, because He is God, we can worship Him. Neither of these two actions ought to be understood as taking the place of our primary calling of worshiping the Lord Jesus. The Spirit’s major role is to glorify the Lord Jesus!

Apart from the many ministries that the Holy Spirit has in the believer’s life, we need to consider how we respond to Him. Scripture tells us not to grieve Him in Ephesians 4:30 (“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.“).

But we have a fascinating command in the one-chapter epistle of Jude where he writes, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit . . .”

What in the world does it mean to “pray in the Holy Spirit”? This expression is used only one other time in Scripture and that is in Ephesians 6:18 where we read, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Does “praying in the Spirit” refer to the use of some supernatural, unlearned language? Some in the charismatic movement refer to “heavenly babbling,” the speaking “in other tongues.” However, when we examine the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in known dialects so that the gospel could be understood by people from various backgrounds.

There is  nothing in the context of Jude 1 or of Ephesians 6 that would indicate that other-worldly languages are being referred to by the expression “praying in the Holy Spirit” or “pray in the Spirit.” May I suggest a rather mundane, but hopefully accurate view of this practice and that would be — We should pray in accordance with the Spirit’s ministries. In other words, in Jude the challenge is to stand strong for the gospel. To build ourselves up in our most holy faith involves praying that the Holy Spirit would have His way in our lives, that we would listen to His promptings, that we would obey His teaching of God’s truth. In Ephesians our praying in the Spirit concerns others — We are to pray “in the Spirit” on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. This involves being alert and consistent in praying for all the Lord’s people.

Conclusion: We pray in the Spirit when we are aware of His works in our lives and we ask His help in doing our work for God. The self-work we do is to strengthen ourselves in God’s truth. The others-work we do is to intercede for God’s people.

The Challenge: Are you praying in the Holy Spirit? Take one of His ministries to you and ask Him to help you co-operate with His work in your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Time for a Great Quote from Thomas Watson — on Prayer!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2019 in prayer

 

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A Few Thoughts on Prayer (from the book Resilient Ministry)

This book, Resilient Ministry by Bob Burns, Tasha D. Chapman, and Donald C. Guthrie, is quite helpful. Its subtitle — “What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving” — orients the reader to the book’s (and the study’s) purpose.

Here are several quotes about PRAYER that I found challenging:

“All who have walked with God have viewed prayer as the main business of their lives.” (Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline).

The Puritan Thomas Goodwin shared: “That our fallen nature is actually allergic to God and never wants to get too close to him. Thus our fallen nature constantly pulls us away from prayer.”

“For the majority of the Christian centuries most pastors have been convinced that prayer is the central and essential act for maintaining the essential shape of the ministry to which they were ordained. . . . Have conditions changed so much in our age that prayer is no longer fit to be the formative act? Have developments in theology shown other things to be central and prayer at the periphery? Or have we let ourselves be distracted, diverted, and seduced. I think we have.” (Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles).

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2019 in prayer

 

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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Public Prayer! (1:9-14)

We are looking at prominent themes in the epistle to the Colossians. And this morning we want to once again notice the theme of prayer in Chapter 1 (before we move on to Chapter 2). We’ve already seen Paul’s labor in prayer for these believers, but something else in his prayer has gotten my attention. Let’s read over verses 9-14 once again:

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Here’s what strikes me: Paul is not quietly and silently lifting these believers up before the Lord. His prayer is public and he sends his prayer to the Colossians in a letter! A letter which (I believe) Paul knew would become holy Scripture, read by followers of Jesus forever! Others can see and read what Paul’s concerns are for these Christians. The Colossians, no doubt, would read and re-read his prayer over and over again. They would be reminded of his longing that they would be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will,” that they would “live a life worthy of the Lord,” that they would seek to “please him in every way,” etc.

Do I pray that way for anyone? Or do I just pray that they will get a job, grow strong in their marriage, have their health restored, etc? And IF I prayed for someone else as Paul did here, would I write that down and give it to them? Or do I spend most of my prayer time praying for myself and a pony?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in prayer

 

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Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of Philippians) Part 6 JOY and Circumstances

The Apostle Paul uses the word JOY (and its variants) sixteen times in this epistle of Philippians. Let’s notice Paul’s third use of this word in 1:18-19 —

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Paul is in prison! How can one rejoice — in prison?!

The key to rejoicing here, I suggest, is that Paul knew that God was in control. He had confidence that his imprisonment had not happened by accident. It was not without purpose. And he looked forward to his eventual release.

Some of you know that each year I teach a survey of Bible doctrine class to lifers at our local prison. These men have come to know Christ, many of them, while incarcerated. In the seven or eight years that I have taught my course there have been a few who were Christians before prison and made some terrible choices (one was even a pastor). Sometimes my desire to know the specifics of why these brothers are in prison — most for life — is very strong. But I don’t need to know those details. My job is to help prepare them for ministry as assistant prison chaplains (the program of study being conducted by Columbia International University).

Paul continues to rejoice, even though he is in prison. And I can imagine that his circumstances were much worse than that of the brothers I work with here. How do we rejoice in our present circumstances? Several truths help us here:

1. Scripture tells us to be thankful in all things, not for all things (I Thes. 5:18). We are not to be thankful for sin or for evil actions. But we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
2. Our text today gives us two truths that will help us keep our JOY in trying circumstances. The first truth is the prayers of others! Paul says, ” I know that through your prayers . . . what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” How much do you and I count on the prayers of others? Probably far too little!
3.The third truth that will help us rejoice in circumstances is also in our text: ” I know that through . . . God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” We ask God to provide us a sense of the Spirit’s presence in our lives as we live for Him.

Want to keep your JOY as you go through your various circumstances? In Philippians 4 Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Recognize that God is sovereign in your life situation right now. Begin to ask for prayer from others that you will honor Christ in what you are going through. And depend on God’s Holy Spirit to comfort and guide you where you are. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2019 in joy

 

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