Friday, February 27, 2015

Obstacles To Prayer

Every Christian will go through times when prayer is difficult and unrewarding. Some Christians find it to be so constantly. There are many reasons why our prayer life may be difficult. Let us consider just two.

(1) Our satisfaction in prayer will be closely connected with our Bible reading and study. It is the prayer of faith that is promised success (James 1:6-8; 5:15). Faith comes from hearing the word (Rom 10:17). Therefore, the one who has not been feeding his faith with a healthy diet of the word has no basis for expecting a satisfying prayer life. Increased reading of the word and meditation on it is likely to improve our prayer.

(2) Our satisfaction in prayer will also be connected with our willingness to repent of sin. Unrepentant sin renders our sacrifice of praise and our prayers abominable to God (Prov 15:8). Being inconsiderate of others hinders our prayer (1 Peter 3:7).

There are many factors that may render prayer difficult. Some are beyond our control, but these two are within our control. When experiencing difficulties in prayer, let us seek to repent of any known sin and of inconsiderate behavior toward others. Let us also seek to listen to a portion of the Lord’s word. Quite often we will find renewed strength in our prayers when we combine our prayers with repentance and meditation on the word.

Friday, February 20, 2015

When There Will Not Be A Next Time

When we have failed we should often tell ourselves, “Next time I will do better.” As trite as it sounds, it is still true that there is “no point crying over spilled milk”. Just clean up the milk and be more careful next time.

But, sometimes there is no next time.

The disciples slept as Jesus prayed in the garden. They could not tell themselves, “Next time we will do better.” There would be no next time. Jesus only faced crucifixion once. They failed to support him as they should have, and there would never be another occasion like it.

So, what do we do when there will be no next time?

It is highly significant that the Lord never returned to the subject of their sleeping in the garden. At no point did he ever remind Peter, James, or John of their failures that night. He had warned them that the temptation was coming (Mt 26:31). He had told them to prepare for it with prayer (Mt 26:41). But once they had failed, he never brought it up again.

With reference to a temptation we will face repeatedly, reviewing our earlier failures makes sense. But when there will be no next time, it is best to forget what is behind and press on to what lies ahead (Phil 3:13). “Rise, let us be going”, he said to them (Mt 26:46). Once it was over, it was time to move on to the next duty, not time to dwell on past failure.

Satan wants us to forget the mistakes from which we should be learning. The evil one wants us to dwell on the sins that are done and past and will never come up again.

The Lord wants the opposite. He wants us to correct whatever is correctable and he wants us to forget what is beyond correction. The price for their sin that night was paid by the next afternoon. So there was no point dwelling on it. The price for our sin was paid long ago. We must repent of our sin. We should confess our sin. But when we have committed sin that is unfixable and unrepeatable it is time forget it and to move on to the next duty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Orthodontics, Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy

We live in a strange age. People worry about the trivial and are unconcerned about what matters. If I go to the web site of the orthodontist's association and enter my zip code, I get three pages of results. There are that many doctors who specialize in keeping our teeth straight. But where is a similar site to help me find those who will keep my thinking straight? People will go to great pains to get their teeth straight, but they are totally unconcerned about straight thinking and straight living.

Some even say, "I guess I am a little unorthodox." Maybe you have said that. Do you know what you are confessing? To be orthodox is to be "straight thinking". These days, to be truly orthodox would mean to be decidedly different from most people, because straight thinking, especially on spiritual matters, has become highly uncommon.

Most people cannot be bothered to set their thinking straight. They are too busy trying to get their teeth straight. Even those who try to think straight often neglect to put that thinking to the test of living straight.

Jesus is not going to separate the sheep from the goats on the basis of their respective smiles. So the orthodontist cannot help you inherit eternal life. Straight thinking that has led to straight living is what will matter. The straight-thinking (orthodox) study of the teaching of Jesus, and the straight-practice (orthopraxy) of those teachings in our lives; that is what we really need.

If we have nice teeth as well, that is okay; but it is not a priority.

Therefore do not be anxious saying, "How shall I get my teeth straight?" or "Where can I get a good nose job?" or "What shall I wear?" "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Humpty and Homosexuality

"When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all."

Humpty wanted to show that he was boss. So he would use a word but then demand that it be taken to mean something other than what the word had always meant. We used to be wise enough to recognize people who do that as arrogant fools, but today we are expected to accept such behavior as normal and right. It may be getting to be common, but it is not right.

Marriage -- we know what it has always meant. We know that God defined it once for all when it was said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24, ESV). But a lot of people these days are like Humpty Dumpty. They want to use the word "marriage" of what has previously been called perversion. They demand that the government recognize this.

Now Yasmin Eleby of Houston, Texas claims to have "married" herself. Not wanting to stop at merely flying in the face of all logic, history, and good taste, she held the self-centered ceremony at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture. A cultural museum seems an odd place to reject all human culture and appoint one's self the center of the universe. But then why not chose an odd place to be odd? I wonder if the IRS will let her file her tax return as a married person.

Chaos is the result when words with well known meanings can thus be redefined. But chaos is just what those given to evil want. In the midst of a riot people often get away with theft and sometimes murder. Today verbal rioting is common. Humpty Dumpty seems to be running our world.

I think it is time to read the 37th Psalm. "Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. ....."

"Bye Bye, Humpty. Have a nice fall."