ThEologic Blindspots

How to find (and fix) your theological blindspots

WE ALL HOLD SYSTEMS OF THEOLOGY THAT ARE PRONE TO PARTICULAR DOCTRINAL DEFICIENCIES.

By  Juan R. Sanchez • June 12, 2020

Editors’ note: This article was originally published at LifeWay Voices. 

Imagine for a moment that your church is looking for a pastor. After carefully and prayerfully working through the process, the search team presents its candidate to the church. “He is eloquent in speech, competent in the Scriptures, educated in the way of the Lord, passionate in spirit, and accurate in the way he speaks and teaches all things concerning Jesus.” Too good to be true? Perhaps. But that is precisely how Luke describes Apollos in Acts 18:24-25.

Apollos had a blind spot

While Apollos sounds like the perfect pastoral candidate, there is one problem. He has one glaring deficiency, except he can’t see it. That’s what we call a blind spot. Apollos only knew the baptism of John the Baptist (Acts 18:25). John’s baptism was a preparatory baptism. He called all Israel to repent from their sins and receive forgiveness in order to prepare for the coming Messiah. John baptized with water, but the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11). More than likely, Apollos had received John’s baptism and led others to receive it as well, since that’s all he knew.

There’s lots to unpack, and even debate, in what it means that Apollos only knew John’s baptism, but let’s not lose sight of Luke’s point. It is crystal clear: It’s not enough to be an eloquent, competent, educated, passionate, and accurate teacher. 

To be useful in ministry, the gospel we share must be complete. Gifted teachers may wow and win audiences, but because of their theological blind spots, they may also lead them away from Christ and his gospel. Incomplete theological teaching stunts Christian growth, harms spiritual well-being, and, as we see in many cases on social media and in our churches, causes division.

Everyone has blind spots 

Sadly, because of all the media options available to us, we have access to many eloquent, competent, educated, passionate teachers who accurately teach the things concerning Jesus but are unaware they possess some theological deficiencies. 

Some emphasize repentance to the neglect of faith and grace, crushing those with tender consciences who think they can never repent enough to be accepted by a holy God. Others stress faith and grace to the exclusion of repentance, leading immature believers to think they can go on living like the world. 

Some exhort you to unhitch the Old Testament from the New, unknowingly giving life to an old heresy condemned long ago. Others actually unhitch the Old Testament from the New, neglecting to preach the Old Testament as Christ and the apostles did. Be vigilant! Just because a Christian teacher has written dozens of books and has tens of thousands of Twitter followers does not mean they are accurate in all areas of theology.

Blind spots are not false teaching

Notice that I am not talking about false teachers. I’m speaking of Christian teachers with theological blind spots. I understand Apollos to have been a Christian teacher. The major clue to his Christian faith is that Aquila and Priscilla did not ask him to be baptized—the public identification of membership in the new covenant community, the community of the Spirit. 

Instead, because they saw him as a Christian, Aquila and Priscilla took him under their wings. Apollos taught the things concerning Jesus accurately (Acts 18:25). Aquila and Priscilla discipled Apollos that he may teach the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26).

We have much to learn from Aquila and Priscilla. Because they saw Apollos as a fellow brother in Christ, they didn’t call him out publicly and wave the “heretic” flag. Neither did they gossip to the members of the synagogue about his teaching, calling him a false teacher in order to get him removed. No! Instead, they upheld his dignity, taking him aside privately to disciple him, showing him his theological blind spot.

Of course, we have much to learn from Apollos as well. Because he was eloquent, competent, educated, passionate, and already accurately teaching the things concerning Jesus, he could have brushed Aquila and Priscilla aside. Instead, he humbled himself and received their instruction.

We all have theological blind spots. Just admitting that fact will begin to humble us, I hope. We all hold systems of theology that are prone to particular doctrinal deficiencies. Acknowledging that fact will begin to allow Scripture to reshape our systems wherever necessary, I trust. 

Of course, it’s hard to do that alone, or in an echo chamber. That’s why we need our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree. May we humble ourselves and learn from one another instead of waving the “heretic” or “liberal” or “false-teacher” flags prematurely. If we cry “heretic” every time we meet someone we disagree with, no one will listen when we actually need to warn the church of false teachers.

Like Apollos, we all need brothers and sisters in our lives like Aquila and Priscilla who are more mature in the faith and can expose our theological blind spots.  So, let’s humble ourselves. Let’s lovingly disciple one another, that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and be more useful in gospel ministry (Acts 18:27-28).

How much is Jesus worth to you?

Centuries ago, ancient merchants originated a phrase which came to serve as the universal rule for trade and commerce: “The value of anything is determined by how much it can be traded for.” Ironic as it may seem, one of the greatest illustrations of this principle comes from the tragic story of Christ’s betrayal by one of his own disciples. Judas, who was also the treasurer for the twelve, traded his loyalty to Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Judas simply traded Christ for something which was of higher value to himself. What a shame, that after being with Jesus daily, witnessing the miracles and the wonders, to Judas the Lord of the universe was only worth a mere 30 pieces of silver! The infamous downfall of Judas, is really a story of warped values — he simply didn’t recognize the true worth, the vast preciousness of Jesus Christ. “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced” (Matt. 27:9).

Twisted values are not uncommon in other Biblical accounts, such as in the story of the twin brothers, Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25). A special blessing and inheritance from their father Isaac belonged to the first-born son, Esau. But Esau lacked a full appreciation for his inherited birthright. In contrast, Jacob realized its astronomical value and coveted his birthright. He eventually found a scheme to transfer its rights to himself. At a time that Esau was famished, Jacob offered him a bowl of lentils in exchange for the birthright. Although this offer was in no way equitable, yet amazingly, Esau agreed to trade his birthright for a single meal. What stupid, distorted values Esau had! But is this any different than the petty, inferior things that many people trade for spiritual things?

Let me ask you a hypothetical question. What if Jesus sent you a letter and promised to personally meet with you and His other followers at a restaurant on Sabbath morning. But let’s say Sabbath comes, and you feel like sleeping in instead. Or maybe it’s such a beautiful day, you prefer to go on a picnic, or perhaps there’s a football game on TV you don’t want to miss. Wouldn’t you say that whatever you selected to do, instead of meeting with Jesus, would say something about the insignificance of your relationship with Him? Wouldn’t it mean that, like Judas, you have established your value upon Christ? Wouldn’t it mean that a TV show has higher worth, that a picnic is more important, or a little extra sleep means more to you than meeting with Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe?

But you may say, “Jesus hasn’t sent me such a letter. He’s in Heaven and won’t be at a restaurant!” However dear friend, Jesus promised that whenever believers gather in His name, He will always honor that gathering with His presence. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). In other words, He gave His word to be present whenever two or more believers come together in His name.

So do Christians really believe His Word? Many must figure that Jesus doesn’t tell the truth, because week after week, many professing Christians snub the Lord Jesus by not showing up where He promised to be. Either they must figure He lied and won’t be at church, or else they have simply established a low estimate of Jesus’ worth. Yes, that’s right! The things that keep you away from church is the value you have placed on the presence of Jesus — they declare what spiritual things are worth to you.

Thank God there are believers who have such a high value on their meeting with Jesus that it takes something urgent or awfully important to pull them away. Some have no choice but to work at their jobs during the times that some church meetings occur. Some might not come meet with Jesus because of an emergency, sickness, road conditions or car trouble, etc. Although nothing in this world can assume a higher priority than our relationship with Jesus, at least the Lord understands our situations and knows our heart — that we rather would meet with Him and our brethren if it weren’t for similar urgencies.

However, how could we expect the Lord to be pleased if we stay away from His meetings for less serious excuses? What does it say about our spiritual values if we’re absent due to the special sale at Sears, the football game, watching the late show, or are simply too lazy to get up on time? Remember, the reasons which keep people away reflect the value that they take place upon the Lord, spiritual things, their brethren and the church.

Why does the scripture connect the neglect of church attendance to sin? Mere absence from a church meeting is not in itself a sin, however a pattern of absence from church always leads to, or has a relationship to sin and displeasing God. “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:25-26).

Why Unfaithfulness to Church Displeases God
(1) It keeps us away from a spiritual influence that would encourage us and keep us from falling away from the Lord (Heb. 3:12-13).
(2) It keeps us away from encouragement toward repentance and reconciliation should we fall into sin (1 John 1:9, Gal. 6:1).
(3) Prevents our faith from being built up by hearing the Word preached (Rom. 10:17).
(4) It keeps us from obeying the Lord’s command to demonstrate love for our brethren, which keeps us from falling (1 John 2:10, John 15:12).
(5) It prevents us from receiving correction or submission to spiritual authority (Heb. 13:17).
(6) It expresses unbelief and disobedience to God’s Word which tells us to fellowship and assemble together (1 John 1:7, Heb. 10:25).
(7) It shows disregard toward the call to worship the Lord collectively as His body (Psa. 22:22, 35:18, 107:32).
(8) It shows our lack of discernment of the Lord’s body (Matt. 25:14, 1 Cor. 11:29).
(9) It demonstrates a lack of self-sacrifice and discipline (Luke 9:23).
(10) It shows a disregard for the Lord’s presence (Matt. 18:20).
(11) It is a sin of “omission,” in that we know it’s “good” to be faithful to church (James 4:17).

As for Esau, the value he placed on the things of God was only worth the price of a bowl of lentils which he traded in exchange for his birthright to his brother Jacob. For Judas, the things of God were worth only a slightly higher price — thirty pieces of silver which he exchanged for the betrayal of Jesus.

How about you? What is your worth you have placed upon the things of God? What price will it take to keep you away from your church or spiritual things? A favorite TV show? A sale at the shopping mall? A mosquito bite? A boo-boo on your little toe? What do you suppose that God thinks about the value you have placed upon His church and His fellowship?

If you ever thought that being a Christian was something that you could do out of “convenience” you were greatly mistaken. God isn’t interested in your “leftovers.” He must be the highest priority in your life, or else He becomes worthless. In order to serve Christ it will require sacrifice on your part — sacrifice of your time, money, convenience, popularity… and even your life. “…nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing…” (2 Sam. 24:24).

Open doors?

So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him. Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.”

But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?”

David also said, “As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water, and let us go.”

1 Samuel 26:7-11 (NASB)

Opportunities aren’t always what they appear to be. Don’t be too quick to assume an opportunity is from God just because it’s in front of you. Christians talk a lot about God opening doors, and indeed he does. But we need to be discerning because not every open door is from God. David’s experience is a case in point. King Saul had made his life miserable for years. David’s days were spent on the run; his nights, hiding in caves. And all the while, David had to accept the fact that he, not Saul, was supposed to be the king.

Then it came! An incredible opportunity that would solve all David’s problems. There was Saul, asleep and defenseless at David’s feet! David’s friend immediately assumed this chance must be from God. Who would ever blame David for killing Saul? His friend even offered to do the job for him. But David knew God better than that. He understood that God would take care of Saul himself, in his own time. David was a warrior; he had taken many lives before. But this was different. Even though Saul had been his enemy, David realized that God had called Saul and that God would deal with Saul in his own way. So David spared Saul’s life. This would not be the last time he would do so. Ultimately, David did become king, and Saul did get what he deserved, but it wasn’t because David took matters into his own hands.

We, too, must distinguish between temptation and opportunity. What seems to make perfect sense to us may be totally contrary to God’s will. How can we know the difference? We must learn to know God’s heart as David did, and God will give us the ability to discern the difference.

Jeremiah 7

Bible Study

Just had a Bible Study which I led. Out of nowhere (?) I felt Jeremiah 7 1-28 was the focus. What was significant about the passage is that 3 or 4 others had just recently read and studied this.  Is The Holy Spirit trying to tell us something?  It sounds a lot like America today!

It is direct opposition with those who quote 2 Chronicles 7:14   This passage isn’t talking about America or national identity or some generic sense of “revival.” To apply the verse this way is, whatever one’s political ideology, is theological liberalism.

This verse is a word written to a specific people–the people of God–who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power. At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God.

Read Jeremiah.  It is a prophesy that God was about to judge the nation for turning away. It too was written for a specific time and people but the similarities to today are striking. The people were sinning during the week and then coming to worship as if all was ok.  In the passage God tells Jeremiah to not pray for them because He would not listen to those prayers.  Judgement was coming unless they really repented.  

But God indicates they would not listen to Jeremiah giving the warning.  

History teaches…. Early in the reign of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah delivered his famous “Temple sermon,” of which there are two versions, one in Jeremiah, chapter 7, verses 1 to 15, the other in chapter 26, verses 1 to 24. He denounced the people for their dependence on the Temple for security and called on them to effect genuine ethical reform. He predicted that God would destroy the Temple of Jerusalem, as he had earlier destroyed that of Shiloh, if they continued in their present path. Jeremiah was immediately arrested and tried on a capital charge. He was acquitted but may have been forbidden to preach again in the Shiloh.

This reference to Shiloh caused me and those participating in the Bible study to read about what happened in Shiloh. 

Shiloh in the Bible. After the conquest, Joshua first dwelt at Gilgal and then at Shiloh (Josh 14:618:1). Why Shiloh was chosen is not known, though the fact that it was seemingly uninhabited in Canaanite times may have suggested it as an “uncontaminated” location for worship. The tent of meeting was set up in Shiloh and the Israelites assembled there. 

The importance of Shiloh as a center for Israelite worship continued into the time of the Judges. The Biblical writer remarks upon the length of time that the house of God was there (Judg 18:31). While shiloh held the place of prominence in Israelite worship during this period, other places began to assume some importance as well. Thus we see that the Ark of the covenant was in Bethel at least for a time (Judg 20:2627).

Shiloh continues to figure largely in the religious life of Israel during Samuel’s time. Elkanah, Samuel’s father, went to Shiloh year by year to sacrifice to Yahweh. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests in Shiloh at the time. It was in the temple at Shiloh that Hannah prayed for a child and there she brought him to be dedicated to Yahweh’s service. The two sons of Eli had largely corrupted the sacrificial system as it was meant to be practiced at Shiloh, and their conduct with the women who served at the entrance of the shrine was by no means above reproach. Yahweh’s appearance to the boy Samuel at Shiloh and his establishment as a prophet there also emphasize the centrality of the place in the religious history of early Israel (1 Sam 3:21).

When the Ark of God was captured and Israel was defeated at the hands of the Philistines, Shiloh lost its significance (4:3412), and the priests evidently fled to Nob just N of Jerusalem (22:11). Shiloh, or at least its temple, was evidently destroyed in about 1050 b.c.   It was generally recognized that God had forsaken “his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among men, and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe” (Ps 78:60). Jeremiah implies that in his day the ruins of the temple at Shiloh could still be seen and this fact he used to give force to his declaration that the Temple at Jerusalem would suffer a similar fate because of moral and religious corruption (Jer 7:121426:69). 

Conclusion.

You can believe and quote  2 Chronicles 7:14 if you want to.  But I believe the passage in Jeremiah 7 closely parallels today’s society.  It seems that in the past week, many Christians have been drawn to Jeremiah 7.  Coincidence or Holy Spirit?

Brian

Some prayer make you sick

Some Prayers Make You Sick

I believe in prayer.  I believe that prayers can make you well.  But I also believe some prayers actually make you sick.

Take the following scenario.  Let’s say Brother “Jack” is praying. The following might sound sort of like the sick prayer…

Jack. Hello God.  I need to talk to you about me being sick.  I need your healing.

God.  Howdy Jack. Great to see you. What’s this about being Sick?

Jack.  Well I have (xyz) symptoms.

God.  Jack you don’t seem sick to me.

Jack. Oh yes God I have more symptoms too.

God. Jack you are focusing on the wrong things. You need to focus on Me.

Jack. I will God after you have cured my xyz.  

God.  There is nothing for me to fix. 

Jack.  Just watch God.  I can focus on my body and feel the illness.

God. Jack… focus on me!

Jack eventually wanders off to get an aspirin.  He is now convinced he has xyz and that furthermore God is using his illness to teach him some great spiritual truths.  Jack is now more convinced in the mystery of prayer and healing.  God is allowing Jack to suffer xyz for His glory!  Teaching us to keep our eyes on Jesus even when we are sick.  

Oh and by the way, scientist and Doctors have discovered that the human body will respond to a certain extent to thoughts. That is why there are so many counselors and therapist in hospitals.  Positive thoughts do seem to promote wellness.  And the flip side…negative tends to actually create unhealthy.

So in the case of prayer, while I do not believe in “Name it-Claim it” , I do believe that we can focus on negative even during prayer to our detriment. Thus the title “some prayers make you sick”.

“What does it mean to have a reprobate mind?”

The phrase “reprobate mind” is found in Romans 1:28 in reference to those whom God has rejected as godless and wicked. They “suppress the truth by their wickedness,” and it is upon these people that the wrath of God rests (Romans 1:18). The Greek word translated “reprobate” in the New Testament is adokimos, which means literally “unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication, worthless (literally or morally).”

Paul describes two men named Jannes and Jambres as those who “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). Here the reprobation is regarding the resistance to the truth because of corrupt minds. In Titus, Paul also refers to those whose works are reprobate:

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

Therefore, the reprobate mind is one that is corrupt and worthless.

As we can see in the verses above, people who are classified as having a reprobate mind have some knowledge of God and perhaps know of His commandments.

However, they live impure lives and have very little desire to please God.

Those who have reprobate minds live corrupt and selfish lives.

Sin is justified and acceptable to them.

The reprobates are those whom God has rejected and has left to their own devices.

We know what a reprobate is; a person that rejects the Light of Christ and chooses to follow the darkness, so that person falls under condemnation and disapproval by God.

They are godless and wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Romans 1:18). As a result, he gave them over to this reprobate and virtually worthless state of reasoning.

Romans 1:19-21

God Himself declares that at least some knowledge—a basic, foundational understanding—is available to virtually everyone. However, an interesting danger is revealed here. Note how this unfolds: “. . . because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (verse 21). These people knew God, just as the people addressed by Isaiah and Amos and in Hebrews had knowledge of God. Yet, they obviously did not honor God by conducting themselves according to what they knew of Him. They failed to put their knowledge into action, and instead, let their imaginations run wild and began worshipping things apart from what God had revealed of Himself. Their imaginings, Paul says, led them straight into idolatry. In other words, they did not hold fast to what God gave them.

Might we have a reprobate mind?

The good news is, truly converted followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ do not have to worry about such a thing.

Hungering for Corporate Prayer


Many Christians are thinking the same thing these days. We know that time is short. We can feel the pressure building.  It makes our hearts beat harder as we contemplate the surreal landscape of the hour in which we are living and try to come to grips with the reality of Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes.  

We cringe at the stories that flood the media. We have a hard time going to sleep at night because of the horrific and threatening news and find ourselves quoting  Scripture in the dark to quiet our fears.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91).  This Scripture is comforting and strengthening.  Meditating on each piece of the armor in Ephesians 6, also, helps me to stand against the enemy’s taunts.                        

Still, if you are like me, you find yourself wanting to pray together with other believers. Pray… together.  It seems this is the farthest thought from most Christians’ minds.  Even inside the believing churches’ walls, corporate prayer is scarce.  Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 21:13b:

“It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer.” 

So, why aren’t we falling on our knees as a church body and crying out to the Lord for mercy in judgment and for grace to live for Christ?  

Why aren’t we pleading together for all the great needs we hear about? 

Why aren’t we confessing the sins of our nation? 

Don’t we need to tell God how sorry we are for our wickedness? An avalanche is coming, and we just go on with business as usual.  This lack of corporate prayer inside the church building in these unprecedented days is as mystifying to me as the deafening silence there concerning these “perilous times.”  

Is there a connection between these two issues?  Has political correctness, aka “the fear of man,” choked out the prayer meeting?  If we can’t talk about it, we can’t pray about it.  Right?

“The fear of man bringeth a snare:  but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

 Believe me, when persecution hits hard in America, people will start gathering together for prayer.  Why wait for worse things to happen?  We may not have the opportunity to freely pray together for long. I believe God wants to do amazing things even in a dying America. Only our unbelief will stand in the way.

 “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58).”     

 No, I don’t believe America will be resurrected at this point. The signs are everywhere.  Judgment is falling fast on our nation as well as the world. We seem to have hit the downward slope at full-speed and are headed for the “end of the age.”  Yet, there is so much we can do in prayer; and, oh, the strength that comes from praying together. 

Although secret prayer is our lifeblood, we need prayer with the Body of Christ, too, especially now.  Let’s join our hearts together and pray for all we’re worth as we face uncertain and, yes, downright scary days ahead. 

Where should we start? The battle is great everywhere we look. Consider Israel, now surrounded by raging satanic hordes.  The Lord said we are to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).  Think of the privilege we have to minister to the seed of Abraham in their hour of great need.  

We know what is coming from reading the prophetic Word, and we have been commanded to pray for God’s chosen people.  Don’t we want our prayers to be used to bring salvation to “all Israel” (Romans 11:26)?  What about the persecuted church all over the world, fleeing for their lives and being tortured in a myriad of unspeakable ways?  We need to intercede at God’s throne for them as if it were our own plight.

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).  

What about our unsaved loved ones, neighbors, friends, and other acquaintances?  Will they be left behind at the trumpet sound?  The Tribulation is near, but death could be even closer.    Some of us have been praying for years for these dear ones.  Lest we faint at this critical hour, let’s hold up each other’s arms and cry out for God to open their eyes. There’s so much more I could add here, but I think it should be obvious that the need is urgent, to say the least, which calls for our united fervency.  

 Remember the Lord Jesus in the Garden as He was pouring out His soul to the Father concerning the cup.  He went to His disciples more than once and found them sleeping. He said to Peter,  “What, Could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40b).  They went back to sleep. 

How could they have been so oblivious to the times? They had been with Him and heard all His teachings. He kept telling them, but they just didn’t get it. Don’t you think they would have been on their faces agonizing  with the Lord if they had known what was about to take place?   

Well, we know.  If we have read our Bibles, we know.  The birth pangs are growing stronger with shorter intervals.  To say the  situation is dire is a monstrous understatement.  The stage for Daniel”s 70th Week is being set at a dizzying speed.  The church’s departure must be close.  If ever there were a call from the Lord for us to come together in corporate prayer, this is surely it.  We don’t want to miss this call like the disciples did on that dark night in the Garden. 

I have not been able to find prayer meetings in the usual places, but God has heard my soul’s cry for fellowship in prayer. A couple of evenings each week I tune in to an Internet prayer meeting where some godly men lead the cyber-connected congregation in prayer and Bible study. They are courageously facing the issues and praying the way the churches should be praying, as well as working tirelessly to deliver the gospel to the world. 

It is a great joy and blessing to be able to agree with them in prayer regarding these incredible times. Then, one or two mornings a week I meet with my sister on the phone long distance. We pray for many things but lost loved ones in particular.

We know that time is running out. We have combined our efforts, encouraging one another to keep trusting God to work in their lives.   Also, when I can meet with friends and family members in my living-room or theirs, I take advantage of every opportunity for corporate prayer.  

Christian friends, if gathering for prayer is a desire of yours, God will supply.  Ask Him.  I believe He is hungering, too. For all eternity we will be glad we answered His call.                 

“ …and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b emphasis added).

START WHERE YOU ARE

START WHERE YOU ARE

by Chuck Swindoll

Jonah 1-4

To start over, you have to know where you are. To get somewhere else, it’s necessary to know where you’re presently standing. That’s true in a department store or a big church, on a freeway or a college campus . . . or in life, for that matter. Very, very seldom does anybody “just happen” to end up on the right road. The process involved in redirecting our lives is often painful, slow, and even confusing. Occasionally, it seems unbearable.

Take Jonah. (No one else wanted to.) He was prejudiced, bigoted, stubborn, openly rebellious, and spiritually insensitive. Other prophets ran to the Lord. He ran from Him. Others declared the promises of God with fervent zeal. Not Jonah. He was about as motivated as a six-hundred-pound grizzly in mid-January.

Somewhere down the line, the prophet got his inner directions cross-wired. He wound up, of all places, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea bound for a place named Tarshish. That was due west. God had told him to go to Nineveh. That was due east. (That’s like flying from Los Angeles to Berlin by way of Honolulu.) But Jonah never got to Tarshish, as you may remember. Through a traumatic chain of events, Jonah began to get his head together in the digestive tract of a gigantic fish.

What a place to start over! Slopping around in the seaweed and juices inside that monster, fishing for a match to find his way out, Jonah took a long, honest look at his short, dishonest life. For the first time in a long time, the prophet brushed up on his prayer life. He yelled for mercy. He recited psalms. He promised the Lord that he would keep his vow and get back on target. Only one creature on earth felt sicker than Jonah—the fish, in whose belly Jonah bellowed. Up came the prophet, who hit the road running—toward Nineveh.

Changing directions requires knowing where you are. It necessitates taking time to honestly admit your present condition. It means facing the music, standing alone inside the fish and coming to terms with those things that need attention, fishing in the seaweed for a match. Before you find your way out, you must determine where you are. Exactly. Once that is accomplished, you’re ready to start over.

HAVE FAITH, HAVE A PLAN

Read Exodus 2:1–10

Jochebed had faith. She also thought through a very creative plan. I’d like to pause to reflect on this tension between careful planning and full-hearted faith. Are they mutually exclusive? Not on your life! Yet to talk to some believers, you might be led to think otherwise.

I’ve talked with unemployed men and women who tell me, “I’m just waiting on the Lord to provide a job.”

“Fine,” I reply. “And where have you placed your resumé?”

“Well, I’m not going that route. I’m just waiting on God.”

“Oh really?” I say. “Then I hope you don’t mind remaining jobless for awhile.”

The old motto of soldiers during the Revolutionary War applies to many areas of life: “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry!” In other words, place your life in the Savior’s hands, but stay at the ready. Do all that you can to prepare yourself for battle, understanding that the ultimate outcome rests with the Lord God.

To walk by faith does not mean you stop thinking. To trust God does not imply becoming slovenly or lazy or apathetic. What a distortion of biblical faith! You and I need to trust God for our finances, but that is no license to spend foolishly. You and I ought to trust God for safety in the car, but we’re not wise to pass on a blind curve. We trust God for our health, but that doesn’t mean we can chain smoke, stay up half the night, and subsist on potato chips and Twinkies without consequences.

Acting foolishly or thoughtlessly, expecting God to bail you out if things go amiss, isn’t faith at all. It is presumption. Wisdom says to do all you can within your strength, then trust Him to do what you cannot do, to accomplish what you cannot accomplish. Faith and careful planning go hand-in-hand. They always have.

Godly Living

TITUS 3:1-8

JULY 26, 2017 BRIAN AMERSON

CHAPTER 3
Godly Living
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

How many of us ” live peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”

This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

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