Faith, Prayer, and Going Home
[adapted from Jack Hayford. He is a preacher. I am using some things he wrote about his mother's death.]
God created us in His Image and put us in a world of Time. We are born a tiny baby and we live as long as God gives us. The old must die. The young may die. God's great Purpose for each of us is being fulfilled. We treasure God's gift of life and we use it to the fullest. [John 10:10]
"I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him." Ecclesiastes 3:14
"For I know that my Redeemer lives.." Job 19:25
"Most of us struggle with how to pray for the sick. It was especially hard for me when my Mama faced bone cancer. How do you pray when you believe Jesus Christ heals today, yet every instinct tells you, "This is the end of this saint's journey on the earth-side of things?"
Lesson 1. "Intense spasms of pain began last June. [She died Oct. 97.] She had a full life [81 yrs.] and joyously looked forward to "going home." Her suffering seemed "needless." I was praying, "O Lord, take Mama home."
"But suddenly I thought, what would God speak to me? "Stop praying that way now!" I was puzzled. What should I then pray??? This thought blossomed in my mind. God would say: "You should pray for her to be 'raised up' - whether to a measure of health or to My Eternal Presence. That is My responsibility. Yours is to pray for life, not death."
"Pray for LIFE! Yes! But in our world Death is part of life [Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,14]. Leave the 'raising up' to God."
"I remembered James 5:15. "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." God might raise her up to heaven's glory rather than physical health. I felt at peace when I came to this conclusion, with God's help."
Lesson 2. "About mid July Mama was in the ICU and a new level of "dragging on" seemed to have begun. I fumbled in prayer, "Lord, why must this continue?" I agonized over it. Again I thought, what would God say? "I am still working things in My daughter, as well as through her."
"The suffering we groan over is temporary and brief. I listen to Paul. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Cor 4:17
"No suffering will ever be without purpose or reward. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
"It would take a book to record the remarkable things that happened through my mother's presence and personal contacts in the 10 weeks that followed. God did do great things through her. We were blessed."
Lesson 3. "In September we were all feeling the draining impact of mother's illness. There was no question of our love for her. But we felt frustration. We had to wait, and pray. I said to my wife: "I feel like my life is on hold." I wasn't angry. I loved my mother. But everything seemed at such a standstill."
"Two days later, perhaps God put this thought in my mind. "So? On Hold? In whose hands have you put your life???" And I remembered Psalm 31:15 "My times are in Your hand." Then I prayed, "Forgive me, Lord. I affirm Your Word; all my life and its details are in YOUR hands. I am not the victim of circumstances. Father, I'm living in the stream of Your purpose and will. So now, until in Your own time we come to Mama's home-going, I rest in YOU - completely."
"And I did - until His Victory was all of ours together. Mama was raised up to Eternal Life!!! Paul taught: "Absent from the body, present with the Lord!!!" [2 Cor. 5:1-10]
Can we have confidence in our salvation? Some will fall away. But each of us has the authority to resist the devil. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7
The Apostle John wrote: "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." 1 John 3:23-24
"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." 1 John 5:13
Friday, September 13, 2013
Unity . Restoration . Common Sense
2 Timothy The year is 67 A.D, Paul is in chains, imprisoned at Rome for the second time. This time he is not allowed to live by himself (Acts 28:16) but is placed in the dungeon. This Letter he writes from Rome to Timothy, is the last he will ever write. Perhaps three months after this, he will be executed (beheaded) as a criminal (armed terrorist) who had tried to destroy the city. [The Christians were made the scapegoat for the burning of Rome.] Peter was also executed in Rome about his same time, crucified upside-down. The uniform testimony of the early church verifies these things.
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Tim 4:6-8
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!" 2 Tim 4:17-18
1. Perilous times are always here.
"...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" 2 Tim 3:5
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." Matt 24:12
Many people’s love will grow cold. Sin eats the heart out of religion. Love grown cold is a serious matter (Rev. 2:l-7). But whoever holds out. The Christian Jews who did not give up their faith, saw the signs and escaped to Pella in Perea across the Jordan, and saved their lives. This is symbolic of all who escape God’s wrath through Jesus. "Having a form of godliness. This implies that the persons described professed to be religious, worshipers of God in outward form. A godless church is described. Denying the power. Rejecting its power. Their lives are not molded by it. From such turn away. This implies that some of this formal, godless religion had begun to show itself even at that time." —Johnson’s Notes
The Good News Gospel cannot be prevented from spreading. "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world." Romans 10:18; Luke 1:78-79
2. Revival, Renewal, Spiritual Awakening.
"Have you received any new light from the Scriptures today?" [old Restoration greeting.] They were called New Lights.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor 4:16-18
"Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." 2 Cor 5:5-8
3. Unity is the Lord’s command.
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:20-23
(John 17:21) I pray that they may all be one. This is a prayer for the UNITY [not union] of all disciples. The "spirit" that divides "Christians" into warring factions, is CONTRARY to this prayer. Christians should be ONE in intent and purpose. So that the world wlll believe You sent Me. It must be a unity which the world can see and recognize. [Some think the prime force of what He says was directed to the apostles. See John 13:4-5.] Church quarrels and sectarian division causes unbelief. (22-23) The same glory You gave Me. The work of Christ is accomplished when men are ONE in Christ. See John 1:12; 1 John 3:l; Gal. 3:26-29. Just as You and I are one. All who are guided by the One Spirit will be one with each other. See Eph. 4:3,13. (24-26) And I will continue to do so. By His death and by sending the Spirit of Truth. The purpose of this, is so that the love the Father has for the Son will be in the disciples from that time on, to the end of time!
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Overcome the spirit of Fear
Was Chicken Little right and the sky is falling. Has WW III come near us in the Middle East? We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for men of faith to prevail. But we pray especially for God’s Will To Be Done!
"I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress--that it is good for a man to remain as he is:" 1 Cor 7:26
"He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." Rev 22:11-14
The message of Revelation was for those people in the time of John and for us today. The Lord Is Coming! Some will not be able to repent. Some will be righteous whatever happens. But Jesus will test our works and our faith.
1. Power, Love, Sound Mind.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7
Our faith will be tested. But we do not "quench the Spirit." We walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but we fear no evil. We have authority from God to come boldly to His Throne of Grace. We hope for the City whose builder and maker is God.
"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us."
1 John 4:17-19
"Herein is our love made perfect. When love is perfected in us we will have no fear of the judgment day. Those who love God supremely will not be terrified at his presence. Because as he is, so are we, etc. The great ground of boldness is that we are as Christ; purified like him, made sinless like him, filled with love like him and appear at judgment in his likeness. This transformation begins when we are converted, hence, in this world. There is no fear in love. There may be reverential fear, but there is no terror. Fear of God gives way to love. Fear hath torment. Because it fills us with forebodings. We love him. His wonderful love in Christ fills every redeemed soul with love." — Johnson’s Notes.
With the eye of faith Christians look into Eternity. God’s desire is that we continually progress, that we reach higher heights and go to new levels in Him. Oftentimes, as soon as we make the decision to step out in faith and obey God, the devil brings in fear to try to stop us. He’ll bring thoughts like, "What if you fail? What are other people going to think? You don’t have what it takes." He’ll do his best to use fear to try to convince us to shrink back and stay where we are.
3. Worldly Fear.
The Bible says that (worldly) fear is an evil spirit. It plays on our emotions and holds us back. But the good news is that we have power over the spirit of fear! The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. When we receive God’s perfect love, we will have confidence about the future because we know His plans are for our good. I’ve heard it said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Understand that fear is a lie. Don’t buy the lie. Instead, choose to believe God’s Word and receive His love so that you can overcome fear and move forward into the blessings He has prepared for you!
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:17-18
"Father, thank You for giving me power, love and a sound mind. I open my heart to You and receive Your perfect love. Fill me with Your confidence and assurance to embrace everything You have for me, in Jesus’ name. Amen."