Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why We Need A Thanksgiving Day

On this Thanksgiving Day I want to share with you an article that speaks of the reasons why we as people need a Thanksgiving Day! As you read the article slowly read the last paragraph taking time to purpose in your heart to remember these two important points of the reason we need to
give thanks not only on
Thanksgiving Day but every day!

Why Give Thanks on Thanksgiving Day?

In a modern world filled with fast cars, fast money, fast foods and more—all lavished so liberally on the self—why consider a national occasion to pause and give thanks? Is it really that important? If it is, whom should we thank—and for what?

The North American 'Thanksgiving Day' was likely first held in Newfoundland in 1578 by an English minister named Woolfall, then in Virginia in 1607 and then again in Plymouth in 1620. These days of thanksgiving —held currently in Canada on the second Monday in October and in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November—are officially designated national occasions for giving thanks to God.
America 's first president George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in 1789; and the sixteenth U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed it in 1863. Since then it has been an official U.S. holiday. But how well do North Americans observe their days of thanksgiving? For that matter, how common is it for people around the world to take special time to give thanks to their Creator for providing the physical blessings they enjoy? Unfortunately, expressing thanks seems to be a diminishing custom.

Giving thanks is mentioned in the Bible at least 140 times. The word praise, which is similar in meaning to thanksgiving, is used many more times in Scripture. Praise means to appreciate, to prize—to consider precious, worthy of honor and/or thanksgiving. The Bible is replete with occasions of thanksgiving and praise, from Moses to Malachi, from Jesus to John's epistles. The Bible is also the source of early North American customs for celebrating occasions of thanksgiving.

The insightful words of Abraham Lincoln should resonate with all nations today:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God" (Lincoln's papers, Library of America series, Volume 2, pp. 520-521).

God's sobering thanksgiving instructions to ancient Israel are applicable to all human beings. After all, He is the Creator of all human life.

Perhaps Mr. Lincoln drew on the scriptural passage:

"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
"Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.
"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy:8:11-20, New International Version).

The whole idea of giving thanks turns on at least two great spiritual principles. 

1).      A great God created and sustains life on earth and 
          provides the abundance of resources that most people now 
          tend to take for granted. 

2).      The vanity of human nature leads human beings to want 
          to take credit for producing all they enjoy, leading them to 
          ignore, or even forget, the real Source of their existence 
          and blessings.
A commentary by Jerold Aust  (Posted November 18, 2005 @
Here is a simple plan to remind yourself of these important truths:

1)     Be a tither to your local church
        (A tither is an individual who gives 10% of their financial
        increase to their local church).

2)     Every time you return your tithe to the Lord speak a word
        of thanks to God for His provision!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Prayer Request of Jesus

When we examine the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we see that there are twenty four times mentioned that He prayed. There were various locations given from the wilderness (Luke 5:16 ) to mountains (Matthew 14:23), and that there were different times of the day spoken as being moments of prayer. He prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35-36) and in fact He prayed all night before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). The Gospel writers also share with us that when He prayed it might be alone (Mark 1:35)  or it could with others (Matthew 26:36-46).

You would assume that these moments when He prayed with others would be the time when He, if He did, would ask them to join Him in specific requests during their time of prayer. When are these times He is with others in prayer? One of the ones that is most well know is when He is with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane and He asks them to "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:38).  He speaks to the disciples of the emotional weight upon His soul and possibly requests their prayer support yet it is not specifically recorded that there is a spoken request though it might be insinuated (Matthew 26: 38). A second time is when He is with His disciples in the last week of His earthly life as they travel from the "last supper" (John 13:1-4) to the garden of Gethsemane (John 15:31; 18: 1). This  is His longest recorded prayer. In the six hundred plus  words of John 17, we read of His spoken petition to the Spirit that His disciples would be one with Him as He is with the Father (Vs. 11). We also read of the His praying for the disciples followers to have that same relationship with each other (Vs. 20-21)! Yet we do not see that  He asks anyone else to join in and ask together of the Spirit for these requests. These are the personal requests that were unspoken to others yet are His requests of the Spirit! So the moments when He is praying with others nearby do not yield any prayer requests.

The only prayer request of Jesus that we can locate is found in Matthew 's gospel. It is located following Matthew's calling of discipleship by the Lord (9:9)  and the Lord's statement of the purpose of His coming (9:10-13). Also it follows a list of people who need the ministry of the Lord and the description of how they received their miracle:
       •  A father who needs the resurrection of a dead daughter
                 (9:18-19, 23-26)
       •  A woman with an issue of blood (9:20-22)
       •  Two blind men (9:27-31)
       • and a man who is mute but does not need a healing but a
                 demonic expulsion (9:32-34).

Matthew describes His emotional state of being before the giving the request and how the request formed within His mind!

His prayer request is sandwiched between His giving of authority to His twelve disciples over all unclean spirits, diseases, and weaknesses that brings suffering whether mental, emotional or physical (10:1). He does not stop with the giving of the ability to be used to help humanity but gives them the command and direction of where to go to use this authority. The instruction also included the proper use of power and that it is was given to them not for personal gain but for bring joy to others. They will face rejection but they are not to focus on the rejection. They are to shake it off, that is, get it out of their minds! They must focus on the acceptance by individuals (10:5-15).

What was the request He shared with His disciples? Here is what Matthew 9 states:

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages,
      teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the
      gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and
      every affliction.
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
       because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep
       without a shepherd.
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful,
      but the laborers are few;
38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send
      out laborers into his harvest.”(ESV)

The request flows from His lips because of what He sees! He sees hurting helpless people! People who are sheep without a shepherd (9:36). They lack human Godly leaders that would lead them to the God who is their only solution for their problems!

What humans view will affect their emotions! His emotions were effected the same way ours are effected since He is God/man! Compassion is the "feeling of affection and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others".

This leads to Him thinking about a solution! The solution is not that as the "Son of God" He does not have the power to meet their needs! That has already been demonstrated to Matthews reader by the list of needs He has already met in 9:18-34!  But since He is also the "son of man" He is limited by bodily presence to be able to minister to the crowd! The solution is for more people to be concerned  and be willing to take action to interact with these people! The harvest is plenteous! It is not a lack of opportunity but as usual we fail to act!

How can this solution of more people being in the harvest be brought about? He does not tell His disciples to go immediately into the harvest and reap. He said: We must ask the "Lord of the Harvest" to send people who are labors into the harvest! This is His prayer request!

Prayer requests most often have three parts:
1. The problem and possibly a description of the problem
2. The solution and possibly a description of the solution!
3. The naming of the one who is looked to for the answer,
            that is the Lord!

Let's examine the prayer request:
      What is the problem that Jesus addresses?
               • There is a harvest and it is plentiful.
               • More people are needed to help reap the harvest before
                 it is lost.
      What is the solution?
               • You pray or in the NT "to make one’s need known, to
                  beseech, ask."
               • Your pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send more
      Who has the solution to the need or the request?
               • The Lord of the Harvest.
               • Who is this?

The Lord (owner or master) of the harvest (individuals who have needs of healing or deliverance). He is to send labors into His harvest. He calls and empowers individuals to go into His harvest. They are labors, that is they are not inactive but active as part of the solution for the hurting exerting their energy in the process. It is His harvest! He is the owner of all the souls of men (Ez. 18:4)

The request leads to numerous questions:
       • Why does He ask His disciples to pray for this?
       • Could He not pray Himself ?
       • Would not one prayer of His achieve more than a thousand
          of theirs?
       • Is God [The Father or Spirit (John 4:24)], the Lord of the
          harvest, not aware of the need?
       • And would He not, in His own good time, send laborers without
         the disciples' prayers?

These questions help us to understand for Jesus to ask for prayer from disciples for labors gives us the knowledge that prayer has importance and power in the Kingdom of God's work! It can multiply the number of people who are recruited to work in the harvest! Gathering the harvest depends upon prayer! It is the action that the disciples must give themselves so that the harvest will not be lost!

Yet it is not just action that is needed but labor that is directed by the Spirit! What and where are the hearts that are ready to be harvested? God see's the hearts and knows who is ready (1 Sam 16:7). Praying disciples are able to directed by the Spirit because the speak with the Spirit! They can quickly be directed before the moment is lost in the life of the hurting individual!

It is important to realize that in the original writing of Matthew there was not a chapter break after verse thirty eight. Because we see the chapter mark we tend to close our thinking to the subject of Jesus and His prayer request and start other subjects of the calling of the disciples (10:1), their empowerment (10:1) , their sending (10:5) and His instruction when going (10:5-42). We must to realize that the beginning of chapter ten is connected to the verse thirty eight. Those that pray, His disciples, will turn out to be the reapers who are empowered and sent out in Matthew 10.

Not only must be reapers be directed by the Spirit but they must be empowered to have the ability to reap! They will be meeting forces that do not want to let go of their subjects! Unclean spirits, diseases and physical weaknesses are powerful forces for the natural man to wrestle with but when empowered by the Spirit they become defeated foes!

When you pray for labors for the harvest get ready for God to speak to you to become the one who joins in His harvest! A life of payer is the prerequisite to become a reaper. Thus the prayer request of Jesus is for His disciples to become active participates in His ministry and help Him reap a harvest!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Look at Prayer Requests in the New Testament

As an Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal I understand that the foundational thought of the movement is Restorationism! Restorationism is also described as Christian primitivism, that is, the belief that the present day church has lost its original doctrines, beliefs, actions and lifestyle and must be restored to its earliest days when it was at in its purest form.

This thought causes me  to be a stickler concerning the use of the New Testament as the model for the present-day church! The acceptance of the writings of the New Testament by the early church, who were eyewitnesses of the events that are recorded, gives credence to the desire to use the writings of the New Testament as the source of our Christian beliefs. Though the Church Father's were tremendous individuals and writers, they lived decades and even centuries after the original writers of the New Testament. Their writings are human reflections upon the original writings of the early church, which is considered the Word of God. Some might consider them a reference to be used as the foundation of Christian beliefs but for me, someone who is a Restorationist, I want to base my salvation upon the writings of those who were the closest in time and location to my Savior, Jesus Christ! Thus as a pastor of a local church in the 21st century I choose to use the New Testament as the foundation for the beliefs and actions that the present-day church should follow.

One of the actions that can be seen among present-day Churches and individual Christians is one that is known as "prayer requests".Prayer requests are common occurrences in the lives of the people of God. Not only are they shared with individuals on a one-on-one basis but often they are included in the corporate worship of the church when the church gathers together.

What is a prayer request? We could define it as: a request that others would pray to God for problems or needs in an individual's life or the life of someone that they know. The person making the request for others to join them in prayer is founded upon the statement by the Lord in Matthew 18:19 which states:

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

By asking others to join you in prayer for certain situations you are fulfilling the prerequisites for the prayer being answered by God. The request is an action of someone's internal faith! The faith that is within their mind, which other humans cannot see, is revealed when they opened their mouth and ask for prayer partners. Now their faith is readily understood because their words of request can be heard by other human beings. But not only is there faith expressed to other humans when they give their prayer request but they also expose God to their faith! God is pleased when he sees or hears faith coming from humans (Hebrews 11:6)!

When we hear the prayer request we also find out the priorities and needs in a person's life. Knowing these items can help the body of Christ be unified since we know the needs of others. The prayer request can move us to compassion and concern for our friend. If we have had similar life experiences we know can go to them and share the history of our own experience which can build them up.

Prayer requests are important because they are the foundation of getting an answer to a need from God. Jesus, when responding to the question of his disciples "Lord, teach us to pray" in Luke 11:1, instructs them to ask or request and it will be given to you (11:9). The request is necessary to be able to have the desire fulfilled. Prayer requests are extremely important for the Christian who understands "without Him I can do nothing"(John 15:5).

During the next few weeks we will be examining the prayer requests of:
                • Jesus
                • The Church of Acts and
                • The Apostle Paul.

Is there a motif or theme that is connected between these individuals and/or groups? Are the prayer request for personal financial gain? Or are they for miracles of healing in the lives of their family and friends? As we examine this subject I'm confident that we will receive a revelation that could change what we ask for during our prayer request services. Join me as we seek to know the ways of the Lord in a greater measure than we've ever known Him before.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Favorite Poem

My favorite type of literature is historical in nature. Autobiographies and biographies catch my attention! Poetry has a place in my bookshelf but it is extremely limited. But there are a number of works of poetry that are extremely special to me. They are special because I relate to the subject or the feeling of the author.
My favorite work of poetry I first heard quoted by Rev. Arlis Glass at a high school graduation. When he recited the poem he added a dimension of drama with his use of voice variations and facial expressions. I was mesmerized by his quotation of the poem.
The author of the poem drew me in stanza by stanza. It connected with a an internal desire that was within my heart. That desire was a desire to never give up no matter the obstacles that you faced! To never quit neither lie down in defeat! To ignore the words of the crowd that was speaking negatively and to listen to the inner voice that told me I could do anything.
Today as I face the struggle of rehabilitating my broken wrist and the weakened muscles that surround it I hear the voice of the physician who stated this week that I would not get total movement back and would face arthritis at some point. Something welled up with in my heart and I refused to accept the negative prognosis. My mind journeyed to my special poem and immediately I began to quote it under my breath. Here is what I said:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

It is important in life to have moments of self talk. Like David these talks to yourself will bring encouragement when the circumstances of life are extremely negative. They will give you faith to climb when your troubles seemed insurmountable. They will be needed at numerous times as you endure lengthy trials. Always remember the words of Paul to the church at Philippi:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).

The title of the poem is "It Couldn’t Be Done" by Edgar Albert Guest.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's Never Too Late to Change!

Yes, I know it is the first day of February and the subject of resolutions should have already been covered in January! Yet I am choosing to write about it today! Why? Because many individuals have already quit in their pursuit of their resolutions! They have failed to last for one month! But understand the year is not over! You can still accomplish great change in your life in 2014!
When I think about the month of January I always seem to connect this month with the writing of Jeremiah. Why Jeremiah? It is because of the following verses:

Lamentations 3:21–23 (KJV 1900)

21This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
22It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The month of January always gives me hope! It's a new year filled with new dreams, new opportunities and new victories!

How can I capture this year? The normal process is to make resolutions. What is a resolution? A course of action determined or decided upon. It is normal for many of us to make not one resolution but several.
Here are some static's from the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology concerning resolutions for 2014 for Americans:

Top 10 New Year's resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family

News Years Resolution Statistics
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions
Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution
Percent who have infrequent success
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions

Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions)
Self Improvement or education related resolutions
Weight related resolutions
Money related resolutions
Relationship related resolutions
Age Success Rates
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year
Length of Resolutions
Resolution maintained through first week
Past two weeks
Past one month
Past six months

The results of making resolutions is pitiful! Only 8% of individuals are successful in achieving their resolutions! Why is the percentage so low?
Our first mistake is we make it too complex. We're going to have the extreme makeover! We are going to lose 50 lbs and walk ten miles a day! We are going to save $50,000, but we only make $30,000 a year!
We need to make it simple. What we need to do is to concentrate on "One Word". That "One word" will be easier to remember, simpler for us to focus on. It will be effortless for others that will  make us accountable to remember! That's my goal for you today! Restart the Year with One Word!
As we turn to the Word of God we find the there were many who used the concept of "One" for success while others were reprimanded because they did not have the concept! David (Psalms 27:4) and Paul (Phil. 3:13-14) used it for success while the rich young ruler (Luke 18:22) and Martha (were reprimanded for their struggle with "one".
What will the concept of "One Word" bring? The first action it will bring is focus. This is what Paul speaks of to the Church at Philippi.

Philippians 3:13-14

13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Not only will it bring focus but help us in the use of our time and energy. By seeking God and examining ourselves for our "One Word" we become better stewards! David gives us an example of this seeking:

Psalms 27:4

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For Martha the lack of understanding of the concept "one word" caused her to have wrong priorities according to Jesus!

Luke 10:41-42
41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Jesus continues to express the "one" concept with the rich young ruler.

Luke 18:22

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

The rich young ruler had accomplished many things but there was "one" thing that he lacked! He needed to allow that the location of his treasure change from being here on earth and to the vaults of heaven! God might need us to improve in one area of our lives and that area could make a difference in the lives of many others that surround us!

How do we find the "One Word"? Here is a plan to help us.

I.          Prepare Your Heart: Look In  

Take a little time to:  
            1.         Unplug from the noise.
            2.         Ask a few essential questions.  
Get away from the noise and distractions of life, and create an environment to look inward, quiet your mind, and really listen to your heart.
Then ask yourself these three questions, and write your insights here:  
            1.         What do I need?
            2.         What's in my way?
            3.         What needs to go?

II.        Discover Your Word: Look Up

Now that your heart is ready, it’s time to plug in and listen up.
 Once you’ve prepared your heart, you are ready to receive your word.  God has a word that is meant for you. Remember, God can use all means to communicate with us, and you never know when, where, and how your word will be revealed to you.
 Ask God to reveal your word to you with this simple question: “What do you want to do in me and through me?” Write down what comes to your heart. Listen and be open to the word that God shares.
 Once you discover your word, write it down.

III.       Live Your Word: Look Out

Once you discover the word that is meant for you, then it’s time to live it out. Again, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Keep your One Word front and center. Write down three things you will do to make sure you have regular reminders of your word.

Sharing your One Word with your family, friends and coworkers. This helps ensures success. List three people in your inner circle with whom you’ll share your word this week.

Nehemiah understood the magnitude of his "one word" the "wall". He was doing a great work!

Nehemiah 6:3 
And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Understanding that you are doing something great by living your word will empower you to stay focused and keep away from distraction!

It's not too late for you! There are eleven months left! Take the time to work and get your "world changing word"!

(The following are references for the article:

One Word reading plans @