21 Days of Prayer (Day #21)

You made it! How marvelous it has been to intentionally set aside a time to remove all distractions and behold the wonder of our God. Thank you!!! I’m sure you could say as Solomon, Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. (Psalm 72:18-19). Indeed, this will fully occur when Christ comes to reign, but how wonderful through prayer to see God’s will done on earth as it in heaven (Matt. 6:10) right now!

As we wrap up this 21 day journey, may I encourage you . . .

  • Do not let up! Keep on delighting in God through intimate conversations in the Secret Place (Psalm 91:1-4). Stay out of the rut of dull routine. Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:3-4)
  • Continue to pray with your spouse, your children, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your neighbors, etc. Meal time praying does not count. Your best conversations will always be with others at the Throne of God. (Hebrews 4:14-16; James 5:16, Pray one for another.)
  • Seek the Lord each day whereby you reach such a level of intimacy with God that the only thing that can account for your prayer life is that it has become one with the prayer life of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 6:8; John 17; Romans 8:26)
  • Join with your church family in making prayer the primary ministry at BCBC. How I long for the auditorium to be filled at 8:30 on Sunday mornings with “the 10:30 crowd” of faith-believing, Word-filled, expectant believers crying out in prayer for the God-sized tasks!! (Jeremiah 33:3) Until we do, we will see God do a few things but not what He really wants to accomplish through His people for His glory. (Matthew 13:58)
  • That prayer would be “hot” in our discipleship small groups that meet on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Answers to prayer would be seen over and over and over and over as we recognize the character of the Giver of all good things!!
  • To abide in Christ in your life of prayer (John 15:7) as we pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
  • To earnestly pray that BCBC will fulfill the Great Commission in every area of ministry; that discipleship will be the main motivation of ministry. This is our mandate in this Church Age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Join with Christ in you Who rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
  • To pray much for this Resurrection Sunday gathering as we acknowledge the One Who gives us resurrection hope in prayer, the reason to pray (Ephesians 1:15-23; Hebrews 7:25). Pray for lost souls to be born of God (1 John 5:1, 11-12)!!!

Again, praise the Lord Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation (Psalm 68:19); for all He has revealed to us about Himself, our Savior and ourselves during these blessed days of prayer!! Be in awe of Him and believe in Him to do the impossible!

Thank you!

Pastor C

21 Days of Prayer (Day #3)

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:1-10

If you read the Bible with a sensitive heart, you will often be overwhelmed with the great difficulty of many of its commands: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33). “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). The list could go on and on. How can we possibly obey these seemingly impossible commands of Scripture?
The disciples felt overwhelmed by Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:1-4. He told them to be on guard so that they would not cause any young believers in Him to stumble. And He said that if their brother sinned, they were to rebuke him and if he repented they were to forgive him, no matter how often the cycle was repeated. The disciples instantly realized that these were tough demands. To walk uprightly so as not to cause a new believer to stumble and to forgive someone who has wronged us are not automatic behaviors! Forgiveness especially is tough because our feelings are involved. So the disciples respond by asking the Lord to increase their faith (17:5). It was an honest request stemming from the right motives. They saw that if they wanted to fulfill these demands, they would have to have God’s strength and enabling to do it.
But Jesus’ answer (17:6) indicates that more faith is not really the issue. Faith is not measured by its quantity, but simply by its presence. A mustard seed sized faith will accomplish impossible things. The real need, Jesus says (17:7-10), is for more obedience and humility. We should view ourselves as God’s slaves who owe Him simple and unquestioning obedience. And, when we have done what He requires, we should not get puffed up with pride in our great obedience, but should simply say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.” Thus …
When we encounter the difficult commands of Scripture, we should not focus on more faith, but on more obedience and humility. (Steven Cole)

In prayer today, let us focus on “Lord, increase my obedience as I humbly submit to You, Your authority and Your great love for me.”

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the commands of Scripture you are not obeying?
  • In addition, read again through the commands given in the first paragraph of this devotional.
  • Confess your disobedience (1 John 1:9).
  • Cast all your fears, excuses, doubts, laziness, whatever you are choosing as stumbling blocks of disobedience at the feet of Jesus (1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Submit to the Word and “step into the water” (Joshua 3:8).
  • Bottom line, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15). Make the connection here with abiding love from our 1 John 4:7-21 study.

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

Travailing, Prevailing Prayer

“It may seem ‘unnecessary’ to get on your knees for multiple hours each and every day, but, may I remind you that unless someone rises up and says, ‘Lord, I’m willing to travail,’ there are lives, promises, and spiritual realities that will not be born into our day and age. Effectual, fervent prayer is how God changes this world and bestows upon it the beauty, grace and power that He purchased at the cross.” (Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God)

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
2 Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
4 I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

Do your best to put yourself in King David’s shoes as he is fleeing from his rebellious son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-17). Listen to him pray these words found in this psalm. What do you hear? What would you see if you were near by? What would be his attitude? Would you say he travailed and prevailed in prayer? Perhaps read through the prayer again looking for the answers to these questions as well as those below.

  • Do you think he was praying silently?
  • Do you think he was praying nonchalantly?
  • Was his prayer full of “Christianese prayer language”?
  • Was he crying out to God?
  • Did he pray out of desperation?
  • Was his prayer fervent; full of faith and praise?
  • How was his prayer akin to the praying of Jesus?

Friends, may I invite you into the secret place before our holy God through the blood of Jesus Christ to travail and prevail in prayer?

George Mueller said, “It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer.

The Utmost Need of the Hour

This evening, our church family will gather via Zoom to seek the Lord’s face on behalf of those affected by COVID-19 and for protection from the same.

What do you do when life is out of control? Who do you call when you have no answers? Where do you find wisdom that is sure, consistent, and always relevant?

Psalm 86 manifests the answers. Sometime today, read this passage. Read a line or two, then stop and meditate on it. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Soak it in. Speak the Word audibly in prayer. Pray with all your heart. Pray desperately, honestly, full of faith.

We must turn from letting COVID dominate our thoughts to crying out to the One Who is transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
4 Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
9 All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Prayer is the utmost need of the hour individually, as a family and corporately as the body of Christ!

COVID Counsel #3

Keep Your Eyes on the One Who Walked on Water

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.


Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

These lyrics written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr., came to my mind Monday morning as I sang along with the instrumental version playing through Alexa. The bold lines struck a chord in my heart.

Indeed, COVID has been one of “life’s billows” (a great wave or surge of water) that has tossed us in so many directions that we have been or are today tempted to be “discouraged, thinking all is lost.” How interesting our minds and deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) work at moments like these.

The battle is not with COVID but with our thinking.

Is all really lost? Note the phrase, “thinking all is lost.” Is that true? What does God’s Word say about COVID or any circumstance of life?

The songwriter got it right when he said, “So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all.” That is absolute, eternal truth!

Colossians 1:16–17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Psalm 97:9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

So, today, do not listen to your thoughts but think His thoughts. Do not listen to yourself; preach the Truth to yourself.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Count Your Blessings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=FZECFq4BvRQ

COVID COUNSEL #2

We are all effected by COVID-19 in one way or another.

This past week while preparing for Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2:11-19, a key word in the last verse stood out as a source of needed counsel for my own heart and mind. It is a word that is greatly needed for all of us in the midst of COVID. It is a word that Asaph used so poignantly as recorded in Psalm 7323. The word . . . nevertheless.

Paul reminds Timothy that in the midst of dealing with false teachers in the church at Ephesus as well as their error and leading some astray, Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Asaph, dealing with the doubts and struggles within his own heart, comes to preach the truth to himself and says, Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 73:21-24).

In Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2, I shared a quote that I hope will encourage and help you in the midst of how you are being effected by COVID.

The Lord says to us, “Nevertheless.”
Do false teachers seem to abound? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are perilous times upon us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we fear for the future? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we worried for our children’s safety? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we wonder how the church will survive? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we see some falling away from the faith? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we tempted to despair? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Could persecution come to us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do evildoers rise to power? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”

Ray Pritchard; The Life God Blesses

Today, would you let the Lord’s “nevertheless” counsel your heart?

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

COVID COUNSEL

Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You wouldn’t say it out loud, but you probably think you are the most intelligent creature on the planet. Why? Because you listen to yourself more than anyone else.” By the way, do you ever have a conversation with yourself or with someone else in your mind?

This preacher went on to say something very needful. “Instead of listening to yourself, you need to preach to yourself! You must preach the Truth to yourself!”

David does this in Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

For sure, COVID and 2020 has been filled with inconsistencies, false information, cancellations, deaths, life-altering illnesses, disappointments, fear, anxiety, abrupt changes, and unfulfilled plans and expectations.

Where do you run? Where do you hide? Where do you find rest for your weary soul? Where do you find strength to take the next step, to live the next day? The answer is found in the aforementioned scripture passages. Read and meditate on what David is saying. Put yourself in the passage. Preach the truth to yourself. Do not listen to yourself, your doubts, your confusion, your pain, your sorrow, your fears, etc.

The help of His countenance (42:5) will always be the help of my countenance (42:11; 43:5) as I hope in my God and praise my God while preaching the truth to myself. Counsel your heart.

COVID-19 DISTRACTIONS #2

Yesterday, I was reminded of a statement that has bearing on the COVID world we live in today. During the last few weeks of my mom’s earthly sojourn, she listened to my wife read Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. One day in particular, she looked appreciatively at Denise and said, “Thank you for reading to me about Heaven. You are helping me prepare to go Home.”

Has the coronavirus so captured your attention that your mind is solely earth-bound? I realize we need to take some serious precautions, but how easy it is to be consumed with COVID at every turn! As I said in yesterday’s blog. it is the first topic of discussion, frustration, fear, etc.

If you can say that you are a true believer in Christ, a genuine child of God, may I turn our thoughts upward?

Mediate on the following:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-4)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Is COVID helping to prepare you for Home? The brevity, fragility and uncertainty of life are indeed real, but when you have complete assurance that eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ awaits you, the fear of this virus can be exchanged for the anticipation of Revelation 21:4!!!

I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Home
(Chris Tomlin)

(If you are not prepared, would you take time to watch either of these videos?)

Be sure to watch all the Done chapters.

One Grateful American!

On this July 4th weekend, there are so many things that cause my heart to rejoice and express a sincere note of gratitude and patriotism as an American!

  1. That God allowed me to be born to godly, Christian parents and to be born again (John 3) in the United States of America!
  2. For parents, church, family and public education that taught and demonstrated what it was to be a respectful, God-honoring citizen of the USA!
  3. For a dad who proudly served his country in the Army during the Korean War.
  4. For my mom who loved to play patriotic music in our home either on the piano or through the stereo.
  5. That I could learn the history of this great land through a correct worldview and not one rewritten to suit the desires of a socialist agenda.
  6. For trips to Washington, DC, Appomattox and Chancellorsville, VA, President Lincoln’s birthplace, West Point, the USS Wilmington, Fort Sumter and many other places of historical value while still living at home with my folks.
  7. After marriage, the Korean War Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Lincoln Memorial, President Ronald Reagan Library, the Twin Towers Memorial, and many more.
  8. To stand at Bristol Motor Speedway with over 140,000 fans and watch the American flag descend to the track via a parachutist while Lee Greenwood sang, “God Bless the USA!”
  9. To pledge my allegiance to the flag and the values it represents!!
  10. The joy of watching the precision and glory of the Air Force Thunderbirds at Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, SC.
  11. To attend patriotic concerts such as the ones in Kingsport, TN and Murfreesboro, TN.
  12. Singing our National Anthem many, many times in many different locations with my hand across my heart!
  13. To be parked on the hill in Johnson City, TN, for the fireworks and to hear all the car radios around us tuned to the freedom music from a local station. Will miss that this year!
  14. For family picnics with us all wearing Old Navy patriotic t-shirts!
  15. Sparklers, fireworks, hot dogs, homemade ice cream, strawberry pie, etc.
  16. To share a word of thanks to everyone who has served in our military.
  17. To have preached the funerals of men and women who served in our military.
  18. Recently, watching a WWII veteran slowly rise to salute the flag as it was folded and presented to a grieving wife. Tears flowed down my cheek and my heart swelled with gratitude!
  19. To join with other believers on a Sunday morning to acknowledge God’s goodness to us in this land, not as an act of idolatry, but one of sincere thanksgiving!!

Today, I will say that it is hard for me to ask God to bless our nation when we have certainly not blessed Him in so many ways by turning our back on Him, disregarding prayer and the Word, killing millions of babies, displaying a hatred for Christ, and living for the American Dream rather than surrendering to righteousness. Nevertheless, I do ask that God would bless our land with His mercy and grace that we may continue the cause of freedom and the Gospel around the world for His glory!

Fear

Fear . . . the dwelling place of millions around the world today.

Fear . . .

  • Puts you in bondage.
  • Sells.
  • Keeps you on edge.
  • Is a companion of worry, anxiety, discouragement, depression, despair, stress, physcial ailment, suicide, etc.
  • Lies.
  • Produces weakness.
  • Is no friend of love.
  • Is a snare in life.
  • Leads to quick, unwise decisions.
  • Causes panic.

What is the opposite of fear? Some of the antonyms of fear are assurance, boldness, confidence, courage, faith and love.

So, how do we live with these characteristics in this fear-filled age? May I encourage you to get a Bible and read each of the passages listed below? Read them slow. Meditate on them. Soak your soul in the eternal, life-giving, absolute truths of God’s Word! Let it wash over your fears and lead you to a faith-filled life that dwells above it all!

What does God say about fear? Joshua 1:9; Psalms 23:1-6; 27:1; 56:3-4; 91:1-16; Isaiah 41:10; 43:1; Matthew 6:25-34; John 14:27; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 4:6-8; 2 Timothy 1:7.