In today’s social media world, anyone can become a celebrity in a matter of seconds! Post a video or tweet or reel that grabs the attention of many in a short span of time, and you can have “rock start” status!
A word of caution, if I may . . . there is only one celebrity, one individual that is worthy of undivided attention, one person that is to be lauded, followed and worshipped. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).
There is only one celebrity!
If we are truly born again (John 3:1-18), a follower of Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26), then He lives in us to live His life out of us (John 14:20; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). This is the preeminent status for us in this life! This is who we really are.
Therefore, let’s be careful when and if our numbers begin to climb that our pride is not stroked by how many followers or commenters we have. Any influence in this world we have only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit as He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory and honor of God the Father!!
Remember the words of John the Baptist . . . He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
Faithfulness and loyalty to God is much more important than being a celebrity.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
“I was blown away by the singing from the very first song!”
That was the testimony from one of our men who attended Men’s Prayer Advance for the first time last week. Singing is one of the blessed ingredients of three days of the Advance in accordance to the Word of God.
Psalm 13: 6 – I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 30:4 – Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psalm 47:6 – Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.
Psalm 89:1 – I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 149:1 – Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
Acts 16:25 – And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
There are two threads woven through these Scripture passages. First of all, singing is mentioned in each verse. The second the point of this blog post. These and many other references found in the Bible mention men who sang. Some of these were David, Heman, Ethan, Jeduthun, Asaph, Paul, Silas and a host of others! These men were not weak men, but men of God who fought, endured hardships, and stood for righteousness!
Men should be the spiritual leaders in every area of the Christian walk, and therefore, we should also be the leaders in singing praise to our God!
In John MacArthur’s commentary on Ephesians 5:18-19, (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians [Moody Press], p. 256) he writes, “The first consequence of the Spirit-filled life that Paul mentioned was not mountain-moving faith, an ecstatic spiritual experience, dynamic speaking ability, or any other such thing. It was simply a heart that sings.”
“Joyful, exuberant, heart-felt singing is one evidence that a church is Spirit-filled.” (Steven Cole, Spirit-Filled Singing, Bible.org)
Imagine being in a group of 500-700 men lifting their hearts and voices in song to God in praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and what He has done!! That’s Men’s Prayer Advance! Every service is one of anticipatory, expectant singing that causes you to long for Christ and the glorious worship in Heaven! Hands are raised, tears flow, shouts of joy ring out as men are edified and encouraged and God is glorified!!
Men, may I challenge you to be th e leader in singing at home and in church? Will you join us this April 7-9, 2022 or January 2023 for Men’s Prayer Advance. I have experienced this gathering over and again, and it is a bit of heaven on this side!
What would draw hundreds of men from Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, South Carolina, and even California?
Great entertainment? Good food? Well-known speakers? Attractive venue?
What would you say if I told you the draw is . . . prayer?
Really? Yes, indeed!
Men’s Prayer Advance.
Each year men gather in the Roanoke, VA, area to worship by listening to strong, Holy-Spirit infused preaching, full-throttle singing with hearts and voices in joyful praise, and most of all, meeting together at the Throne of Grace in passionate, expectant prayer!! This is “an encounter with Christ!”
Men’s Prayer Advance is a no frills, no fluff meeting properly described by its name.
MEN’S: Luke 18:1 says, Men ought always to pray, and 1 Timothy, 2:8, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. You should see and hear these men pouring out their hearts to the Lord in transparent, honest, pleading, crying out, believing prayer! The highlight every year occurs on Friday at 11:00 a.m. with “Sweet Hour of Prayer” where men get alone with God for one hour or more in prayer of praise and petitions. One man said to me, “I missed lunch because my time with the Lord would so good!!” Some prayer meetings continue on into late Thursday night and Friday morning after the Thursday evening service.
PRAYER:Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). “Prayer doesn’t begin on earth, it begins in heaven.” (Ron Lynch)
ADVANCE: As we hear so often from Harold Vaughan, the founder of Christlife Ministries, “This is not a prayer retreat, it’s a prayer advance! We’re not backing up, giving up, or slowing down.” For three days, from Thursday at 1:30 p.m. until Saturday noon, it is an intentional move toward God! James gives us an example of a man advancing in prayer. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. (James 5:16-18 AMP)
What draws you to have an encounter with Christ? Have you met with Him today in prayer? Are you advancing or retreating?
“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” ~ S. D Gordon
(If you would like information about future Advances for men, ladies, students and couples, check out Prayer Advances.)
1 Who is he born in the stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall? Who is he in deep distress, fasting in the wilderness? Refrain: ‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory! At his feet we humbly fall, crown him, crown him, Lord of all! 4 Lo! at midnight, who is he prays in dark Gethsemane? Who is he upon the tree dies in grief and agony? [Refrain] 5 Who is he that from the grave comes to heal and help and save? Who is he that from his throne rules thro’ all the world alone? [Refrain]
Tears of joy ran down my face Sunday morning as we congregationally sang the rich text of Who Is He in Yonder Stall?. As the full song recounts the life of Christ, the refrain resounds with praise and attention given to the Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation and kingship! Indeed, He alone is worthy of our worship!
Joy also flowed because this was my first Sunday back in church since November 28th due to covid.
But that’s not all. Joy welled up in my heart in response to the congregation singing! From my vantage point on the back row, it sounded like a full choir seated in the pews ringing out praises to our matchless Savior and Lord!
Folks, that’s the way it should be in every Sunday gathering! Indeed, I am grateful for every aspect of music ministry in a service, but a congregation singing with all their hearts to the Lord is hard to beat! As each believer thinks through the words of each song while focusing their attention on singing to the Lord and to one another, something grand occurs . . . worship, discipleship, praise, presence, conviction, unity, encouragement, emotion and adoration! The issue is not talent but a heart engaged in proclaiming the greatness of our God and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
If you want an example of what I am describing, you need to join me on Sunday morning as my five year old grandson, Shiloh, gives uninhibited praise to God! Yesterday, he joined in as we sang:
I rejoice in my Redeemer Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul I will trust in Him, no other. My soul is satisfied in Him alone.
(Keith & Kristen Getty)
After the service, several folks mentioned to his mom and my wife that they could hear Shiloh singing! Where did he learn to sing like that? By being in church watching others around him as well as the influence of his home.
God wants us to sing, and He wants to hear you sing!
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2)
So, this Sunday, will you join with other believers around the world as well as those seated around you in singing praise to our God? I’m looking forward to singing with Shiloh this Sunday, too!
Joy has dawned upon the world, Promised from creation— God’s salvation now unfurled, Hope for ev’ry nation. Not with fanfares from above, Not with scenes of glory, But a humble gift of love— Jesus born of Mary.
Sounds of wonder fill the sky With the songs of angels As the mighty Prince of Life Shelters in a stable. Hands that set each star in place, Shaped the earth in darkness, Cling now to a mother’s breast, Vuln’rable and helpless.
Shepherds bow before the Lamb, Gazing at the glory; Gifts of men from distant lands Prophesy the story. Gold—a King is born today, Incense—God is with us, Myrrh—His death will make a way, And by His blood He’ll win us.
Son of Adam, Son of heaven, Given as a ransom; Reconciling God and man, Christ, our mighty champion! What a Savior! What a Friend! What a glorious myst’ry! Once a babe in Bethlehem, Now the Lord of hist’ry.
Yesterday, you spent time in awe of God’s greatness as you meditated on Psalm 145. Oh, how I trust your time in His loving, holy presence was rich and full of grace and glory!!
Psalm 100:4 exhorts us to enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! As you launch into prayer each day on this journey, be sure to spend time praising God for His holiness, goodness, patience, and other attributes. Then, thank God for His blessings and be specific . This morning, use Psalms 100 and 103 to begin your week with praise and thanksgiving.
Here’s an example using Psalm 100
Sing a hymn of praise to the Lord (100:1-2).
Praise the LORD for His attributes, naming them and sharing why from your heart they are meaningful to you right now (100:3).
Praise the LORD for how He will shepherd you this week (100:3).
Thank Him for at least ten specific things He has done in the past 24 hours (100:4)
Talk to the LORD out of your love relationship with Him as you rejoice in His goodness, His steadfast love, and His faithfulness (100:5).
Now share your requests with the Lord, and before you do, let me ask, “How will your fresh encounter of praise and thanksgiving effect your time of supplication?”
May your prayer life be one of INCREASE today because you have chosen the best part (Luke 10:42).
Psalm 145 is glorious psalm of praise acknowledging Who God is and what He has and is doing, James Montgomery Boice said it this way, “Psalm 145 is indeed a monumental praise psalm, a fit summary of all David had learned about God during a long lifetime of following hard after the Almighty.”
Today, as we begin this journey of 21 Days of Prayer to Resurrection Sunday, may I encourage you to give these days to following hard after the Almighty, the God of Majesty, Love, Holiness, Righteousness and Compassion?
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (Mark 1:35). Jesus said that He came to do the will of His Father (John 6:38). He followed hard after the Almighty.
Today, find a solitary place where you can get alone with your Heavenly Father to pray.
Bring your Bible, a journal (book or tablet), and a hymnbook.
Read Psalm 145 out loud with heart and devotion to your Heavenly Father.
Go back and pray through the psalm, taking your time to meditate on a line or a verse; stop and listen to the Holy Spirit speak to you. Don’t be in a hurry. You can’t know the heart of God on the run.
As you pray and are silent at various intervals, write in your journal what the Spirit is saying to you.
When a verse speaks of blessing the Lord, choose a song and sing it Him!
When a verse speaks of praise, tell the Lord how great He is and thank Him for what He has done.
Perhaps record in your journal five things about Who God is and five things He done.
When you return to your family, share with them what God has revealed to you about Himself and about you. Have them share with you about their experience in the solitary place with the Lord.
Make this time in His presence all about praise and thanksgiving . . . no requests! Just enjoy following hard after the Almighty, being in the presence of the One Who loves you unconditionally, eternally, and immensely!
Psalm 145:18 says, The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. May you be greatly encouraged as you spend time with the One Who sought you out and adopted you for a love relationship that is real and personal. Follow hard after the Almighty!
How sad that so many in the world look at the second day of the week, Monday, as a downer, a negative. How many times have you heard someone respond to a bad day or rough situation as “I’ve had a MONDAY!”?
For born again believers, Mondays should be a launching pad for a week of ministry, a week of walking with Christ! Having gathering on Sunday around the person of Jesus Christ by singing, by praying, by participating in corporate worship, by fellowship, by responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the preached Word, by confession of sin, and by being encouraged to see Christ live His life out through us each day should cause us to arise on Monday morning ready to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 34:1-3, and Ephesians 4:12-16, 5:19, Colossians 1:15-18.
In particular, today, on this Monday, when someone inquires about your weekend, what will you say?
Will you share what God taught you about Himself, about Christ, and/or about yourself? Will you talk about the song lyric the Holy Spirit used to cause you to rejoice? Will you honestly share how you repented and changed via the conviction of the Holy Spirit through hearing the proclamation of God’s Word? Will you share how blessed it was to pray with a hurting brother or sister in Christ? Will you make much of the greatness of your God, the blessing of walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the joy of the Holy Spirit?
Mondays are created by God. Mondays are as fresh and new as Christ is because we walk every day in newness of life in and through Christ (Romans 6:1-14). As my friend Evangelist Ron Lynch says, “Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you (Galatians 2:20).
We need this for our hearts today! Soak your soul in the Truth!
“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish.” Psalms 112:1-10
Confession #1: I love the smell of a new book! Every coffee shop should have the aroma of Barnes & Noble!
Confession #2: I wish we could read by osmosis because there are so many books I want to read!
So, having said that, here are my top 3 reads for 2020!
#1 The Bible
Now, don’t moan and groan on this one and say, “Well, I figured you’d say that!” Seriously, let me share with you a few reasons why it is number one.
The Author is transcendently holy (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15), righteous, (Psalm 11:7), good (Psalm 34:8), eternal (Isaiah 40:28), immutable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), omniscient (Psalm 147:5; Proverbs 15:3; 1 John 3:20) and true (Revelation 19:11-16).
The Author is omnipresent with me and in me speaking directly to my heart and life. (Psalm 139:7-8; Acts 17:24-28;
The Author’s words are absolute truth and always relevant to all of my life al the time. (Psalm 19; Proverbs 30:5; John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
The Author is reveals Himself to me for His glory and my good. (Psalm 46:1; John 16:13-15; Romans 16:25-26)
If these few are not sufficient, then read and reread Psalm 119. Meditate on it. Read it out loud. The Word changes lives!
May I challenge you to choose a Bible reading plan for 2021? May I also challenge you to read it to know God, to listen to Him speak through His words, and to see your daily life affected by the Author of Life! The best moments of your life for all time on this earth will be spent in His Word and in prayer. If you do not have a personal relationship with God the Father through Christ alone, then lovingly I ask, would you read the Gospel of John (4th book of the New Testament) and then the Epistle of 1 John located near the book of Revelation. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).
#2 The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas
To be in Christ–that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you–that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop. (Thomas, p. 20)
The very essence of this book and the reason for reading it is wrapped up in the words of Evangelist Ron Lynch: In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life. Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you. You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).
How often believers are tempted to think in these terms . . .”I just can’t live the Christian life.” Friend, we are not called to life the Christian life. The truth is, Jesus Christ did not live the Christian life. He is the Christian life. Understanding your position in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), coming to know Christ (Philippians 3:10) and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11), is the life to live.
#3 Rejoicing in the Christ, Michael Reeves
With so much of our attention in 2020 upon COVID, these two reads have reminded me of the Greater Subject, the Theme of themes, the Person of Christ. Also, in the midst of such sorrow, grieve, pain, loss, misunderstanding, cynicism, and human viewpoint, this book is about much-needed joy in the Christian life, about rejoicing in the Person of Jesus Christ as we share in the life of Christ!
What a far cry this is from the exhausting idea that Christ has done his bit and now it’s time to do ours! We are not chained to the task of trying to pay back the huge debt we owe him. We are united to the Son so we can enter into his life. Our joy, our prayers, our mission, our holiness, our suffering, our hope: all are a participation in the life of the Son. We are not simply given some thing called “eternal life” and then sent out to get on with it. We are not forerunners with final responsibility. He is the firstborn; we live in His slipstream. (p. 93)
What a truth!! We all participate in the life of Christ!! It’s not my life, but His life (Galatians 2:20).
Most of my reading this year was spurred on by attending the Men’s Prayer Advance and hearing Ron Lynch preach about the Christ Life. I would highly recommend you attending this year! Three days of meeting with God in prayer, worship, singing, preaching, praise, and fellowship!!! You will be changed for His glory!! Check it out by visiting christlifemin.org.
What books will you visit in 2021? Will you live in the Bible?