The Oasis

So, how does a pastor fight through the battle that wages a war in his mind on Mondays after giving his all on Sunday? How do you move on through the rest of the week? You go to the Oasis. (If you read my post from Tuesday entitled A Monday, you understand.)

As in all of life, the answer is in the Word of God, the very Word we proclaim to gathered folks every Sunday and during the week. This is the very Word that I need to preach to my own heart rather than listening to my heart. The very Word that set us free from our lost, sinful condition and has placed us secure in Christ. The very Word that reveals the character of God to us. The very Word that is the light in the darkness of our thoughts.

The Word this week has been so penetrating and encouraging to my heart and life. Here’s a sample of the scriptures of which I speak:

This I know, because God is for me.
10 In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
11 In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
(Psalm 56:9-11)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23)

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.

2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven and save me; . . .
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.

7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth
. (Psalm 57:1-3, 7-11)

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

It now must be said of Jacob
And of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’
(Numbers 23:19, 23)

Each of these passages found their way into my heart and into my journal. They have been my meditation and fresh air; my oasis!

Preachers, may we find that the Word we preach is the same Word that we embrace in our minds, love with our hearts, and soak in our souls!

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
(Psalm 19:9)

Far-Reaching Prayer

Upon returning from a mission trip in northern Spain, I checked my office mail box and found a letter from Farmington Avenue Baptist Church, West Hartford, Connecticut.  The contents of the letter said, “Each week our people pray for a preacher in the United States.  As you can see from the enclosed bulletin, we will be praying for you and your ministry this week. Our people will especially pray for God to richly bless you and to protect you from the attacks of Satan.  They will be praying for your health, your family and your people, and that the Lord will greatly use you for His glory.”

Sometimes we think that our praying is so insignificant; that it doesn’t reach very far in its effects.   What these folks in West Hartford did not know when they were praying was that my wife and I were ministering in the Basque region of Spain at a retreat for missionary teens.  These young folks came from Mexico, six countries in Europe, and the island of Yap. Furthermore, when I read through FABC’s list of their supported missionaries, I noticed some familiar names.  Two of their family’s teens had attended the retreat, as well as another missionary who has served at this location in Spain for years. Point being, these dear folks at FABC thought they were just praying for us in East Tennessee, but their prayers went far beyond their intended destination.  You see, when you talk to our omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, transcendent God, your intercession becomes as big as your God and moves in ways and to areas that you would never imagine!

As you begin your day today, do not let your focus be what you think may be just simple prayer requests alone.  See them as going through our perfect, righteous High Priest and Advocate (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1) into the very presence of Jehovah Who then answers in awe-inspiring and glorifying ways!  As Henry Blackaby has said, “God is always at work around you, and He invites you to become involved with Him in His work at His invitation.”

So, get on your knees this morning and join God in far-reaching ways as He leads and provides.  Thank you, Farmington Avenue Baptist Church, for being faithful to pray and join God in His work!!