Archive for the ‘Authors and Preachers’ Category

Sweet Trials

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” Isa. 43:2

Are trials sweet in your life? They should be according to Eph. 5:20 which instructs us to give thanks for all things at all times. I know that is easier said than done, but that is what it says.

If you look at the stories of the Bible you find that trials were a regular part of the growth process that God took the people through.

Apparently God knew what He was doing, for they came forth as pure gold and the better for it.

For the three worthies in the fiery furnace, they only lost the cords that were artificially binding them. Nothing else was adversely affected. Not only that, as a result of their living testimony of God’s protecting power, the reigning King, Nebuchadnezzar, came to know the power of God in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.

The same could be said of other worthies mentioned in the Bible.

I believe the same is true for people in our day. Think of all the people who have come to know God as a result of some trial. Think of the people who came back from a dread sickness seeking after God for the first time.

The trials were sweet because (1) it provided time to consider their precarious spiritual condition; (2) the trial also led the person to become anxious about their own condition; (3) it caused them to pray more earnestly than before; (4) it brought about a life-changing encounter with God. Truly the trial was sweet.

The same could be said about other situations as well. That doesn’t mean that all trials can be understood, or are necessarily seen as sweet by the naked eye. However, trusting in God and claiming His promise, we can believe it to be so.

When we are in heaven and can ask about everything that went on down here, we are going to realize far better than we do now, that God ordered ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES of our life, EVEN the UNTOWARD ones.

So trials ARE sweet!

Notice what Francis Ridley Havergal, the writer of many hymns, said: “Pain, as to God’s own children, is truly and really, only blessing in disguise. It is but His chiseling, one of His graving tools, producing the likeness to Jesus for which we long. I never yet came across a suffering (real) Christian who could not thank Him for pain! Is not this a strong and comforting fact! I do not say that they always do so during the very moments of keenest pain, though much more often than not I think they are able to do this; but, certainly, they do deliberately praise Him for it afterwards. I think one must pass through it for oneself before one can fully realize the actual blessedness of suffering; meanwhile, you may well take the testimony of those who have.”

This one comes from William Chalmers Burns who was so successful as a revivalist in the UK, Canada and China: “How sweet the trials of a Christian are when he meets with Jesus in them, and feels that the Lord is making them a means of purging away his dross, and taking away all his sin. The believer’s trials are like the fiery furnace to the three children of Israel at Babylon, which burned off their bands, but touched not a hair of their heads. Seek, dear followers of the despised Immanuel, to obtain glimpses of his divine glory and grace, through the power of the indwelling Spirit, and these will make you to see such a surpassing beauty and glory in Jesus, that you will count all things loss that you may win him, and be found in him. If you find the way to glory hard and rugged, oh! think what it cost the Son of God to open up that way! Remember also that, wherever you are called to go, in following the Lamb, you may see, by faith, the prints of Immanuel’s feet on the path before you. He does lead his people through fire and through water, but it is to a wealthy place. Soon will he come to call us home to the place prepared for us above. Soon he will offer up for us the prayer, ‘Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory,’ and then shall we depart and be with Jesus! To them that look for him, he will appear the second time without sin unto salvation!”—William Chalmers Burns

And from Ellen White: “God has a purpose in sending trials to his children. He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling. He subjects them to discipline to humble them,–to lead them, through trial and affliction, to see their weakness and to draw near unto him. As they cry to him for help, he responds, saying, “Here am I.”

Here are links on overcoming trials at path2prayer.com.

I know it isn’t easy seeing trials as being sweet, but they are. Let’s keep trusting God!!!

Supernatural Power!

Monday, June 20th, 2011

“With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

What does it mean to enjoy God’s supernatural power in one’s life? How much of that power is God’s power versus one’s own power?

I came across a wonderful sermon by Hudson Taylor on God’s supernatural power that is worthy of prayerful consideration. I share a few key paragraphs. You can find the rest of it at path2prayer.com. Taylor was the much used founder of the China Inland Mission who played a primary role in bring Christianity to China.

Quoting Hudson Taylor…

“God’s power is available power. We are a supernatural people, born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher, from a supernatural Book. We are led by a supernatural Captain in right paths to assured victories.

“The power given is not a gift from the Holy Ghost. He, Himself, is the Power. To-day He is as truly available and as mighty in power as He was on the day of Pentecost. But has the whole Church ever, since the days before Pentecost, put aside every other work and waited for Him for ten days, that that power might be manifested? Has there not been a source of failure here? We have given too much attention to methods, and to machinery, and to resources, and too little to the Source of Power; the filling with the Holy Ghost.

“God is the ultimate source of power; and faith is the hand which lays hold on God. And how important is that hand! If the contact of faith with the living God be to any extent broken, may it not again be true, as in the days of His flesh, when He could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief? How important is faith, and what is this so essential faith? Is it not simply the recognition of and reliance upon God’s faithfulness? Is it not simply reliance on the fact that faithful is He who promised, who also will do it?

“Redemptive work, soul-saving work, can not be carried out without suffering. If we are simply to pray to the extent of a simple pleasant and enjoyable exercise, and know nothing of watching in prayer, and of weariness in prayer, we shall not draw down the blessing that we may. We shall not sustain our missionaries who are overwhelmed with the appalling darkness of heathenism; we shall not even sufficiently maintain the spiritual life of our own souls. We must serve God even to the point of suffering, and each one ask himself in what degree, in what point, am I extending, by personal suffering, by personal self-denial to the point of pain, the kingdom of Christ?

“It is a very important fact for us all to bear in mind that, as we have already been reminded, the command was not given to a limited class; it was given to the whole Church, and we all have our share of the responsibility.

“There is another power, a power far too little appreciated and sought after, the power of self-emptying and unresisting suffering. We have tried to do, many of us, as much good as we felt we could easily do or conveniently do, but there is a wonderful power when the love of God in the heart raises us to this point that we are ready to suffer, and with Paul we desire to know Him in the power of His resurrection (which implies the death of self), and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. It is ever true that what costs little is worth little. Then how little some of our service has been worth.

“There are different ways of preaching the gospel. There is the plan of preaching the gospel and looking forward to the gradual enlightenment of the people, to their being saved as it were by a process of gradual instruction and preaching. And there is another method of preaching the gospel; believing it to be the power of God unto salvation; preaching it in the expectation that He who first brought light out of darkness can and will at once and instantaneously take the darkest heathen heart and create light within. That is the method that is successful.

To what degree does that supernatural power work in your life? Definitely something to pray about!

You can read all of Taylor’s sermon “The Source of Power” at his page at path2prayer.com

The Love of Christ Constrains…!

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

What motivates you to be a Christian? Blessings? Friends? Fear? Salvation? Love?

I just posted a chapter from Griffith John’s book, Voice From China where he considers the motives that drive us in serving Christ. After considering the various motives, he lists the ones that SHOULD drive us, particularly the love of Christ.

Griffith John was a missionary with the London Missionary Society who served in China and was a contemporary of Hudson Taylor. He isn’t very well known in our day, but what he shares is wonderful.

Here is one quote from the chapter:

“The love of Christ constraineth us.”

“The love of Christ to me-to me personally-constrains me to live to Him and for Him. He died for me; my life is His. He suffered for me; I will suffer for Him. He lives for me; I will live for Him. I will work for His sake; I will give for His sake; I will endure for His sake. There is nothing I would not do to please Him. He is my Lord and my Saviour. He loved me and gave Himself for me. I owe Him an infinite debt, a debt which is always due, and which I can never pay off. All I can do is to lay myself on the altar, and say: Lord Jesus take me, take me as I am, and use me as Thou wilt. This is a grand motive-the love of Christ to us, to each one of us personally. Let us come under the influence of this mighty motive, and we shall cease to find His service, whether in working or in giving, a burden. We shall serve the Lord with gladness, and day by day come before His presence with a song of joy. And there is Christ’s love for the whole world-for all men. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” “He died for all.” “He is the Saviour of all men.” All men are His. His love embraces all, and He desires the salvation of all. It may be hard sometimes to love the heathen, and to make a great sacrifice on their behalf. You may find it difficult to do it for their sakes merely. Do it then for His sake. “I would work for the slave for his own sake,” said Henry Ward Beecher on one occasion, “but I am sure that I would work ten times as earnestly for the slave for Christ’s sake.”

Click on the link to find all the Supreme Motive in Missions chapter.

What is “True Love”?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

“Set me as a seal upon you heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” Song of Solomon 8:6,7

What is “True Love”?

We live in an age when the word “love” is used very easily—too easily! Much of the time we are using the term for something completely trivial—a car or a drink; casually—”love you” as expressed at the end of a conversation that has no actions to back it up; or to describe lustful feelings. But real, sacrificing, adoring, “other-centered” love is greatly sought after, though rare. Sometimes the word “love” is even used to manipulate and take advantage of other people.

Fortunately, there is such a thing as true love. In Song of Solomon such a love is found, and the suggestion is made that love can become so precious that all the money in the world could not induce a man or woman to give up that love. It is interesting that in that book, one finds a progressive expression of love: “My beloved is mine and I am my beloveds” (Song of Sol. 2:16); “I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine” (Song of Sol. 6:3); and finally, “I am my beloveds” (Song of Sol. 7:10)—note the last expression where the love is completely other-centered.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we  are reminded that “true love” goes beyond actions, even factoring in what motivates our love, for it states  it is possible to think we are showing love by giving all that we have, and even allowing our bodies to be burned, but still not have love—apparently because our motives are self-centered (1 Cor. 13:3).

What is the secret? Love comes from God! (1 John 4:8) and when we have godly love, it becomes the kind of love that is recorded and remembered ever after.

Apparently there are times when human beings experience the “true” kind of love, as attested to in the following notes written by John Newton to his wife Mary, who recognized that his relationship with her was a gift from God. Friends from an early age, and married after his conversion, he idolized her, and constantly wrote to her when he was separated from her. Read carefully, notice why he believed they enjoyed such a close relationship:

“You will not be displeased with me for saying, that though you are dearer to me than the aggregate of all earthly comforts, I wish to limit my passion within those bounds which God has appointed. Our love to each other ought to lead us to love him supremely, who is the author and source of all the good we possess or hope for. It is to him we owe that happiness in a marriage state which so many seek in vain, some of whom set out with such hopes and prospects, that their disappointments can be deduced for no other cause, than having placed that high regard on a creature which is only due to the Creator. He therefore withholds his blessing (without which no union can subsist) and their expectations, of course, end in indifference . . . ”

“I consider our union as a peculiar effect and gift of an indulgent Providence, and therefore, as a talent to be improved to higher ends, to the promoting of his will and service upon earth. And to assisting each other to prepare for an eternal state, to which a few years at the farthest will introduce us. Were these points wholly neglected, however great our satisfaction might be for the present, it would be better never to have seen each other; since the time must come when, of all the endearments of our connection, nothing will remain, but the consciousness how greatly we were favored, and how we improved the favors we possessed . . .”

“He formed us for each other, and his good Providence brought us together. It is no wonder if so many years, so many endearments, so many obligations, have produced an uncommon effect; and that by long habit, it is become almost impossible for me to draw a breath, of which you are not concerned. If this mutual affection leads us to this fountain from which our blessings flow, and if we can regard each other, and everything about us, with a reference to that eternity to which we are hasting, then we are happy indeed.”

“The path of few peoples through life has been more marked with peculiar mercies than yours. How differently has he led us from the way we should have chosen for ourselves! We have had remarkable turns in our affairs; but every change has been for the better; and in every trouble (for we have had our troubles) he has given us effectual help. Shall we not then believe, that he will perfect that which concerns us? When I was an infant, and knew not what I wanted, he sent you into the world to be, first, the principal hinge, upon which my part, and character in life, was to turn and then to be my companion. We have traveled together near twenty-six years; and though we are changeable creatures, and have seen almost every thing change around us, he has preserved our affections, by his blessings, or we might have been weary of each other. How far we have yet to go, we know not . . . . If our lives are prolonged, the shadows of the evening, old age, with its attendant infirmities, will be pressing upon us soon. Yet I hope this uncertain remaining part of our pilgrimage, will upon the whole, be the best; for our God is all-sufficient, and can make us more happy, by the light of his countenance, when our temporal comforts fail, then we never were, when we possessed them to the greatest advantage.”

Newton’s sentiments are an encouraging reminder that true love is possible this side of heaven to those who make God the center of their relationship!

Ultimately speaking, the greatest manifestation of real love was the love expressed when Jesus died on the cross, which eventually led to the resurrection that is celebrated in so many churches this weekend.

Read more from John Newton at path2prayer.com

Are You Serious When You Pray

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

[Most recent Newsletter]

April 4, 2011

Greetings!

Contents:
Are You Serious When You Pray
Updates on Mission Trips
Travel Adventures
Updates on Dan’s work in Michigan
Updates on Web site
A Thought to Ponder

Introduction:
It is good to be back home, but I confess to missing my friends back in El Suyatal, Honduras. Actually I miss friends in many places, but since Honduras is the most recent place I visited I am especially thinking of them right now. I had a great week there and will tell you a bit more in this newsletter. However I first want to ask you if you are serious when you pray?

Are You Serious When You Pray?:
“Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’-let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac….” Gen. 24:14

“Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you….” Isa. 30:18

I’ve often marveled at the way God answered Eliezer’s prayer when he was seeking a spouse for Isaac. Two things are worth noting: (1) He specifically answered Eliezer’s prayer, and (2) He immediately brought the person-while he was STILL praying Rebekah came along. Eliezer soon realized that God had answered his prayer. That was a fast answer to prayer. I am grateful God is both willing and able to answer our prayers.

Do you wish God answered your prayers as specifically and quickly? I think He wants to do the same for us in our day, but I don’t think most of us are prepared to receive such a specific answer, at least we are not prepared to receive it so quickly.

Reviewing the story found in Genesis 24, Abraham seems to have sensed the need of a godly spouse for Isaac. Isaac was of a kind and compliant nature; having a godly wife would strengthen his spiritual resolve and would be a blessing-Yes, marriage contracted in the fear of the Lord is a good thing and I often pray for young adults who seek marriage partners.

Abraham was very specific when instructing Eliezer about the person he was to return with: (1) she was to come from his family; and (2) she was to return to the land of Canaan. Regardless of how wonderful or spiritual she might be, regardless of her beauty or intelligence, if these two criteria were not met, she could not be the one! These were so important, in fact, that Eliezer was released from bringing anyone back if no one was willing to return-apparently there are times when being single is better than being married.

Eliezer made his preparations, and headed off-Isaac trusted this godly man even though Isaac was 40 at the time probably.

Arriving in Mesopotamia, the land where Abraham was from, Eliezer made his way to the well where the local people came to draw water. It was a good place for Eliezer to come to, since he would be able to mingle with the local people and his camels were also thirsty-apparently some places can be more suitable than others to receive God’s answer.

There he prayed. “Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’-let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac.” Gen. 24:13,14

Before he even finished praying, God responded: “And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, … came out with her pitcher on her shoulder” (Gen. 24:15) Of a hospitable and generous nature, she offered to not only bring water to Eliezer, but also fetched water for all of his camels-a good place to find God’s choice is where others are being served. His prayer was perfectly answered!

Eliezer asked about her family, soon realized God had answered his prayer, and proceeded to praise God before he did anything else-he never forgot that he was on a mission for God!

When he met with Rebekah’s family, he was able to share all the ways God had led up to the moment-when God works His providential leadings are easy to follow, and the family could neither respond yay or nay because it was so obvious that God was in charge-when God is leading there won’t need to be a lot of convincing of others.

Rebekah agreed to return to Canaan, they traveled back, Isaac received her, and there was love at first sight-since God is the author of love, the marriages He brings about are the sweetest.

Returning to my original question, I ask: Why was God able to answer Eliezer’s prayer so specifically and quickly? Because Eliezer was prepared to IMMEDIATELY accept GOD’S SPECIFIC CHOICE!

When it comes to serious things in life, like marriage, most people want TIME to consider possibilities, want MULTIPLE prospects to choose from, and the LAST WORD on the final choice. Yes, we seek God’s blessings, but in the end we want what we want, and often leave God out of the decision process.

For example, as I travel around the world I often speak with young adults who are working for God. Many of these conversations are about their prayerful quest for a godly marriage partner. As a result I pray for many of them and am pleased when I hear that God has brought the much prayed for partner.

95% of the godly young adults who attend my meetings are single. 99% of the young women of this group are praying for God to lead them to a godly man who they can safely give their hearts to. Some of the young women have joined other young women to seek God’s help in finding a godly husband.

I wish I could say as many young men are praying, praying as earnestly, or joining other young men to unite in praying about this important facet of life. I wish, but it doesn’t seem to be so. Some of the young men are also considering their options as they play the “friend” game-enjoying close friendships that are considered casual and come without obligations-at least in their minds. But what seems casual to them is far more than casual to the young woman they are friends with sometimes. Sadly breakups from “friendships” are confusing and hurt just as badly as when serious relationships break up.

Knowing of the godly desires of the young people, I am always keeping my eyes open for possible matches. Some time back I was speaking with a young man about a godly young woman who would make a wonderful partner for someone. He had formerly asked me to pray that God would help him find a godly partner to serve God with him, and I thought I might have found such a person. He was please to hear of someone, but responded that he wanted an “organic” relationship-new term to me-explained with the following descriptors: “natural growth, makes things go smoother. Low expectations.” In pondering the response, seemed to me he wasn’t ready to make a decision in that area of his life and I shouldn’t have mentioned anyone to him until he was ready. To look at this spiritually, He wasn’t prepared to to get a fast answer to his prayer for a partner because he wasn’t ready to enter into a serious relationship, or he wasn’t prepared to accept God’s choice.

Is it possible my friend was wanting options to consider-perhaps even playing the field? That is unfortunate since I am constantly talking with brokenhearted young adults who got into relationships where either one or the other of the parties wasn’t that serious yet, and broke things off eventually, little realizing the heartbreak that would result. I’ve also heard from more than one individual who has gone down the “tentative” relationship pathway, been disappointed multiple times, and has decided to no longer be part of such relationships-preferring to wait for the individual who is seriously seeking God’s choice, and is surrendered to accept God’s choice. Here’s some advice: don’t start a relationship unless you are prepared to court and get married.

And remember “just being friends” and spending lots of time with a member of the opposite sex is like being in a relationship after some time for a young woman. The guys may not realize this, but a woman’s heart responds to attention and time, even if the young man doesn’t intend for the relationship to be anything more than a friendship! Don’t play the “just friends” game. Those breakups hurt just as bad!

I am reminded of another young adult who once wrote asking that I pray that she get admitted to a particular college. So I prayed and was pleased to learn that she had been accepted-even received a scholarship. I was praising God. But she didn’t come! Inquiring what happened, I discovered she had changed her mind! I was left wondering if she had really sought God’s direction prior to asking me to pray. I wondered why I had prayed for her so specifically.

My prayers in both of these cases were misguided. Praying that they would become serious with God and seek whatever God wanted, would have been more appropriate. But praying for a specific person, and a specific college, was misguided. God didn’t answer my prayers, and I am realizing that I don’t want to waste time praying those prayers anymore. In the future, I will be very interested to know why the person making the request is so sure their request is God’s will? Lack of seeking after God, lack of surrendering to God’s direction, will preclude praying specifically, and will necessitate a general prayer for direction and surrender to the direction eventually given.

I have mentioned two young adult examples, but I think the same happens for adults whether single or married. We have a problem, we consider what is going on in our lives, come up with our own solution, and then beg God to grant whatever we have asked-even ask our friends to pray for whatever we want. We could save ourselves lots of time and frustration if we were to ask God what He wants, and how He wants us to pray. I believe those answers would come much faster.

So I ask: Are you serious when you pray? I believe many of the delays encountered when we pray, come because we are not serious with God-at least not serious about receiving HIS answer. As a result, God waits until we become so frustrated with our attempts-attempts which can go on for years, that we will finally surrender and accept HIS answer. Then He will quickly answer, according to His will, like He did for Eliezer.

Update on Mission Trips:
Two weeks ago I was in Honduras in Central America, where I spent a delightful week at the IBC Mission School at a tiny village called El Suyatal. You may have heard that Honduras is among the poorest and most challenged countries in Central America. That may be true, but I was always surrounded by kind and loving people and had a wonderful experience. I spoke to the students about what it means to follow Jesus for their devotional hour in the morning, taught a morning class on witnessing, went with them on visits in the village some of the days, and spoke every evening on prayer to the villagers. The signs of poverty were all around. The streets had no paving, the donkeys were often loose, horses were an important part of transportation, and many of the homes have dirt floors, etc.. But smiles came in response to my “buenos” greetings, and spoke of a happiness which I appreciated. The school was founded by young adults, and today includes dorms and other buildings, wonderful gardens, a bilingual kindergarten, and a leadership that has great spiritual maturity and commitment to Jesus. There is no electricity-a good thing I came to realize since the constant bombardment of noise and media so prevalent in today’s society were absent, making more time for prayer, conversations with people, quiet time with Jesus, and earlier bedtimes-a welcome and needed change. In fact I’ve thought it might be good to shut off the electric here in Michigan at times. The lack of hot water for showers was very character refining-fortunately I didn’t die from the shock of the cold water, but neither did the water get any warmer over the course of the week. The food was delicious-vegan food that I looked forward to, the fellowship and friendships were of the sweetest variety, daily times praying at 6:30 AM will be remembered for a long time, and I rejoiced at the very positive work going on in the little village. Students and staff go there from many places in the world (Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, United States, etc.) and one can speak many different languages in the course of the day. I will happily return in the future, and happily recommend the school for any young adult who wants to learn about sharing Christ with people in the marketplace, learn about medical missionary work, studying the Bible, and learning how to grow and live off the land-even the guys learn how to bake bread. And all the students are learning to speak Spanish as well. I continue to pray for the people at the school, and the people in the village. I’m even learning a bit of Spanish now that I am home in preparation of returning one day. Should you be interested, you can learn more about them at this web site: http://www.vidaprojects.org/english They gave me a CD of Christian music upon leaving which was a mix of English and German songs that is really beautiful. Please join me praying for them, and if God puts it on your heart, supporting them financially. Though they want to be self-supporting, they are still living by faith and depend on the rest of us to get through day by day.

Travel Adventures:
Traveling to and from Honduras was an interesting prayer-driven adventure. On the way down, my first seat mate could have traded his name for mine, so far as similarities of the things we have experienced in life go. I hope we stay in touch. In Miami, as I was sitting and waiting for my plane to Honduras, an American woman who was seated close by, asked where I was going. I didn’t know right off, but pulled out the sheet of paper to show her “El Suyatal. She was amazed and exclaimed, “El Suyatal is a tiny little village 1.5 hours from Tegucigalpa which no one knows about. I live there! She was from the same town I was going to. That coincidence assured me that God was directing me to go. During the week I looked up Sarah and her family, and spent time visiting with her. She later came to the school with her daughter to visit with the staff and students. On the way home, my seat mate was a young adult who grew up in an orphanage in Honduras and we became friends. God is good.

I am working on a trip to India for May perhaps. Please remember that in your prayers.

Life in Michigan:
I am teaching the history of great Christians at the Seminary here. I love teaching the course because we get inspired every class by someone who pulled off great things for God. This week we have considered famous women: Susannah Wesley-the mother of John and Charles Wesley; Mary Lyons-a pioneer educator in New England whose Mount Holyoke Female Seminary made a great difference in many parts of the world; Francis Ridley Havergal-the author of many favorite Christian hymns; and Amy Carmichael-who founded the Dohnavur Fellowship orphanage in the southern most part of India. You can find information on these women at this link at path2prayer.com.

Some Quotes from Mary Lyons:
“When in doubt which of two courses to take, follow that which involves the most self-denial. You will then find yourself in the safe and happier path.”

“Jesus was never seeking a place where to live, but a place where he could deny himself for others.”

“Go where no one else will go, not seeking the praise of man, but the favor which comes from God only.”

“I felt that in the sight of God, my duty in my own little sphere and with my own feeble ability was more to me than the duty of all the world besides. Could I call thousands into the treasury of the Lord, it might not be so important a duty for me as to give from my own purse that last farthing which God requires.”

“The yielding of the will to the parent or teacher is often the schoolmaster that leads to Christ. Thank God if you have learned to submit your will to that of your parents.”

“We can train benevolent workers only by being benevolent ourselves. The Levites had no portion among the tribes; the Lord was their inheritance; but out of their living they gave their tithes to the Lord. Let us live in the same spirit.”

“If work needs to be done, and no one wants to do it, that is the work for you. Much of the work of the world, if done at all, must be done for love – not for pecuniary returns.”

“Loving self supremely continually disappoints.”

“Privilege and responsibility go hand in hand.”

Recent Answers to Prayer:
One brother wrote to say that immigration papers came in answer to many prayers. Another young woman wrote to say that an impossible job internship was offered to her that was totally unexpected. Another person has landed a job at a large hospital in answer to prayer. A student got almost a perfect score on a test that he prayed about much. God is still answering our prayers!

Update on Website:
I keep adding resources to the web site. I am currently researching much the writings of famous missionaries and finding much to bless my soul. I often hear from others the blessings they are gaining in visiting. Add a link to my site to your church’s site.

Foreign Language Resources:
My meetings were taped in Honduras. Since they were all translated into Spanish, there are now complete messages on prayer, following Jesus and witness. These will be added to path2prayer.com when the editing is completed. Do you feel called to translate? Some volunteers are doing some translation for the web site and I would welcome more. At this point we have resources in Romanian and Spanish. Find out about them at the Foreign Language Link at path2prayer.com

A Thought to Ponder:
As I study the history of great Christians, I am becoming increasingly convinced that a healthy mature walk with God not only includes reading the Bible and praying every day, and serving God locally, but also either going as missionaries on short or long-term trips, or giving to support those who are already in missions, or making it possible for others to go in our place. What do you think in this regard? I think of Louis Harms who had the little church in Hermannsburg, Germany. No one would have expected much of his church in the little village, but he was convinced his church could only be healthy if the members were actively sending and supporting missionaries. And so they did. Eventually they had eight mission stations and many missionaries serving God in Africa. Later they also worked in India. I don’t think the formula for spiritual health has changed since his time. If you want to have a strong walk with Jesus, you will have to start asking God what He would have you do in this regard. We should seek opportunities to serve God oversees, at least short-term. God will call some individuals to long-term mission service; for some something shorter. If for some reason you cannot go, then God needs you to financially make it possible for others to go-either go, or help someone else who can go.

A Prayer:
Father in heaven, thank you for allowing me to go on the mission trip to Honduras. Thank you for guiding me as I selected planes, as I served you at the mission school, as I returned, etc.. Thank you for letting me serve you in teaching about great Christians here. Thank you that You have given us so many examples of individuals who surrendered their lives and what they had, and were used by You in a great way as a result. Father, bless my friend Dan. I don’t know what is going on for Dan, but You do. Please grant the same blessings that you gave me, and continue to give me, as we seek to serve You. You know the prayers that are going up. You know to what degree Dan is serious about having prayers answered. Might you give Dan the willingness to seek Your answers, and the courage to accept Your Answers when they come. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thank you for the difference you are making and God bless you! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Dan

Care Enough to Pray!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus….” Daniel 9:1

“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

“…while I was speaking in prayer… Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly reached me….” (verse 21)

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation through all his kingdom….” Ezra 1:1

Greetings!

Update:
It has been some time since you heard from me. Sorry! I’ve had writers block and lots was going on.

I am well. I am teaching and God has been blessing the classes. I wish you could be with us in class. This past week we learned about Methodism and the work of John and Charles Wesley—the founders of the Methodist Church in England, Francis Asbury—the founder of the Methodist Church in America, and John Smith—one of the circuit riders who accomplished so much through prayer in England. I think I can safely say the students were greatly inspired by the things they learned. Next week we learn about the great revivalists of history.

How are you doing? I pray well. Though you haven’t heard from me, I have been praying more than ever.

Upcoming:
On the “what’s coming” front, I will be in Honduras for a week of prayer in March. Please pray that God will bless those meetings in every way.

Some Bible Study:
I am jumping ahead to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah since there is such a need for revival in our day.

In reading from Ezra 1, I was immediately struck by how quickly Cyrus responded to God’s stirring: “In the first year….” (Ezra 1:1). Cyrus was operating on God’s timeline (Jer. 25:11). Those who had studied the prophecies were not surprised by the coming of the Medes and Persians. Those who study Bible prophecy are always given advance warning of what is going on!

Now there is more to the story of course. It actually begins many years before when a prophecy was given by the prophet Jeremiah that predicted that God’s people would be in captivity for seventy years. Daniel had studied that prophecy and perhaps been checking off the years as they passed. You see he was not only concerned about his political responsibilities, but also the spiritual concerns of his people.

Daniel knew that the “seventy year” prophecy of Jeremiah was quickly running out, which was to conclude with his people returning to their land and the sanctuary being restored as he understood things. He didn’t see any indication, however, that his people would be leaving Babylon any time soon, regardless of what the prophecy suggested. Nothing was changing on the political front, nor were his people in an improved spiritual condition, from what we read in his prayer of confession in Daniel 9!

Recently He had been given a vision, recorded in Daniel 8, that suggested the seventy year period would be extended by a much longer time period, during which awful things would take place, including trampling the host—probably his people, and the sanctuary underfoot, before culminating in what was referred to as the sanctuary being “cleansed” (Daniel 8:14). Daniel might have thought he understood the sanctuary being cleansed since the yearly festivals of Israel included the day of atonement when the sanctuary was cleansed, but he didn’t understand the time extension.

Daniel could have complacently accepted not understanding and gone on—“accepted the unacceptable,” letting other people worry about what was going on with the prophecies. But Daniel carefully studied what Jeremiah had to say and then set himself to praying. This would have been in the first year of Darius the Mede. By that time the Babylonian Empire had passed from the scene, Darius was ruling, and in two years Cyrus would take over (Daniel 9:1).

Daniel sought God with prayer, fasting, sackcloth and ashes (verse 3), beginning with a lengthy confession where he linked himself with his people (verse 4,5), and freely admitted shortcomings.

He asked God to intervene on the basis of His (God’s) righteousness since his people had no righteousness of their own, and asked God to shine His face upon the sanctuary back in Jerusalem, which at that moment was desolate and was going to be trampled further from what he understood. So he prayed on! I would like to believe that he was not only motivated by curiosity and his own concerns, but also motivated by the suffering of his people. We need more people who care enough to pray!

While he was still speaking and confessing the sins of his people, an angel came “flying swiftly” to explain what was going on (verse 21). God was aware that Daniel was struggling and in answer to prayer, an angel was quickly sent to provide answers.

Some things strike me:

1. God has a timetable. There was a timetable for Daniel’s day; there is a timetable for our day. We would do well to learn about that timetable.

2. The timetable can be understood by studying Bible prophecy. The Bible says “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Daniel studied with every expectation of understanding the future; we can also understand the future as we study Bible prophecy. The things going on in the world right now will not come as a great surprise if we are studying our Bibles.

3. Great blessings come in studying Bible Prophecy. Daniel had been a Prime Minister of the Babylonian Empire, and now was serving a new king in the Medo-Persian Empire. He had endured the upheavals associated with the moral fall of the Babylonians and the conquests of the new rulers. God was with him and was blessing. But he was also buoyed up by knowing God’s timetable and plan ahead of time. We can be assured of God’s presence with us as well, but we will be greatly helped if we understand what is going on in the world around us by knowing what the Bible says regarding our times.

4. Prophecy is unlocked as we pray. Like Daniel, we need to seriously pray about what we are learning. Daniel was so convinced that God always gives advance information, that he was unwilling to be in confusion on the subject. Too many people are confused in our day. There is a need for FAR MORE study in this regard.

5. Serious prayer often includes fasting! Daniel was a a great and righteous man, but felt the need to humble himself in approaching God. If Daniel needed to pray and fast, so do we! We also need to confess our sins and those of God’s church that keep God from having His way in the world. I continue to believe the only reason other religions are rising to such prominence in our day, is due to the poor witness of those who claim to be followers of Jesus, and the ongoing dishonor of God. Daniel felt the need to pray and fast. We have the same need!

6. God will answer our prayers and send help, IF we keep praying. Daniel kept praying—later in Daniel we find he prays for multiple weeks. We need to keep praying until we get answers. Gabriel was sent “swiftly” and we need to be so serious with God that He will swiftly send us help as well.

7. We have standing before God as we pray in Jesus’ name. Daniel prayed on the basis of God’s righteousness, so should we!

Father in heaven, we are living in a world where everything is going to custard. Father there is unbelievable political, financial, and relational turmoil all over the world. Natural disasters are abounding. There is a looming shortage of food and our water and air is becoming increasing polluted. We are seeing revolutions in North Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world: oppression on the one hand, sincere efforts at freedom on the other, but also anarchy driven by opportunist who are seeking to take advantage of the sincere freedom-desiring people in those lands. We have no reason to believe things will greatly improve based on what we see in the Bible. The only question is whether we will be faithful. and whether we will take the knowledge provided and make sure we are standing on the side of truth in the last days. Help us to stop being so complacent and begin to study and pray; help us to even add fasting if necessary. Thank you for keeping and blessing Daniel as he endured the great transitions. Please keep and bless us in our day as well. Bless my friend who is reading this today, and might it be a good day for Your Kingdom so far as my friend’s life goes. You know the things that are prayed about. Send help swiftly, bring answers; bring help in just the right way; and do so quickly! I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Write me if you would like to learn more about Bible prophecy at path2prayer.com

Holy Spirit Essential

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

I came across a wonderful article by F. B Meyer on why the Holy Spirit is essential to effective, life-changing preaching. Here are few representative paragraphs. To read all of the article that was first published in 1900, go to the article page on path2prayer.com. You will find many helpful resources for pastors at the “Pastor Sermon, Prayer and Teaching Resources page at path2prayer.com

The Holy Spirit Essential

That the Holy Spirit is essential to effective Gospel preaching is attested by the fact that even our Lord did not essay to preach the Gospel to the poor, liberty to captives, the opening of the prison to them that were bound, or to announce the acceptable year of the Lord, until He had stood beneath the opened heaven and been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. It was only as He returned in the power of that Spirit from the scene of His temptation that He undertook the burden of ministry, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, and he hath anointed me to preach.”

The utter dependence of the Gospel ministry on the Holy Spirit is still further attested by the arrest placed by our Lord on the proclamation of the Gospel until the apostles had been endued with the Holy Spirit. “Tarry,” He said, “in Jerusalem until ye be endued with the Spirit from on high.” …

Surely there is enough here to make us pause! If our Master awaited the special anointing of the Holy Spirit before He took up the work of His forerunner, and if He solemnly charged His Church to await a similar equipment, is there not a function of the Holy Spirit in the equipment and endowment of the preacher of the Gospel which is altogether additional to His work in regeneration and sanctification? As there are distinct offices in the Son, so that at different times in our experience we regard Him as Priest, Prophet, or King, are there not equally distinct offices in the Holy Spirit, as Regenerator, Sanctifier, and the Anointing Power for the holy office of ministering to men the good tidings of the Gospel?

Thus much to establish the contention that the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the preacher was expressly insisted on in the earliest days, and the most solemn inquiry is suggested as to how far the preachers of our time are admonished in this direction. Are our young ministers advised to postpone the opening of their heaven-given commission until they have obtained by faith and prayer their portion in the gift of the divine Savior, who gives the manifestation of His Spirit to each of His servants to profit withal, so that prophecy (i.e., the utterance of the divine message) is wrought in them by that one and self-same Spirit who divides to every man severally as He will?

Power in Proportion to Earnest Seeking

This Scriptural teaching is abundantly confirmed by the testimony of the ministers of Christ in every age of church history. In the case of some there have been distinct epochs, when they have become acquainted for the first time with the vast increase of spiritual power which was within their reach by the definite search after and appropriation of the anointing of the divine Spirit, and witness has been borne by those who knew them that there had come to them a new refinement of spirit, a brokenness of heart, a tenderness of appeal, a power in wielding the sword of the Spirit, and in producing the profoundest sense of conviction of sin. It is only necessary to read the diaries of a Jonathan Edwards, a Brainerd, a Baxter, a Christmas Evans, a Burns, or a McCheyne, to be convinced that it was in the proportion that such men of God sought and obtained the special anointing of the Spirit that they produced those effects on vast audiences of men, which are totally unlike anything resulting from the appeals of the mere thinker or orator, because they touch the life of the spirit, causing it to seek reconciliation with God, and to open to the reception of the divine nature. Probably the reason is not far to seek. The ultimate goal of Gospel preaching is not the emotional or the intellectual, but the spiritual; not the psychical, but the pneumatical; not the faculty by which we are conscious of ourselves and the universe around us, but that by which we may become conscious of God and the Unseen, and may receive the germ of the Eternal and the divine. If that be granted, it is certain that only spirit can effect spirit. Just as a light-reflector must be impinged by light, rather than by sound, or as the graphophone will register only the waves of sound and not of light, so the spiritual in man can be touched and influenced by the spiritual only. The spiritual may operate through the intellectual or through the emotional, through the imagination or the conscience, but it is always the final and only source of power over the spiritual nature of those whom the preacher is called on to address. …

It is when the spirit of the servant of God is infilled with the Spirit of the risen and exalted Savior that it becomes resistless. It is no longer he that speaks, but the Spirit of the Father, and the Son speaks in him. He is conscious of agonizing, according to the energy of another, which energizes in him mightily. We go back to the Book of Judges for an even more complete illustration of our meaning, where we learn that the Spirit of the Lord “clothed Himself with Gideon,” so that He became the motive and energy of his lifework. Oh, that each servant of God might be permitted to experience that interfusion of the divine Spirit with the human, through which his nature might be raised to its maximum of efficiency!—F. B. Meyer

Read the rest of this wonderful article by F. B. Meyer at path2prayer.com. This would be a good article to direct your pastor to.

God Always Has A Plan

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

December 23, 2010

I am now at the YWAM center in Lonavala, Maharastra, India. I am not sure how many students are here at this young adult convention, but there are a good number. They have come from all parts of India. Several groups drove 25 hours from the southern most part of India. The young adults here are wonderful and I consider myself fortunate to spend time with them. Yesterday one of the students shared the most touching testimony of how he came to Christ and to the church. Convinced that there was error, he eagerly studied the Bible and books to find all the errors. But instead of that he discovered Jesus and became a believer. He is one of the best medical students of his “college,” and is faithfully living out his faith among the other students who are largely Hindu and Muslim. He prays much and has been seeing specific answers to prayer. He has also been faithfully honoring God by not taking examinations on the Saturday Sabbath. His friends have ridiculed him in this, and assured him he will fail, but God has intervened countless times to allow him to take and pass alternate exams that are considered impossible to pass.  The wonderful thing about all of this is that his friends from the other faiths are watching carefully and are fully aware of his motivation as a Christian. He could have chosen to take the exam on the Sabbath as a matter of expediency, but he has chosen to honor God and God is honoring him. Please join me in praying for this modern Daniel.

Some thoughts from the Bible…

“But he shook off the creature into the fire.” Acts 28:5

“They will take up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them….” Mark 16:18

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purposes.” Rom. 8:28

Acts 27 and 28 cover Paul’s perilous journey to Rome, and his two years of confinement where he was “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31)

It is interesting that in the course of the journey to Rome there were decided differences of opinion between Paul and the sailers on what they should do. Paul, perceiving oncoming dangers, advised them to not leave the port. His words were overruled, however, and they quickly found themselves in great danger. In an effort to save themselves, the sailers tried various maneuvers to keep the boat aright. But facing strong contrary winds, they allowed the ship to be driven before the wind. Over time they threw their cargo overboard, their ship’s tackle and eventually even lost the ship; all of this was due to not listening to Paul.

In the sailers’ defense they didn’t know anything about Paul and were probably prejudiced against him. He was a prisoner and prisoners were not listened to much, especially when it came to sailing a ship.

During this time Paul isn’t mentioned. However, from verse 21 we get the sense that Paul had been seeking God’s help through prayer and fasting. When he emerged, and after reminding the sailers they should have listened to him, he encouraged them that there would be no loss of life, though the ship would be lost. Paul also told them about an angel who had come and visited him, sent from the God he belonged to and whom he served.”

True to Paul’s words, the ship was eventually run aground on Malta and all the men safely made it ashore. The locals showed “an unusual kindness,” unusual perhaps because their visitors were prisoners and prisoners were not usually treated kindly. They even made a fire where the men could warm themselves.

It was in the course of gathering sticks for the fire that a major “praise the Lord” event took place. Reaching into the sticks, Paul was suddenly bitten by a venomous viper. The locals looking on, concluded that Paul must be a murderer  and were quite certain he would quickly die. But shaking the snake off and suffering no harm, Paul quietly continued gathering sticks. Surprised, the locals then decided he must be a god.

When arriving at Malta Paul had only been known as a prisoner who was undoubtedly justly condemned for some crime. But as a result of God’s intervention, they recognized there was something other worldly about Paul.

Some things strike me.

(1) God cares and is always willing to communicate. God communicated with the sailers because he cared about them, but to no avail. God is still as willing to communicate and help in our day.

(2) God usually communicates through his godly children, but they are not always listened to due to prejudice. In this case God communicated through Paul. Unfortunately Paul was not sufficiently respected and therefore his message was disregarded. Still today prejudice against God’s messengers plays an unfortunate role in God’s voice being heard at times.

(3) Taking our concerns to God through prayer and fasting is always a good policy. Because the sailers would not listen to him, Paul took his concerns to God. God honored his obedience in praying and fasting, and sent needed communication. I don’t pray and fast enough and I suspect you don’t either. Jesus’ words, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21) is still true in our day. Are we praying and fasting when we face problems?

(4) We serve because we belong! Paul was a great servant of God, but he served God because he belonged to Him. Here at the convention I have been talking with the young adults about what it means to surrender and completely give oneself to God. It is because we belong to God that we serve God.

(5) God sometimes uses negative events to bring great blessings. In Paul’s case it was being bitten by a viper. In our case, it may be some other misfortune. In all such cases, God is working for good to those who love Him, and sometimes His only way of initially bringing the needed blessing is negative.

(6) God carefully orchestrates all the details necessary to work His good will. God made sure the viper was hiding in the sticks when it was needed. God works just as decidedly on our behalf in whatever way is needed. I know it may seem trite to suggest that God is always decidedly working on our behalf, but I really believe it and am doing what I can to always live with that understanding.

(7) Finally, God always has a plan to reach others. When Paul arrived at Malta the chance of him significantly influencing the people on the island was minimal; they only knew he was a prisoner. But God had a plan to overcome their prejudice, and as Paul quietly obeyed, God worked His plan. We are still reading about the blessings that came in our day. I can’t help but believe that God has a plan to reach people everywhere, no matter what religious background they have.

As I write I struggle with a cold, and many of the young adults here are similarly struggling. We would appreciate your prayers for our getting well. I believe I will fast and pray today to seek God’s help in turning this sickness around. I have been wondering why God allowed all of us to be so affected and believe that it is part of God’s good will on our behalf. I am not sure what to do, but am certain that obeying Jesus’ injunction can only help.

Father in heaven, thank You that ALL things somehow work for good. I don’t know what is going on in the life of the person reading this but You do. Please be a constant presence today, bringing wisdom and help in all the best ways, so that today may be a blessed day in every regard. You know the prayers that are going up. Perhaps for overcoming some physical ailment like I am; perhaps for something else. Thank you for not only knowing what is going on, but also bringing together the elements necessary to bring the needed blessings. Encourage my friend today that every prayer is being heard, and that regardless of how bleak circumstances may look, that those very circumstances are part of Your great plan of blessing. Thank You for being more than able for my friend, today! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

God bless you today Dan!

This was first sent as one of my “almost daily notes.” I would love to add you to the list if you are interested. Please write me to request being put on the list.

Spiritual Thirst and Vulnerability

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah, and I have taken the city’s water supply. Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called after my name.” 2 Sam. 12:27-28

Two thoughts are inspired by 2 Sam. 12:27,28.

(1). If a city’s future is endangered by the loss of its water supply—note the water  supply was the first thing taken by Joab when attacking the people of Ammon, isn’t our spiritual future endangered if we lose our daily supply of the water of life by way of neglect or compromise?

(2). Notice next that Joab rightly recognized that the loss of water made the townsmen particularly vulnerable to any invading army. As a result, he urged David to quickly come and take the city lest he—Joab—take the city and receive the honor as the conqueror! We live among people who are thirsting for the water of life. They are particularly vulnerable to the next scheme of Satan. We also need to make it a matter of urgent priority to reach them before he does.

It goes without say, these verses speak to our need to spend time with Jesus. Did you schedule time with Him this morning? Did you take time to read at least a verse and kneel by your bed and send up a prayer before retiring? Were you at least praying for the people you come in contact with? Maybe God has someone He needs you to speak with.

Read more about David on Dan’s page of writings.

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Sin is No Respecter of Persons

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

“Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” 2 Sam. 11:25

The Bible often presents lessons by pairing up stories, or pairing up people. 2 Sam. 9 and 10 speak of kindness received and kindness rejected. 2 Sam. 11 reminds of Jesus’ warning to watch and pray, and shares the sad story of David succumbing to temptation in a careless moment, and successfully covering up his sin at the expense of Uriah, a wonderfully loyal soldier and husband.

1 Sam. 11 opens with Israel at war. Directing the battle were David’s commanders; within the army were disciplined and loyal soldiers. David surprisingly chose to remain at home.

David, who survived the attacks of Saul, endured the rigors of the wilderness, overcame shortcomings so far as associating with the enemy went, and was so wonderfully generous to Mephibosheth, suddenly took a spiritual tumble of epic proportions: he committed adultery with Bathsheba and got her pregnant; then  worked to cover up the unbecoming event, eventually resorting to having Uriah killed in battle. He even later took Bathsheba as his wife and thought no one would know.

I don’t think David planned any of the things that took place, they just happened. I don’t think we necessarily plan the mischief we get into; it just happens. For David there was first the unguarded moment, then the furtive lingering glance, then the foolish inquiry, then open seeking, then sinning. Various desperate attempts to cover up the deed followed, culminating in the successful bloody coverup!

Unfortunately for David, Uriah was so faithful and so committed to the urgent demands of the battle going on, that he refused to tarry with his wife, preferring to sleep at the door of David’s house. So David finally had Uriah placed in a vulnerable position in the battle, where David knew he would be killed; soldiers died in combat all the time, no one would know otherwise—at least that is what he thought.

Thus when a messenger reported the battle’s outcome and the death of Uriah to David, David’s self-absorbed response was: “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.”

Of course it was David who was not displeased, and he was right: the sword kills indiscriminately. But he forgot that sin is also no respecter of persons, and indiscriminately devours and brings down a person—even a strong person—as easily as another.”

Here are some things that strike me.

(1) Only some of our enemies appear in human form (Eph. 6:12). David may have mistakenly thought that with Saul dead and the Philistines quickly submitting to his armies, he was going to be free of enemies, and accordingly gave himself permission to let his guard down and stay in Jerusalem. Sadly he failed to realize that his GREATEST enemy was unseen, and was busily working to bring him down. That unseen GREATEST enemy is working against us too.

(2) Satan has many ways of getting us to tumble spiritually (1 Peter 5:8). What he cannot accomplish by way of difficulty, he will seek to accomplish in other subtle ways that we don’t anticipate. It isn’t a matter of whether he will try to bring us down, it is only a matter of when and how he will try. David was undoubtedly not anticipating such a temptation when he was wandering on the rooftop.

(3) We must always be on our watch (Matt. 26:41).  Great Christians uniformly had quality time with Jesus EVERY day. Every day they sought to serve God wherever they found themselves; every day they sought the Holy Spirit’s protection against Satan’s wiles. We must do the same.

(4) Strong men and woman are no match for temptation in unguarded moments, if they are not watching and praying (Prov. 7:26)—which begins with the unguarded look or the unguarded thought (James 1:15). This is frighteningly true. We overtly see this in Samson and David, but it also played a role with Solomon the wisest man who ever lived.

(5) We are just as vulnerable in good times as in bad times, perhaps even more vulnerable in good times since we tend to let our guard down (Luke 17:27-29). The latter may not seem to make sense, but I believe it to be true.

(6) We need more prayer, in some ways, when things are going well, than when they are going badly, and some of those prayers need to be “defensive” in nature (Matt. 6:13). When things are going badly, we are highly motivated to pray and ask our friends to pray for us. But when things are going well, we go along on our merry way, little realizing that Satan is quietly conjuring up “designer” temptations that are perfectly suited to our vulnerabilities.

(7) We tend to flippantly respond to spiritual and moral failures and minimize their impact when we are involved (Jer. 5:22), when we would be highly critical of someone else.

(8) There are preferred ways of dealing with our problems. David shows us a bad way; we should choose better ways, which ALWAYS begin with returning to the Lord (Isa. 55:7).

(9) Bad things happen to good people (Job 2:3-6; Heb. 12:1). Even though Uriah was a Canaanite, he was a godly man from what we can tell. Though he probably never understood what went on, God apparently saw that Uriah could witness more through death than through a normal life. There are things we won’t understand until we get to heaven. In the meantime we need to be faithful and obedient, trusting God no matter what is going on.

David’s careless attitude was manifested in his flippant, “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” I think we are wired from Adam to take a similar attitude to our challenges, and the only thing to combat such an attitude, to say nothing of preserving us from similar foolishness, is a constant connection with God that is only possible as we are reading and praying.

So, how is it going with your daily time? I hope you are lingering and savoring your time with Him every day, if not several times every day.

Father, if Satan was clever enough to bring mighty David down, he is certainly clever enough to bring us down. You warned us about the need to “watch and pray,” and taught us to say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Help us to take Your admonitions seriously, and not only pray, but also live those words. Keep my friend in this regard. Put an angel guard around and around all those who are near and dear. Drive Satan far away. Make my friend’s life one of great joy and blessing, for Jesus’ sake, for my friend’s sake, for the associated family’s sake, and for those who, in observing Your radiant joy, will want to know You as well. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you, Dan