Archive for February, 2011

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

Revival in Hawaii

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Titus Coan was one of the greatest missionaries who ever lived. Here is an excerpt from a longer document found at path2prayer.com.

Revival in Hawaii

Titus Coan, nearly sixty years ago, in 1835, began his memorable mission on the shore belt of Hawaii. He soon began to use the native tongue, and within the year made his first tour of the island. He was a relative of Nettleton and had been a co-labourer with Finney, and had learned what arrows are best for a preacher’s quiver, and how to use his bow. His whole being was full of spiritual energy and unction, and, on his first tour, multitudes flocked to hear, and many seemed pricked in their hearts. The multitudes thronged him and followed him, and like his Master, he had no leisure, so much as to eat; and once he preached three times before he had a chance to breakfast. He was wont to make four or five tours a year, and saw tokens of interest, that impressed him with so strange a sense of the presence of God, that he said little about them and scarcely understood, himself. He could only say, “It was wonderful!” He went about, like Jeremiah, with the fire of the Lord in his bones; weary with forbearing, he could not stay.

In 1837, the slumbering fires broke out. Nearly the whole population became an audience, and those who could not come to the services were brought on their beds or on the backs of others. Mr. Coan found himself ministering to fifteen thousand people, scattered along the hundred miles of coast. He longed to be able to fly, that he might get over the ground, or to be able to multiply himself twentyfold, to reach the multitudes who fainted for spiritual food.

Read more about the Hawaiian Revival.

An entire page is dedicated to Titus Coan.

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.