Men, Lead Out In Prayer!

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Ti 2:8)

According to Paul, men are to put away petty differences and anger. Instead of fighting, they are to pray with one another. Paul gives this command to the men instead of the women because as one commentator says,

“As a general rule, men are more likely to agitate the church…they are critical and competitive. They tend to argue first and listen later. They would rather be right than be reconciled. They get angry when they don’t get their way. So the Bible reminds Christian men not to fight.”[1]

Competitive and Dominate

Men, you know this is true. Being competitive and dominate is what comes naturally. When we don’t win or come out on top, we are more likely to get angry and fight with one another. As Christian men, however, we aren’t supposed to fight and burst out in anger at one another. Instead, as Paul tells us, we are to be spiritual leaders, who lead out in prayer.

Freed by the Gospel

While being a spiritual leader who leads out in prayer might be difficult and unnatural, it’s possible because the gospel has changed us. It has freed us to love others more than ourselves, to forgive and let go, to lift others up and work alongside them.

What the Church and Country Needs

Honestly, prayer is what the church needs. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time.

Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer.

I am not just talking to Pastors, Deacons, and Sunday School teachers. I am talking to all men. All of us need to be spiritual leaders, who are leading out in prayer.

Challenge

With that in mind, then, let me issue a challenge to the men in the church. The next time you are with a group of men, your family, or your church family and the conversation turns to a discussion about what needs to change in this country, instead of joining into that discussion, I want you to stop and lead them in prayer. I want you to do that because just talking about what needs to change isn’t going to change anything, but you praying with others will.

Jeremiah Lanphier

If you aren’t convinced, consider the story of Jeremiah Lanphier. He lived in New York City in the 1850’s. New York City wasn’t much different then than it is today. It was a place full of sin. Corruption, gambling, greed, atheism, and apathy toward God ran rampant.

Instead of continuing to complain, Lanphier decided to do something. Believing in the power of prayer, he put an ad in the newspaper calling for a weekly prayer meeting. The first meeting began with six men praying that the Lord would do a work in their city and the world. As they continued to meet, something amazing happened. Within six months, over 10,000 people were gathering daily, instead of weekly, to pray over the lunch hour for their city and the country. Their prayers lit a fire of mass revival [2].

It all started with on man’s burden and an ad calling others to join him in prayer. You see, prayer is powerful. It changes things. So men, let’s be the spiritual leaders God has called us to be and lead out in prayer. The gospel has freed us to do that, so let’s do it.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the gospel frees you to be a spiritual leader?
  2. Are you leading out in prayer in your family and church?

Resources

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[1]  Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Daniel M. Doriani, and Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 78.

[2] Adapted from this article: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/577

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 4

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(4) The Bible Can Tell Us How We, As the People of God, Can Live in God’s On-Going Story

As we immerse ourselves in Scripture our knowledge of ourselves and God will grow. In the process, we will be formed into the type of people God wants. That’s because, as Paul tells us in verses 16 and 17,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16–17)

Now notice that Paul tells us it is “all scripture” that is inspired and profitable, which means we can’t just pick and choose to follow this text but not that one. Instead, we have to allow the whole Bible to influence how we live. When we do that, we will find that the Bible does a number of things.

  • It Teaches us
  • Reproves us
  • Corrects us
  • Trains us in righteousness.

First, It Teaches us 

By this, Paul means that the Bible is able to teach us about God, His plan, His Savior, as well as it teaches us about ourselves, our church, our family, and the world in which we live. The Bible teaches us about all those things and more. Which is why I said earlier that if we want to know who we are we must look to the Bible instead of within or to our culture. The Bible tells us who we are as it teaches us all these different things.

Second, It Reproves us  

It tells us if we have done, taught, or thought something wrong. As one commentator puts it,

“Scripture can show sinners their failures, clarify [their] mistakes, and lead them to a new sense of peace and wholeness.”

Third, It Corrects us  

The Bible doesn’t just point out what we have done wrong, it goes a step further and directs us to the behavior, thinking, or teaching that’s inline with God’s will.

Lastly, It Trains us in righteousness 

This phrase means that Scripture provides us with a system of teaching and discipline that develops Christian character so that over time we grow to be more like Christ.

The result of all this teaching, reproving, correcting, and training is that we are made complete or mature, and we are equipped for every good work. In other words, as we immerse ourselves in the Bible, and allow it to have influence over us, we will be taught how we are to live as God’s people within His story. So if we want to follow Jesus and live how He wants us to live, and we should if we are Christians, then must read His Word. By doing so, we will be taught how to live as God’s people within His story.

Conclusion

So that is what the Bible is and what it does:

  • It’s a unified story that points us to Jesus.
  • It tells us the real story of human history.
  • It is a divine human word through which God’s Word is revealed to us.
  • It tell us how we, as God’s people, can live in His ongoing story.

Since the Bible is and does all those things: It’s useful to us. It’s relevant. It’s a book worth spending our time and mental energy reading.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you turn to the Bible to determine how you can live in God’s ongoing story?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 3

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(3) The Bible is a Divine Human Word 

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we learn that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16a)

Now when Paul says that Scripture is breathed out by God he doesn’t mean God literally wrote with His own hand every word in Scripture and delivered it to man. We know men wrote the Scriptures. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. And the other books were written by other men. So we know that God didn’t just hand us a completed book right out of heaven.

While it is true that men did write the Bible, it’s still said to be God’s Word. 1 Peter 1:20 and 21 give us an idea of how the Bible, which was written by men, is God’s Word. The text says,

“knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pe 1:20–21)

So Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit worked alongside and through men to produce the Word of God. That is how the Bible, which is written by men, is consistent with God’s character and can be said to be His word.

Since the Bible is God’s Word, we can’t just ignore it as if it was something written for people a long time ago. God’s Word is still applicable today. It’s still relevant. It still provides encouragement, joy, and hope. It still teaches and challenges. It still tell us how we are to live.

So the Bible can’t and mustn’t be ignored because it’s God Word to us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the Bible is God’s Word to you?
  2. How does that realization change your perspective on the Bible?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 2

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(2) The Bible Tells Us the Real Story of Human History

We all inhabit a story. Our culture tells us that we inhabit a story of our own making. One that we forge ourselves, which is why we are often told, “You can be who you want to be and do what you want to do.”

In order to be who we want to be and do what we want to do, in order to write our own story, we are told that we have to discover ourselves. Our culture tells us that we discover who we are by looking within.

While that sounds great, it’s not true. If we look within to discover who we are and begin writing our story based on what we find, it is going to be one messed up, self-absorbed story. All you have to do is look at people’s Facebook or Twitter feeds to know that’s true.

You see, we are messed up people, who have been corrupted by sin, so instead of looking within, we need to look outside of ourselves. By outside of ourselves, I don’t mean to our culture. It’s just as messed up as we are because we make up the culture. Instead, we have to look beyond ourselves and our culture to God.

God’s Story

We look to God not only because He is perfect and able to reveal the truth to us, but also because it’s His story that we inhabit. Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 33,

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Ps 33:6–12)

We inhabit God’s story. A story that began in Genesis chapter 1 with God creating the world and everything in it and one that culminates in Revelation 22 with God’s people inhabiting a New Heavens and New Earth for all eternity. So if we want to find ourselves, if we want to know our true identity, we must read the Bible because it provides the real story of human history.

Four Main Acts

The Bible’s story can be broken down into four main acts.

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption
  • Recreation

You see, we weren’t created by a time plus chance evolutionary process. Instead, we were created by God. After man was created, he was placed in a perfect garden and given dominion over all the earth. But man rebelled, which is why we and the world we inhabit is so corrupt and messed up.

God’s Faithfulness

But even though we rebelled against God, He didn’t abandon us. Instead, He sent a Savior to redeem us and make a way for us to once again enjoy a relationship with Him. The Savior is Jesus, who came, died on the cross for our sins, resurrected on the third day defeating death, and ascended into heaven to sit on His throne. One day, Jesus will return and set everything right. After Jesus’ return, we will once again live with God for all eternity in a perfect world.

Now, that’s quick, but that’s the barebones story of the Bible. A story we inhabit. So if we want to learn more about who we are, we don’t look within, instead, we look outside ourselves to God’s Word — the Bible. It tells us who we really are, how this world can be fixed, and what our hope for the future is.

Question for Reflection

  1. What is the real story of human history to you? Is it the biblical story? If not, why?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 1

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(1) The Bible is a Unified Story that Points Us to Jesus 

In 2 Timothy 3:14 and 15 Paul speaking to Timothy says,

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Ti 3:14–15)

When Paul uses the phrase “the sacred writings” he is referring to Scripture. The Scripture for Paul is what we know as the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn’t completed yet. It was being written and collected as Paul was writing his letter.

Here, Paul reminds Timothy and tells us that the Old Testament points us to Jesus. It’s not just a bunch of stories about some dead old guys who did some cool things, like slay a giant or survive a lion’s den. Instead, it’s a unified collection of books that form one story that points us to Jesus. Which means:

  • The Bible isn’t a self-help book.
  • It’s not a science book.
  • It’s not meant to be a comprehensive history book
  • Nor is it a book that’s going to answer all our questions. In fact, a lot of times it’s probably going to raise more questions than it answers. Just read the book of Job or Revelation and you will have a good idea of what I’m talking about.

The Bible isn’t any of these things. Instead, the Bible is God’s special revelation of Himself in a unified collection of books that form one story whose purpose is to point us to Jesus so we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That’s what the Bible is.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you realize that the Bible is a unified story that points to Jesus?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

How Can I Delight in God’s Word?

As Christians, we are supposed to delight in the Bible. What I mean by that is that it should produce a sense of pleasure and joy in us when we read it. Our delight should draw us into the text.

For some of you, however, that might not be where you are at with the Bible right now. You might not delight in it. Since you don’t delight in the Bible, you don’t read it. Maybe you feel bad about not reading the Bible. Maybe you want to get to a place where you delight in it, you just don’t know how to make the switch. You might be asking: How can the Bible become something in which I delight? Continue reading

Guard Yourself: False Teaching Can and Does Arise From Within the Church

We often think of the church as a safe place, which is certainly how it should be. Everything we hear at church should be truth. Sadly, however, that’s not always the case. People in the church can and do spread false teaching, either knowingly or unknowingly. Continue reading

Is Anything Too Hard For God?

In Genesis 18 God meets with Abraham and tells him that he will have a son within a year, even though Sarah is beyond childbearing age. Hearing God’s promise Sarah laughs in doubt. But God doesn’t think this is a laughing matter. He is serious about finally providing them with their promised child. In a remarkable exchange with Abraham regarding Sarah’s unbelief, God asks Abraham.

Is anything too hard for the Lord? ”” (Ge 18:14a)

The answer to God’s question is important not only for Abraham but us as well. God’s ability to fulfill His promise to Abraham either confirms or denies His power and abilities. Power and abilities we place our hope in today. For if God can’t provide a child to a childless woman beyond childbearing age, how could He ever raise us from the grave, provide us with a glorified body, and return the world to an Edenic state? Continue reading

Do You Worship Out of a Sense of Duty or Thankfulness?

In Psalm 50, Asaph confronts Israel regarding their worship and living. What they were doing isn’t much different from what many do today. Their worship was formulaic. In other words, they were going through the motions. Sure, they brought the appropriate sacrifices, but it was done more out of a sense of duty instead of thanksgiving.

Many Do the Same Today

To our shame, many today view the Sunday worship service as nothing more than another box to check off on their spiritual checklist right alongside their morning prayer and devotion. Thinking that way, we drag ourselves to the Sunday Service, sing a few songs, bow for the pastoral prayer, greet our neighbors, place some money in the offering plate, listen to the sermon, and then we are on our way, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. Why do we do this?  Continue reading

Christians Don’t Just Accept Truths About Jesus, They Have A Desire To Know Jesus

Every week I gather with a few faithful men to read and study God’s Word. We meet at a local IHOP, sit at the same table, and are served by the same waitress. While it is a routine meeting in a routine place, we have learned truths about God’s Word that have made our life anything but routine. It’s amazing how a simple study designed around the reading and studying of God’s Word can change your life. But it’s the Bible we are talking about, so that shouldn’t shock us too much.

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer

As of late, we have been working through the book of John. Today we started working through Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17. If there was ever a chapter that was packed full, it is this one. In fact, this chapter is a theological factory that’s doing no less than pumping out deep truths about Jesus, salvation, our mission, and eternal life. Continue reading