Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The question no one asks

Have you ever been stopped dead in your tracks by a verse of Scripture? I imagine that all believers have experienced this many times. Over the past few weeks I have been arrested by a question that the priests and the Sadducees asked Peter and John in Acts 4:7. In chapter 3 Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray. A certain man, lame from birth was begging at the temple gate and cried out for alms. Peter, in one of the most memorable moments in the book of Acts, says to him, I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.

As you can imagine this caused quite a stir at the temple. For years this man had sat at that gate and begged; now he is leaping and running and praising God. The religious leadership responds by sending guards and arresting Peter and John. The next day, they meet with the high priest and his family. Their question haunts me, by what power or name did you do this?

A miracle had taken place. They could not deny the validity of it. All they could ask was, "how did you do this?"

That is a question no one asks the church today. There is such a lack of spiritual power that the miraculous is most often argued away on theological grounds. God no longer works that way. Miracles and signs were for the apostles, but not for us.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating some kind of pentecostal experience or charismatic showmanship that manipulates people and attempts to produce "signs and wonders." However, I do believe that God is still in the business of real life-change. It seems evident to me that the greatest argument for the truth of Christianity should be Christians themselves. Our lives should showcase the power and grace of God. Broken and twisted lives made new by the power of the Gospel should be our greatest apologetic. As a pastor my prayer is that the power of God to change lives and to save the lost will be so evident in my church that the world can only say, "by what power did you do this? How is this possible?"

Monday, April 18, 2011

I have been thinking a good deal about how I spend my time lately. The Bible commands us to number our days, to consider that we have only a limited time alloted to us for life on this earth. James refers to our lives as clouds of vapor that burn off in the early morning sun. Peter refers to life as grass, here today and gone tomorrow. Since our time is so limited, our earnest desire should be to make the most of it to the glory of God. In Ephesians Paul commands believers "to make the best use of the time, knowing that the days are evil." The pace of life in our society is stiffling. We run from one event to another. It seems our life just rushes by. What do we do? I don't know if I'm the best person to answer this question. It seems that my time has become more and more pressed as the years have gone by. Just the event calender at our church is enough to overwhelm me. And with 9 children there is always someone or something needed my attention! So, for a start, we must set priorities. What is most important? My time with God and my time with family are non-negotiables. I don't want the years to pass by and find myself distant in my relationship with God or my wife or my children. I want to be intentional in the way I spend my days. If I am not careful life will fill my calender for me. This is what Paul means when he says make the best use of your time. Don't neglect what is most important for what seems to be most pressing. This is my mid-year resolution. I hope I do better keeping this one than my new year's resolution for losing 20 pounds!

I am including an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s wonderful devotional, “Morning and Evening.” This paragraph is taken from the morning devotion on December 9. I thought this might be a good follow up to Sunday Morning’s sermon.

“Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you.”

Isaiah 30:18

God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day—he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that “the thorn in the flesh” might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God’s grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication. [1]

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Here are some words of wisdom from Dr. Charles Stanley.

“Is there any challenge you are facing? Are there people or circumstances aligned against you in your health, finances, career, relationships, or walk with the Lord? If you want to overcome difficulty, the absolute best way is by spending time alone with God. Only He can give you victory.

How do you fight this battle on your knees? First you do so by setting aside time alone with the Father. It is easy to be distracted. You become so busy fretting about you troubles and running after solutions that you fail to turn to the One who can best help you. (Ps. 103:19)

Second, listen to the Father and expect Him to speak to you. Prayer is not just telling the Lord how you feel – although that is part of it. Rather, He wants to reveal Himself to you and direct you in the way you should go.

Third, if the Lord reveals any sinfulness in your life, repent of it immediately. Remember, the Father’s primary goal is to have an intimate relationship with you. When sin is present, it is evidence that you are hindering Him from having full access to your Life. Therefore, agree with God about your iniquity and allow Him to teach you. He will show you how to change the way you operate for maximum intimacy with Him, effectiveness in your life, and influence with others.

Fourth, remember there can only be on general in this battle – and that is the Lord. God willingly employs His supernatural power in defending you, training you, and bringing out your full potential. However, you must be willing to acknowledge that He is in control and knows the path ahead better than you do.

Fifth, see everything that happens to you as coming from God. Why would you do this? Because if the Father allows a trial or challenge in your life, it is ultimately for your good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Knowing that He has permitted the troubles in your life for your benefit makes it easier to forgive those who hurt you and accept the seemingly inexplicable circumstances you bear.

The truth, is, you and I are always going to encounter struggles until we go home to heaven. However, God has promised, “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. (Isa. 54:17) When you fight the battle on your knees and faithfully obey Him, you invite God to be your Redeemer, Defender, General, and Protector. That’s not only the best way to win—it’s the most wonderful, eternal path to triumph every single time.”

Hope this blesses you like it has me.

Collin Wimberly