Look around at the sign of the times,
churches are closing their doors.
Is it because God has left them
or because of internal wars?
There‘s people trying to find the Savior
but they don’t know where to go.
One says, “This church is a good one,”
another says, “No, it ain’t so.”
What happens when the doors lock?
What happens to the lost soul?
Is this what Jesus was all about?
Was fancy carpet His real goal?
Does anyone know where God truly is?
Did He tell you while deep in prayer?
Does He need stained glass windows
for Him to be present there?
If Jesus Himself came to your church
do you think that they’d let Him in?
Or would they say, “That‘s outrageous,
the people He’s with commit sin!”
Do you think that you’ve overcome,
that you‘re a sinner no more?
If that’s what you think, I’m sorry,
Jesus has something for you in store.
We all are sinners each and everyone.
None of us are innocent and pure;
if you think that you are different,
I don’t think that you are so sure.
So before you go pointing your finger,
before you go laying the blame,
remember what it says in the Bible:
we are brothers and sisters the same. —Barney Fritcher
Not one word in Scripture is wasted: not one word is redundant or replaceable. When Jesus taught us to pray to a Heavenly Father, He taught us to say, “OUR Father.” That means we are all His children, with His Holy Spirit helping us to grasp this—The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that WE are God’s children. Now if WE are children, then WE are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… (Romans 8:16-17).
Did you know that the word saints never appears in the singular in Scripture? No one person is singled out for his or her saintliness. Because we are saintS, praying together to OUR Father, this means accountability. For some people, accountability is a bad word. It seems to them to feel like someone is looking over their shoulder or checking up on them. But Christians should never feel this way! I like how Ken Blanchard defines this: “Accountability means: We owe each other for something we’ve agreed upon.”
What have the saints of God agreed upon? That God is our Father, that Jesus is His Son and our Brother, and that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. We’ve agreed that if we are brothers and sisters in God’s family, we are mutually accountable to one another.
In the context of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, being mutually accountable means:
In an earlier post, I noted that how we view God is going to determine what we pray and what we expect after we pray. Coming together and praying together will help us see God better. Just as the angels around the throne are always crying out to each other “Holy! Holy! Holy!”, when we come together we can show our fellow saints what we’ve learned about our holy Father’s love and power. This is both an encouragement to others and allows others to be an encouragement to us too. Then together we can pray more boldly and expect great things in response to our prayer.
God never intended that you would have to walk through life alone. He wants us to share the journey with fellow saints—His family made up of our brothers and sisters. This praying family truly honors God’s name!
Join me on Sunday as we continue to learn more about prayer.
Why not? James gives us three good reasons:
The bottom line—
(see Luke 6:31 and James 2:8)
All of this makes Cornelius a fully self-sufficient and a well-to-do man who was not likely to look for help from God. Nor was he the type of person that a Christian missionary might seek out.
But clearly, something was missing in Cornelius’ life because he was completely countercultural in his pursuit after God. Not just his pursuit of God, but his quick understanding of exactly who Jesus was.
Luke the historian describes Cornelius as:
All of this got God’s attention (see Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Proverbs 19:17), and He sent an angel to direct Cornelius to Peter.
When Peter came to Cornelius’ house, twice he said “as you know” (vv. 36, 37), showing us that Cornelius was aware that there was not only one true God, but that a relationship with Jesus was the only way to be in right relationship with God. As Peter spoke with Cornelius, his family, his relatives, his close friends, and even his fellow soldiers, the Holy Spirit baptized them just as He had done with the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost.
So here are 3 vital lessons for all men to learn from the life of Cornelius the centurion—
Dads, be devoted to God. Desire all He has for you, and all He has for those around you. Pursue Him no matter how many “strikes” there may be against you.
If you missed any of the messages in this series, you can access the full list of messages by clicking here.
Teddy Roosevelt believed firmly that a nation rose or fell as individuals exercised strong character or lived a slothful life. He not only preached it, he lived it! The Strenuous Life is a collect of TR’s speeches that emphasized what he called “the manly characters.” Check out my full book review by clicking here.
“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.”
“A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.”
“If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.”
“Scant attention is paid to the weakling or the coward who babbles of peace; but due heed is given to the strong man with sword girt on thigh who preaches peace, not from ignoble motives, not from fear or distrust of his own powers, but from a deep sense of moral obligation.”
“Strive manfully for righteousness, and strive so as to make your efforts for good count.”
“We are in honor bound to put into practice what we preach; to remember that we are not to be excused if we do not; and that in the last resort no material prosperity, no business acumen, no intellectual development of any kind, can atone in the life of a nation for the lack of the fundamental qualities of courage, honesty, and common sense.”
“If a man permits largeness of heart to degenerate into softness of head, he inevitably becomes a nuisance in any relation of life. If sympathy becomes distorted and morbid, it hampers instead of helping the effort toward social betterment.”
“The quality of self-help is so splendid a quality that nothing can compensate for its loss; yet, like every virtue, it can be twisted into a fault, and it becomes a fault if carried to the point of cold-hearted arrogance, of inability to understand that now and then the strongest may be in need of aid, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, the strong should always be glad of the chance in turn to aid the weak.”
“The Bible always inculcates the need of the positive no less than the negative virtues, although certain people who profess to teach Christianity are apt to dwell wholly on the negative. We are bidden not merely to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to carry out the former part of the order than the latter; while, on the other hand, it is of much more importance for the good of mankind that our goodness should be accompanied by wisdom than that we should merely be harmless. If with the serpent wisdom we unite the serpent guile, terrible will be the damage we do; and if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of ‘harmless,’ it is hardly worth while to have lived in the world at all.”
“The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats.”
“Softness of heart is an admirable quality, but when it extends its area until it also becomes softness of head, its results are anything but admirable.”
“A man is worthless unless he has in him a lofty devotion to an ideal, and he is worthless also unless he strives to realize this ideal by practical methods. He must promise, both to himself and to others, only what he can perform; but what really can be performed he must promise, and such promise he must at all hazards make good.”
More quotes from TR are coming soon, so stay tuned!
Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR.
“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.”
“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.”
“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.”
“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.”
“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.”
“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.”
“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.”
“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.”
“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.”
More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr.
As Peter wraps up his letter, he reminds us of his purpose in writing to us aliens and strangers—
But Peter also says that he wrote this letter “with the help of Silas”—some translations even say “by Silas”—indicating that Peter needed someone to come alongside him with words of encouragement and strength, as much as he needed to deliver those words to fellow Christians.
Peter mentions three people that were alongside him. These folks are instructive for us too:
Peter called Silas a faithful brother. The Greek word he uses for brother is adelphos, a word which usually meant someone who shared the same parents. But Peter modifies this to mean a Christian brother whose heartbeat with the love of Jesus the way his did; someone who shared the same Heavenly Father.
Silas was a recognized church leader and a companion of Paul (Act 15:22, 30-32, 40). He had quite an extensive and impressive resume, and he also had the full endorsement for such notable people as James, Paul, and Peter.
Babylon is a code word almost universally agreed to be Rome, but there is some debate as to whom the “she” is. Some think this is the church-in-exile in Rome, and some think this is Peter’s wife (Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5).
Whether the church or Peter’s wife, they/she are anonymous servants of God, but never for a moment forgotten by God, nor is their reward going to be lacking (Matthew 6:1, 4).
Peter calls Mark my son. Again, he takes a word that originally meant “my offspring” and changes it to mean Mark was his protegé.
Mark had traveled with Paul, then left Paul mid-journey, and was eventually reconciled to Paul (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark listened to and recorded Peter’s accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry and wrote the first Gospel that was produced. His Gospel became one of the main reference documents that Matthew and Luke referred to in writing their Gospels.
Here’s the point—There are no dispensable people in the Church!
You may be like Silas with many talents and an impressive resume and references. Or you may be like the “she” who is an anonymous helper to others. Or you may even by like Mark who made mistakes but was given a second chance to make good on your commitment.
You need a Silas, a she, and a Mark in your life. And you just may need to be one of those to someone else.
“You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.” —Andrew Murray
So let me ask you to consider something vital: Are you remaining faithful to your Christian family?