The Transparency That God Loves

Have mercy … heal me … deliver me … save me … (Psalm 6:2, 4).

A mark of a godly leader is one who is not afraid to share his vulnerabilities.

David freely admits his fear of punishment, his need for God’s help, and his grief that robbed him of sleep.

But he also admitted just as freely his rock-solid assurance of God’s help:

  • The Lord has heard my weeping
  • The Lord has heard my supplication
  • The Lord will receive my prayer

Godly leaders are confidently transparent before God and before those around them. God delights in that transparency, and He delights to answer vulnerable prayers.

This is Part 16 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Prayer Is The Work

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Prayer Is The Work 

     The key to the missionary problem is in the hand of God, not of man, and according to Our Lord, the key is prayer, not work, as that word is popularly understood, because work may mean evading spiritual concentration. Our Lord says—“Pray therefore…” [Matthew 9:38]. … 

     We are apt to think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for work; whereas in the teaching of Jesus, prayer is not to fit us for the “greater works,” prayer is the work. Prayer is the outcome of our apprehension of the nature of God, the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His mind, and the means whereby He unveils His purposes to us. …  

     God is not impressed by our earnestness, He nowhere promises to answer prayer because of our agony in intercession, but only on the ground of Redemption. We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” and in no other way. … 

     The armor is for the battle of prayer [see Ephesians 6:11-20]. “Take up the whole armor of God … stand therefore …” and then pray. The armor is not to fight in, but to shield us while we pray. Prayer is the battle. … 

     We have to live depending on Jesus Christ’s wisdom, not on our own. He is the Master, and the problem is His, not ours. We have to use the key He gives us, the key of prayer. Our Lord puts the key into our hands, and we have to learn to pray under His direction. That is the simplicity which He says His Father will bless.

From So Send I You

In light of these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, how does this change your view of prayer?

11 Quotes From “Interpretation Of The Scriptures”

In my review of A.W. Pink’s book Interpretation Of The Scriptures, I noted that any student of the Bible will benefit from reading this exceptional book. The quotes I want to share today are for that universal audience, but I will also be sharing some additional quotes soon that are specifically aimed at those who are Bible teachers or pastors.

“God does not ask for blind credence from us, but an intelligent faith, and for that three things are indispensable: that His Word should be read (or heard), understood, and personally appropriated.”

“Moreover, the obscurity is not in them [the Scripture], but in the depravity of our nature which resists the holy requirements of God, and the pride of our hearts which disdains seeking enlightenment from Him.”

“It has pleased God to furnish His people with gifted instructors, and instead of haughtily ignoring them we ought (while testing their teaching—Acts 17:11) to accept thankfully whatever help they can afford us.”

“Methods of Bible study are only of relative importance; but the spirit in which it is studied is all-important. It calls for no argument to prove that a spiritual book calls for a spiritually minded reader. … Only where there is honesty of soul and spirituality of heart will there be clearness of vision to perceive the Truth; only then will the mind be capable of discerning the full import of what is read. … None but the Spirit of Truth can write God’s Law on my heart. Here, then, is the first and most essential qualification for understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, namely a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit.”

“That which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole, and which whole is set before us as the alone rule of our faith and obedience. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. Having done that, any passage which is still obscure or doubtful to him must be interpreted by those which are clear. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage.”

“By divorcing a verse from its setting or singling out a single clause, one may ‘prove’ not only absurdities but real falsities by the very words of Scripture.”

“The word for ‘search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39) signifies diligently to track out, as the hunter does the spoor of animals. The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word.”

“To a very large extent, and far more so than any uninspired book, the Bible is a self-explaining volume: not only because it records the performance of its promises and the fulfillment of its prophecies, not only because its types and antitypes mutually unfold each other, but because all its fundamental truths may be discovered by means of its own contents, without reference to anything extra or outside itself.”

“Assuredly God has not subordinated His Word to our reason for us to accept only what commends itself to our judgment. Nevertheless, He has furnished His people with this faculty, and though insufficient of itself it is a valuable aid in the understanding of Truth. While reason is not to be made the measurer of our belief, yet it is to be used as the handmaid of faith, by comparing passage with passage, deducing inferences and drawing consequences according to the legitimate laws of logic.”

“The concordance will stand [the Bible reader] in far better stead than the best dictionary.”

“There is a middle ground between hastily condemning or accepting, namely to weigh carefully and prayerfully what is presented, testing it by other passages and by our own experience.”

A Leader’s Confidence

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray (Psalm 5:1-2).

When David prays, he prays with confidence—he is confident that God will hear him.

Where does his confidence come from? From these two truths about the nature of God:

  1. You are a God who takes no pleasure in wickedness (v. 4), so David must confess his sin quickly.
  2. In fear of You I worship (v. 7), so David doesn’t have to cower before God wondering if God will forgive his sin.

David didn’t take the condition of his soul for granted (v. 5), but he came quickly into God’s presence because he knew of God’s mercy to forgive.

Not only was David confident that God would hear his prayer, but he also eagerly anticipated receiving…

  • …God’s answer to his prayer
  • …God’s joy
  • …God’s blessing
  • …God’s protection

A mark of a godly leader is one who prays confidently and then eagerly expects God to answer.

If you want confidence in your earthly leadership, do what David modeled: Enter God’s presence quickly and confidently, and then eagerly anticipate what God is going to do!

This is Part 16 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

A Surprising Way To Relieve Stress

Paul writes some pretty straightforward words to the Christians at Philippi about how to overcome anxiety.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about a problem-free nor a stress-free life. That’s simply not possible. Our bodies were created to deal with stress in a healthy way. But stress that is unhealthy, or unnecessarily prolonged, or not flushed properly from the body becomes anxiety. Anxiety is the culprit responsible for a whole list of bad things!

When we face a stressor, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. The main function of this hormone is to prepare us to fight or flight. Sometimes this looks like over-engaging in problem-solving, and sometimes it looks like complete withdraw from life. Sometimes cortisol leads to sleeplessness and a diminished appetite, and sometimes it makes people sleepy and craving comfort food.

But the bottom line is the fight-or-flight response is very me focused!

The strategies Paul lists for us take the focus off me and put it on God. He especially counsels us to pray to God and to praise God. Between these two healthy responses is something unexpected. He writes, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

What in the world does gentleness have to do with relieving stress?!

First, let’s consider the motivation: The Lord is near. I think this could mean:

  1. The Lord’s name is near, as in we are called “Christians” and so we should act in a way that glorifies God.
  2. The Lord is near to help us.
  3. The Lord’s return is closing in where we will have to give an account of how we have lived our lives.

Then there is this word gentleness. This word means:

  • moderation
  • considerate of others
  • patience toward our situation and toward others
  • or as The Message says: Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.

Cortisol is naturally removed from our physical bodies through rest and exercise. Anxiety is naturally removed from our emotional lives the same way—resting in God’s presence (honk!) and gently and considerately exercising a blessing for someone else.

THE BEST WAY TO DE-STRESS IS TO BLESS! 

When anxiety builds:

  1. Honk
  2. Bless
  3. Repeat

Don’t let stress win by making you self-centered. Defeat stress and anxiety by praising God and blessings others. And then make that a daily habit!

Praying Against Spiritual Strongholds

“This week we pray that God will demolish the Antichrist’s strongholds

“We are surrounded by systems and strongholds that oppose Christ the Lord and King. There are social, political, economic, and legal structures and schemes that try to disparage God.

“We are not for or against a particular political system. We are Bible-believers, Christ-worshippers; and we come from all walks of life and backgrounds. We seek the glory of God and His alone. We align ourselves with His Word.

“We should not harbor enmity or hatred toward anyone. Even if they oppose us, deride our faith, doubt our God, and insult our Savior and King, they are not our enemies. The real enemy is satan who manipulates them. Our war is against satan and his strongholds.

“Such people are poor humans who need love and compassion from us, and mercy and forgiveness from God. We do not depend on human methods or material weapons, because this is spiritual warfare against satanic powers. Rather, our method is prayer, and that is all.

“Our prayer—O Lord our God, may You be praised for ever and ever! Why do the nations rage? Why do the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against You and against Your Anointed One (Psalm 2:1-2).

“Help us arm ourselves with the weapons You gave us in Your Word: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17).

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord derides them … at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Psalm 2:4; Philippians 2:10-11). I pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.” —a prayer from Praying For Muslims

8 Quotes From “Live Dead Journey”

Live Dead Journey are notes from missionaries on the front lines. You can check out my book review by clicking here. One of the things that stood out to me was the focus of these “tour guides” on their time abiding with Jesus. Here are some quotes that share their heart on this.

“Abiding time is extravagant daily time with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus spent close to 90 percent of His life in a village of twelve families, and even His three years of ministry were characterized by time alone with the Father. Moses spent forty years in Midian and had multiple trips to the mountain with God. Paul spent thirteen years in preparation, some of it in the Arabian Desert, and prayed constantly. Adam, Joseph, David, Elijah, Daniel, Mary, John, and others all gave God extravagant time. When we examine the lives of any heroes of the faith, we can see that they lingered daily with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus has become my safe place. When stability is not present in life here, I can lean on Him. When friends are not constant, Jesus is. He knows what I need and provides everything. Jesus is enough for me.” –Joy Hawthorne

“I’ve learned that not spending time with Jesus today is one step in not spending time with Him tomorrow.” –Miriam Davis

“One thing I have discovered is that I can’t survive throughout the day on just one block of time with Jesus. So at some other point in my day, I spend time basking in His presence. … Abiding is a lifestyle.” –Eva Bridges

“To help draw out the lessons from a passage, I now look for the following. Is there:

  • A command for me to obey?
  • A promise for me to claim?
  • A sin for me to avoid or repent of?
  • An example for me to follow (good) or avoid (bad)?
  • A truth to believe?
  • A prayer to pray?” –Jeff Griffin

“I’ve realized that what I desire I become–Jesus is my desire, and I want to be like Him.” –Cathy Stone

“How extravagant are you toward Jesus with your time? Do you lavish time on Jesus? Do you give Jesus the most energetic and focused times of your day? Or do you tend to give Jesus the crumbs of your schedule?” –Dick Brogden

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