MyAnswer: Billy Graham "Prayer Power Works Every Hour"

Prayer Power Works Every Hour

My problem is that I cannot concentrate when I pray. In other matters I am quite able to keep my mind from wandering but not when I kneel to pray. Is there something wrong with me?

There is not necessarily anything wrong with you. This was the problem the disciples had in the Garden of Gethsemane. They went to sleep when they had been commanded to "watch and pray." Of all the activity of the Christian life, prayer is the most difficult. The Bible even points this out, saying that "We know not how to pray as we ought."

   Someone has said: "Satan trembles when the weakest saint is upon his knees." When we get to Heaven, I am convinced we will be amazed at our prayerlessness. Prayer can move mountains. Thus Satan will do all in his power to distract you. You may never be entirely free from distraction in prayer, but you can improve by quoting Psalms, using prayer helps. Remember also that prayer is a two-way conversation. Be still and listen for the voice of God. Most of us want to do too much talking in prayer. God has promised special help in the matter of prayer. "And in like manner the Spirit helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:26). No matter what your problem, don't get discouraged. Continue to pray.

Is it more meaningful to kneel while you pray? Is it just an expression of humbleness, or are one's prayers more likely to be heard when kneeling?

It is not the posture of the body, but the attitude of the heart that counts when we pray. The Bible speaks of bowing in prayer, kneeling, on the face before God, standing, sitting, and walking. The important thing is not the position of the body but the condition of the soul. If the heart is attuned to God, one can pray in any posture imaginable.

   Jesus prayed sitting, standing, kneeling, and in a prone position. Moses often fell on his face to pray. Daniel frequently kneeled. The disciples were sitting in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in answer to prayer. Ahab prayed with his face between his knees.

   There are times when I like to kneel in prayer. There are other times when it seems more natural to sit or stand. I don't believe there is any special virtue in any particular posture. God doesn't look upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart.

Is it always necessary to pray for long periods of time to maintain a spiritual outlook?

It is not the length of the prayer that is important. Do you think God is persuaded by long prayers or by the earnestness with which we pray? Put it on the level of the human: What makes the strongest impression on you? Is it the long but indifferent request or the terse but earnest plea of one who has a strong desire? I am sure you can see that it is the condition of the heart and the definiteness of the request that makes the difference. Jesus said, "When you pray, do not as the heathen do, using vain repetition." The simple and direct request in Jesus' Name will accomplish far more than millions of halfhearted and indefinite words. Finally, pray expecting. God knows when you pray without hope of an answer. You cannot pray unless you pray with hope.

   It is interesting to note that Jesus often prayed all night in private but His public prayers were very brief.

In a public function where there are people of different faiths, should a Christian pray and not pray in the name of Christ?

I presume that the question is taking into consideration the possibility of praying in the name of Christ offending some of another faith. The real consideration is whether we shall offend God. Christ has specifically told us to make our prayers in His name. To omit His name for the sake of a supposed courtesy to others is a very dangerous procedure. An American citizen will proudly admit his American citizenship, regardless of who is present. Should Christians refuse to admit their Christian citizenship for fear of offending others? Your question is of considerable importance because the New Testament teaches so plainly that man has access to God in and through the name of His Son. That is why we end our prayers, "For Christ's sake." I have a friend who recently had a caller. The young man standing at the door (a total stranger to him) said: "I saw your son out in New Mexico last week." He was immediately welcomed into the home, not because of who he was but for the sake of the son in the West whom they had not seen for some time. In the same way we are "welcome" to God only because we know His son.

How can I get close to God? Praying to Him is like praying to a brick wall; and although countless prayers of mine have been answered, it seems that my prayers just slide into the blackness of I-don't-know-where. Do you think you could possibly help me?

I'm afraid you are trying to use God as a genie, as a kind of Aladdin's lamp proposition. You say that countless prayers have been answered. That seems to me like a pretty good average. God answers all of our prayers, but in His wisdom, he often answers some of them with a "no."

   Prayer is not using God; it is more often to get us in a position where God can use us.

   I watched the deck hands on the great liner, United States, as they docked that ship in New York Harbor. First, they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Then inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on that great cable. But oddly enough, the pier wasn't pulled out to the ship; but the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier.

   Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn't pull God down to us: it pulls us to Him. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of prayer: "Not my will; but thine be done."

We know people who won't help a living thing. They drink, they swear, and they lie . . . and yet they seem to prosper. Is this the kind of life God wants? Does He answer the prayers of the wicked? I pray, but despair of ever having wealth like other people have. Please help me and make me believe there is a God.

I detect a tone of bitterness and resentment in your letter, and I am sorry for you. You should not envy the material prosperity of people who are spiritually impoverished! Jesus said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

   Resentment and bitterness are hell's greatest destroyer's of human happiness. They canker the spirit, and will rob you of the joy you are entitled to. Nowhere do we read in the Bible that the scales of life are in perfect balance. Jesus spoke of the greedy rich man who had much, and the good Lazarus who had nothing. But in the afterlife, their positions were reversed, and in due time they were both rewarded.

   I suggest that you obey the commandment "Thou shalt not covet,"

and give your time and attention to accumulating spiritual treasure — the kind that will endure throughout eternity. "Seek first the kingdom of God."

Why is it that so many prayers are unanswered? In fact, I wonder if there is anything to prayer at all.

There are many reasons why prayer is not answered. God is by no means obliged to answer every prayer for every person. The Bible tells us that sometimes prayers are not answered because we nourish and cherish sin in our hearts. Again it tells us that it is because we desire things to consume on ourselves, in other words, selfish reasons. But most of all, you should remember that God promises to answer prayers for certain things, not just anything. He will answer the prayer of any sinner who prays for pardon in the name of Jesus (Romans 10:13). He will give Himself in His fullness to any believer who sincerely desires His fullness (Luke 11:14). He promises to cleanse all the sins of any child who comes to Him confessing his sin (I John 1:9). He will give wisdom and spiritual insight to those who acknowledge their lack and who sincerely desire such wisdom (James 1:15). If you are a fully yielded Christian, and commit your whole life to Him, He promises to give you even the whole desire of your heart (Psalm 37:4, 5). This is a simple formula, but it will encourage you to pray according to His will. Then you will not need to feel that God ignores your request.

   Of course, there are many other prayers that God answers that are not mentioned in the Bible — if we pray according to His will in Christ's name with a motive to glorify God.

I have been praying that my husband would become a Christian and stop drinking. Can he be saved through my prayers if he doesn't pray about it? I can't talk to him about it because he becomes violently angry when I do, and then he just drinks all the more.

Certainly God can answer your prayers to bring about the conversion of your husband, but don't be more concerned about discovering a cure for his drinking than in the conversion of a lost soul. It is doubtful if selfish prayers are given much consideration in heaven. In the Bible it is written: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it in your pleasures" (James 4:3). As good as prayer is, and as persistent as your prayers may be, it is essential for you to pray without any selfish motive.

   But before your husband is truly converted he will have to pray. Everyone does. It is the simple prayer of a penitent sinner who prays: "God be merciful to me, a sinner, and save me for Jesus' sake." The best part of it is that if he would do just that simple thing, God would accept him, not for his own goodness, but because salvation has been offered to all who trust in Christ.

   It is also important that you don't nag your husband about this matter. The Bible says: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word they also may without the word be won by the life of the wife" (I Peter 3:1).

My husband is in prison and we need him so. I've prayed that God would let him out, but so far my prayers have not been answered. Help me to know how to pray.

I am sorry that your husband is in prison. This is tragic, not only for him, but for his family. These things have a way of following a man down through the years, with the family bearing a big end of the reproach.

   I can realize how badly you want your husband to be released, but may I remind you that God does not defy law and order. Obviously, your husband committed a wrong, and the Bible says: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that same shall he also reap."

   You ask that I tell you how to pray. First, pray that grace will be given you to bear the reproach of being a convict's wife. This will not be easy. But, if you love him, which you obviously do, you will share in his suffering and embarrassment. Then, you should pray that this prison sentence will serve as a time of soul improvement for your husband. I receive letters from prisoners every week, telling how they discovered God behind the bars. Many men have come out of prison changed men. Pray that your husband might meet Christ there, and that the motives which led him into evil will be removed and remedied.

   Then pray for the parole board, that if and when your husband has earned parole that they will have wisdom as to how to deal with his case. May God bless you and give you patience and strength.

Can a person be saved by his mother's prayers?

A man who has a praying mother has a most cherished possession. I can think of no greater heritage than that of a saintly, praying mother. I have thanked God over and over again for a Christian mother.

   However, though a mother's prayer may greatly influence a man's life and invoke the mercy of God on his behalf, it could hardly be said that a person can be saved by his mother's prayers. Our decision for Christ is one that we must make ourselves. Your mother's faithful prayers may have a great effect on you, but the ultimate and final decision is up to you. This is said with no intention of minimizing the value and effectiveness of faithful, praying parents.

   Once in Northern Africa there was a Christian mother named Monica. She had a wayward son who was given to drunkenness and reveling. Before he left for a trip to Italy, she prayed all night that he might not go, but he went anyway. Later he wrote: "That night I stole away and she was left behind in weeping and prayer. And what, O Lord, was she with so many tears asking of Thee but that Thou wouldst not suffer me to sail? But thou in the depth of thy counsels, knowing the main point of her desire, regardest not what she then asked, that Thou mightest accomplish the greater thing for which she was ever imploring Thee." Though long delayed, the mother's prayers were answered for that boy became the great Christian, St. Augustine.

Since God is infinitely busy with the great affairs of the universe, should we bother Him by praying about minor matters in our lives?

Your trouble seems to be that you have a wrong idea about God. Your conception of Him is far too small and limited. You are thinking of Him as though He were a finite being like yourself; whereas the God revealed to us in the Bible is a Being of infinite power and love. And the ultimate miracle is that He is not so busy with the great affairs of the universe that He cannot bother about these little lives of ours.

   The mighty God who created the world and set the stars in motion is personally interested in every one of us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins. The Cross is the measure and proof of how much He cares for us. And when by faith in Jesus Christ we respond to His love, we enter into a new and very personal relationship with Him as His children.

   The Bible says concerning the Lord Jesus: "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). When thus we receive Christ as our Lord and Saviour, God becomes known to us not only as the omnipotent Creator but as our loving Heavenly Father. And because He is our Father, He delights to hear and answer our prayers. He invites us to cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us.

How can I have faith that God will care about the comparatively trivial problems?

One of the striking truths in the teachings of Jesus is that God is concerned about, and cares for the "little things." He said: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

   Sparrows and hairs! What could be more insignificant? And yet His eye is on the sparrows, and he keeps record of the number of the hairs of your head! Since our minds are finite, it is difficult to grasp the ability of an infinite God to be interested in our trivial problems. But the Bible says that he is. It says, "Ye are of more value than many sparrows." It is reasonable to believe that God, who was concerned enough to send His Son to redeem us, is interested in the little burdens and cares that distress us. Just as an affectionate parent is interested in every little detail of his child, just so, only in greater measure, God cares for us. Peter, who had discovered God to be the God of little things, said: "Cast all your care upon Him, for he careth for you."

Sometimes when I am trying to pray I am distracted by all kinds of thoughts of both good and evil. They come racing through my mind until I feel that I know nothing at all about praying. This has made me doubt my salvation. Is it true that if I am saved these things will not happen to me?

There are very few people who know how to pray without interruption in thought. There are also very few who know exactly what to pray for. Romans 8:26 tells us that prayer is the great weakness of the average Christian, but it also tells us that we have help in our praying. In every other area of the Christian life we draw upon God's resources by recognizing our own weakness and insufficiency. I think you would find it true in your own prayer life that you will find new joy and new effectiveness in praying if you came to realize that you need the assistance of the Holy Spirit in your praying, and depend upon Him to prompt you and to direct your thoughts. Practice your prayer life in this way, and you will find it to be a richly rewarding experience. Spend plenty of time in your meditation upon the Scriptures for through His Word, God will encourage you to pray.

EveryDayAnswers: The Cause and Cure for Worry

Everyday Answers

The Cause and Cure for Worry
by Joyce Meyer
Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled, seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It’s human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we're not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what’s reasonable. Worry is like a rocking chair—it’s always in motion but it never gets you anywhere. So why do we struggle with it? And what good does it do? Worry is the opposite of faith, and it steals our peace, physically wears us out, and can even make us sick. When we worry, we torment ourselves—we're doing the devil's job for him! Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives. Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems. Yet sometimes, after all our worry and effort to go it alone, we come up short, unable to bring about suitable solutions. 

At a young age, I discovered firsthand that people hurt people, so I didn't trust others. I tried to take care of myself, deciding not to depend on anyone who would hurt or disappoint me. Too often our experiences in the world teach us this, and even after we become Christians, it takes a long time to overcome it. It’s difficult to learn how to trust God, but we eventually must learn that trying to take care of everything ourselves is too big a task. 

CAST YOUR CARES ON THE ONE WHO CARES FOR YOU 

First Peter 5:6,7 says, Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Since Jesus invites us to cast all of our care and worry on Him, why do so many of us refuse to let go? Apparently, we’re not yet fed up with being miserable. 

The only way to have victory in our lives is to play by God's rules, and He says we must quit worrying if we want to have peace. So when things come our way that cause us to be concerned, we need God's help. How do we get it? First Peter 5:6,7 lists two important steps: 1) humble yourselves, and 2) cast your care on Him. That seems pretty clear and simple, yet some continue struggling because they’re too bullheaded to ask for help. But the humble get the help. So if your way isn't working, why not try God's way? All of us would be better off if we’d learn to lean on God and ask for His help. But as long as we try to do everything ourselves, God will let us. He won’t take care of our problems and worries—our cares—until we turn loose of them and give them to Him. Either we’re going to do it or God's going to do it, but both of us aren’t going to. Now, casting your care doesn't mean you can be irresponsible. God won’t do for you what you can do yourself. You must do what you can do, and then trust God to do what you can’t. When we humble ourselves and ask for His help, then He’s able to release His power in our situations. It’s only then that we can really enjoy life. So the cure for worry is humbling ourselves before God, casting our cares on Him, and trusting Him. Instead of making ourselves miserable trying to figure everything out on our own, God wants us to place our trust in Him and enter into His rest, totally abandoning ourselves to His care. I know that when we are able to believe and say, "God, I trust You," it will literally change our lives. Psalm 37:3 says, Trust…in the Lord and do good.... God didn't create us to worry about helping ourselves all the time. He wants us to sow good seed by reaching out to help others. When we simply trust God and get busy doing the good things we know to do, then He’ll bring a harvest of blessings into our lives and meet our needs.

DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE OF FAITH AND PRAYER 

I’ve learned that my attitude has a lot to do with living a worry-free life. There will always be situations that cause us concern, but with God's help, we can live above all of it and enjoy life. Cast your care on the Lord and say, "God, I trust You, and I'm going to enjoy the life You have given me." When you give your problems to God, you must also decide to be satisfied with His answers. Trusting God to do what's best for us involves dying to self. Paul said, ...it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). You can trust God to do what's best for you, so you don't have to worry about it. When you have a positive attitude and keep your faith in God, you can’t be defeated. 

We must stop trying to make things happen the way we want and get to the place where we desire to please God more than ourselves. The Christ in us has to supercede what we want. Faith and the Word of God will help you overcome worry. Worrying involves negative thoughts, but speaking positive things out of your mouth will interrupt those negative thought patterns. When we are full of the Word of God, we can speak it out of our mouths in faith. Faith is stronger than doubt, negativism and unbelief. Faith has a positive attitude that can overcome our past and lead us into a great future. Faith is a powerful force that cannot be conquered. Another powerful force is prayer. When you're under pressure, it’s always best to pray about it instead of talk about it. Prayer is the blueprint for a successful life. During His time on earth, Jesus prayed. He entrusted everything to God—even His reputation and life. We can do the same. We don't have to explain all the problems to Him; we can just give them to Him and ask Him to take care of everything. Don't complicate prayer. Just have confidence in simple, believing prayer. 

Look at Paul's instructions in Philippians 4:6,7: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. If you're a Christian who goes around burdened or weighed down all the time, something is wrong. You may have had faith in Christ for salvation, but you haven't moved into walking in faith daily for the life that God has given you. The Bible tells us that God is faithful—that's one of His major characteristics. He can be counted on to come through for us, so we should trust Him totally and completely. When we do, we’ll be ready for anything that may come our way. 


ALLOW GOD TO GIVE YOU PEACE AND REST 

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Jesus wants to ease our burdens and give us rest. The Message Bible says it this way: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30). That sounds good, doesn't it? I've had enough heavy stuff in my life, and I want to be free. It's nice to know that we don't have to figure everything out. We need to get comfortable with saying, "I don't have a clue, but I'm not going to worry about it because God’s in control. I'm going to live free and light!" When we’re overloaded with the cares of this life—struggling, laboring and worrying—we need some help. Our minds need to rest from worrying about how to take care of problems, our emotions need to rest from being upset all the time, and our wills need a rest from stubbornness and rebellion. So we need to be humble enough to call out to God and say, "I need help!" Your beginning doesn't have to dictate your ending. Get God involved in every area of your life and allow Him to lead you into rest. 

WORRY OR WORSHIP? 

Worry and worship are exact opposites, and we’d all be much happier if we learned to become worshippers instead of worriers. Worry opens the door for the devil, but worship is reverence and adoration for God that leads us into His presence. God created us to worship Him, and I don't believe we can walk in victory if we don't become worshippers. Sometimes when we don't have what we need or want, the enemy tries to discourage us and keep us from worshipping God. But when we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can worship Him regardless of our circumstances. Remember, God is good even when our circumstances are not! God doesn't always give us our heart's desire right away. He wants us to develop a deep, personal relationship with Him and an outrageous love for Him so much so that we can't live without it. This kind of relationship and love brings the worshipful attitude that God wants us to have. 

To worship means “to reverence,” or “to defer to.” We are to have reverential fear and awe of God. We are to respect and honor Him, and defer to Him by submitting to and obeying Him, and adapt ourselves to His will. We must realize that Christ, living in us, has come to lead and guide us into a special lifestyle of worship and victorious living. When Satan throws worry on you, I challenge you to stop what you're doing, get down on your knees before God, and begin praising Him. Worship is a spiritual weapon, a warhead or bomb you can use against the enemy. Your prayers and worship will get you heavenly help, and you won't have to fight your own battles. God's grace and power can make things happen with ease that you can't bring about no matter how much you struggle. 

So stop worrying about everything, give it to God, and live in grace. Grace isn’t just divine favor—it’s power! Don't waste another day of your life worrying. Determine what your responsibility is and what it is not. Don't try to take on God's responsibility. When we do what we can do, God steps in and does what we can't. So give yourself and your worries to God and begin enjoying the abundant life He has planned for you. 

DailyComic: Charlies Ants Pt 6

DailyComic Pt 5

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DailyComic: Charlies Ants Pt 3

DailyComic: Charlies Ants Pt2

DailyComic: Charlies Ants Pt 1

BlogItsForMonday:

 

MONDAY

January 31, 2011

26 Shvat 5771

Belwo is the Schedule for Monday thru Friday Posts. Some issues with Posts not converting due to browser settings are being addressed. The goal this week in BlogIts is to have a full schedule of Posts and the alternative sites available in these "notes".

 

The Schedule

Blogger posts

Last Call

Last Word

Last Chance Bible Study

Last Generation

The Classic Christian

Michael James Stone (Jesus Gypsy)

Facts? The Chapbook series

 

Last Call is your Devotion with Emotion seeking to present a variety of posts that reflect the Spirit of God speaking directly to the reader. The authors are selected because it my contention that in rading these, a person can and does Hear God Speak to them.

Greg Laurie                                 Raul Ries                    Jon Courson

Oswald Chambers              Streams in the Desert           God Calling        

Charles Stanley                       Charles Spurgeon            Chuck Smith

Joyce Meyers                           Alistair Begg                One Year Bible        

Mike MacIntosh                         Bob Coy                    Bob Caldwell

A.W.Tozer                              Experiencing God           Daily Light        

Ray Stedman                              Daily Bread               Daily Leadership

 

Last Call posts Daily with limited posts on WeekEnds.

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DailyLeadership: "Do you guard and guide those on the team you lead? (159-1)"

Do you guard and guide those on the team you lead? (159-1)

Written by Barry-Werner on January 31st, 2011. Posted in Courage/Risk-Taking, Exhortation, Jeremiah, Leadership Principles, Old Testament, Relationships.

Every effective leader will serve in the role of watchman at times and sound the alarm for their team when they see trouble ahead. Read Jeremiah 6:16-19.

Jeremiah was described in verse 17 as a watchman. By definition a watchman guards and patrols. The people of Judah had determined not to follow God’s laws or principles and Jeremiah sounded a warning to those living in error. Jeremiah illustrated the leader’s job as a watchman when God asked him to guard or patrol the covenant established between Him and the people.

Serving in the watchman role is not easy. There are no guaranteed results for watchmen. Jeremiah served well as a watchman, but he never convinced the masses to get on board with the right results. Jeremiah became an isolated leader and a lone voice for God’s standard. Leaders will always be faced with the temptation to forego doing what is right to retain members of their team.

Leaders serving in the role of watchman guard and guide those they lead. They guard against those that would change the vision. They monitor quality control to insure there is no slippage in quality to save cost or increase profit margins. They keep the team focused on the organization’s core values. They guide those they oversee insuring morale and relationships are what they need to be for success. They watch out for financial danger ahead and insure accurate budgets and accountability against the budget. They sound the alarm against those that would drift from the vision. Watchmen must possess strong moral fiber and must remain committed to a strong sense of what is right and wrong.

There are leaders whose primary role is serving as the watchman but every leader must develop and exercise some watchman skills. Do you willingly step up to the role of watchman when you see issues that call for correction or exhortation? Wise leaders understand the importance of this vital part of leadership.

Proverbs 27:23-24tlb “Riches can disappear fast. And the king’s crown doesn’t stay in his family forever – so watch your business interests closely. Know the state of your flocks and your herds.”

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DailyBread: "Ignoring Grace"

Ignoring Grace

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January 31, 2011 — by Bill Crowder
Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. —Matthew 7:14

In the hectic downtown of one of Asia’s great cities, I marveled at the busy sidewalks filled with people. There seemed to be no room to move in the crush of humanity, yet it also seemed that everyone was moving at top speed.

My attention was drawn to the soft, almost mournful sound of a single trumpeter playing “Amazing Grace.” The crowds appeared oblivious to both the musician and the music. Still, he played—sending a musical message of the love of God out to whoever knew the song and would think about the words as he played.

I thought of this experience as a parable. The music seemed to be an invitation to the masses to follow Christ. As with the gospel message, some believe in God’s amazing grace and choose the narrow way. Others ignore His grace, which is the broad way that leads to everlasting destruction. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Jesus died so that “whoever calls” on His name (Rom. 10:13) can find forgiveness in His grace.


Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. —Newton

Christ believed is salvation received.

Was blind but now I see. —Newton

Christ believed is salvation received.

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BobCaldwell: "Social Justice"

CLICK FOR THE DESIRED DAY'S DEVOTION: MONDAY | TUESDAY | WEDNESDAY | THURSDAY | FRIDAY

MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2011 (TOP)

SOCIAL JUSTICE

(DEUTERONOMY 23:9-25:19)

  "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing." -Deuteronomy 24:17-18

This section continues to define what this new nation of Israel is to look like. This includes a further list that relates primarily to social issues. As we have already stated in our reading of the laws here in Deuteronomy, we must remember they are leaving Egypt, a pagan society, and going into Canaan, a pagan society even more corrupt than Egypt.

These laws were a beginning step in an ancient world where justice and sexual morality were seen very differently. The influence of New Testament revelation on social justice, marriage, sexuality, forgiveness, etc. on today's world many times makes it difficult to fully understand the world that Israel lived in as they were becoming a nation. We take for granted that slavery is wrong, that there is equality for all people, male and female. This was unknown in ancient times. So, in looking at these laws and regulations, what we are left with is a picture of God's desire to establish a basis for justice in the family and for the care of the poor in light of the current social context.

How the poor are treated is an area where we see God especially identifies Himself and His people with a responsibility to make a difference (24:12-22). He promises to bless the nation and the "work of your hands" (24:19) if they help the poor. This remains a core value in the New Testament where James reminds us that pure and undefiled religion before God is the care for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27). How we treat the poor provides a living example of God's love. God should be seen in these regulations an effort to begin to establish protection and justice for women who were divorced, how collateral is handled by a person who loans money (24:10-13), or a woman who is mistreated by her brother-in-law (25:5-10).

We must therefore take these ancient principles and apply them to the world we live in today. At first we may not see any connection. But in fact the issues of justice, treatment of the poor, debt, etc. are still places where God's people must be a voice and light for Him.

NKJV BIBLE TEXT

Deuteronomy 23:9-25:19

  Cleanliness of the Campsite

9 "When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. 10 If there is any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come inside the camp. 11 But it shall be, when evening comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp.

12 "Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; 13 and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.

Miscellaneous Laws

15 "You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.

17 "There shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the LORD your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

19 "You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. 20 To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess.

21 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

24 "When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. 25 When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor's standing grain.

Cleanliness of the Campsite

v. 13 when you sit down outside – During times of war, the army was still expected to maintain good hygiene. Digging latrines outside the camp provided obvious health benefits.

v. 14 your camp shall be holy – Cleanliness was also important for ritual and religious purposes. Impurity within the camp of Israel would have caused God to judge them (Deut. 8:11-20).

Miscellaneous Laws

v. 15 slaves – Israel allowed debt slavery, but that was limited to a term of six years. The slave mentioned in this verse probably refers to a foreign captive who had accepted the conditions of slavery when Israel possessed the Promised Land.

v. 17 ritual harlot – The nations surrounding Israel had ritual harlots who gathered at their temples. The proceeds from their prostitution went directly to their pagan temples.

v. 25 you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle – This law was a hospitality law and meant to provide food for a hungry person. But it also protected the crop owner from being taken advantage of. Later, Jesus and His disciples benefited from this law as they passed through a grain field and plucked heads of grain to eat (Matt. 12:1).

DEUTERONOMY 24

Law Concerning Divorce

1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Chapter 24

Law Concerning Divorce.

v. 1 uncleanness  "Ervah" (Heb.) usually meant nakedness. But because it does not refer to adultery in context (punishable by death, Deut. 22:22), it may have meant a physical problem, such as the inability to bear children. For centuries this became a controversial passage to the children of Israel. Jesus was confronted about it in Matthew 19:3-9 and in Mark 10:1-12..

v. 2 certificate of divorce – a legal document that provided certain rights to the divorcee (Lev. 21:7, 14; 22:13; Num. 30:9; Matt. 19:3-9), apparently for her protection.

v. 4 an abomination  "Towebah" (Heb.) meant a disgusting thing in both a ritual sense and in an ethical sense, meaning it was considered a wicked thing. The idea here is that if a woman's second husband died or divorced her, she was not to remarry her first husband. That was legal adultery in the eyes of the Lord.

Miscellaneous Laws

5 "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.

6 "No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one's living in pledge.

7 "If a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and mistreats him or sells him, then that kidnapper shall die; and you shall put away the evil from among you.

8 "Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you; just as I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9 Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt!

Miscellaneous Laws

v. 5 new wife – It was important for a man to have a posterity that carried on his lineage (25:5-10). Therefore, he was spared his possible death in warfare for a year to accomplish this and to bring sawmakh (Heb. for " to rejoice and be glad") to his wife. Free from the rigors of warfare and the pressures of any business, the husband was to make his wife's happiness his priority, thus making for a strong marriage and future family.

v. 6 millstone – A millstone was one of two stones used to grind a family's daily bread. To take either one as a pledge, or collateral for a loan, was to deprive a family of its living. This contradicted the spirit of generosity, which should have been the motivation of the lender.

v. 7 kidnapping – Kidnapping was a capital crime if it entailed mistreating or selling of the victim. This was considered rarah (Heb.), meaning "bad or malignant," and was to be purged to maintain national purity (13:5, 17:7, 12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21-22, 24).

v. 8-9 – These verses deal with leprosy, a malignant skin disease, extensively dealt with in Leviticus 13-14. What we know as leprosy today, Hansen's disease, is different from the disease mentioned here. Miriam, Moses' sister, is the motivation to obey this ceremonial law. She became a victim of the disease when she opposed Moses in Numbers 12.

10 "When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. 11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. 13 You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God.

14 "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. 15 Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.

16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.

17 "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. 18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.

19 "When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing.

v. 10-13 pledge – A pledge was an article used to secure a debt. If a poor person had pledged his garment as security, it was to be returned to him every evening so that he could sleep in it and not be cold. This was to be a witness of righteousness, or tsedawkaw ("an ethically right act, before the Lord") in Hebrew.

v. 14-15 not oppress – This establishes the correct treatment of employees by employers. Employers could not take financial advantage of them by withholding their wages. Oppress is ashaq (Heb.), meaning "to press upon, to violate and defraud." If someone felt that they were being mistreated, they could cry out to the Lord, for mistreatment was a sin. In these verses, as in the ones before, God is the great equalizer in society between the rich and the poor. He wants all to be treated fairly and with respect, for all are made in His image (Gen. 1:26), no matter financial or social status.

v. 17-18 shall not pervert justice  "Mishpat"(Heb.) means "judgment or ordinance." Moses charges the children of Israel not to pervert justice in their dealings with people who could be easily oppressed and taken advantage of (i.e. the stranger, fatherless, or the widow). Just as God showed compassion on them when they had been oppressed in Egypt (15:15) and they had been redeemed, so they are now to show compassion for the disadvantaged.

v. 19-22 shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow – Because there were no social programs for the poor and needy, God institutes a way to provide for them by having farmers leave some of their crops on the field. This was an appeal to those better off because it was ultimately in their best interest to have a concern for the welfare of others.

DEUTERONOMY 25

1 "If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, 2 then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. 3 Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.

4 "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

Marriage Duty of the Surviving Brother

5 "If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 But if the man does not want to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.' 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, 'I do not want to take her,' 9 then his brother's wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, 'So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother's house.' 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, 'The house of him who had his sandal removed.'

Chapter 25

v. 1-3 there is a dispute between men – These verses deal with how to prosecute criminals. When two people had a dispute, they were to let the judges decide which one was righteous and which was wicked. The guilty one was to receive no more than 40 blows. Later, Jewish practice was to limit the number to 39 (2 Cor. 11:24), to be sure that no one received more than 40, even in case of a miscount. Limiting the number of blows and making sure that the presiding judge was present to keep things from getting out of hand insured that the offending brother was not humiliated. The word in Hebrew galah means "to disgrace or dishonor." The law, while meting out the deserved punishment, still sought to preserve the dignity of the person. The idea was that they were still part of the tribe and had to be treated as such.

v. 4 muzzle an ox – To let an ox eat while it worked encouraged kindness and consideration to the animals. The Apostle Paul later used this law as an analogy of how people were to support their ministers (1 Cor. 9:9, 10; 1 Tim. 5:17,18).

Marriage Duty of the Surviving Brother

v. 5-6 If brothers dwell together – These verses look at a family issue. When a man died without a son, there were the dual concerns of him not leaving an heir to carry on the family name and the surviving widow quickly becoming a beggar because she had children to take care of her.

v. 7-10 refuses to raise up a name – It was considered a man's duty (Heb. yaban) to take his brother's widow and produce a son who would raise up a name to his brother in Israel. For various reasons, he might choose not to fulfill this requirement. Genesis 38:8-10 and Ruth 4:1-7 record two such events. However, he was legally bound to keep the family name alive. So if he chose not to follow through with this obligation, his sister-in-law could tell the elders of his city about it and remove his sandal from his foot and spit in his face. These actions showed her strong disapproval of his refusal. Such public disgrace illustrates how God used social pressure to motivate His people to obedience.

Miscellaneous Laws

11 "If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.

13 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

Destroy the Amalekites

17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

Miscellaneous Laws

v. 13-16 a perfect and just weight – These verses deal with merchants defrauding their customers by using different-size weights and measures to their advantage, depending on whether they were buying or selling. God wanted the children of Israel to be a people of integrity and honesty, so their measuring devices were to be perfect and just. If they complied with this requirement their days may be lengthened (Deut. 5:16; 6:2; 11:9, 32:47). If they did otherwise, they were an abomination (the same word as in 24:4).

Destroy the Amalekites

v. 17-19 remember – This deals with the destruction of the tribe of Amalek for their cowardly attacks on the children of Israel as they left Egypt. Because the tribe of Amalek had shown no fear of God or mercy toward His people, they received no mercy. The Israelites were to blot out the remembrance of Amalek, basically putting them under the same ban as the Cannanites. David would defeat them more than 400 years later (2 Sam. 1:1), but they were not completely wiped out until 300 years after that during the reign of Hezekiah (1 Chr. 4:41-43). "You shall not forget" is the last of nine such commands in Deuteronomy.


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