Truth or Myth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

 “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them, “Thus it is written,that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and the repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:44)

a reess

 

“You are witnesses of these things.”

a aaWitness: ‘A person who sees or otherwise has personal knowledge, can give a firsthand account of what they have seen, heard and experienced.’

“You are witnesses to these things” What does this mean?   The women were the first to find the tomb empty and after running back to give John and Peter the good news. Two of them were walking along Ammaus road talking about the things that had been happening when “Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them and He said to them, “What manner of communications are these that you have one to another, as you walk, and are sad?” 

Cleopas begins to explain to Jesus what was going on, not knowing it was Him because their eyes of understanding didn’t know it was Him. They went on sharing what was told and what was seen by the faithful, and Jesus went on to show them how to be a witness, by using the scriptures which all point to who He is so they can believe for themselves. They convinced Him to join them for supper, still not knowing who He was, and as He sat with them He “took the bread and blessed it, and broke and gave to them…and their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.” 

From there they returned to Jerusalem and “found the eleven gathered together.”  They told them their own eyewitness account of seeing Jesus physically. About that time “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace be unto you.” 

Recognizing how terrified and afraid they were He begins to reveal His body by His hand sand feet, asking them to touch and see it is really Him.  He proved it wasn’t a ghost they were seeing by eating broiled fish and honeycomb. And then He ‘re-explains’ what He said earlier before He was crucified about Hid resurrection. And then He ‘opens their minds of understanding’ outlining what would be required of their role as witnesses.

We are witnesses. What does it mean?  The Greek word  used here is martoores meaning martyr: one who has testified to the death of their belief in something. The Latin term uses a word ‘testes’ from the word testimoniare which means ‘to prove, give evidence, to witness.’

Today we are a witness to the life and death of Jesus Christ. You will or have made your own choice whether you say you believe or don’t believe that He is God and died on the cross for your sins, was resurrected from the dead and lives forever.  

Today could be the markerstone in your life where you will spend eternity. You will be a witness for against what you will hear and read. I pray that God open your understanding of Jesus and you will consider the argument that He is God and He alone can give you what you want, eternal life.  

A few years ago, there was a movie called the Passion of Christ. In it lies a story of a witness named Jim Caviezel. This is an interview of his witness for Christ and his own belief of who Jesus was and is in his life. Please take time to listen to it and his witness…

Jesus Christ had been crucified and buried in a tomb and chaos was prevailing among His followers as they went into hiding for fear that they would be sought out by the same Roman and Jewish leaders.

It is mind-boggling that these same disciples who walked with Jesus for three years, had little to no understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures about the Suffering Servant had their minds closed until His resurrection and appearances before them.  

a resurrect

As part of God’s glorious and sovereign plan unfolded in their lives so it does today. Apart from God’s grace opening our own minds, we would have no understanding of these very same Scriptures. No doubt, if the disciples couldn’t see it clearly, neither could we; not to add that no one with whom I share the truths of the resurrection could possibly understand it, regardless of how clearly and succinctly or thoroughly I state it, or expound on it.

 

Only by having their minds opened by God Himself through Jesus can ever begin to grasp this truth, that Jesus Christ really did rise from the grave and is alive still.  

Even Jesus, being God Himself, was unable by His words alone to convince the Rich Ruler to follow Him. 

“How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”

The ruler understood what Jesus was asking of him- to put God and his belief in Jesus as Messiah ahead of earthly treasures and yet couldn’t let go of the ‘pull’ of the world and attaining riches and honor before men. 

And so even if we speak the Gospel clearly and the one listening is given an understanding of eternal life, their love of this earthly life and the pull toward its temporary pleasures may prevent them from embracing God’s gift of grace in Jesus Christ. Only God can turn the heart of a human being from the things they think this world has to offer to salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  

   

Before His resurrection, during those three days the body of Jesus lay in the grave, the disciples were reeling in despair and confusion wondering what religious or political authorities would do to them as followers of Jesus.  

If God exists, if He created the universe and has power over it, surely He has power to raise the dead.

Unlike all other religions, only Christianity possesses a founder who transcends death and promises followers the same.  As Christian’s we take comfort in the fact that our God took upon Himself the form of flesh, took our place at the cross dying for our sins and was resurrected the Third day.  The grave could not hold Him, He lives an is sitting at the right hand of God.  

The teaching of the ‘Good News’ of the resurrection, that man can escape the power of the grave truly sets Christianity apart from all other religions. The truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was launched in the New Testament in (Acts 2:22-24) as the apostle Peter spoke..  “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”    (Acts 2:22-24).  

A LIFE

Jesus had told them before He was crucified, “Because I live, you will live also.”(John 14:19).  Jesus revealed His intention for all mankind: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

a nothing

There are today in our world, a significant number of people who believe that nothing lies beyond the grave.

I run into many people today that are anxious about what has happens when you die. The truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ can quell the hopelessness you may experiencing in your life right now.

Paul, speaking of the return of Jesus Christ for His church and the accompanying resurrection of the faithful, said to, “Comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). The truth of the resurrection provides comfort for the anxiety about death.

Why should we believe in a resurrection from the dead?

a check

Because it is a Biblically and Historically confirmed FACT, after being executed and entombedJesus’ body disappeared. Even His enemies could not explain away the empty tomb.

a chekJesus’ resurrection was confirmed by many witnesses, including 500 peoplePeter, speaking on behalf of all the apostles. proclaimed,“We are His witnesses to these things”…..to the fact that “the God of our fathers raised up Jesus.”     (Acts 5:30-32.)  

Years later, Paul said of Jesus that, “God raised Him from the dead and He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:30-31)

a skeptikDespite evidence both believers and non- believers that Jesus resurrection really did happen, there is a prevailing consensus that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ….never happened, that it was a all a cleverly disguised religious myth with no real evidence to support it actually happened. And yet despite all the evidence that He did live, was executed, and was seen alive three days after His burial, skeptics abound. 

a fact 2Looking up the word FACT in my dictionary I found this to be the meaning:  A thing that is indisputable…… something that really has occurred… something known to have happened…..  An Event that was observed and known to have happened, and which was confirmed and validated to such an extent that it is considered a ‘reality’.

a fact myth

 

a fact 2 It has been fairly well-established as fact that Jesus Christ was publicly executed in Judea in the 1st Century A.D. under the rule of Pontius Pilate by means of crucifixion at the behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin.  

a chekThis includes extensive Biblical writings and numerous ‘Non-Christian’ historical accounts by Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Maimonides, and even the Jewish Sanhedrin that all corroborate the eyewitness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  


a ag   Over the years skeptics have been developing their own ‘theories’ on why the resurrection of Jesus Christ never occurred. The Five most argued explanations to repute against the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are:

  • The WRONG TOMB’ theory
  • The ‘HALLUCINATION’ theory
  • The ‘SWOON’theory
  • The ‘STOLEN BODY’theory 
  • The ‘SOLDIERS FELL ASLEEP’ theory.

 

a fact 2Let’s start with the ‘WRONG TOMB’ theory.  Proponents argue that according to Gospel accounts, where the women visit the grave early in the morning while it was dark that, because of the darkness and emotional condition they visited the ‘Wrong tomb’The women overjoyed with the news that the tomb was empty rush back to tell the disciples and the disciples in turn, run into Jerusalem proclaiming the Resurrection.

A ANOXTaking a look at this ‘theory’ there is much to be said about it’s conclusions.  It would have been extremely doubtful that the Apostles wouldn’t have corrected the women’s error. Also, the site of the tomb was well known by both followers and opponents of Jesus.

a fact 2Reading the eyewitness account of the Gospels, the writers made it crystal clear the location of the body as He was buried in a tomb of Joseph of Armiathea, a member of the Jewish Council. 

A IFIf the body was still in the tomb while the Apostles began preaching, all the authorities had to do was go to the right tomb, produce the body, and march it down the streets; ending the Christian faith, once and for all.  Keep in mind that the preaching began in Jerusalem, only fifteen minutes away from the crucifixion site and tomb.

 

a fact 2Next we have the ‘HALLUCINATION’ theory which holds fast that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred in the ‘minds’ of the disciples. It was all in their heads……

 

a amcDr.William McNeil from his book titled, ‘A World History’ wrote about the resurrection and the Apostles response saying that: “Roman authorities in Jerusalem ‘arrested’ and ‘crucified’ Jesus…..but soon afterwards the dispirited Apostles gathered in an upstairs room and suddenly felt again the heartwarming presence of their Master which seemed absolutely convincing evidence that Jesus death on the cross had not been the end, but the beginning.. leaving the Apostles bubbling over with excitement trying to explain to all who would listen all that had happened.”  

Psychiatrists agree that this is an unrealistic position because for it to happen, several conditions need to happen.

This situation was not conducive for HALLUCINATIONS.  HALLUCINATIONS occur to people who are ‘imaginative’ and of ‘nervous’ make up.  The problem here is that the appearances of a resurrected Jesus occurred to not one but a variety of different people. According to experts, Hallucinations are subjective and individual, no two people have the same experience.  Again, in this case, over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15) have the same account.  

Also, HALLUCINATIONS happen only at particular times and places, most often associated with the events.  The Resurrection appearances of Jesus happened in many different environments at different times.  Lastly, in researching this, it is commmonly accepted that these kinds of hallucinations occur to those who ‘intensely want to believe.’ However, several like Thomas and James (half brother of Jesus) were actually doubtful to the news of the Resurrection at first, until Jesus appeared personally to each of them.  

a fact 2Next…. the ‘SWOON’ theory.  

This theory developed in the early nineteenth century claims that Jesus never died on the cross, but simply ‘passed out’ and mistakenly dead and after three days in the tomb was revived and walked out from the tomb, appearing to the disciples who would believe He had risen from the dead. Let’s take a look at this….

First of all, it is physically impossible that Jesus could have survived the extreme torture of crucifixion. Second, the soldiers that crucified Jesus were professional experts in executing this type of death….highly they would or could have made an exception, furthermore they always took precautions to make sure He was actually dead.

In Jesus’ case they would thrust a spear in His side. When blood and water comes out separately, this was an indication that the blood cells had begun to separate from the plasma indicating that the blood had stopped circulating.

Not only that but their deciding to break the legs (In order to speed up the process of dying) the soldiers carefully examined the body of Jesus and found……He was already dead. 

After being taken down from the cross, Jesus was covered with eighty pounds of spices and placed inside the tomb. It would be unreasonable to believe that after three days with no food or water, that Jesus would revive, not to mention He could roll a two-ton stone up an incline, overpower guards, and walk several miles to Emmaus.  Even if He had done this, His appearing to the disciples half-dead and desperately in need of medical attention would not have prompted their worship of Him as God.

 

a straussIn the 1900’s, David F. Strauss, who was an opponent of Christianity, put an end to any hope in this theory.  Even though he didn’t believe in the Resurrection, he was quoted as saying: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still last yielded to his sufferings, could have given the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of life, and impression that would lay at the bottom of their future ministry.”

a fact 2The STOLEN BODY  theory suggest that Jewish and Roman authorities stole or moved the body for ‘safekeeping’. It is inconceivable to think this could be remotely possible. If they had the body then why did thsy need to accuse the disciples of stealing it?

“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.  When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep.  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’  So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”         (Matthew 28:11-15).  

In the Book of Acts Chapter 4, the Jewish authorities were angered and did everything they could to prevent the spread of Christianity.  The big question then is why would the disciples deceive their own people into believing in a false Messiah when they knew that this deception would most certainly mean the deaths of hundreds of their believing friends? 

If they really knew where the body was, they could have exposed it, and ended the faith that caused them so much trouble and embarrassment.  Throughout the preaching by these Apostles, the authorities never attempted to refute the Resurrection by producing a body. 

a fact 2Finally the ‘SOLDIERS FELL ASLEEP’ theory, the most popular exist to this day and believed by many opponents of Christianity. If the soldiers were sleeping, how did they know it was the disciples who stole the body? It seems physically impossible for the disciples to sneak by the soldiers, then move a two-ton stone up an an incline in absolute silence….one of the guards should have heard something.  


a chekSince the tomb was secured with a Roman seal so anybody who would attempt to move the stone would break the seal, an offense at that time punishable by death.  

a addTaking into account the emotional condition of the disciples makes it hard to believe that they would within hours of the crucifixion suddenly become so brave to face a detachment of soldiers, steal the body, and then lie about the Resurrection, this seems highly unlikely.

a fact 2Roman guards were not likely to fall asleep since they would be facing penalties including their own death. The disciples would have to overpower them which seemed a very unlikely scenario.  


a fact 2The Gospel account of John testified that the grave clothes were found: “lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself separate from the linen.” (20:6-7).  There wasn’t enough time for the disciples to sneak past the guards, roll away the stone, unwrap the body, re-wrap it in the wrappings, and carefully fold the head piece neatly beside the linen. It commonly known that in a robbery the men would have likely flung the garments down in disorder and flee in fear of being found out.


a wrong These ‘theories’ obviously are an inadequate account for the empty tomb,          and the radical transformation of the Apostles and the birth of Christianity in the city of the crucifixion. 

a conclusion In all fairness, let us consider the ‘what if’s’ crowd of people who deny that Jesus rose from the grave, and examine the implications which would be monumental to say the least.  First, if Jesus rose from the dead, then what He said about Himself is true. He said before His death, “I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” (John 11:25).   Jesus also was quoted saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6).  

a fact 2Eternal life is found through Jesus Christ alone. Every religious leader has been buried in a grave their bones left behind. The tomb of Jesus is empty. His body is not there.

a risen 2

From the day Jesus tomb was found empty until today, the debate over Jesus resurrection has debated.


a rudolphAn ‘influential’ New Testament theologian, Dr. Rudolph Bultmann was quoted as saying that a ‘historical fact’ which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable. 

a bbbb   Meanwhile another prominent theologian Dr. N.T. Wright a leading Bible scholar having done extensive research on Jesus’ resurrection concluded: Because He is raised from the dead, He is Lord of the world, sovereign over the whole cosmos, the One before whom we bow the knee, believing that in the end every creature will come to do so as well”  

For the sake of a final consideration, let’s agree with the skeptics who say Jesus died but was never resurrected.  Three problems come to mind.

a fact 2Spiritual: According to Christian teaching, Jesus death provided the  shedding of blood for the forgiveness of man’s sins. His resurrection completed the work. No resurrection  would mean no forgiveness and humanity would be cursed to bear the guilt and shame of their sin..forever. All people would be destined a vain life and fearful death because of no hope beyond ourselves. 

a fact 2Moral:  According to Christian teaching, God declares He doesn’t lie. If the resurrection never happened then God is a liar, Jesus is a liar, the Apostles are liars. The whole Bible is a lie. Billions of Christians for the last 2,000 years (including this writer) are all liars.  

a fact 2Theological: According to Christian teaching, Jesus was not just a ‘mere man’, but Divine and His resurrection was the ultimate proof.

A IFIF, Jesus did not rise from the dead it would be right to ask, “How could God have died….and …stayed dead?”   IF, there was no resurrection then Jesus was not Divine. His miracles were a hoax, His teachings are empty, He is nothing more than an ‘influential historical figure’ like Socrates, Gandhi.  

a birdlikeAnd so what shall we say in response? His tomb is empty. His bones have never been found. There were eye witnesses to His resurrection. One early follower said: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32) For centuries billions of these witnesses have been transformed by Him.

a fact 2JESUS IS ALIVE! He is hope for today to those who believe on His Name.  Maybe today you are searching for answers and have arrived to this Walking the Berean Road study.  

I can’t say I have any answers for your specific needs but I can extend a hand to offer you hope by simply believing that Jesus Christ truly is alive and loves you. He is calling you to come to Him. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, what you have done.

The degree of shame and guilt, the burden of your sin can be wiped away today. The Bible teaches that ‘the word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is the word of faith, which we preach; that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed.”  (Romans 10:8-11)

 

 

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‘Confidence In Crisis’ -Happy New Year 2016

a trusting

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s…..

Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel……  

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.”  (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Have you ever experienced a time when it felt like you were facing a battle of your life alone…your enemies surrounding you, the attacks unyielding? 

Did you ever think to yourself, “This is it! there’s absolutely no way I can win this?” 

Jehoshaphat surely did….. his reaction can help me to have confidence in crisis when I am confident in my God and not in myself in this New Year 2016. Jehoshaphat had a character flaw that God saw and wanted to correct, so He brought a battle bigger and stronger than Jehoshaphat had ever seen. It seems that Jehoshaphat had a thing with making the wrong allies with godless men like King Ahab.   

As the story goes God delivered the surprise package in the form of not one, but a multitude of enemies knocking at his front door as the Lord would be ringing in the year with spiritual reform for the nation of Israel. (19:4-11)

However, Jehoshaphat’s response was anything but confident as his intelligence sources came running in with horrifying news…… “A great multitude is coming against you fro  beyond the sea, out of Aram, (Edom) and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar.”  In other words, the enemy coalition was only 15 miles south of Jerusalem, on the western shore of the Red Sea. Needless to say it seemed that Jehoshaphat’s life and his entire kingdom were….on the ‘brink of extinction’!  Enter panic!  

a panic

So what does he do?  I thought to myself, Marty, ‘what would you do’ if you heard threatening news that would affect your future and plans for your life? 

Jehoshaphat known to be a godly king did the right thing: He called for a national prayer meeting and encouraged the people to….trust God as together, they faced a most overwhelming crisis…  

The result? They did it! they won what seemed impossible by prayer alone…not swinging one sword!  I like this description of my ENEMY and how he works daily to defeat me.  Rodney Frye describes it as a 3-fold assault going on against us.  The WORLD, the FLESH, and the DEVIL.”

 We have our on flesh wanting to distract us with to sin. We have the World always enticing up back to our old lives and we have the Devil making sure everything goes according to plan.  He describes a story in his own life to illustrate the point of this life being a battlefield  and how we must take a stand against it but yielding to God and trusting Him to fight the battle.  

a bully

He writes: “There used to be a bully who who would demand my lunch money every day….since I was smaller I would give it to him. Then one day I decided to fight back…I began taking Karate lessons but the instructor wanted $5.00 per lesson….that was a lot of money for me so I found it was cheaper for me to just pay the bully…..I gave up karate.”  

To many of us  easier to pay the bully than to learn how to defeat him.  Face it, living in this world is a battlefield…NOT a playground!  It is going to take the full armor of God to our prayer closets to battle with Satan.  

Jehoshaphat and the nation of Israel did, and won the war by prayer alone!   As we enter into a New Year in 2016 , we are sure of one thing, there will be a crisis coming our way, but when it comes, what confidence will we have?  We can be confident that in that time of crisis, if we just let our great needs drive us to prayer God will not hesitate to fight our battles!   You may have thought to yourself when the crisis comes knocking at your door, “I can do this!” only to find yourself collapsing under the weakness of what you perceived to be was your strength.  

You know, one day you go to sleep; all’s well! and the next day ‘all hell breaks loose’…  You didn’t know if you were ‘coming or going’.   

a confidence

For me on this New Year’s Day / 2016 it led me to ask myself 3 questions… While most people were making resolutions last night, I decided it was time to take inventory and see where my confidence during a crisis  was going to be, in myself…or in the might of God’s power.  

(1.) What challenges have i been facing that I just can’t seem to shake and have tried to ‘handle’ myself.          (2) What obstacles keep me from ‘letting go’ and submitting to God in prayer?  

(3) Have I allowed people around me to control my life and not trust God?   My answers were yes, yes, and yes.  And so I decided to write God a letter, writing these things down and looked up scripture promises and reminders of His faithfulness to me in fighting my battles and having confidence trusting God. relinquishing control attempts by the world, my flesh and the devil by taking every crisis to prayer.  

Ephesians 6:12 is at the top of my list: ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

Three times the word ‘against’ is mentioned. It doesn’t say ‘stand by’ and just ‘wait it out’….it says do something!  In the following verses the command to put on the armor of God, in preparation for verse (18)“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..”    

If only we take this to heart this New Year 2016PRAY, STAND STILL, WATCH FOR VICTORY IN THE CRISIS as the LORD destroys my enemies!  

Imagine a year filled with victory after victory as we exercise trusting God with confidence that His ‘yes is amen!’ “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication from Me, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)  As the nation Jehoshaphat had gathered at the Temple for prayer, something quite remarkable occurred, the Spirit of God came upon  a prophet in the assembly.(14)  He begin to encourage them not to fear and went on to assure them that God would fight their battle…..for them. (15-17) 

When the people heard these words through the prophet, everyone fell down and worshiped and stood up and sang loud praises! (18-19).  What a display of humility that one man setting aside his own pride and chooses to humble himself and acknowledge in him is not enough, but in God he has victory!   If Jehoshaphat had acted in pride and sent his troops out to ‘defend the honor’ they surely would have been wiped out….and then as he called this prayer meeting, God shows up and instead chooses to speak through someone else!  If Jehoshaphat had acted in pride saying, “wait a minute! I’m the king! It was I who called this prayer meeting! Who does this prophet think he is to get a message from God?  Instead, he was humbly willing to submit to God’s Word….through another man….  Confidence in Crisis this year means I need to keep myself, the world, the flesh, the devil from ‘stealing the show’.   

And THEN, based on the ‘PROPHET’S’ word from God, the people got up early the next morning and marched to the battlefield …..led by Jehoshaphat?  NO,  they were led by a choir singing praises….of all things…(20:21)  

God would cause the enemy armies to ‘turn against each other”  All that was left for the people of Israel was collect the spoil and celebrate the victory!

        Okay, the promise God gave through this prophet (14-30) was one thing….believing and taking action on it was something else.  These singers were all about taking action staking their lives on the Truthfulness, (The fact of being true) of the word they heard from God.

Have you ever done something so crazy that it becomes life-changing?  I remember when I first came to know Jesus  as my Redeemer. Family and friends all had that same look on their faces; ‘Marty has done something really crazy, my goodness he isn’t becoming another one of those Jesus freaks is he?’ Pretty soon I’m attending church three times a week, going to anything to do with Jesus.  Not long before I was going on Mission trips to Mexico, and then attending Bible College and Schools of Ministry and the latest, Marty and Patty moving 500 miles north leaving everything behind to follow God’s calling.

These singers had probably had that same spirit doing a ‘crazy thing’…..marching unarmed before an army, singing praises to God against a fully armed powerful enemy!  

Jehoshaphat encouraged the people saying, “Put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will be established, put your trust in His prophets and succeed.” (20) This led the people into putting some leather in their shoes and marching for the Lord!  

When we become totally reliant on God, we are always rewarded by Him. He never fails all who trust Him and obey His Word.  Of course this doesn’t mean that He will deliver those who trust Him from suffering and death. Hebrews 11 is full of saints who trusted God and lost their heads.  

The wonderful thing is that there’s more than just this earthly life, this isn’t the final chapter.  Just as God rewarded Israel with the spoil of victory, so will he reward the followers of Jesus.  

Patty and I being baseball fans, I ran into this really neat T-shirt. It say’s: ‘Bottom of the 9th, down three runs, bases loaded, 2 outs, full count 3-2……the hitter swings and that ball is outta here!’ No fear!  The shirt effusing the confidence in a crisis… As Christian’s, 2016 is a brand new page in our stories. Why not ‘take a page’ and join Jehoshaphat in rejecting anything to do with self-confidence and acknowledge, “O God, I’m powerless and I don’t know what to do….but YOU do!  My eyes are on You God!  

Corrie Ten Boom author of “The Hiding Place” and survivor of a German concentration camp used to have people come up to her and say, “Corrie, my, what a great faith you have!” She would smile and reply, “No, it’s what a Great God I have!” 

Confident in Crisis 2016  starts with one person, one prayer at time and then comes the earthly dress rehearsal for heaven!  

Maybe you’re like I used to be before I began my ‘free trial’ in day by day; crisis after crisis putting my trust in God and letting Him fight the battle.  It wasn’t long ago when I was fighting my crisis against cancer.

It’s been three years since God delivered me. He gave His Word to Patty and I (John 11;4) asking us to simply trust in Him in the midst of the surgery, in the deep of the chemotherapy.  One thing we learned was that God keeps His Word and simply asks us to believe it always remember that He is faithful!. (Philippians 1:6). 

Jehoshaphat’s prayer teaches us that God alone will fight for you.

There is a story of a man who had a firewood factory who use a circular saw for cutting the timber. Until recently this saw was previously worked by a crank ….turned by men.  It was slow work, until we bought a gas engine.  The saw, now driven by this engine does more work at less cost!  It’s the same saw, but the difference maker is in what powers and drives it.  Before, driven by ‘hand power’ and now, by this engine, the only thing needed to keep the connecting band tight is adjustment. It is not a question of our abilities, but of the power behind us. (F.B. Meyer) 

And so as 2016 officially begins, I am not entering this year blindly and deaf,  I will ponder the words I have written and I will thank God that He will be with me when the crisis come. And I will lean on Him trusting that He is at work, faithfully completing the work He first began in me. (Philippians 1:6).  Maybe you’ve been moved or challenged in what moves you in a time of crisis and you know about religion, but don’t know Jesus.  He is the One who has come to set you free from yourself. Ask Him into your life. All He requires is you confess who you are, a sinner in need of forgiveness. He will wipe away every one. He loves you to the degree that He gave His life for you. Right now, right here, ask Him to be your Savior. “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame..’ for there is no distinction between Jew or Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him, for everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)


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‘Why is God Silent in My Prayers?’

When everything is falling apart, when you hunger for the truth, it is and will always be that prayer opens up a way that we thought was never there before. Prayer can radically change your life… this study is a bit lengthy but from the latest numbers of readers, this one seems to have struck a nerve. Maybe it’s time we revisited it again…. Pray and ask God to speak to your heart, He desires to set you free from all the trappings of religion and sit down with Jesus…

Walking the Berean Road

A PERSISTANT PRAYER

 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”   Luke 18:1

Life is unjust. Upon accepting an award, the late Jack Benny once remarked, “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”

Have you ever come to a point when you’ve felt like you’re on the wrong side of justice; someone has done you wrong, and with all calls, e-mails, texts, voice mails; your situation just isn’t getting resolved.  Jesus knew that His disciples would be running into many of these kind of situations; where they would be getting the ‘short end of the stick’……. sometimes life just doesn’t appear to be fair.

A PLEAD

Jesus uses an example here of a widowed woman who had been wronged, and a cynical Judge who ‘neither feared God nor had any respect for people’; 

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Here I Am Lord, Use Me’

HERE I AM

”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”     Isaiah 6:8

Every once in a while it is good to look back at something you wrote and be re-inspired if you will; especially when the Holy Spirit is the One making the prompting.  And so it is with this past study I made while finishing up my chemotherapy treatments. Truly that was a time of celebration at all God had done and accomplished through that wilderness experience.

The good news is that it’s been 1 1/2 years and everything is going great. I thank the Lord daily for His goodness and favor upon Patty and me and we are excited about all God has in store this new year!

It seems there are many of you from Brazil , the UK, and the Russian Federation that are have been passing this particular study around according to the Word Press Stats for this web site and I’m thrilled to know that everything of what this study is about is being exercised in your lives, that Jesus Christ is the difference maker, not only had He redeemed you, He has given you a purpose for life through Him, and has commissioned you to go out and tell as many people you know and don’t know about Him.  The world doesn’t need new fashions, buildings, heroes; the world needs to know Jesus!  And that is your calling from Him to you that you go out and tell everyone of His salvation through Jesus Christ!  “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord.”

ISAIAH 55 11 YES

‘So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return void unto Me: but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”  Isaiah 55:11

This is the first time I’ve been led to post not just one lead passage, but two.  It’s only fitting that they be here in this post, since the Holy Spirit went about on this day to join them together, to challenge, exhort, and bless me, as well as my wife Patty, and a whole slew of special guests that God brought together on a day when most people aren’t thinking about these kind of things..and so here goes.

God’s Word has something to accomplish. God doesn’t just speak to hear Himself talk. His Word is not empty, or lacking in power.   He didn’t speak in unfathomable mysteries just to blow our minds, or confuse us, or leave things up to any possible interpretation. When God speaks, He speaks to accomplish a purpose.

God’s Word doesn’t help us if it stays on the bookshelf..   God’s Word won’t accomplish what He wants to do with it if we don’t speak it.  Yes, we do need to study, read and meditate on His Word, but what use is it if stays inside.  We need to speak the Word of God to as many people as we meet.

2 Timothy says we need to be ready to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they ‘hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14

What a wonderful thing that God has provided us with a written Word that we know as the Bible.  It is through His written Word that God communicates with us  every day….

word

I don’t know about you, but I love guarantees.  Whenever I take my truck into the shop for repairs, I am so happy that the problem was resolved; but do you know what I like even more that it was fixed?  I love a guarantee that if something goes wrong with the repairs, that the shop gives, ‘written assurance’ that it will stand behind their work.

guarantee

The Dictionary defines the word ‘Guarantee’ as a ‘Promise’ or ‘Assurance’ especially in writing that something will perform satisfactorily for a given amount of time.’ We will make purchases that with a ‘guarantee’ and then hope that the giver of the guarantee will stand behind their product.

unsatisfied face

But what happens when what we bought, not only doesn’t work the way we anticipated, but the company behind it, doesn’t hold up to their end of the bargain?

I think most of us have been there. And it can make for an unpleasant situation, because we put our trust,; in the product, and in the person behind the product.

However, we can be sure that when God say’s something is so, we know it to be true, because He has a track record of. ‘saying what He means, and meaning what He says’! Oh how thrilling is that!

happy face

Hebrews 4:12 teaches us that the “Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”

I just love the Hawaian translation which reads: “Cuz you know, da Stuff God tell us guys get plenny power, an get life. Wat God say goin go inside us mo betta den one sword dat get two side sharp. Goin check out wat we stay tinking, an wat stay inside our heart, an how come we stay doing da kine stuffs we do. Dass jalike one sharp sword dat can open da joints an da bone marrow stuff.”

  sword

 Our passage today say’s that the word that “will not return void” is God’s Word and not the word of humans. In other words, people cannot make their desires a reality just by applying Isaiah 55:11…….to whatever situation they desire.   The only word that guarantees is the Word that “proceeds from His mouth”.  Any other word…..doesn’t carry the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God.

          In other words, to say that God’s Word “does not return to Him void” is to say that His Word, His promise doesn’t ever return to Him empty.  An extremely strong declaration of His sovereignty.    Not even Satan himself, can frustrate the purposes of God’s Word.
When God opens an opportunity for us to proclaim His Word, He enables, He unlocks the power in His words through the Holy Spirit in us, to establish the purpose of it’s destination.  That purpose is that the world would know that He so ‘loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that by believing in Him, that we might be saved”
Another purpose of God’s Word is that we, “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
We are encouraged to build each other up in the faith.
One of the most powerful ways is by sharing the Word of God.  Often times, the Holy Spirit will lead you, in meeting people, in hospitals, in church, anywhere where there are hurting souls, He will send out His ministers to become His purpose in putting into motion His plan, and accomplishing all He has to give to the person you’re talking to as well as yourself.
appointment
Yesterday , I had an appointment at the hospital for a ‘Day Surgery’ to remove the ‘port’ that was surgically placed inside the right side of my chest.
The purpose of the port was to allow the nurses, while I was undergoing chemotherapy to stick their needles in so they didn’t have to be poking my arm
trying to find a suitable vein so they could administer the treatment.  This ‘port’ had a specific purpose, and to accomplish all it was designed to do.   To take a page from Pastor Chuck Smith, it performed ‘marvelously’!
While I was waiting for my surgery appointment….. several other things begin to evolve.   God’s Word promises us in Isaiah 43 :5 that He will “send men for us and people for your life, fear not I am with you.”
Well, as promised, God began to send a whole lot of people my way, some bringing the Word of God, some confirming the written Word of God, some to be encouragement throughout this very trying day.
DIVINE APPOINTMENT
As Patty and I entered Torrance Memorial Hospital hospital at 7:15 a.m. we were met by a much smiling receptionist at the Information Desk.  Then we were sent to an already waiting and no waiting  Registration desk where there was yet one other woman who greeted us with yet another huge, warm  ‘welcome’ smile.  We were escorted by a volunteer to the surgery prep area where we met an RN named Fe. (pronounced Fay)  She proceeded to take blood samples, blood pressure etc.
About the same time in walks in Pastor Tuvai from my church who came in early to pray for the surgery.  During the prayer he makes mention of a Scripture passage out of Isaiah 41:10.
is 41 10
Fe comes in after the prayer and Patty, (My Wife) and I begin to talk with Fe. We find out she is also a believer, and she goes on to quote Isaiah 41:10 as her favorite passage….not knowing that Pastor Tuvai had earlier also quoted from that same verse.   Fey  tells us she is from the Philippians and her name means…….Lydia…..AND  guess what color she is wearing?   You guessed it, purple!
Time passes and it’s time to go to surgery. I am encouraged and strengthened by the spiritual support God has given me in His Word and through these faithful saints.
In walks the man who would wheel me to surgery, his name?………Luke… we chat on the way, my reminding him that his name is in the Gospels, when he responds saying that he also has two brothers named……..you got it….Matthew and John…….and his father is named Mark!  
We run into Shawna and Letty who are RN nurses and find out they both go to my home church.  Once in the surgery room, prepped and ready to go, I ask everyone if I can pray verbally and they all say yes, including my surgeon.  Everything comes out good, and I’m recovering for the next few weeks.
The really exciting thing here is that God’s Word did not return void, empty. From Pastor Tuvai, to Fey, to all those in the surgery room, His Word was given.  It became a very powerful opportunity for God to bring so many people together under circumstances that involved all our faith that God was in control, and that He wanted all us including Patty and me to know, that His Word accomplished all He set it out to do.
God gives all of us many opportunities to share His Word under many different circumstances; and you know what?   There is comfort, strength, and encouragement in His Word for anything you, or someone you know might be going through.
I’m so happy that God was truly glorified throughout this day, and that others were able to see the Holy Spirit make a spiritual link chain throughout this day, and do you know what?  It was the difference maker for all involved.  The thing I learned is that God wants to do this every day.  All we need to do is raise our hand to Him every morning and say to Him, ‘Here I am Lord, send me!”
HERE I AM SEND ME
Here’s Today’s Musical Video ~  Enjoy! 
 
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‘HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015… A SEC0ND CHANCE

“As for you, you were once dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  “ Ephesians 1:1-10

 Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have never being born, getting a Second chance coming back and seeing just how many lives you would have touched if you had been born.   That’s exactly what happens in this movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

On April 11, 2013 the USA Network is launching The Moment, a new series hosted by legendary NFL quarterback Kurt Warner who just happens to be a Born Again Christian.   This show will  have nine individuals who will  be taken on a life-changing journey, and given a second chance to go back in time and rewrite their life stories.

 The Bible covers this topic quite well and serves a timely reminder that God sees, cares, and loves you so much, He’s wiling to forgive you of your past life and give you a fresh start, regardless of whatever happened in your past life.

a second chance3

From Rahab to David to Zachaeus  to Peter, the Thief on the Cross the Bible can be trusted to reveal clear and concise examples of people whom God gave 2nd Chances. From  one end of the spectrum to another, we can see clearly how God had all of us in mind when it comes to forgiving our past and giving us a fresh start.

a RAHAB2

In Joshua 2:1-22 & 6:20-25 we begin with Rahab who was a prostitute, a profession that even 3,000 years ago was not considered to be a honorable profession. To make matters worse she was a Gentile who was living in the city of Jericho, the land of Canaan at a time when Israel was on the verge at conquering that land.  However, here is Rahab of ill repute who had happened to hear about the God of Israel and His greatness.  The story goes that Israel sent spies to scout the land and ended up at Rahab’s house.  What she did would open the door for her 2nd chance. She put her own life on the line and proceeded to hide them in her house. As a result, God grants her a 2nd Chance. Jericho would end up being completely destroyed and it would be Rahab and her family that would survive the destruction, and the amazing finish is Rahab’ name is found in the Gospel of Matthew inside the …….genealogy of Jesus Christ!

a moses

 Patriarch Moses also was a man of 2nd Chances; Two to be exact.  Moses was born in Egypt during a time when it was quite dangerous to be a young Jewish boy. Condemned to death by order of the Pharaoh, God chose to spare Moses’s life.  Moses was instead spared and Moses was raised up as royalty.  He would end up being in a position that would later help the nation of Israel to be freed from enslavement. God save him after Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster while saving a young Hebrew man.   40 years later God gave Moses a second chance to return to Egypt and set His people free.

KingDavid_web_sm

2 Samuel 11-12, and Psalm 51 we read that David was a man after God’s own heart. But that’s not all he was. He was also an adulterer and murderer—both of which were capital offenses according to the Law of Moses. The story of his affair with Bathsheba and his attempt to hide his sin by having her husband, Urriah, killed by putting him on the front line in battle is one of the most appalling tales of sin in Scripture. But when confronted with his sin, David’s heart broke in repentance and God granted him grace and a 2nd chance.

a z

How about Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke 19:1-10 where tax collectors were even more despised than they are now. Most were greedy, dishonest men who had the power and authority to take advantage of the poor and become rich at their expense. Zacchaeus was just like this, he fit the description.  And yet when  Jesus came to town and He chose to stay with Zacchaeus.  Of course people couldn’t believe it. Why would Jesus, obviously a man of God, choose to even associate with this sinner? This is just the kind of person Jesus came to save—and to give a 2nd Chance!

a peter

Peter in Matthew 26:31-35. I think we can all agree that we have blurted out the first thing that comes in our minds. That was Peter. The rest of the apostles could always count on Peter to be the one who would open his mouth without thinking first.  Even during the final hours before Jesus’s crucifixion Peter boldly proclaims that he would stand by Jesus’ side even if it meant death. Peter emphatically deny that Jesus save His own life. And yet Jesus had plans to use Peter to build His church and give him a 2nd Chance!

 a thief

 Finally we see the Thief on the Cross in Luke 23:39-43, most certainly the greatest need for a 2nd Chance.   There are the two men crucified on both sides of Jesus were these three men. Men who lived their lives in such a way that according to this thief, were more deserving of death.    As they hung, nailed to a cross, next to Jesus. One of the men joined the crowds and soldiers in mocking Christ. But the other realized who it was being crucified next to him and, with death nearby, asked for mercy. This simple act of faith this humble request was heard and answered as  Jesus promised him a 2nd Chance that would lead him into Eternity.

a eph

And then there is you and me….. I don’t know about you but I need a 2nd Chance.  I’m thankful that God is willing to give it.    I think Paul the Apostle says it best in his letter to the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:1-10. I quote from the Living Bible paraphrase:

“Once you were under God’s curse, doomed forever for your sins.  You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord.   All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else.

 But God is so rich in mercy; He loved us so much   that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, He gave us back our lives again when He raised Christ from the dead—only by His undeserved favor have we ever been saved—  and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with Him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did.  And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich His kindness is, as shown in all He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

 Because of His kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God.   Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it.   It is God Himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago He planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”

 a chance

 As the calendar changes and 2014 ebbs away and 2015 charges forth, it’s a good thing to know that we have a God of 2nd Chances! Regardless of what failure, rejection, whatever we did wrong unto others, know that He is willing to erase the past with all its disappointments  and bring you forth into a year of a fresh start.   Maybe today after the unwrapping of the gifts, the pleasantries of gatherings with family and friends you’ve got issues that are choking off your life. Behold, Jesus can and is willing to help you and give you a 2nd Chance. A right relationship with Jesus Christ is paramount to living the life He intended you to live.

a confess

If this is you and you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, you need a 2nd Chance; the Bible says in Romans 10:9 that if you just, “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; and believe from your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Maybe pray something like this and mean it from your heart: ‘Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God, and that You died to take away my sins, I believe You were raised from the dead and can help me to have this 2nd chance. I receive You into my heart, come live, and teach me how to live this new chance right!  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and write my name in the Book of Life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Congratulations, you have received the perfect gift, forgiveness of your sins and a 2nd Chance! I suggest you pray and ask God to help you find a good Bible teaching church and a Bible. Read it every day starting maybe in the Gospel of John, and find believers to fellowship.

A chronicle

Maybe you’re already a believer and need to make a new start this upcoming year, you too can have a 2nd chance in Christ Jesus. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if : “My people which are called by My Name, would humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them and heal their land”. Often times we don’t think we need healing, but if we find we are stagnant in our lives, listless, going through the motions, we need a new start, a 2nd  Chance  that we can live life ‘more abundantly’.  Take a moment today and contemplate where you are today.  Sit before the Lord and ask Him to search my heart and see if there be any wicked thing”and “Cst your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”

Thank You Jesus that You are forever praying for us and looking out for our best interests, forgive us when we assume that everything is alright when they aren’t.  We yield our hands, minds and hearts that always seem to want to do things first and leave in situations and circumstances  that result in disappointment.  We praise You that Your Word is ‘Yea and Amen!”

a amen

Happy New Year in 2015 everyone as we all grow into the loving saving life that Jesus gives us in Him!

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‘HELP! DIAL 333 FOR GREAT & MIGHTY THINGS!’

 

a call

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33;3

 Lord Jesus, I offer up this labor of love in presenting your Word to all those You would lead to this Ministry web site that by the power of Your Spirit, You would transform lives and reveal Yourself to each one, opening their understanding of Your Greatness and love through Your Son Jesus Christ. That we would know the truth and the truth of Your plan for man would set them free indeed, amen.

‘Help, I need somebody,  Help, Not just anybody
Help, You know, I need someone Help!

When I was younger so much younger than today

I never needed anybody’s help in any way

But know these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured

Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors..

If you’re a Believer you KNOW where you get YOUR help from, right?  But like this song let’s turn our ‘time-clocks’ back if you will and ask the very same question…. Where did you get YOUR help in a time of need?  I think for most of us it could be answered in anything that would take away the pain of life’s pitfalls.  For some help came from alcohol, for others it was drugs.  Maybe it was sex.  All in all we agree that it more didn’t help than these things made is addicts of the very thing we thought could ‘help’ us.

‘Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate your being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me? Help me, help me, ooh..’

   You know, when the doctor leans over with a clipboard in his hand and goes on to tell you that ‘you’ve got cancer!’ and leaves you with no real help in mind. When the Oncologist reviews your ‘charts’ and begins to review his plan for ‘help’ that will begin the process of healing that will help heal your body….. For me this was very much a reality two years ago as my wife and I pondered and then sought and found where our help was going to come from.

‘And now my life has changed in oh, so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I never done before.’

What a difference it makes that when your life situations change and you’re left with depending on someone else to help you through it that it becomes so more real to know with confidence that the help you need is far more real and close than you ever imagined?   Instead of independence it becomes more dependent.  Instead of insecurity it becomes secure.

For my wife and I the help we needed was going to come through my surgery and a year of chemotherapy, but the real help, the real healing was to come from the One who created me and formed me.  For the first time in my life, I would go from knowing what I needed to help me to knowing the One who would be doing all the help.  God gave Patty a promise that fateful afternoon in that hospital, that He would be ‘faithful to complete the work He started’  (1 Thessalonians 5:24) when He said that , ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that therein the Son of God might be glorified” .(John 11:4)  He would become our help not just in fixing what was broken, in becoming our very direct~lifeline that we could have access to 24 hours a day and be there to help us in a time of need.

The older I get the more I am realizing that the  most important thing in my life is not  work, business, rushing here and there; but the most important thing is to live truly a life of prayer.   Prayer is the most essential part of my life.  Jesus said that, ” Men ought always to pray and not to faint”  Luke 18:1

When I’m finding myself up against a challenge in my life I am often reminded of God’s Eternal un- diminishing Greatness in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” 

 

There are often times when I need to see good things larger than the bad things that surround me in this world.  Just last night, my wife and I were weighing the circumstances of how we were going to provide me health insurance since the employer I previously had was taking me off their coverage. Since everything surrounding my cancer follow-ups were tied into this medical coverage; especially my doctor, it quickly became a source of worry. What would happen next?

Perplexed but not defeated, we prayed, and faithfully gave the problem to the only One who can solve it, Jesus Christ. It has   Although we don’t know what to do, we do know who does know, and so we entrust Him to work it out. It doesn’t mean we sit back and just wait for something to happen; although I’ve seen things happen without me doing anything.  But often God allows us to partake in His work by knocking on doors, making phone calls, following through looking for a window of opportunity God would open for us. All in all, praying “with thanksgiving, that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”  Philippians 4:6

a prayer 5

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

 Time is growing short; the city is being squeezed, and the dreaded enemy is one step closer to victory. Some of the locals were holding out hope that it might be Egypt that would come to Jerusalem’s rescue, but destiny was saying that nothing could stop her inevitable defeat.

In those dark days just before the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is still a prisoner of the king. We see the picture of these people Jeremiah had preached to turn away from their lifestyle apart from God as Jeremiah sits shackled in a courtyard, surrounded by guards. In this humiliating scene, another message comes to the prophet from God. Once again, Jeremiah is looking past the city’s present despair to a future God is showing him: one day God will restore Jerusalem and the people of Israel.

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“Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known.

Have you ever been at a point in your ministry where you thought you had it all figured out and than found yourself in a one on one meeting with God that reveals a particular aspect of your relationship with Him is actually flawed?

Here in this verse we find OT Prophet Jeremiah being counseled by God Himself. For forty years the prophet Jeremiah had warned that Judah and Jerusalem would be destroyed for their sins, and now the armies of Babylon were at the very walls of the city.

Imagine 40 years Jeremiah faithfully preached the Word of God, only to see God’s Word rejected by the people God had called.  It would be very difficult to conceive of a situation more painful than the situation that Jeremiah was facing.

To make matters worse, Jeremiah was cast down into a pit in prison because king Zedekiah didn’t want Jeremiah openly prophesying the coming ruin of Judah. To the human eye it would be without doubt that God’s promises to Israel had dried up and all was going to fail.

And yet, it would be exactly during this time; Babylon knocking on the door, Jeremiah God’s mouth piece locked in prison that God would come to His servant with these words of encouragement.

Maybe Jeremiah in all his human nature was expecting a different outcome. Reading in Chapter 32 he had been praying about this deliverance for his people, but now he finds himself in a pit where he could do……nothing more.  What then would God do now for him?  The  encouragement…. the answer God gives him was PRAY!

The Word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah the second time. And that Word of the Lord was: “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

When all appears at its worse, when everything appears darkest, when we give ourselves over to the hopeless, to the spiritual prisoner it is prayer that God gives as the instrument to confirm in our heart God’s promises even in the darkest of times.

Maybe today  you find yourself shut up in the heaviness of prison, the heaviness of your own heart, and you simply can’t find a way out; so much to the point that your eyes fail to see just how God’s promises can be fulfilled in your own situation.  God says to you, “Call upon Me.”  PRAY!

Old or young, male or female, child or parent. we are called to pray…. God says, “Call upon Me.” 

“When you are in trouble, call for Me, I will come and rescue you”   ‘Call on Him while He is nearby’  ~  “Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you.”  ~  Psalm 50:15~ Isaiah 55:6~ Matthew 7:7

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No doubt Jeremiah had prayed and had prayed intensely.  Those who have ever been in jail or prison can all attest how much improved our prayer life improves. And in it all, God say’s to us ‘Call upon Me!’

 

There are times when like Jeremiah we have prayed….and prayed… and yet we might hear what God would say to Jeremiah ; ‘Jeremiah, though you have prayed and prayed intensely, this is still My encouragement to you: Pray. Call upon Me.”  God’s  response…….. Pray on.

Although Jeremiah had prayed, God calls him to continue because, as long as I am in this body of flesh, I need the command to pray or else God would not give it.

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I often forget to wrestle with God in prayer. I am so prone to set aside plenty of time for myself and for the world but a few moments for God?  Oye vay, now that I find myself forgetting.   I give the world around me my best, and whatever is leftover for prayer……THIS church is why God says: “Call upon Me!”

This is why, I believe, one of the most realistic and beautiful pictures of prayer in the Bible is found in Genesis 32:22-32 where we see  Jacob wrestling with God all night and not letting God go. THAT to me is prayer: wrestling with God.

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Are you troubled?     “Call upon Me”

Are you at your wits’ end and you see now no way out?  “Call upon Me.

Are you lonely?  “Call upon Me”

Do your friends or family fail you? “Call upon Me.”

Are you struggling with anger or rage? Call upon Me”

Do you feel you are distant from God?  “Call upon Me”

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“Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”  Psalms 55:22

Maybe today you are searching for answers to your life; maybe you’ve tried religion and you feel you’ve come up short. After all the ‘good feelings’ you thought would make you better, you’re left looking into a mirror, not liking what you see when it’s just you alone. Call upon Me.

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Maybe Babylon has come knocking at your front and you feel outnumbered, unqualified, and empty handed. Call upon Me.

Maybe you’re a prodigal son or daughter and have run away from God, only to discover your inheritance is spent and have nothing but the shirt on your back…Call upon Me

Maybe things have so spun out of control in your life where you’ve tried everything and you find yourself contemplating taking your life..Call upon Me.

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Good news,  God is a God of second chances! No long list of instructions from God.  No  “rub prayer beads. recite ‘Hail Marys.’” No, God’s Word simply says, “Call upon Me.” It doesn’t say, “Come through a saint, come through the virgin Mary, come through some priest.”  It says Call upon Me..

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“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”   Isaiah 65:24     ‘I’ll anticipate their prayers and respond before they know it;even as they speak, I will hear.

Prayer is all of  God’s grace. God giving to us what we don’t deserve…God working in us to seek Him and God graciously supplying our need,  by His promise that rests upon His character which is immutable.

a aw  A.W. Pink  is quoted:    ” God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations…….Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” James. 1:17.

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 “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

With so many variables in this life, finding truth can be difficult to find. But when God says “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee” you can be sure that God ‘says what He means and means what He says’ “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

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God is immutable in His essence…….in who He is, He never lies, you can count on Him to come through for you. This means that there was never a time when He was not; and there will never come a time when He shall cease to be.

God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be. “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6) is His own unqualified affirmation. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.


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He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.  He is perpetually the same. He only can say, “I am that I am” (Exodus. 3:14). He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time. There is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity. Therefore His power can never diminish nor His glory ever fade.

 His truthfulness is immutable, for His Word is Eternal!

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“forever settled in heaven” (Psalm. 119:89).

His love is eternal: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah. 31:3)

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And “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).

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  A sparrow is being pursued by a bird of prey, a hawk. In desperation the sparrow  flies into a cabin where a man catches the sparrow and proceeds to throw the sparrow violently to the ground and kills it.

Would God do that? No. When He calls us to seek His face, and when we, out of this present life, by His grace, fly to Him in all of our fears and toils, will He not have mercy? Will He not hear us? Will He not rush to our side and rescue us?

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The Word of God is trustworthy, His promises are faithful so we can be assured that no matter what circumstance, hardship, temptation, trial you are facing right now, nothing can cut you off from the ear of God.   Jeremiah was in prison.  There was nothing the king wanted more than for everyone to forget about the prophet Jeremiah. He wanted the veil of silence and forgetfulness cast over this man. And Jeremiah knew that at this time no one remembered him, really, and there was none to whom his soul was counted dear. And yet, God says, “I will hear and I will answer.”

My own experience confirms that He does hear and answer my prayers, not because of any worthiness of my prayers but because  as a child of God. I have Saviour in Jesus Christ, who “ever liveth to make intercession for me at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 7:25

What’s more, as a child of God I can come boldly to Him..”Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

A HELP

Come boldly, that we might receive what? Our own way? The answer to everything that we want? No. that we might “receive mercy and grace to help us in time of need.”

 

So God says: “I will answer Thee and I will show Thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” Remember Jeremiah. He could not see it. He saw God’s judgments falling upon Judah. He saw the people of Judah hardened in their sins and forsaking God. He saw the Babylonians at the city walls. And in the midst of that, he said to himself, “Where are the promises of God to His people to preserve them and to bless them? I don’t see this.” God said to him, “Jeremiah, even though you don’t see it, I promise to do good to My own people. Through all of these things I am chastening them for their sins and I am going to bring them back after seventy years. Now you go buy a field. I tell you, Jeremiah, all My children, My true children, will have a place in My blessing.”

But still there was nothing to confirm that promise as far as his own eye could see. All his own eye could see was the army of the Babylonians. His ears heard the war-drums and the smash of the boulders from the catapults thrown against the walls of the city and the crash of the rams against the city doors.  In prison, forgotten by man but then the Word of the Lord comes to him …..“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

There will come times in your life where you will not have answers, especially when you find yourself in what appears to you is this prison where man may be saying no to what you’ve been called to speak. Maybe it will be a week or years where what you see around you cannot be trusted because the Bible says we must ‘walk by faith and not by sight’ 2 Corinthians 5:7 and we know that faith is  the “substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1.

And although it may seem that the Babylonians have surrounded us and we begin to lose strength, we must never give in to fear because “He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world”              1 John 4:4 and so we remember to cling onto the Rock and know that the “promises of God are Yea and Amen” 2 Corinthians 1:20 because “Faithful is He who called you, who will also do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “and being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”     Philippians 1:6

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And so what are you waiting for?  Do you have a call you need to make that will free you from the yoke of whatever the bondage it is that is sealed wrapped in doubt, filled with worry and sealed with fear?  “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

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“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

A PAIN MAN

Maybe you’re reading this today and are struggling with the issues of this life. Perhaps it’s an addiction that attempted to lay claim on your soul, maybe it’s a divorce, bankruptcy,  something you’ve been ashamed of for years, and you feel a strong conviction that says come free!  You may be a prodigal son or daughter,  or maybe just seeing the truth about the extent of  God’s love and forgiveness of your sins, then today is the day God made for you and we will rejoice in it!

” Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool…….. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.”  Isaiah 1:18-19

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If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, that He is the Son of God and receive by His grace through faith His free gift of forgiveness, you can declare before God right where  you are this promise of God that,  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 than say this simple pray.   ‘God, I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. Forgive me. I believe that Jesus  You died for all my sins.  I believe Jesus You are the Son of God. Wash me and cleanse me by Your precious blood and write my name in the Book of Life, Thank You, in Jesus Name, Amen.’

If you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, the Bible says that “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:10

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

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Steve Mays ~ MEMORIAL For My Pastor

 

a STEVE MAYS

    

‘ I say this because I won’t be around to help you very much longer. My time has almost run out. Very soon now I will be on my way to heaven.  I have fought long and hard for my Lord, and through it all I have kept true to Him. And now the time has come for me to stop fighting and rest. 

 In heaven a crown is waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return. And not just to me but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to His coming back again.”   2 Timothy 4:8

It has been almost a month since the passing of  my pastor Steve Mays at Calvary Chapel Southbay in Gardena. California.  I recalled the week before, watching what would be his last words from a pulpit that had blessed so many. He said,  “See you in 3-4 weeks as we begin a new book” .  As I sat before my computer and watched as he turned away and walked off, it was as if he was bidding everyone farewell if the Lord was pleased with his homecoming speaking the words I’m sure brought a great smile to Pastor Steve;  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ‘Matthew 21:23

Has your life been changed by a defining moment?  By simple definition, a defining moment would be ‘moments in our lives that define who we are’.   When I received a call from my wife that my Pastor had passed away, it was 1:48 in the afternoon, and my response was stunned.  The man who made the biggest impact in my life was no longer here. I could no longer talk with him, hear him pray for me, hear his joyous laugh and see his eyes and smile unite to bring a comfort that, ‘everything was going to be alright!’.   

This was truly a defining moment in my life because it would define who I am, what have I learned.  Everything I am as a Christian God brought to me through this man.  I learned that sin if left unchecked would destroy me. I learned that ‘this book will keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this book.’    I learned to let my yes be yes, and my no be no. I learned that it is better to give then to receive.  I learned that I have come not to be ministered to but to minister. …...  

 Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about defining moments like the loss of Pastor Steve and how these moments in my own life relate to the plans God has for my own life.   Part of this is because, as I am getting older I am facing the realization that I have fewer of those ‘moments’ than I once had.

And so no matter who you are, there are awaiting all of us, ‘defining’ moments’  God has determined for you to develop and reveal your own character. To help you to exercise all you have learned and help someone weaker to live through these difficult times.  It all started when we were born, when we got married, when we had our first child.

  As we get older, we begin to understand suffering and pain on a broader plate, It isn’t just physical but mental, emotional events in our lives that reveals just how frail we really are, and how lost we become without a close relationship with God, who’s plan for our lives includes suffering and pain.

Suffering and Pain were a common denominator in the life of my Pastor Steve Mays. They were something that he was very familiar with. Ever since I knew him, it seemed he was going from one trial to another,  I don’t think there is one person who knew him had not seen this to be true.  I recall many occasions when he would share with the  congregation that pain and suffering were part of the ministry God had given him to be able to relate to those around him who were going through their afflictions that he might give them an eternal perspective centered on Jesus Christ that can bring hope and purpose to this spiritual phenomena.

To this day, I choke back the tears of sadness of not being able to talk with my pastor.  I still fondly remember the prayers the last couple of times my wife and I met with him, the smile, the laugh, the sudden totality of his prompting by the Holy Spirit to bring concerns into focus before the throne, and never leaving without wisdom and discernment that could be directly to the situation; always leading to the truth of the matter by the Word  of God.  Among many of his obvious spiritual giftings, anyone who had been around him more than 5 minutes found out that he seemed to know what was perplexing you.  The combination of the gifts of discernment and the gift of wisdom opened a wide road of personal ministry.

There is a saying that if you think your own sufferings are bad, listen to the person next to you and you’ll be surprised how much more he has struggled through.  And that brings us back to Pastor Steve.  I felt that the best way to understand what suffering he went through in his life it would be best to go back into his life and hear from his own pastor what kind of a man he was, and how God delivered him………‘From hanging out with the bikers from Killer Canyon to the valley of peace’ (from Harvest, a book by Chuck Smith, with updated current information)

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A Testimony by Pastor Chuck Smith of Pastor Steve Mays formerly Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California.

‘One bleak day a hoodlum from Anaheim showed up at one of our Christian commune houses dressed in bib overalls and leathers, with a nine millimeter ‘Baretta’ tucked in his back pocket.  He had not bathed in three months and had literally slept in gutters while living as a fugitive from the law. He had not brushed his teeth in months and, with his neo-barbarian hairstyle, he was a sight to behold.

His name was Steve Mays and he was alienated from everybody—from his parents, who had tossed him out of their house years before, to the tough group of outlaw bikers he had been living with. He had been wanted by the authorities for what they believed to be attempted murder and draft dodging….. There was also a contract out on his life.

Steve’s path to destruction seemed clearly written on the wall from the time he was a child. He had been so uncontrollable that his parents resorted to calling the police when things got out of hand. This was happening almost constantly by the time they threw him out of the house.

After a long string of bizarre events, Steve’s crowning act took place one evening when he was home alone. When his parents returned, they had to shove open the front door; it had been wedged shut with towels. They discovered that their house had been made into a gigantic indoor bathtub. Water came gushing out the front door. Their son was sitting in the middle of the living room completely oblivious to the damage being done to his parents’ house. He was smoking a pencil and tried to tell them about a TV show he was watching. The TV was off…….. He had been stoned for twenty-seven hours on yet another chemical. This time he had swallowed too much Asthmadore. He had experimented with more concoctions than you can imagine. By the time the police arrived, his parents had gotten Steve to his room. Before his eyes his window hinges turned into toads and were apparently telling him jokes, making him laugh. When the police found out that Stephen was a member of the local high school football team, they lectured him but did not arrest him.

By noon the next day, Steve’s father returned home early to have a look at his less-than-model son. This time Steve was in the kitchen fixing two place settings of milk and sandwiches. When asked who the other sandwich was for, Steve motioned to the clock on the wall and said it was for “Brad” who lived in the clock.

Not long after this episode Steve, stoned as ever (this time on LSD, hashish, and other drugs) terrorized his parents with a machete. His mother looked on in horror as Steve grimaced and paced around swinging the blade. Once he fell asleep, his bewildered parents took away the machete. To say the least, there was a considerable generation gap in the Mays’ home. His father was a lab technician, a former military man and patriot. His 60’s generation son had become impossible. In truth, the two had ceased communicating years before.

Looking back, Steve pinpoints one day in Jr. high school when his life took a turn toward destruction. He came home from school a changed person. Everybody noticed the change, though they didn’t know what had caused it. On that day, a respected authority figure, one of his teachers, had sexually molested him. It was such a terrible encounter that Steve blocked it completely from memory for years. His behavior went awry from then on. In little time, while still in seventh grade, he was smoking pot and stealing. His grades went from straight A’s to D’s and F’s as his motivation went out the window. Life became one big game of hooky, pot, pills, speed, and beach parties. Steve was on a twisted path to destruction.

By the time Steve was in high school, his stealing had become a serious problem. He was booked four times in one week. Then by the time of the machete episode, Steve quit the high school football team (his drug antics had been getting more and more inappropriate on the football field) and became the school drug dealer. Steve and his former teammates would smoke entire “lids” in a single joint. They could get any drug they wanted and tried them all.

On one weekend mountain retreat, Steve had planned to go but for some reason couldn’t—some of the football players got so high on barbiturates that they overdosed. Accidentally, their mountain cabin caught fire, but they were unconscious, too “out of it” to move. As a result, all of them were killed, and the tragedy shook the entire high school.

About this time Steve totally turned against his parents. He despised them. His hostile mood changes were further affected by changes in his body chemistry from taking “uppers” such as speed, Dexedrine, and Methamphetamine. These uppers were now keeping Steve awake three and four days straight. He was becoming increasingly paranoid because of the lack of sleep. To top it off, Steve had to find a way of releasing the fierce energy bursts that would come upon him. He would stay up all night whacking away with hammers and tools on his newest project—overhauling his sports car. When his dad came home from work he would find his son in the driveway, banging away on the car at all hours of the night. Steve was dropping out of the world fast.

His rage caused him to be in fights at school constantly. He hit one fellow thirty-one times in the face. He cut off another guy’s finger. By the time his orders to appear before the draft board came, Steve defiantly burned his draft card and went on the road. As far as Steve’s parents were concerned, the only place left for him to go was out the front door. They had an incorrigible rebel on their hands who was beyond hope.

Steve’s new place of residence was in a section of Orange County known as Garden Grove, in the hangout of a motorcycle gang. Steve was able to stay as long as he applied his mechanical talents to motorcycle body work. But he soon found out that his fellow tenants were fierce masters. If his parents had been unloving or alienating at times, these new housemates were positively demonic. Steve discovered a terror that he never would have dreamed existed back on the old homestead. He found himself trapped in a spiritual environment that most people don’t know about, or would never want to know about.

The motorcycle gang members were in their mid-thirties, twice Steve’s age. They also carried guns and were heavily involved in crime and drug-dealing. As bad as Steve was, he was innocent compared to them.

Another thing that set Steve apart was his choice of drug. This might seem like a minor point, but it made all the difference in their social world. They were into reds or “downers,” while Steve was maniacally on “uppers.” His frenetic binges got on the nerves of a few of them. One of them especially had it in for Steve and he began scaring him more and more with his guns. It seemed that the increasingly violent and terrifying incidents were rapidly becoming nothing more than a sadistic game.

I will let Steve Mays recount this era, as he has done often when giving his testimony: “One night a motorcycle was tipped over. They woke up and said I did it. I would stay up all through the night and separate bolts and nuts and put them in absolute order. Then I would dump them all out on the floor and work through this same ritual again.

That was how stoned I was. I would take twenty Dexies and crush them, I would add an Exedrin, a vitamin, and put it all in a horse pill and swallow it with coffee. I would get so wired my mind would just fry.

So they woke me up early one morning after my binge was over. They said that I had rolled the bike over. I told them I didn’t touch it. The guy who had it in for me reached for something. Then I saw the blue barrels of a twelve-gauge double barreled shotgun. He told me to open my mouth while the others held me and helped shove it in my mouth. Then I said,‘That isn’t loaded, is it?’ They pulled it out, pointed at the pillow next to my ear, and pulled the trigger. It blew pillow feathers all over the place. Then they stuck the shotgun back in my mouth and smoke began to come out. I thought I was going to die. My paranoia really began to grow from then on. That’s when another guy living there gave me his gun to protect myself. It was then that I started carrying a gun. I would have to stay awake all night to make sure that I wouldn’t die, living in the same house with a guy who wanted to kill me.

Soon after that I was out in the backyard working on my motorcycle. He came out in the yard with a thirty-eight pistol. I was sitting on a gasoline can as a chair, while I worked on the cycle. He shot three rounds into the bottom of the can. He missed me, and it was just by a miracle that the gas can did not blow up with me on it.”

Still, Steve did not leave the house. He learned the lifestyle of his older mentors and became freewheeling with his new pistol. As the house began to sell more and more dope, Steve began to deal more. A girl who came by to get dope wanted to buy it from another guy and not Steve. This infuriated him, so when she walked away, he started firing his gun at her. But he was too stoned to hit her. The bullets flew over her head.

Then the rage mounted. He now wanted to kill something, anything. The target became a cat. “I shot this alley cat with a thirty-eight. It just smiled at me after I shot it. Then I took a pitchfork and ran that through the head. It still continued smiling at me. Then I took a sledgehammer to it. And it still smiled. Finally I took my thirty-eight, put it to the cat’s head, and blew what remained away. It rolled into a ditch and still smiled at me. From that point on, every place I went there was a cat. I think that was the closest I came to being demon possessed.”

A member of the gang told Steve that someone had taken a contract out on him. Steve had been working on three motorcycles that he used, a shovel-headed Harley Davidson 1200 cc Hog, a ’49 Indian, and a Trike. But where do you go when you don’t even know who has the contract out on you? Instead of running, Steve got a shotgun with a twelve-inch barrel and a pistol handle, and began practicing with it in the garden.

But one evening, at a time when Steve wasn’t suspecting anything, his old enemy who lived in the house pulled out a thirty-eight pistol and pointed it at Steve, and said, “I hate you. There’s a contract out on your head, and I may as well collect on it as anybody else.” Steve heard an explosion and felt searing pain, like white-hot wrought iron, tearing the calf of his leg. He passed out.

A day or so later he woke up laying out in some field. He had been given a large dose of reds to knock him out. He discovered cloth rags in the hole in his leg. The muscles of his calf had been blown out. The blood had dried, and the pain was excruciating as he pulled the rags out. He knew that he could not go to a hospital because the authorities had a warrant out for him. Nor could he go home, because his parents (whom he had wanted to kill) would call the authorities.

Incredibly Steve had only one place to turn, the same house where he was shot. Several gang members took him to the home of a nurse he knew, a neighbor of his parents. To silence her, he threatened to kill her. She cleaned out the scabs and dried blood. By the third visit to her, she finally got the courage to call Steve’s parents; Steve’s mother called the authorities while he was still getting his leg cleaned. When Steve and several members of the gang pulled away from the house in their car, they sensed something was up.

Steve describes what looked like a hopeless predicament:

“I hadn’t been home in years. So the authorities used my parents’ house as a stakeout location. As we headed out of the nurse’s house, I noticed a red Mustang making a U-turn. For once we weren’t armed and had no dope. Two guys were in the front seat, and I was in the back. The pursuit began. As we slowed down for a red light, the Mustang ran into the rear of our car, sending us careening into the middle of the intersection where three other cop cars suddenly wedged into us.

They surrounded us with rifles and shotguns and shouted, “If you move, you’re dead.” They pulled me out of the backseat and kicked my legs apart in order to search me. I can still remember the gun being held to my head and the shotguns aimed at us. Once again, I thought for sure that I was going to die. Before I knew it, the officers had slammed my face against the hood of my car, which in the hundred-degree summer heat caused scorching pain. Then they handcuffed my ankles and my hands together; then they handcuffed my hands to my ankles and threw me in the back of the car.

The authorities came and also examined my leg. They realized they had me for draft evasion and thought they had apprehended me—the right suspect for shooting an old lady. I had been accused of shooting this old lady during a robbery. She had told the authorities she returned fire with a rifle and hit the suspect with a twenty-two caliber bullet. Fortunately, it was clearI had been shot by a thirty-eight caliber bullet. Then the authorities let me go!

All I was required to do was report to the draft board, which I did. To my surprise, they also released me, not wanting to send me to Vietnam because of my gunshot wound. I never understood why either agency let me go. However, it is clear to me today that God was beginning to move in my life. Even though being released by the authorities was a miracle, to a gang member, it is probably the worst thing that could happen.

To be the first one released normally meant you sold out your companions to secure your own freedom. Thus, the gang members were convinced that Steve had betrayed them. Therefore, Steve had no place to live. He began sleeping in gutters. Still suffering from drug-induced paranoia, he was now plagued with the possibility of being found, beaten up, or shot again, on the streets. So he continued living as an outlaw.

“I was sleeping in the gutter one day and a couple by the name of Shirley and Henry came out to their car, which was parked near me as I lay in the gutter. They picked me up and took me inside their house, gave me a shower, fed me. She told me she saw Jesus in my eyes. Then she called three different organizations and one of those was the Mansion Messiah House of Calvary Chapel. She asked which one I would like to go to. I replied, ‘I don’t know, Mansion Messiah sounds good.’

They took me over to Mansion Messiah. I walked in with my gun stuck in the back of my pants. Immediately, this little squirt named Orville looked right in my eyes and said, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ And I said no. And then he said, ‘Bow your head, we’re going to ask Jesus into your heart.’ And I said the sinner’s prayer after him. That happened without anyone explaining the Gospel to me.

Everything suddenly clicked. God just grabbed me, reached in and burned in my heart. It was the most incredible power I have ever experienced in my life. It was a tremendous burning sensation of an inner witness. It was something of the awesomeness of God’s love. I can’t even express it.

At that moment God delivered me from drugs. I flushed ten thousand dollars’ worth of drugs down the toilet that day. I have never touched any drugs since that time. I also threw my gun away in the ocean. The residents of Mansion Messiah buried my clothes, they smelled so bad. From then on, I started singing Christian songs by myself when I was just walking down the street.

For the first time in years, I telephoned my mom that same day and told her that I had accepted Jesus Christ. As I was describing what had happened to me, she said, ‘Anything that can save you, I want it right now.’

She came to the Lord over the phone. Then I witnessed to my dad and he said, ‘I don’t want to hear about it. I want to see it.’ So for the next few years, I never witnessed to him, I just lived a changed life. But when it looked like he was dying in the hospital of cancer, I told him I could no longer hold back from discussing Christ with him. His eternal destiny was at stake. It was then, finally, that he accepted the Lord.

Those long years that my parents and I never had a relationship have been replaced by a healed relationship that we share together. In all these changes surrounding my life, it is hard to say what the greatest miracle is. Even my brother, Gary, came to know the Lord along with his wife, Judy.”

Steve Mays frequently shares God has taken him from the “guttermost” to be used to the uttermost:  “It became a family joke when an aunt of mine, who was a Christian, would remind my parents of a prophecy about my life during some of my worst high school years. She said flatly that one day I would be a preacher. Now the impossible has happened. Not only am I, Steve Mays, a Christian, but I am a pastor as well. And who would have ever dreamed, during my most demonic years, that one day I would be pastoring a church that my own parents and brother would attend!”

But this blossoming ministry of Steve’s did not happen overnight. In fact, more than once, it looked as though Steve would never even pastor a church.

In 1971 he became a resident of Mansion Messiah for a year, then switched over to another communal house for another year. It was then that Steve felt God’s voice clearly tell him that he had been called to the ministry. But he had years of cobwebs to clear out of his head from drugs and general rebellion. Christian character had to be formed in Steve in a slow and costly way. There is no shortcut in this process.

Steve’s first position that involved the responsibility of spiritual leadership came after he had spent over two years in two of our Costa Mesa houses. One day Steve felt led to go out to the California desert area of Victorville and start a Christian commune. He called my brother Paul and soon learned that they had been praying for someone to come out and start a commune.

Steve’s desire was granted. Before too long, a house in Victorville was started with a total of thirty residents. Four Calvary Chapel pastors came out of its ministry. Steve also started a coffeehouse. Around this time, he started calling me weekly to bug me about giving him the go-ahead to start a church. But I did not feel be was ready. Indeed, when I finally did call him to come back to meet me one day in Costa Mesa, and Steve was fully expecting me to ask him to come on our staff. He was crushed when I advised him to start a gardening business. He returned to the Victorville commune devastated. In fact, he felt that after all his years of reckless abandon and sin, the only plan God had in store for his life was to punish him out on the desert. And, indeed, that was where he was living at the time, in the midst of his own desert experience.

But those desert years were very important in the Spirit’s preparation of Steve for the ministry that God had in mind for him. Steve had a set of my commentary tapes on the whole Bible and he began to listen to several of them each day. These tapes triggered his desire to know the Bible. His thirst for God’s Word became almost insatiable and he began to build his own library of Bible commentaries which today has become one of the most extensive of any minister I know.

In the desert, Steve began to experience his inner spirit being satisfied by the Living Water. One day in Victorville, as Steve was serving the Lord, an amazing thing happened. A pretty blond girl passed right in front of Steve’s eyes. She had long hair past her waist, with a flower by her ear. Steve recalls: “I couldn’t help but take a second look! Her face was aglow with the love of Jesus Christ. Her name was Gail. Then I heard the most bizarre thing. It was a voice that said, “This is your wife.” I remember responding in my heart, “Satan, get thee behind me!”

Yet Steve knew that it was God speaking to him and that He had laid this woman upon his heart. Steve was stunned and speechless. Yet Gail was only visiting this Christian house. Her home was in Orange County. That evening, Steve immediately began to question exactly what God was speaking to him.  He knew there was something special about Gail. Deciding to search the Scriptures for answers, he opened his Bible and the pages fell open to Proverbs 18. The passage Steve immediatley saw was Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” Steve was still doubtful. He had been hurt by previous relationships and decided to put God to the test.

He prayed, “Okay, Lord, if I call her and it just happens to be her birthday (as he had heard), and if no one is celebrating it with her, and in fact, she is weeping over this, then I will believe.” Steve doubtfully called her. To his amazement, the situation played out exactly as he had asked. He said to her, “Do you want to come out to Victorville and spend time together?” Gail’s response, “I will be there within a couple of hours.” And she left for Victorville immediately.

That evening they went out to dinner. Gail remembers thinking that Steve was too poor to eat as he ordered just a small bowl of soup, but in fact, Steve was too nervous to eat.

Gail thought he was going to invite her to stay in Victorville and help with the commune as one of the sisters in charge of the women. Instead, Steve proposed to her! To his shock, she accepted immediately. Steve recollects: “The next day, I called my mother and told her I was getting married. She was shocked, to say the least. She said, “Stephen, I just talked with you a week ago.” “I know, Mom, but God has really spoken to my heart.” “Stephen, what is her name?” “Gail,” I said. “

And her last name?” “Mom, I didn’t ask her! I will call her and ask her right away!” My poor mother probably wondered if I was back on drugs again.” In a week, Steve and Gail were married, my brother, Paul, performed the ceremony.

Not long after that I called Steve to his first church in the desert. My son had started a church at 29 Palms and had moved on to Yuba City to start a ministry there. This was the last place Steve wanted to go. But he showed up, ponytail and all, to the desert community of a military base. Two years later, absolutely broken, he and Gail showed up at the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa parking lot to find me. In silence, Steve dropped the keys to the church into my palm. The church had divided and finally closed. Steve thought that it was all over as far as being in the pastorate was concerned.

I immediately offered Steve the directorship of half of our Costa Mesa communal houses, including the House of Psalms, where he and Gail lived for seven years. Gail was heartbroken, because she was leaving a three-bedroom house to share a cramped house with forty other people. Their new kitchen became the meeting hall, so Gail did her dish washing in the bathtub. But they also saw over a thousand changed lives pass through those communal houses. It was a sacrifice that had eternal rewards.

After those seven years Steve started a church in Buena Park, now known as Calvary Chapel of Cypress. Then, after two years, he was told by the Lord to leave and submit to another pastor. So for two years he was an assistant pastor at Hosanna Calvary Chapel of Bellflower. He had somehow lost his priorities, he felt, and was now rededicating his life to the Lord. But he was also afraid that he just wasn’t material to be a senior pastor. He had tried this twice and failed. But God was not finished with Steve yet, a fact He would communicate to Steve in a beautiful and unique way, and then back it up circumstantially.

Steve had reached a point of despair in which he had finally given up ever having a church of his own. His final stipulation to the Lord was: “Chuck Smith is going to have to call me to the position.” Then he went on a long overdue vacation.

As Steve was fishing, he started talking to the Lord and asked for some kind of sign: “If I am ever going to pastor again, Lord, I am going to have to catch a fish before this hook leaves the water.” Steve started to reel his line in while the hook glinted under the surface. Just as the hook was about to break through the top of the water, Steve’s eyes welled up with tears. No fish would bite it now, it was too late. Just as it was coming out of the water a tiny fish bit the hook. That tiny fish meant more to Steve than any five-pound bass. For Steve detected the voice of God speaking to his soul, confirming his request for a sign, and then saying, In a little moment, I will speak to you again.

When Steve returned from his vacation, he got the message that he was to call me or Don McClure. He was told over the phone that there had been a meeting of all the senior pastors at the last conference and that when the newly available position of pastor of the South Bay Calvary Chapel was discussed, his name was unanimously recommended. Steve was so excited he almost passed out.

Steve Mays got his church, and the board of senior pastors and I were the ones to recommend it. In 1980 he walked onto the premises of his new church. And Steve got more confirmation from the Lord. Suddenly in the sky he saw a Goodyear blimp. At that moment he heard the Lord speak to his heart, It’s going to be a good year. Then Steve told the Lord that the entire board of elders would have to resign so he could start from scratch. That is exactly what happened.

In 1980 Calvary Chapel South Bay numbered 50 and occupied 1,500 square feet. Within a few years they moved to a bigger facility nearby, 15,000 square feet that they remodeled for $300,000 dollars. By then the Goodyear people had heard the often told story of Steve’s glimpsing the Goodyear blimp, so they took him up for a free ride. It was not only a good year, but they have all been good years. The glorious harvest has come upon Steve Mays’ ministry, and that church of only 110 per Sunday has grown to over 6,000 (over 9,000 today)

Meanwhile the years that the powers of hell stole from Steve have been restored in a stunning way. Pastor Steve was the Regional Overseer and Pastor Leader over Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship which included over 900 Calvary Chapel ministries, both Domestic and International.  He also collaborated with the CHP and developed the South Los Angeles CHP Chaplain program, in which Calvary Chapel Pastors assist the CHP in critical incidents, death notifications and debriefings,  He was invited to speak in Nigeria at the Gideons International Convention in 2002 with Mr, Ken Speakman, sharing with businessmen the truth of God’s Word and the fundamentals of studying His Word,  Pastor Steve was also invited to participate at Oxford University’s Round Table in London, England.  The White House has invited him over on several occasions for special briefings  with other leaders in the faith community.

Steve Mays has become a well-known conference speaker, commencement speaker, author, and has a national radio broadcast, “Light of the Word” which is heard on many radio stations throughout the country ,  Steve has been married to his wife Gail for over 40 years, they have two children, a son Nathan and a daughter Heather, a grandson Anthony and granddaughters, Riley, Hadley, and Kennedy,     And Gail has a home she can be proud of, much nicer than the one she had to abandon at 29 Palms.

The only thing Steve carries on his body to remind him of his former years is that painful scar on his leg, To this day, it still hurts. It serves as a reminder to teach Steve gratitude. It also helps him to never forget the pit from which he came, and the greatness of God’s grace that brought him out of that pit.

Zechariah speaks of the days when Zerubbabel had laid the foundations for the rebuilding of the new Temple as “the despised days of small things.” Steve, for a time, was caught in that desire to build the walls before the foundation was laid. In this, he learned that it is vitally important not to build out of sequence, but to dig deep and lay the foundation on the Rock.

Pastor Steve was a husband, a father, a son , a grandpa a brother and a friend to many who knew him.

I can gladly say I knew Pastor Steve as my pastor, teacher, tutor, and friend.  Pastor Steve knew so well the common denominator  in his life was this thorn of suffering and pain he lived with was one that God had chosen for him, for what only God and Pastor Steve knew.

I came to know Pastor Steve by the leading of the Holy Spirit shortly after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ 12 years ago.  It was through the lips of Pastor Steve that the Lord confirmed my calling as I sat in the pew that Sunday morning when Pastor Steve was preaching his sermon and quoted directly from the passage in Isaiah 1:18~             “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool”

 A babe in the Lord and having no knowledge of the Bible, I heard the very words when the Lord called me, ‘Marty, come now’, except now it was coming from the Bible through Pastor Steve.  This would begin a thrilling journey as I explored all this new life in Christ would have in store for me.

It would be many months later when I was able to share with the pastor what God had done through his faithful service unto the Lord.   It would also be a short time later that God would use Pastor Steve’s example to lead me, specifically in preparation for the ministry and teaching the Word of God.   I can still remember how people commented on how much I seemed to love to teach the Word of God; I was quick to remind them the inspiration behind it was God’s faithful servant Steve Mays.    After several encouragements by Pastor Steve to, “come on board” on staff at Calvary Chapel Southbay that I said yes, and from that point on, my life was radically transformed.

Pastor Steve taught me to “put God first” .  I remember he’d often lift up his Bible on the pulpit and remind us all the power of the truth inside this book to know who we are, and who God is, and by daily reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation would be the difference maker in seeing the manifestation of all God’s promises come alive in my life. He was always so bold to get to the heart of the matter in the lives of those he met, and so his sermons and conversations with people would be centered on the destructive capacities of sin in walks.     I can still see him lifting up his Bible and saying frankly to us on his staff and the congregation saying; “this book will keep you from sin and sin….will keep you from this book!”

   I had never really understood just how deceived I lived yielding to sin in my life until God used this man to teach me, through the Word how sin came into my life and how allowing sin to abound in me was bondage and a major contradiction to the  liberty given freely through a surrendered life in Christ can bring.

What made all this the more incredible was the example of this man to be used by God as a ‘poured out’ offering through his pain and suffering that his own choice to follow the Lord was one made on knowing that it would lead many to Jesus  Christ because pain n and suffering is something that everyone at some point in their lives was something we could all relate to either directly or indirectly.

Pain and sorrow are everywhere, and no doubt either you or someone you know is experiencing it in some way.  Probably one of the most asked questions about pain and suffering is, Why does allow it in the life of a believer?

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  Billy Graham when asked the question why God allows pain and suffering answered: Know that God does everything He does because it is right and because it is good. We know God will act in accordance to His nature and will. He cannot sin because He is holy. He is also wise and powerful.”

 

a sprgeon1     Charles Spurgeon’s most famous quote, “God loves us too much to hurt us, and He is too wise to make a mistake. When we can’t trace His hand, when we don’t understand, we can trust His heart.”

The reality is that God doesn’t act on our timetable. He doesn’t follow our agenda. “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep”                       (Psalm 121:4).

Pain and suffering know no boundaries, whether young or old, rich or poor, suffering and pain come into our lives.    The Apostle Paul after experiencing torture, imprisonment, danger and privation on many occasions (2 Corinthians 11:24-33 wrote words of great comfort to his fellow believers in Christ, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…
And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love Him.” Romans 8:18 and 28

God has given us the reasons for human suffering and His requirements of those who want to enjoy life in the everlasting future when‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

 And so just like we trust God with His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 , so must we trust God in Revelation 21:4 that He has an ultimate plan already in place that we in this place, in this body cannot understand, and yet if God were to tell us we couldn’t contain it. 1 Corinthians  2:9- “But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
a STEVE MAYS NEW
In one in a series of books Pastor Steve authored titled, ‘OVERWHELMED by GOD and NOT YOUR TROUBLES‘ , Pastor Steve  writes about his own pain and sufferings: ‘I recently told my congregation, “I may have a broken body, but my spirit is not broken”  they responded with applause and gave praise to God.  With tears in my eyes, I had to admit for the first time that I now have physical limitations in my life…..my struggles have included cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep apnea, numerous surgeries to fix my gall bladder, nose, pancreas, shoulders, hips, back and knees, and finally knee replacements! my recent tragic back situation  resulted in titanium rods being placed throughout my spine from vertebrae L1 to T10.

I am thankful for God bringing this man into my life. God indeed used him to define in me the things that needed removal, replacement and fixing.  While I served the Lord at Calvary Chapel Southbay under Pastor Steve, he placed me in several different areas, the last managing the Cafe.  I recall how despite the pain he suffered, I would see him walking through the Cafe in the early hours on Sundays and hours after everyone had been ministered to he would walk through the Cafe, always leaving an encouraging word to me; yet never mincing words on his condition.  I was blessed to have been able to lay hands on him during those moments in praying the Lord’s strength to sustain him. He never once refused, instead making it a habit of coming by at 3:00ish on those Sundays, I think not because he needed anything but more because he wanted to minister.

That’s the man I will always remember. Those times, and the closeness the Lord blessed us to have in the last few months my wife and I were serving on staff and meeting with him. He took the time during the peak of his suffering to be a friend, a pastor.  My God says Pastor Steve is no longer suffering because, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4.

Pastor Steve has entered into the realm of glory inhabited by Jesus Christ Himself and has received the Incorruptible crown for faithfully running the race.  received the crowns of glory-

 In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. to win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears…….. For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again. for you are our trophy and joy……… In heaven a crown is waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return. And not just to me but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to His coming back again.”  

 2 Timothy 4:8  1 Corinthians 9:24

My encouragement to you is this. Suffering and pain are two instruments  God uses to pry away our grip on the things of this world that are perishing, and freeing us to reach out to the open arms of our eternal destiny that is guaranteed by God, Himself where awaits the eternal glory and joy of His presence, never to depart ever again.  Pastor Steve has joined all the saints in heaven.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Pastor Steve, I will miss you, but I know we will see each other again and all will have come together for good to those who love Him and are callled by God.

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‘What’s on Your List of Priorities Today?’

“And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luke 11:1). 

It has been rightly said, “the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” Not just my failure to pray, but my failure in prayer. In the story of the Pharisee and the publican the Pharisee is one who prayed long and often, but he was a miserable failure. His prayers were never heard by God because neither he nor his prayers were ever right with God.

I like what Oswald Smith  said, “when we work, we work, when we pray, God works.”

Throughout history, the men and women that God has used mightily have been people who knew how to pray and for whom prayer was both a priority and a necessity.

Praying for answers to perplexing life issues can result in life changing answers if we accept the truth of His Word and offer a heart of willing obedience as a response.

John 14:12-13 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. and whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Greater works don’t always mean that large things God is doing in us are seen but instead the deeds we are doing that often time is looked upon as a kindhearted response, a gentle smile.  Just knowing that believing Him is enough.

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”

Most of us recognize and accept, at least intellectually, the need and importance of prayer. We read books on prayer, we talk about it, we ask for prayer from time to time, but somehow, the church today is anything but a praying church.

We may have a few real prayer warriors, but the vision and discipline of prayer requires a commitment from each of us, that means we set aside the things we do..that have empty results and instead make prayer the priority.

The disciples had this same experience. They too fell short in their prayer life and they felt it deeply…….they had obviously heard that John had taught His disciples on prayer and they too wanted instruction (11:1). But was there not something more, something much deeper that provoked this request?

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There was a great Christian speaker named Howard Hendricks who, called attention to the fact that if we were to open our Bibles and read starting with Matthew and were to read through John we would never find an instance where the disciples asked, “Lord teach us how to witness,” or “teach us how to perform miracles,” or “teach us how to teach.” But in this passage, we do find one of the disciples asking, “Lord, teach us to pray . . .” Wow! How significant!

This was a very wise question, a very needed question, and from these disciples who were sometimes so slow about spiritual values, this question becomes extremely significant. What was the motivation behind this question, and why is this so important?

One can only imagine what life with Jesus Christ was like during His ministry on earth….One amazing experience after another! He was forever a source of joy and bewilderment, and I am sure people were constantly trying to explain Him to their own satisfaction with their own kinds of answers.

For a long time I can imagine they tried to explain Christ with typical human explanations. At least at first. They regularly saw demonstrations of His power. They both heard His wise words and saw His wonderful works. They saw the lame walk, the blind see, the sick healed, the deaf hear, and the demon possessed dispossessed. Furthermore, they had all experienced the emptiness of the religion of their day and so, through all of this, you know they were watching the Lord and seeking answers to the miracle of His life.

As they studied His life one of their conclusions was that He was God incarnate (John 1:14). But is that conclusion what evoked this question? I don’t believe so……. I believe it was something else they constantly saw in the man Jesus that they began to suspect was part of the answer to His life. What was it? Our immediate response is of course, “It was prayer.” Right? Not exactly! It was not just prayer.

The Pharisees prayed and so did the disciples. It wasn’t  just prayer; it was the way He prayed in relation to all that He was and all that He did in His life on earth. It was His manner and attitude in prayer that saturated His total being and living, His every step and action, and that manifested the intimacy of His relationship with and dependence on the Father. Prayer was never just a religious responsibility nor exercise Christ engaged in because He was obligated to do so.

Prayer for the Lord proceeded out of a basic attitude of deep dependence that resulted in a very intimate fellowship.    Jesus was totally convinced that He could do nothing of own resources. It is this that undoubtedly brought deep conviction and longing in the lives of the disciples. They came to recognize that, while they could be believers in the Lord, they could not be true disciples who became like their teacher (Luke 6:40) unless they learned to pray to the Father like the Lord Jesus in the intimacy and dependency that Jesus constantly demonstrated.

Prayer is not for emergency use only, when we get in a pinch and need someone to bail us out.  Prayer is not an “Aladdin’s Lamp” or a trip to the wishing well for our wants. Prayer is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon God the Father who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through Him.   Prayer is for everyday living, moment by moment. Prayer is a means of claiming God’s promises and knowing and becoming abandoned to God’s will.

John 14:10-14 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.’

Prayer is something that can be learned, but learned best through practice. The more you pray, the better you become in it.   I remember when I begin to learn how to pray during Home prayer nights when we would gather together in a designated home and exercise the art of praying.  It was amazing to hear the prayers of others. There seemed to be always one or two in the group who had engaged in prayer often, it just seemed to show in their prayers.   Prayer is definitely something everyone can do. One may not feel confident in teaching, and yet content in a prayer circle.  Prayer is a skill that can be developed through practice.

And the disciples, one of them said, “Lord, just teach us to pray.”  It was important enough for them to ask, and see a need to add into their walks.  I believe prayer is something we all can, and need to learn.  I need to learn to pray more effectively.

When I first came into the Ministry, God saw to it that I learn to develop a life of prayer. I was able to gain experience while praying during services.  Intercession, or praying for the needs of others, while they were actively listening to the Word preached was very powerful for me. Being involved at a level where God was fully engaged with people I didn’t even know, and seeing people come up later and thank you for your prayers was indeed moving, and enriching  in my learning prayer life.

Like John 3:16, almost everyone has at one time in their lives either heard, read, memorized this prayer in Luke 11.

Jesus’ Apostles had watched Him often go into secluded areas and pray alone. The Scriptures show us one of three instances when Jesus prayed to the Father in their presence; once at the Mount of Olives, again, in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus agonized in prayer the night before His crucifixion. and here, after spending time with Mary and Martha and their family, where the Apostles ask Him for guidance how they might prayer.

“And He said unto them, when you  pray, say Father..”
Prayer always begins with relationship. If there is not an established relationship, there is no basis for prayer. The Father’s ear is always open to the children’s cry. And if you have that relationship with God where you can say, “Father,” then you’ve established that relationship that opens prayer for you, effective prayer for you. But if you do not have that relationship, then prayer is meaningless.
And so the Lord’s Prayer begins with a word of relationship.  Jesus showed His relationship with God, by calling Him Father.  There is only one prayer God wants to hear from one who is not  His child, and that prayer is, “God, have mercy on me, for I am a sinner.”  
If you’re reading this, and you are not His child, you can be by establishing that relationship with Him according to His promise in Romans Chapter 10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe from your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”  At that very moment, you become His child, and that relationship has been established. This open up an immediate opportunity of prayer between you and God!
And so, prayer begins with relationship.
Making prayer a priority in your life will come with great opposition. No doubt, you’ve experienced the increase in distractions around you as you began to bring the priority
of getting things resolved through prayer.   This makes making prayer a priority even more important. If prayer wasn’t so important, than why does the devil make such a fuss at keeping us from praying?
As I close, I have a few prayer requests myself I hope you can join me in.
1. Pray for Pastor Steve Mays (Calvary Chapel Southbay Torrance Ca.) He’s undergoing another back surgery on the 22nd of September.
2. Keep Joetta a missionary in Kenya in your prayers.
3. Keep Buddy in prayer, he has cancer.
This Devotional Blog represents a Spiritual Marker-stone in my wife’s and my walk with God in that it carries with it a deeper significance of prayer more than ever.  We have taken a step of faith and trusting God in moving from Southern to Northern California to establish a new work in San Rafael, Ca.    One thing has become more important than anything else is that our prayer lives collectively and individually must increase if we are to become more intimate and personal with God.
We must make prayer a priority over every decision made.
As we have endeavoured to pursue that prayer become a priority,  we ask each of you, throughout the world who read these devotionals to join with us, as we join all the saints before us who discover the most vital and rewarding part of this new life in Christ is making prayer more in our lives and as we have more of Christ in our lives, others will see more of Him and want to know Him too!
Please add us to your prayers, that God would give us wisdom, discernment, boldness; direction, and open doors; that His church would be established here in San Rafael, ‘not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit.’
May God bless you, and comfort you, and bring you His peace.
Today’s Video!  Enjoy!
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‘Why is God Silent in My Prayers?’

A PERSISTANT PRAYER

 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”   Luke 18:1

Life is unjust. Upon accepting an award, the late Jack Benny once remarked, “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”

Have you ever come to a point when you’ve felt like you’re on the wrong side of justice; someone has done you wrong, and with all calls, e-mails, texts, voice mails; your situation just isn’t getting resolved.  Jesus knew that His disciples would be running into many of these kind of situations; where they would be getting the ‘short end of the stick’……. sometimes life just doesn’t appear to be fair.

A PLEAD

Jesus uses an example here of a widowed woman who had been wronged, and a cynical Judge who ‘neither feared God nor had any respect for people’; he tended to distrust motives behind what people were  saying and might be believing..  He was what you’d call a typical 1st century judge, just doing his job in order to make money.  On the other end was the ‘mouthy widow’…..a very demanding individual who repeatedly approached this judge, over and over, incessantly bugging him for justice in her situation..  The issue was probably that she wasn’t getting her rightful share of an inheritance of her deceased husband.   The inheritance laws of her time created big problems for women when their husbands died. Male relatives, sons would end up getting the inheritance leaving widows helpless and desolate.

Jesus loving to use the issues of the day as examples began using an illustration of something listeners would be able to relate to.   Widows were at this time the poorest people in society often because they were denied their just right to an inheritance of their dead husbands.  In most cases, widows wouldn’t do anything.  They would not, like this widow complain and demand justice.   This parable is looked at as a comparison between the judge and God.

The word Jesus uses to describe the judge is interesting.  Translated ‘unjust’in the Greek is adikias.   The meaning here is defining this judge as one who was wicked, unrighteous….unjust.

a unjust

In this instance, Jesus laughingly praises the unjust judge and compares God with him. “Will not God much more rapidly listen and grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him, day and night? Will he wait in helping them? No, he will grant them justice, quickly.”

I am so thankful that when I am facing an injustice, whether being taken advantage of, falsely accused that God will not be slack in His response to help me. Jesus is saying that God will listen and grant justice to His chosen ones quickly!

No matter what the situation was, Jesus developed a reputation to those around Him that He was dependable, and righteous, so many times throughout the Scriptures we see situations Jesus was pressed into  where the defining moment was knowing that justice would be served.

There is a saying in the world that the “squeaky wheel gets the oil” 
It means that if you are loud and annoying enough, people will do what you want to get you to shut up……in other words, loud and obnoxious people tend to be heard and heeded. This widow was not giving in until she received what she felt was rightfully hers.

a squeaker

Sometimes you may think that God isn’t adjusting the scales fast enough in your wronged situation.  I’ve counseled with some people recently who are facing a struggle as they pray for the injustice in their lives. They’ve shared that they’ve prayed and prayed over a situation and have received an apparent silence from God for their requests.. To their frustration they end up giving up praying for that injustice because God just doesn’t seem to be answering….

If you have, you are not alone…..I am sure all of us have faced times when prayer did not seem to be having any effect upon our situation.   Maybe some of you right now find yourself facing a time of injustice; you’ve been wronged; you’ve prayed, and gathered friends together to pray with you over this and yet it may seem that God is silent.

Maybe you are finding yourself asking , why isn’t God listening?  Or is He listening and we just don’t see the work that is going on?

a never

For me, I’ve grown to learn that in every situation I may find myself in; whether it’s my doing or someone else’s wrong doing against me, God loves them too! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that by believing in Him, you would not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

Sometimes I can be quite a selfish person.  The Bible says to me just how evil that can be. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

a heart

And just about the time I start feeling sorry for myself because I’ve been wronged I’m reminded in my Bible what an extremely selfish person I am: ” O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Romans 7:24

A WRETCHED

 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”   Luke 18:1

And so, when we have been wronged, we need to pray. And when it seems that our prayers for justice aren’t getting the kind of response we’d like, we need to quit feeling sorry for ourselves and yielding to the alluring of our flesh, that suggest we are wasting time praying, and take matters into our own hands.

a matter in your own hand

There are some, who see the only resolve in an injustice is to take matters into your own hands.  All you have to do is open up your newspaper and take a look at the front page news, and see how much of this attitude prevails in our society.   Sadly, those very same people find themselves in court, for trying to be the judge in someone else’s in justice.   The Bible warns against the danger of  this kind of action. ……Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

a trust in

There are so many times I look back in my life and remember the consequences of doing what was right at the time….. only to find myself as one who didn’t stop and think just how things were going to turn out.  Oh there are times when we don’t have much time to think about what to do, we just seem to be led to them, and later conclude that it wasn’t us at all, it was but by Divine Intervention.  I believe that when we allow God to guide our steps, especially when we really don’t have the answer, I can see clearly the footsteps of a loving and caring God, who can do the impossible without a mistake.

 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”   Luke 18:1

a dont

And so, what do we learn from this today?  Two things I need to remember when I am caught in a situation where injustice has come my way.

1. Don’t take matters into your own hand.

2. Instead, begin to pray persistently.

 All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

a all things 1

Jesus is telling us to pray persistently. The widow is persistent in pleading her case for justice and even an unjust judge, because of her persistence, gives her what she requests.

But why does God want us to pray persistently?  Why can’t we just pray once and have Him answer us?    I think it is because when I am praying persistently, I tend to find myself more focused on One who not only sees the situation, but has power to bring a righteous judgment. A judgment that will leave both sides satisfied with the results.   When I am focused in my prayers, I tend to leave the problem with God, and immediately I have the peace of God who is in me.  I’m no longer striving to make things work under my own puny strength!

a focus

And so, I need to be focused in my persistent prayer over a matter like this. Let go, and let God give you the victory in it!   This widow had a legitimate need, and she kept going back to the one who could meet her need.  Even though this judge did not ‘fear God or care about people’  God still gave him power.   And so this widow was focused on who had the power to meet her need.

 a focus 2

There is a matter, that I have been praying over for the last year.  Throughout this time, I confess that I’ve determined through my prayers for it, that even though the answer hasn’t come completely, I am confident that God is at work preparing the things associated with this while I am praying……

a plan

 I believe that God has the better plan for my life and in this particular request. … “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)    And yet I sometimes find instead of being focused on my prayer for this, I find myself distracted.   I know when this comes in because it begins to take my attention on the bigness of God and the small-minded thinking of Marty.

Lovingly I am quickly corrected by the reading of the Word of God being often reminded by God who He is, which quickly sets my focus back on track.  ” Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”               (Jeremiah 32:27)

a plana

When I am focused on God’s ability over my unjust situation, I began to think about all the things God has done previously, and how the most powerful of the work was being done in seemingly silence…..oh what a comfort it is to me to know that God is working things out for me and that,  “All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28     When the month lasted longer than the money, He was working all things out!  Oh what a joy it is to know this simple truth!

 

And so the Lord wants me to be persistent in my prayers, stay focused, and by so doing I am able to remember and see the greatness of God in my own life, and just know that He already has it worked out for good!    Being focused in my prayer also helps me to see who I am in this picture.

a increase

The widow recognized that she in her own ability was powerless and  could not get justice for herself.    It is such a freedom to understand this thought.  John the Baptist clearly understood this on meeting Jesus personally, how at the time so many people were coming to him for answers, and he was only able to point to the coming Messiah that not only had all the answers but the power to change injustice.  He said later about his own power, “He must increase, and I must decrease”  (John 3:30)

I have learned to recognize in my own life just how powerless I am…..but as a child of God I have the capacity through Jesus to point them to Him for the answers.  As I decrease in other people’s evaluation of me, and He increases in me, people are free to explore that freedom themselves by reading the Word of God and communing with Him in prayer.  This is the ultimate focus….  When I need a reminder of the joy in this I am reminded of that old hymn written in 1922 by Helen L. Lemmel

a turn

” O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free!  Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

I can  still remember fondly the day I turned my eyes off of my own powerless capacity and reached out to Jesus.  When I came to recognize who I really was, really for all practical purposes, powerless!   But oh, how God answered my cry, and in His power lifted me up and I became a child of God.    John 1: 12 tells us that   “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God”

There is a wonderful story  about a Roman emperor in his chariot as a part of a parade, Cheering people lined the streets while the legionnaires were stationed to keep the people at a safe distance. The emperor’s family sat on a platform to watch him go by in all the pride of his position. As the emperor came near the place where his family was stationed, a young boy jumped from the platform, burrowed through the crowd, and tried to dodge a Legionnaire so he could run to the emperor’s chariot. The soldier stopped him and said, “You cannot go near him.” The boy laughed, then said; “He may be your emperor but he is my father.” Then he ran into his father’s open arms.

a child

When I came to understand that as a child of God, He became my Father; and as a Father, He lovingly desires to give me the desires of my heart.  And yet there are times my desires don’t always match up with what a loving Father knows is best for me at that time.  Sometimes we can find ourselves in that place, kind of like the widow in this parable.  We think that justice needs to be served swiftly; after all, ‘I am a child of God!’.

When I think in this way not knowingly my understanding becomes clouded, I seem to forget that God loves everything He created…..and that means even the person who brought that injustice across my path.   And so as I persistently pray it helps me to focus on who I am and realize that I unable to handle this myself; and yet my Bible says I have help coming, if I would just pray!

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16

 

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to know that whatever, whenever, I have a need, something weighing me down, that as a child of God, I can come and express myself before God.   Especially, when I feel I’ve been wronged. It never fails that when I am in a tangle with someone it tends to leave me weak, worn out. What a joy it becomes when I pray persistently over things I have no control over. There simply is nothing left in me to stand against ill acts of injustice.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that, “For when I am weak….then I am strong.”

a weak

 

The peace and freedom that I can have in a difficult situation when someone stronger than me is priceless.  There is such an exhilaration knowing that I don’t have to worry about that particular thing, I have prayed, and even though it didn’t appear like it wasn’t answered, I can come to the Father, and receive His grace upon grace.

When I am persistent in my prayer for a specific thing, here we talk about injustice, and I don’t see any results yet, I can tend to stop praying about it… You give it enough time and for certain, other things seem to come our way.  Only later do we find God’s hand was at work all the time.  The injustice we, at the time thought was most important comes out to be not as important as we thought… and so when I am regularly persistent in my prayers on certain matters that are important to me, I began to see a bigger picture than what I thought was so important, at that time.

a big

But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9

You see, when I am in a jam, I only look for one way out, for myself. I don’t always  consciously look at all that is going around my problem.  And yet, my Bible says that without a determined effort to become persistent in my prayers as I’m going through things, I tend to lose focus, and can even find myself wandering off the path.

However,  when I am focused, praying like I mean it, letting go of the issue, lay it at the feet of a powerful God, I begin to see differently.  I begin to see the things that God sees. Things that are important to Him.  As I do this, I see people around me, that are just as lost in our perception of what God is doing, what God is fixing right before my eyes, and guess what?  It’s not all about me!  When I am not persistent in prayer especially in things dealing with injustice, I can lose sight, forget that my God is all about making things right….on both sides.  What I thought was important; becomes not important, in the big picture.    And so God wants me to pray persistently  so I can keep focused on who He is.  When I do this, I just don’t get so pre-occupied with all I want people to think that I am.

There is a temptation for me to garner other people’s appreciation for who I am, and what I can do in the lives of people around me.  It use to be that if I didn’t garner this kind of response from people around me, I took it very hard internally.  This is a very destructive form of bondage that when kept inside, will taint any fruit that God wants us to produce in our walks, our relationships with each other.  It’s this temptation of the flesh, the ‘old man’ who still resides in this new body in Christ.  It seems the ‘old man’ wants to get in on all the action that comes from a vibrant walk with God.

The problem is, you cannot bear fruit with his mindset.  Walking with Jesus, means that He’s leading the way. Wherever He walks, there is always fruit.  Withe the ‘old man’ the best he can conjure up is ‘plastic fruit’.

a fruit

It’s amazing how much manufactures have come in making realistic products that look like the real thing!   Unfortunately, the way prices are now; we can only look at imitation fruit.  There is no smell of its sweetness, no feel at touch , no way we would ever attempt to eat it, unless we were fooled!  In a similar way, God is the only One who can make real fruit. He made the fruit for a purpose, to be eaten, enjoyed.

Sometimes when I am praying persistently I can develop the attitude that I’ve never seen the result of my prayer therefore, I’m going to give up. Maybe God doesn’t want me to have it.   And yet, it takes time for real fruit to develop, to become ripe. And I think part of why God wants us to persist in prayer is that by it, we began to bear fruit. 

Let’s go back to our parable in Luke 18:5-7
“Yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

Jesus was saying it’s only a matter of time, as God deems when the persistent prayer of the widow would……bear fruit!   I can’t begin to tell you just how thrilled I am in knowing this truth!  Imagine, my persistent prayer is finally going to pay off!

a hard work

I find it invigorating when goals I have set for myself begin to take fruit!  They become reachable, you can touch it, smell it!    I have to confess, I have been trying to lose about 15 lbs. for months, and the other day, I finally saw evidence of all my persistent  hard work!  I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt to see that scale show minus 6 lbs.!  I really think this is the same reaction God is training me in righteousness as I read my Bible and become persistent in my prayer time every day.  The difference between this and my own ‘goals’ is that even though I have gained temporary power over my flesh, losing the weight, I am still powerless to keep it off!   When I come to God in persistent prayer, I can come powerless, and experience the fruit HE produces as I let go and let Him do it!

Jesus says in John 15:7-8, ” If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.

a abiding

It always amazes me how God would use people like us to labor with Him through our praying, and especially exciting when we begin to see answers to things we’ve prayed for ourselves but even more in the lives of other people we were praying for. This is the kind of fruit that the God is talking about.

It seems that when we hear the term, ‘bearing fruit’ we almost always see it manifested in what we perceive to be the ‘outcome’ of the thing itself.  As if we had anything to do with it bearing fruit.  The reality is that when we see ‘fruit bearing’ in someone else or our own lives it is because of laboring in prayers.  The ‘fruit’ is actually evidence of answered prayers.

a answer

It has become a mystery how God has ordained prayer to work, and yet He gives us the privilege of praying, asking Him for our and others needs, and it’s all done so that everyone can see the glory of God at work!

There have been times when people will call me for prayer, and in due time, God answers those prayers.  This is so incredibly awesome when I receive these calls back… ‘Marty, you’re not going to believe this, but God answered YOUR prayer!  I just knew He would answer YOUR prayer because YOU are such a dedicated PRAYER WARRIOR!’   I can’t begin to tell you how utterly embarrassed I am when I hear this; since I had nothing to do with the answered prayer.  Lovingly I have to remind the person that it is GOD who answered the prayer… I am powerless, I wouldn’t know where to start in answering a prayer; I simply do not have the ability or capacity to take any credit for it!   And so we need to remember that our praying for others and God answering those requests is all about God, His power, His capacity to make it happen; therefore always make sure HE gets ALL the glory!   I think God does this in this manner because other people will see the miraculous answered prayer and they themselves will turn to Jesus for their own needs!  God alone gets the glory!

a answered prayer

And so, our answered prayers become evidence and fruit because we can have this incredible opportunity with Jesus that He sees us worthy to allow us to partake in this great work that people who don’t know God can come to know Him by doing our part in introducing them to Him in prayer!  Jesus promises us that He will never fail to do His part, the biggest part; answering the prayer for His glory.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will  ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  John 15:7-8

a abide

Persisting in prayer means we will bear fruit as evidenced  by answered prayers, which results in people seeing the glory of God alive in and around their lives.  When people see God answering our prayers, people see a Living God. One able to meet their needs also!

Finally, not only does our persistent praying keep us focused, and fruitful, it gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my faith.But not only does persistent prayer help

“I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

a faith corrie

When I am persisting in my prayers I am saying, God, I believe in you!   It’s amazing how many everyday things and events in your daily lives that we believe in.  We see the Postman delivering mail and packages and we believe that he’s honest. We order our ‘InnOut’ burger with extra, extra tomatoes, and crispy fries, and we believe that when we get it, it will be just as we asked.  We believe that the car was fixed,…etc.  And yet when it comes to believing God, taking Him at His Word in prayers, we do fall short.   I believe that’s the reason God gives us so many opportunities to exercise this gift, that by seeing more prayers answered, we’ll  believe that God will answer them.!

Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him

a faith velieving

Have you ever prayed, even persisted in your prayers and yet were left with the thought that maybe God isn’t listening to my prayer?  I know there have been times in my frustration, (later to find out in my flesh) that even though I was being persistent in my prayers, something was missing. I just couldn’t get a handle on it until someone just happened to say, have you tried reading the Scriptures about God’s promises during prayer and all the answered prayer examples in the Word of God?

Have you ever experienced a time when it seems God is silent.  There just doesn’t seem like things aren’t moving at all?  I was reading Psalm 77 where it appears as though God was unresponsive to the prayers of the psalmist; as if God was silent.  I remember reading a book by Ray Stedman  where he said that the ‘reason why God would allow the psalmist to go through such a time of trial, doubt, and despair’ was that  “God wanted the psalmist to move to a deeper level of faith.”  And when we become even more persistent in our prayers, God is deepening our faith, maturing us in our relationship with Him.   By no means has He left you; He is even closer than ever.

God uses our prayer life especially as we become persistent to deepen our walks with Him, and in what appear to be time gaps where nothing appears to be happening to strengthen our bond with Him.  It keeps us focused and as we become aware of our powerless condition it helps us to see His strength and power, and come to recognize trials and testings as opportunities God has given us to grow and draw deeper in our relationship with Him.   All this results in others seeing God in action throughout all our lives, (Good & Bad) and see the glory of God working through us!

 Jeremiah 33:3 says:  “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

 When I  do business with God, then God will do business with me! This verse teaches me that God moves in response to my prayers. Let us never forget this.

 

   

There is a great illustration on the power of persistence as demonstrated by a lowly ant.

 In relating a story from his early life, there was a man named Tamerlane, an Oriental Conqueror who once told his friends this story, titled: “Observe the Ant”

a ant corn

He said, “I once was forced to take shelter from my enemies in a dilapidated building where I sat alone for many hours.   Wishing to divert my mind from my hopeless situation, I fixed my eyes on an ant carrying a kernel of corn……. larger than itself up a high wall……..I counted its attempts to accomplish the feat.  The corn fell 69 times to the ground…..but the insect persevered……..And then, the 70 time it reached the top.   The ant’s accomplishment gave me courage for the moment, and I never forgot the lesson.

  “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”   Luke 18:1

a never

Let Persistent praying become a daily part of your life, you’ll find that you’ll never walk away empty handed!

Lord, thank You for the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, of whom without we would be sorely lacking in our  communion through our prayers to You.   Forgive me when I become restless when I am not focused, knowing Your perfect plan is in place, yes Lord, ‘You are to increase, and I must decrease’ that I see my powerless condition to reveal Your Might!  Thank You God that silence doesn’t mean anything more than I get to spend time closer to You.  Bless all those who have taken the time to understand the importance of persistence in our prayers!  

Today’s video Enjoy!

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‘A Faith Seen’

a eye faith

“Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see”

The dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”

The Bible says that ‘without faith, we have no place with God, and it is impossible to please Him.’ Hebrews 11:6

a WITHOUT FAITH

Ephesians 2:8 makes it clear that faith is a Gift from God, not because we’ve earned it, or are worthy to have it, it is a Gift from God.

A GRACE FAITH

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. If you are having problems trusting God, you need to read His Word. Everyday, you need to read God’s Word, the Bible, and learn more about Him, about His character. Then you will start to trust Him more.

A FAITH BY HEARING

 It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact. On the other hand, fear, simply stated, is unbelief.   Unbelief is an obstacle to a healthy faith. If left unchecked, fear gains the upper hand in our thoughts, fear takes hold of our emotions.

Our deliverance from fear and worry is based on faith, which is the very opposite of unbelief. We need to understand that faith is not something that we can produce in ourselves. 

A FAITH UNBELIEF

God has an unusual way to develop a strong faith and trust towards Him.  He uses Adversity as His most effective tool refine our faith.  When we remember that faith is nothing we develop ourselves, since we didn’t ‘give it to ourselves’, it becomes very freeing to know that God, being the giver of my faith is the also the source of that faith.

God has taken it upon Himself to personally see to it each day that the faith He has given to Marty, be not only supplied, but exercised.

A ADVERSITY

Adversity is God’s most effective tool to develop a strong faith in me. I know this to be true by my reading in God’s Word the various patterns in other people’s lives.

God will take each one of us through fearful situations, and as we learn to obey God’s Word and allow it to saturate our thoughts, we find each trial becomes a stepping stone to a stronger and deeper faith. It gives us that ability to say, “He sustained me in the past, He’ll carry me through today and He’ll uphold me in the future!”

God worked this way in David’s life. When David volunteered to fight against Goliath, he said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”   (1 Samuel 17:37)

David knew the God who had sustained him through dangerous situations in the past. He had seen and experienced God’s power and protection in his life, and this developed within him a fearless faith.

a fearless faith

There are……. many things that I believe in that I don’t and have not seen.

My wife, Patty and I were recently on a trip where we had first hand experience in the phenomena of wind.   We witnessed first hand the effects of what wind does. My wife’s hair was tossed to and fro as she stepped outdoors. We had to put Murine in our eyes because of the effect of the wind blowing dust into our eyes.  We had to wash the windshield often because of the bugs that were tossed around by the wind and into our windshield.    Even though we couldn’t actually see the wind, we did see the effects of the wind. (The result of the winds power)

a wind

  I have grown to believe in the wind, even though I have never actually seen the wind…… Oh I do see the effects of the wind……I see the trees that are bending as a result of the force of the wind.. I see the blowing leaves…I see the dust that is being carried about; and so even though I cannot actually see the wind, I do see the eevidence of it.

The wind, we can feel it. We can categorize it’s effects…. People would ask us, ‘hey how was your trip, was it windy?’  I might reply with something like, “Oh, it was a cold, biting wind,” or if you’re in the Los Angeles area during the Fall months, you might hear people saying; “The winds were vicious, they were the ‘Santa Anna’s’ , definitely the kind of wind that you can feel.

a candlestick

I remember years ago when I lived in the Bay Area in Northern  California, where I had season seats at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  If it was a day game, you could count that about the 6th inning the winds would come roaring in.  Even though you couldn’t see it, you could see the ‘evidence’ of its arrival when your baseball cap was being lifted off your head, and hot dog wrappers were seen whirling about in the outfield.  You could see the evidence of it, and you came to believe in the wind, though people didn’t actually see the wind itself…….

a magnet

  • Magnetic force–I believe in it, although I’ve never seen it. I see its effect as I bring opposite poles together and I watch them attract. And so I believe in the magnetic powers or the magnetic force, but I have never seen it. I see evidence of it.

I see evidence of God. I feel the presence of God. I feel the power of God. I feel the love of God. I see the evidence of God’s existence, through faith, I believe in the existence of God, although I’ve never seen God.

The writer in the book of Hebrew’s 11:13, explains that, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”

a faith science
Incredible statement especially from a scientific standpoint.

The Bible said that God said, “Let there be light.” God said, “Let the waters above the firmament be divided from the waters beneath the firmament.” God said, “Let the earth bring forth herb yielding seed after its kind.” God said these things . . .  I believe that God spoke the scene world into existence so that the things which we do see were made out of things which do not appear. It takes a lot of faith to deny evidence that Jesus Christ never existed at all.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….”

The Greek word Pistis(pis’-tis); means conviction of truth based on belief in something.  In order to understand faith, I need to understand “Truth”. Truth is what is real as opposed to what is not real.

a believe

God either does or does not exist. He cannot both exist and not exist.  Faith believes “Something” is “True” without having actually witnessing its actualization.  I do not have to believe I exist, I know I exist it not a matter of faith.   On the other hand, faith is required of me in this physical world.  When I approach my truck to start it, there is a degree of faith required of me.

There is no assurance that the truck is going to start just because it started in the past.  But once the truck has started, faith is no longer in operation.. because now I know the truck starts.   Since my truck has started in the past, I have a degree of faith that it will start in the future… faith continues as I drive along and go over the Golden Gate Bridge…. I have faith that the bridge will support my truck, from experience, I therefore am confident it will do so again!

       In the same way, though I have not actually seen God, I have faith in Him. My faith in Him grows from experience and understanding.  In other word, as I become more confident in God’s faithfulness, I learn to trust His Word.

a trust

The more I understand God’s faithfulness through the reading and studying of His Word, my faith grows by the experiences that follow. I can see the work of God through my experiences and watch my faith grow.  Instead of reacting to a certain crisis like I used to do, I remember God’s faithfulness the last time, and see by the promise in His Word that He has never let me down!

         Though I have not seen God, I have faith in Him. My faith experience doesn’t happen all at once.   Instead, my faith grows from experience and understanding, as I become more confident in God’s faithfulness, I learn to trust His Word.  The more I understand God’s faithfulness through His “Word” the more my faith grows.

In closing, it seems that the more I read about faith, the less I understand just how it works. My walk in faith is really not about how much I understand it, and more about how often I do it. And so faith becomes more of an exercise, kind of like when we begin an exercise program, to take a few pounds off or get in better shape. We can read the brochures over and glance at those beautiful color portraits of the facilities, and sigh and dream about it, or we can just put our hands to the plow and just start doing it.

Sometimes we just haven’t a clue where to begin in this walk with God, and I’m often reminded of what  one of my Pastor’s who often said, “just do what is in front of you”

a another faith

Do what’s in front of you, it may not look like what you have or had in mind, but with God, walking in faith will require you to keep moving forward. Faith, how can I know that I’m walking in it?  It’s the evidence of things unseen.  It’s when you don’t see it, that you know you’re walking in faith.

“Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see”

a eye faith

Do you need prayer today? Are there questions about your faith that you’d like me to pray about, let me know.  Look at today’s music video…..and remember, ‘I’ll see you around the bend, or up in the air.’

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