Friday, December 21, 2012

Ever been asked "If God is Sovereign, why pray?"

I've been asked this by many people who either don't understand, can't seem to reconcile, or just don't really believe in God's absolute Sovereignty over all things.  Let me start by saying I don't fully understand, but I believe Scripture teaches that God is Sovereign, AND we are both responsible and accountable for our actions (or inactions) to walk in obedience to His Word.

There are many ways to go about answering this, one of which involves explaining how prayer changes us, and gets us in line with what God is doing. But that discussion is for another day.

For today, here's an excellent summary quote from Packer that addresses the question, at least partially. (To address it fully would be nearly inexhaustible).

"There is no tension or inconsistency between the teaching of Scripture on God’s Sovereign foreordination of all things and on the efficacy of prayer. God foreordains the means as well as the end, and our prayer is foreordained as the means whereby He brings His Sovereign Will to pass. "
J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, Page 189

As I ponder and reflect on Scripture this morning, a few more thoughts quickly come to mind:
  1. Jesus Christ Incarnate prayed often, and we have a record of this in the Gospels. We are even privileged to gaze into the Holy of Holies as we see Jesus' High Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17.
  2. Jesus taught his Disciples to pray, and even asked them to "watch and pray" with him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  3. The Church in Acts prayed constantly.
  4. The Patriarchs prayed.
  5. The Children of Israel prayed.
  6. The Psalmists prayed. We are privileged to see inside David's heart as he communed with the LORD through prayer.
  7. The Prophets prayed. Daniel prayed 3 times a day (at least) during the good & the bad times. Jonah prayed from the depths of the sea, the belly of the great fish. Nehemiah and Ezra prayed.
  8. In the Book of Revelation, we are told the Saints of God pray, and the burned incense rising up from the altar represents the "prayers of the Saints"
  9. We are admonished all throughout Scripture to pray, such as: "you have not because you ask not", ask- seek- knock","pray without ceasing", "with prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God", "in all things give thanks", "call to Me and I will answer you", call upon the name of the LORD", etc...
  10. Prayer brings Him Glory! He says repeatedly "I will be Glorified!"
    As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, "The chief end of man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!"
And the list could go on and on...

So in summary, God is Sovereign in and over all things,

Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)
...I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.  I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it
and Christians are to be people of prayer.
Philippians 4:6 (ESV) everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
So to repeat Packer's statement:
"Our prayer is foreordained as the means whereby He brings His Sovereign Will to pass. "
So keep praying! Amen? Amen!

Still confused?  So am I at times, but I'm reminded of the words of the old hymn  "Trust and Obey"...
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
One reason I don't blog as often anymore is that I can't find a good stopping place...Even now, I'm thinking of many more passages to discuss, illustrations to use, directions to go, and could go on writing for pages, and pages, and pages...
If you'd like to leave a comment but don't have an account to login with, you can choose "anonymous", and then put your name in the body of your comment.  Questions and/or comments are welcome!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My 2 cents about "Relevance"

 I hear people all the time talking about "relevance", such as relevant sermons, relevant preaching, relevant teaching, etc...
"We don't make the Bible relevant. It is inherently so, simply because it is God's Word."...
"There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance. Application not based on solid interpretation has led Christians into all kinds of confusion.
Dr. John F. MacArthur, Grace To You

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY 2012 to all, from Don and Family !

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks. (ESV)

Psalm 100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bring Out The Book!

(Re-posting (again) an older blog that I needed reminding of periodically...I told my friend at lunch last week, I'm closing all books but the Bible for a while again...need to feast on the pure, unadulterated Word, the Scriptures Alone for a while...)

In Nehemiah, the people of Israel asked Ezra the Scribe to "Bring out The Book", the Book of the Law of Moses, and were attentive as he read from the Law of God from early morning till midday!
(see end of blog for Scripture passage)
Do you long for HIS BOOK?
Do you long for the people of God to long for His Book?

Today, it seems to me that churches everywhere are always anxious to have so-called "Bible-Studies" on the latest books from the New York Times Bestsellers List (or LIFEWAY for us Southern Baptists) by the latest "Christian Guru of the hour", and they get very excited about it.

Now don't misunderstand. I'm not against Christian book studies.
I'm all about reading and studying good books by good Christian authors, present and past. We may disagree on which books/authors are good, and which are not-so-good, but that's not my point here. (leave me a comment to discuss that - LOL).

My family and friends know that I always have bookmarks in several books, commentaries, and Study-Bibles at a time. I can't go to sleep at night without reading. I ask for theology books for my birthday, Christmas, for Father's Day, etc. I'm always going online & ordering new books whenever I get the time (or money-lol). My Dad & I exchange good books by solid Christian authors, scholars, and theologians with each other all the time. We both love books that Glorify God, and exalt Him. In fact, I'm out of bookshelves at home to store them, and am having to box some good books up for lack of space.

Dad & I have often talked about how, as good and helpful as these books are, they are no substitute for reading & studying the Scriptures daily. If I'm always reading/studying Godly books by Godly men, and neglect the Bible itself, they always leave me "wanting", and "hungering & thirsting" for His Word from His Book! (and we're not talking about gospel-lite type self-help books)

Books and Commentaries are excellent SUPPLEMENTS to, but not SUBSTITUTES for the Bible.

But where's the excitement in studying His Book?
How many times have you heard people get really excited at your church about studying a particular Book of the Bible? (Well, with exception of Revelation and maybe Daniel-which are certainly Books we should fact, Revelation speaks of a special blessing for hearing/reading it). But we should love to study ALL the Books of the Bible. Not just the ones we think are "more interesting and/or sensational".
J. Vernon McGee once commented on the lack of real interest in deep things of God in one of his commentaries, which I own:
When I first came to California, the late Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein wintered out here in Pasadena, and I went to visit him. He asked me how I liked California, and I replied, “I love it here, but it’s very interesting that if I teach the Book of Revelation, I can fill the church (even during midweek service), but if I begin teaching the Epistle to the Romans, I can practically empty the church. I find there are people who will run all the way across this area to find out from a speaker just how many hairs are in the horse’s tail in Revelation.” He then made a statement to me that I shall never forget, “Dr. McGee, you’re going to find out in your ministry that there are a great many people more interested in Antichrist than they are in Christ.”
J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
Thru the Bible, Volume V, page 47
In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews/Israelites had returned from captivity, and had been without God's Word for more than a generation.
They had heard, I'm sure, "about God", but they were hungry to hear "from God". The following passage gives the account:
Nehemiah 8 (ESV)...Ezra Reads the Law
1And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
May we say, as they did, "BRING OUT THE BOOK"