What is Christmas Really About?: The Rest of the Christmas Story

Have you ever wondered about what Christmas is really about? The Christmas holidays are quickly approaching. The celebration about Christmas is not just Santa Clause, presents, Christmas concerts, Winter celebration, or Christmas Trees. It is about the Savior of the world who came into the world to save it and not to condemn it. It is about Jesus Christ and the beginning of His life and the man that He became to fulfill Scripture. This is just the beginning of a wonderful and divine act in which God sent His Son into the world.

This is just the beginning.

Luke 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

But this is NOT the end of the story…….

May you find the real joy of Christmas that only Jesus Christ can bring. It is through the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection that we have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus came into the world not to judge the world but to save it. It is only through Jesus that one can be saved.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10: 9-11 ” 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus stands at your hearts door and knocks. If you want to really experience the “true” meaning of Christmas, then consider inviting Jesus Christ into your heart and life and ask God to change your heart and transform you to be Christlike in all that you do. Believe with your heart and mind. Ask forgiveness of your wrongdoing and sins, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Transformation means that you are a changed person for Christ.

Although many celebrate Christmas with a baby in a feeding trough, that baby grew up as the loving Son of God who died a horrible death in order to redeem us from our wickedness. He was beaten until his blood was spilled on the ground, crucified with nails driven into his hands and feet, and He died. After three days, He rose from the grave and this is evidence that He truly was the Son of God.

Christmas is really about the Christ who came to save the world! Won’t you give your life to  Jesus Christ and know the real meaning of Christmas?

Copyright © November 1st, 2018, Originally published under Pastor Joseph Lee Blog from March 30, 2017. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Evangelism: It’s Not Just an Easter Thing

 “. . . do the work of an evangelist . . .”

This verse makes more sense to me now after 30 years of ministry than it ever has. In order to explain why I have deeper appreciation for it a brief but true story is necessary in order to provide some context. My father came to faith in Christ in a single day after being a committed atheist his entire adult life. It started when his third wife woke him up one Sunday morning and told him that he was going to church. His first question was “What are you talking about?” Her reason for going to church was that it was Easter. Next question, “But why!?” He was then informed that they were going because my step-siblings regularly went to church and that they should go with them at least once, and Easter was as good a day as any. Even more bewilder he asked “Church? What church?!” It was at that point that he learned that their kids went to a church that had a bus ministry, and since a bus drove right by their house they could catch a ride to church. The salient point is that they weren’t going to church because my dad was concerned for their spiritual development. So dad dutifully got up, got dressed, and then went out to his car where he and his third wife sat until the bus came by and picked up the kids. He didn’t even know where the church was so he had to follow the bus in order to find the church. Upon arrival he walked through the church doors and (as he puts it) became immediately aware that “there really is a God.” After listening to the music and the announcements the pastor began his sermon. Within 20 minutes my dad knew in no uncertain terms that there was a literal Hell and that he was most assuredly going there. He has often told me that he actually feared having a heart attack before the sermon ended, thereby sealing his fate. Fortunately he “survived” the sermon and at its close the pastor invited all who desired to receive Christ to come forward. So, as soon as the hymn of invitation began my dad was down the aisle and at the front of the sanctuary before the first stanza had finished. He was “gloriously saved” that very day, and ever since then he has been a changed man. In fact he now serves as a volunteer chaplain for a prison in central Missouri, where he regularly preaches on Sunday mornings to inmates.  My friends, my dad’s dramatic conversion was certainly the result of the “work of evangelism”; but really, when you think about it, it wasn’t hard work. Picking ripe fruit off the ground is never as strenuous as chiseling dry dense soil and planting seeds during times of drought.

In the late 60s and early 70s (which is when my dad came to Christ) a lot ministries were busy picking up ripe fruit. It is pretty interesting to listen to Christians talk about that period of revival because many of them have the impression that they “achieved” that great harvest because “they were doing it the right way.” Whenever I hear that I have to bite my tongue, and I have heard it a lot all over the country. An interesting fact about that period is that the Spirit moved in the hearts of many people through many different ministries irrespective of their denomination and theology. Baptist churches saw many come to faith in Christ (both independent and denominational), as did many other churches, such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, and Non-denominational (both charismatic and non-charismatic); and lest we forget, many para-church ministries also enjoyed that period of great harvest. The truth about periods such as that one is that when the Spirit moves in such a manner He enjoys being sloppy with his grace. As the old saying goes, “when it rains it pours.”  Well, the bottom line for this article is that we are no longer in a season in which the labor predominantly involves merely collecting ripe fruit. Today, the work seems hard, harder than it has ever been during my lifetime. We now appear to be called to fields that are dry and hard, and as a result there seems to be fewer and fewer people interested in doing the “work of evangelism.” Consequently, we need more workers, not better marketing methods.

Moreover, I am struck by the fact that the Spirit didn’t guide Paul to write “collect the fruit of the Spirit,” or “inform the elect of their regeneration,” or “get them to cry, come forward, and fill out a card,” or tell them “they can have their best life now.” No, Paul didn’t emphasize either the audience to be evangelized, or the end result of evangelistic efforts, he emphasized being faithful about doing the labor that evangelism requires. Paul spoke of labor, not manipulation. And what exactly is that labor? It is the constant and clear articulation of the gospel, which is “that there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved!” It is regularly calling people to “repent and be saved from this wicked and perverse generation!” It’s not being “ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!” And lastly, it’s offering the gospel to anyone and everyone simply because “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved!”   It is the norm rather than the exception that the work of an evangelist requires significant personal effort, spiritual sweat if you will.  This labor is not about slick entertainment, or ensuring that audiences are comfortable, or about self-adulation. It requires faithful workers committed to “laboring” in dry and dusty fields if for no other reason than they share their Master’s passion. So, if you value “tolerance,” “sensitivity,” and “teachable moments,” then it’s not likely that during these difficult days that you will be inundated with opportunities to “do the work of an evangelist.” Nevertheless, one irreducible fact still remains: the more we communicate the gospel—in season and out—the more people will make decisions for Christ. Or as Paul put it, “How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Monte Shanks, Copyright © March 21, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Why Didn’t I Ask the Question?

Most recently, I learned that a good client passed away suddenly. He appeared to be healthy and in better shape than I am in. And yet he died suddenly. Many people will ask why did God allow him to die as opposed to someone who has chronic health problems? The answer to that is unknown until we get to heaven ourselves. But this is not the question at stake. The question at stake is “Why didn’t I ask the question?”

Many are probably wondering right now, what is the question that I am talking about? I will get to that in a few sentences. Before I do that, let me just say that we take for granted that we have time. Time is on our side and that we can do whatever we want. As a non-Christian who may be thinking, “I want to enjoy life and not make a God commitment until I sow my oats!” Or the family member whom you have spoken with and he laughs in your face and tells you, “I have time!” Time? Do we really have time? Is time really on our side? My friend, although in great shape, had a brain aneurism and died. He was one year younger than me and yet he died.

When I found out about my friend, as I was speaking with his wife, I could barely talk for fear that I would start weeping as I was so sorrowful of her loss. Not only was I sorrowful, but I had never asked the question. There were five questions that I should have asked, but never asked. Was it because I feared rejection? Was it because I did not want to offend anyone? Was it because that I did not know how to communicate my question to him? Was it because we did not have time to discuss such a subject matter? Was it because I disobeyed God by not asking these simple questions? Was it because…..? And the list of why’s go on!

I could have asked five simple questions in conversational form. But as a believer in Jesus Christ; as a person who “proclaims” that he loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind; as a person who believes what Christ said that we are to “love our neighbor as our self;” I did nothing! I say that I love my neighbor, but my actions do not prove that to be true because if I truly did love my neighbor, I would have asked those simple five questions. But I didn’t and now I have to live with what I did not do! I will have to answer to God when I die and go to stand in judgement. I can hear Him asking me this question, “Why didn’t you ask the question?” I will stand guilty of being silent and unloving. Guilty of not loving my neighbor as myself!

What is the question I should have asked? If I am to love my neighbor as myself, I should have cared more about his spiritual life as opposed to his business life. I should have loved him as my own brother as opposed to keeping silent about spiritual things. I should have asked him, “Do you have any kind of spiritual belief? To you, who is Jesus? Do you believe there is a heaven and a hell? If you died right now, where would you go? If heaven, why? If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it?” The last question is if they do not have a belief in Jesus Christ. Now here is the rub. Not asking these questions or questions like them will never allow you the opportunity to show your love as well as the love of Christ to your neighbor. Who is this neighbor I am speaking about? It is anyone you know and do not know. It could be a friend, relative, next door neighbor, customer, or an unknown person. The direct question I should have asked was, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” But those five forms of questions ease one into conversation about faith.

Fortunately for me as well as for him, he did know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He was a believer and he was a Christian. How do I know this? Because his wife told me that they have joined a bible believing church and that they were involved and that they both believed. Praise God for my friend’s salvation and that he is with Jesus right now. But that does not excuse my silence! We are all called to share our faith and yet we sit on the sidelines and do nothing! We go to church, sing and praise God, read Scripture, listen to a powerful and motivating sermon, have the benediction, go out to eat after church, then go home to rest. Then we go to work on Monday through Friday, without ever opening our mouths to tell someone about Christ. I say we because I am part of that group. I failed miserably at what I so much talk about and yet I never asked him the question. Lucky for me that when he died, he was a believer in Jesus Christ! But that did not negate my responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Many will say, “Don’t be that hard on yourself!” I will tell you that if God is bringing this to my mind as a teaching tool, then whoever is reading this blog should also be aware that God will hold us all accountable for not obeying Jesus Christ’s commandment that we are to take the Gospel throughout the world, even if we never leave the comforts of our own town. We are to open our mouths and tell someone about the saving grace of Jesus and His salvation. Don’t use the excuse of not being comfortable about speaking to someone. Jesus Christ was not comfortable at all when they arrested him, beat him, flogged him to where his skin was so mangled and his blood flowed down. They tried him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. They mocked him as they made him carry a heavy cross to the place where they then crucified him. Before he was crucified, he had to willfully crawl onto that rugged cross. His hands and feet were nailed to that wooden rugged cross. They used nails like railroad spikes. It was a gruesome and cruel way to die. And yet our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ did that for us, so that our sins would be forgiven. He died a most horrible death and yet we cannot even experience a little of uncomfortable talk to a friend or a client! Fortunately for us, Jesus died for our sins and transgressions. He was in the tomb for 3 days. On that third day, he arose and lives forever with God the Father.

My point is that I should have said something. I should have at least asked my friend if he had ever made a personal commitment to Christ? I never recall that I even asked him anything about his spiritual life. And I grieve that I never did. To love my neighbor as myself should mean that I also tell them about the greatest gift that has ever affected me and my life. My love for God and my love for Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.

Look at the following Scripture:

Matthew 22:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

From now on, I will try to follow Jesus Christ’s commandments better and will love my neighbor by asking a simple five questions that can lead into a wonderful conversation about God’s saving grace. What about you? Do you want to see a friend or loved one die and you never asked them about their spiritual belief? Consider not making the same mistakes that I have made by not being obedient to God. Our faith calls all of us to action in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we say that we love someone, then if we really do, ask those simple questions.

Can you hear it?

Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice. Is God speaking to you? I have heard that voice. I have heard His voice and I want to seek Him in all I do. As a Christian, we are ALL called to share our faith and share the Gospel of Christ to all who will hear. That still small voice will speak to you, open doors for you, if you are willing to TRUST in Christ.

I am currently 60 years old and am about to graduate in May with a Masters in Christian Ministry. I heard that still small voice years ago prompting me to go back to college and earn my degree. Graduating will open many more doors for me in business as well as in marketplace ministry. I hear that small voice saying to “trust me.” God has placed a burden on my heart to minister to people who normally would not attend a conventional church, but would be open to friendship and the sharing of my faith.

I hear that still small voice telling me to get the training I need so that I can help others in the corporate world find faith in Christ through corporate or marketplace chaplaincy. God can use anyone willing to open his or her heart to Him and stepping out on faith to follow His leading. You don’t need to go overseas for ministry. Ministry opportunities are right in your own town or neighborhood!

For years, I have done what I wanted to do. I have ignored the calling. I have lived a Christian life, but was selfish in my own desires. But God has not left me alone. I still hear that still small voice and have finally yielded to it. God continues to place people in my path for ministry. I really do not have to go far to find them. I believe that God wants each of us to just be open to His calling and He will lead others to us in order that we may share our faith with all who will hear and is open to His Word.

Someone recently asked why I could not just skip Graduate School and do this? My answer is that I want to learn The Bible better and how to share my faith in a more accepting manner. I think that in order to do what I hear God calling me to do within the business world, I needed more training. I have a heart for ministry and for people. I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. It is constantly on my mind. The question is this: “What have I really done for the cause of Christ?” As a Christian, I feel like I have wasted a good portion of my life in what I wanted as opposed to what God has been calling me to do.

At this time, nothing will change, as I am still an independent businessman, sharing my faith with others when the opportunity arises. I am still involved in my work, helping people to secure their financial futures with offering them the protection they need in the event of a disaster. I plan to continue working and running my business as my business is what opens doors of ministry. But the difference now is that I have heard that still small voice very clear and I have yielded to it.

“Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!”  Yes, I can hear it! I hear it! My question to every Christian believer is “Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!” If you hear it, then what are you going to do about it?

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © February 22, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Never Underestimate the Power of One: Billy Graham

February 21, 2018: Today, Billy Graham dies at age 99. Many may mourn that the greatest Christian Evangelist in our lifetime has died. But I can assure you that although his body has died, his soul and spirit has passed on into glory to be with Jesus.

Instead on reporting on his death, let us celebrate his life with the story of the power of one as told by Dave Earley and David Wheeler.

Never Underestimate the Power of One

One Samaritan woman testified to her town, and many believed in Jesus.

One man, Noah, built a boat that saved the human race.

One man, Moses, stood up to Pharaoh and delivered the Hebrews from Egypt.

One woman, Deborah, delivered Israel from the Canaanite oppression.

One man, David, defeated the Philistines when he killed their champion, Goliath.

One woman, Ester, had the courage to approach the king and see her nation spared from extermination.

One man, Peter, preached a sermon that led 3,000 to be saved.

One salesman and Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, led a young man named Dwight to Christ. Dwight Moody became a blazing evangelist who it is said, led one million souls to Christ in his short lifetime.[1]

Wilbur Chapman received the assurance of his salvation after talking with Moody and went on to become a noted evangelist himself. The drunken baseball player Billy Sunday was an assistant to Chapman before becoming the most famous evangelist of his day. One of the fruits of Sunday’s ministry was the forming of a group of Christian businessmen in Charlotte, North Carolina. This group brought the evangelist Mordecai Ham to Charlotte in 1934. A tall awkward youth named Billy Graham was converted during those meetings.[2] According to his staff, as of 1993, more than 2.5 million people had “stepped forward at his crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior.”[3]Millions of souls trace their spiritual lineage back to the influence of one man, a simple Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball.

Someone said, “To the world you may just be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” To this we might add, to you they may seem like just one lost soul, but to God that might be a soul who can shake the whole world.[4]

(Never Underestimate the Power of One quoted from Evangelism Is, 2010).

It is estimated that over 215 million people have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Billy Graham’s ministry through his live stadium crusades in over 185 countries.

Bibliography

Earley, Dave, and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.

[1] W.R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody, by His Son (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1900), taken from back cover.

[2] http://www.wheatonedu/bgc/archives/faq/13.htm.

[3] “God’s Billy Pulpit,” Time, November 15, 1993, http://205.188.238.109/time/magazine/article/0,9171,979573,00.htm.

[4] Dave Earley and David Wheeler, Evangelism Is (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 133-134.

The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Make Disciples, Who Make Disciples, Who Make Disciples: Acts 1:8

In Acts 1:8, Jesus gave instructions to His disciples as well as all Christians. He said that we are to take the Gospel throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. So, according to Dr. Mark Becton of Grove Avenue Baptist Church, our commandment from Christ is to “make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples.” If that is the case, then according to Pastor Becton, in the Richmond, VA area alone, there are 1.3 million people. Out of that 1.3 million people, 70% have no engagement with any evangelical church. Therefore, over the next 25 years, we need to birth 150 new churches to keep up with the population.

The Richmond, VA area is growing with a diverse population of immigrants from other nations. Many of these people are intermarrying within our own culture. The nations from overseas are now in our area. Considering that there are 70% of 1.3 million people who are not engaged in attending church and are probably lost without a Savior, we must birth many new churches to meet the needs of the population. This will take resources to accomplish this. Therefore, this opens a commitment of all born again Christians to stop warming the pews and get involved in the ministry of their Lord and Savior. There are few leaders and workers in the Church but many attenders. My recommendation is that the Church train these men and women to share their faith right where they are and where they live.

70% of 1.3 million is 910,000 souls who do not know Jesus as their personal savior in the Richmond, VA area. If this number is accurate, we need to do a better job as Christians in sharing our faith. We can no longer depend on just a few to do all the work. This is going to take all Christians to engage in conversation. The largest resource to use is not monetary, but for the Christian to open their hearts and open their mouths to speak and engage in conversations that can change lives.

Many times, in the past, I have referred to William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” as a tool to learn how to share your faith. This is an excellent tool that even the beginner or new Christian can learn and accomplish without any reservation. Sure, we will need monetary resources. All ministries need money as resources to function. But we are going to need human resources to go out into our neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and marketplaces; to live a life of Christ incarnate. We are to Share Jesus Without Fear when the Holy Spirit opens Divine Appointment opportunities. If you are a Christian, and you never, ever, opened your mouth to share your faith, then I would say that you are out of our Lord’s will. It is not an option but a commandment to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

This is why I started my ministry, Marketplace Evangelism, in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the area and the marketplace. I am a tent maker, meaning that I go to work every day. I listen out for Divine Appointment opportunities where people are searching for help and an answer. I never, ever, force my faith on anyone. But I strive to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God and I try to treat people with compassion and forgiveness. If members of congregations would do the same, they could make a huge impact with the leading of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Churches need resources, but the most important resource needed are the followers of Jesus Christ to ante up and kick in! Kick in like men and women going to war against the evil one. Our battle will not be physical, but spiritual. But many Christians are complacent with attending church on Sundays and then leaving, never thinking about the mission during the week. Many will continue to leave all the heavy lifting work to a very few. But this is not what Christ has commanded of us! Therefore, it’s imperative that men and women learn to share the Gospel so that others will come to Christ.

References:

The Victory Hour. Television. Directed by Mark Jenkins. Performed by Mark Becton. 2017.

Fay, William, and Linda Evans Shepherd. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1999.

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © January 13, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Is Prayer Mandatory or Considered a Supplement to the Christian Walk? Part 1

Is Prayer Mandatory or Considered a Supplement to the Christian Walk? Part 1

Is prayer mandatory in the Christian walk or is it supplementary? I know many Believers who are not comfortable with praying in public. I personally like to pray silently, but there are times I must take the lead and model prayer for others. We often see people requesting prayer via social media and others state that they will pray for them. But do they really pray? This article is geared to sharing some Scripture and some points in how we should be conducting prayer and how prayer does affect our walk with Christ as well as others.

I most recently wrote a short paper on a Personal Prayer Analysis. I did some simple research of the four Gospels and found the following:

“Upon investigating the Scriptures in the four Gospels, where Jesus revealed an approach to prayer, this student used a Bible Gateway word search engine of the words pray, prayer, and praying. The result returned twenty-eight verses or passages. The descriptions were given as the following seventeen topics: Pray for Enemies, Pray Alone, Pray All Night, Early Morning Prayer, Keep Watch, Humble Heart, Exorcism Prayer, Baptism, Pray in Secret, Lord’s Prayer, Children, Faith, High Priestly Prayer, Temple is House of Prayer, Temple Prayer for all Nations, and Forgiveness. Of these topics, two references were found for Pray for Enemies; Four references were found for to Pray Alone; two references were found for to Pray All Night; three references were found for to Keep Watch; two references were found for Temptation; two references were found for the Lord’s Prayer; and three references were found for Faith. The remainder topics had one reference each. Of these references, what stood out the most was to pray often such as all night prayer, to pray in secret, to pray alone, to pray for our enemies, to keep watch or else we will be tempted, to have faith in what we ask, to come to the Father like a child, and if we do not know what to pray, Christ gave instructions by example with The Lord’s Prayer” (Lee, 2017, 4-5).

Of the twenty-eight verses and passages, the following chart was constructed to determine what Scriptures referenced prayer and for what subject.

Description Reference Description Reference
Pray for Enemies Matthew 5:44 Pray in Secret Matthew 6:5-6
Luke 6:28    
Pray Alone Matthew 14:23 Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-13
Mark 6:46   Luke 11:1-4
Mark 14:32    
Luke 9:18 Children Matthew 19:13
Pray All Night Matthew 26:36
Luke 6:12
Early Morning Prayer Mark 1:35 Faith Matthew 21:22
Keep Watch Matthew 26:41 Mark 11:24
Mark 14:38 Luke 18:1
Luke 21:36 High Priestly Prayer John 17:1-26
Humble Heart Luke 18:10-14
Temptation Luke 22:40
Luke 22:46 Temple is House of Prayer Luke 19:46
Exorcism Prayer Mark 9:29 Temple Prayer for All Nations Mark 11:17
Baptism Luke 3:21 Forgiveness Mark 11:25

 

“As this student researched and read through all the Scriptures, he realized that his own prayer life needed an overhaul. Although he prays, it is not often enough. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6 that when we should pray, we should not pray to impress others as depicted in verse 5, but to go into our room and pray to the Father in private and in secret. This student does not spend enough time praying. While Matthew 26:36 shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He told His disciples to sit while he went to pray. In verse 27, He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to pray. He prayed for an hour and his disciples could not even keep their eyes open. But the indication from these passages is that people should pray, in private, or even with two or three other Believers, so that they are seeking God during times of trouble. As Jesus was facing ultimate condemnation and crucifixion, his disciples could not seem to pray because of their weakness. In this student’s own life, he strives to pray and stay faithful in prayer, but has been found weak in his practices” (Lee, 2017, 5-6).

How can one start a prayer life? Look at part of my conclusion from this short paper.

“In conclusion, this student must become more disciplined in his approach to prayer. He must find a private and quite place away from technology to pray. When praying, he will start using The Lord’s Prayer and then continue to have a conversation with the Father. He must come to the Father like a child and have childlike faith. He must have a humble heart and pray for not only his forgiveness, but to pray that he will forgive others for any wrongdoing in which they have done to him. He must pray for his enemies. He must pray to keep watch so that he will not be tempted by the ways of the world or distractions from prayer. He needs to become more disciplined to get up early and pray before others rise and the day starts. At times, when he needs to get closer to God, he needs to search Scripture, pray, even if it’s all night, so that he will seek God first in his life. This regimen must be done alone, so that he will have that intimate and personal relationship with his Father. He can no longer use the excuse or procrastinate because this intimate relationship with God is needed in his life. Fasting will also be incorporated as this will bring the student closer to God. He will strive to pray multiple times each day and it should start early in the morning” (Lee, 2017, 6-7).

Now that we have discussed prayer and the types of prayers, let’s get into what John MacArthur et al. states about prayer. Donald G. McDougall states, “Prayer by individual Christians, by Christian leaders, by the corporate body of the church, by small groups, and by men are all necessary. The content of prayers should focus predominately on ultimate spiritual battles with the forces of evil rather than on the mundane affairs of everyday life. A right purpose and a proper attitude should determine the matter of prayers” (MacArthur, 2005, 144).

McDougall states that God’s people need to learn to pray. McDougall reminds us that to get a remedy for problems, you must pray. Look at James 4:2, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” Look at the latter part of the verse, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Prayer is quite the remedy (MacArthur, 2005, 145).

McDougal continues, “At the very root of it all is the need for each believer to realize that prayer is foundational; prayer is not supplemental. Believers need to pray more, to pray more often, and to pray over many more issues. The reminder to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is just as applicable today as it ever was. If we are to experience the blessings that only God can give, we as God’s people must humble ourselves and pray” (MacArthur, 2005, 146).

In conclusion, to set up prayer time, one must know how to pray as well as what to pray for. Jesus gave us a model prayer, which is called The Lord’s Prayer. Here is the prayer:

 

Our Father, who are in Heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread,

And forgive our trespasses and sins,

As we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

And the power, and the glory,

`                 Forever.

Amen.

The above prayer is an excellent prayer to start with and then start to pray for other things that will glorify God. Please look at the prayer guide and determine what you are to pray for. Read the associated Scriptures and follow the leading of the Lord Jesus in prayer.

This is the beginning of a series of articles, which are meant to help those with determining what and how to pray. The best way to start a prayer life is to read Scripture and then start a conversation with God, through prayer.

Bibliography

Lee, Joseph T. “Personal Prayer Guide.” Rawlings School of Divinity, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, 2017.

MacArthur, John. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005.

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © December 28, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Imagining John Lennon’s Nightmare

Christmas is over, and that means that New Year’s Eve is just around the corner.  I’m not really into New Year’s Eve anymore.  I used to enjoy it, but no longer.  It’s not because I’m getting older, but because it has become a holiday for promoting Secular Humanism.  It’s not the parties and drunkenness that makes New Year’s Eve a decidedly humanistic holiday.  Heaven knows that there’s always a party happening somewhere—and there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a good time every now and then.  The problem is that the secular media has made John Lennon’s anthem “Imagine” the mandatory song announcing the beginning of the new year, and that the new year should embrace the dream of Secular Humanism. This is observable since over the last couple of decades one of the first songs everyone sings after midnight—if not the very first song sung—is no longer “Auld Lang Syne” (aka: “As Time Goes By”) but Lennon’s “Imagine.” If you actually listen to and think about what the song actually says, then you will also realize that if what Lennon imagined is ever achieved that the world will become a living nightmare for devote Christians everywhere.

The first line of the song simply asks us to “Imagine there’s no heaven.”  Lennon wasn’t asking us to imagine that there’s no galaxy, instead he was asking us to imagine that the place where God dwells no longer exists.  In other words, he wanted everyone everywhere to stop believing in God. And instead of a place called Heaven, he wanted us to envision that above us is “only sky.” Moreover, he believed that all we really needed to do in order realize his utopia of a godless universe was to simply begin imagining that God no longer exists. It is clear that envisioning life without God is what Lennon had in mind since he also asked us to imagine that Hell wasn’t real as well. As we all know, Hell is the domain where God eternally relegates all that rejected him during their earthly lives. And having imagined that God, Heaven, and Hell no longer exist, Lennon wanted us to imagine all humanity “living only for today.”  Don’t worry about what God promised would occur in the future, don’t even worry about the future, just live for the moment, that is what John Lennon hoped everyone would imagine.

Before unpacking the rest of the song, we should be reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ was committed to promoting the reality of Heaven.  His entire message could be summarized in his proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4.17).  Moreover, while training his followers on how to pray, he first wanted us to understand that Heaven is where God is, praying that “Our Father who is in Heaven, holy be your name” (Matt 6.9ff). The Lord also taught us that our hopes and prayers should always start with “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” While the Lord exhorted us to faithfully imagine and look forward to a world in complete submission to the will of our heavenly Father, Lennon wanted us to imagine God doesn’t exist, that we are by ourselves, that we are accountable to no one; consequently, we are living only for today, existing only for the moment. There is no reconciling what John Lennon wanted everyone to imagine and what Jesus stated is true now, as well as what will occur in the future. They are diametrically opposed to each other; consequently, they are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both; you can only have one at the sacrifice of the other—so much for harmonious diversity between what Lennon wanted and what Jesus will accomplish.

To make his point even more polarizing, Lennon exhorted us to imagine there is no “religion.” Now I also wish that there weren’t so many false religions throughout the world. But that is not what Lennon wished for; instead he wished that there was no religion at all. Regardless of how you feel about some religions, the vast majority of them essentially teach us one fundamental truth, which is that God exists and that we are accountable to Him. Say what you will about some of their specific teachings; nevertheless, our world is better off because of this essential truth that virtually all religions promote. And it is this foundational truth that Lennon wanted everyone to imagine doesn’t exist.

What is most disturbing about Lennon’s imagination is that he believed that humanity could live “life in peace” if everyone else would stop believing in their religions, which requires that Christians stop believing in Heaven, stop believing in God, and stop following the Lord Jesus Christ.  As a matter of fact, for Lennon it is we who believe in the kingdom of Heaven that are the ones who prevent world peace and global harmony from being achieved.  Lennon’s chorus asserts precisely this, suggesting that “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”  Did you get that?  Lennon believed that it is we who worship God and believe in Heaven that are the ones who prevent the rest of the world from living in global unity. Lennon thought that in order for world harmony to be experienced Christians are the ones that need to stop believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and what he clearly taught about God, himself, and sinful humanity. It is we, therefore, who have to abandon Jesus and join all Secular Humanists so that the world can experience global tranquility.  And Lennon extended this satanic invitation through a simply little ditty that Rolling Stone once listed as the 3rd greatest song of all time.

Now that I am older I have become a light sleeper, and one of the things that easily wakes me are nightmares. I used to sleep so hard that I couldn’t remember any of my dreams—good or bad, but those days are gone, and now I am easily awaken by an occasional nightmare. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” inspires people to believe in a worldview that in reality is a hellish nightmare rather than a dream. And as more and more people uncritically embrace his vision, then the gospel will become increasingly offensive to them. Lennon’s song “Imagine” is for Secular Humanists what “Just As I AM” is for the church. This New Year’s Eve take a moment and watch how many people sing along with Lennon’s hope for the world. Then think about what the world will be like if it starts accepting and acting upon Lennon’s imagination. What if the secular world actually begins to view Christians as “bitter clingers,” as hateful people who refuse to relinquish to their archaic Bibles, their mythical religion, and their dead Jesus?  What if they begin to view us as the ones that are the real impediments to their hope for world harmony? You may find that hard to imagine, but I don’t, not for a moment. The fact that the song gets any airplay at all is a bad omen. Once more and more people start believing that Christianity is what keeps humanity from experiencing global tranquility, then devote followers in the Lord Jesus Christ will find themselves in a nightmare that is the logical endgame of Secular Humanism, which will be hell on Earth for everyone.

Monte Shanks, Copyright © December 27, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Grace Through Faith

I once knew of a man who stated he was looking for God but he could never seem to find Him. He struggled with how to find God and he wanted what others had, he just could not seem to find it. The reason he could not find God was because he was dead in his trespasses and his transgressions. He thought that he had to find God through works. Let’s see what Paul said about that.

If we read Ephesians 2:1-10, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We cannot save ourselves. We cannot know God without first knowing His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through the loving GRACE of Jesus that we can have a relationship with God. Look at verse 5, “by grace you have been saved.” Not by our works.

The natural state of all human beings is spiritual death. This condition is universal; both for Gentiles (v2) and Jews (v3). The natural state of all humans is that we walk in active rebellion against God. It is because of God’s great love towards His followers in which we have forgiveness only found through Jesus. Sinners who are apart from Christ are in a hopeless condition. Only faith, not works can bring acceptance with God. It is only when the sinner recognizes that he cannot save himself is when he will hopefully believe in Jesus and turn his heart and mind over to Christ. Once he or she surrenders their life to Christ, that is when grace is granted and a relationship begins with God through Christ. In verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved through grace. And this is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God.” It is through Jesus Christ that this relationship begins.

© Copyright December 24, 2017. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

 

 

The True Meaning of Christmas!

Have you ever wondered about what Christmas is really about? This is just the beginning of a wonderful and divine act in which God sent His Son into the world.

This is just the beginning.

Luke 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

But this is NOT the end of the story…….

Although many celebrate Christmas with a baby in a feeding trough, that baby grew up as the loving Son of God who died a horrible death in order to redeem us from our wickedness. He was beaten until his blood was spilled on the ground, crucified with nails driven into his hands and feet, and He died. After three days, He rose from the grave and this is evidence that He truly was the Son of God.

May you find the real joy of Christmas that only Jesus Christ can bring. It is through the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection that we have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus came into the world not to judge the world but to save it. It is only through Jesus that one can be saved.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10: 9-11 ” 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus stands at your hearts door and knocks. If you want to really experience the “true” meaning of Christmas, then consider inviting Jesus Christ into your heart and life and ask God to change your heart and transform you to be Christlike in all that you do. Believe with your heart and mind. Ask forgiveness of your wrongdoing and sins, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Transformation means that you are a changed person for Christ.

Christmas is really about the Christ who came to save the world! Won’t you give your life to Christ and know the real meaning of Christmas?

© Copyright, December 23, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times, LLC.