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.

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Defeating The Adversary

The following is a discussion about Jerry Rankin’s book, “Spiritual Warfare: The Battle For God’s Glory.” The discussion pertains to how Satan tries to use one’s past and old nature to destroy a Christian’s walk with Christ and their testimony.

According to Jerry Rankin, our old nature is what comes natural for us. Our nature before Christ, our human and carnal nature loves satisfaction and gratification. We want what makes us happy and what feels good in the flesh. That is our old self, our old sinful nature, which is about our self. Suffering occurs because we must die to self and put on a new attitude, which is enriched in Christ. Satan loves to use our certain weaknesses to ensnare us in sin and make us feel defeated. Rankin quoted Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy fleshly desires.” We are to surround ourselves with Christ-like attitudes and remove ourselves from things that would temp us to sin. An example would be if a person had a problem with sex. Before Christ, one with this problem may have been indulged in numerous affairs or potentially had many sexual partners. The person may also have been addicted to pornography. After Christ, this same person should not want to continue with his or her illicit behavior. They should concentrate on Christ and strive to live for Christ everyday by praying and reading the Bible. But Satan knows their weakness and will try to destroy their witness by attacking them with opportunities to sin. A person who was addicted to pornography should not be watching television where nudity is included in the program. That in itself is like pouring gasoline on a house fire. Because people are human and have no power to save themselves, they must put on the full armor of God to avoid the traps and the fiery darts of Satan as described in Ephesians 6. If people do not want to fall back into a sinful lifestyle, they must change their habits and not watch or look at things that can cause temptation to sin and fail.

Rankin quoted a youth evangelist he knew as a child. The youth pastor stated, “If you don’t want your passions aroused in a way that would lead to hard-to-resist temptation, don’t put yourself in a situation where that is likely to happen by parking with your date in a dark car at a drive-in or anywhere else.”[1] “It comes down to the choices we make. If we desire to walk in the Spirit, then we have to choose to avoid situations that would cause the flesh to be tempted.”[2] People need to avoid situations that would lead them to lustful thoughts, which in turn may excite them or lead them to seek gratification. Of course, in the old nature, it is natural to want to do these things, but doing so is against God’s Law, principles, and will. That is why Jesus Christ came to take our sins, burdens, and our filthiness, and those sins and actions were already nailed to the cross with Christ. Jesus bore our sins and when we asked Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins, He forgave us. God has forgiven us. But once we accepted Christ and started living for God, Satan was furious and wants to destroy our testimony so that we will become ineffective in the Great Commission. Therefore, Satan uses every means to attack us because we are representatives of Christ. Rankin states, “In emphasizing the victory of which we are assured, we must not diminish the reality of the warfare. There is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Satan is opposed to our doing anything that glorifies and exalts Christ. He uses that self-centered nature of the flesh within us and the carnal values of the world around us to defeat us and cause us to sin.”[3]

Rankin quoted 1 Peter 5:10, “Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Jesus Christ, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”[4] Peter states that we suffer a little in contrast to Christ suffering to the point that His blood was spilt which lead to His death and resurrection. Our sufferings pale compared to giving up one’s life for the sins of the world. We will suffer if we follow Christ because the world, in which Satan currently has dominion over, will see to it that we are tempted and that we will struggle for the cause of Christ. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14). Living for Christ is hard because of our old sinful nature. The road traveled for Christ is narrow and few will find it. The road to the wide gate of worldly pleasures is easier to follow because one does not have to make any sacrifices and give up their old nature. But if we stand firm in our faith, Christ will deliver us. “Be sober! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9)

I agree with Rankin that if we put to death deeds, inclinations, and desires of the flesh, then we will suffer because this is not easy. Self-denial does cause suffering because of our old nature and the wants of self-centeredness. If we concentrate on serving Christ and loving others, then the desires of the flesh are greatly diminished. Getting serious about serving God means that one sets aside time everyday to pray and seek the face of God. Then we must also study God’s Word. To fight against Satan, we must get into God’s Word and really study. We must seek a relationship with God. We must walk in the Spirit and live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, in public, in private, and in secret. Our lives should be the same in all three categories. God sees all, even what is done in secret. Putting on Christ means that we are living our lives for Christ everyday in all that we do. We are to show love to everyone and grant grace and forgiveness. If not, Satan will use that as a foothold to try to destroy our lives and our testimony for Christ.

From the reading, one application I can implement into my prayer and ministry is to start fasting and praying more in order to get to know God better and to seek a closeness with Him. I have fasted in the past and did see answers to prayer, but Rankin indicated that fasting can bring us closer to God and “…demonstrate our longing and need for God through the denial and sacrifice of normal fleshly desires in our battle and victory over the flesh.”[5] This in turn could bring an outpouring of God’s blessings. I desire to be closer to God and want that intimate relationship with Him.

What about you? Do you desire a personal walk with the Savior, Jesus Christ? If so, then stop right where you are. Talk with the Father. That is called praying. Pray to Him and ask forgiveness of your sins. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and live in you. Then seek out a Bible believing church. Get involved in a church and in a Bible study so that you can be discipled in how to live a Christian life.

[1] Jerry Rankin, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle For God’s Glory (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 140.

[2] Ibid., 140.

[3] Ibid., 141.

[4] Ibid., 155.

[5] Ibid., 164.

Joseph T. Lee, © November 14, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Christian Free Speech Is Being Silenced by the Politically Correct!

I just learned recently that a conservative Christian political journalist has been silenced by the Political Correctness Police on certain social media websites. Yes, it is true! If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, and you are a conservative, and you post your true beliefs on certain social media sites, you may find your account blocked because your message may differ from their political agenda. The truth is that evil continues to prevail in our society. And it will only get worse when American’s continue to cave in to those who are pushing their unholy agendas down our throats.

So, how do we combat this? How can we overcome? The first way is to become grounded in the Word of God. Look at Ephesians 6:10-20 (English Standard Version). It reads, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Once one has put on the whole armor of God, they can withstand the fiery darts of Satan, which, in my opinion, are not only the attacks of the Politically Correct, but any temptation that can cause you to stumble. Becoming grounded in God’s Word can help you when you are being spiritually attacked. Praying to God on a regular basis helps to overcome evil as well as it builds a stronger relationship with God. Prayer does work and the Holy Spirit will intercede for us.

We should also live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:1-21 (English Standard Version). It reads, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Following these instructions will help you live a life of Christ. There are many other Scriptures I could mention, but these are great guidelines to start with. Therefore, do not allow the Politically Correct perversions to overcome you, but stand firm in God’s Holy Word. Continue to practice by loving your neighbor as yourself as well as praying for one another.

Stand firm and walk steady with Christ. Jesus Christ will never fail you or leave you! Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one shall come to God the Father, except through me.”

Just remember, as a Christian, you still have rights  in our great nation. If you feel your rights have been violated, then you should consider contacting The American Center for Law and Justice to see if your religious freedoms have been violated. Christians, do not allow the politically correct to silence your message. You have rights under free speech as well as freedom of religion. Stand firm in God and continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Joseph T. Lee, © November 11, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

What Is Marketplace Evangelism and the Power of One?

Someone recently asked me what Marketplace Evangelism was? This is my definition, but first, let me tell you what it isn’t. Marketplace Evangelism is not standing on the street corner and preaching to people in the street. It is not forcing Jesus Christ down people’s throats. Marketplace Evangelism is loving people at the job, career, or workplace; by living your life in a manner that is pleasing to God. It is espousing the love of Christ so that others will see something different in you. An example of this is going to see a co-worker or client who is hospitalized and visit and pray for them. It is opening yourself up, in faith, and only when truly led by the Holy Spirit, accept divine appointments to share your faith and how Christ has helped and changed you with those in your environment. It’s living your life in a manner, striving to be Christ incarnate, so that others may see Christ in you, because you may be the only Jesus anyone will ever see. It is making a difference in people’s lives one life at a time!

I know many people will not want to stand out in a crowd because of ridicule. I know this personally, because I have lived 59 years, being afraid to share my faith because of rejection. Being afraid because I did not want to “offend” anyone or I did not want to say the wrong thing. I know what other Christians think, because I have lived a lifetime not sharing the most wonderful gift that God has ever given to me, from His Son, Jesus Christ. That gift was forgiveness of all the terrible and sinful, dark, sins that I have ever committed or thought. That gift made me whole and changed my life. That gift is still changing my life every day. Do I still sin? Yes, I do. I am human and live in the same dark world as before. There is one exception. I have God’s forgiveness, have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me, and have conviction when I sin, which tells me that I need to stop and ask forgiveness from the one I sinned against and to God.

A few years back, when I finally got serious with what God had been calling me to do, my life changed dramatically. It changed in a way where my eyes were opened wide to the “TRUTH.” That “TRUTH” helped me to overcome my fears, so that I could do the work that I was called to do, right here in my own town. But God wants all Christians to get serious with what He has called all of us to do. Look what it says in Matthew 28:16-20, “16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus gave us something called the “Great Commandment.” According to Matthew 22:36-40, 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.” Love your neighbor as yourself. What does that mean? It means that we are to care and treat our neighbors the way we would want to be treated by doing for them when we see their time of need. Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is everyone who we encounter. Our neighbors are our co-workers, managers, employees, customers, waiters, waitresses, dry cleaner employee, anyone in the marketplace, the vagrant on the corner, everyone.

When we understand that our Christian walk is not only how we live our life in a pleasing manner to God, but we are to also step out on faith and tell someone about that saving grace that rescued us from a burning hell, then we are fulfilling the other commandment that Christ gave to us. Look at Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Our Jerusalem is our own neighborhood. Our Samaria is our own town or city. Our Judea can be our state or nation. These places can also be in the marketplace, where we live, work, and play. Don’t you see what Christ and our heavenly Father is asking us to do?

Have you ever heard of the power of one? I will post the excerpt from “Evangelism Is” written by Dave Earley and David Wheeler.

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, Esther, 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. 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. 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. 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 may be a soul who can shake the whole world.” ~ Dave Earley & David Wheeler

Let me ask you one last question. Why are you not sharing your faith? You never know. You may be the only “Jesus” anyone will ever see. You may be the one who shares your faith and the love Christ has given to you to a lost person who may become the one who God will use to shake the world! When I realized this, that was the turning moment in my life where I could no longer be a bench seat player in the “World Series” of our Christian faith! I could no longer sit still. I had to do something. What will you do to help spread the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ? When I think of all the time I have wasted in life and not have done what God called me to do so long ago, I grieve and become emotional. I have realized that although I have been a bench seat Christian all my life, and the time God has given me for the remainder of my life, I am to serve Him and be the evangelist He has called me to be. What about you? When will you get off the bench and get into the game?

Excerpt Credit:

Dave Earley and David Wheeler, Evangelism Is: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010) 133-134.

Joseph T. Lee, © November 10, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

 

 

Espousing Hatred Versus Love

November 8, 2017: Just recently, a woman was seen riding by President Trump’s motorcade as he was in route to a meeting. The woman then stuck her middle finger up at the President of the United States of America. I must say, one must have a lot of guts to do that! Either they do not respect the office of the President of the United States or they are filled with so much hatred, that they just want to tell the President to go to hades!

I visited her Facebook page and she has this picture posted as her Cover Picture on her wall. She apparently is very proud of this because she appeared to enjoy the kudos from her friends and fan base. So many people congratulated her on her actions to the President. Unfortunately, we are seeing this behavior all over the nation. What is so appalling is that this woman was the former Community Liaison Officer for the United States Embassy in Riga, Lativa from September 2007 to May 2009; which was found on her Facebook “About” page.

According to Curt Autry’s NBC12 Facebook page of Richmond, Virginia; this picture was captured by a White House Photographer, which ultimately went viral. It was reported that the bicyclist posted this picture on her Facebook and Twitter accounts and then her employer found out about it. Autry reported that her employer fired her over it because they are a government contractor. She embarrassed them with this gesture. Although she may have had the right to make gestures, she embarrassed her employer, which they in turn terminated her employment.

What would make this woman do this? Hatred is being espoused and spewed from peoples lips every day. It is apparent that the ways of God are not the ways of our nation. People place their political candidates on a higher level than they place God. People have fallen away from the ways of God. I see no love being espoused from the lips of the generation we are living in today. I see  brothers turning on brothers and sisters turning on sisters. What has happened when the man or woman in the highest office on earth has become the most despised and hated?

Isn’t it wonderful that we can live in a country and can say the hurtful and mean things about the President and other political leaders and not worry about losing our lives over what we say. After all, we are protected by free speech, right? Why not vomit hatred and disparaging remarks on social media? After all, it is free speech, right? You know, I believe it just shows the true “heart” and a dark heart that has no love. I am tired of seeing people post hateful things on social media that are hurtful all for the sake of a political agenda. But I guess the people who do this feel that their political beliefs outweigh their Spiritual beliefs. You would be surprised to see what some people write.

The very freedoms a US Citizen has in America was won on the deaths and sacrifices of the US Armed Forces. Before criticizing your President and other political leaders with hateful remarks, why not consider praying for him? After all, we are called to pray! We are called to pray for our neighbors and get this, even our enemies. Regardless of your political stance, why not consider espousing LOVE as opposed to hate? It is easier to forgive than to carry the burden of a grudge.

What is even more startling is proclaimed Believers are participating in this type of behavior. This means that they still have a heart problem. Maybe they truly are not “real Christians.” Maybe they are even using “Christianity” as a political tool. Whatever their motive, by speaking “evil words” against a man or a woman means that one does not have the Love of Christ in their heart.

Last night, in Virginia, the Democrats won in all three of the highest offices, which are Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. This is what the people asked for and what most Virginians wanted. But instead of Republicans being angry and throwing hateful and mean spirited slurs at them, they must come together and pray for our leaders. We must all come together and pray. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent; prayer will make a difference.

I don’t know what kind of god you worship or affiliate with? But my God can heal hearts! My God can forgive trespasses! My God can help people to overcome! Why should we pray for a man or woman in leadership whom we do not care for? Because by praying for them, we are asking God to intervene for us that they will do the right thing. My God can change hearts and can save people from their sins.

Why pray for leaders to fear God? When someone leads and lives fearing God, they experience:

1. Wisdom
2. Knowledge
3. Understanding
4. Eternal Praise
5. Victory
6. God’s Protection

7. A Blameless Walk
8. Length of Life
9. Wealth and Honor
10. Humility
11. The Avoidance of Evil
12. Being Untouched by Trouble
13. The Saving of a Crushed Spirit
14. A Life That Lacks Nothing

(Credit: Dr. Mark Becton taken from sermon preached on 01/22/2017, The Victory Hour, Grove Avenue Baptist Church.)

These fourteen points is all the reason to pray for your leaders, regardless of whether you like them or not. We are called to pray and to show the love of Christ to those who do not know Him, even if it is the President of the United States of America, Governor, Lt. Governor, or the Attorney General.

By praying for them, we are asking God to guide them and lead them to make the correct choices. By praying for them, God can change their hearts and hopefully, they will lead the people in a way that is honorable.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Matthew 18:19, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 6:9-13, “Pray then like this: “Our Father 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 us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Remember, before criticizing others, look at your own life. If you are without sin, then cast the first stone! But in reality, your life is just as filthy as the life that you are criticizing. Look at Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all have sin in our own lives. So, before you criticize the President, Governor, Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, or any other leader; consider cleaning up your own life before trying to straighten out the lives of others! This is exactly why we must be praying for others as well as have others to pray for us!

 

References:

Dr. Mark Becton taken from sermon preached on 01/22/2017, The Victory Hour, Grove Avenue Baptist Church.

Joseph T. Lee Blog, WordPress, “My God Can!”

Curt Autry NBC12, Facebook Page, November 6, 2017.

© November 8, 2017, Joseph T. Lee, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Less of Myself

“I pray that I will live a life for Jesus that others will see Jesus in me and less of myself.” ~ Foy Hocutt Lee

My Mom wrote the above statement in her devotion book a few years before she went to heaven. She did live a life pleasing to God and she wanted her children to do the same. As she lived her life, she was a wonderful example of walking close with God. The devotion she was reading at the time she wrote that statement was called “Walking Worthy” (Blackaby and Blackaby, 1997, p. 207).

The following are quotes from the study as well as scriptures relating to the subject matter. I will make my own commentary at the end.

Walking Worthy

Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

“Paul never lost his wonder at having been called by God. He understood that the way he lived ought to be worthy of the King who had chosen him. He knew that the mystery of the gospel had been hidden for generations and had only been revealed in his day through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:26-27). Paul also understood that until people accept the gospel, they are spiritually dead and therefore without hope (Col 2:13). As a result of God’s plan of salvation, those who trust in Jesus are not only made alive in Christ but are also adopted as the Father’s children (Rom. 8:16-17). Paul recognized that though the Gospel sounds like foolishness to the world, it is the power of God that brings eternal life to those who accept it” (Blackaby and Blackaby, 1997, p. 207).

“Because Paul’s life had been radically transformed by the gospel, he was intent on living to honor the gospel that gave him life. It would have been tragic to receive the riches of the gospel and then to live as a spiritual pauper. It would have been disgraceful to be saved from death by the blood of Christ and then show no reverence for that sacrifice. It would have been foolish to accept such love from Christ and then to resent what He asked in return” (Blackaby and Blackaby, 1997, p. 207).

“The way you live your life ought to be a tribute to the matchless grace that your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has bestowed upon you” (Blackaby and Blackaby, 1997, p. 207).

“Walking Worthy” is a tall order for men and women of the faith. Living a life pleasing to God is very hard if one does not transform their life into a life of holiness. No one can do this on his or her own. That is why it is important to constantly have a prayer time with God and to study the Bible and reach out to God through the scriptures, which are God inspired.

Walking worthy means that we should be living our lives in a way that is pleasing to the Father. We should do this both in our public lives as well as our private lives. You know what I am talking about. When you are alone and no one is around to see what you are thinking about? What your eyes see or what you do? God sees everything. He knows everything. You might be able to fool your friends but you are not fooling God! We should be living our lives in a manner that others see Jesus in us. But we also need to live our private lives in a manner that God sees Jesus in us. There are consequences of sin. A believer who has accepted Christ should strive to stop sinning and turn from his or her wicked ways. “Less of myself” means more of Christ and our focus should be on God and not ourselves. The way we live our lives should be a tribute to the matchless grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ has bestowed on us!

Today, Father, I pray that others will see more of Christ in me and “less of myself.” I pray that if someone reading this is not right with you, that they will repent of their sin and ask forgiveness and be transformed into the men and women you have called us to be. I pray Father, that you will constantly help me to be more like Christ in all that I do. I pray for our nation will turn back to you! I pray that our nation will have a revival and that our brothers and sisters in Christ will walk tall and walk worthy of you! In Jesus name! Amen!

Scripture References:

Colossians 1:26-27 “26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” New International Version (NIV)

Colossians 2:13 “13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” (NIV)

Romans 8:16-17 “16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (NIV)

References

Blackaby, Henry T, and Richard Blackaby. EXPERIENCING GOD DAY-BY-DAY: The Devotional and Journal. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 1997.

Joseph T. Lee, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC, © November 5, 2017

What are the top five tasks of a pastor and why?

What are the top five tasks of a pastor and why? The answer to this question will vary from student to student because there are more than five tasks of a pastor. Certainly, John MacArthur made mention of seventeen primary activities taken from First and Second Thessalonians. They are praying, evangelizing, equipping, defending, loving, laboring, modeling, leading, feeding, watching, warning, teaching, exhorting, encouraging, correcting, confronting, and rescuing (MacArthur, 11-12). To determine which of these activities are most important is dependent on the pastor and what are their priorities and ministry? An activity may be considered a task, but this student wants to examine tasks as possibly ministries of a pastor.

According to MacArthur, there are seven ministries that can be boiled down from these activities. These ministries have three basic purposes of the church. They are exaltation, evangelism, and edification (MacArthur, 59). Therefore, to boil these tasks or activities down a little more, these activities lead a pastor into these seven ministries: The Ministry of the Word, The Ministry of Fellowship, The Ministry of the Lord’s Supper, The Ministry of Prayer, The Ministry of Outreach, The Ministry of Missions, and The Ministry of Interchurch Fellowship (MacArthur, 61-62). MacArthur wrote, “The role of pastoral leadership, composed of a select group of men from the church of redeemed believers, is to provide guidance, care, and oversight for the church so that it fulfills its Christ-ordained mandate of evangelizing the entire world, growing into the likeness of Christ, and existing for the exaltation and worship of God” (MacArthur, 58). Out of these seven ministries, this student will select his top five based on what he thinks are the priorities, but all are of equal importance.

The first and probably the most important ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of the Word. Pastors are responsible for teaching the Word of God. This is done through a combination of opportunities such as preaching, teaching Sunday school, and small group Bible studies. Romans 10:17 states that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. MacArthur wrote, “What is important, however, is that the Word of God be taught. If the Word of God is taught, the church will grow in faith and love (Rom. 10:17)” (MacArthur, 59).

The second ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of Prayer. According to MacArthur, “Prayer moves God; prayer changes things” (MacArthur, 61). A church that prays will see God’s miracles and His work. Praying is the way Christians communicate with God. MacArthur wrote, “A praying church will be a victorious, growing, maturing community. The wonder of today’s church is that so much goes on with so little praying. The answer to many of the church’s problems is not more seminars, programs, and promotional gimmicks but more intercession on the part of God’s people, both as a group and in a closet” (MacArthur, 61). This quote is so very true. This student has seen miracles come through prayer, from his own healing to church organizations receiving the funds needed to carry on. Through diligent prayer, through that communion with God, it will bring the church community closer in their faith walk with Him. Then that is when one will start to see lives changing for the cause of Christ.

The third ministry task is the Ministry of Outreach. The pastoral leader is to lead his flock into evangelism. Christ gave every one of His followers a command. This is found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The church is to take the Gospel throughout the world. Pastors must teach his congregants how to lead others to Christ. He must himself, practice personal soul winning. MacArthur stated that many in the church feel that it is the pastor’s sole responsibility to evangelize, but they are mistaken. It is every believer’s responsibility to evangelize. But it is the pastor’s responsibility to teach his congregants in how to share their faith.  MacArthur wrote, “A Church that does not know how to reproduce and does not reproduce is in reality an immature congregation, regardless of its intellectual comprehension of Scripture or the sophistication of its corporate programs” (MacArthur, 62). Therefore, it is the pastor’s responsibility to teach his church members how to share their faith. If not, unfortunately, the membership will dwindle.

The fourth ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of the Lord’s Supper. The early church participated in “breaking bread” as a remembrance of Jesus Christ and the last supper with His disciples. MacArthur wrote, “The Lord’s Supper, like the ordinance of baptism, is no trivial practice, but one that lies at the heart of the Christian message (1 Cor. 11:23-26). The symbolism, solemnity with celebration, and the sanctity required by all participants make it one of the most inspirational and worshipful services of the Christian community” (MacArthur, 60). MacArthur also wrote that great spiritual benefit comes from participation in the Lord’s Supper (MacArthur, 61). Pastors must teach his congregants that by celebrating the Lord’s Supper will help bring meaning and will edify each person’s soul. It is the worship of Christ and what He did for us, by laying down His life for all who would believe.

The fifth ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of Missions. This goes almost hand in hand with the Ministry of Outreach. The pastor must lead his congregants in establishing and maintaining a missions program. Christ gave His followers the commandment to take the Gospel to all of Jerusalem, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. By following Jesus Christ’s commandment, this results in attempting to fulfill the Great Commission. The church must also participate in sending or supporting missionaries who are willing to go throughout the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the pastor to teach his congregants that this is a requirement and not an option.

In conclusion, this student interpreted the top five tasks of a pastor as ministries. Certainly, the first seventeen activities are all important, but these were boiled down to actual ministries which the pastoral leadership must accomplish to lead his church congregants in the way that Christ would have led them. The result of these five ministries will help to accomplish the three basic purposes of the church which are exaltation, evangelism, and edification.

 

Bibliography

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

Joseph T. Lee © November 2, 2017 The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

 

Spread the Word

My father collected pocket knives. I don’t think it was a formal hobby, he just did it. When he died, I inherited more pocket knives that I counted. I kept a few to remember him by, but I sold most of them.

What do I collect? Bibles! My father’s mother, whom I barely remember, gave me a Bible when I was born, a King James Version. The church we attended gave me a Revised Standard Version when I was in the fourth grade. Neither would be particularly memorable, except that my full name was printed on the front of each.

When did my habit of Bible collecting start? I accepted Jesus after reading a Billy Graham tract. I was 15 at the time. At that point, I became very interested in reading scripture; I wanted to devour it since I knew almost nothing about it. I hadn’t attended a Bible-believing church. The Sunday School I went to sporadically, mostly discussed social issues of the day. I even remember one teacher at the church explaining away the miracle of the loaves and fish by saying that the little boy demonstrated a spirit of sharing, and the other people were moved by his generosity and shared the food they had brought with them. There was nothing in my background that would have motivated me to be interested in a book that I believed was untrue. But when I accepted Jesus, I believed the Bible was true. So, I wanted to learn as much as I could.

The first step was to read it through.  I got a four-parallel translation in paper back. I read the King James on the left, and looked at the other translations for better understanding when I was unsure of the meaning.

My next Bible, which I asked my parents for at Christmas, was a New Scofield Reference Bible. I read it voraciously until it was well-worn.

While in college, hanging out at the Baptist Student Union, I found that the more committed Christians were using the New American Standard Bible. It was a more literal translation and easier to understand than my KJV. I got a copy.

Then I moved to study Bibles. My big favorite was the Ryrie Study Bible. Ryrie’s notes covered the essential information I needed to understand they text, but they were not like a commentary under the text that came with some later translations.

Next it was the New International Version. I got it in the Study Bible, which did have great notes, which I devoured.

Then I got a New King James Version, when that came out. I could read the beautiful language, but it had more understandable wording than the older KJV.

I acquired many study Bibles as well: The Nelson Study Bible, The Criswell Study Bible, The Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, which allowed me to look up selected Greek and Hebrew words.

I could go on…but fast forward to later years, Lifeway came out with the Holman Christian Standard, so my wife got me that version’s study Bible, and I have an Apologetics Study Bible in the same translation. Now that translation has been updated with the Christian Standard Bible. Oh, and least I forget, the New American Standard was updated in 1995.

Another favorite translation in a more literal complete equivalence is the English Standard Version. I have a few copies of that, included the ESV Study Bible.

All total I probably have had 70 or so various Bibles. Some I’ve worn out, others I’ve given away.

We English speaking believers have many choices, and some good choices at that. Other languages have maybe one translation, and many languages have no translation of the Bible. Some languages are not even written.

Translations do make money for publishers, which is the case in English. But what bothers me is that many people around the world have no copy of God’s word.

Read the Bible in one of the translations I’ve mentioned. Obey God’s word, applying it to your life. But be sure to support those who are translating scripture into languages that don’t currently have a copy.

Don’t be simply a collector. Be an applier, and be a spreader of God’s word.

Dr. Ashton Smith © November 1, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Racism: Such an Ugly & Hateful Characteristic of the Human Race

Racism is such an ugly and hateful characteristic of the human race. Anyone who possesses this trait is not a true follower of Jesus Christ. People like this are hearing the voice of the evil one, who is Satan himself. I recently heard a woman on television state that she could never forgive a person who burned a cross on her front yard. I can certainly understand her feelings. For one, my uncle was murdered. It was very hard forgiving that young man that murdered my uncle in cold blood. Whether it is a racial violent crime of just a trespass against us, God commands that we forgive one another. Yes, according to Christ Jesus, we are to forgive those who trespass against us.

Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 (English Standard Version), “Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Our debts are not just debts to a creditor. According the Kings James Version, the word is “Trespasses.” This means wrongs such as offenses, actions that anger people, and sins against others. If we cannot forgive others, then how can we expect Christ Jesus to forgive us? Certainly, burning a cross on someone’s front lawn is a vile and cruel gesture of hatred. So is murdering an innocent man for a few dollars with a sawed-off shotgun. The fact remains; sin is sin, regardless of the severity!

Jesus came into our world not to condemn it, but to offer salvation to it. It was through His Love that He crawled up on that cross and allowed mankind to murder Him for our trespasses against God, the Father. Christ Jesus died for you and me. If we call ourselves a “Christian,” then we are commanded to forgive one another for past transgressions. Hatred is an evil characteristic to teach children so that they will grow up to hate a person of a different skin color. Look at Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Hating others causes you to sin and remain in sin until you ask forgiveness. Matthew 5:43-48 states, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Now that we know that unforgiveness is against God’s law, how can we get from racist anger to being able to love our neighbor as ourselves? The first thing is to acknowledge your anger to God. Pray that Christ Jesus will forgive you of your wickedness. Then, ask Jesus to come into your life and live through you. The power of the Holy Spirit is stronger than the evil of Satan. You cannot be a true Christian if you have hatred in your heart for anyone. Hatred is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is not a fruit of being a Christian.  Once you have confessed with your mouth to God that you are a sinner, lost without Christ, and then you ask Christ Jesus to forgive you, He will. If you open your heart up to Christ Jesus, He will transform you, even if you are the vilest person that has walked the face of the earth. Christ Jesus took all your evil stuff already to the cross so that if you accept Him and believe that he is the Son of God, you will be saved from death, which is hell. But here is the thing that is most important that you must understand. If you still have hatred in your heart for Black people or White people or anyone that is not the color that you are, you are separated from God. You are allowing Satan to rule your life with evilness. Coming to Christ means that you have surrendered it all to God, that you are allowing God to change your heart so that you will be capable of loving others.

Once a person has come to Christ, then God’s love is able to fill his or her heart. There is no room for evil. There is only room for growth in Christ Jesus to become a more mature Believer in Jesus Christ. Therefore, if one thinks that they are a Christian and then cannot forgive a racist who has burned a cross on her front lawn, and she will never forgive him, even if he has asked for forgiveness, then that person who does not forgive will be separated from God based on Scripture. Please see Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” See Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 17:3-4, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Matthew 18:21-22; 35, “Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

As followers of Christ Jesus, we are required to forgive, even racists. If we do not, then we cannot expect God to forgive us. If people claim to be a Christian, but state they struggle with hatred, then I would question whether they have ever have come to Christ with a repentant heart and have received salvation through Jesus Christ. Therefore, in order to be righteous in God and righteous in Christ Jesus, we MUST FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER. That is the way of the Father and the way of His SON, JESUS CHRIST.

Joseph T. Lee © October 30, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.