Tag Archives: prayer

My Thoughts On John 6:22-27

The Food Which Brings Eternal Life
The Food Which Brings Eternal Life

After miraculously feeding five thousand men and walking on water, Jesus went to Capernaum.  When the crowds Jesus had fed discovered he was gone, they followed him and, upon finding him, asked when he had arrived (vs. 22-25).  Jesus knew that they wanted only another free meal, and so admonished them, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life…” (vs. 26-27).

Our Lord knows that we need to devote some attention to work for material necessities like food (Gen. 3:19), so he is not telling us that we shouldn’t work for physical food.  Rather, he is telling us to not give our primary attention to the material things of this life.  Our primary focus should be on obtaining that which will give us eternal life (Col. 3:1-2; Matt. 6:25-33).

It’s no secret that God tests our faith and loyalty to him (Gen. 22:1-12; Heb. 11:17).  It’s easy for us to sing None of Self and All of Thee…but do our actions back up our words when tested by God?  On Super Bowl Sunday at churches that offer evening worship services, will we choose to not assemble to worship our God and learn from him because we’d rather watch the Super Bowl…or will our focus be primarily on what will help us obtain eternal life?  Today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter, will we take a decent amount of time before or after work to study God’s Word and pray to him…or will recreational activities or more work be more important?

God tests our loyalty every day.  Are we passing his tests?  Are we truly laboring for the food that endures to eternal life?

 

 

The Peace Which Prayer Brings

We live in uncertain times.  I think all of us can agree with that.  Words such as “bankruptcy,” “job loss,” “job insecurity,” “personal debt,” and “fiscal cliff” seem to dominate the news lately.  Dwelling on all of these things adds a tremendous amount of stress to our lives.  As a result, we develop feelings of distress, discouragement, and discomfort in our lives.

What can we do, if anything, to obtain relief from these burdens and pressures we feel everyday?  The answer to this question is found in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7.  In these two verses of Scripture he writes:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  From these two brief verses come three principles that will help to alleviate the burdens we bear in life.

First, our Lord through his apostle is telling us that we need to develop the right mindset as we deal with our burdens.  Simply put, we are not to be anxious about anything!  Truly, our anxiousness about a matter will not make the situation better nor will it make us feel better.  Anxiety is in effect an unproductive emotion.  Jesus provides us with a wonderful discourse on this topic in Matthew 6:25-34.  I urge you to read this passage, for in it he tells us we should not worry nor be anxious because God will provide what we need when we need it.

Second, Paul tells us that we need to take all our anxieties and give them over to God in prayer.  This makes sense because most certainly God is better able to deal with our anxieties than we are.  He is able to help us in our time of need because he knows what is best for us, and he also has an infinite amount of resources at his disposal to bring us the help we need!  Let us also remember concerning this particular principle that we are to approach him in prayer in a spirit of thanksgiving.  During this week when we focus on the holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s not put as much attention on the good food (as hard as that may be to do) as we do on being grateful for having the food in the first place, as well as the roof over our heads and all the other blessings that God gives us that we take for granted.  (Especially the spiritual blessings that come from being a Christian!)  When we pray with gratitude, we can learn the lesson that focusing on being grateful for what God has already done for us assures us he will continue to take care of all of our needs.

And third, God tells us that if we pray, then peace will replace the anxiety we feel.  And not only will peace replace our anxiety, but that peace will continually protect our hearts and minds.  All of this is possible for those who take the time to cast their cares upon God.  Knowing these truths, we need to ask ourselves why we waste another minute of our lives being anxious, worried, burdened, and overwhelmed.  Let us give God the glory in our lives by being filled with joy and peace rather than anxious.

Hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving!

What Makes A Good Leader?

As a father, I think a lot about the command given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4.  This is a command that God did not give to mothers, although mothers also are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Prov. 31:26-28, 30).  The command in Ephesians 6:4 is given to fathers, which tells me that God wants fathers and husbands to be leaders in the home (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-23).  This notion is not a popular one in our society these days, mainly due to so many men NOT being leaders in their homes.  Our homes, our nation, and the church are in decline as a result of this lack of leadership, and God is not pleased.

Men, God wants us to take leadership in the home.  He wants us to take the helm, to be a man, a leader…especially when it comes to making the home a godly, spiritual sanctuary for your wife and children.  When we do this, that’s when WE…not our wives, not our parents, but WE…will be bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Our marriages will grow stronger, our families will be more godly, and over time our nation will begin to rise from her declining morality.  The church also will grow stronger.  After all, one of the scriptural qualifications of a leader in the church is that he “must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”  (1 Tim. 3:4-5)  Do we want stronger leaders in the church?  It starts with being a strong leader in the home.  It starts with husbands and fathers.

As a husband and father, I want to be the type of leader in the home that God wants me to be, and I want all of my fellow fathers and husbands to be the same.  I want wives and mothers to also be good leaders for your children, setting the proper example for them and for their husbands.  I want those who are in leadership positions in the workplace and who are leaders in the church to be the type of leaders God wants you to be.

When I think of biblical leadership, I think of Joshua, a man who had great influence over those in his generation (Josh. 24:29-31) because he was faithfully obedient to God’s Word (Josh. 1:7-8).  He was also a very humble man, shown by the fact the was willing to serve others both before and after he became a leader.  He served as Moses’ assistant for forty years (Ex. 24:13; 33:11), which tells me that great leaders are people who have no problem serving others.  In fact, serving others helps them to lead.  When Joshua took the helm after Moses’ death, God himself magnified the man (Josh. 3:7)…but Joshua didn’t let that go to his head.  He was still willing to serve One greater than himself (Josh. 5:13-15).  This tells me that I as a husband and father need to be humble if I want to be a great leader, because great leaders do not let praise go to their head.  Great leaders are humble enough to know when it is time to serve once again.  They are humble servants as well as leaders.

Joshua’s humility is shown even more when we see that he was a man of faith and trust in God.  When ten of his fellow spies had no faith in God (Num. 13:25-28), he and Caleb remained steadfast in spite of the peer pressure they felt to join the majority in their lack of faith (Num. 14:6-9).  Later, God would give this military commander with lots of military experience directions to take Jericho which would make no sense from a militarily strategic point of view…and Joshua obeyed them to the letter due to his strong faith and trust in God (Josh. 6:1-5; Heb. 11:30).  This tells me that great leaders realize that they cannot place their faith in men, or in themselves.  They must look to God and completely trust in him!

Closely related to this is another quality of Joshua that made him a great leader, the fact that he was a man of God’s Word (Josh. 1:7-8).  His success as a leader was directly related to his adherence to Scripture.  He would tell others to stay true to God’s Word (Josh. 1:12-15), and would read the entire law of Moses to the whole nation and commit them to obey it (Josh. 8:30-35).  Even at the end of his life, he was encouraging the nation to obey God’s Word (Josh. 23:6, 14-16).  The following passage sums it up best:  “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did.  He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.”  (Josh. 11:15)

We know that faith comes from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17).  This means that I as a husband and father cannot expect to be a godly, faithful leader in the home without being a man who knows and follows all of God’s Word to the best of my ability.  None of us can be faithful leaders in the home, in the church, or in the workplace without being men and women of the Book.  God is telling us the same thing he told Joshua (Josh. 1:8; 1 Tim. 4:13-16).  Fathers and mothers, do you want to lead your children to heaven?  Husbands, do you want to lead your wife to heaven?  Bosses, do you want to show your employees the way to heaven?  Elders in the church, do you want every single member of your flock to go to heaven?  The way is simple.  Know God’s Word, and obey it.  All of it.

Additionally, we must follow Joshua’s example by being devoted to prayer.  When hard times came, Joshua and the elders of Israel prayed to God (Josh. 7:6-9).  Joshua would even take time to pray in the middle of waging a great battle (Josh. 10:12-14).  This tells me that he didn’t trust in his own strength; rather, he looked to the Lord for help.  Fathers, mothers, husbands, bosses, elders, deacons…when leaders need all the help they can get, they need to be people of prayer!

Basically, Joshua was a man who put God first.  We know this because he took the time IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE MILITARY CAMPAIGN to read the entirety of the Bible as it was at the time to the whole nation (Josh. 8:30-35), even when doing so would give his enemies time to regroup (Josh. 9:1-2).  Nevertheless, he still put God first.  He didn’t care what others did or thought.  As for him and his family, they would serve the Lord (Josh. 24:14-16).  That is my goal for my family.  Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives…is that your goal?  Employers, is that your goal for your company and business?  Pastors, deacons, is that your goal for the church?  Are all of us actively pursuing that goal?

Israel served God while Joshua was alive (Josh. 24:31).  Why did they do this?  Because Joshua was the type of leader that we need to be if we hope to lead our loved ones, our fellow Christians, and those who are lost to heaven.  Do you want your family, your church, and your employees to serve God?  Be a leader like Joshua.  It is my prayer that we can all be people of humility, men and women of faith and trust in God, men and women of the Word, men and women of prayer, men and women who put God first in all areas.