Friday, May 29, 2015

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread! Do We Need To Pray This Prayer Today?

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
(Is this Petition Relevant Today?)
                                                      
                                                     by George V Thiruvanathapuram

Picture Credit: www.imagekind.com

In Mathew Chapter 6 verses 9-13, we have what is generally called as the Lord’s Prayer.”  In using this title, however we should remember that Jesus never prayed it Himself.  It was given to the disciples as a model after which they could pattern their prayer.  In some Christian groups this prayer is often used, as a matter of routine, without knowing the real meaning of each petition.  Out of the seven petitions here, the first three concerns the name, kingdom and will of God.  The Lord must occupy the highest place, and indeed in our whole lives.  The four petitions for ourselves rise by degrees from “bread” up to “deliverance from evil”: teaching us that we ought to grovel in prayer, but to increase in spirituality while we pray. (C H Spurgeon)  “Give us this day our daily bread.” Give us necessary food, bread for the day; our own bread, yet thy gracious gift; give it not only to me, but to all of us thy children.  Is this petition needed today when our purses are thick, bank balances sufficient, and our store houses and fridges are full with food materials from salad to chicken?  There was a time when our forefathers and evangelists like George Muller or M E Cherian and many others fully depended on our gracious Lord for each meal?  I still remember a time when a friend of mine, was examining the rooftop of their wooden house to check, whether he could get few pieces of dried Tapioca, which was stolen by rats from them.  Such was the hard time!  Now the situations have changed!  Who needs such a prayer when many could join with that fool in Luke 12 who said, “soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry”! (v. 19).  

Let us examine this Lord’s teaching on the basis of the Scriptures:

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Physical Needs:
“Our daily bread” refers primarily to the supply of our temporal needs.  With the Hebrews,  bread was a generic term, signifying the necessities and conveniences of this life.  (Gen: 3:19; 28:20), such as food, raiment and housing.  Inherent in the use of the specific term bread  rather than the more general term food  is an emphasis, teaching us not to ask for dainties or for riches, but for that which is wholesome and needful.  Bread here includes health and appetite apart from which food does us no good.  It also takes into account nourishment:  for this comes not from the food alone, nor does it lie within the power of man’s will.  Hence God’s blessings  on it is to be sought.  “For every creature of God is good, and on it is nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:  For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer”  (1 Tim. 4:4,5).

Spiritual Needs:
Mathew Henry has correctly pointed out that the reason for this request for the supply of our physical needs heads the last four petitions in this prayer is that “our natural well being is necessary for our spiritual well being in the world.”  In other words, God grants to us the physical things of this life as helps to discharge of our spiritual duties.  And since they are given by Him, they are to be employed in His service, and not for our selfish activities for making money.  What gracious consideration God shows toward our weakness: we are inept and unfit to perform our higher duties if deprived of the things needed for the sustenance of our bodily existence.  We may also rightly infer that this petition comes first, in order to promote the steady growth and strengthening of our faith.  Perceiving the goodness and faithfulness of God in applying our daily physical needs, we are encouraged and stimulated to ask for higher blessings (Cf. Acts. 17:25-28).

Solomon’s Attitude
In begging God to give us our daily bread, we ask that He might graciously provide us with a portion of outward things such as He sees will be best suited to our calling and station.  “Give me neither poverty nor riches;  feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny Thee and say, Who is Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain (Prov. 30:8,9).  If God grants us the superfluities of life we are to be thankful, and must endeavor to use them to His glory; but we must not ask them.  “And having food and raiments let us be therewith content.   We  are to ask for “our daily bread”  (1 Tim. 6:8)  It is to be obtained not by theft, nor by taking force or fraud what belongs to another, but by our personal labor and industry.  Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty, open thine eyes, and thou shall be satisfied with bread”  (Prov. 20:13)  “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness”  (Prov. 31:27)  Is this request restricted to our daily bread)   No.  First, we are reminded of our frailty.  We are unable to continue in health for twenty four hours, and are unfit for the duties of a single day, unless constantly fed from on high.  Second, we are reminded of the brevity of our mundane existence.  None of us know what a day brings forth, and  therefore we are forbidden to boast ourselves of tomorrow (Pro. 27:1)  Third, we are taught to suppress all anxious concern for the future and to live a day at a time one day at a time.  “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought of the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6: 34) Fourth, Christ inculcates a lesson of moderation.  Finally, observe that our Lord’s word “Give us this day our daily bread” is appropriate for use each morning, whereas the expressions, He teaches in Luke 11:3 “Give us day by day our bread” ought be our request every night.  Then the question that comes before us is “Do we have family worship (prayer) every morning and evening?  Let us all re-confirm this in our lives during this year, to have family altar.  Let me conclude this by quoting our Lord’s words from Matthew Chapter 6:25-28  “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?


And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  It then came to the ground to pick up a crum and rising merrily again seemed to repeat its simple song “Mortals, cease from toil and sorrow, God provideth for the morrow.”  This greatly comforted the Reformers heart”  (C.H. Spurgeon)  

Let us cheer our hearts by reading that delicious song of contentment: Psalm 23:  The Lord is my shepherd is ENOUGH:   “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:  and  I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge (Ps. 46:11).  It is good to sing this twice; It is a truth of which no believer wearies, it is a fact too often forgotten.  

John Wesley was sick and could not be understood.  He attempted to speak.  At last, with all his strength he cried.  “The best of all is, God is with us.”  Again, raising his hand and waving it in triumph, he exclaimed with thrilling effect,  “The best of all is, God is with us.”  These words seem to express the leading feature of his life.  God had been with him from early childhood.  His providence had guided him through all the devious wanderings of human life.  Now when he was entering the “valley of the shadow of death,” the same hand sustained him (Spurgeon: “The Treasury of David”).  

Beloved, is the Lord on your side?  

Is Emmanuel, God with us, Your Redeemer? 


(An adaptation from Harvest Times, Mumbai.  A GLS publication. Used by permission)

Source: 
Back to the Bible, Secunderabad.
Gospel Literature Service (Harvest Times, Mumbai)
Confident Living Magazine



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

THE FOOL'S FOLLY

THE FOOL'S FOLLY
— Warren W. Wiersbe
Read Psalm 53:1-6


This psalm describes the atheist and gives eight reasons why he is a fool. First, he does not acknowledge God (v. 1). He lives as if there is no God. He does not obey God (v. 1). Some people think that human nature is basically kind and good. Not so. We are abominably corrupt by nature (Rom. 3:9). He does not understand God (v. 2). If you don't have the Spirit of God, you can't understand the things of God. Atheists say they won't accept anything they can't understand. Actually, there is little in the world they do understand!

The fool does not seek God (v. 2). No one by himself seeks God and comes to know Him. God invites us to seek Him, and He has mercy on us. He does not follow God's way (v. 3). God has ordained the right path for us. Being a Christian is not easy, and many people do not want to pay the price. The narrow road leads to life and is tough; the broad road is the easy way until the end (Matt. 7:13,14).

The fool does not call on God (v. 4). Such people are mercenary and do not treat others right. He does not fear God (v. 5). The day will come when the fool will be afraid. He lives with a false confidence and one day will face judgment. He does not hope in God (v. 6). The person who leaves God out of his life has no future.

God's people have a future of eternal life. However, anyone who professes to be a Christian, but lives like an atheist also is a fool. May Jesus, help us to acknowledge the goodness, greatness and majesty of Almighty God.
***@***

The atheist lives as if there is no God. You, as God's child, eagerly await eternal life. However, if you fail to walk with the Lord, you behave as a fool. Lay hold of your spiritual resources in Christ and hope in Him.

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(An adaptation from the book  “Prayer, Praise and Promises” A Back to the Bible Publication, Few copies of this devotional book is now available with Back to the Bible Head Qts. for a reasonable donation. Please contact:@ info@backtothebible.in OR philip@backtothebible.in or by Telephone 040 27796353)



Source: Back to the Bible Intl. 
Picture Credit: Google.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Christianity In Concrete

Christianity In Concrete
 by Warren W. Wiersbe (President Back to the Bible Intl.)


Dwight L. Moody was certainly one of the most practical preachers who ever ministered the Word. He had been a successful salesman prior to becoming an evangelist, so that might explain his down-to-earth approach to Christian service. "Every Bible ought to be bound in shoe leather!" he said, a statement that summarizes his philosophy of Christian living.

Moody was attending a YMCA convention in Indianapolis, and there he met Ira Sankey, who was later to become his associate in ministry. He asked Sankey to meet him at a certain corner late one afternoon. When Sankey arrived, he discovered that Moody had planned a street meeting and Sankey was supposed to sing!

Soon a crowd gathered, and Moody began to preach. He spoke for less than 30 minutes and then invited the growing crowd to follow him to the opera house. In a few minutes, the opera house was full. Moody mounted the platform and preached another sermon to the attentive congregation. At the close of his message, Moody said, "Now we must close, as the delegates to the convention wish to come to discuss the topic 'How To Reach the Masses.' "

That was D. L. Moody! While others were discussing a subject, he was achieving an object! He believed in Christianity in the concrete, not in the abstract.

This was our Lord's approach to life and service. A lawyer wanted to discuss "Who is my neighbor?" but Jesus said, "To whom can you be a neighbor?" The lawyer wanted to travel in the abstract heights of theology and law, but Jesus brought him down to earth and told him about a man dying by the side of the road.

 Abstract Christianity never won a soul for Christ, never dried a tear, never fed a hungry child and never encouraged a fainting heart. While there certainly is a place for committees, conventions and the frank discussion of "abstract" issues and problems, unless those discussions produce concrete ministry, we have wasted valuable time and money avoiding the real issues.

Let me share with you some areas of Christian life and ministry that need to be dealt with in the concrete, not the abstract.

First, there is this thing we call "the world." You hear about it especially at missionary conventions where speaker after speaker reminds us of the needs of "the world." Quite frankly, I can't conceive of seven billion people, even when the speaker dramatizes this number in some pictorial fashion. Seven billion people! The world!
But God doesn't want me to get concerned about "the world" in the abstract. He wants me to start with my world, right where I am. Dr. Oswald J. Smith has often reminded us, "The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home." It is difficult to believe that a committee member is burdened for Africa when he has no concern for his own neighborhood.

"Abstract Christianity" will enable you to keep up your reputation for dedication without having to pay too great a price.

Whatever "the world" may be, it begins at my front door. What good is it for me to use my missionary prayer list each morning and intercede for my friends overseas, if I am not burdened for the people I meet day after day?

While attending a convention, I missed a friend of mine who was not in the session on personal witnessing. I saw him at lunch and told him what a great session we had enjoyed. "Where were you?" I asked him. He replied, "I was out in the lobby leading one of the bellhops to Christ." Believe me, I felt very small.

Second is the matter of "the home." I hear zealous speakers telling me that we must do some-thing about "the home." They tell me "the home" is deteriorating, and no doubt it is. But I can do very little about "the home" in the abstract. I can do something about my own home, and you can do something about your home.

It is frightening to realize that today we have more books on marriage and the home, more films, more CDs, more lectures, more radio and TV programs and more seminars and conferences, and yet we seem to have more marital and family problems! We seem to have a great deal of information but not enough motivation. I wonder if the time hasn't come for us to move "the home" out of the abstract and into the concrete.

One way we sometimes deal with "the home" in the abstract is by putting the blame for our failures on the church and the public schools. We forget that nobody can replace father and mother or assume their responsibilities. If my children didn't learn to enjoy the Bible at home, they aren't likely to enjoy it at Sunday school or church. If they didn't learn to study, obey and work at home, they will probably not learn it on the Christian school campus. A Christian family is built at home, not someplace else. The Christian school and the church can only fortify what is built at home, and we thank God for their ministry.

During one of my pastorates, I was counseling a couple who were also seeing a Christian psychiatrist. One day the wife said to me, "Can you recommend another Christian psychiatrist?" When I asked her why, she replied, "Our psychiatrist just left his wife and ran off with one of his patients." He knew a great deal about "marriage" in the abstract, but he wasn't keeping his own home in good repair.

A third abstraction that needs to be dealt with in the concrete is "the church."

As a lifelong student of the Bible, I know what people mean by "the Church." Or I think I know. They mean that great host of people who have trusted Jesus Christ and belong to the family of God. Some of these people are on earth, and many more of them are in heaven. Some preachers and teachers talk about "the invisible church," a term I dislike, especially when I used to count the crowd on Sunday evenings. "The Church universal" is another term.

Let's stop avoiding responsibility by talking in the abstract about "the Church." Let's get busy and support the local church we belong to, the ministry that is concrete.

One Sunday our congregation was singing "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord," a beautiful hymn that magnifies the importance of God's church. As I stood on the platform singing, I looked across the congregation and thought to myself, "How many of these people really love this church?" How easy it is to sing about some spiritual abstraction! How difficult it is to get involved in a real fellowship where there are needs and problems!

I must tread softly as I share this fourth area, because I may be misunderstood; but I think the time has come to quit talking about "the victorious Christian life" in the abstract and start dealing with the needs in our own lives individually. To be sure, there is such a concept as "victorious Christian living," although I find that not all "deeper life" speakers agree on what it is. But what good does it do me to study the books and attend the conferences if I am not honestly facing and solving the problems in my own personal life?

 Perhaps my pastoral experience has prejudiced me, but I have met many people who live in a dream world of "victorious living" only because they have isolated themselves—and insulated them-selves—from the realities of life. If they would get out in the real world and start witnessing to people who hate God, or if they would visit the nearest hospital or rest home where people hurt and bleed, they would discover that their "spiritual abstractions" just don't work.

A young minister attended a "deeper life" convention and was so "blessed" that he visited the great Scottish preacher, Alexander Whyte, to share the excitement. Dr. Whyte listened patiently and then said, "Aye, laddie, it's a battle all the way to the gates of glory!" And it is! "The victorious Christian life," said Whyte, "is a series of new beginnings." It takes battles to have victories, and you don't fight battles in the abstract. They are very concrete!

The way to enjoy a "victorious Christian life" is to handle it in the concrete, moment by moment, and one day at a time. We will not change everything immediately; we must tackle our weaknesses and problems one at a time. Yes, by a sincere act of faith and surrender, we can enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord; but if that one act is not followed with new attitudes and actions, nothing will be changed.

We need to say to ourselves, "Today, with God's help, I want to be victorious in my discipline. I'm going to watch my eating, I'm not going to waste time, and I'm going to get up early enough to read my Bible and pray." Or perhaps we need to focus on some other personal challenge—not gossiping, for instance, or (to be positive) making it a point to encourage others and witness for Christ. A victory in one area usually encourages victory in other areas, and when small "concrete victories" are combined, they lead the way to a "victorious Christian life."

 Nothing is so safe as an abstract idea that shelters me from reality. But nothing is so dangerous! The Christian who deals only in the abstract is living in a fool's paradise. He is also missing exciting opportunities to grow and to serve others.


We had better start practicing our Christianity in the concrete. After all, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not an abstraction. CL

Source:
Back to the Bible India,
Confident Living Magazine

Monday, May 18, 2015

THE DONE UNDONE

THE DONE UNDONE
by Dr. Woodrow Kroll & Tonny Beckett

Psalms 148-150, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57


You can't unscramble an egg. That simple statement reminds us that some things, once done, can't be undone. One noticeable exception is death. In the Resurrection, all that death has done was undone by Jesus.

Death's sting is sin. As the sting of a bee injects its poison into our system, so sin injects death into mankind. We die and our bodies decay. The power of sin is the Law because it shows us our sin and condemns us. We are guilty and sentenced to death.

Yet there is complete victory over death and sin through Christ. It is not that death is destroyed so that it cannot continue to harm God's people. But its effects are reversed so that death is defeated—and we will live forever, victorious.

The hope of the Christian is expressed by the epitaph Benjamin Franklin wrote for himself: "The body of Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here food for worms. But the work will not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

The defeat of death, the hope of the Christian, is the resurrection of Jesus


Our hope is in Jesus, not just as a man of history, but as the resurrected Lord. Thank Him now for this truth, by which you are saved, by which you know that death is defeated Praise God! 

An adaptation from the book "Faith Walk" Written by  Dr. Woodrow Kroll & Tonny Beckett

Source: 
Back to the Bible Publishing, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Confident Living Magazine, Secunderabad, India.