There’s such a lot going on in the Middle East at the moment. For Bible readers, times are interesting and exciting as events are moving towards the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.
Please take the time to read this booklet to see where events in the Middle East are leading.
Or take a look at this video which outlines the events leading up to the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth:
Solomon made a startling statement that will surprise a great many people who do not regularly read their Bible. He tells us, “Don’t bother to pray if you don’t have time to read the Bible.” This is admittedly a very loose translation. His exact words were, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
It is possible to give long prayers to God without moving one step nearer to Him. Prayer is a wonderful blessing that God has given whereby we may approach Him with our innermost thoughts. Yet Jesus also told us about a man who simply prayed with himself. He was so wrapped up in his own cleverness that he spent his entire prayer telling God what a wonderful man he was, and Jesus indicated that this man was only praying with himself and not to God.
God wants us to communicate to Him, but He also wants to communicate with us. He has made this possible, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Our Heavenly Father obviously expects us to read His word. In fact, we are to meditate upon it day and night. It is a love letter, a message He caused to be written and preserved for our learning and our salvation.
What does it mean if a person does not read the Bible? How can he be in harmony with the mind of God when he prays? First of all, he has not shown respect for God by making it a priority to read His word. And secondly, a spiritual mind cannot be developed if it is not in contact with the mind of God, and the only way that can happen is by hearing His word. Paul tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
There are many people who are quite willing to pray and pray and ask God for all the things they want, but they never have time to read the Bible to learn what God wants to tell His children. Those people are simply praying with themselves, not to God, and their prayers are an abomination to Him.
The language is strong — Solomon, moved by the Holy Spirit, has given us God’s opinion in language we would not have dared to use otherwise.
The lesson is to make our conversations with God a balance of prayer and reading His word so that the dialogue is truly two-sided. When we seek God’s help, we should search the scriptures for passages relating to our problem, prayerfully seeking guidance from His word. We can meditate on memorized portions of scripture when driving or waiting.
Balancing our prayers with scriptural meditation will help us to heed the instructions to, “Be not rash with thy mouth…to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few.” Prayer is an awe-inspiring privilege, an opportunity to approach the Creator of all the earth, an honor we should not treat casually. To develop the faith without which it is impossible to please God and have our prayers heard, we need to hear the word of God. Prayer is a wonderful blessing, “for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” says James. Let us get our priorities straight and listen to God. And then let us be thankful He will hear our prayers.
Robert J. Lloyd
The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within that endangers him, not the storm without. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It is our fear of the storm that paralyzes us, not the storm. Our reaction to a crisis is what determines whether we sink or swim with it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” which is the reason why General George Patton said, “I never take counsel of my fears.”
The problem with so many is that they listen to their fears. The brave man is also afraid, but his fear does not paralyze him into inaction. In a little boat in a storm, the Lord was sound asleep in the back and the disciples were afraid. They woke him up. They were panicky and he was not. “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Their lack of faith produced the fear. This is the reason why Emerson said that the wise man prays for deliverance from fear. It is the fear within us that causes the problem, not the storm outside.
How do we react to the storms in our lives? We all have storms, but we do not all react in the same way to the same storm. The storms in our lives show whether we trust in the Lord or rely upon our own resources. By ourselves, we really are powerless against mighty storms, just as the disciples knew their efforts were futile to prevent the boat from sinking from the violence of the waves. They were doomed and did not know what to do. They needed to turn to God for help. When Christ awoke, he immediately called upon God’s power to calm the sea.
David said, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Notice God delivers us from our fears, not necessarily from the thing of which we are afraid, but from our fear of it. The storm may continue to rage, but we now are supported by the power of Almighty God.
If God be for us who can be against us? Again David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
We sometimes have to walk though the valley, but we do not need to fear when the Lord is with us. If we truly believe, “The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them,” then we can face the storms of life with confidence and not with fear. We so often sing, “With Christ in the vessel we smile at the storm.”
The Lord told his disciples, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” So what casts out fear? Perfect love and faith do. Why are we so fearful? Could it be our lack of faith, or lack of love for the Lord?
So we need to pray, as Emerson suggested, for deliverance from fear, from the storm within that endangers us. Jesus was calm within regardless of the storms around him. Even as he stood on trial for his life, the taunts of the crowd and the blows from the soldiers did not disturb his inner peace. Our Lord was living out in practice what Isaiah had said the Lord would do for us. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” Christ’s prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane sustained him so that he resolutely fulfilled the will of God.
We can live in perfect peace in spite of the storms swirling around us. We need to keep our minds stayed on the One who is able to deliver us. We need to pray without ceasing so that God is involved in every aspect of our lives. Our God is able to deliver us from fear of the storms that arise in our lives. Our God is bigger than any storm we will ever face.
Isaiah tells us that our God is “a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.”
Believing in the power and love of our almighty and merciful Heavenly Father, we can say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
Robert J. Lloyd
If you hadn’t heard, there’s a film coming out in the UK, entitled “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. It’s a Hollywoodisation of the Exodus story, so it might be a useful conversation starter with friends, family and neighbours.
A website has been put together at http://www.exodusgodsandkings.org which explores some of the Biblical context.
There are sections on:
* Did the Exodus happen?
* Jesus and the Exodus
* Read the book – links for people to read the chapters covered in the film
* The film vs the book – differences
* The message of the Exodus
Why do we suffer?
Does life have a purpose?
Should we fear the future?
Is there a God?
See good reasons to trust the Bible’s answers.
We would like to help you answer life’s really important questions that affect you and your long-term future.
Maybe you are sceptical about organized religion?
Perhaps you are unsure about the relevance of the Bible.
We want to show you that there are very good reasons to believe that the Bible is no ordinary book.
See the website for further details: here
Pat Riley, a basketball coach famous for inspiring his teams to win, once said, “There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as a life in-between.”
In sports, commitment is the difference between success and failure, but the principle does not apply only to sports. One of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, became rich because of his commitment to make money through investing. Fritz Kreisler, thought to be one of the greatest violinists of all time, was famous for his striving for excellence, constantly playing the violin and composing for it. Joe Girard, known as the world’s greatest salesman, discovered that success comes from wanting success so much, that you are willing to work harder than everyone else and work constantly to achieve it.
If we consider our commitment to serving our Lord, there is no such thing as a life in-between. We are either committed to the Lord or we aren’t. If we are more interested in earning money or excelling at sport or music, or preoccupied with a hobby, we are not dedicating ourselves to our Lord. Jesus did not say that we should not serve God and mammon — he said we cannot.
If we spend our time pleasing ourselves or seeking man-made goals, we are not committing ourselves to serving our God. In the Psalms we are told, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass. “ Solomon tells us “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
What did Jesus mean when he said we must take up our cross and follow him? We have to give up what we want and be willing to endure hardship to do what Jesus wants. He is asking us to commit to serving him. From the Phillips translation, “If anyone comes to me without ‘hating’ his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple. If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t he first sit down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, ‘This is the man who started to build a tower but couldn’t finish it!’… So it is with you; only the man who says good-bye to his possessions can be my disciple.”
Jesus makes it clear that to be his disciple requires total commitment. We are “out” — not his disciples — if we don’t “hate” everything else. The word “hate” does not have the usual sense of loathing, but means that the love we have for our parents, wife and family pales in comparison to the overwhelming love we have for Jesus. Our first priority, the love of our life, must be our love for our Lord. The promise Jesus gives is that by giving up our worldly goals and committing ourselves to him, we will be granted life, eternal life in the kingdom. Jesus tells us, “For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake shall save it.” There is no in-between; if we are not in — striving to serve our God with all our being, we will find ourselves out — outside of the kingdom of God with no hope of eternal life.
Unfortunately there are many who go through life uncommitted. They are wishy-washy, bouncing back and forth from one thing to another. James tells us: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James also said: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
Are we committed? To what? Not only do we need to be committed, but also it is important that we commit ourselves to the Lord. We are to seek first the kingdom of God. The promise of eternal life will not be given to those who do not seek it. Many people are committed, but to the wrong things. The Warren Buffetts, Fritz Kreislers and Joe Girards of our world are excellent examples of total commitment to goals that at best bring fame and fortune for a brief time
What are we doing to show our commitment? If we have trouble thinking of any good works we have done, have we done any? Nehemiah asked in prayer, “Remember me, O my God, for good.” What good are we doing that God can remember us for? Even though there is nothing impossible with God, it is still impossible for Him to remember our effort to serve Him if we make no effort. Our work of service to our God does not need to be spectacular or full of heroic feats, but we do have to do something. Jesus tells us, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
How many elderly have we visited lately? How many widows have we helped? James tells us, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Jesus gives us a picture of the judgment seat: “Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ ” We pray that we may hear those words spoken to us. But Jesus does not stop there; he explains, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ ”
Let us look at the examples of people who are highly committed and apply them to our walk to the kingdom. Let us be like Warren Buffett, but invest our time and resources into helping the needy and sharing the gospel message. Let us continually strive to serve more perfectly like Fritz Kreisler practiced his violin, by studying the word, working to serve others, and seeking opportunities to serve. Finally, let us desire the Kingdom so much that we work harder and longer in our Lord’s service, as dedicated to selling as Joe Girard is, but selling the good news of the gospel of Christ so that others can be saved.
Let us resolve to show the Lord our commitment to Him by the good deeds we are doing to serve Him and care for His other children. As Jesus said, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
Robert J. Lloyd