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Pray and Not Lose Heart

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pray And Not Lose Heart

Wade Webster

The last few weeks, we have been examining prayer. In the first few lessons we noticed prayer and watching, prayer and fasting, prayer and seeking, prayer and confessing, and other things. In this lesson, we are going to notice prayer and one of the NOT connections. We will focus in this lesson on praying and not losing heart.

Perhaps, you recall the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke introduces the parable with the following words, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The Greek word translated as lose heart means “to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.” The weariness that this widow felt was more than physical. It was emotional. It was not just weariness of body, but also weariness of soul. The Hebrew writer declared, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3).

Prayer gives us the opportunity to cast that which is wearying us on One who can carry it far better than we can. David wrote, “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalms 55:22). In like manner, Peter wrote, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

Prayer also involves trust. It involves waiting on the Lord. Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength. Isaiah declared, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

If the persistent widow could get what she needed from an unjust judged who didn’t care about men or fear God, surely we can get what we need from a just God who deeply cares about us.

As we get ready to worship this week, let’s pray and not lose heart. Let’s cast our cares upon the Lord and renew our strength by waiting on Him.

The Open Marriage That God Approves

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The “Open Marriage” That God Approves

David Sproule

So, among those who some consider to be the “elite,” the “sophisticated,” the “woke,” the “enlightened,” the “cultured” of our day, the practice of an “open marriage” is acceptable, admired and applauded.  Open marriage is defined as a consensual “form of non-monogamy in which the partners of a dyadic marriage agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded by them as infidelity, and consider or establish an open relationship despite the implied monogamy of marriage.”  That’s a long definition.  Let me define that with one word (the one that God uses):  adultery! 

God created marriage and God created the “sexual relationship,” and God placed the sexual relationship inside and ONLY inside the husband-wife relationship.  From a Biblical standpoint (the only viewpoint that matters), an adulterer is one “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another.”  It is “unlawful” because it violates the “law” of God (Heb. 13:41 Cor. 6:9Jas. 2:11).  Thus, practicing anything like what society calls an “Open Marriage” today is sin in the eyes of God, plain and simple.

So, put society’s practice and explanation of “Open Marriage” aside.  Now, pick up the phrase “Open Marriage” in a different and more Biblical light.  Let me ask you, do you have an “open marriage”?  Again, I’m not talking sexually! 

Do you have an “open marriage” in the sense that the Bible is what is “open” and guiding your marriage (Psa. 119:105)?* If your marriage is “closed” to the Bible, it will fail.

Do you have an “open marriage” in the sense that you are engaged in worship with the church and Bible study every time the doors are “open” (Heb. 10:25)? If your marriage is “closed” to the church and worshiping God, it will fail.

Do you have an “open marriage” in the sense that you both “open” your hearts to God and talk to Him together (1 Thess. 5:17; Phil. 4:6)?  If your marriage is “closed” to prayer, it will fail.

Do you have an “open marriage” in the sense that you are “open” to considering the needs of each other (1 Pet. 3:7)?  If your marriage is “closed” to looking out for both of your needs and each partner fulfilling the needs of the other, it will fail.

Do you have an “open marriage” in the sense that you are “open” with each other and communicate freely about all things in your life without fear of harm or danger (Col. 3:18-19)?  If your marriage is “closed” to listening to each other’s hearts, it will fail.

Do you have an “open marriage”?  Not the one that society lauds as “woke,” but the one that God longs for you to have with Him and with each other?  If not, “open” up!

*Note: I added a few supporting Scriptures.

The Historicity of Jesus

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Historicity of Jesus

Wade Webster

There’s no question in our minds that Jesus existed. We accept the record of the Bible. We accept that He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, that He grew up as a carpenter’s son in the Galilean city of Nazareth, that He became a great teacher and healer in Israel, that He was crucified outside of the gates of Jerusalem, and that He rose from the dead the third day.

However, there are others, who may ask for evidence outside of the Bible. Is there evidence in secular history for Jesus? Does this evidence agree with the record of sacred history or the Bible? The short answer to both questions is yes. F.F. Bruce, Rylands professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, wrote, “Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic (unquestionable) for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ myth’ theories.”

The Bible sets a basic standard for accepting testimony at the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15). Let’s apply this standard to the historicity of Jesus. Let’s notice three witnesses.

Cornelius Tacitus (Born A.D. 52) - A Roman Historian

Writing on the reign of Nero and the belief that he started the fire of Rome, he said, “Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Cristus, the founder of the name was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius.” Annals XV.44*

Please note that Tacitus spoke of one named Christus. The accompanying details clearly identify this man as the Christ of the New Testament. He founded the name by which men were commonly called Christians (Acts 4:12; 11:26; 1 Pet.4:14-16). He was put to death by Pontius Pilate the procurator or governor of Judea in the reign of Tiberius (Lk. 3:1; Mt. 27:1-2).

Flavius Josephus (Born A.D. 37) - a Jewish historian - became a Pharisee at age 19

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.” Antiquities, xviii.33

Please note that he spoke of a man named Jesus. Of course, this is in harmony with the Bible (Mt. 1:21). The other details fit too. He was a wise man (Mt. 12:42; Lk. 2:52) and a doer of wonderful (John 11:47; Acts 10:38). Pilate, at the suggestion of the Jewish leaders, condemned him to death (Mt. 27:1-2). He appeared to the disciples alive again the third day (1 Cor. 15:4-5).

Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Younger (Born A.D. 127) - Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor

Pliny the Younger killed a number of Christians - old, young, male, female. He tried to make them bow down to statues of Emperor Trajan and to curse Christ. He said of those who were being tried: “They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit an fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.” Epistles, X.96

Please note that the Christians were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day. Of course, we know that the day was the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). As a part of the meeting, the Christians sang a hymn to Christ (Col. 3:16). In addition to worshipping on a set day and singing, the early Christians were committed to leading holy lives (1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2;9).

The witnesses have spoken. Secular historians and sacred historians agree. Jesus Christ really lived.

*All quotations are from: McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Volume I. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, p. 81-87

Sing and Pray

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Sing And Pray

Wade Webster

For several weeks we have been studying prayer. In past studies we noticed prayer as it connects to watching, fasting, preaching, repenting, and seeking. In this study, we are examining how prayer connects to singing.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). As you recall, Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, cast into the inner prison, and placed into stocks at Philippi. For sure, their treatment was unfounded and unfair. Many people would have spent the night fussing and feeling sorry for themselves. However, Paul and Silas weren’t most people. They were Christ’s men. They met prison with prayer and praise. They met stripes with songs and supplication. You could put their feet in stocks, but not their faith. You could shut them away, but you couldn’t shut them up.

We rarely, if ever, think of prayer and singing together. Sure, we know that they are both acts of worship, and as such, they are connected. We may even think of the common worship arrangement consisting of two songs and a prayer. Despite these connections, we probably think of prayer and singing as polar opposites. After all, we connect prayer with sadness and singing with joy. I get this. James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (Jam. 5:13). However, prayer and singing may not be that far apart. After all, in prayer, we cast our cares on the One who cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). Anxiety is replaced by peace (Phil. 4:6). Now, unburdened, our hearts are ready to sing. Did you notice the order in our text? Praying and singing . Is the order significant? It might be. Maybe, instead of starting our services with two songs and a prayer, we should have a prayer and two songs.

As we get Ready to Worship this week, let’s pray and sing. They really do go nicely together.

Seek and Pray

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Seek And Pray

Wade Webster

Over the last couple of weeks we have been studying prayer. In past studies, we looked at prayer in connection with watching, fasting, preaching, and repenting. In this study, we are going to consider prayer in connection with seeking.

Following the dedication of the temple, God appeared to Solomon by night, and promised, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). God put into place a plan of reconciliation for when His people went astray. Please note the three my’s in the passage - My people, My name, My face. God spelled out four things that He required of His people - humility, prayer, seeking Him, and repentance. If they would do these four things, then He would do three things in return - hear their prayers, hide their sins, and heal their land. Since we have covered humility and penitence in previous lessons, our focus in this lesson will be on prayer and seeking God’s face. When we sin, God hides His face from us. Isaiah declared, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). In like manner, Micah declared, “Then they will cry to the LORD, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds” (Mic. 3:4). God will not look on evil and He will not listen to those who practice it (Hab. 1:13; Prov. 28:9). However, if we will leave sin and seek His face again, He will hear us. David declared, “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation” (Psa. 27:7-9). When those of us who wear God’s name seek His face again, He will make His face to shine upon us and give us peace. We read, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” ’ (Num. 6:22-26).

As we get ready to worship this week, let’s pray and seek God’s face. If we will do this, then God will cause His face to shine upon us. If we don’t, then He will turn away His face from us.

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