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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.

Life Has Always Been “In The Blood”

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Life Has Always Been “In The Blood”

David Sproule

Isn’t it just that red fluid that is circulating through the body?  From a simplified physical point of view, that might suffice as an answer for a three-year-old child.  But having an understanding of blood, especially the spiritual significance that the Bible gives to it, can enhance our appreciation for God’s eternal scheme and deepen our love for the Lord.

As the death of the firstborn in Egypt was announced by Moses to the children of Israel, God promised that He would “make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” (Ex. 11:7).  But how?  How would God recognize one of His children separate and apart from the wicked Egyptians and spare His children as promised?   Israel was told to “take some of the blood” of that lamb that had been set aside and “put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses” (12:7).  And God promised, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (12:13).  Blood consecrated and saved those who were obedient.

After the children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt, God made a covenant with them, in which He set forth His laws by which Israel could remain faithful, loyal and holy to Him.  So, how would God be able to recognize one of His children separate and apart from the rest of creation?  A major part of that covenant were the animal sacrifices that were to be offered to God.  Hear these words from God about the critical element of those sacrifices—“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).  Blood consecrated and saved those who were obedient.

Come to the New Testament and we learn that as necessary as the blood of animals was in the Old Testament, “it is not possible that [it] could take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).  But, there was the blood of One who could.  “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Christ] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…how much more shall the blood of Christ…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:12-14).  How would God recognize His children separate and apart from others?  His Son redeemed us with His own precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), providing for us “though His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7).  Blood consecrates, saves and gives life!

Repent and Pray

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Repent and Pray

Wade Webster

In the past few studies, we have been examining prayer. We noticed fasting and prayer, watching and prayer, and preaching and prayer. In this study, we will consider repentance and prayer.

No doubt, you recall the conversion of Simon the sorcerer. It was a surprise for sure when this Samaritan shyster was saved. Sadly, he soon slipped back into sin. As you remember, he tried to purchase the ability to impart spiritual gifts. Peter rebuked him for his request, and instructed him to repent and pray. We read, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:22-23). Did you see the prescription for what was poisoning him? Did you see the solution for what was securing and enslaving him? He was told to repent and pray. Repent means to change one’s mind. Simon had to change his mind. He had to get his mind right. He had to be sorry for what he had said and what he had sought do. To the saints at Corinth, Paul said, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Cor. 7:8-11). Through repentance Simon could be clean and clear again. He could be washed from his wickedness. Wickedness refers to malice or evil intent. The thought of Simon’s heart needed to be forgiven. Forgiven means to send away. Simon needed his sin sent away. His sin was separating him from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Our sin will do the same. We cannot draw nigh to God in worship until our sins are sent away. We have to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts in order to be close to God (Jam. 4:8). If we will confess our sins, God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Then, and only then, can we draw near to God. Of all men, David knew this. He wrote, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psa. 34:17-18).

As we get ready to worship this week, we need to repent and pray. Sin will keep us from being able to draw as near to God as we want to and need to do.

Prayer and Preaching

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Prayer and Preaching

Wade Webster

In past studies we examined the prayer and fasting and prayer and watching. In this study, we are going to notice prayer and preaching.

The sixth chapter of Acts records a controversy that arose in the early church that consumed a large amount of the apostle’s time. As you recall, Grecian widows were being neglected in the daily ministration. The apostles had to step in and handle it. Likely, they handled it initially by serving tables themselves. While this was a good thing for them to do, it took them away from two greater things - prayer and preaching. Therefore, they instructed the brethren to select seven men who could serve tables so that they could give themselves continually to those other things. We read, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3-4). Clearly, this passage shows the priority (importance) that the apostles placed on prayer and preaching. Caring for widows is extremely important. One’s religion is deficient and defiled without it. James wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). The apostle’s statement also shows the partnership (connection) between these two things. Prayer and preaching go together. Just two chapters earlier, we see them together. We read, “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:23-30). Prayer and preaching are powerful partners (Rom. 1:16; Jam. 5:16). Finally, the apostle’s statement shows the position of the two. Prayer precedes preaching. In the thirteenth chapter, we read, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3). Before the church sent out Barnabas and Paul to preach, they fasted and prayed. They knew the success of this mission depended on prayer and God’s blessings.

As we get ready to worship this week, we need to pray for the preacher and the lesson that he will preach. We need to pray for the church and the message that they will carry home and to the world.

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