Radical Intercession


We always pray for each other,

That our God may make us all worthy of his calling,
And that we may fulfill every resolve for good,
And that every work be of faith by His power,
So that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in each
of us, and us in him, According to the grace of our God and the
Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11,12)

What if we prayed for each other as Paul prayed for the
believers at Thessalonica? Our daily lives, the challenges we
face, and our problems are very different than those Christians
faced, but in many ways we are very much the same. One thing
is certain; Paul’s prayer for them ought to be our prayer for each other.

 Shouldn’t we want God to make us and our eternal  family a
people who live our lives in a manner that is worthy of God’s
call to us? Christians! Christ’s ambassadors on earth.
(2 Cor 5:20)

Don’t we all desire that each of us fulfill God’s purpose for us,
to do good works as a lifestyle? (Eph 2:10)

God’s best for us is that every thing we do for Him be done by trusting Him completely and depending on His power, and not
our might or wisdom. (1 Cor 2:3-5)

We should want Christ glorified and exalted in us, and we
must find our glory only in Him.

familyprayer_soft_edge1We recognize all of these benefits are the free gifts of
grace in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

What if we prayed for each other in a purposeful, methodical
way, so that every family in our churches is specifically prayed
for, for a week, several times a year?

If only ten families, (or individuals)took the challenge and
prayed for one family each week for 52 weeks, just think how many would have been prayed for a whole week specifically
and on purpose. If 20 families took the challenge, each family
would be prayed for a week twice each year. If you had 100
families who determined to pray for other families, …well, get
the picture? (When I wrote this I had in mind a very large
congregation)

If we not only prayed for another family, but also prayed for
one ministry, one elder, and one staff member, just think how
much the whole church body would be bathed in prayer! Why
can’t we do this? No..why don’t we do this?

Recently I had a family of former members on my heart and I
sent an email saying that I would be praying for them for the
next week, every day of the week. And I asked, “What
specifically can I pray for?” Soon I received a return email from
a grateful dad with a list of 5 specific requests. I replied with a
thank you and a request that he let me know as God
answered my prayers for them. I knew he will be glad to do so.

What if you received a phone call, got an email, or was asked
at church, “What can we pray about for you and your family
next week?” And, what if that happened on a regular basis,
almost every month?

What if you had 30, or 50, or 80 families or more, excited
about praying for others, experiencing the joy of answered
prayer, bearing the burdens of others, and even being an
answer to some of their brothers and sisters requests?
And, knowing the joy of having others lovingly pray for them,
often?

What if we prayed for each other using the components of
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians as a guide, and for specific
requests as well? Would it make us more likely to pray on a
regular basis? I think it would. Would it help those who pray
and those who are prayed for? I know it would.

What if we don’t?

In Christ’s love,

Royce

 

 

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How should we then live?


obama

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior”
(1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV)

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”(Romans 13:1-5 ESV)

It is striking that those inspired words from the hand of Paul the Apostle, both in 1 Timothy and Romans, were written during the reign of Nero, the Roman Emperor. Nero was not a nice guy. Early writers, from the first century through the fourth, recorded that Apostles Paul and Peter were finally executed under Nero’s reign. Although there is no evidence the executions were at his command, they were in his tradition, having executed his own mother and adopted brother.

Paul, writing from Corinth to the saints at Rome instructs as to how they should live in relationship to the emperor and his government. Paul’s letter to Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus instructed the young preacher to pray “for kings and all those in high positions”.

President Obama was not my choice for President. And, I am not fond of some of his people and policies, but he is no Nero. My sense is that he is a decent man. A man who loves his wife and two daughters, and his country. And, according to his words, he claims Jesus as Lord.

So, as I write this post on inauguration evening I ask myself and you, will we follow Paul’s inspired instructions? As a follower of Jesus I have no choice “if” I want to be the citizen God expects me to be. As an American citizen my duty demands that I respect not only the office of the United States presidency, but the man who holds the office. If we don’t, how shall we then live?

My God bless President Obama and may God bless America.

Peace to you,
Royce

Christianity is Christ


Christianity is Christ.

Christianity is not:
   . Going to church
   . Living by the Golden Rule
   . Doing acts of kindness
   . Being a member of a certain church
   . Being right about certain Bible doctrines
   . Doing certain things on Sunday
   . Living a life of piety and self denial

Christianity is Christ.

When a person becomes a Christian:
   1. His sins are forgiven
   2. He is given eternal life
   3. He becomes God’s child both by birth and adoption
   4. He becomes an heir of God’s bounty
   5. He is declared not guilty of sin
   6. He is declared just
   7. He is declared righteous
   8. He is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit
   9. He is sealed by the Holy Spirit
 10. He is gifted by the Holy Spirit
 11. He is promised resurrection
 12. He will never perish
 13. He will never die
 14. He is in Christ
 15. Christ is in Him
 16. He is hidden with Christ in God
 17. He is held in God’s hand
 18. Christ will never leave him or forsake him
 19. He has access to God in prayer
 20. He is a priest
 21. He is a partaker of God’s nature
 22. He is seated with Christ in the heavens
 23. He has been chosen by God
 24. He has been elected
 25. He has been predestined to be a son
 26. He has been called
 27. He has been glorified
 28. He has been washed
 29. He has been cleansed
 30. He has redeemed
 31. He has been added to the body of Christ
 32. He has overcome the evil one
 33. He has been counted worthy
 34. His eyes have been opened
 35. He has a new ability to love unconditionally
 36. He can say no to sin
 37. He is at rest
 38. The ordinances of the law are no longer against him
 39. He is free
 40. He is not condemned
 41. He will never be condemned
 42. He is not appointed to wrath
 43. He will be rewarded
 44. He has treasure reserved in heaven
 45. He is kept by the power of God
 46. He cannot be separated from God
 47. He has the Son of God
 48. He has the Father
 49. He has joy
 50. He has peace with God
 51. He has the peace of God
 52. He is one with God
 53. He is loved by the Father just as He loves Jesus.
 54. He has been born again
 55. He is a new creation
 56. He has God’s law written on his heart
 57. He died with Christ
 58. He was raised with Christ
 59. Christ is his life
 60. He is in the kingdom of light
 61. He has been granted repentance
 62. He has been given faith
 63. He has been given precious promises
 64. He is an ambassador of Christ
 65. He is an alien on eath
 66. He is a citizen of heaven
 67. He is a lover of good
 68. He hates sin
 69. He loves his brother
 70. He hears the apostolic teaching
 71. He abides in Christ
 72. He stands in grace
 73. The Holy Spirit assures him he is safe
 74. Christ is his life
 75. He does sin as a lifestyle
 76. He has Christ as an advocate for him in heaven when he does sin
 77. He walks in the light
 78. He knows the voice of Jesus
 79. He follows Him
 80. He will not follow another.
 81. He has victory over death, hell, and the grave 
 82. He is being made like Jesus
 83. He is created for good works
 84. His greatest good is to glorify God

There is more but these quickly come to mind. Not one of them is man’s own doing. Everyone of them is true and relevant and experiential because of the person, work, and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The only basis, the only ground upon which our salvation rests is Christ.

When a sinner changes his mind about the course of his life and puts his whole trust in Jesus He does not give that person anything apart from Himself. You see, what a lost sinner needs is life, he is spiritually dead. He needs righteousness for he is unrighteous. He needs redemption, for he is a slave to sin. He needs light because he is in darkness. He needs bread from heaven because he is starving. He needs the water of life for he is thirsty. He needs to be set free because he is under control of the evil one.

Christ can give nothing more than Himself. He Himself supplies every need. He is life, He is the light of the world, He is righteousness, He is our peace, He is our assurance, He is our joy, He is our glory, He is our hope, He is the author of our faith, He is the rock upon which we stand.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.” Religion will leave you wanting. Church membership and attendance will leave you lacking. Acts of kindness, giving to the poor, and even martyrdom will leave you dead in your sins. Only our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ is able and willing to give you life, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace.

We are only accepted by God “in the beloved“, we are only chosen “in Him“. The mystery of God that was hidden in ages past is this, “Christ in you, the hope of glory“. That’s it, Christianity is Christ and can be nothing less, and nothing more is possible.

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:10-12 ESV)

It is hard to imagine how anyone could misunderstand this clear message from God’s word. Sadly, many just don’t seem to get it. Like the legalists Paul addressed long ago in his letter to the churches of Galatia who insisted that Christians be circumcised, many today insist on adding to what Christ accomplished over 2000 years ago and what God planned in eternity past.

Many preach a salvation that is “God’s part and your part”. Your part is to repent (change your mind) and believe on Jesus Christ. If you have Him (A very big “IF”) what more can you possibly imagine you need? There is nothing on earth or in heaven that is a substitute or a supplement for what Christ has accomplished on behalf of sinners. Trust Him alone, He will not always wait.

By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce

 

The effective (or ineffective) church of the 21st century


Over at http://www.kinneymabry.blogspot.com  (Preacherman’s blog) he recently posted under this title ”

“What does the church need to do to thrive in the 21st century?”

Several people left comments, some were pretty good, some were not. The common thread of thought coming from the commenters seemed to be “Today’s church must get our of our comfort zones, the confines of our comfy buildings, and actually impact the communities we are supposed to serve.” And I don’t disagree at all. I do believe the problems with many of our churches lie much deeper than how we choose to serve others or deliver our message. Yes, every congregation should be making a “salt and light” impact on their neighbors, there is no room for debate on this. And, we can all agree that we need to get our message out to the “unchurched” or “unsaved” (you choose the term..) and not expect them to come to us crying out “Sirs, what must we do?”.

I suggest that before we appoint another committee to study the matter of the most efficient way to minister that we set some things straight first.

1. The world needs Christ more than it needs the “Church”!   I will not claim that my research is “scientific” but I have done some observation on purpose. After looking at sermon topics, Bible study titles, resources offered, etc. on both church websites and personal websites (including blogs), and reading the stories that get the most response from “brotherhood” publications, I have concluded that churches of Christ preach “Church” more than “Christ”. This is a trend that must be reversed.

2. Our churches must stop preaching a “gospel system” in favor of preaching a gracious Saviour.  On many church websites you can find the “5 step plan of salvation”, but precious little about our Lord Jesus Christ. Not long ago I visited “Apologetics Press” and read item # 8 of the 9 items under the label “What we believe” and I was astonished to find this statement which I quote:
    “Salvation is by means of obedience to the Gospel system, involving faith in God and Christ,    repentance from sin, confession of faith, and immersion in water for remission of past sins, coupled with a life of growing consecration and dedication.” (emphasis mine)

 Far too many of our churches have the same flawed theology. One only has to pause and think for a moment to realize that the “Gospel System” that is so important that some suggest we should surrender obedience to it, rather than to Jesus Christ himself, was invented in the early 1800’s. Peter, Paul and their contemporaries did not have a copy of the New Testament from which they could lift convenient passages to fit their view of how a sinner is saved. If any honest observer will read the Acts and the remainder of the New Testament they will find that the gospel message was about a Person, not about a Plan, it was centered on a Saviour, not a System.

3. Our worship must be centered upon a unique Person, not upon a uniform Pattern.  Modern day Pharacees have disgraced and deluted true worship in Spirit and in Truth so that instead of being from the heart it is from the head, and instead of being a delight it has become a duty. What happens on Sunday morning in many of our congregations is predictable, and appears to be done by religeous robots, going through the motions, doing all the right things in an almost mechanical way.

I am sure some of you have heard about the man who said loudly “Praise the Lord” and “Amen” in response to the singing and the sermon. Some godly coC elders cornered the fellow after the invitation and inquired about his insulting outbursts. He replied “Well, I’ve got the Spirit and I’m happy in the Lord”. The good elder said in response, ” Will you didn’t get it here, so be quiet”. Could this story be true in your church? 

4. We must become a people who find their identity in Christ and not in how we “do church”.   When we can say honestly we are who we are because of what God has done in Christ on our behalf, rather than striving to become who we hope to be, we are only then ready to give our lost neighbor a valid message of the very good news about Jesus.

I believe with all my soul that the greatest need in our churches is teaching our people who they are in Christ, that they are complete in Him, have a living hope that cannot be taken away, and are hidden with Christ in God, not based on their performance but upon His.

One preacher asked a large Sunday school class are you “walking in the Spirit” and they to the last one had no idea what he was talking about. The Christian life is not about rules to follow but about righteousness by faith. It is not what have “I” done but about what “He” has done on my behalf. In view of what He has accomplished apart from my effort and yours, what is my response and yours in our day to day living before a watching world? To whom do we yield?

Paul was the most educated of all the apostles, he graduated from the best religeous schools, he had the right blood line, he had strictly followed the Law, he possessed knowledge and human wisdom beyond his fellows, but in view of all these facts Paul said “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8,9) Should we not be willing to put away our preferences, our human desires, our pride, perhaps some of our traditions, so that we “may gain Christ” too?

In my view, only after we have started to live out Romans chapter 12 are we credentialed to go out and change our world. Men and women are made fit for heaven one heart at a time by hearing the same message Phillip preached to the Ethopian eunich from the prophet Isiah, “Jesus” was the message. Our problem is we want to do the work of God using the resources and in the energy of human flesh. Perhaps it would be good for us to “go wait” in prayer to be endued with Power from on high so that our ministries and message might be confirmed in “the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost”, (I Cor 2:4,5) rather than depending on human wisdom.

We must be a people on mission with God in His ministry of Reconciliation. Our task is not to “correct” everyone else in the world who claims Christ as Lord, but to publish the very good news about Jesus both with our lips and our lives. We must make known the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life because He is the only way to the Father. Only when you and I personally know the Resurrection can we save men from death.

Our challenge in 2008 is to try to really “restore” the ancient church’s way of doing business. We are only kidding ourselves if we think that “we” alone are right and that everything “New Testament” runs down hill from Resortation churches.

His peace,
Royce Ogle