Tag Archives: Wisdom

Presidential Wisdom – A Poem

Great presidents of these United States
Washington and Lincoln we honor on this day
May their words of wisdom
Bless and keep us on our way

Of all the dispositions and habits
which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are indispensable support.
¹

May we never forget that
It is impossible to rightly
govern the world
without God and the Bible.
¹
In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say,
it is the best gift God has given to man.
All the good the Savior gave to the world
was communicated through this book.
²

As we face violence and economic crisis
remind us, O Lord, that at its core,
It is the eternal struggle between these
two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world.
They are the two principles that have stood
face to face from the beginning of time;
and will ever continue to struggle.
²
Let us raise a standard to which
the wise and honest can repair;
the rest is in the hands of God.
¹

Help us, O Lord, to not forget what history
and the wisdom of experience teach.
Let us with caution indulge the supposition
that morality can be maintained without religion.
Reason and experience both forbid us
to expect that national morality can prevail
in exclusion of religious principle.
¹

Teach us, O Lord, to emulate our forefathers and say,
I have been driven many times upon my knees
by the overwhelming conviction that I had
nowhere else to go.
My own wisdom and that of all about me
seemed insufficient for that day.
²

This “found” poem is based on quotes from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as indicated by the footnotes to italicized words as follows:

¹George Washington
²Abraham Lincoln

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Delight, Grace, Balance – A Poem

In my office I have a deck of angel cards with various words on them. I always keep three face-up next to my computer monitor, for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I’ve had the same three cards next to my desk for a while, so yesterday I decided to draw three new ones. I returned the three cards to the deck, shuffled the deck, and pulled three new cards.

Only they weren’t new. They were the same three cards I had just returned to the deck: Delight, Grace, and Balance. It kind of reminded me of a time in the Bible when the apostles cast lots to determine God’s will. See
Acts 1:12-26.

I decided perhaps there was a poem to be written with these three words, being thankful for such inspiration.

Delight, Grace, Balance

I Delight in the majesty of the Father
though I cannot fully comprehend

I accept abundant Grace from the Son
that I believe does not have an end

I find Balance through the Holy Spirit
on whose wisdom I will depend

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A Billion Prayers

All through grade school my son had various teachers who thought he had ADD or something else because he just didn’t pay attention. Then there were other teachers who saw the side of him that is very intelligent and creative. Finally, when he was in the sixth grade we’d had enough, and decided to put him through a program called Learning Rx. It’s sort of like going to the gym for your brain. It wasn’t cheap but was one of the best investments in his education we’ve ever made.

Learning Rx is not like a homework help or tutor program. Rather, it is a program designed to strengthen a child’s cognitive skills, which are the building blocks of learning. To determine how to tailor the program to each child, Learning Rx conducted a Woodcock-Johnson cognitive skills test on the child. The test is repeated after the program to see what improvement there has been. With my son, though, we didn’t need the test after to see the improvement because it was quite obvious even to his teachers.

The initial test results were not really that surprising to us. They indicated that his visual processing skills were at a college entrance level (keep in mind he was 11 at the time), and his logic and reasoning skills were at a 15-year old level. So why did he struggle so in school? Because the one cognitive skill that he was below his grade level for was executive processing speed. This is the skill that allows a person to deal with competing sensory inputs, to filter out the things that need to be ignored, and to send the others to either long-term or short-term memory. It is the gatekeeper cognitive skill, kind of like the traffic cop before there were traffic lights to direct traffic at a busy intersection.

Side note: Executive processing is the skill that is most often lacking in kids with ADD. If you have a kid that has been diagnosed with ADD, I would highly recommend checking out your nearest Learning Rx program to see if it might help before resorting to medication. There are centers throughout the United States.

So what does all of this have to do with “a billion prayers”? Well, it occurred to me that God must have awesome executive processing skills. Have you ever thought about how God listens to all the prayers in all the world and also answers them?

There are now officially 7 billion people in the world. Of all these people, 16% are secular, nonreligious, agnostics, or atheists, so they aren’t praying – but maybe wishing and does God have to listen to see if maybe it’s a prayer? Another 14% are Hindus who pray to a god or gods other than the God of the Bible. Another 6% are Buddhists who do not pray to a Creator God but do spend time in contemplative meditation. Another 12% adhere to various tribal, Chinese traditional, or other religions. See Adherents.com.

That leaves 52%, or 3.64 billion people, who are potentially seeking to pray to the God of Abraham at any given time. Then consider those who take Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing” seriously and that’s a lot of prayer.

In 2003, Jim Carrey was in a movie called Bruce Almighty. Bruce, the main character, is a fluff news reporter whose life is not going so well. He is mad at God about it and challenges God that he could do a better job of running things than God does. So God, played by Morgan Freeman, accepts the challenge and gives Bruce all His powers to run the universe, along with all the corresponding responsibilities. One of my favorite parts is when Bruce, trying to keep up with answering all the prayer requests (which come in via email) decides it would be easier to just answer all of the prayers “yes” so he hits “reply yes to all.” The next day, every person who purchased a lottery ticket the day before wins, and so they all get some miniscule amount, like $17, and no one actually wins the jackpot so they are all unhappy.

Thankfully, God, with His awesome executive processing skills and even better logic and reasoning skills, doesn’t just answer every prayer request with a “yes.” God listens to and considers each prayer, no matter how many there are, and determines what is the best answer for each and every person. God sees the whole picture, from beginning to end, and answers prayers in a way that results in the most long-term spiritual benefit for all.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
   call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
   and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
   and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
  and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:6-9 (NIV).

When we pray we often think in terms of our own situation only. We pray that we will win the lottery and be rich. We pray for material comfort and for outward peace. We pray for physical healing of our loved ones.

But God sees the bigger picture and He knows that it is better to grant a big lottery win to one who will use the money wisely than to split the pot up among hundreds. He knows that sometimes hard times and struggles are necessary to bring spiritual healing and to bring us closer to Him. He knows that sometimes physical healing would be less beneficial than for others to see the strength He gives to those who are seriously ill. He knows that sometimes to bring one of His children home is better than to cure whatever disease is plaguing them.

God hears and answers a billion prayers every day, and maybe more. I don’t know how He does it, but I am in awe of the fact that He does. I have a hard time dealing with two sources of auditory input at one time; I can’t even imagine dealing with a billion prayers. I am thankful that even without cognitive skills training, God’s ways are so much greater than mine and that I’m not in charge of all those prayers.

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A Lesson from King Josiah: Older and Wiser

I’m getting back to my Bible-in-a-year schedule. The date on my schedule says it’s October, but I’m pretty sure it’s May. It is May, isn’t it? Anyway, I took a break from this schedule for Lent and followed the Wordstrong reading schedule my whole church was following. But I really have no excuse for being so far behind, except that I get busy and read other things, and well, the next section on the schedule was 2 Chronicles 34 – 35.

I’m not a huge fan of 1 and 2 Chronicles because it seems so repetitive. These two books basically “chronicle” (hence the name) the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah. Each chapter starts so-and-so, son of so-and-so, became king of Judah. He was x years old. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord or he did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord. There seem to be a lot more of the former, but I’ve never actually taken a tally to confirm that.

As I looked at my schedule last week, I thought to myself (and actually said out loud to my husband) “I don’t want to read 2 Chronicles.” And so I read the New Testament passages for that day, which were from Acts. But when I was done with the chapters from Acts I still wasn’t sleepy so I decided I would go ahead and get the 2 Chronicles chapters over with.

Of course, this is where God spoke to me and showed me that there is more to 2 Chronicles than meets the eye.

Chapters 34 and 35 are the story of King Josiah who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He became king at the age of eight and right from the beginning he followed in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. When he was older, the scroll of the law was found in the temple. As the scroll was read, Josiah realized the Israelites had not been following it, and “he tore his robes.” This means that he humbled himself before God because he was upset that the Israelites had not been following God’s law. He resolved to change that and to follow God in the way he now knew he should.

What struck me about this is that as he got older, Josiah became wiser. For many years he had done his best to follow God and was even credited with doing what was pleasing to God. But when he learned more about God from the scroll that was found, he used this new information to change his actions and his attitude towards God.

I have been a Christian for quite a few years and, since the time I was baptized and became a believer, I have tried my best to do what was right in God’s eyes. With the information and wisdom that I had at each stage of my life, I followed God. But I am older now and have read much more of His Word; that should mean I am wiser. What was pleasing to God when I was 25 would probably not be pleasing to Him now that I am in my 40’s. I must continually grow in my understanding of His Word and change my actions and attitude towards God when I learn new information that reveals that the actions of my youth were not in accordance with God’s will.

Conversely, when I see young Christians acting in a way or displaying an attitude that I know from God’s Word is not pleasing to Him, I need to be understanding. I need to realize that they are (hopefully) acting in accordance with the knowledge and wisdom that they now have. As they seek to know Him better, their actions and attitudes will change and they will become more like Christ. With gentleness, it is my duty to guide them when led by the Spirit to do so, and to point them to the Word of God and what He has to say on the issue before us. As one who has “heard the words of the Law” as King Josiah did, and grown in my understanding of Christ’s grace and mercy, it is my duty to pass that on to others who are less mature in their faith. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV).

King Josiah shared the words of the scroll that had been found with all of the people (see 2 Chronicles 34:29-31) so that they might be built up as a nation and recommit themselves to the Lord. He was a good king, and his story is worth reading and learning from. In the same way, those who know God’s Word should share it with others so that we might be built up as the body of Christ.

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The Widow’s Offering of Encouragement

On my desk at work I have one of those little pocket-sized books; you know the kind that are 3″ x 2½” that you find in the checkout line at the bookstore? The one on my desk is called Daily Prayer. Each page includes a Bible verse from the NIV plus a short prayer suggestion. The other day I opened it up looking for some wisdom and found this:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10 (NIV).

As you pray today:

Pray about giving a little extra to cover a special request that you know about.

The verse talks about tithing, and we usually think first of money when we read this verse. But it occurred to me when I read this that sometimes the little extra that God calls us to give is not out of our financial resources, but our of our spiritual and emotional resources.

But what if our spiritual and emotional resources are running low? What if we don’t feel like we have any encouragement left to give because we fear we will need all that we have to sustain ourselves? That’s how I’ve been feeling at times lately. And yet there is a need for encouragement that has come to my attention, a “special request that I know about.”

I was reminded of a story recorded in Mark 12. This particular incident in the life of Jesus occurred during Holy Week, as He sat in the temple courts during the great festival of the Passover.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (NIV).

Those who have received a wealth of encouragement and spiritual strength ought to share what they have received with others. But sometimes it is necessary to give the widow’s offering of encouragement and spiritual strength, though we may have little to give, rather than keep it for ourselves. When we do, not only will others be blessed, but God will pour out to us such a blessing of encouragement and strength that we will not know what to do with it. If we give the widow’s offering, one day we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV).

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Wisdom and a Prayer

When I wrote my post on Saturday, and was thinking about where I’ve come in the last ten years, I decided to look back in my journal to see what I was thinking and writing back then. In 2002, I wrote this short poem and prayer in my prayer journal.

Wisdom

The wisdom of the Lord
Is beyond comprehension
For those who reject the Truth

But the wisdom of the Lord
Is comfort and understanding
For those who love His Truth

Lord, I seek Your wisdom for I find it is much superior to my own. I thank you for your Holy Spirit, who helps me to understand Your Word, to be obedient to Your call, to persevere in the midst of trials and tribulations. Though I do not fully know what Your plan is, I know it is superior to any plan I could come up with, and I see each part of my life, each trial and each blessing, as part of Your plan. Help me to always trust in Your plan, forsaking my own.

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The King of Kings Bled

When I was a teenager I listened to a lot of rock music, and I still love the electric guitar and an awesome rock beat. When I first started listening to Christian music I had a hard time finding good Christian rock. It seemed to almost be an oxymoron. The great Christian rock bands that I now listen to were just getting started and their music wasn’t easy to find.

One such band is Audio Adrenaline who, unfortunately, are no longer recording. I actually saw them live during their last concert tour. During that tour they announced it was their last because of throat and vocal cord problems the lead singer was experiencing.

One of my favorite songs of theirs is called “I’m not the king.” Humans have a tendency to want to be in control, to be king (or queen) of something. It might be as head of a big corporation, or merely our own destiny. Some dictators do whatever it takes to retain power of a nation. Others wield power within their family units or within their chosen profession. But whatever it is we are trying to maintain control over, that control is ultimately an illusion. We are not really the king of anything. The singer of Audio Adrenaline recognizes this in the song:

The king of rock, some say lives
The lizard king is surely dead
The king of France lost his head
The King of kings bled

I’m not the King I just sing yeah
I’m just a fraction of a thing yeah
I am not anything without the King of kings

We are nothing without the King of kings, Jesus Christ, in our lives. I’m not the king of this blog. What I write here is of no consequence unless I seek to be led by the Holy Spirit and to glorify the King of kings. I’m not the king of this blog, I just write, hoping that the King will be pleased.

 But why is it that I can’t be king? God created me with talent and intelligence. I have the ability to make decisions and to decide what to write. I am the one who hits the “Publish” button each day. Surely I can be in control of at least this small part of the world and not mess it up. Can’t I? Perhaps not.

If I were King I’d be unwise
For my brains aren’t King size
A King’s someone to trust and love
Like Jesus Christ whom I sing of

On my own, I do not have the wisdom to rule even this tiny blog. I do not have the power to save anyone. You cannot trust in me for your salvation and I have done nothing to deserve your love and admiration. All I can do is point you to the King of kings, who can save you and more. He is someone you can trust and love. He is Jesus Christ, whom I write of.

Do you have some kingdom you are trying to rule on your own? Are you finding that isn’t working out so well for you? Is there revolt in the streets or on the factory floor? Do things seem to be spinning out of control? The King of kings is there for you; you can ask Him to take control of your little kingdom and He will gladly rule it wisely and with love.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:11-16 (NIV).

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In Christ We Overcome

Although it is not on my Bible-in-a-year reading schedule until December, the book of Revelation has come to my attention in two ways recently. First, a blog that I came across through the WordPress Blog Surfer included a link to this chart about the 7 churches of Revelation. Second,a fellow blogger has recently started working his way through Revelation and posting his thoughts on this sometimes controversial book.

In looking at the chart and the website it is posted on, I learned about the historicist view of Revelation, which holds that “from John`s day, there has been a chronological fulfilment in history of the prophecies of the Book of the Revelation.” The chart I linked to above shows this historical view and indicates the period of time in which this group believes the 7 churches of Revelation have existed, culminating with the present time being the time of the 7th church, the church in Laodicea. I had never heard of this view of Revelation before. I have read much about what this site calls the futurist view, which holds that much of the prophecy of Revelation has yet to happen, but that at some point in the future the rapture of all believers will occur followed by the rise of the antichrist and the second coming of Christ, referred to as Armageddon. This futurist view is consistent with the popular Left Behind series that is a fictional account of the end times.

This is all very interesting and one could spend hours studying whether the historicist view or the futurist view of Revelation is a true and accurate interpretation of a highly symbolic book based on a vision of the apostle John. However, as I have been reading the posts by my friend and fellow blogger Vineet, it occurred to me that as a practical matter the focus he has taken is much more appropriate for the average Christian. He has focused on Christ throughout his reading of Revelation and what God is speaking to him in his daily walk with the Lord.

I’m not sure it matters whether the 7 churches represent the church at 7 distinct periods of history or 7 actual churches that existed at the time of John’s vision or 7 examples of the church as it exists today. Perhaps it is all 3 to some extent. And maybe the 7 churches of Revelation represent the 7 possible states of the individual believer at any one time in their walk with Jesus. Christ found fault with 5 of the 7 churches, and He had praise for some characteristic of 6 of the 7 churches. But for each, even the church in Laodicea for which He had no praise, there was a promise to those who overcame. Here are the 7 promises:

  1. To the church in Ephesus: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7b.
  2. To the Church in Smyrna: “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelation 2:11b.
  3. To the Church in Pergamum: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17b.
  4. To the Church in Thyatira: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’ — just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:26-28.
  5. To the Church in Sardis: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” Revelation 3:5.
  6. To the Church in Philadelphia: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.” Revelation 3:12.
  7. To the Church in Laodicea: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21.

Throughout these messages to the churches, Jesus repeats, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:11a, 17a, 29, 3:6, 13, 22. He makes it clear that we cannot ignore what He has to say to all 7 of the churches. If we are to have our names written in the book of life, we must overcome the stumbling blocks that might trip up members of each church. But how do we overcome?

During His earthly ministry, Jesus made it quite clear how we overcome, and it is by putting all our hope, faith, and trust in Him. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. We cannot trust in ourselves because then we become idolators, setting ourselves up as god. This is the failing of the church in Pergamum.

We overcome by not continuing in habitual sin because of grace or claim that which is sin is not in fact sin. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, ” Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11. This does not mean that any failing on the part of the Christian leads to loss of salvation, but only habitual sin, especially sexual immorality and idolatry. This is the failing of the church in Thyatira.

We overcome by not being lukewarm about our faith in Christ, proclaiming Him only when it is convenient for us. Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26. Lukewarm faith doesn’t change the believer or cause him or her to desire to change for the better. This is the failing of the church in Laodicea, and so Christ wanted to spit them out.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be an overcomer! I want all of those promises that Jesus makes to those who overcome. And so I will listen to what He has to say to the churches, whether they be historical stages of the church throughout history or representations of the churches that exist today. Because ultimately whether I overcome will depend not on whether the historicist or futurist view of Revelation is correct, but on whether I put all my hope, trust, and faith in Christ alone to give me the wisdom and power to overcome.

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Amen as a Beginning, Not an End

This morning in my Quotemeal email from www.heartlight.org was this quote from Frank Laubach, and Christian Evangelical missionary to the Philippines who was born in 1884: 

 The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says “Amen” and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him your ideas.

I thought it was interesting that I should receive this quote this morning, because just yesterday I was looking up the word “amen” on www.dictionary.com. Laubach’s quote suggests that the word “amen” is a conclusion to a prayer, the end of it. And most people do treat it that way. But the real meaning of the word is much different. According to the online dictionary, amen is an interjection that means “it is so; so be it,” an adverb that means “verily; truly,” or a noun that is “an expression of concurrence or assent.” Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary (also on dictionary.com) defines amen as follows:

This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful (Rev. 3:14). In Isa. 65:16, the Authorized Version has “the God of truth,” which in Hebrew is “the God of Amen.” It is frequently used by our Saviour to give emphasis to his words, where it is translated “verily.” Sometimes, only, however, in John’s Gospel, it is repeated, “Verily, verily.” It is used as an epithet of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14). It is found singly and sometimes doubly at the end of prayers (Ps. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52), to confirm the words and invoke the fulfilment of them. It is used in token of being bound by an oath (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chr. 16:36). In the primitive churches it was common for the general audience to say “Amen” at the close of the prayer (1 Cor. 14:16). The promises of God are Amen; i.e., they are all true and sure (2 Cor. 1:20).

If we think of amen in these terms, as an affirmation of the petitions we have brought before God in our prayers and of our trust in His faithfulness to answer those prayers in accordance with His will, then we are less likely to quit listening for God’s answer after we complete our formal prayers. If amen is not an end, but a calling upon the God of truth, then it is possible to do as Paul admonishes the Thessalonians and “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Perhaps, then, amen signals the end of what we have to say to God and ask of Him for now, and the beginning of the time in which prayer becomes listening and watching for the answers to our prayers.

As an example, what if I pray for wisdom (among other things) while on my knees before God in the early morning, and conclude my prayer with amen? Shouldn’t I then be listening for that wisdom to come when I need it most throughout my day? And if I am not going to listen, then what use is it to have prayed for wisdom in the first place?

I actually think the quote from Laubach and stumbling upon the dictionary definition of amen is an answer to that very prayer for wisdom. Lately, I have not wanted to say amen at the end of my morning prayer time because it felt like an end and I didn’t want my time with God to end just because I had to get ready for work. But now I realize amen is not an end, but a beginning. It signals the beginning of my day with the God of truth at my side and in my heart. “Praise be to the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.” Psalms 89:52.

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The Great Commission

It is called the Great Commission. It is considered the duty of all Christians as it was commanded by Jesus to His disciples and all who follow Him. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Although today not every Christian actually baptizes others, the Great Commission to bring others to Christ is still important.

In today’s world in which we are told to “live and let live,” and to be respectful of what others believe, the Great Commission can be a challenge. Christians are concerned about being too pushy with their faith, of being labeled a “Bible thumper.” Such concern is, to a degree, warranted. The Great Commission doesn’t call for us to bring others to Christ by force. History has certainly seen enough of Christians trying to do just that, with less than satisfactory results for all concerned.

Even Paul, who was an enthusiastic evangelist and fulfilled the Great Commission wonderfully, would agree that we must not be too pushy about our faith. In his letter to the church at Colossus, Paul taught the early Christians how to spread the Gospel.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6.

First of all, we must pray for God to provide opportunities to share His grace, and for the right words to use. Second, our actions towards non-believers should be in accordance with God’s Word, they should be wise, so that an opportunity that God has provided is not lost because those non-believers see nothing worth listening to. Third, we must speak about grace, and everything else we talk about, with grace. Finally, we must “know how to answer everyone.” We do this by spending time in God’s Word and in trying to understand what we believe and why. If we cannot articulate why we believe in the grace of Christ how can we expect someone else to grasp what we are saying and believe it?

The Great Commission does not require each and every Christian to be converting people right and left, and taking them to the river to be baptized. But Jesus does ask us to sow seeds of His truth by what we say and how we act towards non-believers. I personally have never “led someone to Christ,” at least not that I am aware of. I have a friend who has done so numerous times, and I used to be jealous of her. But then I realized that some of us set the stage for the deal, and others are closers. I focus on doing as Paul teaches so that I can set the stage for someone like my friend to come along and close the deal when the time is right.

So whether you are a stage-setter or a deal-closer, do so with prayer, with wisdom, with grace, and with the knowledge of why you believe. Then you will be part of Christ’s Great Commission.

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