A lesson in prayer from the apostles (Acts 4:23-31)

Acts 4:23-31

Pray we should. But how should we pray. Are there right and wrong ways? I think there are. Many give up on prayer because no one has ever taught them how to pray. Though not exhaustive in the least, the apostle’s prayer in Acts 4:23-31 gives us some pointers.

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They chose to obey God (Acts 4:19-20)

Acts 4:19-20

After the healing of the lame man at the gate called beautiful, the religious leaders had the apostles Peter and John arrested. Though they could find nothing to convict them of, they tried to silence them by commanding them to neither speak nor teach any more in the name of Jesus. The apostles responded as all Christians ought to respond to such persecution. They said to these very powerful men, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19-20).”

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What Do You See in the Face of Your Enemy (Matthew 5:43-48), Sermon on the Mount Series, Part 4

Click here to read Matthew 5:43-38

What do you see in the face of your enemy? An object of revenge or justified wrath? Or, an object of love and altruistic prayer?

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The Overflowing Thankfulness of Christians (Colossians 2:6-7)

The Overflowing Thankfulness of ChristiansColossians 2:6-7

In the town of Wellsboro, Pa, where I live, we reached record-breaking rain fall. Water was overflowing everywhere. Every stream roared with rushing water. Every hollow was filled. Every depression in our yards seemed fit for an ant’s kayak. The apostle Paul identified overflowing with thankfulness as one mark of the Christian life (Colossians 2:7). Continue reading

Are you confused about death? (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

The 2010 film “Extraordinary Measures” depicts John and Aileen Crowley’s heroic efforts to find a cure for their two children who suffer from a rare and deadly genetic disorder. In one heart-wrenching scene, their oldest child experiences an exacerbation so bad that it brings her to the brink of death. With no treatment options remaining on the table, the Crowleys can do nothing but wait. Attempting to comfort them, a doctor tells them that they could try to look at their daughter’s seemingly imminent death as a blessing because their daughter would not need to suffer any more. As any parent can imagine, the proposal was less than satisfying to the Crowleys.

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Let the Light in (Matthew 6:23)

Matthew 6:23

Jesus said: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

The Greeks of old thought the eye was like a lamp. It illumined the world around a person much like the light of a flashlight in the dark. Jesus altered this well-known metaphor by saying it is not so much about what our eyes illuminate but what they take in. Our eyes do not remain neutral to the external stimuli they see. If our eyes take in darkness, that darkness contaminates the body and makes it dark. However, if our eyes take in light, light fills our body.

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Let Justice Roll Like a River (Amos 5:21-27)

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Amos 5:21-27

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the sound of your song! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23) These are odd words to have come from the Lord Almighty! Are not these the very things he commanded? Continue reading

The Cure for the Spiritually Lame (Acts 3:1-10)

Acts 3:1-10

A baby’s first steps mark a milestone. From sitting up to crawling to pulling up to holding on to finally walking, those steps open up a world of possibility. Can you imagine someone waiting forty plus years to take those first steps?

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Distinguishing Marks of the Infant Christian Church, Part 6 (Acts 2:42-47)

Acts 2:42-47

We come to the last distinguishing mark of the infant Christian church in this series. This series does not give an exhaustive list of distinguishing marks, only those listed in the first major snapshot of the infant Christian church given to us in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:42-47).

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Distinguishing Marks of the Infant Christian Church, Part 5 (Acts 2:42-47)

Acts 2:42-47

This continues a series of articles on the distinguishing marks of the infant Christian church. The infant Christian church’s devotion to prayer comprises its fifth distinguishing mark (Acts 2:42).

In the original Greek, the word often translated “prayer” is pluralized and preceded by the Greek article. Literally, we would render the Greek, “the prayers” and not simply “prayer.” The members of the infant church not only devoted themselves to the act of prayer, but they devoted themselves to regular routine times of prayer. They did not pray only at times they felt moved to pray but established regular times to gather together and pray. A healthy church prays regularly and routinely. Prayers do not simply punctuate the end of a song or fill a liturgical role in the service, but flow from the heart of those who make these times of regular prayer foundational to their lives.

Luke showed us the believers praying before. Before the day of Pentecost, they were in a room praying regularly, likely for the power from on high Jesus promised (Acts 1:14) . Luke will show us again, time after time, the early church praying (e.g. Acts 3:1). Prayer gives the church her lifeblood.

The scholar Dr A. T. Pierson once said, “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” Charles Spurgeon was said to have a group regularly meeting in the steam cellar of the church for the sole purpose of praying for the ministry of the church. It was said of John Knox that one day when he went into the room he often withdrew to, his wife followed him. When she entered, she heard him pleading to God in broken sentences, “Lord, wilt thou grant me Scotland.”

The prayer life of a congregation serves as one of the spiritual barometers that measures a congregation’s health. Is your congregational prayer life healthy? Is your individual prayer life for your congregation’s ministry healthy? If you cannot answer in the affirmative, drop what you are reading and fall on your knees. Your Lord calls you; will you listen?

For those looking to pray for our county, I invite you to join a group of us Mondays by the flagpole near the courthouse in Wellsboro at 4pm (or a little thereafter). Many prayers go from that place weekly for the welfare of our community. It matters little your denomination, only your willingness to join fellow brothers and sisters in beseeching Christ for times of refreshing to come to the people in our community.