Monday Musings: God of the Means as Well of the Motives

And they set the ark of God upon a new cart….  (2 Samuel 6:3a)

David’s heart was in the right place. He wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. So, he put the Ark on a new cart, purpose-built for the sacred duty of moving it to its proper home. It was a huge affair. For the occasion, David called in thirty thousand of his choicest men, and like the Philistines had done before them (1 Samuel 6), the people of David manhandled the Ark and put in on the cart. Continue reading

Monday Musings: Whatsoever State I am…

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.  (Proverbs 22:2)

We are to be stewards, not victims, of our circumstances. Because our lot in life is ordained of God. That we are not necessarily foreordained to remain in our current state is clear from the lives of people like Paul and Joseph. Paul said: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Philippians 4:12). He’d personally experienced both feast and famine and learned to be content in either circumstance. As for Joseph, he went from second-in-command in his own household, to prisoner in Egypt, to second-in-command of Egypt. The key in the lives of both these men was how they stewarded their circumstances. Who they were was not defined by their current socio-economic status. They were defined by whom they worshiped and honored with their lives. Their God was unchanging, so regardless of where and how they found themselves, they also were unchanging.

Acts on Prayer: Don’t Panic — Pray!

Acts chapter 4 records the first persecution of the fledgling church. In the previous chapter, Peter and John had gone up to the temple for public prayer. When they got there, they saw a man whom the Bible says was “lame from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:1). Today we would probably refer to the man as a paraplegic. Typical for the day, because the man could not work, he made his living begging. He was a regular there (Acts 3:2) and received alms from the temple goers all the time.

When Peter and John happened upon the man, they offered him something better. They showed him Jesus Christ and they healed the man (Acts 3:6-11). That the man was healed was irrefutable because he did more than thank Peter and John, he leapt about praising God! It was the equivalent of an end zone celebration after a touchdown.
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Acts on Prayer: Pray for everything – even the small stuff.

Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

In verse eight of this chapter, the Lord gives His disciples their marching orders. In verse nine He ascends into heaven, and from verse ten and following they go about doing what they were commanded to do.

So, they left Mount Olivet and traveled a Sabbath day’s journey (a little under a mile) to Jerusalem where they met in an upper room, probably in the home owned by Mark’s mother.

Scripture does not record this prayer, but here are some things we can know:

  • All the true apostles were present (Judas Iscariot had committed suicide).
  • “The” women were present, perhaps among them Mary Magdalene and Salome (Mark 16:1, 9).
  • Mary the mother of Jesus was present.
  • The Lord’s brothers were present.

Among the things that made the Lord stand out during His earthly ministry was His gracious treatment of women. This was not the norm, especially given the Pharisees’ teaching about them; according to them, women were more property than people. Jesus treated women with honor and respect. The fact that the women were present in the upper room and not excluded from that prayer meeting suggests that Christ’s disciples got the message about how women were supposed to be treated.

Mary the mother of Jesus is specifically mentioned because of who she is. By the way, she prayed with the others. She was not prayed to.

Jesus brothers were there as well, finally convinced that their elder brother was none other than Messiah. (See John 7:1-5) Why is this significant? Because even Jesus Himself had family members who were skeptical about the faith.  So, if even Jesus had unbelieving family members, should it surprise us if we do, too? Don’t you know that Jesus prayed for His brothers, just like you are praying for your unsaved family? The salvation of Jesus’ brothers wasn’t instant. If the Lord had to keep praying for his unsaved family members, how much more do we?

But now, what did those in the upper room pray? Well, considering what had transpired before they likely prayed for:

  • The arrival of the promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
  • Power to evangelize the world around them.
  • Practical guidance to do God’s will on the earth.

Funny, that really doesn’t sound that much different from what any of us should be praying for right now. As modern-day believers we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved. The reason it came separately in the early church was so that it could serve as a sign to believing Jews that salvation was not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. (That’s a subject for another study.) Still, we need to pray for Holy Spirit power because it’s the only way we can get God’s work done.

What stands out to me is the apostles’ prayer for guidance regarding the replacement of Judas Iscariot. (Acts 1:15-26) Obviously replacing an apostle is no small matter, but casting lots as an unbiased means of making a choice was pretty common in Peter’s day. It was something they had learned from their Old Testament forbears. They could have just cast lots, but they prayed about it.

Sometimes we forget to pray for the practical, everyday things. But really, the true depth of our faith is often measured in how much we seek God’s face on the things we think we can handle ourselves.

We’ll go to God for the “big stuff.” We’ll pray to Him for the stuff that’s new or scary to us. But when’s the last time we prayed for the car to start (when we didn’t need to)? When was the last time we thanked God for the car starting (when we didn’t need to)? How many things do we just take for granted and say to God: “Lord, I got this.”

Brothers and sisters, we ain’t got nothin’! We need to be praying about everything. What does Paul tell us in Philippians?

“…[I]n every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (4:6b)

Let’s not just “cast lots” and let things fall where they may on the things we think we have a handle on. Let’s make everything something we do with prayer.

Lord, help me to remember me dependence on You in all things. Because there’s nothing I have that I did not get from You first and there is nothing I can do without Your grace! Amen!