Jesus takes it for granted that believers are going to pray. Matthew 6:5 says, “When thou prayest…” If you believe that prayer is not important, you have not read the Bible enough. We find prayer in the first book of the Bible, the last book of the Bible, and we find prayer today.
God loves constant contact with His children. Prayer should always be real and the spirit right in which we pray. Luke 18:11-14 says, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
A law against prayer did not stop Daniel from praying. Prayer is unstoppable in the believer’s life when activated. We should do nothing in any area of life without first taking the time to saturate the matter in prayer. D. L. Moody said, “I’d rather be able to pray than be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”
We can read every book ever written on prayer, but if we never pray it is all in vain. To make prayer truly effective, we must practice prayer. On a scale of 1 - 10, how would you rate your prayer life? Hudson Taylor said, “The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, ‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'”
Lying is not good, and rarely is not telling the truth justifiable in any situation. The Bible speaks strongly about lying. Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Proverbs 21:6 says, “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.”
One of the famous lies in history was the fabrications of Charles Ponzi, who even got the government to name a type of fraud after him. Ponzi was an Italian immigrant in the 1920’s who tricked thousands into investing into a postage stamp speculation scheme. At the peak of his scam, he was making $250,000 a day. Each time a new investor paid their money, he would pay off earlier investors to make them believe that they were making profits from a real business. Today we call this kind of fraud a Ponzi Scheme.
Someone said this about honesty; “Honesty is a person's most valuable asset. His or her good name, good reputation, and good word depend on the individual's quality of honesty. A business that operates under the principles of profound honesty is elevated within the community. It is respected and treasured. The absence of honesty is a liability to an individual or business.”
Proverbs 12:19 says, “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” For Charles Ponzi this was true, and he got caught and charged with 86 counts of mail fraud. Lying and stealing are no way to live, especially for a believer in Christ. Eventually your lies and dishonesty will catch up to you and you will lose your reputation and testimony. Christians, have determination to always tell the truth no matter what.
This week one of our church members lost their father, and we traveled to Oklahoma for the funeral service. This man taught Sunday school for over 50 years, and was married to the same lady for 69 years. He was a man of the Bible who taught his family to serve the Lord.
During the service, it became very evident that this was a special man. It was not hard to tell. From the packed church house, the words of the speakers and singers, and the heart of the family. Tears were shed but there was also laughter and joy in the knowledge of Heaven.
At every funeral, we are reminded that life is short. James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
If we were to die today, how would we be remembered? Would we be remembered fondly and lovingly, or would we invoke a different spirit? Matthew 12:35 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” The man who was laid to rest this week was a good man who produced good fruit. He did this because he was a follower of Christ.
If you are not a Christian, what are you waiting for? Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Death is coming whether you like it or not. You may live to a great age, but you will still face eternity. What you do with Jesus Christ is the only thing that will matter in that day. Trust Him now with your heart. It will be the best decision of your life.
The new year has arrived, and with it comes a clean slate with infinite possibilities. Some people will resolve to start diet and exercise, and the gym will be filled with people working off the holiday pounds. Maybe the year’s resolution will be to read more or to love more or to travel more. Whatever you resolve to do will take time to accomplish, and spiritual resolutions are worth the time.
Over the next fifty-two weeks, make time for your church. Support the worship services, support your pastor, and be a friend to others that attend. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Take time to read the Bible and pray. A daily Bible reading schedule can be found online or ask your pastor to get you one. Compile a prayer list and take a few minutes every day to pray. This will be time well spent that will reap eternal dividends.
Another great time resolution is family time. Go on regular dates with your spouse. If you have children take time for each of them, and grown children should take time with their parents. Chris Mack, head coach of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team, believes that his three children are more important than his job. "It's everything to me," Mack said. "When I die, hopefully a long, long time from now, I'd rather be considered a better dad than a better coach.” This may be an unusual quote for a basketball coach, but it should not be unusual for a Christian.
Time is limited, but we all have the same amount. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” How will you spend your time in 2020?
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.