Follow The Lamb – V. Keep Company With God, and With The People of God

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V. KEEP COMPANY WITH GOD, AND WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD

Intimacy with God is the very essence of religion, and the foundation of discipleship. It is in intercourse with Father, Son, and Spirit that the most real parts of our lives are lived; and all parts that are not lived in fellowship with Him, ‘in whom we live, and move, and have our being,’ are unreal, untrue, unsuccessful, and unsatisfying. The understanding of doctrine is one thing, and intimacy with God is another. They ought always to go together; but they are often seen asunder; and, when there is the former without the latter, there is a hard, proud, hollow religion. Get your teaching from God (Job 36:22; Jer 23:30); take your doctrine from His lips; learn truth upon your knees. Beware of opinions and speculations: they become idols, and nourish pride of intellect; they furnish no food to the soul; they make you sapless and heartless; they are like winter frostwork on your windowpane, shutting out the warm sun.

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Let God be your companion, your bosom-friend, your instructor, your counselor. Take Him into the closet with you, into the study, into the shop, into the marketplace, into the railway carriage, into the boat. When you make a feast and call guests, invite Him as one of them. He is always willing to come; and there is no company like His. When you are in perplexity, and are taking advice from friends, let Him be one of your ‘friends in counsel.’ When you feel lonely, make Him the ‘companion of your solitude.’ And if you are known to be one given to the divine companionship, you will be saved from much idle and wasteful society and conversation. You will not feel at home with worldly men, nor they with you. You will not choose the half-and-half Christian, or the formalist, or the servant of two masters, for your friend; nor will any of these seek your fellowship. When thrown into worldly society, from your business or your relationships, as you may sometimes be, do not cease to be the Christian; nor try to make excuses for the worldliness of those with whom you are obliged to associate; for that is just making excuses for yourself in associating with them. Do not try to make yourself or them believe that they are religious when they are not; but show them whose disciples you are; not necessarily in words, but by a line of conduct more expressive and efficacious than words. Do not conform to the world in order to please men or to save yourself from their taunt or jest. Be not afraid to ask a blessing at meals, or to have family worship, or to enter into religious conversation, because a worldly man is present. Keep constant company with the great God of heaven and earth; and let every other companionship be regulated by His. Go where you please, if you can take Him with you; go nowhere if He cannot be admitted, or if you are obliged for the time to conceal or disguise your divine discipleship. When Joseph went down to Egypt, he took the young child with him (Matt 2:21); so, wherever you go, take the young child with you.

Beware of declension in prayer. –Whenever you feel the closet becoming a dull place, you may be sure something is wrong. Backsliding has begun. Go straight to God that He may ‘heal it’ (Hosea 14:4). Do not trifle with it; nor resort to other expedients to relieve the dullness, such as shortening the time, or getting some lively religious books to take off the weariness; go at once to the Great Quickener with the cry, ‘Quicken us, and we will call on Thy name’ (Psa 80:18). Beware of going through prayer in a careless or perfunctory way, like a hireling doing his work in order to get done with it. ‘Pray in the Holy Ghost’ (Jude 20). ‘Pray without ceasing.’ Pray with honest fervour and simple faith, as men who really want what they ask for, and expect to get it all. Few things tend more to deaden the soul, to harden the heart, to drive out spirituality, than cold, formal prayer. It will eat as doth a canker. Dread it and shun it. Do not mock God by asking what you don’t want, or by pretending to desire what you don’t care for. ‘The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer’ (1 Peter 4:7).

Be much alone with God. Do not put Him off with a quarter of an hour morning and evening. Take time to get thoroughly acquainted. Converse over everything with Him. Unbosom yourself wholly–every thought, feeling, wish, plan, doubt–to Him. He wants converse with His creatures; shall His creatures not want converse with Him? He wants, not merely to be on ‘good terms’ with you, if one may use man’s phrase, but to be intimate; shall you decline the intimacy, and be satisfied with mere acquaintance? What! intimate with the world, with friends, with neighbours, with politicians, with philosophers, with naturalists, or with poets; but not with God! That would look ill indeed. Folly, to prefer the clay to the potter, the marble to the sculptor, this little earth and its lesser creatures to the mighty Maker of the universe, the great ‘All and in all!’

Do not shrink from being alone. Much of a true man’s true life must be so spent. David Brainerd thus writes:–‘My state of solitude does not make the hours hang heavy upon my hands. Oh, what reason of thankfulness have I on account of this retirement! I find that I do not, and it seems I cannot, lead a Christian life when I am abroad, and cannot spend time in devotion, in conversation, and serious meditation, as I should do. These weeks that I am obliged now to be from home, in order to learn the Indian tongue, are mostly spent in perplexity and barrenness, without much relish of divine things; and I feel myself a stranger at the throne of grace for want of a more frequent and continued retirement.’ Do not suppose that such retirement for divine converse will hinder work. It will greatly help it. Much private fellowship with God will give you sevenfold success. Pray much if you would work much; and if you want to work more, pray more. Luther used to say, when an unusual press of business came upon him, ‘I must pray more today.’ Be like him in the day of work or trial. Do not think that mere working will keep you right or set you right. The watch won’t go till the spring is mended. Work will do nothing for you till you have gone to God for a working heart. Trying to work yourself into a better frame of feeling is not only hopeless, but injurious. You say, I want to feel more and to love more. It is well. But you can’t work yourself into these. I do not say to any one who feels his coldness, ‘Go and work.’ Work, if done heartlessly, will only make you colder. You must go straight to Jesus with that cold heart, and warm it at His cross; then work will be at once a necessity, a delight, and a success.

— Horatius Bonar

Excerpt from here.

Two Prayers to Jesus: Considerations For Jehovah’s Witnesses

At the end of I Corinthians, Paul is closing his letter with final encouragements, writing by his own hand. His heartfelt desire for the return of Christ springs forth in a brief prayer to Christ:

… O our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22, New World Translation)

In the NWT Reference Bible, there is a cross-reference at this point to Revelation 22:20, which reads as follows:

“He that bears witness of these things says, ‘Yes; I am coming quickly.’” “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20, New World Translation)

Jesus is coming! These precious prayers spring instantly from the saints, offered without hesitation in full faith in the one they call on. Both Paul and the author of Revelation pray to Jesus, asking him to come. They pray to Jesus. This is spontaneous prayer to Jesus, reflected in the Jehovah’s Witness translation of the Bible. These biblical passages contradict what the Watchtower teaches JWs worldwide. The organization tells them it is unacceptable to pray to Jesus because he is not God. And yet… their own Bible tells them otherwise. Paul and John prayed to Jesus.

Who is the Watchtower to restrict what these apostles demonstrate by their own prayers to the Coming One? Is this how the “biblical religion” of the Watchtower works? The words and rules of men overrule the Word of God? It is deadly dangerous to trust the words of men over the Word of God. You are in danger if you eat their so-called ‘food in due season’. The so-called spiritual feast of the Watchtower religion is, in reality, corruption and death, killing the soul with rules that directly contradict the Word of God.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, time and time again you go house to house and try to convince people that the Watchtower religion is the only true and biblical faith. How can a religion be called ‘true and biblical’ when it restricts people from following clear teachings of the Bible? The Watchtower places its own words as more important than the inspired text of Scripture. The Scriptures teach, proclaim, and demonstrate the faithful practices of the apostles and early church.

You are safe in following these fine examples of faith found in the Bible. Call on Jesus today! He can hear your prayer and will be faithful to answer it.

Come, Lord Jesus.

A Discourse of Delight In Prayer – Charnock

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Let us delight in prayer. God loves a cheerful giver in alms, and a cheerful petitioner in prayer. God would have his children free with him. He takes special notice of a spiritual frame, “who hath engaged his heart?” Jer. 30:21. The more delight we have in God, the more delight he will have in us. He takes no pleasure in a lumpish service. It is an uncomely sight to see a joyful sinner and a lumpish petitioner. Why should we not exercise as much joy in holy duties, as formerly we did in sinful practices? How delightfully will men sit at their games, and spend their days in gluttony and luxury? And shall not a Christian find much more delight in applying himself to God? We should delight that we can, and have hearts to ask such gifts, that thousands in the world never dream of begging. To be dull, is a discontentedness with our own petitions. Delight in prayer is the way to gain assurance. To seek God, and treat him as our chiefest good, endears the soul to him. Delighting in accesses to him, will enflame our love. And there is no greater sign of an interest in him than a powerful estimation of him. God casts off none that affectionately clasp about his throne.

–Excerpt from here.

Cast Your Burden On the Lord


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Psalm 55
Cast Your Burden on the LORD
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”

Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Rob Bowman In Discussions with former Mormon Shawn McCraney

Dear Friends of CRandE and Rob Bowman:  Please be in prayer today for Rob and Shawn McCraney. Rob has shared the following update earlier today. The livestream of the program starts at 8pm MST tonight.

From Rob Bowman on his facebook page: ‘Tonight (2/25/14), I will be a guest on the TV program “Heart of the Matter,” hosted by Shawn McCraney. Shawn is a former Mormon who became a born-again Christian and now leads an informal church in Salt Lake City. Shawn recently did a couple of programs disparaging the doctrine of the Trinity, in response to which I flew out to Salt Lake City yesterday to meet with him. We talked for four hours yesterday and are planning a similar meeting tomorrow. Tonight I am expecting to answer some questions about the doctrine of the Trinity on his live streaming broadcast: http://hotm.tv/. The situation with Shawn is complicated and difficult for a number of reasons. I would appreciate the prayers of my Christian friends for the program tonight and also my personal conversations with Shawn.’

The Short List: Three Ideas On How You Can Encourage Your Pastor

1. Pray today for your pastor.
The number one priority for you to encourage your pastor is to pray for him. Period. This isn’t the gratuitous #5 to assuage everyone’s guilty conscience for not praying anymore. It isn’t the polite unspoken duty that isn’t necessary to mention because everyone knows they need to do this. Pray for your pastor. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Stop talking about Christian duties and actually pray. Stop saying “I really need to make time for that”. Pray. If it means that you stop reading this right now and spend the next few minutes praying for your pastor and never reading the other two ideas, that is “mission accomplished” for me. This is #1 for a reason. It’s that important.

2. Talk to your pastor like he’s a human being.

He’s not a theology robot, even if he happens to be a theology geek. The guy is a human being. Do you talk to other people throughout your day? Good. Then I can assume you understand how to talk to people. Talk to your pastor. You don’t need to impress him with a new theological discovery or inform him of an anticipated spiritual event. Talk to him like you would talk to your brother about everyday things.

3. If you don’t have a “your pastor”, get one.

Brothers and sisters, if you’re not in regular attendance at a local church, change that this week. Find a church you can join together with and worship God as part of the assembled congregation. If you are a regular attender but not a member of your church, talk to your pastor about joining the church. It’s really that simple, and “your pastor” will be greatly encouraged by your attendance and membership.

Prayer: Who Should We Pray To?

“God is the One to whom we pray. Not angels. Not some group of ‘saints’ up in heaven. Not the departed dead. But God alone. There is not a single verse either in the Old Testament or the New Testament where prayers are made to angels, to saints, or the departed dead. Such ideas are human inventions. Prayer is to be made only to God.”  – Rhodes, Ron. Prayer to the Living God

Some Thoughts On Prayerlessness

Benefits of Not Praying

  • None.

Dangers of Not Praying

  • Growth in Pride & Self-sufficiency
  • A growing distance between yourself and God
  • Growing hard in your attitude toward others
  • Growing deaf to instruction found in the Bible
  • A growing inability to speak the gospel with conviction
  • Growing disobedience to God with less and less concern over it

(These kinds of growth we can all do without.)

From Tim Challies and Nancy DeMoss:  More Thoughts On Prayerlessness

Praying… With All Prayer

In the following video, I get to share the second of a two-part sermon from Ephesians 6:10-20. This sermon covers the final three verses in that passage. Prayer is critical for the battle of the Christian life. We are to be occupied in prayer at all times. How is that practical when we have other important necessities to attend to, such as work, caring for the family, and driving?

Some Thoughts On Prayer

Prayer is not:

Commanding God around.

A magic incantation that brings God under your control.

Using the power of words to create the reality you want to possess.

Prayer is:

Calling out to God.

Acknowledging God’s power and your own powerlessness.

An act of faith that God hears your prayer.

A cry for help in the battle of the Christian life.

An act of submission before the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

Praying at all times, with all prayer, alert with all perseverance, for all the saints.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  -Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV, emphasis added.