Fellowship – Discipleship – Outreach

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Where did the traditional posture of prayer come from?
Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Where did the traditional posture of prayer come from?

The tradition of kneeling and bowing our heads to pray has its roots in the Bible. The first incident of kneeling in prayer is from 2 Ch. 6:13, Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, when Solomon knelt with outstretched arms before the assembly of Israel at the dedication of the Temple.

Psalm 95:6, Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker, also speaks of bowing in worship and kneeling before the Lord. Daniel also went to his knees and prayed for the Jewish people towards Jerusalem three times a day in Da. 6:10, Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.

The New Testament also has in the Gospels passages where people went to their knees before Jesus. Mk. 1:40, And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean., and Mt. 17:14, When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,. Jesus also prayed to His Father from His knees in Lk. 22:41, And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This practice continued in the first century church in the Book of Acts starting with Stephen in Ac. 7:60, Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep., when he was about to die. Peter also knelt in prayer when he rose Tabitha from the dead in Ac. 9:40, But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Paul also knelt and prayed with the Ephesians when he was leaving Ephesus during his third missionary journey in Ac. 20:36, When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Paul sums kneeling up in Eph. 3:14, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, in that he kneels to give honor to God who entrusted him to his ministry.

The other topic of bowing our heads with eyes closed is not so easily found in scripture. Most incidents of bowing in the Bible refer to the fact that every knee will bow in the end before Jesus. Bowing is the way man gives honor to a king or ruler. I believe we bow our heads for this reason, to give honor to Jesus our king. Bowing was originally to the knee or prostrated face first on the ground. We have simplified this to just bowing our heads. One possible reference to bowing our heads could have come from a mistranslation in the King James Bible. Where the New American Standard translates as bowing low, or prostrating oneself, the KJV translates these passages as bowing the head. This translation was the only translation available to the English speaking church for much of its history. As for the closing of the eyes, I could find no scriptural references to support this practice. My own thought is that closing your eyes removes our most prominent sense, the sense of sight, as a distraction to prayer.

While there is no scriptural command for us to pray from our knees with head bowed and eyes closed there is nothing wrong with the practice. Also there is nothing wrong with any method or posture of prayer you choose to practice. No one way will make you more spiritual than the other. God desires us to pray as communication with Him as part of our personal relationship. The most important thing is to pray, not the method you use.



Why Should I Read the Old Testament?
Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Why Should I Read the Old Testament?

God’s Word through the Old Testament scriptures is important and necessary for our understanding of New Testament revelation. The New Testament if full of reflections on Old Testament Law and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Jesus, as the Living Word of God includes the Old Testament in His very being.

The Old Testament, from the creation story in the Book of Genesis through the words of Malachi the prophet, point us toward Jesus and our dire need for a savior. God created man perfect in the beginning, as a true reflection of Him, but through our innate curiosity we disobeyed our Creator and ushered sin and corruption into the world. It may seem cruel and hard, but the wages of sin is death, and to His dismay God was required to pass sentence on His once perfect creation. God though, had a plan to redeem mankind back to Himself. God would become a man and go to earth to become the unblemished perfect sacrifice to atone for man’s sin debt.

The path to the arrival of Jesus on the earth was long and hard. God first needed to define what He called sin to His creation, and also show sins penalty. God also showed His love by selecting a people to belong to Him. He chose Abraham out of the multitude to become the father of the Jewish people. Through them God would show us His Law and also reveal His character. The Jews faced triumphs and tragedies through the passage of time for their periods of obedience and disobedience to God’s rules. Through the Law and the sacrificial atonements God revealed what it would take to redeem man back to Him. It is impossible to understand the need for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ without the background of the Old Testament scriptures. Jesus came to earth so that all could experience God’s love and friendship. He wants us all to have life as it was in the garden before the fall. The Garden of Eden will not be recreated, but we are promised a far better place called Heaven to spend eternity with our Lord and fellow believers.

The Old Testament reveals what God expects of us to be worthy of heaven. It also reveals the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Old Testament also shows the cruelty and depravity of man that set the stage for the Roman Empire that was the world power during the days Jesus walked the earth. All of these events had to occur before the world was ready for the spread of this old/new way Jesus taught to His disciples. The Gospels are as part of the Old Testament in that God here still attempted to convince His chosen people to repent, follow His commandments, and prepare for His restored Kingdom. After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles, including the Apostle Paul used the remainder of the New Testament to reveal the new way to reach God. This new way was based on the teachings of Jesus and dealt with adoption and family love, and a personal desire to obey and follow the Lord.

The Old Testament breathes life and understanding into the New Testament scriptures. Reading the Old Testament will give you the same insights and background as the writers of the New Testament Epistles as they wrote them so very long ago.



What’s wrong with Christmas?
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

This is the season of the year that man has decided to place the birth of Jesus Christ. December 25th was deemed the day of Jesus birth not because He was born on that day, but because it coincided with an already popular pagan Roman festival. We as a people have continued with this Roman corruption of the truth and added to it an ever increasing worldly content to what should be remembered as a sacred wonderful event. The significance of Christ’s birth is that this was God’s first major step towards the redemption of man back to Himself. On this day over two thousand years ago God stepped down from heaven, put on flesh, and became His creation so that He could become the perfect proper sacrifice to atone for our sin. We have turned this glorious day into to a day to fulfill our own worldly desires. Instead of celebrating the birth of our Savior and lavishing Him with our gifts of obedience and service we have instead forgotten Jesus and turned it into a time of gluttony and excess. We don’t even have the story right. Jesus came into the world in the humblest of surroundings, born to frightened parents far from their home. He was born in a shelter for livestock with a feeding trough for a crib. Only simple shepherds came and saw their King in the stable. Alone, Mary and Joseph then took the baby Jesus up to the temple in Jerusalem on the eighth day to be circumcised then returned to Bethlehem and stayed in a home. Sometime during the first two years of Jesus life He was visited by magicians from the east. These men knew of Jesus and understood the significance of the star because they were descendants of the magicians taught by Daniel many years before. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Boy I believe financed the families flight to Egypt to escape the treachery of King Herod. The remainder of Jesus life on earth was spent as a humble carpenter who lived in an insignificant town on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, from these humble beginnings brought His new message of repentance and love to the world. The world rejected His message then and continues to twist His Word and ignore His ways. This is not a tirade against Christmas, I thank God there was a Christmas that brought His Son to the earth to die for my sin. These words are about what man has made of Christmas. We have filled the season with pagan symbols with tales and images that are not based on the truth. We revere an old overweight guy in a red suit with a magical sled drawn by impossible reindeer that brings gifts to all the good people in the world and ignore the One who gave us the greatest gift of all. We stuff ourselves with food and drink and forget that Mary and Joseph probably had little to eat that night long ago. We stay up late the night before wondering how many presents are under the tree when much of the world is lost and suffering in poverty. We show off the wonderful gifts we have received and condemn the cheapskate who only gave us socks. We sit in front of our television sets and watch commercials hawking new cars with giant bows on top and forget that maybe some of our neighbors are about to become homeless. Shouldn’t there be a better way to shore up the economy then by a manufactured holiday to keep the bottom line out of the red? If we must celebrate the birth of Christ at the end of the year couldn’t we celebrate it as a time of fellowship and love for each other, a time of giving to our Lord the things He would want? We should give Him the gift of compassion and understanding towards others? We should also give Him the gift of sharing His Word with the world with the goal of making disciples. And also as the church we should we should give to Him the gift of ourselves as His bride without spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless. We are told in the Bible that this is not our home; we are here for only a short time before we are ushered into a glorious eternity with our Lord. While we are here couldn’t we set ourselves aside and be like Jesus?



A Place for Us in Heaven
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

In the first few verses of Chapter 14 in the Gospel of John, Jesus painted a beautiful picture for His disciples about His true relationship with them. Many times when the Lord spoke He used examples that were very well known to His listeners. In this instance Jesus used the traditions that surround a Jewish wedding to encourage His friends. These traditions are different from what we normally think of when we consider the relationship between a man and a woman who are engaged to be married. The picture painted by our Lord is a glimpse at His future bride, the church.

In Israel marriages were arranged by the parents of a couple for the mutual benefit to the families involved. Marriage did not follow the typical western path of attraction and shared love. Many of these marriages did result in love and devotion between the couple, but it was not a prerequisite to the union. In a similar way God the Father is still in the process of selecting a suitable bride for His son Jesus. This selection though, is based on God’s unconditional love towards us, and also the recognition of our love and need for our Savior. What Jesus told His disciples here and what He continues to tell us today is that we need not worry about our future. God has had full complete knowledge of each of His children’s futures from before the creation!

Let’s return to our Lord’s example. In Israel after the public announcement of a couple’s betrothal, the husband-to-be would return to his boyhood home and build an addition onto his parent’s house. This addition would be where the couple would settle down and live after they were married. Families would stay together. Sons had the responsibility to care for their parents as they aged, and also to show them respect. The inheritance of the father was passed down to his sons. This inheritance included the family’s status, wealth, and property. Ten days before the church was born at Pentecost, Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father. He also told His disciples, in John 14, that He was also going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them, and by implication, for us too there in heaven. Just as the husband-to-be in Israel returned for his bride, so also will Jesus return to the earth for His bride, the church. At the time of the rapture we will meet Jesus in the air, be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and be escorted up to the marriage supper of the Lamb to be joined with our Lord forever.

Wayne



The Lord’s Supper
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Let’s take a closer look at the elements that make up this ordinance of the church known as communion, or the Lord’s Supper. I think maybe we all have done it by rote so often that we have never taken the time to discover what the elements of this act truly represent.

First we will look at the first element, the bread. Bread, from mankind’s beginnings recorded in the Book of Genesis, has been the most common food available. The cost of bread remains low, and even though it is labor intensive to make it is easy to prepare or buy. Bread or grains in some form or another has always been present at every meal we eat, then and also now.

Bread, as we look at it in Scripture is that what sustains man. Sarah baked bread for Abraham’s guests before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:6. God also provided bread from heaven known as manna to His people in the wilderness. He sent bread to break the famine in the land of Israel during the period of the Judges recorded in the Book of Ruth 1:6. Bread represents life which Jesus made clear when he said and explained in John 6:26-40, “I Am the bread of life.” When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of these words that we have become part of our Lord and have been given the gift of eternal life with Him.

Next we will consider the second element of the Lord’s Supper, the wine or grape juice. Wine has been the drink of choice from very early in man’s history. Noah planted a vineyard after the flood, and one of the most memorable things the spies that Moses sent to Canaan saw were single clusters of grapes that took two men to carry. The juice of the grape, when fermented, was the safest thing to drink when the common water supplies had become contaminated. Wine, like bread was present at nearly every meal.

The wine of communion represents blood. Blood from the earliest times is the substance in the body in which life is contained. This was recorded in the Law of Moses in the Book of Leviticus 17:11. God used the blood of animal sacrifice as a symbol of His covenant with Israel in the Book of Exodus 24:8. We can see throughout the Old Testament that God requires the shedding of blood to cover sin. The New Testament Book of Hebrews recorded in Chapter 9 verse 22 that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Jesus shed His blood on the Cross of Calvary for us as the once and for all sacrifice for our sin. In the same way as the Old Testament sacrifice represented God’s covenant with His people, the shed blood of God’s own Son represents His new covenant with His church and our adoption into His family. When we drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper we need to remember how the shed blood of Jesus has cleansed us from the stain of sin and has then allowed us into the presence of Almighty God.

Wayne