A Thanksgiving Prayer

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David expresses a beautiful prayer in I Chronicles 29:10-19.  He makes this prayer prior to leaving the kingdom to his son, Solomon.  He glorifies God and credits Him as the source and owner of all things.  He gives thanks to the Almighty.  He prays that the spirit of joy that existed in Israel at that time would always be present.  And, he prays for Solomon.  Solomon is young and  inexperienced.  David has given him an important task: to rule over Israel and to build the temple.  David prays that Solomon will walk in the ways of the LORD.  The prayer begins with these words, “Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.  Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory,  and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”  In all humility, we say, AMEN!

The Wounded Heart

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Psalm 109 is a prayer for deliverance.  David is distressed and oppressed by his enemies.  He seeks God’s deliverance from the hands of his accusers. God is able to deliver  him out of the hand of the ungodly. We will consider the cause, effect, consolation and cure for David’s distress.

The Cause. David’s distress comes from wicked and deceitful mouths being opened against him.  His enemies spoke against him with lies and hate.  They attacked him without a cause.  They rewarded him evil for good and hatred for love.  This burdened David’s soul.  He sought relief through prayer.
The Effect. David’s heart was wounded by his enemies. “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.”  The wounded heart is bowed down with sorrow, affliction, brokenness and produces a shower of tears.  David was humbled.  He was weak from fasting and had lost weight.  People wagged their heads at him when they saw him.  He was the object of scorn.
The Consolation. God’s presence, power, and promises secure the wounded heart in the midst of adversity.  David pleads, “Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy” (Psa. 109:26).  God stands at the right hand of the needy to deliver them from those that condemn them.  God is able to deliver the the righteous out of the hand of the ungodly.  Consider some other thoughts from scripture.  2 Peter 2:9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  2 Tim. 4:18, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
The Cure. David invokes God’s help to deliver him from the oppression of his enemies.  God is characterized by a steadfast love for His people.  He will not forsake them.  He will fight for them.  God is able to defeat their enemies.  He is the one that David praises and gives thanks to.  The cure for the wounded heart is the steadfast love of God and His help to overcome the evil doer.  Offenses will come (Matt. 18:7-8).  But, woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.  Our God is able to deliver us from the hand of the ungodly!

Daily Bread

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     In Matthew 6, Jesus taught His disciples a beautiful prayer.  As a part of the context of that prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray for their daily bread.  “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:6).  Recently, Christianity Today published an article with some meditations on the phrase daily bread (Christianity Today, March, 2009, p. 56). The article contained reflections on “Praying for Our Daily Bread.”  I want to share some of those with you and add some of my own thoughts on this important subject.  It seems especially appropriate to think on these things during the tough economic times we are facing in America. 
     This prayer is directed to our heavenly Father.  God is our creator and the source of all good things (James 1:17).  He supplies and sustains us in our daily lives.  Prayer denotes relationship with God.  That relationship anchors us in difficult times.
     “Ask and it shall be given” (Matt. 7:7).  Through prayer, we can make our requests to God.  God takes care of His own.  God truly loves us.  However, we must ask without selfishness.  James writes, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
     This prayer indicates absolute trust in God.  God will never disappoint or put us to confusion. “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.”  God will not fail us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  We pray, because God has promised.
     Consumerism can destroy us.  The lusts of the flesh must be curbed or else they can corrupt us.  Human nature seems to have an insatiable appetite for things.  Jesus asked only for daily bread.  Trust God to supply that which is needed each day.  God has not promised big bank accounts and ease in retirement.  We must learn to check consumerism with contentment.  Paul writes that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim. 6:6). 
     We need daily bread to live physically.  However, Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  While we need physical bread to sustain the body, we need the “bread from heaven” to sustain the soul.  In difficult times, we must not allow the flesh to rule the spirit.  We must pursue the spiritual things of God to find contenment and satisfaction.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
     Give me neither poverty or riches.  Riches may cause me to disown my Lord.  Poverty may cause me to steal and dishonor my Lord.  Give me my daily bread.  It is enough.
     Develop the attitude of gratitude.  Thank God every day for all His blessings freely given to His children.  The book of Psalms repeatedly expresses this thought: “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psa. 107:1).
     Difficult times are challenging times.  They challenge us to come back to basics.  Faith and hope in God must be part of those basic principles that sustain us, strengthen us and give us security.

The Privilege of Prayer

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Lecture Hall Bethany, WV

Lecture Hall Bethany, WV

Alexander Campbell spoke these words to his students at Bethany College during the morning lectures that he gave on the Pentateuch.  He delivered the lectures in the great hall which is a part of the historic Old Main at Bethany College, Bethany, WV.  “If a man should have the ear of an earthly autocrat for an hour’s interview, he would tell the honor to his children and his children’s children.  But what is this, to having audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords? Can man conceive of any thing which should so inspire him with gratitude, with veneration and love, as that, upon the throne of his glory, God should hear the prayers of the frail denizens of earth–should listen to their supplications?  There is not, within the lids of the Bible, a presentation of the Divine character, so fascinating as that which reveals Him as a prayer-hearing God.  The idea that God, in his infinite majesty, could condescend to listen to the prayer of an earthly beggar–or that he would hold in abeyance the awful machinery of the universe, as in answer to the prayers of Joshua! What an exhortation to man, to bend his heart and soul in thanksgiving and adoration, to the bountiful Fountain of his being” (Lectures on the Pentateuch, by Alexander Campbell, 264).