Bulletin Edition October 2017

Continue In Prayer
Tom Harding

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (Col. 4:2).

Our Lord said in Luke 18:1, “that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Prayer is not a mechanical performance to be seen of men; the Pharisees prayed that way and were not heard before God (Matt. 6:5). Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude of the heart, and a dependence of the soul upon Almighty God. It is also seeking to spread out our heart’s desire before God and asking it to be granted according to His sovereign purpose. Real prayer is communion with God through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ the Lord; who is sitting at God’s right hand making intercession for us (Heb. 7:25; 1 Tim 2:5). Prayer is never intended to change the purpose of God, but rather to make us know and realize what the purpose of God is. I have often heard people say, “that prayer changes things.” I hope it changes our wrong attitudes, our sinful desires and our ungodly conduct, but prayer never changes the purpose of the eternal God (Isa. 46:9-12). He said, “I am the Lord I change not” (Mal. 3:6).

Well then, since God is sovereign and has decreed all things, then why are we instructed to pray? God has decreed all things, but all He has decreed come to pass through the means He has ordained (Acts 4:27-28). God has elected a people unto salvation (2 Thes. 2:13), but He has also decreed that His people shall be saved from their sin by the appointed means, Jesus Christ (Gal. 4:4); His grace and sacrifice (Rom. 3:24). The gospel then is one of the appointed means to accomplish His eternal purpose and prayer is another. Even the prayers of His people are included in His eternal purpose. Therefore, instead of prayer being useless and vain; they are part of the decrees by which God exercises His eternal purpose.

What distinct privilege the Lord has given unto to His covenant people to call upon our great God and Father in prayer. “For we have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).

Samuel declared, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you”  (1Sam. 12:23).

Paul declared, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Thes. 5:17-18).

I hope we can all say, “Lord teach us to pray” (Matt.6:9-15).

And such were some of you
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”–1 Cor. vi. 11.

It is profitable at times to see our mercies, and to trace them to their source, by considering what we once were, the better to apprehend what we now are. “Such,” the apostle saith, when speaking of the vilest of the vile, “were some of you:” dead in trespasses and sins, hateful, and hating one another. But now, being washed from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, there is a justification by Christ, and a sanctification in Christ; and by the effectual work of God the Spirit in the heart, the believer stands complete before God, in the name of the Lord Jesus. This is a blessed testimony to the soul of the poor sinner, whom the Holy Ghost hath convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. For God the Father gave the promise, in the old testament scripture, that he would sprinkle clean water upon the people, and they should be clean. And here, in the new testament dispensation, the fountain is opened, by which it is to be accomplished, and they are said to be clean; yea, “both washed, and justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” So that all the persons of the Godhead are engaged in this glorious act, to render it secure and certain to the believing soul. See to it then, my soul, that this be thy privilege, and that from long-tried and approved experience thou canst take home this sweet scripture to thyself, as both “washed, justified, and sanctified,” and set to thy seal that God is true. Oh! for grace to live in the daily exercise of faith upon it, until faith be swallowed up, and lost in sight, and amidst the throng of the redeemed in glory, thou shalt live at the fountain-head of enjoyment, with those that have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!”
Robert Hawker. (1753-1827) From the poor man’s morning and evening portions.

The Lord thinks about me.
The Lord’s people are a poor people. God keeps us poor out of mercy and love for He knows if we become rich in the riches of this world our confidence will rest not upon Him and His lovingkindness, but upon our mistaken estimation of our own self-worth.

The Lord’s people are a needy people. True, He supplies all our needs, according to His riches, yet manna-like His supplies are sufficient only for the day and must be refreshed, restored and renewed every morning. So the Lord would have His people return to Him frequently, call upon Him often, and forget not all His benefits.

Poor and needy as His little ones are, here, too, is a marvellous truth. The Lord thinks upon us. David says, “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me” (Psalm 40:17). Have we remembered the Lord this morning? Have we thought on Jesus today? His love? His mercy? His longsuffering? He has been thinking about us.

Child of God, our blessed Saviour thought about you before the sun ever rose for the first time. Before time began or ever the world existed the Triune God set His heart upon the people of His choice and loved them with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He thought upon their poverty, their needs, their helplessness and settled upon a means of satisfying every want. He made with His people an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.

Then, for the eternal wellbeing of His people, the Lord Jesus Christ “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” There upon the cross the Godman, heaven’s suffering servant, steeled Himself against the unsheathed sword of justice and thought upon His people. He saw those for whom His soul travailed and was consoled in the midst of His anguish.

Nor does the Saviour’s thinking on us end there. Our blessed Jesus thinks upon His people every day. Surely, says David, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Lo, says the Christ of God, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Think on this. Not a day goes by that Christ does not think on you. Such is His love, care and concern. Oh, how frequently we forget Him, and when we do remember Him are not our thoughts too often tinged with selfish motives? He will never leave us nor forsake us though we often feel forsaken by our leaving off from Him.

Do we fear for the future? Does our poverty and need cause us to doubt His faithfulness? When temptations arise and unbelief finds opportunity to undermine our peace and comfort let us hear God’s promises. The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand (Isaiah 14:24 ).

No matter what befalls the church in the wilderness, our blessed Jesus shall never forget the people of His choice, the beloved of His heart, the apple of His eye. Again, and again, He will think on us to do us good. So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not (Zechariah 8:15).
“New Focus http://go-newfocus.co.uk” Peter Meney.

God’s children run home when the storm comes on!

“O that I knew where I might find Him!” Job 23:3

In Job’s uttermost extremity—he cried after the Lord. The longing desire of an afflicted child of God—is once more to see his Father’s face! His first prayer is not, “O that I might be healed of the disease which now festers in every part of my body!” Nor even “O that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property once more brought from the hand of the spoiler!” But the first and uppermost cry is, “O that I knew where I might find HIM who is my God! O that I might come even to His presence!”

God’s children run home when the storm comes on! It is the Heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul—to seek shelter from all troubles, beneath the wings of Jehovah. “He who has made God his refuge,” might serve as the title of a true believer.

A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction and, like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him! But not so with the true heir of Heaven—he kisses the hand which smote him—and seeks shelter from the rod in the bosom of the God who frowned upon him!

Job’s desire to commune with God was intensified, by the failure of all other sources of consolation. The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends, and looked up to the celestial throne—just as a traveler turns from his empty water bottle, and betakes himself with all speed to the well. He bids farewell to earth-born hopes, and cries, “O that I knew where I might find my God!”

Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all other things. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth’s hives, where we find no honey—but many sharp stings; we rejoice to turn to Him whose faithful Word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.

In every trouble, we should first seek God’s presence with us. Only let us enjoy His smile—and we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart, for His dear sake!

The Excellency of Prayer! (extract)
(By William Huntington, in a letter to a friend)
In prayer we must take no denial. If we have but a feeling sense of our needs, and a Scripture warrant of a promise to plead, we must argue, reason, plead, supplicate, intercede, confess, acknowledge, thank, bless, praise, adore, repeat, importune, watch, and take hold of whatever may be of use to the soul. Sinners, sensible of their lost estate by nature, who feel their need and poverty, have many invitations, encouragements, precedents and promises. They have, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, to plead and rely upon the covenant of Jehovah, the oath of God; the merits of Christ and all His covenant engagements, undertakings and performances; the covenant characters He sustains; His near relationship to them—together with all the glorious train of Divine perfections found in the proclamation of the Name of God to Moses (Ex. 34:6,7)—for these all sweetly harmonize and brightly shine in Christ crucified—who has never once yet disappointed the hope of a penitent sinner, but has graciously said, “Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” His promises, like Himself, are unchangeable, and this is one of them—”The one who comes unto Me, I will never cast out.”

Private prayer is the Christian’s court-visit to his God—the life and breath of his soul. It is the ascent of the heart to the Almighty—and its returns are the descent of Christ to be the soul’s help!

Prayer is the assuagement of grief, the easement of a burdened heart, and the vent of a joyful heart. It is the rich aroma of mystical incense, the overflowing of a living fountain, an all-prevailing sacrifice, and the delight of the Almighty! Moreover, prayer is the greatest, most blessed and most glorious privilege, with which perishing sinners ever were favored!

By prayer the spiritual pauper comes up from the dust, and the beggar up from the ash-heap—to sit among the princes of God’s people, and inherit the throne of glory!

Prayer is God’s appointment, the Spirit’s gift, the believer’s privilege, and the scourge of Satan! Therefore, prize it and use it!

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