Praying, Singing, and Praising

Acts 16:22-24 “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”

Acts 16:32-34 “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believed in God with all his house.”

Something caught my attention for the first time after recently reading through this passage in Acts. Previously I had noticed that Paul and Silas had a praise-filled demeanor while in prison, and that such an expression of their faith directly related to their ability to represent the Lord well and successfully witness to the jailor and his family. Yet, there was something additionally important in this context that I had previously missed.

Before being arrested, Paul and Silas had been beaten. Once released, the jailor washed the stripes on their backs, indicating that these wounds were fresh and raw. Thus, while they sang praises to the Lord, they had open wounds that would have been stinging with pain.

Not only was their demeanor praise-filled while they were in prison, but it was praise-filled in the midst of the pain and discomfort of stripes that riddled their back and caused them to be racked with pain.

It easy for American Christians to bemoan the tough situations we face in a society that is quickly diverging from the Lord. We face reputational discomfort as we stand for our faith and speak out against the sin that is all around us. Yet, very few of us are imprisoned for our testimonies, and it is highly unlikely that if we are, we do so with backs stinging and oozing with lash-induced stripes. How is our demeanor, then, with such relatively minor discomfort?

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE PRAISE-FILLED LIVES IN ORDER TO ATTRACT PEOPLE TO OUR PRAISE-WORTHY GOD. The multitude that could rise up against us at any moment needs to hear about the reason for our praying, singing and praising.

Desperate Prayers

Psalm 31:14-15 “But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them the persecute me.”

Psalm 107:19-20 “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”

This past week marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day – the aerial and amphibious invasion of mainland Europe by allied forces during World War II. It was a perilous operation designed to create the foothold for forces that would eventually end the war on the European continent.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower made the difficult decision to launch this massive operation on the evening of June 5th, 1944. It would start the following morning. Once he made that fateful decision, Eisenhower did two noteworthy things as he waited.

First, he drafted an official message that brilliantly models the personal accountability and responsibility of a leader. Fortunately, it was never sent because it was only prepared in the case of failure:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.  My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do.  If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

Second, as General Eisenhower waited for news from the front lines, he wallowed in the weightiness of his occupation and the helplessness of his situation. He recorded this powerful thought in his journal: “there was nothing we could do but pray, desperately.”

In the midst of our present turmoil, Christians in this land must do the same as we consider the weightiness of our occupation and the helplessness of our situation. We must pray, not just lackadaisically or casually, but desperately.

PLEASE PRAY DESPERATELY FOR OUR NATION. We cannot expect to win without doing so.

The Question We Should Ask Ourselves

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

Daniel 9:18 “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name:  for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.”

Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

As we enter the full-fledged political season, we can expect our politicians at all levels to say everything they can to gain a competitive advantage. Many will invoke the name of the Lord, while striving to convince us that we should support them because God does. Whenever we hear such things, we must hearken back to a story from the 1860s involving the words of President Abraham Lincoln in response to a bold statement from a group of ministers.

In the midst of the Civil War, a group of ministers boldly proclaimed the following to Lincoln: “Mr. President, our cause will prevail, because the Lord is on our side.”  Lincoln wisely responded: “Gentlemen, the question we should always ask ourselves is: ‘Are we on His side?’”

In our lives, we must spend far less time assuming that God is on our side, and far more time ensuring that we are on His side. We are to avoid the presumptuous activities that seek to bend His will to match our will. We must not assume His alignment, but instead assure our alignment.

Whenever we hear a political figure coax us with their faith-filled phrases, we must use the Lincoln litmus test. The question we should always ask ourselves is: Are we on His side? By the actions of our leaders, are they on His side? By their words, are they on His side? By their platforms, are they on His side? By their policies, are they on His side? By their track records, are they on His side? By their attitudes, are they on His side?

As a very related aside, a statue of Reverand Billy Graham was unveiled in the Capitol a little over a week ago. The Bible in the hands of the statue figure is intentionally opened to Galatians 6:14. God forbid that Americans and our leaders glory in ourselves. Instead, may we all glory in a God Who deserves our dedicated alignment.


NOTE: I won’t be posting next weekend, but please keep praying for our nation and our leaders!

Settled on Our Lees

Zephaniah 1:12-13 “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.”

Psalm 81:11-13 “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!”

Every year on this day, I remember one of the most impactful moments in my life – the eruption of Mount St Helens. The sound of the eruption and the spewing mushroom cloud of ash was an awe-inspiring sight and dream come true for a volcano-loving, seven-year-old boy.

It was no surprise that an eruption was looming. A dome of volcanic material was growing in the crater as described daily by the local news. Authorities had established a mandatory evacuation order around the base of the mountain, directing all residents and visitors to a safe distance until further notice. There were even songs by local bands chronicling the impending disaster.

As far as I remember, there was only one person who refused to abide by the evacuation order. Not to be confused with President Harry S. Truman, old-timer Harry R. Truman, owner of Spirit Lake Lodge at the base of the mountain, famously, defiantly, and complacently stood his ground and said, “The mountain ain’t going to hurt me.” However, around 8:30 on the beautiful morning of May 18th, 1980, it did.

Before the thunderous explosion of the eruption reached my young ears, Truman was covered by over 150 feet of volcanic debris. No one has seen him or Spirit Lake Lodge since.

Too many Christians today in America are watching the looming disaster of secularism and selfishness grow all around us with defiance and complacency. The lava dome of immorality is ready to burst. We marvel at the looming mountain as if we are waiting to be buried by the eruption that is possible at any moment.

Yet, we fail to hearken unto His voice and are comfortably settled on our lees as we defiantly stand our ground.


Regardless of the Mere Manpower

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Deuteronomy 32:30a “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight”

Joshua 6:20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”

Pastor Richard Spann wrote the following to American soldiers in the midst of World War II (from “Strength for Service”):

“One cannot measure manpower by counting troops or laborers in the factory, or the members on a church roll. Statistics can’t record all of the resources. Scripture says that under certain conditions one shall ‘chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.’ It may not always be wise to insist on these proportions. But the principle is everlastingly valid. The physical strength of a man must always be added to the strength of his soul and his power for marshalling the resources of truth, righteousness, and love … When armed with these, man finds himself working together with God and time, regardless of the mere manpower operating to the contrary.”

American Christians seem overmatched as we look at the secular forces aggressively aligned against us and all around us. The other side is amply equipped with horses and chariots. They assertively advertise their might and power. They have erected sturdy walls and fortifications. They are numbered by the thousands and the ten thousands.

Relatively, our human resources are meek and meager!

Yet, we must not be deterred by a tally of manpower and a summation of statistics when we are characterized by a commitment to contended for truth, righteousness and love. Most importantly, if we are aligned with the Lord then we can boldly face the battles that are raging in today’s society.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO FAITHFULLY AND BOLDLY ENGAGE IN THE RIGHTEOUS MISSIONS THAT ARE ALIGNED WITH OUR ALL-ABLE LORD. We must not shrink from our calling, regardless of the mere manpower operating to the contrary.

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