First things First

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“ One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12, NIV).

One of the major hallmarks of Jesus’s earthly ministry was His personal prayer life. He understood His dependence on the Father for the power to live a perfect life. As a result, He spent a large part of His time in private prayer pleading to God that He would fulfill His mission to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. If we want to live as Jesus lived, and have the same power that He had to minister to others, then we must pray as He prayed. Jesus always found time to be with His father even if it meant sacrificing sleep.

Many ministers, especially those who are bi-vocational, neglect personal Bible study and prayer in order to minister to the needs of others. But these pastors will often burn out under the weight of their responsibilities. Their ministry lacks the power and effectiveness that it should have, because they have gotten “too busy” to spend personal time in Bible study and prayer.

The most successful ministers and evangelists in history have always been men and women of prayer. John Wesley gave prayer first priority in his ministry and stated unequivocally that “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” Oswald Chambers also acknowledged the power of prayer in ministry by proclaiming “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” When the Apostles found themselves getting bogged down with the details of ministering to the needs of other people they delegated authority to other people to free up time for prayer and evangelism: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 4:6, KJV). Prayer was their number one priority.

Dr. O.S. Hawkins gives the following advice in his book, “The Pastor’s Guide to Leading and Living”: “The pastor’s first priority is to be found in his own private life. This is the part of his life that is hidden from the church and even his family. It is spent alone with God in the secret place. Here he takes in daily from the Word and the Spirit in order to be able to give out in his duties to his family and his church. The wise and effective man of God gives priority to his own relationship with Christ and meets Him daily in the place of prayer, devotion, and Bible study.”

If Jesus is our example then we need to follow His direction and spend quality time away from distraction to be in personal communion with God. As a result, our ministry will be empowered to bless the needs of others in the power of the Holy Spirit.

~Stephen Beagles

The Central Question

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Here is a quote from Ellen White for all the legalists who believe they must add works to the list of requirements for salvation:

“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility.” ~ Desire of Ages, P. 172

It might be tempting to turn her statement into a description of a non-christian person who thinks that if they are a good person then they will get into heaven. But in reality she is talking about a professed Christian who does not understand the relationship between faith and works in the plan of salvation.

Those who believe they must attain a state of perfect obedience as a condition of salvation are doomed before they even get started. First, they do not have the genuine faith that is required for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Second, they will never reach the point where they are sinless.

Simple faith is the only condition required for being “re-birthed” into the kingdom of God. Genuine faith accepts the assurance of salvation which allows the Holy Spirit to change the motivation from fear of condemnation to love for receiving the free gift of salvation.

Love for God is the cleansing agent that removes the power of sin in our lives and transforms us into the image of Christ. This love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit by faith (assurance of our salvation) through Jesus Christ. Genuine obedience is the fruit of a love relationship with God that is far removed from the guilt-ridden fear of attempting to earn heaven by our good deeds.

~Stephen Beagles

How Does Anyone Survive?

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How does anyone survive in this world full of sick and twisted human beings? Examples of man’s inhumanity to mankind are everywhere and include perverted torture, rape, slavery, and serial murder. Men and women possessed by evil demons are rampant and enjoy causing pain and suffering.

Then there are people who drink and drive, and people who blatantly ignore traffic laws while endangering the lives of other drivers on the road. Not only do we have to worry about people who might harm us, but then there are natural disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Disease seems to be spreading everywhere despite our best efforts to protect ourselves from bacteria and viruses that mutate into strains that are resistant to our normal methods of medical treatment.

How does anyone survive?

The Bible says that there is only one source of safety, and that is the God who created all things. God is our shield against the forces of darkness who seek us harm. Those who trust Him with their life do not  need to worry about safety while God is keeping them safe.

Unfortunately, God never promised that we would escape suffering in this lifetime. He doesn’t always stop bad things from happening, but He has promised to give us the strength to endure any trial that He allows us to endure. If God allows us to suffer, then we can trust that He will bless our sufferings with eternal rewards.

Each of us has a guardian angel that is responsible for our personal well being (Psalm 91:11). If we are in trouble then we are guaranteed that our angel is fully aware of our situation. There are two-thirds more holy angels then there are evil angels, and the holy angels are on our side. Rest assured, If God allows our suffering then He has a plan to turn our temporary tribulation into eternal triumph.

How does any of us survive on this evil planet? There is only one answer: God. He is the only one that allows us to live in safety. We can sleep at night knowing our guardian angel is on post and diligently watching over us as children of the royal kingdom.

~Stephen Beagles