Sparks from the Gospel Anvil
Isaiah 62:6,7/ Matthew 11:12
The world today is waiting for a new demonstration of the church, not a new definition as Leonard Ravenhill has suggested. In the days of Isaiah, the Prophet a watchman was a sentry on a city wall, but today it could be a person watching a radar screen for a possible enemy. These would be the first to see the enemy and to shout or use a trumpet to be a warning to those below the walls inside of the city. We as believers of the Lord Jesus Christ are called to be the watchman of our day and time. Scripture is filled with numerous calls to wake up; “It is high time to awake out of sleep…(Romans 13:11); Awake to righteousness, and sin not…”(1 Corinthians 15:34); “…Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14). As believers we need to come out of our candy coated coma and awake from our apathy. It seems as if a spirit of deep sleep has fallen upon us and we need to take down our do not disturb signs. Only a spontaneous season of prayer born of holy desperation will bring about a true change in our world, a true revival among the people of God. Yet, some people are so spiritually weak that they have never learned how to pray with real soul hunger for any needs except for their own personal crises. The devil would rather have us do anything but pray. He would rather have you busy working for God than praying to God. The great revival in Kilsyth, Scotland, under the ministry of William Burns, began Tuesday morning, July 23rd, 1839. The praying people of Kilsyth had been in the effectual fervent prayer for a new visitation from the Lord. The night before, many of the people gathered and spent the whole night travailing in prayer for souls to be born again. They were given such assurance of faith that they came to the morning meeting expecting a glorious work of the Lord. As the young preacher spoke, the power of God came upon Him. The entire audience broke down and began to weep and tremble at the Word of God and many came to find peace with God. At once revival services began they continued night after night for months in the church and in the marketplace. At times three to four thousand people met to hear William Burns. The entire town was cleansed of vice, the drinking of alcoholic beverages was abandoned and home and loom shops became places of prayer. (Mrs. O J Fraser, Fraser and Prayer (London: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1963)
Isn’t this what is needed not only in Union County, but throughout The United States? Do we not need among the Body of Christ a revived vision on cleaning up this town of vice and allowing Christ to receive the glory through the victory? It is The Holy Spirit that teaches us to pray and gives us the capability to pray as those people in the Holy Bible did. Hannah prayed and Samuel was born; Sampson prayed and God gave him strength to defeat his enemies; David prayed and God restored him; the Church prayed and Peter was released by jail by angels; William Carey prayed and he traveled to India; George Muller prayed and God provided for the orphans. It is The Holy Spirit that teaches us to pray. At the beginning of every prayer, you should commit yourself to the Lord and ask that The Holy Spirit to be even more deepened in you and in your praying to enable you to pray in the Spirit. “In the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18) is literally “in Spirit”. This wording has been interpreted to mean completely surrounded by the Spirit. He is the transforming atmosphere of prayer. You are to breathe in the atmosphere of the Spirit and breathe out the spirit of prayer. Today our prayer life is so weak and our passion for Christ and souls is so lacking that we have lost words such as fervency in prayer, agonizing in prayer, from our conversations and even from our sermons. They sound like foreign concepts to us and almost sound like fanaticism! What a commentary on the low level of our prayer lives! The Holy Spirit does not tap you on the shoulder each morning, lift you out of bed, and place you on your knees. He does not rearrange your schedule so that you have time for adequate prayer. You will have to discipline yourself. You will have to choose to have a life or prayer, a disciplined habit of prayer. If you cannot even do that much, don’t even talk about taking up your cross and following Jesus. There is no more sacred or practical way to follow Jesus, daily taking up your cross, than in having the effectual fervent prayer life. What do you pray for today? For God to bless you or others? For God to transform lives in this community? For God to save souls? Pray to Him today!
Lt. Charles Smith is commanding officer of the Salvation Army of El Dorado.
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Miracles of Faith: Power of Angels
Angels are powerful, celestial, created beings to be the messengers of God. They exist in the heavenly realms in spectacular and beautiful fashion but as demonstrated in Bible text, they enter the realm of mankind (more often as a man, a stranger…) to execute God’s will. The timing of the creation of angels is not specific except for the known fact written by Paul in the New Testament. The inspired apostle would write to the church at Colosse that Christ Jesus is the firstborn over all creation, that by him all things: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him (Christ) and for him (Christ). Angels were created by Christ and for Christ, who is the image if the invisible God (Col 1.15-20)!
A brief look at four angel events will show God’s powerful demonstration of his great omnipotence. In Judges 13, the Israelites have been under control of the Philistines for 40 years. A Danite, Manoah and his wife are chosen to have an encounter with an angel. The wife is sterile and childless—it is impossible for her to have a child. The wife tells Manoah in Judges 13:6-7: Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’” The story continues in fascinating style with Manoah praying for the man of God to come back….and he does! Samson would be born from this encounter, become a Judge for Israel and defeat the Philistines which ushers in Elimelech and Ruth…
King Neb in Daniel 3, casts 3 teenage boys in a furnace of fire because they would not bow and would not bend and would not pray to the image of gold but only to their God of Israel. The 3 with courage untold speak to the king in Dan 3:16-18: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” King Neb leaped to his feet in amazement when he saw 4 men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, with the 4th man looking like “a son of the gods”. Further, King Neb repented as he proclaimed in Dan 3:28: Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” They did not bow, they did not bend, they did not burn!!
Later in Daniel, King Darius is required to cast Daniel, the prayer-warrior, into a den of lions for not following the king’s edict of prayer. Daniel in the den, in the dark, undoubtedly prays to his God all night long. In the morning, King Darius anxiously calls in Dan 6:20: When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel responds: “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” The lions were hungry… for Darius cast all who falsely accused Daniel, their wives and children, into the den and the lions attacked and killed them even before they hit the floor!
Peter in Acts 12 is led by an angel of the Lord in his prison escape even while the church is praying for a miracle. His fellow Apostle, young James (John’s brother) had just been executed by Herod and Peter was next. The Ancient Words explain that God’s powerful intervention thru an angel sent to Peter’s locked prison cell accomplished his will on earth. By unlocking chains and prison doors, Peter is set free for the continuing advancement of the church of Jesus Christ, who has all authority and control over the angels of God!
Scott Johnson is pastor at East Faulkner Church of Christ and author of the BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.