How Birds and Flowers Can Help a Christian

Our text for this blog is Matthew 6:25-30, where Jesus is giving a sermon to His followers.

Matthew 6:25-30

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

For many, food, drink, and clothing are the whole of their life. It is all they think about. And the world is doing its best to get us to live on that level. But Jesus has said that we should not be anxious about those things. And He points out two things in nature that will help us in that area—birds and flower.

BIRDS

Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air [Look at and think about them].”

  1. They don’t sow or reap or gather.
  2. Yet God our Father feeds them.
  3. And we are better (closer to God) than they are; we are His children. So, He definitely will care for us.
  4. Also, what good will it do anyway to worry about these things. Will worrying change anything? Will it extend your life?

Let’s look at the birds and all humans, how God provides for them.

Birds: They do nothing to provide for themselves, yet God provides for them.

Humans: They have to sow and reap and gather for themselves, but then God alone will give the increase.

In both cases God provides. And though man must enter into the process (sowing, reaping and gathering), it is God alone who ultimately provides for man, because He makes it rain and He makes the crops grow.

Now let’s look at the argument from the standpoint of a Christian.

  • If God provides for both the birds and for all humans, how much more will He provide for His own family—His believers?
  • If He provides for mere creatures and for unbelievers, will He neglect His own Children? No!

If we reason these things out with ourselves, this will defeat anxiety and worry in us. If we realize that because He provides for the birds, He will most certainly provide for us even more, because we are His beloved children.

When you really see yourselves as His child, you should know that He will care for you. Maybe this is your problem. That you forget (or you don’t think about the fact) that you are His child and He loves you as His own.

FLOWERS

Flowers do nothing! Even birds have to look around for worms and seeds to eat; but flowers do nothing. And God makes them grow and look beautiful. He gives them the sun and the rain.

See how these flowers bend toward the west.

Have you noticed how flowers always face the sun? You may notice how in the evening they will bend way over to continue to look into the sun. We could learn a lesson in that.

If we look at (and think about) the flowers, we see the hand of God, His perfect creation, the glory of His creation. The flowers are perfectly clothed by God and are dependent on God for everything they need to keep living and to look good.

If God our Father so clothes the flowers with such beauty that last only a little while (a few months) will He not cloth us His children whom He loves and that lasts forever?

How to Live the Christian Life in This World – From Matthew 6:19-20

We have been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and following D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaching from his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. We have now come to the section following the Disciples Prayer outline, verses 19 -20, where Jesus tells us,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.

So here, we come to the problem of living the Christian life in the world and therefore how to overcome to world while living in it. Jesus gives us two points to follow: 1) we are not to store up for ourselves treasures upon earth, but 2) we are to store up treasures in heaven.

We Are Not to Store Up for Ourselves Treasures Upon Earth

Here are a few notes from my reading:

Jesus wants us to be concerned not so much with having wealth and possessions, but with our attitude toward them.

We are to be concerned with our whole attitude toward life in this world. That is, we ought not to get our total satisfaction in life from things in this world.

A person’s treasures are the things that mean everything to him—what he is living for.

Here are some things in this world that can become our treasures: love of money, of honor, of position, of status. We are not to be so concerned with these things that they take up our entire life. These things will all pass away in the end.

We Are to Store Up Treasures in Heaven

Use your riches to prophet you for the next life.

Do not labor for what will perish but for what will endure to everlasting life.

Have a right view of life. In this world we are pilgrims.  We walk under the eye of God, toward our everlasting hope.

Our attitude must be that I am not the possessor of my things. They really do not belong to me. I am but a custodian of them.

 I should always be using my things for the glory of God.

I am a child of God placed here for His purpose.

I must hold my things loosely; I am to be in a state of blessed detachment from them; and I should always be considering how I can use the things that God has entrusted to me for His kingdom.

Looking for the Perfect Church?

I think many of us are constantly looking for just the right church—with a pastor who really preaches the word of God. And we would like to be in a small group where the people treat everyone with respect, and a group that knows what true Christian fellowship is. And a group that is on the right side of politics. Churches these days are much too liberal and even anti-Christian it seems. Aren’t churches supposed to be Christian?

These are some of the grievances that I think many of us have—and that I often have. But I was reminded today in my reading, that, being as things are in the world, that that is not practical or even possible. And Jesus said that the wheat (Christians) and the weeds (non-Christians) should be allowed to grow together until harvest (the judgment).

I don’t think it is wrong to seek good fellowship with people of like mind. But at the same time, we are called to be salt and light, even to those who say they are Christians but are not, or they are weak (or carnal) Christians. Jesus said He did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life for many. That should be our attitude as well. I often forget that—much too often.

Definition of Prayer

Prayer A to Z

The following article is an excerpt from this book.

Prayer has been defined or described in many ways.

Here are nine different descriptions of prayer, by various authors: 

1.  Prayer is asking and receiving.  According to E.M. Bounds, “Prayer is the outstretched arms of the child for the Father’s help.  Prayer is the child’s cry calling to the Father’s ear…Prayer is the seeking of God’s greatest good, which will not come if we do not pray.”

2.  Prayer is approaching God’s throne.  According to Spurgeon, “True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God.”  I would say it this way: it is the approach of the Holy Spirit in our soul that drives us to the throne.

3.  Prayer is our service due Him.  According to E. M. Bounds, “Prayer is not a duty which must be performed, to ease obligation…

View original post 1,298 more words

UNANSWERED Prayers

Prayer A to Z

The following article is an excerpt from this book.

Here are three possible reasons why your prayers aren’t answered–from my e-book Prayer A to Z.

1.  You really aren’t abiding in Jesus and His Word as you think you are.  A good test of whether you are abiding or not is whether you bear fruit.  Jesus said, “He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit (Jn. 15:5).  Fruit is that evidence that you are a Christian—a true Christian that abides in Christ and grows to be like Him.

Are you becoming like Christ?  Do you love others as He did?  Do you reach out to others and share the love of God with them?  Do you have the faith that Jesus had?  When you pray do you expect God to answer you?  If you can’t say yes to any of these questions I suggest that…

View original post 321 more words

How to Pray Using The Lord’s Prayer

I have been reviewing the sermons of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I am now covering his chapters on the Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6:9-13. So far, from my previous blog post, I wrote shortly on the first line, “Our Father in heaven.” That is the invocation, or we could say, that which takes us into prayer. Those words remind us that He is our Father and a mighty Father-God who is in heaven.

Now we come to the rest of the prayer, which is really an outline that Jesus has given us in order to pray better. And it consists of six petitions as follows:

1. Hallowed be Thy name.

2. Your kingdom come.

3. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

4. Give us this day our daily bread.

5. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

6. And do not lead us unto temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Notice that the first three petitions have regard to God and His glory, and the second three have reference to ourselves. And please take note of this order; for it is the way He wants us to pray. We must never start with ourselves; we must always begin first praying for God and His glory. In this blog, we will examine these first three petitions.

Hallowed be Thy name.

At first glance it doesn’t really appear to be a petition, or request, but more of a statement—that we are sort of willing His name to be hallowed, or holy. But it is definitely a petition, that His name would be hallowed on this earth.

Here are two other translations that may help:

“May your name be honored” (NLT).

“Reveal who you are” (the Message).

Hallowed means to sanctify, or to revere, or to make and keep holy. The petition is that God, in all that is true of Him, would be revered (God has many names, and it would be good to study those names).

Your kingdom come.

This petition is that His kingdom would come into every heart. Then it is also that His kingdom would come into the world and light up the world. His kingdom is His reign, His law, and His rule. This I think is a good missionary prayer. Every Christian should pray this prayer—that all would come to know Him and reign and rule in his or her life.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the result of His kingdom coming, that His will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven.

How to Begin Your Prayers

Generally, before we (Christians) go to prayer, it is always good to realize what a privilege we have to be in God’s presence and to be able to talk with Him face to face and soul to soul. Prayer is truly a high activity of the soul—the highest activity of the soul.

When you begin to pray, don’t think that it is okay to just ramble on with your requests or to just say whatever is on you mind. We all tend to do that—me too. But there is a correct way to pray. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them a skeleton prayer to follow (found in Matthew 6:9-13). We call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” We are not to just recite this prayer, as some do; but we are to use it as a guide, or as an outline. If we do that, we are well on our way to be able to pray correctly; for in this skeleton prayer contains every prayer principle.

Our Father

As you go to pray, the first thing you should do as you bow your head is to pause and remind yourself of what you are about to do and who you are about to speak to. Remind yourself that you are in the presence of holiness, and that He, your Father, is with you listening and attentive. You may want to have a copy of the Lord’s Prayer before you, and focus first on the first two words of the prayer: Our Father. Yes, He is your Father, and my Father. So, realize that all of us who are believers have the same Father and we are in a wonderful relationship with Him.

Our Father in heaven

At this point in your prayer, you can continue to ruminate on what it means to be in the family of God and to thank and praise Him for who He is and what He has done for you. And then, at some point you will want to move on to the next few words… “in heaven.” He is your and our Father in heaven. What does that mean? It refers to His greatness and that His presence is everywhere. He is almighty God in heaven. He is all knowing, present everywhere, and all powerful.

In your prayers you may at first just be thinking of Him and of your relationship with Him. But at some point, you will also want to start speaking to Him. Thank Him and praise Him for being your Father and for who He is. Praise and worship Him in the best way you know how.

Final comments. If you have been a Christian for a long time maybe what I am teaching here seems too mechanical, or too basic. Believe me, I understand. But especially for a new Christian, I think it is important to get on the right track. I hear too many Christians praying incorrectly. Some of them, all they do is list their needs as if they are talking to Santa Claus. That is so disrespectful. I think it is important to at first follow the outline of the Lord’s Prayer. And then after a while, as it is firm in your mind, your prayers will flow more easily and you, without even realizing it, will be praying correctly, as He taught us.

The next line in the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be Your name.” I will save that for the next blog.

The Tragedy of the Indian Wars – American Greed

I have just finished reading the book Killing Crazy Horse. Earlier I wrote a summary on the book. In this post I will write about how the book has affected me. That is, to give my thoughts on what should have been done differently; also, what should be done now to help the Indians.

The Tragedy of the Indian Wars: No Winners

Clearly, I think the Indian wars, and the outcome, was and is a tragedy. There were no winners. And the reason is because of our sin: our greed, our pride, our selfishness, and our desire for revenge (on both sides). Some may think that the white man were the winners and the Indians were the losers, because the white man was able to kill so many of the Indians and to drive them off their lands, and to basically take whatever they wanted for themselves. However, I don’t think that makes them true winners, especially in the eyes of God.

Some may even have regarded the Indians as evil savages, and a people not worth saving—maybe even like the Canaanites that Joshua was commanded to destroy. But we definitely can’t make that comparison. All the reading I have done on when the white man (Columbus, those on the Mayflower, Lewis and Clark) first came in contact with the Indians, they were mainly friendly. They are different and have a different lifestyle, but that does not make them bad or of lesser worth—as some would suggest.

Accepting the Differences

 I thought it was interesting that Crazy Horse himself regarded his people as like animals, that they lived off of the land. And they apparently do not have the same desire as the white man to build and develop and prosper in the way they do. They have other ways of prospering—by connecting with nature. It seems to me that much more could have been done from the start to get along with the Indians, even to do more to try to understand them and befriend them. I think our government should have done more—instead of just trying to drive them off their land.

The Big Problem: The White Man’s Greed

I think the biggest problem with the white man and with the U. S. government was dealing with the great influx of people to America, who had such a great desire to move in and prosper off the land. They had great desires to go west, to explore, to farm, and to mine gold, etc. Hence, there was a great deal of greed in every heart, and many had the gold fever.

The Criminal Government Policies

The thing that really drove the people west without much regard for the Indians was the unjust and criminal government policies toward the Indians. For example, President James Monroe endorsed a “sea to shining sea mandate,” that gave all American whites the encouragement to live wherever they wanted without regard to the Indians. And later, President Grant who first had a peace policy with the Indians, made a decision to use ultimate military force to steal the Black Hills away from the Indians (because the white man wanted the gold there). And President Grover Cleveland considered the Indians a nuisance and therefore made laws to open all Indian territory up to white settlements. In fact, most of the American Presidents were unjust toward the Indians and even commanded U. S. troops to either force them out or kill them. It was always the white man first. They always had priority over the land. Hence, in my opinion, most of the blame for the injustice toward the Indians should go on the American Presidents, but also on the U. S. military generals that seemed to have so much hatred in their heart—to do so much mutilation and killing of the Indians, esp. the women and children. They just slaughtered them!

Reservations

In the end, the government decided to force the Indians onto government owned reservations. They took their weapons away and they were not allowed to hunt for food. Instead, the government gave them boxes of food, just enough to survive. The reservations became like a prison. Many Indians still live on reservations, and I have heard that most are worse than third-world countries.

I wish I knew what could be done for the Indians. First, I think we should educate all whites on what actually happened—the Indian wars and abuses. Then we need to change our policies and reverse the bad decisions that were made. And we need to make more effort in doing the right things, and to interact with the Indians and find out what they want and how we can help them and lift them up to restore their dignity. I think Indians have so much to offer this world. They are good people and should not have been treated so badly. What can we do to lift them up?

Fasting: How to Fast Correctly

In general, fasting is abstinence from food for spiritual reasons; it is that personal discipline that aids us in our spiritual life.

To start, I want to tell you that I am not a regular faster, nor do I enjoy even the thought of it. But as any discipline, I know that it has its purpose; and so, as I present this information—which happens to be in the chapter of the book I am blogging through, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount—I am now trying to follow God’s will if He should guide me to fast. I will now present to you the follow four points:

The Biblical Basis for Fasting

Some would argue that in this day of grace, in this New Testament era, we should not be fasting. But clearly, there is a biblical basis for it, both in the Old and New Testament. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, under the Law of Moses the children of Israel were commanded to fast once a year. And there are several examples of Old Testament fasting. Fasting is also mentioned in the New Testament. It is not directly commanded or taught by Jesus, but is indirectly taught and approved of by Jesus, since He Himself fasted (Matt. 4:2), and so did the early church (Acts13:2-3; 14:23).

Lloyd-Jones points out that the problem many are having now with fasting is clearly an over-reaction against Catholicism; for you recall from history that fasting was a huge part of the Catholic religion and clearly was an incorrect use of it.

The Wrong Use of Fasting

If we stick to what fasting basically is, a discipline that aids us in pray and in our spiritual relationship with God, that will keep us from any wrong use of it. With that being said, here are four wrong uses:

1. Fasting should not be done as a good work in itself.

2. Fasting should not be done to try to make yourself more disciplined or more spiritual.

3. Fasting should not be done to get a blessing from God or to be more prosperous.

4. Fasting should not be done to see if we can achieve some personal fasting goal—for example, to try to fast for a certain length of time. Overall, fasting itself will not please God. It should not be an end it itself. It is always to be regarded as a means to an end and not as an end in itself.

Correct Purposes for Fasting

Again, we will begin with the definition of fasting, which is a discipline to aid us in our spiritual life. From there we derive the following purposes:

1. To aid us in our lack of faith in doing some spiritual work (example: casting out a demon, Matt. 17:19-21).

2. Basically it is to be closer to God. We get this from Mark 2:18-20, where Jesus explains that His disciples did not fast because they were with Him, and so they had no need to fast. But after Jesus would be “taken away from them,” then they would fast—for obvious reasons.

3. As an aid in doing a special work of God, which would require a special spiritual guidance (example: Acts 14:2-3, choosing Barnabas and Saul as missionaries; Acts 14:23, appointing elders).

4. To receive help from God when faith is lacking (Example: the nation of Israel fasted when Moab and Ammon came against them and they were afraid, 2 Chron. 20:3).

How to Act When Fasting

Just as with giving and praying, fasting, Jesus said, is a practice of righteousness (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16), and therefore, we should do these things without sounding a trumpet, as to inform those around us what we are doing. For any act of our Christianity should be an act of humility and just between us and God. Fasting therefore should be done in secret, or, without people knowing that we are doing it. Hence, we shouldn’t draw attention to what we are doing by not washing or shaving. We should rather look as normal as possible. And if we are worried that we will not get our proper recognition, we can take comfort in the fact that God sees everything we do and will secretly reward us (Matt. 6:18).

Matthew 6:16-18

“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18 so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. NASB

The Merciless Indian Wars: How America Got Started

A Depiction of the Trail of Tears. About 4000 Indians died while being forced to move from their homes.

I’ve been reading the book, Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America. It’s been quite informative for me. Those Indian wars were not at all like it has been portrayed on TV. It was so gruesome, so bloody!

I learned that for the most part, the beginning of the conflict with the Indians had most to do with our (the white man’s) desire to expand and own land. And we were unwilling to share with or negotiate peacefully with the Indians; so, we took steps to run them off. I was surprised that most of our Presidents not only did not like the Indians, but were all in favor of either moving them out of the way or exterminating them. And the whites in those days regarded the Indians the same way as they regarded the blacks: as less than human. In fact, many of the Indians that were captured were used as slaves just like the blacks.

As the book tells the story, the Indian wars began in the south, in Florida and Georgia. That was the territory of the Creek Nation—the name of the Indians there. Well anyway, as more and more of the white man moved in to that area conflicts arose. The white man did not always respect the Indians, and the Indians in turn were raiding the white man, and also other Indian tribes—mainly just to stay alive. Soon, as the conflicts increased, our Presidents at that time—Madison, Monroe, and Jackson took it upon themselves to order the U. S. military to either move the Indians or destroy them. One of terrible tragedies for the Indians occurred when thousands of Cherokee Indians were forcibly moved from their homeland in the southeast; they forced them to walk over a thousand miles across mountains and in cold weather to west of the Mississippi. Over 4,000 died along the way of starvation, and frostbite. It was called the “Trail of Tears.” The Army was supposed to treat them well, but their orders were disregarded. Many of the Indians were peaceful and compliant even as they suffered; but some of the tribes, later, like the Apache and the Comanche had strong chiefs and did not lay down so easily.

It was apparent to me that the Indian wars were not at all just. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any rules of war. Most of the fighting was not only to the death, but the fighting on both sides was angry and cruel. They fought not only to kill but to torture and humiliate and massacre.  And it seemed like both sides enjoyed killing the weaker and innocent—the women and small children. On one occasion, when a group of 700 Army troops came into an Indian camp expecting to find Crazy Horse and his men, they were surprised to find that they were all gone, except 100 women and children. Well, they left no one alive. Scalps were taken, heads were severed, and they were all horribly mutilated. I guess I was wrong to think that only the Indians took scalps.

Well, don’t you know that Crazy Horse had his revenge. At one massacre of 81 U. S. soldiers, all of them were left naked in the bitter cold, “eyes torn out, noses cut off…teeth chopped out…brains taken out… hands and feet cut off…private parts severed,” etc. It is easy to see that there was something evil going on in these wars. There was more than just hatred. I think there must have been Satanic and demonic spirits controlling them. Who could do such things? I had no idea that this went on. And the savagery was not just by the Indians. It was by both sides. And it was not just men against men; it was on all, women as well as children, even infants.

We have been so shocked to hear about the terrible things ISIS has done. Well, now I know that that kind of brutality has been going on for centuries. And I am so ashamed now to learn how this nation got its start, with so many of our Presidents and leaders approving and directing the Indian killings.