Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. —Romans 8:26
“I can’t think or pray or feel as I ought. What shall I do?” You never will be able to do or be perfectly as you wish you might while you are in the flesh. You are a child of Adam, and the best falls far short. How often have we resolved, yielded, committed, dedicated ourselves, and then felt how poorly we had done it! No one ever prayed a prayer or preached a sermon that completely satisfied him. We are not to look in that direction for satisfaction.
Paul says in Romans 8 that we do not even know what to pray for as we ought, let alone how to pray, but the Spirit makes up our lack. God knows the intent of the heart, however poorly the lips express it.
If you can’t pray like you want to, pray as you can. God knows what you mean. And you have good help – the Advocate who is God’s Son and the Comforter who is God’s Spirit. They will take your feeblest prayer and make it perfect.
“Why is the house of God forsaken?” —Nehemiah 13:11
Nehemiah’s question asked approximately 2,500 year ago, is as timely as today’s newspapers. The October 4, 2009 issue of Parade Magazine reported the results of a recent survey done by Barna Research. The survey polled 1,051 adults and asked questions related to one’s spirituality. Here are several findings:
- 27% said they do not practice any kind of religion.
- 50% said they rarely or never attend religious services.
- 20% said they attend religious services anywhere from once a month to a few times a year.
- 30% said they attend religious services once or more in a given week.
The truth of the matter is only about one-half of those who claim to attend weekly actually do. Just walk out into a neighborhood on a Sunday morning and take a look at the houses on any given block. Most are not in church.
While I find the Parade Magazine article troubling, it was not surprising. This survey merely points out what we already know… Despite all our efforts, fewer and fewer people are attending church these days. I see it happening right before my eyes at Bible Baptist Church.
The question now is: How do we stem the tide? I’m open to your ideas!
As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. —1 Samuel 30:24
Two hundred of David’s men could not go on with him in pursuit of the Amalekites. They were faint and stayed at the brook Besor. When the four hundred who fought the battle returned with the spoils of victory, some did not want to share with those who had “tarried by the stuff.” But, David ruled otherwise.
For one reason or another, some of us do not get over Besor. Some saints are housed in feeble bodies or otherwise kept at Besor. They never make the headlines with the four hundred who fight on the front lines. Some prayed and toiled to keep the hardier souls in the battle, and when the final prizes are awarded “they shall part alike.”
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. —Matthew 23:11
A ranking government official who came into President Lincoln’s office was startled to find the chief executive shining his shoes. “Sir,” he gasped, “surely you do not polish your own shoes!” “Of course,” replied the humble President. “Whose do you polish?” The greatness of a man is evidenced by his humility. In the words of an old Filipino saying, “The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends.”
The greatest example of this is the life of Jesus. He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7). Jesus “laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” When He was finished He said, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:4-5, 14-15)
Am I willing to serve people as Jesus did? When I humble myself, then God will give me the grace to grow into maturity where, I like the tall bamboo, can lower myself to serve those of “low estate” (see Rom. 12:16).
How tall are you spiritually? Tall and flexible enough to bend low and serve people in all kinds of situations?
They feared the Lord, and served their own gods. —2 Kings 17:33
Israelites were living a double life. One the one hand they feared the Lord, but on the other hand they served their own gods. The Lord was the God of their lips but not of their lives. Jesus described them, “The people draweth nigh me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” He asked, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Paul writes of those “who profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.”
What we profess on Sunday needs to be practiced the rest of the week. Worship and work must bear the same witness. It is what we serve that tells the tale. No man can serve two masters. The shame of too many church members is that they lead a double life; they fear the Lord and serve their own gods. I pray this is not true of you.