Friday, September 26, 2014

Practicing The Presence of God

      One of the secrets of living for Christ is to be sensitive to the presence of God in every area of life. Being spiritual is an art. It is an act of yielding to the Holy Spirit in our daily walk and life. I trust this material will wet your taste to the possibilities of dwelling in the presence of God. The following material is from my new book on Foundations Of Godly Living:

Practicing The Presence of God

"Why would anyone desire to be in the presence of the One who dwells in unapproachable light? Why would anyone want to stand before the God who is so holy that He cannot look upon sin? Why would anyone long for the God who slays sinners, rebukes sin and damns the souls of rebels with everlasting punishment? Why would anyone delight in the presence of One who sits on a throne of judgment? The answer is found in the gospel of God’s sovereign grace. Because of the life and death of Jesus Christ we can have peace with God and can enjoy God’s fellowship and love on a level never known before. The Psalmist understood the joys and wonders of being in the presence of God when he said, “In your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11. Only those redeemed from their sins and washed in the blood of God’s Son can approach Him with holy boldness and find this everlasting peace and joy. The apostle wrote, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies wasted with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22.

God is omnipresent. This means God is everywhere. David said in Psalm 139:7-8 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? {8} If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” 

In the book of Acts 17:27-28 it reads, "So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; {28} "for in Him we live and move and have our being…” 

As we understand the doctrine of the presence of God it is essential for believers to live in the light of this glorious truth. The presence of God should be more than just a doctrinal concept. Christians should know the joy and the reality of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. One of the reasons for the low level of spiritual experience among most evangelicals today is the fact that their lives are not being lived in God’s presence. For most believers today there is very little reverence in worship. There is very little wonder and awe of God’s greatness and sovereignty. There is very little passionate and consistent prayer or soaking and drenching ourselves in the Word of God. Instead we see many believers living marginal lives of mediocrity, levity, and shallowness. All of this is due to one fact alone. Most evangelicals know little or nothing of practicing the presence of Christ and living in the reality of His indwelling. Jacob had a marvelous experience one magic night under the stars in the desert. He awoke from a deep sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16. Christians need to practice the presence of Christ. This means training themselves to understand that they are always in the presence of God.  
God reveals Himself to those that seek Him earnestly. Deuteronomy 4:29, "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” As always God desires that we seek to come near Him and when we do then He reveals Himself to us.

How do we practice the presence of God?

One way to practice Gods presence is to draw near to God. We draw near in confession of sin and repentance. If there is sin in our lives we will not sense God’s presence. When we come clean in the presence of God the Lord is often pleased to draw near to His people. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8. God delights to draw near to those who take the time and who make the effort to draw near to Him. We draw near to God by the means of prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and by worshipping daily and on the Lord’s Day. Great saints are not great saints by accident. They are those who have spent their life pursuing God and finding the joys of living in God’s presence. The evidence of having been in the presence of God is revealed by an increased interest in God’s being and a decrease of interest in self. C. S. Lewis in his classic book, Mere Christianity said:

“The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Let Us Live In The Continual Practice Of Prayer!

I want to encourage my Berean family to live in the atmosphere of prayer. In the new book that I will soon publish, The Foundations Of Godly Living, I have a chapter on this subject. Here are a few excerpts from that book that I  trust will bless and encourage you in your prayer life.

The Importance Of Prayer

"Let me suggest some practical reasons why prayer is so important in a believer’s life.

  • Prayer is how we commune with God.
  • Prayer is how we receive blessings from God.
  • Prayer is essential to winning men to Christ.
  • Prayer is the way we slay our besetting sins.
  • Prayer is the secret of a holy life.
  • Prayer is the source of power in the pulpit.
  • Prayer is how we guard our families and our children.
  • prayer is the source of our joy before the Lord.
  • Prayer is how we resist the devil.
  • Prayer makes us Christ like.
  • Prayer is how we obtain mercy and grace in our times of need.
  • Prayer is how we overcome our anxieties. Phil. 4:6-7
  • Prayer is the means to overcoming the flesh and growing in grace.
  • Prayer brings blessings to the church, the family, the home, the nation.
  • Prayer is one way of glorifying Christ.
  • Prayer brings heaven down to earth.
  • Prayer is the way to lift up the downcast.
  • Prayer is a part of our worship.
  • Prayer is how we obtain things from God.
  • Prayer is where we find peace and comfort in the storms of life.

The Power Of Prayer

Chrysostom of Constantinople, the great early church orator, described the power and blessing of prayer in the following words:

“The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the foundation, the mother of a thousand blessings.”4

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones also said:

“Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, upon his knees, he comes fact to face with God… When a man is (authentically) speaking to God he is at his very  acme. It is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man’s true spiritual condition.  There is nothing that tells the truth about us as christian people so much as our prayer life. Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer… Even our concern for the salvation of souls, even our concern for God’s blessing upon the preaching of the Word, even our concern for those who are near and dear to us may become truly Christian, even these things must never be given the first place, the first position (in our praying). Still less must we ever start wit our own circumstances and conditions…Before we begin to think of ourselves and our own needs, even before our concern for others, we must start with this great concern about God and His honor and His glory. There is no principle in connection with the Christian life that exceeds this in importance.”5

Let me encourage all of you to pray much for your church, your spiritual leaders, your country, and your friends and neighbors who do not know the Lord. These are wicked days and they call for all of us to be much in prayer before the Lord.

God bless you,

Pastor Dickie

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Don't Remove The Ancient Landmarks

                J. C. Ryle of England once said:

“The longer I live the more I am convinced that the world needs no new Gospel, as some profess to think. I am thoroughly persuaded that the world needs nothing but a bold, full, unflinching teaching of the “old paths”. The heart of man is the same in every age… I repeat most emphatically that I am not ashamed of what are commonly called “Evangelical principles”…and I see no reason for giving them up…No doubt other schools of thought produce great outward effects on mankind, gather large congregations, attain great popularity, and by means of music, ornaments, gestures…make a great show of religion.” J. C. Ryle  

Let us not depart from the Old Paths and the evangelical principles which are the traditions of the ancient church.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Importance of Biblical Preaching and Preachers

Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote one of the finest books on preaching. It is a fascinating study of a lost art among ministers today. I would encourage everyone to read it. Even those who are not ministers would find it a rich blessing to their soul.

Steve Lawson is a gifted preacher and writer. His comments on preaching below are an indictment against the current trends in Christendom. Western Civilization is in serious decline and is in danger of being buried under a mountain of anti-Christian bias. The cause of this is to be laid at the feet of the church itself for abandoning the gospel and compromising with the spirit of the age. Let us pray for a revival of holy living, faithful preaching of the gospel, and a passionate commitment to the Lordship of Christ.

Pastor Dickie preaching in Africa

Steven Lawson on "Preparing the Preacher" 

As a man, preacher, writer, and theologian, Calvin was unflinching in his pursuit of God. He was an ardent Bible student and an impassioned servant of the Lord. Week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade, he anchored himself to the biblical text, then made it known to his people.

This tenacious study, personal piety, and relentless ministering were maintained by a passionate desire to see God glorified. For Calvin, "Teachers cannot firmly execute their office except they have the majesty of God before their eyes." Even to the end, Calvin held that "The majesty of God is...indissolubly connected with the public preaching of His truth.... If His Word is not allowed to have authority, it is the same as though its despisers attempted to thrust God from heaven." This focus on upholding the glory of God gave meaning to his life, his ministry, and especially his preaching.

It is desperately essential in this hour that preachers recover a soaring vision of the supremacy of God. Life-changing, history-altering preaching will come only when pastors reclaim a high view of God's blazing holiness and are overshadowed by His absolute sovereignty. Towering thoughts of God's transcendent glory must captivate preachers' souls. May you be one who leaves the lowlands of trivial thoughts about God behind. A low view of God leads only to mediocrity. But a high view of God inspires holiness and a resolute spirit. May you ascend to the heights of the mountaintop and behold, as Calvin did, the breathtaking glory of God.

Excerpt taken from The Expository Genius of John Calvin, by Steven J. Lawson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Insights on the Formative Years for Pastor Conrad Mbewe

What a delight it was to have this choice servant of God in my home for a brief visit. During our time together he shared some insights into the formative years of his life and ministry. Conrad's experiences brought back many memories of my own. It seems to me that during the 60's and 70's there was a revival of interest in the Reformed faith. At that time the Lord was pleased to use the books that Conrad mentions here to bring many to a deeper understanding of the gospel by the writings of the men he mentions.  The books he mentions were the same books that the Lord used in my life as well. When I reflect back on my formative years with my dear friend Bill Tipton I recall how those same authors were used of the Lord to mold and shape my theological thinking. 

To my Berean family, I am planning, Lord willing, to be in the pulpit this Sunday. I have a long way to go before I'm back to normal but I am hoping that I can at least get back to Berean to open the Word and lead you all into the presence of God to worship and to adore our Lord.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sincerely, In Christ,