Items For Prayer And Praise
By Lois J. Stucky
Today we hear much about a generation among us that “lacks commitment.” Many church officials lament the difficulty they have finding those in the congregation who will fill places of responsibility and maintain fervency and faithfulness in doing so.
None of us dares assume that because we do not fit into the generational bracket that “lacks commitment,” therefore we are committed. Let us not assume because we can point to a time at an altar when we consecrated ourselves to God, that we are maintaining the level of consecration that is pleasing to Him. We humans are all prone to become careless and to lose our concern and to let our best intentions slip. We must count on God’s faithfulness to keep us fervent for Him, but we must do our part also. We must do this in spite of the luxurious day in which we live, with its love of ease and self-pampering. Let’s take stock: am I committed to Christ as I should be?
In Jack Deere’s article, he urges us to make it daily prayer and even to pray frequently throughout the day, that God will give us a passion for Christ. It is having fervent devotion to our Lord, such as Mary of Bethany had, that keeps us committed to Him and to the work which He in turn has committed to us.
Devotion to the Lord involves endurance. It fosters a no-turning-back spirit. The heart will follow hard after the one who has won its devotion.
For one thing, the Bible speaks of enduring chastening (Heb. 12:7). “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong in the days I shall deal with thee?” is a question asked in Ezekiel 22:14. Chastening, well endured, develops right living in us. The devoted heart counts chastening, however painful, worthwhile if it make it more pleasing to its Lord.
The Bible talks of enduring persecution and tribulation (2 Thes. 1:4), hardness (2 Tim. 2:3), affliction (2 Tim. 4:5), suffering wrongfully (1 Pet. 2:19). In fact, it speaks of enduring “all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). Are we set to go through any or all of these things for the sake of the Lord and the ones for whom He died? The Apostle Paul said he was.
Think of our Lord Jesus Christ who endured the cross. He went through with it for our sakes. For us, His endurance makes the tremendous, unfathomable difference between eternal life and eternal death! Our endurance can make a great deal of difference in a circle of other lives. Of course, the eternal salvation of the world is not upon us as it was upon Christ, but each of us has something to do with the salvation of others around us. Will we endure for their sake? We as well as they reap a benefit if we do, for the Bible says, “Happy are those which endure” (Jas. 5:11).
Pray One for Another
As we read mail coming to Herald of His Coming from many countries around the world, we are touched as we detect here and there from a prayer request modestly made, that this is an individual who has committed himself or herself to the Lord and His people and His work in an exemplary way. Our hearts and our prayers for them are made warm.
I think of letters we receive from Christian workers, in Africa primarily, who perhaps pastor a little village church which can contribute little to the support of its leader. The people need him. They might fall by the wayside without him. But they are barely able to provide for their own family and have little to give. Their country is in a serious economic plight. The pastor finds it a struggle to care for his family, but he will not desert his people. He will call upon the Lord. He will bear the strain. He will remain a faithful shepherd to those of this little flock. I think of other Christian workers called to difficult places, perhaps rebel infested or peopled by those of a strongly opposing religion or heavily oppressed by dominating powers of darkness. These Christian workers know the danger entailed as they get their one-way ticket and go. These letters may ask for fortifying literature to help them endure, and they ask prayer.
I think of a missionary lady past due for retirement, whose heart is set to stay with the people she loves and ministers among, even though the little country is threatened by takeover from another which will likely restore to force to impose strong restrictions on Christianity. “No doubt there will be a price to pay to continue to follow Jesus,” she wrote. “I need your prayers.”
The commitment which God asks of you and me might not be as pronounced as those mentioned, but we need to pray one for the other that whatever God asks, we will be willing, gladly willing, to do for His sake. God asks of all of us faithfulness to His Word, whether to preach it or witness with it, or to exemplify it in our lives. Perhaps God asks of you commitment to intercession, or to labor and prayer for revival, or to conscientious parenting and care of children and youth. Your commitment might be to faithful living and witnessing in a correctional facility where you are at present, with sin and ridicule all around.
Let us pray one for the other, that we will be “all for Jesus” and true to Him. God must have consecrated people to accomplish all on His heart for our generation!