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May 2008

 
 

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May 2008

May 4, 2008

Continuing the subject of prayer, we mention that the most powerful words addressed to God flow from a deep internal need to be fully dedicated to God. The motives for which people need to prayer are diverse: the maintenance and promotion of their spiritual relationship with God, the encouragement of the Bible toward prayer, access to divine resources, putting things that are too difficult for us in the hands of the Almighty, overcoming temptations and hardships of life, receiving joy and spiritual equilibrium, receiving spiritual power for personal life and for servanthood, success in the spiritual work, supernatural healing, escape from the authority of demons….

Prayer is the calling of a child to his father; it is the expression of his want and his expectation. The word “father” expresses the intimacy and in the old testament is found 7 times but never expressed personally in prayer. However, in the new testament it is found 258 times with reference to God. In general, the relationship and communication among people is conditioned by many factors- it is the same with the communication with God. Let’s look at a few conditions of an answered prayer: the prayer must be made with the trust that God will listen with the love of a Father, it must be made with insistence, with complete decision, made in a state of conformity with divine will, with a pure heart, addressed to the Father, made in the name of the Savior Jesus, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, with the true hope of a life in the absence of sin, made following the forgiveness of those who have transgressed against us, made on the foundation of a good relationship with our family, with a spirit lacking egotism, with interest first of all for the Kingdom of heaven, made in a state of personal righteousness...

Prayer, like dialogue among people can present many subjects: the prayer of adoration towards God, which encompasses all mortals, the prayer of admittance of guilt which expresses the regret and intention of letting go of all sins committed, the prayer of thanksgiving as an expression of recognition toward God who protects and loves people, the prayer of asking which expresses needs and personal fears, and the prayer of interceedence which expresses the problems and needs of other people. The position of the body during prayer is flexible- sometimes standing, other times on the knees or with raised hands, lying on a bed, with the face down… Jesus prayed in the garden, in a boat, on a field, Elijah prayed on a mountain and in a cave, Samson prayed tied to a pillar, Jonah in the stomach of a large fish, Daniel in a den of lions, Moses in the desert… The intensity of the voice as the position of the body varies according to the surroundings and the spiritual state. In the Bible we find people who prayed quietly, some barely moving their lips, others in great pains, with loud voices, with shouts, sometimes in their spirit (in strange tongues), or they prayed singing. Some prayed three times a day, and some prayed in the night or very early in the morning.

The Bible invites us to pray without ceasing. The people in the Bible prayed individually in their separate rooms, as well as together with other believers and with the entire nation gathered to praise God. Prayer expresses the relationship with God, demonstrates man’s trust in Him, the fact that he depends on divine resources. Prayer is the sign of a friendship with God; it is the expression of a meeting with Him, the method of drawing closer to heaven.

May 11, 2008

After God finished making Creation, He made man in His own image and likeness, giving him the necessary abilities to administrate and manage the material world he became responsible for (Gen. 1:26,28). After some time, man, instigated by the Devil –the enemy of the Creator – betrayed God. For this reason, he had to suffer the consequences of breaking the contract between him and the Creator: losing the initial holiness and gaining a sinful nature that was incompatible with the divine nature, being cast out of Eden, along with his wife, Eve, having to work the land to survive, getting sick and eventually physically dying. This new life environment, the sinful status and the obvious inferiority, the separation and estrangement from the Creator, the difficulties and the loneliness, the loss of the initial holy nature, transformed man into a slave of sin, into a victim of the Devil, having ahead the gloomy perspective of Hell.

Motivated by love, God made a rehabilitation plan: He initiated, with Abraham, a holy people; with Moses, he civilized these nation by giving it moral, civil, and ceremonial laws; with Joshua, giving it a country. From within this nation, through a miracle, Messiah was embodied through a virgin. Then, he was crucified on a cross on Golgotha. From a human perspective, Jesus was condemned to death by the Roman civil authorities, instigated by the Hebrew priests who were disturbed by the holiness and the righteousness Jesus preached. From a spiritual perspective, Jesus Christ was born to be the Savior of men, to pay their guilt and their debt to God’s justice which was offended by sin. After He died for sin, the Savior rose and ascended to heaven, from where He had come to carry out the mission of reconnecting man with God. In His seat left empty, God sent on earth the Holy Spirit, to apply in people’s lives the salvation Jesus had brought. This is where God’s part ends, in the great salvation plan that intended to bring in glory, in His presence, in His lost blessing, the man punished for sin.

Now every human being is invited by faith and repentance to the salvation offered by Jesus and perfected by the Holy Spirit. Because all these things presented above did not happen in our generation so that we could eyewitness them, man must accept through faith these realities and he must also organize his life according to God’s plan. In addition, man must accept the fact that his past is sinful and offensive to the divine holiness. For this reason, he must repent of sin, that is, he must recognize, regret and confess the sin to God, in personal prayer, and, most importantly, with God’s power, he must abandon sin forever. In this state of righteousness (sinless), the saved man must dedicate his life for the Creator’s service and to fulfilling His Kingdom’s interests. This way, he can come back to the initial state he had in Eden, the one he lost by sinning. For man to be able to do his part, the Holy Spirit came on earth and the heart of every believer must be filled with His presence, that is, with God’s presence. There is no salvation without Jesus` sacrifice and without the Holy Spirit’s work.

May 18, 2008

The responsibility of ordinating men as deacons, elders, or pastors is enormous, because these people will thus be dedicated to God for the rest of their lives. The methods of identifying, evaluating, choosing, and promoting these men must be biblical, so that the expectation of their ministry justified. Someone once tried to emphasize the complexity and the difficulty of evaluating a person due to human tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes that such a choice involves. He said:

“Noah cannot be chosen, because he made no converts, in spite of the fact that he preached for 120 years. Moses cannot be chosen because he is too aggressive, violent, and proud. Abraham cannot be chosen because when things became difficult for him, he ran to Egypt, thus entering in conflict with the authorities and having to lie to save his life. David does not qualify either because of his immorality; he could at best be fit for the music department. Solomon does not fit because of his extravagance, his love for wealth and luxury and for not living what he preached to others. Elijah cannot be chosen because he is instable, angry, and he just had a nervous break down. Hosea is incompatible for ministry; he failed in life by remarrying a prostitute. Jeremiah is not fit, for he is too sentimental, too chicane and inefficient. Amos cannot be chosen for he is the son of a farmer, with no education and no school. John the Baptist does not qualify because, although he pretends he is a Baptist, he dresses oddly, he is secluded, too direct, rough, rigid and conservative. The sons of Zebedee are not fit, because they are influenced by their mother who chases a position. Peter does not qualify either because he`s quick to judge, violent, and is a former traitor. Paul cannot be elected because he is newly converted and cannot go ahead of the apostles who were with the Savior from the beginning; because of his past, he cannot be trusted. Timothy is not fit because he is too young, too frail and to shy to be a good minister. John Marc cannot be chosen, is unstable, scared and Paul does not recommend him. Also, many qualities can be found in Judas, Alexander, Diotrephes, and others.

People evaluate a person according to many different factors: information (verified or not), interest, influence, likes or dislikes, shared experiences, personal advantages, etc. What are the divine indications for such circumstances? When the apostles set elders in every church, they fasted, prayed and put their hand on them (Acts 14:23). Titus was authorized by Paul to set elders in all the churches in the area of Crete, according to moral and spiritual evaluation and qualification principles (Titus 1:5-9): blameless (who cannot be accused of anything), husband of one wife, having believing children (influencing his children to be spiritual), not stubborn (so that no one can persuade him), not angry (not irascible), not given to drunkenness, not violent (aggressive, violent), not greedy, hospitable, loving what is good, self-controlled, just, holy, upright, living within the limits of the Word, having abilities to teach, having the courage to face the enemies... These qualities emphasize God`s spirituality, morality, maturity, and character.