Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.—Matthew 26:41
To pray successfully is the first lesson the preacher must learn if he is to preach fruitfully; yet prayer is the hardest thing he will ever be called upon to do and, being human, it is the one act he will be tempted to do less frequently than any other. He must set his heart to conquer by prayer, and that will mean that he must first conquer his own flesh, for it is the flesh that hinders prayer always.
Almost anything associated with the ministry may be learned with an average amount of intelligent application. It is not hard to preach or manage church affairs or pay a social call; weddings and funerals may be conducted smoothly with a little help from Emily Post and the Minister’s Manual. Sermon making can be learned as easily as shoemaking—introduction, conclusion and all. And so with the whole work of the ministry as it is carried on in the average church today.
But prayer—that is another matter. There Mrs. Post is helpless and the Minister’s Manual can offer no assistance. There the lonely man of God must wrestle it out alone, sometimes in fasting and tears and weariness untold. There every man must be an original, for true prayer cannot be imitated nor can it be learned from someone else. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 69.
“Lord, I pray that this month might really be a time that would change my life. I don’t want to just learn more about the importance of prayer. I pray that Your Spirit might change me, that I might become more and more genuinely a man of prayer. Amen.”
The question of whether or not Christians should do good works can be answered with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Jesus said that his disciples are “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). He then said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16). Jesus calls us to stand out from the rest of the world by the good deeds we perform. Paul also characterized redeemed believers as those who are “eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).
Still, there is often confusion about how good works are related to salvation. The Scriptures teach that good works are not the cause of our salvation but the result. We cannot earn our salvation with good works. Paul said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8 – 9).
After reading Paul’s statement, it’s natural to wonder if good works have any place in our lives. But in the next breath, Paul said, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
Imagine the goodness of a God who not only offers salvation as a gift but also makes us new creatures in Christ who are able to perform good works that he himself has orchestrated beforehand!
Taken from NIV Starting Place Study Bible
|April 1, 2020
Friend to Friend
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger, our Golden Retriever, home alone. A neighbor fed and watched out for her while we were away. On the second day of our trip, I called Cathy to see how Ginger was doing.
“Well, Ginger’s fine,” Cathy reported. “But you know that tree you planted last week? She dug it up!”
“She did what!” I exclaimed.
“She dug it up. The tree’s lying in the yard.”
When we got home, we walked over to the toppled tree. Ginger tucked her tail and slunk into the garage like the bad dog she was.
When we planted the tree, we left a small piece of the burlap around the root ball exposed. Ginger spied that remnant peeking out of the ground and wanted it…bad. Several times we had caught her pawing at the burlap and reprimanded her with a stern “no!”
She ducked her head, crept away and waited for a more opportune time. I imagine that the moment she saw us load suitcases in the car and pull out of the driveway, she tiptoed over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. (Can dogs tiptoe? I think they can.) She must have dug and dug for hours with all her puppy might—flinging dirt in every direction. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, she might have thought. This must be exposed!
Finally, she accomplished her mission and the burlap was totally uncovered! Exposed! Of course, she gave no thought to the tree she toppled in the meantime. It was never about the tree.
As I stared at the poor little maple lying helplessly in the hot summer sun, I thought about many friends, and myself for that matter, who’ve been in the same state—toppled and left to wither in the heat of glaring eyes.
Perhaps someone has a little flaw that peeks through the surface of his or her character. Then someone else comes along and decides that the flaw is a nuisance and must be exposed at all cost. That someone starts digging and digging—flinging dirt in every direction with no thought as to what all the digging is doing to the person’s heart.
Before you know it, the rough burlap, the unsightly character flaw, is unearthed and exposed for all to see. And the victim of that digging lies topped in the process. Lifeless, wounded, exposed—and for what purpose? To satisfy someone’s dogged determination to uncover a rough edge.
There are times in any friendship when confrontation is necessary, but we must always make sure that the confrontation is wrapped in prayer and tied with the ribbon of love. If we take any joy whatsoever in the process, then we must stop and check our motives and attitude.
Jesus said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV).
Here’s another truth to tether to Jesus’ words above: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NIV). So the choice is, do we want to be a dirt slinger or a comfort bringer?
Steve and I gently removed what was left of the burlap sack around the root system, carefully sat the maple back up into her prepared soil, and lovingly patted the dirt back around her parched roots. Then, because of her weakened state, we braced her up with ropes tied to three stakes in the ground. I watered the weary maple daily, not knowing if she would recover from the trauma. In the end, the tree not only survived, she thrived.
Oh, that we would do the same for our toppled friends. When we see a friend who has been wounded by words, we can slowly stand her back up, lovingly reestablish her roots in the good soil of God’s Word, gently brace her up with kindness, and water her daily with prayer. Who knows? You may even help her not only survive, but also thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that episode. After all—she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Now It’s Your Turn
Today consider writing that person a note or sending an email of encouragement.
More from the Girlfriends
Canadian provinces are similar to states in the U.S. They each have their own governing bodies that are allowed certain exclusive powers guaranteed to them by the Canadian constitution, while the federal government retains the rest of the power. Canada is split into 10 provinces:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Territories differ from provinces in that they aren’t guaranteed powers by the constitution. All responsibilities and powers are given directly by the federal government. The territories don’t govern themselves and are largely ruled by parliament. There are three territories:
- Northwest Territories
The three territories make up the north and northwest regions of Canada. They contain some of the most rugged terrain and harshest climates in the country. Yukon, which was formerly known as Yukon Territory, is the westernmost Canadian territory. To the west is the U.S. state of Alaska and to the south is the province of British Columbia.
Yukon features mostly unspoiled wilderness that consists of nothing but massive mountains and forests. The climate varies drastically throughout the year. Summer highs can reach the mid-90s in Fahrenheit, while the winters can reach the chilling lows of -60 degrees. Annual precipitation is light and accumulates to only about 10 inches per year.
Due to its harsh climate and terrain, Yukon is sparsely populated. Although the territory is larger than the entire state of California, there are only around 40,000 people who live there. Roughly two-thirds of the population lives in the largest city, Whitehorse. Mining and oil drilling are the two primary industries there.
For most of the 20th century, the Northwest Territories encompassed more than one-third of the entire area of Canada until Nunavut was established in 1999. Today, it’s the second largest Canadian territory featuring over 500,000 square miles of land. It lies to the west of Yukon and includes some of the islands to the north.
The Northwest Territories is separated into two regions. Dense forests prevail in the south-central regions. As you get farther north, however, trees become more scarce and the landscape changes into arctic tundra. The region where the change occurs is called the timberline. Below the timberline, average summer temperatures hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while winter temperatures plunge to an average of -27 degrees. Above the timberline, winter temperatures are similar but summer temperatures rarely break 50 degrees.
Like Yukon, the Northwest Territories is also sparsely populated with a little over 40,000 inhabitants. About one-third of the population is Native American, one-tenth is Inuit, and the remainder is of European descent. Most of the territory’s economy is driven by the harvesting of natural resources such as gold, minerals, and natural gas. Farming is difficult in the territory due to its harsh climates. Even in the southern regions, there are only about 70 frost-free days per year.
Nunavut is the newest and largest of the Canadian territories. It was established in 1999 after the Northwest Territories was split in two. It encompasses over 800,000 square miles of land, which is about the size of Alaska and California combined! It stretches from the Northwest Territories in the west to the northern and eastern extents of Canada’s borders. If you go any farther north, you’re going to run into Santa Claus at the North Pole.
The region consists of mostly arctic tundra with very few trees. Since Nunavut is entirely within the arctic zone, the climate is cold and harsh. Daily averages in the winter rarely break -22 degrees Fahrenheit and some of the northern islands never get above -31 degrees. In the summer, highs barely hit 50 degrees in the southern regions and are about 10 degrees cooler in the north. Most of the ground is covered in permafrost or glaciers and almost all of the precipitation (which is only about eight inches annually) is snow.
Many people who live in Nunavut are of Inuit descent and live in small, remote villages along the coast. Despite the large size of the territory, fewer than 40,000 people reside there, which makes it one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world. The largest city in the territory, Iqaluit, only has around 7,700 inhabitants.