Daily in the Word: a ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
In ancient times, Anthemis nobilis—Roman chamomile—was widely used in medicines. The flowers were brewed into tea for treatment of digestive disorders, headaches, and to promote restful sleep. The Greeks also used Roman chamomile as a symbol for humility because, “the more it is trod, the more it spreads.” Walking on the low-growing plants encourages the seeds to spread, and increases the crop.
When the church in Jerusalem was greatly persecuted, that did not end their gospel witness. Instead it increased it widely. At a time when opposition to Christianity is becoming widespread in our society, it is important for us to remember that we are not promised religious freedom by God. Almost every book in the New Testament was written by a man who would be martyred for his faith. But God can turn even the hatred of His people into something positive. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10).
As our culture shifts from resistance to receiving the gospel message to attempts to silence it, we must be conscious of the hand of God even in times of hardship and suffering. The mission we have been given to reach the world is not conditioned on the world being happy to receive the good news. Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves or silencing our voices when things get harder, it is simply another opportunity for us to spread the gospel.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
What we see in the world today is much like it was when Jesus came to the world two thousand years ago. Technology has changed dramatically, but people have not. Jesus was not accepted by the majority of people when He came, and the same is true today. The problem now is the same as it was then—people not being willing to accept Jesus on His own terms. Many are willing to accept Jesus as an example, a teacher, or even a prophet, but they are not willing to receive Him as the Saviour and only way to Heaven.
Describing Himself as a shepherd Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and if we refuse to accept Him as our Saviour and only hope, we cannot be saved.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew they needed to come to God. They knew what the scriptures said about the promised Saviour. But they rejected Jesus as the answer. He told them plainly, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). If we are to be saved, we must come to Jesus on His terms and receive Him through faith. Faith stands apart from any work we might do or any sin we might avoid and trusts Him alone.
“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
Everywhere we look, we can see signs of the devaluing of children in our culture. From the decline in childbirths to the widespread use of abortion, children are often seen as a nuisance or an expensive luxury. The rise in childless couples has been noted by a number of sociologists. Many nations around the world have reached their lowest birthrates in modern history.
The Christian view of children is very different. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth” (Psalm 127:3–4). Every child is a gift from God and deserves all of the love and attention and care he or she needs. The tragedy of child abuse and child neglect should never been seen in the church. As the song most of us learned in Sunday school teaches, Jesus does love the children of the world.
Those who have never had children or whose children are grown and gone, can still make wonderful and meaningful investments in the lives of children. We often speak of church in terms of it being a family, and there are so many ways in which we can make a difference for the children in our church family. We have no excuse to join a wicked world in devaluing children.
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”
Charles Spurgeon told of an elderly Welsh lady who was visited by a preacher as she lay on her deathbed. He asked if she were sinking, and she just looked at him. He repeated the question, and she continued her silence. When he asked the third time she raised herself up a little and said, “Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner to sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand, I might sink; but thank God, I’m on the Rock of Ages, and there is no sinking there.”
Because our salvation is all God’s doing and not our own responsibility, we do not need to worry if we are secure in Him. He not only does all the saving, but all the keeping as well. He is an unfailing, unchanging Rock and we can have full confidence in Him. There are few more effective tools of the devil than to get us focused on ourselves rather than on God. He is the one we can trust both to take us to Heaven and to guide and provide for us here on Earth.
David said that God “established my goings.” That did not mean David had an easy life. What it meant was that God was the Rock David could trust no matter what circumstances might come. God was just as present with David when he was running for his life as He was when David was sitting in the palace. He never changes, and never breaks a promise.
“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;”
In the late 1700s in an effort to relieve prison overcrowding, the British government began sending shiploads of criminals to Australia. Crimes that were eligible for “transportation,” as it was known, were generally lesser offenses like theft, although it was sometimes used to deport people who were deemed undesirable to remain in England. Along with the first ships of prisoners, at the insistence of John Newton among others, was a chaplain, Richard Johnson.
In addition to building the first church in Australia with his own money, Johnson established a system of schools focused not just on academic subjects, but on moral instruction. He said, “It is my long and ardent wish that the minds of the rising generation of this Colony may be duly impressed with moral and religious sentiment.” When I preached at a church in Sydney, Australia, I was able to see the Bible sent from England and used in that church still on display. Johnson is still remembered more than two hundred years later for the powerful impact he had on the entire nation.
If we want to change our society, and it certainly needs help, the most important thing is not to elect new politicians or get new laws passed. The most important thing is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those around us. There is nothing else with the power to transform the sinful hearts of people. No program or effort or campaign can change the world the way that winning people to Christ does. God has given us the good news to share.
“And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees over His claim to be the Son of God, He pointed them back to the very basis of their belief and practice—the inspired words of God—what we know as the Old Testament. These men were religious scholars. They knew the ins and outs of the law, and spent much of their lives debating the smallest points of doctrine. Yet for all of their knowledge, it remained on the surface and did not make a positive impact on the way they lived their lives.
It is good and important to know what the Bible says, but that alone is not enough. We must take the Word into our heart and apply it to every situation we face. We cannot be spiritually mature and equipped for the work God has called us to do apart from His Word. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
The devil is delighted if we fall into the trap of equating more knowledge about the Bible with spiritual growth. Knowing what God said is important, but alone it is not enough. We must then apply what we have learned to our daily lives. The best way to deepen our relationship with God’s Word is to put it into practice day after day, and allowing what it says to control how we live.
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
1 John 5:1–3
God is not just our loving friend who has promised to supply all of our needs. He is also the King who is high and lifted up, and He commands and demands our obedience to His instructions. The way that we view the commands of God speaks volumes about the condition of our hearts. If we love God as we should, then we do not find His rules to be onerous. R. A. Torrey said, “Cultivate prompt, exact, unquestioning, joyous obedience to every command that it is evident from its context applies to you. Be on the lookout for new orders from your King. Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to them. God’s commands are but signboards that mark the road to present success and blessedness and to eternal glory.”
If our love for God is not what it should be, then we will balk at obeying His commands. We will find them heavy burdens that we have to bear rather than wise fences placed to keep us from harm and danger. God has not set arbitrary rules, nor does He desire to keep us from enjoying life. Every command has a purpose and a reason, and is to be fully obeyed. But when we do not love God rightly, we also demonstrate a lack of belief in His love for us. This lack of love changes our view, both of Him and of His Word. The first step to joyful obedience is not found in our actions, but in our hearts.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.”
The story goes that in the latter part of his reign, Peter the Great of Russia took steps to make life better for the poor of his kingdom. A law was passed that said if a nobleman beat or badly mistreated the people under his care, he would have a caretaker from the government placed over his estate as he clearly was not qualified to lead. Yet in anger Peter the Great struck his own gardener, who died a few days later from the injury. When he heard that the man was dead Peter said, “Alas! I have civilized my own subjects and I have conquered other nations. Yet I have not been able to civilize or conquer myself.”
Anger is not always sinful. Jesus demonstrated this after He healed the man with a withered hand. “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Mark 3:5). That was anger for the right reason. However, much of our anger is not directed to defend the truths of God from attack, but directed at real or perceived offenses against us personally. This is the dangerous anger that must be brought under control.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Most children in our society grow up learning to talk from their parents. So it’s no surprise that for many the first word is either “Mama” or “Dada.” It is an early expression of a relationship that will grow and develop over the years. In its simplicity, though it conveys great meaning. It speaks of love and trust and kinship. It is this two-syllable Dada that is similar to the Hebrew Abba that we are allowed to use in addressing God because He has made us His children through salvation. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).
We would never think of walking into a stranger’s house at mealtime and sitting down at the table, expecting to be served a meal. We have no relationship with them and no reason to expect them to respond to us. But when we come to God, we are walking into the presence of our Father. And while He is a high and holy God to be worshiped and feared, He is also our Abba who loves us deeply. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said that prayer for our needs to be met was like sitting down at the dinner table and saying, “Pappy, please pass the biscuits.” We do not treat God flippantly or casually, but we do have the right to boldly enter His presence on the basis of our adoption into His family.
“Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”
Most people are very familiar with debt, having borrowed money for a house, a car, or an education. In these cases, we know who we agreed to pay back. They will send statements each month until the original loan has been repaid. If the payments are not made, steps will be taken to collect what is owed. While the Bible contains many warnings about the dangers of borrowing money, it also tells us about another debt that we owe—to share the gospel with others.
Financial debts require an agreement. The borrower signs a note or declaration that the money is owed and that it will be repaid. Unlike those, the gospel debt comes to us not by a contract, but by a gift. Based on the gracious love of God for us and having become recipients of the incredible gift of salvation, we owe it to others to share the good news of the gospel with them as well. This is not the kind of debt where we pay someone back; it is the kind of debt where our plenty obligates us to share it with those who have nothing. To not share the gospel with the lost around us would be like eating a steak dinner in front of starving people. We simply owe it to others to tell them about Christ.
The response of others to the gospel is not our responsibility, but sharing the gospel with them is. Paul recognized that his debt extended even to those living in faraway nations. As Christians, we have what they most need, and the only hope they have for eternity. Our debt to them must be paid in full if we are to obey God.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I read about a missionary to Zimbabwe who was trying to pass out copies of the New Testament in the local language. One man was very resistant to receiving it, finally telling the missionary that if he did take it, he would use the pages of Scripture to wrap his tobacco to smoke. The missionary said, “At least read each page before you burn it.” Fifteen years passed, and that same man came up to the missionary at a conference. He had not only been saved, but was now a full time evangelist. He explained, “I smoked through Matthew. I smoked through Mark. I smoked through Luke. But when I got to John 3:16, I couldn’t smoke any more!”
The love of God never falters. Human relationships, even the closest relationships, may be broken. David wrote, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). It is hard for us to comprehend unfailing love, because it is not natural. We cannot look around us and see examples of it in people, or even in ourselves. All of us are limited, but God is not. He is eternal, and because of His nature never surrenders His love. “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). It is in that unfailing love that we can confidently face every challenge.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”
Every part of the Christian life depends on the Word of God. We are to read it, study it, hear it, memorize it, and meditate on it. Attacks against the Bible are not new. In the Garden of Eden, Satan questioned whether God had really said and meant what He said. Throughout history, skeptics and critics have attempted to undermine the Bible. Yet it remains perfect. It is not the product of man, but of the Holy Spirit working through those He inspired to record God’s Word to us.
Charles Spurgeon said of the Bible, “If I did not believe in the infallibility of this book, I would rather be without it. If I am to judge the book, it is no judge of me. If I am to sift it, and lay this aside and only accept that, according to my own judgment, then I have no guidance whatever, unless I have conceit enough to trust my own heart. The new theory denies infallibility to the words of God, but practically imputes it to the judgments of men. At least, this is all the infallibility which they can get at. I protest that I will rather risk my soul with a guide inspired from heaven, than with the differing leaders who arise from the earth at the call of ‘modern thought.’”
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
2 Timothy 4:2–4
We live in a consumer-oriented world. New products are tested extensively before being brought to market. Even before getting to the contents, the packaging is offered in different sizes, shapes, colors, and writing to see what people will like the best. Opinion polling has become widespread, as people are asked to give their view on a variety of topics. Focus groups and demographic samples are used to try to figure out what people are thinking and what they will respond to positively.
While that has a legitimate role in marketing, it does not when it comes to determining the truth. God is not interested in our opinions. He is not taking a poll to see if we like what He had to say. Yet many churches seem to have a “customer” focus in their approach. They tailor every aspect of the service to be attractive. The problem is that we often prefer to be told comforting lies rather than the hard truth. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:31). It is no surprise that some churches have grown to an enormous size, because they cater to what people want to hear.
There is a real danger when we seek out what makes us feel good rather than what makes us live better. Again and again people refused to follow Jesus when He told them the cost of doing so. We must be willing to be corrected by His Word to please Him.
“And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
1 Samuel 8:18–20
God had made it clear to the people of Israel that He intended for them to be different than other nations. One of the ways in which that distinction was shown was that Israel was to have no king. But in the latter years of the prophet Samuel’s life, the people insisted on having him select a king to rule over them. Samuel warned the people about all the things that would happen if they had a king—many of them consequences they would not like. Yet despite his words of caution, they insisted on having their own way. Many times in the years that followed under the reign of weak or evil kings the people suffered, just as God had warned them through His prophet.
There are times when we genuinely do not know what the best course of action is, and at these times, we should pray for God’s direction. But there are many times in our lives when we already have God’s clear direction through the instructions in His Word, but we simply do not want to follow it. When we do this, we set ourselves up for destructive consequences. Proverbs 5:11–13 describes the person who rejects God’s Word and then later wishes he hadn’t: “And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!”
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Though we remember him best as a gifted hymn writer, Isaac Watts pastored a church in London for a number of years. Watts learned early on the cost of faithfulness to Jesus Christ. His father, also a pastor, was twice imprisoned for refusing to be part of the official Church of England because of ways that church operated which were contrary to the New Testament pattern. When Isaac was a baby, his mother carried him to the prison to visit his father. Yet even seeing that hardship and suffering did not deter the younger Watts from following Christ himself.
Isaac Watts recognized that there are difficulties in the Christian life and those who would deter us from following Christ. Rather than just giving up, we must choose to be good soldiers for Christ in this spiritual battle.
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.
It would be nice if doing right and standing for the truth were popular, but that is not the way life is in our fallen world. We have a real spiritual adversary in Satan who must be fought on a consistent and ongoing basis. “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:9)
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
For part of His ministry, Jesus was extremely popular. Huge crowds gathered whenever news spread Jesus was nearby. The miracles that He worked, healing those who were sick, casting out demons, and feeding multitudes gave Him a reputation. But Jesus recognized that many of those followers were only interested in the benefits they could receive rather than the truths He was teaching. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26).
When a large number of His followers left after Jesus focused their attention on what it would cost those who truly followed Him. Jesus asked the remaining disciples if they were also going to desert Him. Peter’s response was short and pointed—there is nowhere else to go. Only Jesus has the truth and is the Truth. Only Jesus came to point us to the Father. Only Jesus has the ability to deliver on the offer of eternal life.
Many people today are looking for new alternatives when it comes to doctrine and spiritual growth. Like the crowds in Jesus’ day, they find His teaching too hard to follow because of what He requires. So they abandon what they were taught in search of a new doctrine. But there is no alternative to Jesus and the Word of God. There is no one else to whom we can turn and hope to receive correct guidance and instruction—Jesus is the only way.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The Duke of Wellington commanded the British armies at one of the most famous battles in all of history, Waterloo. There Napoleon was defeated for a second time as his escape from exile and removed from power for good. The “Iron Duke” was revered throughout England following that victory, and was often asked to attend public ceremonies and dedications. Some ten years after the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington returned to Eton College, where he had once been a student. Watching a cricket match between students, Wellington remarked, “The battle of Waterloo was won here.” He recognized that the lessons young men learned while in school had carried over to the battlefield and made a crucial difference there.
The time to resist temptation is not when it appears, but long before. Jesus warned Peter that Satan was going to be making a special effort to tempt him, but Peter did not take the warning seriously. When it was time to pray, he was sleeping. It is of little surprise then when we read that he quickly denied even knowing Jesus let alone being one of His disciples. If we are on guard, alert, and praying, temptation becomes much less effective. Though none of us will ever be sinless in this life, we can and will sin less if we start resisting temptation before it even approaches us. God’s overcoming power is only released into our lives when we seek Him in prayer.
“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”
The Israelites in Habakkuk’s time were deeply enmeshed in idol worship. They had adopted the pagan practice of the neighboring countries of recognizing many other gods. Despite the Second Commandment (“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” Exodus 20:4), many of them had household idols to represent the different deities to whom they had chosen to give allegiance. Sometimes they would purchase these, but often they would make their own. But no matter how elaborate or beautifully decorated these idols were, their underlying falsity did not change. They were still made of wood or stone or clay, and they had no life or power which could answer a desperate prayer for help.
The Israelites found themselves in this low spiritual condition because they had lost their appreciation for God’s character. He alone is high and lifted up, and before His face no man should dare to speak of any other that would come before Him. We must remember who and what God is if we are to love and serve Him above all else. The Scottish theologian, hymn writer and pastor Horatius Bonar said, “All error is, more or less, whether directly or indirectly, a misrepresentation of God’s character and a subversion of His revelation.” God is revealed in His Word, not in the depictions of Him painted by a lost and careless world. We must go to the Bible to see Him revealed, and to be reminded of His greatness.
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Many of us grew up hearing the expression “Prayer changes things.” That is true because God still hears and answers prayer. He is not limited by time or space or resources or wisdom in any way. He is able to do things that are beyond what we can even imagine. Things do change in response to prayer. However, prayer does not just impact our outward circumstances. The very process of praying also changes us.
That is why when Jesus wanted to impress on His followers the importance of reaching the lost, the first thing He instructed them to do was to pray. It is impossible to grasp the implications of eternity as we pray for the lost without being moved to action ourselves. Hudson Taylor said, “I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.”
It is easy for us to say that we care about others without doing anything about their needs. It is tempting to want God to do something but not to be part of it ourselves. This was how Moses reacted at the burning bush. When God told Moses that He was going to deliver Israel from Egypt that was good news, but when God said He was sending Moses to lead the work that was a different story. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).