Payh Blog
Jan 30, 2008

Bread, Glorious Bread!

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Scriptural Basis:
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Anderson’s Applications:
Diets that work the best unfortunately say to us, “leave off the bread!” Ugh! Though we often refer to a spartan subsistence as “having only bread and water,” these are perhaps our most refreshing drink and most common food. Bread has been called the “staple of life” and I can vouch that in some restaurants when they bring that fresh, warm small loaf of bread to your table with butter, or olive oil and herbs, it is extremely difficult to resist. And even at home where bread is still baked, the aroma fills the house enticing our stomach to sample the result coming out of the oven. Our perspective is influenced, of course, by the abundance of food in our culture. In other cultures where food is harder to come by, this request to our heavenly Father to “give us this day our daily bread” is a prayer for survival. We can have any type of bread we want, while some in our world will literally eat anything to satisfy an empty and malnourished stomach.
Is it this “bread” that comes to our mind when we pray this petition in the Lord’s Prayer; bread for the body which must have such “fuel” to live? It is not wrong to paraphrase “bread” in this prayer as anything truly needed on a daily basis for sustaining life. God does not want His children to starve or freeze to death. He provided manna, quail and water in the desert for His chosen people, Israel, when the abundance of Egypt was no longer available. What do you think you are asking God to do or give you when you pray according to the pattern of prayer taught by Jesus; when you ask for “daily bread?” The most common use of the word “bread” in the Scripture is just that: bread; the kind you eat, whether leavened or unleavened. Yet I find a striking parallel to the Lord’s Prayer in the recounting of Jesus’ battle with Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). When you compare some of the things we address to God in the Lord’s Prayer with the nature of the battle Jesus fought in the wilderness you will see that parallel. In the matter of bread and what we are requesting, Jesus’ response to Satan helps us understand the “other” bread for which we are desperate no matter our culture or circumstance.
After a fast of 40 days Jesus was as you would expect starving and vulnerable to the temptations of Satan, who was most likely tempting Him all through the 40 days. Yet only the culmination is recorded. Every sin and every temptation for us to sin can be incorporated into the three that Satan brings “to fell” the Savior as recorded in Matthew 4. There were plenty of stones in this wilderness, but bread was definitely scarce. Satan suggested that all Jesus as God’s Son really needed to do was command some of the stones to become bread to meet His need. Jesus’ response is the key to understanding what you and I pray: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Certainly we may pray for all we truly need to live; food, home, clothing, etc. But if we do not have God and His Word, what is the use of living? It is futile, meaningless, and living is worth nothing more than a “dumb” stone in the desert! He who is “the bread of life” says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (bread, food, clothing, material necessities) will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Apart from having God as our God, Redeemer and Friend we are but miserable wretches.

Encouragement:

“My Father in Heaven, give me what I need for today, but give me more what I need forever. Make my testimony like Job’s, “I have treasured the words of your mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12)


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Payh Blog
Jan 24, 2008

No Trifling Matter

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Scriptural Basis:
“…Deliver us from evil (or the evil one), for Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13
Anderson’s Applications:
When we pray we acknowledge some critical truths. By praying to God who is a Spirit, we confess our belief in the reality of the spiritual world. We also admit our needs in both worlds. For while we are flesh and blood, we very much have a foot in each world. So when we pray to God, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying about no trifling matter. Our prayer encompasses things that will confront us that day, some seen, and much else that is largely unseen. We have a great appreciation for the world we see and the needs of it. But apart from trusting the words of our Lord, we will remain inadequate and “short-sighted” in “seeing” our way in the spiritual kingdom right in our midst. Francis Schaeffer used to speak about the real world as an “apple,” and half of the “apple,” he said, is spiritual. Prayer acknowledges just that and is intended, when pursued according to the Scriptures, to more and more open our eyes to the other half of the apple.
Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the advancing kingdom of heaven is treated violently and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12) In the present age, that is, from the coming of Christ to His coming again, the kingdom of God and of heaven has been advancing against the kingdom of Satan and his dominion on the earth, and it is meeting violent resistance from every quarter. In such a warfare Jesus says it is the forceful person, the one who will not be denied, who seizes the kingdom of God and scrambles into its strong tower. If you read on in Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:13-30 and see the full context you understand more of the truth of the picture He is describing. Unlike what was expected, Jesus did not come in the first century to establish an earthly kingdom like the Roman Empire or any empire since, by the force of His power, compelling every knee to bow. He came instead to do battle with Satan and his kingdom first and foremost, and to gather to Himself one by one those persuaded of His love and hungry for His forgiveness of their sins. He calls them through His Holy Spirit to join His kingdom, live under His banner, and fight with Him the good fight in a violent battle with the evil one and all those who march to his drum.
It is not something with which to trifle as though we are immune to attack or a noncombatant. No one living is in such a category. If we are breathing, we better be breathing this prayer, because the battle is on our front steps and we need all the help we can get. Paul had this assurance, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18) But he says it in the context of this declaration, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…and I have longed for His appearing.” (4:7-8) You can be assured that if your eyes are open to the realities around you, you will not trifle in your prayer life, but earnestly and continuously ask God to bring it on! That is, bring on His kingdom and accomplish His will, that the righteous acts of heaven will also invade your world, putting the enemy to flight, and delivering you from his insidious intent to destroy you and yours.
Encouragement:
“Heavenly Father, Your kingdom is my home, Your battle is mine, Your will is my delight, Your Son’s appearing is my reward.”


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Payh Blog
Jan 17, 2008

Are There Any Ink Blotches on Your Wall?

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Scriptural Basis:
“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21
Anderson’s Applications:
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we acknowledge the reality of the spiritual world here with us, every bit as real as the material world we see, feel, and smell. The material world is too often our default mentality and reality. Yet it is a dangerous thing to discredit or ignore the spiritual world as though it is not there. Martin Luther, frustrated with Satan’s interference and attacks, one day threw his ink well at him. He managed to put a large blotch of ink on the wall of his room. Moses left Egypt with his people, not fearing the king’s anger or power, because he saw Him, the Lord, who is invisible. When Elisha’s home city was surrounded by the horses, chariots and army of a king who wished to dispose of him, Elisha prayed for the eyes of his fearful servant to be opened. Then the servant saw what Elisha saw: horses and chariots of fire protecting them, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:15-18) In the beginning of Job Satan presents himself before the Lord and the Lord asks him “Where have you come from?” and Satan answers, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Paul warns us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We are too quickly on to, “Give us this day our daily bread,” (which in all its various forms of “bread” makes up the bulk of our prayers) before we have fully appreciated the importance of praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth (in me, in my life, in my world), as it is in heaven.” We might ask, “Where is heaven?” or “Where is the Lord?” or “Where do these spiritual beings, like angels or demons, live?” Where indeed are those who have died and left our visible presence? Hebrews 12:1 , interpreted variously, nevertheless says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” There is just too much in Scripture for us to ignore the presence of a spiritual world, a spiritual reality, right among us. And coming up against the “prince of the power of the air,” “the rulers of darkness,” ” the spiritual forces of evil” is the kingdom of God. Were we to fully appreciate what has not been exactly hidden from us, even though it is a spiritual, “invisible” realm, our praying would be more frequent, more fervent, more on target, more articulate, and I dare say, more effectual, than if we remain in a fog living blind to the spiritual world’s reality, and the kingdom of God; a kingdom which is presently our home by virtue of faith in its King (Colossians 1:13), and yet also our future hope (Matthew 25:34).
We live in a spiritual reality every bit as much as a physical one. Our prayers must reflect that. We are never alone. How can we escape from God’s presence (Psalm 139)? Nor are we ever out of the gun sights of the enemy (I Peter 5:8). We cannot rest from warfare anymore than a soldier can let down his guard in a battle zone. Consequently, we cannot rest from prayer. If our spiritual eyes are open to see the full reality of life and this war, who would want to be out of touch with our Lifeline; the resource, the power, the protection, the hope, that alone assures another day and another day and another day and eventually victory? Paul’s encouragement to pray without ceasing, seems I am sure, tedious and somewhat overblown. But, by the God of heaven and earth, it is not! Not if you see Him who is invisible, the spiritual battlefield in which you exist and survive by grace, the enemy who seeks to devour you, with his army of demons, and the host of the Lord’s army who do His bidding for you every moment. If you can indeed see that ever more clearly, you will cry out incessantly, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!”
Encouragement:
“Open my eyes, Lord, to the reality around me. Lift the fog and let me see the battle and the enemy. But mostly, let me see You and your kingdom.”


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Payh Blog
Jan 10, 2008

Your Greatest Desire in 2008

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Scriptural Basis:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38
Anderson’s Applications:
In a young woman’s life there is no greater time of anticipation, excitement and joy than the few months before her marriage to the love of her life. In the midst of just such a time Mary was stunned by the message of a supernatural messenger. I have never seen an angel, but those who have, whose encounters with one or more are recorded in Scripture, have this in common, they somehow know that they are seeing and speaking to one. Mary did not go screaming out of the room, even though the angel Gabriel’s appearance and greeting was, to say the least, “greatly troubling” to her. Who wouldn’t be shocked by such an encounter? Mary’s response, however, to a message that must have sent earthquake tremors through her heart, and initially shattered the anticipatory joy in which she had been reveling, was as shocking, at least to me, as the angel appearing in the first place. It is not a response that most of us would have if we were to receive this information in the midst of such a celebratory time in a young life. Her response to the announcement that she would soon be pregnant with the Son of God, before marrying or “knowing” her beloved Joseph, is a model of genuine faith. What is more, it is the classic illustration of what it means for us to pray as Jesus lived and then taught us, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As we begin a new year, eight years into a new millennium, I can think of no greater desire to have for our life, and for those we love. Yet is this petition of the Lord’s Prayer so common, so “by rote” for us, that it does not even come to mind when we think, “What do I want most for my life in this New Year?” And if we consider it, what does it really mean? What am I really asking when I pray for my Heavenly Father’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth, in me, as it is in heaven? What does this mean for my life and my circumstances? Does it mean that my body should be healed from what ails it? Does it mean that money will magically appear to pay all my bills because reportedly heaven is free of things like debt? Does it mean that my night of depression will flee and joy in my relationships and career will replace it? How will my life change? Can I afford to pray such a prayer and want it answered? Our real quandary is whether in unspoken reality we want to substitute “my” for “thy.” “My kingdom come, my will be done.”
Admittedly the many texts of Scripture concerning God’s kingdom can be bewildering as we seek a simple interpretation to a complex subject. The kingdom is spoken of in Scripture as future, and yet present. Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world, and again that it was in our midst. But Mary’s example helps us put the focus where it needs to be. God’s kingdom comes into our own life when we recognize, accept and love Him as King, not only of things external to you, but of my very own life. He rules me; He is my authority; He is in practice my sovereign; and I have perfect trust in whatever He chooses to do to me or my world. My greatest desire is that God do with me as He will and I will be joyfully content, for I know I am in good hands. This is Mary’s example. This action of God involved her heart, her feelings, her body, her health, her marriage, her life. These ceased to be her own as she responded with faith and trust; she was the Lord’s. “Be it unto me as You have said, for I am your servant.” It is very possibly not the characteristic most prominent in your life right now. But it can be your greatest desire in 2008. And if in 2008, then why not until He returns? If so, you will not be unprepared.

Encouragement:

“Heavenly Father, in 2008 I want to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness in my life. Rule in me first of all and then in my world.”


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Payh Blog
Jan 03, 2008

Why Do the Nations Rage?

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Scriptural Basis:
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3
Anderson’s Applications:
The Christmas story is sublime and simple, concise and memorable. On Christmas Eve at the PAYH one of our young men, instead of reading the Christmas story from Luke 2, read it from his heart, reciting it perfectly for memory. (The Scripture memory program is one of the most important things we do with the young men God sends us.) The Holy Spirit of God chose to keep the revelation of that first Christmas short and to the point. There is no elaboration. Much is left to our imagination and pondering. Just as in some movies I have seen and was disappointed in, to me, there was a quick ending without more elaboration on the main characters. In the Christmas story we hunger for more information like: what happened to the individual shepherds as a result of their glorious experience with the angels and their coming to find this babe in a manger; or who were the Magi and how many of them came on that long journey; or what happened to the families who had their young infant son massacred by an evil king? So many questions unanswered until heaven.
The Matthew account of the Magi from the East tells us that their coming to Jerusalem and asking their questions about a new king of the Jews that has recently been born disturbed Herod greatly and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:3) We understand the fear of evil king Herod that a threat to his throne had been born in his vicinity, but why all of Jerusalem with him? Their conditions under Herod were not ideal. They were oppressed by an occupying force. Yet they were disturbed that the long awaited Messiah had possibly arrived? What are they thinking? Where are their minds? What is their faith? It appears that any interruption of the status quo, as miserable as it was, created too much of an unknown “inconvenience” to their lives. Perhaps it is not unlike many Americans weary or opposed to the global war on jihadists, or the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan from cruel despots, even though America has not been attacked since 9/11. This is too difficult, and is an annoying irritant to “cushy” lives in a presently peaceful America. There is no ability to judge the evil in the world or how quickly it may turn their own lives into devastation if not addressed.
It is the same type of thinking that causes unbelief to ask why did two dozen or more infant babies have to be cruelly massacred just because of the birth of the Messiah? How could God be so cruel as to allow that to happen? And then the typical response: “I cannot believe in a God like that.” There is no understanding of sin and its effects. No appreciation for a whole unseen existence right in our midst, a spiritual world as a very real part of a physical one. There is no recognition of a cosmic battle that affects the lives of every man, woman, and child. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem there was not joy in every heart. Instead there was rage, and wickedness, complacency and annoyance, for He entered a fallen world where a battle was engaged. Robert Southwell wrote a poem expressing this many years ago.
“This little Babe so few days old, is come to rifle Satan’s fold; All hell doth at his presence quake, though he himself for cold do shake; For in this weak unarmed wise the gates of hell he will surprise. With tears he fights and wins the field, His naked breast stands for a shield; His battering shot are babish cries, His arrows looks of weeping eyes, His martial ensigns Cold and Need, and feeble Flesh his warrior’s steed. His camp is pitched in a stall, His bulwark but a broken wall; The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes; of shepherds he his muster makes; And thus, as sure his foe to wound, the angels’ trumps alarum sound. My soul, with Christ join thou in fight; stick to the tents that he hath pight. Within his crib is surest ward; this little Babe will be thy guard. If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy, then flit not from this heavenly Boy.”
As we enter 2008 we need to refresh our minds and hearts with the truth that we all are in a battle we each must fight if we are to stand with Christ in glory. Only in Him will we see victory. As Southwell has said so well, we need to flee not from, but to this Savior of our souls.
Encouragement:
“Heavenly Father, fit me for this battle. In this New Year may I fight your fight, not my own. May you be my Captain.”


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