Monday, December 29, 2008

The Importance of Prayer

In the 6th chapter of Ephesians in the 18th verse we read words which put the tremendous importance of prayer with startling and overwhelming force:

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

When we stop to weigh the meaning of these words, then note the connection in which they are found, the intelligent child of God is driven to say,"I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray."

The Revised Version is, if possible, stronger than the Authorized:

"With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

Note the ALLS: "with ALL prayer," "at ALL seasons," "in ALL perseverance," "for ALL the saints." Note the piling up of strong words, "prayer," "supplication," "perseverance." Note once more the strong expression, "watching thereunto," more literally, "being sleepless thereunto." Paul realized the natural slothfulness of man, and especially his natural slothfulness in prayer. How seldom we pray things through! How often the church and the individual get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer and just then let go, get drowsy, quit. I wish that these words "being sleepless unto prayer" might burn into our hearts. I wish the whole verse might burn into our hearts.

But why is this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer so needful?

1. First of all, BECAUSE THERE IS A DEVIL. He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, he is ever plotting the downfall of the child of God; and if the child of God relaxes in prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring him.

This is the thought of the context. The 12th verse reads: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (R.V.) Then comes the 13th verse: "Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." (R.V.) Next follows a description of the different parts of the Christian's armor, which we are to put on if we are to stand against the devil and his mighty wiles. Then Paul brings all to a climax in the 18th verse, telling us that to all else we must add prayer -- constant, persistent, untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, or all else will go for nothing.

(more to follow)

[from Another day... Another opportunity... by Chris Jordan]

3 Million Africans to Receive Native Language Bible for 1st Time

Three million people in the highlands of the east African country of Tanzania will receive Scriptures in their own language for the first time by fall next year, a Bible translation ministry recently announced.

Wycliffe Associates is funding a program that is simultaneously translating ten languages for the people that live in the rugged western part of the country called Mbeya. Previously, the millions that live in the area were forced to understand the Scripture in Swahili or, even more difficult for them, in English. Although about 78 percent of the population in Mbeya is literate, they can only read Swahili at a functional level to survive in society.

The Mbeya Cluster project is an ambitious effort that combines ten language translation projects into one that will expand literacy in the languages of Bena, Bungu, Kinga, Malila, Ndali, Nyakyusa, Nyiha, Safwa, Sangu, and Wanji.

One local man who lived in a remote area 1.5 miles up in the mountains and 74.5 miles from Mbeya simply said, “This is so good,” when he heard the Scripture for the first time in his own speaking language.

For years, he and his people struggled to understand the Word of God in Swahili or English.
In Mbeya, as in other parts of Tanzania, the various distinct languages have enough characteristics in common that it’s possible to translate multiple languages at the same time.
In addition to allowing Mbeya people groups to read the Bible in their own languages, Bible translators also hope to help preserve these minority languages and ensure their survival amid the dominant language of Swahili.

“This has a huge and positive impact on a culture, both spiritually and intellectually,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.

“When a larger and nationalized language like Swahili is bearing down on a people group with a different language and identity, that group tends to have its importance in society diminished; and subsequently, their spiritual journey stunted,” he explained.

The Mbeya project will be carried out by translation teams made up of missionaries and nationals. National translators, working together with a translation advisers, are able to translate the Scripture faster because they have heard the various languages since childhood and can easily work out the nuances of the languages.

Already the project is underway in Tanzania with some 30 full-time workers and another 50 part-timers all working on the multiple translations.

Wycliffe Associate partners will fund the entire project with the goal to finish by September 2009.

The ministry Wycliffe Associates has sent some 1,693 volunteers to serve in 35 countries as part of the worldwide Bible translation team in 2008 alone. The volunteers help build and renovate facilities, construct roads and airstrips, teach Vacation Bible School, help with language development and office work, oversee projects, use their computer skills in various ways, and serve in other ways.

[from The Christian Post RSS Feed by Ethan Cole]

Top 10 Books in 2008

1) Ablaze for God (Wesley Duewel)
2) It (Craig Groeschl)
3) Wild Goose Chase (Mark Batterson)
4) The Ultimate Blessing (Jo Anne Lyon)
5) Return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)
6) Lumberjack Sky Pilot (Frank Reed)
7) The Way Forward (Matthew Leroy and Jeremy Summers)
8) On the Side of the Angels (D'Souza and Rogers)
9) God Size Your Church (John Jackson)
10) Wilderness Visionaries (Jim Dale Vickery)

What would you add? (Click "comments" below.)

[from Revitalize Your Church by Mark O. Wilson]

Consider At Least One New Year's Resolution

With the economy in a state of recession and major corporations needing bailouts, the financial condition of our country will trickle down to the average Joe. Yet the shopping malls are bursting with people purchasing forty-two inch plasma screen TVs with surround sound, iPods, cell phones with limitless access to the Internet and laptop computers.

What's going on? We are convinced that we are entitled. We deserve to have everything our parents have , or everything you view on TV or in a magazine. Our only problem is that we're not sure how we're going to pay for it.

We only need one New Year's Resolution: I am not entitled to everything I want. In his book 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School, Charles J. Sykes labels today's generation: a modern day wealth-without-responsibility aristocracy.

We have more access to food, clothing, gadgets, cars, jewelry, clothing, shopping malls and credit cards to pruchase it all than any previous generation. Are we entitled to have all of it just because we have the money or the credit limit to cover our purchases?

Today entitlement has taken on a whole new meaning. There's a major collision between our entitlement mentality and the ignorance of how money works. For example, Sykes estimates that teen spending will top $190 billion this year or next. This figure eclipses the gross domestic products of many countries where people have to go to work to earn money.

Hand-in-hand with the entitlement mentality is the lack of any motivation to go out and get a job. Most of the money spent by teenagers comes from their parents. Fifty-eight percent of teens say they get their money from Mommy and Daddy. Twenty-one percent report having part-time jobs.

What are we teaching our children with this entitlement attitude?

- Kids can have whatever they want without ever having to pay for it. Once these kids grow up and start thinking about marriage, they're in for the shock of their lives. Regardless. many parents continue to give their sons and daughters hefty sums of money and keep their children dependent on them. This is highly unhealthy since young men and women are growing up without a sense of financial responsibility.

- Kids are unable to delay their gratification. In repsonse to a lack of delayed gratification, the rising debt for college graduates is on its way upward. Young men and women expect to live the way they were raised and they refuse to wait. They want it now - the house, the cars, the lavish vacations and everything else. However, what kids today forget is that parents worked for years to get to their level of income. A college degree does not automatically hand in a standard of living that matches that of the parents. There're still many years of hard work ahead.

- Kids are enabled to be financially illiterate. Young men especially are being raised without a sense of finances - what it means to save money, invest money and not get into serious credit card debt. A lot of young men are not ready to become the financial head of their household. They're not sure how to handle a checking account, to manage credit card debt, to invest in money for a pension and to purchase a car or a home loan.

One New Year's Resolution can change a lot. Work hard to achieve success and do not expect advancement out of entitlement.

[from The John Tesh Blog by John Tesh]