The pastor tested positive for Covid on August 4 and so will be in quarantine for 10 days. As a result, we have shut the buildings down and will not be having an in-person service this Sunday, August 8. However, Pastor will be streaming and posting Sunday’s message live on our Oceanside Community Church Facebook page at 10 a.m. Sunday morning. We hope you will be able to tune in for the message, “How Do I Pray in Faith?”
While the building is shut down, we will be arranging for sanitization, in preparation for everyone’s safe return. Meanwhile, we are trying to keep in touch with everyone to insure all ministry needs are met.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJ)
Recent events have prompted me to do some serious personal and theological soul- searching on several subjects that I haven’t thought about deeply for some time. Since many of you have expressed similar issues and questions lately, I decided to table our jaunt through the Book of Acts and share some of what I’ve been working on for the last month or so. It is my prayer that you might find these messages relevant, informative, encouraging and helpful, especially considering the state of our nation in general and this resurgent Corona virus pandemic in particular.
7/25/21 “The importance of Balance in the Christian Life” 8/1/21 “Laughter is Good Medicine!”
8/8/21 “How Do I ‘Pray in Faith?’”
8/15/21 “Are Miracles for Today?”
Proverbs 16:11 Proverbs 17:22 1 John 5:13-15 Acts 2:22
2 Kings 5:8-14 5:7; Luke 14:28
8/22/21 “Super Slow-Mo Miracles”
8/29/21 “Walk by Faith” BUT “Count the Cost”
For now, the plan is to resume the Acts series on September 5th, and we will continue to try to put these messages online for those who don’t feel comfortable attending in person. Just be careful not to let it become a habit!
The purpose of this pamphlet is to encourage you to use this time for personal Bible study and reflection on God’s Word – especially if you happen to be quarantined.
Covid-D Week 1 (7/25): “The Importance of Balance in the Christian Life”
Key Verse: Proverbs 16:11 (NASB)
“A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.”
The issue for Christians living before the return of Christ to establish His Millennial Kingdom on Earth is that we are “in the world” BUT “not of the world.”
In the upper room discourse in John 17:6-19, Jesus describes this precarious position –
John 17:11—“they themselves are in the world”
John 17:16—“They are not of the world”
Living in this “already but not yet” state in the Lord’s present spiritual kingdom of the Church while waiting for the Rapture and the coming of His literal millennial kingdom requires both theological and practical balance.
Balance is an important biblical concept
In Old Testament times, scales were not like ours today. In Proverbs 16:11 they are described as a “balance.” Commodities were bought and sold by weighing them in a scale, or balance, using the commodity on one side with weights balancing it on the other. People being people, they found that by shaving their weights when selling (less weight), they could make more money by giving customers less for their money, and vice versa when buying (added weight gave them more for their money). God finds this practice particularly offensive, and He has quite a bit to say about it. Key x-References include Leviticus 19:35-36 (foundational text); Deuteronomy 25:13-16;
Covid-D Week 1: “The Importance of Balance in the Christian Life” (continued)
Proverbs 11:1; 20:10,23; Micah 6:11). The main point of these passages is that we should conform to a standard in our lives (a pound should be a pound, similar to the New Testament concept of our “yes, yes” and our “no, no” in Matthew 5:37). Of course for believers our standard is the absolute perfection of Christ – which is why we need a savior!! The fact that none of us can actually “conform” to that standard un- less we come to Christ in faith and receive His perfect righteousness is no excuse for not trying to conform to His likeness in our lives. It’s one of our basic responsibilities as a believer, because that’s one way unbelievers see Jesus reflected in us.
Since the word translated “just” in Leviticus 19:36 (which is a different Hebrew word from Proverbs 16:11) is normally translated “righteousness,” I use the concept of a “righteous balance” to illustrate that there must also be balance in the Christian life if there is to be any true righteousness (sometimes true righteousness required Jesus to moderate people’s understanding of the Law under certain circumstances; for exam- ple getting their ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath in Luke 13:15; 14:5).
Two things make it possible for believers to pursue this goal of becoming more Christ- like in their lives – (1) the permanent indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; and (2) in conjunction with the infallible and inerrant Word of God, that provides the guidance, motivation and ability to find that righteous balance in our lives—at least sometimes!
Covid-D Week 2 (8/1): “Laughter is Good Medicine!”
Key Verse: Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)
“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
Some versions translate this verse differently with words that focus more on the emo- tional aspect of laughter (e.g. Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.) I’ve talked before about an important biblical distinction between ‘joy’ and ‘happiness.’ Happiness is basically an emotion that ebbs and flows like the tide. Joy, on the other hand, especially from the Christian perspective, is something much deeper and more lasting (e.g. Hebrews 12:2 3, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set be- fore Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Joy is something that a Christian can hold on to even in the most difficult circumstances (see e.g. 1 Thessalonians 1:6, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” There is also a biblical connection between joy and laughter –
Psalm 126:2 says, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joy- ful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’” That’s also true in our practical daily experience – we’ve all experienced this definite connection between joy and laughter in our lives.
But we must be certain that we are laughing for the right reason!
Sarah laughed in disbelief, Genesis 18:12, “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ (she laughed in disbe- lief at God’s promise of bearing a child in her 90’s). When it became evident that God had done what He had promised, Sarah laughed again – this time in faith — and that laughter was contagious!
Covid-D Week 2: “Laughter is Good Medicine!” (continued)
Genesis 21:6, “Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will
laugh with me.’”
The Bible also acknowledges a significant connection between laughter and pain Proverbs 14:13, “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief.” I think this is what many of the articles on this subject of laughter as medicine also recognize.
What’s the alternative to the medicine of laughter?
*The “bite the bullet, grin and bear it, or keep a stiff upper lip” approach
Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spir- it who can bear it?” Do we really want to try to go through life without God’s help?
Even this approach to adversity in our lives is better than a life of self-pity and com- plaining.
The ‘Bottom Line’
Now, I’m not talking about telling jokes – although that’s how some people do it – I’m talking about having the faith to see the light – the humor – in any dark circumstance, and being able to smile in the face of adversity! Sometimes the laughter that stems from this deep and abiding joy of the Lord can make the difference between persever- ing through the pain and giving up and pulling everyone around us down as well.
So for the Christian, joy is the well out of which laughter springs. And the eternal blessings of the Lord are ultimately the foundation of that unshakable joy.
Romans 15:13,”Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Covid-D Week 3 (8/8): “How Do I ‘Pray in Faith?’”
Key Verse: 1 John 5:13-15 (NASB)
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
There’s a lot of confusion about what this phrase – “pray in faith” – means. Some Christians believe that if you have enough faith, God will answer your prayers. There is some truth to that, because there is Scripture that seems to support this view —
Matthew 21:22, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
John 16:23, “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to
you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”
John 14:13-14, “”Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may
be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” This also appears to be true even when specifically praying for healing —
Covid-19 d-D Week 3: “How Do I Pray in Faith?” (continued)
James 5:15, “…and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and
the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
ALL of us have experienced the harsh reality of unanswered prayer. What about the mother who prays diligently with faith and even tears for God to save her child—and the child dies anyway. Was it due to the mother’s lack of sufficient faith?
I believe the answer lies in being able to distinguish the difference between a general principle in Scripture and an absolute promise from God.
General principles vs. absolute promises—It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference! Distinguishing principles from promises basically involves synthesizing all the Bible has to say on a given topic—like prayer. No single passage of Scripture can possibly contain all the truth on a subject. So in a particular context the Bible may emphasize a single aspect of the total truth to emphasize it, which can create a misperception.
It is certainly important to “pray in faith” as a basic principle of power in prayer — James 1:5-8, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all gen- erously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Example of a principle that is generally true — Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Example of a promise that is ALWAYS true — John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
The bottom line – the ultimate key to power in prayer is found in our key text —
1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in what-
ever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” So what we need to know and believe when we come to God in prayer is that we have correctly discerned the will of God in a particular situation. Even after diligent study of Scripture and prayer, as well as seeking the counsel of godly friends, we may not have a great deal of confidence that we actually know God’s will for us in that situa- tion. We can still “pray in faith” with confidence if we are truly submissive to the will of God for us, just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane —
Luke 22:41-43, “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’” It IS an absolute promise that if we pray accord- ing to the will of God for our lives it WILL happen! We also need to remember that “no” or “wait” is an answer also. When we pray for something that is not in accord- ance with God’s will for our lives, we should “thank God for unanswered prayers!”
Dr. C. Ross Rowland, Pastor Oceanside Community Church July 25, 2021
Covid-19D Series July 25—August 15, 2021