Great Expectations

My name is Mark Smith. I'm a guy who loves Jesus, His Word, and His Church. I am filled with Great Expectations for what the future will ultimately bring - Matthew 24:14.

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Location: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

My favourite verse is Psalm 16:11, my other favourite verse is Acts 20:24, my other favourite verse is Habakkuk 3:17-19, and my other favourite verse is Matthew 24:14.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How To Pray For Half-An-Hour

..............Some have wondered: How do you spend a half-an-hour in prayer, not to mention two or three hours? Here is my three-fold answer:

1. Resolve to do it. Don’t purpose to pray until you run dry. Purpose to pray the full half-hour. Prayer is work. It is not always a “sweet hour.” Jesus did many works with ease, but he prayed with “loud crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).

2. Think about what you want to see change in your heart and life and family and neighborhood and church and world. Make a list if necessary. Then pray through it, giving God reasons from Scripture why this is something that he would surely do.

3. Put the Bible in front of you and simply read a line and turn it into a prayer. Paraphrase it, expand on it, apply it to yourself and others. This works best with the ethical portions of Scripture like Matthew 5-7; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5, 6; Ephesians 4-6; Colossians 3, 4; 1 Thessalonians 5; 1 John, etc. You can pray all day once you catch on. And you will be surprised how many insights come as you really take Scripture seriously and try to pray it into your life. If you run into theological or interpretational problems, tell the Lord you will work on that later and move on. If we seek hard to obey what we do understand, more light will come on the hard parts.

I am praying for your praying. What depth and power we will have as a church if hundreds of us learn to pray over the Word of the Almighty God!

By John Piper

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Make This a Day of Turning

This is simply copied and pasted from the Desiring God Blog but I thought I'd put it here too since prayer is certainly on my mind all the time....

Here’s the challenge John Piper issues as he closes his chapter on prayer (chapter 6) in Desiring God:

[O]ne of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you. Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need midcourse corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer—for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy. (Desiring God, 2003 edition, pages 182–183)

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meaning of Obey and Submit

A while back the elders here at Lansing had planned a sermon series on the local church, with the first particularly tricky/sensitive message dealing with submission in verses like Hebrews 13:17. That sermon has led to a number of questions about just what it means to submit and obey. If one example is given, it naturally leads to thinking of another example and wondering about this, that, or the other possible situation. And it becomes a little tricky.

John Piper is the best. I listened to a couple sermons by him on Monday that were preached on Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." They were very good and in the second one when he talks about what obey and submit actually means, he takes a while to develop biblically and practically that leaders/elders can be very fallible and there needs to be safeguards in place.

Then at the end he asks:

What then does "Obey your leaders and submit to them" mean? The word for "obey" (peith) is a very broad word and means "be persuaded by" (Hebrews 6:9), "trust" (Hebrews 2:13), "rely on" (Luke 11:22), and comes to mean "obey" because that is what you do when you trust somebody. So you might say it is a "soft" word for obey. It encourages a good relationship of trust, but still calls for the people to be swayed by leaders.

The word for "submit" (hupeik) occurs only here in the New Testament. It's the more narrow word, and means "make room for by retiring from a seat," or "yield to" or "submit to."

So with all this background, what I would try to distill as the meaning would be something like this: Hebrews 13:17 means that a church should have a bent toward trusting its leaders; you should have a disposition to be supportive in your attitudes and actions toward their goals and directions; you should want to imitate their faith; and you should have a happy inclination to comply with their instructions.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Keith and Kristyn Getty

I love listening to Keith and Kristyn Getty. Besides knowing of them from "In Christ Alone" I also happened across a CD of theirs at the public library one time. Lately I've enjoyed listening to them on youtube.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Shout Unto God

This is such a great song that has been running through my head since seeing it on Rebecca's blog.

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