August 20

Today's Bible Reading
            I Samuel 12
            Romans 10
            Jeremiah 49
            Psalms 26-27
'”Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
(Romans 10:1)
            I once heard a very intellectual Seminary professor say, ''We are never instructed, in the Bible, to pray for the lost." He must have missed Romans 10:1.  Paul's great concern was for all the world, but he had a special burden for his own people, the Jews.  He knew they had a zeal for God, but it was not according to Biblical knowledge.  Any of us who know the Scripture know that Paul was an empire builder for God.  He was one of those who turned the world upside down. We owe him for much of our Scripture.
            The First Century world felt the impact of his life and ministry. Even the demons declared that Paul was known in Hell. Why is all of this true of this great apostle?  Paul tells us that he is crucified with Christ, but it is Christ who lives in him and through him.
            This sold-out servant of the Savior arose from the ashes of his burned-up self to be the New Testament Samson, lifting off its hinges the gates of history, and turning Calvary's cleansing stream into the foul stables of Asian corruption. Having found peace with God, Paul made war on all that was Godless.  He charmed the intelligentsia here at Athens on his sweet harp of the Gospel, ending his song abruptly by grasping the Resurrection trumpet, only to send the Athenians scattering - scarred and scorched by its truth.
            It is obvious from our text that Paul knew that his war must be fought on his knees. He built empires for God and turned the world upside down because of an incomparable prayer life.  He was not seeking what talent, ability, financial resources, and the flesh could produce. That was what Paul could accomplish. He was seeking what only God could accomplish, and he knew that came through prayer. That kind of prayer life led to an exemplary life.  Paul was, indeed, a ''living epistle''. (Philippians 4:9)
            That kind of prayer led to an exceptional life. Paul put down things like place, pedigree, and privilege as mere dung. He knew the onewillofGodwas to bring in the harvest.  He knew he faced suffering, and it was through the suffering that the harvest would come. If more were strong in prayer, more would be suited to suffer. Prayer develops bone as well as groan, sinew as well as saintliness, fortitude as well as fire.
            This kind of prayer led to an expanded life. Paul built upon no man's foundation for his brain was not so steeped in dogma that it became an ecclesiastical machine merely grinding out the mysteries of metaphysics. He did not spend his days speculating in some spiritual laboratory, dissecting theology.
            Others, through the years, have followed Paul's example. Men like David Brainerd and John Knox were “men of like passions”, but where today do we hear such a prayer offered in a prayer meeting. We cannot have big results from our small praying. The law of prayer is the law of the harvest. Sow sparingly in prayer and reap sparingly; sow bountiful in prayer and reap bountifully. The trouble is, we are trying to get from our efforts, but we never put into them.
            We, too, can be empire builders for God. Where will this end with you? I do not know, and neither do angels or men, but where it all begins is an Exchanged Life where we no longer live - but Christ lives in us. Paul lived gloriously and died triumphantly, because in sacrifice and suffering, he identified himself in Christ.  So can we live and die if we but will.
            Churches have been persecuted and ruined in Bangladesh and especially among the people movement tribal churches. Nearly all the Bambia WM, Pankhu, Garo, and most of several other tribes have become Christian, and the Santai and Munda peoples have a large and growing minority of Christians.  Pray that these churches may become strong, mature, and full of missionary vision.