Years ago the author wrote these Ten Daily Determinations after going through a series of debilitating trials, personal loss and health issues. He offers them to his Brethren in the Gospel ministry for their consideration.
1. The Triune, self–disclosing God of Scripture, loves you with an everlasting love and has predestined all things. He is in the process of conforming you into the image of his Son. Thus, all things are working together for good, however they may appear in your experience—so nothing is ever really out of control. Do not be prone to impatience, complaint or frustration.
2. Read and meditate upon the Word of God daily for your own sake. It is the only objective truth and direction God has given.
3. God answers prayer. Be determined to pray daily, and to sanctify everything by this means. Take everything to God in prayer and not to others as complaint or frustration.
4. You are to love God supremely and be conscious of his attributes; especially his immanence, power, purpose and moral attributes. Seek to gain a true God–consciousness for the day. Be aware of the manifestations of indwelling sin and remaining corruption, and strive to be truly godly and morally pure in thought and action.
5. God has called you to the Gospel ministry. You are a servant, not a master. Scripturally, sanctify everything and subordinate it to this calling.
6. God has called you to be a pastor. Learn to love your people and do not resent them for their inability to see the issues, or their often thoughtless intrusion upon your time and studies. Remember, when you fail, you fail as a Christian, not as a pastor.
7. You are commanded by God to love your enemies and do good to all men; and as a servant of the Lord, to be gentle to all men. Do not dwell on the wrong your enemies have done or the hurt they have caused you, or become bitter or vindictive in your thoughts, attitude, words or actions.
8. Remember the reality of God’s purpose and Spirit, his ministry and his enabling grace as the dynamic in your life.
9. In a world cursed and condemned by the awful reality of sin, it is normal for things to go wrong—and some days for everything to go wrong. Remember that God is absolutely sovereign over all things—and when things do go wrong, God has a good and greater purpose in it.
This life is all you have in which to serve God. It is short. Make the best possible use of all the time God has given you. Also remember that he has commanded six days for labor and one for rest. Both are necessary to be obedient and consistent.
Seven Principles of Prayer
By Stanford Murrell
An Exposition of Acts 4:24-37
24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
When Peter and John were with Jesus, they, along with the other disciples, asked Jesus to teach them to pray. The Lord gave His disciples a Model Prayer which embodied the principles which should guide all prayers. The disciples were good students and when they began to pray in public, they incorporated the principles of the Model Prayer.
Prayer is to be made to God the Father
While it is not wrong to pray to Jesus, or invoke the Holy Spirit, prayer is primarily to be addressed to God the Father. Jesus said, When you pray say, “Our Father which art in heaven.” To address God the Father is to show Him respect. It is to understand that He is the source of all things.
Prayer is to be Harmonious
When the Lord listens to our prayers, He is concerned about our spirit as well as what is being said. If a person is angry with another person, or harbors hatred in the heart, it is hard to pray. Husbands and wives are to be in harmony that their prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7). Christians are to pray for those who hurt them and abuse them. A calm spirit is needed to pray effectively.
Prayer is to Exalt God
It is easy to forget to whom one is speaking. Sometimes children show disrespect when speaking to their parents and have to be sharply reminded to whom they are speaking. Respect is always to be shown to the office of magistrates, even if a Nero is in power. God is not the “Man in the Sky”. He is not “The Big Guy.” He is God, the maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is. Never forget to whom your prayer is being addressed. Honor God.
25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, WHY DID THE HEATHEN RAGE, AND THE PEOPLE IMAGINE VAIN THINGS?
Prayer is to be Scriptural
If there is a struggle to prayer, it is possible to pray the Scriptures. Pray the Psalms. Remember the Word of God and recite it back to God. Peter and John remembered the prophecy concerning Christ and incorporate Scriptural language into their prayer.
26 THE KINGS OF THE EARTH STOOD UP, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD, AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.
27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
Prayer is to be Submissive to the Sovereign Will of God
The apostles understood the doctrine of predestination. They comprehended that all that happened to Jesus, all that had been prophesied, was based on the determined will of God.
It may be that the hardships foreordained for Christ, would be their fate as well. The servant is not above the Master. If the Jews gathered themselves against Christ, the church would also know opposition. By acknowledging the Hand of God and His determinative counsel, the apostles were submitting to the Sovereign. “If the Lord will” is to be part of prayer (James 4:15).
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
Of course the Lord was beholding the threatenings of the religious leaders. His eye is upon the sparrow. Not a hair of a person’s head is lost without his knowledge. The heart of every Christian can be assured that He is watching over them.
Prayer Allows for Personal Petitions
The Lord is pleased to hear our petitions. The apostles had several petition. First, they wanted the Lord to take notice of the fact they were being threatened. Petition granted. Second, the apostles asked for holy boldness to speak the Lord’s name. Petition granted. Third, the apostles asked that signs and wonders might be done in the name of Jesus. Petition granted.
Question. “Are these petitions something that every Christian could ask for?” Answer. “Yes.”
Question. “Are these petitions something that every Christian should ask for?” Answer. “Not necessarily.” In other words, do not be surprised if, for example, you ask for the power of “signs and wonders” and that petition is not granted. While it does not hurt to ask, be prepared for a negative answer. Not all petitions are granted. Sometimes God says, “Yes”. Sometimes He says, “No.” Sometimes He says, “Wait.” Sometimes He says, “You have got to be kidding!”
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Notice that the prayer of the apostles was not long. Like the Model Prayer Jesus gave, their prayer was short and precise. And then it ended.
Prayer is to be Concise
All Biblical prayers are short, with rare exception. No biblical prayer lasted more than six minutes. The longest prayer in the Bible is found in Nehemiah 9:5-38. The longest prayer of Jesus is found in John 17. While Christians are commanded to pray frequently, prayers are to be conversant, just like a normal conversation (1 Thess. 5:17).
Practical Results of the Gospel Being Preached
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Those who heard the gospel were transformed by it. First, five thousand of those who heard the gospel preached believed. They believed because they had been given to Christ by the Father (John 6:44). Second, those who believed were of one heart and of one soul. This was, and is, possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit giving the church the gift of unity.
Democracy was never to be the guiding governmental philosophy among God’s people. The church is designed to be a theocracy based on the New Covenant. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people”. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34).
The fulfilment of this promise is found in the New Testament expression of the church according to Hebrews 8:8. God never intended the church to be guided by any other document other than the Bible. Nor is any other Book necessary to give the church her precepts and principles.
To teach the Bible, and to guide the people, God has given to the church spiritually gifted individuals. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11).
The rise of Denominations, the presence of Church By-Laws and Robert’s Rules of Order, the reliance upon democratic rule rather than Biblical eldership rule, testifies to how far the church has strayed from the New Testament congregation.
Third, those who believed the gospel, and were united in love to one another “had all things common.” This does not mean the Bible promotes Communism or Socialism. The State is not to control the means of resources and distribution. Neither Communism nor Socialism effectively works to benefit the people because both systems take, and take, and take. In Cuba, in the year 2016, people are paid on the average twenty-four dollars a month. The State provides free education, free medical care, and guarantees a government job. In return, the people are heavily taxed, and have no freedom of speech or movement. Basic human rights are taken away.
Christianity offers something better than Communism, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Christianity offers something better than Socialism whereby the State controls the major means of production and determines what is to be produced and distributed. Christianity offers human freedom to express a caring and compassionate heart. “Freely we have received; freely we give.”
The early Christians were of one heart, and wanted to use their resources to benefit the whole Christian society. Their pattern was Jesus and the apostles who had all their property in common, and Judas was made the treasurer.
Care must be taken. Jesus did not command individuals to give up their property into a common stock. The apostles did not command anyone to give up their property. It was their own (Acts 5:5). The larger point is that Christians found a way to look after one another. “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want” (Zig Ziglar).
Fourth, those who believed the gospel and cared for one another were evangelistic. The early church had spiritual power because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and told others of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The windows of heaven were opened and the grace of God was poured out upon the church. The word “grace” in Acts 4:33, is an important word in the New Testament. The word grace speaks of favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves (Nelson’s Bible Dictionary). God gives common grace to all through the Laws of Divine Establishment. Then, God shows special grace to those who are the heirs of salvation.
36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles feet.
An alternative reading in some manuscripts gives the name as Joseph. His surname was Barnabas, which is interpreted as, “The son of consolation.” Barnabas would live up to his name. He would be a blessing to many. The practice of giving surnames as an expression of a person’s character was not uncommon. Simon was called Peter to indicate his stability as a rock (John 1:44). James and John were surnamed Boanerges because of their explosive tempers (Mark 3:17).
Trained to be a priest in the tribe of Levi, Barnabas came from the island of Cyprus, the largest island of the Mediterranean. Blessed with a piece of land, Barnabas sold the property and gave the proceeds to the apostles for general distribution. Throughout church history, there have been people of great wealth. Some of them have devoted their enormous resources to the work of the ministry, and the church is blessed.
Is a Faith Ministry Biblical?
For my blog article this month, I will be addressing the following topic: “Is a Faith Ministry Biblical?” My answer is absolutely yes! I will be explaining first what a Faith Ministry is. Second, I will be giving reasons why a Faith Ministry is biblical. Third, I will be giving examples from history from great men of God who “lived by faith” and who trusted in God “for great and mighty things” (Jer. 33:3). And finally, I will be giving personal applications.
So what is a Faith Ministry? A Faith Ministry is a church or a Christian ministry that seeks to “live by faith” and trusts God to provide for all its needs solely by going to God in prayer. A Faith Ministry is completely dependent upon God to provide and does not solicit funds from people. It is completely non-profit and does not charge for Bibles, Christian books or Christian literature. Its primary aim is to glorify God and to see souls saved. It does not trust in the “arm of the flesh” and does not use human techniques or gimmicks to accomplish its goals.
I will be giving several reasons why a Faith Ministry is biblical:
There are two great examples of men who “lived by faith” in history. They are George Muller and Hudson Taylor. George Muller (1805-1898) is one of the greatest examples of men who took God at His word and who trusted God with child-like faith. God used him to build orphanages and care for more than ten thousand orphans all without making known his needs to man and without asking anyone for penny. George Muller never went into debt and believed it was unscriptural. George Muller not only founded orphanages but also founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution to circulate freely the Holy Scriptures; to aid in supplying the needs of missionaries and to assist Day-schools, Sunday-schools and Adult-schools to give instruction based upon Scriptural principles. George Muller is a great inspiration to me and I have devoted the whole web site: www.georgemuller.org to encourage men and women and boys and girls to trust God for “great and mighty things” (Jer. 33:3). George Muller did everything for the glory of God. His chief reason for establishing the orphan houses is to have a living proof that God does and still hears prayer and to strengthen the faith of the church and of the children of God. I encourage you to visit www.georgemuller.org to read many books, articles, quotes and even to listen to the whole autobiography of George Muller on audio. It has proven to be a great strength and encouragement to me as I listened recently to “The Life of George Muller” on Sermonaudio.com. The link is found on the George muller web site at: http://www.georgemuller.org/audio.html. George Muller said:
"God's plan is, there shall be none of self and all of Christ. The very people who are doing the most for God in saving souls, in mission work, in the care of orphans, are those who are working on short supplies of strength, of money, of talents, of advantages, and are kept in a position of living by faith and taking from God, day by day, both physical and spiritual supplies. This is the way God succeeds and gains conquests over His own people, and over the unbelief of those who look on His providences." – George Muller
The second great example from history is Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) who was a missionary to China and was the founder of China Inland Mission. Hudson was greatly influenced by the principles of George Muller. Hudson Taylor was one of the missionaries that George Muller supported financially. Often times, Hudson was almost completely out of funds until he got an unexpected gift from George Muller or other Christians. Hudson said, "Many seem to think that I am very poor. This certainly is true enough in one sense, but I thank God it is ‘as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things." And my God shall supply all my need; to Him be all the glory. I would not, if I could, be otherwise than I am - entirely dependent myself upon the Lord, and used as a channel of help to others.’” He also said, "Depend on it. God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so." Visit www.firstlovepublications.org to read more quotes and articles by Hudson Taylor.
In conclusion, a faith ministry ought to be normal thing and not abnormal in the Christian life and in the church. How can we apply this to our personal lives? Everyone ought to develop a life of complete and utter dependence on God and exercise his faith. We should seek the glory of God above all things. Of course, we need to make a living and work in this world as good stewards of God. The Bible says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10) and “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). But God said, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18). “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). Ultimately, God is one who provides for us and gives us the strength and health to make a living and to put food on the table. And God not only wants us to use the resources He has given us to take care of our temporal needs but also to take care of spiritual needs to reach the world with the gospel.
I encourage everyone to listen to Pastor Joe’s Jacowitz sermon titled “The Necessity of a Faith Ministry” found on http://www.georgemuller.org/audio.html. Part 1 and Part 2 to talk about the importance of living by faith. I will close with a quote by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) and Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
~ Peter Sarkis
"Paul's God is our God and will supply all our need. Paul felt sure of this in reference to the Philippians, and we feel sure of it as to ourselves. God will do it, for it is like Him: He loves us, He delights to bless us, and it will glorify Him to do so. His pity, His power, His love, His faithfulness, all work together that we be not famished. What a measure doth the LORD go by: 'According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.' The riches of His grace are large, but what shall we say of the riches of His glory? His 'riches of glory by Christ Jesus'-who shall form an estimate of this? According to this immeasurable measure will God fill up the immense abyss of our necessities. He makes the LORD Jesus the receptacle and the channel of His fullness, and then He imparts to us His wealth of love in its highest form. Hallelujah!" – Charles H. Spurgeon
"That the creature should have so absolute and universal a dependence on God, provision is made that God should have our whole souls, and should be the object of our undivided respect. If we had our dependence partly on God, and partly on something else, man's respect would be divided to those different things on which he had dependence. Thus it would be if we depended on God only for a part of our good, and on ourselves, or some other being, for another part: or if we had our good only from God, and through another that was not God, and in something else distinct from both, our hearts would be divided between the good itself, and him from whom, and him through whom, we received it. But now there is no occasion for this, God being not only he from or of whom we have all good, but also through whom, and is that good itself, that we have from him and through him. So that whatsoever there is to attract our respect, the tendency is still directly towards God; all unites in him as the centre." – Jonathan Edwards
"…I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Exod. 31:13).
Sanctification in the Greek means “purification”, “to make holy”, and “to purify or consecrate.” Justification happens only once when we first get saved but sanctification is a lifetime process by which God conforms us “to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). Though we are saved and justified after believing in the Lord Jesus yet the old nature and the old man still remains in us until “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). The old nature and the old man fights with the new nature and the new man so that we cry out like the Apostle Paul “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
SANCTIFICATION – GOD’S COMMAND & GOD’S WILL FOR YOU
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thess. 4:3-4).
"As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy”" (1 Peter 1:14-16).
HOW GOD SANCTIFIES US
By the Holy Spirit
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13).
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Through Jesus Christ
"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
"For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11).
"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified" (Heb. 10:14).
By the Word of God
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15:3).
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27).
HOW TO GROW IN PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION
By Bible Reading
"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word" (Psalm 119:9).
"Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11).
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).
"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:1-2; 7-10).
By Abiding in Christ
"Whoever abides in Him does not [practice] sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him" (1 John 3:6).
By Godly Fellowship
"As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17).
By Peter S.