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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

 

C. H. Spurgeon, "The Prince of Preachers&...

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Prince of Preachers” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spurgeon, that well-known British minister of the 1800s, was called the “prince of preachers.” Not only did he speak and write eloquently, he packed a great deal of meaning into few words. Large crowds flocked to hear him speak—some historians estimate the total to approach 10,000,000 people. Add to that sum the vast number of readers, impacted by Spurgeon’s writings since his death, and it’s clear his powerful influence has had far-reaching results.

Here’s an example of his God-given genius, the topic being prayer:

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition which Peter gasped out [“Lord, save me,” found in Matthew 14:30], but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat (from “Sinking Times are Praying Times”).

Note the italicized phrase in the middle of that paragraph. It is not the length of our prayers that matters; it is the strength. That statement begs the question: What does strong prayer look like? Even from Dr. Spurgoen’s brief text (Matthew 14:30), we can find three components of strong prayer.

One, a strong prayer is one of urgency and energy. Peter was no doubt very serious and passionate as he pleaded with Jesus save him. Now I may not be drowning, but such passion in prayer does seem appropriate. Why should I expect God to pay attention to ho-hum prayers? Conclusion #1 becomes clear: Consider the seriousness of my requests and pray fervently.

St Peter Walking on the Water

St Peter Walking on the Water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Second, Peter’s first word is, “Lord.” He didn’t use his master’s name, Jesus. He called him, “Lord,” instinctively focusing his attention on God the Son, in whom he had placed all his faith. I also must be mindful to whom I pray: my all-powerful, all-wise, triune God. Just as Peter placed his trust in Christ, so must I. Conclusion #2: My prayers need to be characterized by reverence for and confidence in the Lord of the universe.

Third, Peter had no time to string together lovely, impressive words. All he spoke of was his need. Conclusion #3: Simple, heartfelt, humble prayers are best.

Photo credit:  flickr

These are the elements of praying with strength:  passion, simplicity, and faith.

Help me, Lord, to embrace them.

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Last Thursday I shared with you a decision-making discovery God brought to my attention while studying Acts 10:1-11:18. In that passage we read the story of Peter’s encounter with Cornelius (a non-Jew). As a result of the apostle’s visit to this Roman centurion’s home, his entire family and many friends became Christians. (For a summary of those events, click on the link above to Part One.)

In review…

God doesn’t always connect all the dots when guiding our decisions.

Peter experienced a strange vision, and received brief instructions from the Holy Spirit. But a number of important questions were left unanswered. It appears Peter was left to connect the dots on his own.

The lesson for us seems to be: act upon what you know (from scripture), heed the inner impressions from the Spirit, and step out in faith.

And now…

Decision-Making Discovery—Part Two:

Peter received confirmation from others that a visit to Cornelius was the right choice. (Remember, according to Jewish law, it was the wrong thing to do.)

Affirmation #1: The entourage from Cornelius knew exactly where to find him.

Peter was traveling about the country (9:32). There was no way for those messengers from Cornelius to know he was in Joppa, staying at Simon the tanner’s seaside home—except by divine intervention (v. 5).

Surely this extraordinary revelation was not lost on Peter. Events were lining up in a miraculous way. God was about to do something extraordinary.

Affirmation #2: Six Christian brothers from Joppa accompanied Peter to Cornelius’ home (10:23, 11:12).

There is no record that Peter had to cajole them. Scripture simply says, “Some of the brothers from Joppa went along.” Remember, Cornelius’ home in Caesarea was thirty miles away. This was no quick trip across town. By volunteering their time and effort, these six friends offered valuable encouragement and support.

Lessons #1 for us:  Affirmation of others can be important evidence of God’s approval.

I say can be because if we try to manipulate people’s response, if we shamelessly seek after it, that affirmation may not be reliable.

But let’s consider what happened to Peter, and learn from his experience.

Lesson #2: Step out in faith and accept the affirmation, especially if there’s any hint of God’s miracle-working ways involved. Peter’s encounter with the three messengers is our example.

Lesson #3: When a number of people tell us the same thing, it’s probable the message is accurate. Six men showed their support of Peter’s decision to visit Cornelius by going with him to Joppa. There may have been others who gave encouragement also. Scripture includes no record of opposition.

Are you puzzling over a course of action?

 

 

Do you have supporters coming alongside to offer encouragement, verification and support for a particular choice? Count them. You may be surprised how much confirmation God is presenting!

Thank you, Father, for the encouragers in my life. They have created uplift in my soul when circumstances have weighed me down.

May I remain faithful to renew my mind with the wisdom and guidance of your word. May I step out in faith each day, ready to embrace any surprises you have for me–like a spur-of-the-moment trip to Joppa! And may I rest in the confirmation you have already given. Equip me, I pray, to be a wise, encouraging support for others.

* * * * * * * * * *

What affirmation have you received as you faced uncertainty or a tough decision? Please share your experience and be a voice of encouragement for someone else!

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