Monthly Blog Archives: April 2014

God’s Requirements…

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“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8: (NJKV)

Requirements are easy to identify in the world of education.  Teachers make assignments . . . students understand what is required.  Requirements are easy to identify in the medical world . . . as doctors examine you and tell you what is required for you to do or take or undergo.  In the athletic world . . . coaches develop a game plan and show you what is required to do in order to win.  In the business world . . . you study the growth charts and determine what is required to make a profit.

What about in the spiritual world?  What does God require?  That is the same question that was posed in Micah and then answered in Micah 6:8: (NJKV).  “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

It is required that we do justly before God, before others, and before self.  Not only what the law requires, but also we are to love mercy, kindness, compassion, benevolence.  How are we to carry out these requirements?  We respond by walking humbly, under submission, in fellowship with God.  A heavy assignment!

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The devotional this week is provided by Dan Crawford.  Dr. Dan R. Crawford, HPU Class of ’64, is Senior Professor of Evangelism & Missions; Chair of Prayer Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.  He has traveled and ministered in all 50 states and 56 foreign countries and is the author of 18 books. Crawford and his wife, the former Joanne Cunningham, HPU class of ’65, are retired and living in Fort Worth. To read more from Dr. Dan, go to www.discipleallnations.org/blog.

Measuring Up

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“But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”   Deuteronomy 25: 15

Do you sometimes feel that you haven’t measured up to what was expected of you?  Probably all of us have had that feeling at some time.  It may be the boss that is upset because you didn’t reach the amount of sales he expected you to reach.  Maybe it was a teacher that was upset because you didn’t measure up to the level that was expected of you. This pressure can come from many areas of life; work, home, school, sports, etc.  It may even come from a next-door neighbor who is bugging you about what to do to beautify your yard.

The question is, “How do we handle those situations?”

“Do we get mad?”
“Do we ignore?”
or “Do we try to do something about it?”

Readily we can see getting mad or ignoring the situation does not help.  These two methods will only make the situation worse.  The only thing that will make a difference is trying to do something about it.

Living life is a complicated thing.  It requires our best efforts at all times to make it a pleasant experience.  The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 25:15, that “a perfect and just weight,” and “a perfect and just measure” are needed to help lengthen the days the Lord God gives us.  Let us remember that God gave us a perfect and just weight and a perfect and just measure when he gave us Jesus Christ.  If we let Jesus be our guide, He will help us through those difficult situations we face. Remember, Jesus Christ is the perfect and just weight, the perfect and just measure.  There is nothing in this world that measures up to Him.  He is the perfect One.

Father, please help us to weigh and measure our daily activities and relationships in a way that would honor you.

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The devotional this week is provided by Raymond Tharp ’54.
Sixty years ago my wife, Dixie Stoneman ’54, and I graduated from Howard Payne University. That graduation launched us into a journey of service that we could never have envisioned.

I continued my education with Master Degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Baylor University.  My career has included Director of Guidance and Placement at Central Texas College, public school counselor, teacher, and pastor.

Dixie received her Master Degree from Baylor University.  She retired after 35 years of teaching.

We have enjoyed traveling to a number of countries.  Among these are Great Britain, Israel, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canada, and Mexico.  One of our great experiences was teaching English in Estonia.  They had gained their independence from Russia three years earlier.  This program was sponsored by a joint effort of IMB and Texas Baptist.  It was a great experience for us.

We have had an incredible journey.  We thank God for the many blessings He has provided us in our journey.  Thank you Howard Payne University for our launching.

That’s Not Fair

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But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.  Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”  And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given.  He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.  And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.   Matthew 14:8-12 ESV

It’s never a good idea to ask God for what is fair.  What we deserve or what is actually fair is the last thing we would want God to give us.  Not that what happens to us is always going to be fair, but we need to have a little perspective.  John the Baptist could tell us all about what isn’t fair.

John the Baptist, the one who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord, had his head chopped off. That’s probably not what he had in mind when he had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John simply told King Herod that it was wrong for him to have Herodias, his brother’s wife, and he lost his head for it.  Now that wasn’t fair at all.  Essentially John was beheaded because:  (1) he had boldly spoken the truth (2) Herod was probably very drunk, (3) Herodias had serious anger anger management issues, and (4) the daughter of Herodias must have been a really good dancer.  None of those are good reasons for John to have his head removed, but still it happened.  Herod had made a foolish promise to deliver John’s head on a platter.

Clearly, none of that would fit our description of fairness, but ultimately God had used John the Baptist for His intended purpose.  If “fairness” had been the issue, God could have spared John, but it wasn’t, and He didn’t.  This gives us reason to expect that there will be situations in our own lives that are anything but fair or right.  They happen and will continue to happen – that’s just part of the deal.  We shouldn’t act so surprised.

If John had it to do all over again, would he really change anything?  Like his predecessors Elijah and David, John accomplished with his life the very thing that God is asking of us – he served the purpose of God in his own generation (Acts 13:36).  Laying aside our naive expectations of fairness and rightness, let’s do the same thing.  As we do, let’s remember that God has a way of righting all the wrongs, and that the mercy He has shown us already is way beyond fair.

The devotional this week is provided by Toby Shocky from San Antonio, Texas.  He completed his BA in Education from HPU in 1995 and his Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Seminary in 2000.  In May of 2005 he married Danielle Leahy.  Toby and Danielle are both active members of the Thousand Oaks Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas.  For more information about Toby, please visit Mountain Time Ministries (www.mountaintime.org) which was founded in the fall of 2000, and Toby has been serving in itinerant ministry since June 2001.

Powerful Praying

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”   Matthew 26:36-46

Global technology was once the stuff of Science Fiction.  What used to take weeks, or years to inform the world of current events now takes seconds.  An e-mail can be sent to Australia and immediately they have it in their computer.

Yet, in churches across America today Christians find it difficult to communicate with God. It is not because God is unreachable, but we are unresponsive.  It is not because God is not listening, but rather we are not speaking.

God said, “I am not far from any one of you.”  God also said, “Call upon me and I will answer.”

In our world today we think it inexcusable not to use the technological tools at our disposal and yet we ignore the greatest communication tool given to man — prayer.

In the prayer of Jesus in our text, we see the greatest example of prayer. We can communicate with anyone, anywhere, about anything, but are unwilling to communicate with God.

Prayer is about expressing a desire. Paul said, I asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn in his flesh. That is desire expressed.

Prayer is about exploring a direction. David asked God, Shall I go up against the enemy? That is seeking direction.  Direction sought should be about God’s direction, not ours.

Prayer is about exhaustive determination. Determination is a matter of the will, or making up our mind to pray.

Billy Graham said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.”

Prayer to God is not to be Instructional:  You hear people say, “I told God this is what I needed, or wanted.” This is the “Santa Claus approach to praying.” Instead of asking God for what we want, we should be seeking God’s will for our lives, and for the moment. Jesus prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”

God does not need us to tell Him how to answer our prayers. He has a plan and a purpose for us and we must seek His will, not ours. Telling God implies an obligation that says, God owes us for what we have given up. “Would you” goes further than “You will.” If we talked less in our prayers and listened more it would change our lives. Isn’t it strange that while instructing God, we seldom ask for a change of character, but always a change of circumstances, and oftentimes it is those circumstances God has placed us in to serve Him?

Prayer to God is not too informational. Notice in our text this morning, Jesus said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus did not inform the Father of His need.

Dwight L. Moody said, “Spread out your petition before God, and then say, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done.’ The sweetest lesson I have learned in God’s school is to let the Lord choose for me.” Isn’t that what Jesus prayed?

Prayer is about a loving parent meeting with a loving child in fellowship. We are aware of the needs of our children, and long to meet those needs. The Father, too, is aware of our needs and long to meet those needs.

A man wrote, “Though God knows all our needs, prayer is necessary for the cleansing and enlightenment of the soul.”

Prayer to God is to be invitational. In our text, Jesus was inviting the Father to be a part of His ordeal when he said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as you will.”

Some will say, “I can handle making decisions such as who I marry, what career path I choose, or where I will live.” Others will say, “I will call on you when I get into a situation I cannot handle by myself.” We see this so often in the choices people make as to whom they will marry. They date unsaved, and oftentimes ungodly people, and fall in love, and deep down they know it is against God’s will. Then when things go wrong in the marriage, they ask, “Why did God allow this to happen.”  God desires to be a part of our everyday life.

In the Garden of Eden fellowship with God was broken and God worked out a plan of salvation whereby that fellowship is restored. He wants to be a part of our life in all areas. Let us say it like this, “If we pray to God for something, or someone, rest assured, God is going to use us as a part of the answer to that prayer.” That is true partnership praying, just as Jesus prayed. The lessons to be learned from the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is, our prayers are not always answered in the way in which we would prefer. Jesus said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Notice, Jesus is leaving the possibility of the answer to his prayer with the Father. That prayer was both answered, and not answered. It was not answered in the sense that the cup did not pass from him. It was answered in the phrase, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Sometimes God wants us to go through an unpleasant situation to allow His will to be performed. We do not ask, “How can I know God’s will for my life.” The problem is, so often, we do not like God’s will for our life.

The devotional this week is provided by Bob Lucas who graduated from Howard Payne in 1973. He has pastored seven churches scattered through Texas, and has conducted many revival meetings in various churches, throughout the state. Bob has served two terms as moderator of one of the Baptist Associations, two terms as President of the county-wide Ministerial Alliance. He is currently living in Seguin Texas and is available to preach revivals and do pulpit supply.