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We’ve all heard or no first hand a story about a successful business which failed after it was passed on from the original founder and owner to a family member; a son or daughter. It is estimated that as many as 75% of businesses passed on to the second generations fail.

     I once heard a motivational speaker tell the story of a father who owned a chain of hotdog carts in a major city, perhaps New York. The father made a good living for his family; even buying luxuries. He saved enough to send his son to an Ivy League university, where he majored in business with an emphasis in marketing

     The father was looking forward to retiring and turning his business over to his son, which he did. The son created an elaborate business plan like he had been taught in college, a flow chart, and a marketing plan to expand the hot dog cart business into fast food restaurants. One of the first thing the son did was change the price on the basic hot dog, doubling the price from $1 to $2. The father tried to explain why that would be a bad move. The son insisted; after all, he had inherited the business. Within a year the business failed.

     Business textbooks, seminars, workshops, etc. are filled with stories like this one about the successes and failures of second, third, etc. generation owners who failed, for various reasons, to keep the doors open and the business thriving.

     This little story is the introduction to our Father’s business. When Jesus was 12-years-old, He already had His eye on His Father’s business. No, more than His eyes, He already had made a commitment to His Father’s business. When I was 12, I had my eyes on “monkey business.” How about you?

     Jesus had traveled to Jerusalem with His family to keep the Feast of the Passover. During the week, in the midst of enormous crowds, Jesus’ earthly parents, Joseph and Mary realized He was missing (Luke 2:41-44). After a frantic search, they finally found Him in the temple with a group of teachers, listening and asking questions (Luke 2:46, 47). Unusual behavior then and now!

     “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and his mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously. And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about MY FATHER’S BUSINESS?’” (Luke 2:48, 49).

     As Jesus pursued His Father’s business He developed character, stature, and acceptance by others (Luke 2:52). How about us, Christians in the 21st Century? How are we managing our Father’s business?

TODAY, WHAT IS OUR FATHER’S BUSINESS?

As a quick reminder, we are adopted children into the spiritual family; God is our Father, Jesus is our brother, and the Holy Spirit is our Helper. We know this because the Bible tells us so.

     Today, what is our Father’s business? The same as it was when Jesus was 12. Therefore, we can learn and participate in the Father’s business by imitating our “older brother,” Jesus Christ. Here are some of the many objectives of our Father’s business as taught by His “Only begotten son.”

     First, when Jesus was born and when He was given a name, the Father’s business was implied: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

     Second, in His preaching and teaching Jesus referred to the business of bringing salvation to the lost: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST’” (Luke 19:9, 10).

     Third, Jesus made it clear that His Father’s business was to bring about peace, harmony, and love between His followers, as well as all people. (Read John 15:9-17).

     Fourth, the Father’s business is to show a lost and sinful world how much God loves them: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

     Fifth, Jesus demonstrated that the Father’s business included associating with outcast and sinners: “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1,2).

     Sixth, Jesus made it clear that the Father’s business included preaching in various towns: “But He said to them, ‘Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth’” (Mark 1:38).

     Seventh, Jesus demonstrated that the Father’s business included attending social events, a wedding (John 2:1-12); a funeral (John 11:17-37); and the home of a sick person (Mark 2:1-12).        

     Eighth, Jesus made it clear that involved in the Father’s business was giving credit to the Father for his power, trust, and assignment: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30).

     Ninth, time after time in the Gospels we see Jesus demonstrating that the Father’s business included seasons, times, and places of prayer. He specifically taught us to pray to the Father: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, 10).

     Tenth, Jesus taught that included in the Father’s business was the command to forgive those who sin against you: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14, 15).

     These 10 observations about the Father’s business, as exemplified in the life and teachings of Jesus, are only a few compared to all the Gospels and Epistles reveal about Jesus pursuing the Father’s business?

     Today, even a casual look around will reveal that some congregations, as well as individual Christians, are no longer faithful to the Father’s business; His model in the Scriptures is ignored.

     How are you pursuing our Father’s business? What are you intentionally doing today in working in our Father’s business? What are you presently doing to prepare yourself to be a better business partner with our heavenly Father? The world is lost, the church needs edifying, and the demand for leadership has never been greater. All of these, and more, are part of the Father’s business. Remember, He is counting on YOU!

     HOW COMMITTED ARE YOU TO THE FAMILY BUSINESS? What plans are you presently pursuing to increase the expansion of His business? Use the above 10 as a work sheet. I encourage you to expand this study.

Most Americans have heard and used this recognizable logo: TGIF—which stands for Thank God It’s Friday. A national restaurant chain is named TGIF “Fridays.” I once read this statement by an unknown person, “No one has ever said TGIM, Thank God It’s Monday.”

     Monday has been given a bad rap by society in general. Why? One reason is it puts a stop to a weekend, usually Saturday and Sunday, of leisure, entertainment pursuits, and other non-work activities. In 1956 a popular song by Fats Domino hit the charts, and is still heard today, with this verse:

Blue Monday, how

I hate blue Monday,

Got to work like

A slave all day.

 

     A number of books have been published with an emphasis on Monday:

  • Monday Mornings, (Sanja Gupta)
  • Monday Mourning (Kathy Reichs)
  • Mister Monday (Garth Nix)
  • What Do I Do Monday? (John Holt).

     I have some suggestions for how Christians can reframe Monday and turn it into a really meaningful day by making an application of this Scripture, “This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Monday is the day!

     We all know that Monday follows Sunday. Sunday is a day set aside by Christians to do a number of things which feed their souls, minister to others, and worship God. Some have gone so far as to refer to Sunday as “the Sabbath,” which it isn’t because the Sabbath is Saturday, the worship day set aside by the Jewish people.

     Two to three hours are set aside on Sunday where Christians meet in a building to “encourage, edify, and equip one another to love and good works” (Cf. Hebrews 10:24, 25; Ephesians 4:11-17). These three hours typically involve several expression and exercises:

  1. The “called out body of Christ” (i.e. ekklesia) come together in an assembly to share a number of blessings and growth opportunities (Read Psalm 133).
  2. The first hour on Sunday morning is usually set aside for Bible Study in classes or auditorium settings.
  3. The second hour is usually: (1) Greetings/welcome, announcements, and opening prayer, (2) Singing, (3) Lord’s Supper, (4) sermon, (5) invitation, (6) closing remarks and prayer.
  4. The third hour is set aside on Sunday evening where most of the things shared on Sunday morning are repeated, with more time usually given to preaching or lessons.
  5. One Christian summed up the blessings and values of Sunday in these words, “I go home Sunday evening with my heart and soul filled with joy, hope, and renewed commitment. Then comes Monday.”

     “Then comes Monday.” Yes, Monday still follows Sunday. It hasn’t been cancelled.

     Here’s how Sunday relates to making Monday not a day where it may be said, “We interrupt your happiness to bring you Monday.” It is on Sunday where we fill our spiritual cups and make our intentional plans to DO and BE what we learned beginning on Monday. It is on Monday that we start the long journey to a resting place on Wednesday night, and on to Sunday where we once again renew and refill our spiritual reservoirs.

     It is on Monday that we begin to practice what we heard, believed, and committed to practice on Sunday, the day before. I hate to inject a sad reality. Some Christians have no plans to intentionally DO and BE what they heard on Sunday. They wander from Monday to Saturday night, jump out of bed on Sunday morning to “do their duty” once again.

     Think about this amazing truth. If a Christian only attends Sunday morning worship services and hears only one sermon each week, that would be 52 sermons a year. Now imagine he DOES one intentional thing he heard in the sermon during the rest of the week (Monday through Saturday), that would be 52 spiritual practices and applications a year. Now add a second lesson from Bible class and one Sunday evening that would be 104 more, thus a total of 156 applications a year. What would a congregation look like where “being DOERS of the word and not HEARERS only” (James 1:21-15) being practices, starting Monday.

     Yes, Monday is coming!

     Here are a few suggestions for using the power of Monday:

  1. During the sermon or class take notes and underline or make a note of the one thing you will intentionally do relative to the point.
  2. If possible, take time Sunday afternoon or night to review your notes and reaffirm your intentional application of one point. Monday morning will work too.
  3. Write out WHY you have chosen to be intentional about the point.
  4. Write out HOW you will proceed to make the application a reality.
  5. Pray continually about your commitment (1 Thess. 5:19).
  6. Make adjustments during the week. Be creative. Use additional Scriptures.
  7. As you have the share the word/truths with others.

     QUESTION: What are you presently doing that you intentionally planned to do based on the last sermon or Bible lesson you heard? How about a sermon or lesson you heard a week before last, etc.? Sadly, some preachers and teachers can’t remember what they preached or taught two or three weeks ago.

     Monday is coming! Why not use it to become A DOER OF THE WORD for the rest of the week? And yes, you can start on SUNDAY NIGHT.

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If you are interested in pursuing the ideas contained in this brief article you will benefit from reading two of my book related to this subject: Beyond Sunday and Spiritual Growth Journal, both from amazon.com

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The Bible Class teacher went around the room asking each student if he or she said their prayers each day. All said yes but little Johnny. When asked why he didn’t say his prayers every day, he replied, “Some days I don’t need anything.”

     We smile at Johnny’s answer but, sadly, many Christians are like Johnny. Some days we don’t need anything or think we don’t have any needs; therefore, we don’t pray. Prayer is our first aid kit to be used only in an emergency. The heavenly Father is on duty 24-7 in the emergency room waiting for us to call.

     When we venturing into thinking about “Restoring New Testament Christianity,” I believe restoring the praying habits we see in those first-century congregations, as a whole, is being neglected. When I research and wrote my book “Don’t Stop Prayer; The Answer is Coming,” I discovered the average congregation prayed on an average of 15 minutes each week. This included opening and closing prayers in worship services, prayers for the Lord’s Supper, prayers in adult Bible classes, etc.

     I deeply believe that we need, as the army of Christ, to raise up prayer warriors. Yes, I know the phrase “prayer warrior” is not found in the Scripture but the concept is. The Bible affirms that every Christian is a “soldier of Christ”: “You, therefore, must endure hardship as a good SOLDIER of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in WARFARE entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who ENLISTED him as a SOLDIER” (2 Timothy 2:3, 4).

     In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote them a graphic description relative to the need to be prepared to continually do spiritual warfare. He starts by identifying why they need to be prepared for spiritual battle: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against SPIRITUAL hosts in the HEAVENLY places” (Ephesians 6:11,12).

     After describing the components of the armor we must wear in order to defeat the devil, Paul zeroes in on PRAYER: “[P]raying ALWAYS with all power and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). This sounds like we ought to pray more than 15 minutes a week as a congregation and especially in our personal and private prayers. In fact, Paul went so far as to command that we pray continually: “Rejoice always, pray CONTINUALLY, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s WILL for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

PRAYER WARRIORS, ARISE

We sing this amazing and challenging hymn but are we really applying it to our prayer life?

Soldiers of Christ, Arise

Soldiers of Christ arise…and put your armor on,

Strong in the strength with God supplies

Strong in the strength with God supplies,

Thro’ His beloved Son.

                                                                                         (Charles Wesley)

As we read in Ephesians 6:10-18, part of the strength God supplies come because of our continual prayer to Him.

     While EVERY Christian is a prayer warrior, just as every soldier in the Army is a warrior with different ranks, tenure, and skills, so it is with spiritual prayer warriors. Because of time, study, commitment, and practice some prayer warriors are more engaged in continual prayer in deeper and more diligent petitions to the heavenly Father.

     The task of the prayer warrior is an awesome one. Paul commands that “requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for EVERYONE” (1 Timothy 2:1). There is no indication that any Christian is exempt from this command.

HOW TO BE A PRAYER WARRIOR

There are several specific beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors which will assist you in becoming a more dynamic and victorious prayer warrior.

  1. Remember you have volunteered and as a soldier of Christ, you have an obligation to pray.
  2. You must study and become aware of the tactics of the enemy—Satan.
  3. You must know and trust your Commander and Chief—Jesus Christ.
  4. Every morning be sure to dress in the full armor of the Lord.
  5. Have a daily and specific plan you are following to be a successful prayer warrior.
  6. Be sure to march forward by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:1-9).
  7. Remember your inner resource is greater than Satan’s ---Holy Spirit (1 John 4:4).
  8. Identify your immediate and daily battlefield. Who and what is Satan using?
  9. Try to see the events of the battle as God sees them. “We win” Book of Revelation.
  10. Never miss “roll call”—the assemblies of the troops to prepare for battle (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
  11. Remember you drawn strength and help from your fellow-soldiers (Read 1 Corinthians 12).
  12. “Don’t stop praying; the answer is coming.”
  13. Think about the advantage of forming a specific group of prayer warriors who are committed to taking the lead in the prayer ministry of the local congregation.

PRAYER HABITS

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “I desire that men in every place should pray” (1 Timothy 2:8).

     The key to being a committed and successful prayer warrior, in a group or individually, is the development of personal prayer habits. What are your prayer habits in the following times, places and situations? Using A-B-C-D-F as a scale, grade yourself in the following areas:

1.___In a restaurant

2.___At family meals

3.___In the work-place cafeteria

4.___Before an automobile or plane trip

5.___Before going to bed

6.___When you get up in the morning

7.___Before you make a large purchase

8.___Before every important decision

9.___Before going to an assembly of the congregation

10.___Silently while in Bible class

11.___For your spouse every day

12.___For your family/children every day

13.___For an enemy or difficult person

14.___For your neighbors

15.___For the sick, shut-ins, and needy

16.___For church leaders

17.___For wisdom and understanding

18.___For forgiveness of specific faults and sins

19.___For spiritual boldness

20.___For lost persons by name

21.___For political leaders

22.___For your personal health and discipline issues

23.___For being more involved in ministry, etc.

24.___For local and global mission efforts to share the Gospel.

25.___For specific congregational goals, stewardship needs, and outreach.

     What’s Your Grade? Each letter is worth the following points:

GRADING SCALE: A—4 points    B—3 points C—2 points   D—1 point F—0 points

Add the points:

YOUR SCORE:_______________

     If you are interested in doing a deeper study of prayer I recommend my book Don’t Stop Praying; The Answer Is Coming. If you would like to have a daily prayer guide I recommend my book One Year Daily Prayer Schedule (Both may be ordered from amazon.com).

 

Every Sunday, 52 each year, somewhere in the country there is a challenge occurring between two sports team; auto racing teams, golf matches, track and field teams, etc. Crowds fill stands to witness these events, paying large sums of money to attend. Many of these are televised and broadcast on the radio; sponsors spend millions to support these events were challenges are occurring and winners are idolized. Americans love challenges!

     I believe, after participating in it for over 50 years, there is a challenge occurring in the local congregations across the nation. It is the challenge between the pulpit and pew There is an ongoing dynamic week after week which is rarely, if ever, recognized by those participating in the challenge: the preacher in the pulpit and Christians in the pews.

WHAT THE PULPIT IS TRYING TO DO

Speaking on behalf of the pulpit I believe the preacher is trying to do one or more of the following things in his sermon, which may create a clash with those in the pews:

  1. The pulpit is trying to prayerfully, honestly, and in love handle the word of God properly—“Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-6; Ephesians 4:15).
  2. The pulpit is trying to instruct and educate those in the pews.
  3. The pulpit is trying to gain acceptance of God’s word by those in the pews (James 1:22-26).
  4. The pulpit is trying to change minds—repentance—by those who need to do so in the pews (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:26).
  5. The pulpit is trying to convince the pews to obey God’s will (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
  6. The pulpit is trying to plant the word in good and honest hearts (Luke 8:11-15).
  7. The pulpit is trying to help the pew think about personal needs (Lamentations 3:40).
  8. The pulpit is trying to provoke the pews to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
  9. The pulpit is trying to convey to the pew how much God loves everyone (John 3:16).
  10. The pulpit is trying to encourage the pew to do one intentional thing with the message.
  11. The pulpit is trying to “raise the dead” in 20 to 30 minutes.
  12. The pulpit is handicapped by a monologue instead of a dialogue.

WHAT THE PEW IS TRYING TO DO

Turning our attention to the pew, where, I, too, have spent considerable time over the years listening to the pulpit, here are some of the positive and negative things the pew is trying to do:

  1. The pew should be trying to not only hear but to really LISTEN to God’s word (Psalm 119:11; Romans 10:17). But in reality, many do not really listen
  2. The pew should be trying to exercise preventive measures to keep Satan from stealing the world out of their hearts (Luke 8:12). But in reality, many aren’t proactive in preventing the theft of God’s word.
  3. The pew should be listening with an open mind to what God’s word is saying, but many do not have open minds (2 Corinthians 3:13-15).
  4. The pew should be trying to get and stay on, the same page the pulpit is on. This refers to agreement, acceptance, and action.
  5. The pew, in many cases, doesn’t want to hear a specific truth which is being presented n in the pulpit. Why? Because of personal guilt
  6. Many in the pews have their personal agendas, traditions, and opinions which they are not willing to explore, adjust, or change.
  7. There are those in the pews which are thinking that some other member in the congregations needs to do what the preacher is saying; not them.
  8. The pew is bored with the subject and turns the pulpit off. This is an avenue Satan uses to steal the word.
  9. The pew hasn’t developed a thirst or hunger for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
  10. The pew doesn’t realize God is trying to “prick their hearts” with the word (Acts 2:37).

When we place these ten attitudes and practices of the pew beside what the pulpit is trying to accomplish, it’s easy to see why and how there is a challenge every Sunday. But there is another facet related to the clash between pulpit and pew.

THE PHYSICAL ISSUES

The pulpit and pew both occupy a place in a physical structure. It is in this building both have agreed to share in the preaching event. Time has been allotted for the coming together to study God’s word in what is traditionally called “a sermon.”

     The challenges faced by the pulpit and pew are influenced by factors in the physical structure. Here are some of those issues:

  1. The temperature may be too hot or too cold. The body responds to both; thus, taking attention away from the message. The cooling and heating system may make an excessive noise which distracts.
  2. The PA system may not be adjusted properly for the message to be heard in every area of the assembly. A buzzing may distract hearers.
  3. The pews (seating) may be very uncomfortable, thus causing the attention span to be diverted for the message to bodily discomfort.
  4. The lighting may be distracting. The light over the pulpit may be too bright, or too dim as to cast a shadow over the preacher.
  5. A touchy distraction is the playing with children by members in the audience; not so much by parents as by those close to the child, i.e. waving, smiling, words, etc.
  6. The of power point may distract for the message “pricking the heart.” The event becomes a “reading exercise” by both the pulpit and pew.
  7. Clock watching, both on the back wall, wrist, and electronic devices.
  8. And oh yes, the checking emails, voicemails, texting, etc. during the preaching event.
  9. There are those who are listening for the signal in the message that the conclusion and end are near and they leave the assembly. Why? Guess!
  10. Physically there is no opening of the Bible or taking notes. Thus, major tools for learning aren’t used.

PREPARING TO FACE AND OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES

The Sunday challenge between pulpit and pew must not be taken lightly. We must keep in mind that Satan, “as a roaring lion,” (1 Peter 5:8) is seeking to devour and steal the word out of hearts (Luke 8:12), by attending every preaching event and creating clashes between the pulpit and pew.

     Now that we are in the aware zone relative to the challenge between the pulpit and pew, we can do something intentionally about reducing it as much as possible. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Study this lesson until you are aware and convinced that a conflict/challenge exists.
  2. Depending on which side of the conflict you are on—pulpit or pew—evaluate your role, plus or minus, and how you will intentionally correct it.
  3. As you sit in the pew remember these commands by Jesus:
    1. “Take heed HOW you hear”
    2. “Take heed WHAT you hear”
  4. As you stand in the pulpit remember these words by Paul:
    1. “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
    2. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 4).
  5. Both the pulpit and pew need to remember the goal is to obey and do God’s will:
    1. “But be doers of God’s word and not just hearers only” (James 1:22, 23).
    2. “He’s the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
  6. A positive way to eliminate the challenge which may exist between the pulpit and pew is to have a class or study group where you study, discuss, and apply the message.
  7. Both pulpit and pew need to prepare their minds with prayer, attitude adjustment, and commitment to eliminate the challenge (Cf. Ezra 7:10).

     Let’s think about how wonderful and powerful it is when both pulpit and pew are both on the same page. Borrowing from David, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).How beautiful it is when both pulpit and pew are on the same pages during the Sunday assemblies.

 

Charlie was called on the carpet by his parents because of his continual complacent attitude toward his grades in high school. He was contented, yet unconcerned, with no desire to improve his grades or change his study habits. As far as he was concerned he had been getting passing grades for so long, mostly Bs, a few Cs, every now and then a D,  that it didn’t bother him as much as it did his parents. After all, he was doing better than several of his classmates.

     One has but to take a casual look to see the complacency covering our nation like a blanket of snow in an Alaskan winter. People are feeling content with their own piece of the pie; never mind the neighborhood and city poor who are without food and have staked claims on various streets and reside in cardboard shelters.

     Hundreds of years ago the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, asked a question that is relevant today:

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

Behold and see if there is any sorrow

Like my sorrow, which has been brought

On me, which the Lord has inflicted

In the day of His fierce anger”

                                                                              (Lamentations 1:12).

Jerusalem’s sins had found her out (Cf. Numbers 32:23). The Book of Lamentation in the Hebrew language is a collection of five poems or songs of mourning the conquest of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. Payday had come! In the book the prophet paints a graphic picture of the punishment which had come upon the city and God’s chosen people. Why? Because of their own sins. The once glorious city had been brought to ruin because of the greatness of her sins and refusal to repent and obey the voice of God. The people were slaves enduring the distress and famine brought on by their sins.

    The once mighty city was flat on her back, lying on the ground of despair with observers mocking and making fun as they passed by. Verses 1 and 2 paint a very graphic picture of the afflicted city with no comfort:

How lonely sits the city, th

© Dr. JJ Turner and ©Jeremiah Institute - All Rights Reserved (usage)

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