What do you think?

I received an advertisement for this in the mail this week. I would be very interested to know that you think about it. Here is the link to the church website.

The Bible

Beginning Easter Sunday, April 8, Pastor Forrest Pollock will take you through a world of amazing feats and facts that stretch the limits of imagination.

Can a corpse really walk?

Can an animal really speak?

Can time really stand still?

Step right up and be amazed as we unveil the strange, the fantastic and the bizarre from the pages of the Bible.

Join us at either campus of Bell Shoals Baptist Church.  Believe it or not!

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James 5:13-18: The Importance of Prayer (pt. 3)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

III. The Effectiveness of Prayer (vv. 16b-18)

a. The prayer that is able to accomplish much.

Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of a Christian because as James writes “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” To me this translation is a little confusing. I would probably render the Greek something like, “in its work the prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” The idea is that when prayer is working, or doing its thing, it can accomplish much. This is because God has chosen to accomplish His will through our prayers. This truth can be mind boggling, but I think that we can grasp it by looking at another means that God uses to accomplish His will. In Romans 10:14-15 it says:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

Who is it that saves a person? It is God of course. But here we see how God does it. God uses Christians who proclaim the good news about Jesus to call non-Christians to belief. It is not the Christian who saved the non-Christian, it is God. In the same way God gives us the privilege of working for His will through our prayers. God uses our prayers to accomplish His will. This is why our prayers are so powerful, because they have the power of God to accomplish His will behind them.

b. The example of Elijah’s prayer.

James concludes his call to prayer will an OT illustration of the power of prayer. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” Elijah was just another human being just like all of us in this room, and God used the prayer of this human in a miraculous way. Every Christian has the access to this kind of effective prayer that Elijah displayed. We simply must pray within the will of God as Elijah did. In 1 Kings 18:37 we see Elijah’s goal in praying for the draught, and we understand now how it fit within the will of God:

“Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”

Elijah prayed for the draught to reveal the deity of God alone to the people, and to reveal their evil idolatrous heart. Elijah did not pray for a new car or good woman to marry. His prayers were focused on the will of God being accomplished, and God’s glory being made known.
By understanding Scripture we can know the will of God just as Elijah did. Thus we can pray appropriately for ourselves, and for one another. Whether it be making plans for life (4:15), persevering through suffering (5:10-11), facing an illness (v. 14), or seeking forgiveness (v. 16) we must seek God out in prayer.

Conclusion:

Let me close with one final piece of advice. As you go about your week I want you to examine how much time you spend in prayer, and compare it with how much time you spend with media (TV, internet, ipod, etc.). As you look at how you spend your time ask yourself it you are keeping James’ command to be people of prayer. If not it is probably because you do not understand how important, and how powerful prayer truly is.

James 5:13-18: The Importance of Prayer (pt. 2)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

II. The Importance of Community Prayer (vv. 14-16a)

a. The example of community prayer.

 In addition to emphasizing the importance of individual prayer James also emphasizes the importance of praying as a community of believers. He does this by first giving us an example of a community in prayer (v. 14-15), and then by giving us two commands that we must keep in order to be a community in prayer. As we prepare to take a look at the example of a community in prayer I want to make a couple of observations. First, I want to acknowledge that this is a very difficult passage to completely understand. We will not exhaustively examine every detail of this passage. Second, it is important that we remember that this passage is all about prayer. So when James talks about healing through prayer the emphasis is not on the healing, but rather on the prayer. This example is used to show us a community that is in prayer for all things including physical health. This is why we are not going to drown ourselves in the details of this passage. It is important, for our purposes, that we focus on prayer. First let’s look at the example as whole. James begins this example with another question; “Is anyone among you is sick?” Most likely James is talking about a pretty serious illness here. In fact, he uses the same word here that the apostle Paul used to describe the illness that almost killed Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:26-27. Most people have never been that sick, however we can all understand sickness to one degree or another because we have all been sick. The question is how should we, as Christians, respond to being sick? James tells us that the one who is sick must first “call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him.” Here we see that it is important for us to involve our church family in our difficulties so that they can pray for us. Usually the tendency that we have is to remain very private with our problems. But this is not James’ advice. James makes it clear that we are to make our situation known to the Church so that they can support us in prayer.

At this point James’ example gets some what complicated, and very difficult to grasp. After the elders pray over this sick person we find them, “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;” James goes on to say that “the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” As I studied through this passage there were three big questions that stood out in my mind. First, what was this anointing and why were the elders doing it? A close study into this question will reveal that oil was used for medicinal purposes during NT times (Luke 10:24). The historian Josephus records that Herod the Great was bathed in warm olive oil as a possible cure for his last illness. So with this we see that the oil functioned as medicine. Additionally, the washing of one’s head in oil symbolized an act of consecration to God. It is likely that James had some combination of the two in mind, and was emphasizing the use of medicine along with prayerful trust in God.

The second question that stood out to me was, is James promising that a sick person will be healed in return for faith? James says that the prayer offered in faith by the elders will restore, or literally save, the sick person from his illness, and that the Lord will raise him up from his illness. In order to understand what James is talking about we must understand the nature of the faith that is exercised in prayer. The faith the elders had in their prayer was faith in the God who sovereignly accomplishes His will. Thus they prayed that this person would be healed from his illness with the understanding that ultimately God’s will was supreme. As we know from Scripture, and our own experience, it is not always God’s will to heal the sick. So then this prayer that James is talking about is just like the prayer that Jesus spoke of in John 14:14:

“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Thomas Watson commented on this verse that “We are to pray ‘in the name of Christ.’ To pray in the name of Christ , is not only to mention Christ’s name, but to pray in the hope and confidence of his name.” The prayer of these elders was in step with the will of God, and thus God used their prayers to do His will.

The third question that stood out to me was, why does James bring up sin and the forgiveness of sin in this example? James is probably addressing the possibility that this person’s illness was due to some sin in his life. We know from the teaching of Jesus, and from examples like Job that a person’s illness is not necessarily due to sin. However, this is a possibility. For instance, Paul warned the Corinthian church that if they sinfully took of the Lord’s Supper it would result in physical illness and possible death. So James is not ruling out the possibility that sin is the cause of an illness. But how does the sick person in this example gain forgiveness? The assumption on James’ part was that when this person went to the elders about his sickness he disclosed his entire situation, sin and all. Thus, if this hypothetical ill person did sin through confession and repentance forgiveness was granted to him. Though this example may be confusing the main point is clear, the church needs to be a community of prayer. James gives two commands to further this point.

b. The application of community prayer: confession & supplication.

In these two commands James broadens the principles found in the example we just looked at to cover every member of the church, and every situation we may face. The first command is to “confess your sins to one another.” Just as in the example that James gave us we are to expose our problems, particularly our sins, to one another. Most of us spend our entire lives try to hide the sin that is in our hearts. We are scared to death that someone might find out who we really are on the inside. But James in essence says go ahead and let your brothers and sisters in Christ see who you really are. Let them see the sins that you struggle with, and call them on those days that you just don’t feel like following Jesus. Not so they can spread rumors about you, or embarrass you. But so they can help you in your struggles. What a wonderful deterrent to sin and encouragement to follow Jesus confession is. Imagine struggling with you deepest darkest sin and having an entire community of people supporting you, and encouraging you. This is where the next command of v. 16 comes in. James commands that we “pray for one another.” James is calling for mutual prayer within the community of believers. Such mutual prayer implies that those who have heard the confession of another person are forgiving and willing to pray for that person rather than judge that person. We all must be involved in this type of forgiving prayer, but James does not limit our prayers to this situation. James simply says that we are to prayer for one another. When we see an illness as was the case in James’ example, hear a confession, or simply see another person struggling we are to pray for them. It is not just the elders who have this responsibility; it is every Christian’s responsibility. As we see in James’ example prayer can be a very powerful thing, and thus James adds that we must pray “that you may be healed.” James is not guaranteeing that prayer will heal someone who is sick, but he is also not eliminating the possibility that God can heal sickness. We should pray that those who are sick will be healed (through medicine, or other means). But we must pray within the will of God and understand that our prayers are only means to accomplishing His will. It is my opinion that the best prayer for someone who is ill is that they might be healed, but most importantly that they would have the wisdom to see how God is working through their illness for their good.

Are you praying for the people around you? Are praying at all? If not you are neglecting a very powerful tool that God has made available to His people.

Application

A difficult issue for any preacher is how to deal with application in your sermons. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell when God’s word ends and your own application begins. There has to be a middle ground between dumping a truckload of data on your people, and giving them application that is not grounded in biblical truth. In his sermon last week John Piper has a pretty interesting aside that revealed how he deals with this issue.


It seems as though Piper is saying that applicaiton is necessary for those who do not really “get the text.”  To eloborate in my own words, application should be used to help better explain the text (i.e. how you can apply the given text to your life).  Application is not the greater good that we are building towards in our preaching.  Rather, application is a tool that is to be implemented to help listeners understand the text.

James 5:13-18: The Importance of Prayer (pt. 1)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Introduction:

 James 5:13-18 can be a very difficult passage to understand. There are a number of questions that arise as we read through the passage. However, the main point of the passage is very clear. James is emphasizing the importance of prayer; he mentions it in every verse. As we make our way through this passage we will see 1) the importance of individual prayer, 2) the importance of community prayer, and finally 3) we will see the effectiveness of prayer.

I. The Importance of Individual Prayer (v. 13)

a. If you are suffering then pray.

James begins this section on prayer by highlighting the importance of individual prayer. James asks, “Is anyone among you suffering?” The implied answer is yes. Throughout this entire letter we see suffering, and trials. There were people in the churches to whom James wrote that were suffering. (And what makes this passage so applicable is that people are still suffering. I am sure that there are people reading this blog who are suffering.) When James asked this question he was referring specifically to the inner experience of enduring difficult situations. In other words the frustration, the disappointment, the fear, the loneliness, or whatever you may struggle with when you are trying to endure. We have all been there, so we can relate first hand to what James is talking about. But what can we do about this suffering? James provides that answer when he says, “then he must pray.” Prayer is the answer. You have all been there. Your first reaction when something goes wrong is probably either anger or self-pity (neither of which accomplishes anything). But James is calling us to fight this initial urge by turning to God in prayer. When we are struggling with frustrations, or having a “woe-is-me” attitude we must trust that God is in control, and turn to Him in prayer.

But what should we pray for? James does not tell us that specifically, but I think that we can make some assumptions. In 1:2-4 James tells us to consider a trial an occasion for joy because it builds up endurance within us. Thus, I think that we can safely assume that the prayer that James is talking about here is that we would be comforted by God in the midst of trials, and be able to see God’s work in the midst of trials. We can pray for God to change our situation, but it would be better if we prayed for the wisdom to understand how God was working through trials so that we could have joy in all situations. James talked specifically about this prayer for wisdom in 1:5:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.

b. If you are cheerful then sing.

James wants his readers to know that God is in control of all situations, good as well as bad. As we already saw when things are bad we are to pray. And as James continues we see that we are to sing praises when things are good. James writes, “Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.” This word translated as cheerful describes someone who is full of joy, not necessarily someone who is physically doing well. So in the first part of v. 13 we saw that we are to pray for comfort and joy in the midst of difficult situations. Here in the second part of v. 13 we see that when we have comfort and joy we are to sing praises to God for them. These songs of praise are a form of prayer. So whether it is in the midst of suffering or in times of joy we are to seek God out in prayer.

 Let me warn you of a practical matter with respect to James’ command. It will be easier to seek God out for comfort in midst of a difficult situation than it will be to praise God for giving you comfort. When things in our life are easy we tend to forget that God has made them that way for our good. James is reminding us that our joy is the result of God’s work in our life and we must praise God for that work.
It is clear from v. 13 that we as individuals need to be people who are given to prayer. In the middle of your day you can bow before the Almighty Living God and pray to Him for encouragement. We must take advantage of this. In our everyday lives, in everyday situations, we need to be going to God in prayer. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 you must “go into your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father…”

James 5:7-11 – Living for the Return of Christ (pt. 3)

James 5:7-11

7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

III. Be patient like the examples from Scripture. (vv. 10-11)

a. Take as an example to follow the patience and the suffering of the prophets.

As James encourages his readers to be patients he actually commands his readers to take the prophets as an example of patience in the midst of a difficult situation. James writes, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” By having his readers look at the prophets suffering, patience, and service to the Lord James was reminding his readers that they were following in great footsteps. Jesus gave a similar encouragement in Matthew 5:12 when he said: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” In the OT the prophets patiently waited in the midst of suffering for the Lord to accomplish His purpose. James is calling for this same prophet-like faith from his readers. They were to wait patiently even though the rich land owners were persecuting them because Jesus is coming back. And when he comes back we will see just how great our “reward in heaven” is. And we will see just how small the suffering on this earth was. The challenge is to try and see this now on this earth. That is why it is important that we look to the prophets as an example. Hopefully by looking at the prophets we will be able to see things from an eternal perspective.  Just from what James tells us we know three things about the prophets. 1) They suffered, 2) they were patient, 3) and they spoke in the name of the Lord. We could look at each and every one of the prophets and see these three things to some degree. But there is no OT prophet who had to deal with more suffering than Jeremiah. Jeremiah endured so much suffering throughout his ministry that he is known as the weeping prophet. That is why it will be profitable to focus our attention on him in this study.

  Jeremiah ministered as a prophet during a difficult time in the history of Israel. He was the greatest spiritual leader in Judah during a time when Judah did not want to follow God. After the reforms under King Hezekiah the ungodly king Mannaseh reigned (2 Kings 21:1). During his reign he made close associations with the Assyrians, and he allowed the worship of the Assyrian gods into Judah. Mannaseh was an evil king who hated God (2 Kings 21:11). The people of Judah, under Mannaseh, had abandoned their God.

By the time Jeremiah began gaining popularity in his public ministry Josiah had become the king. Josiah was a godly king who attempted to reform the nation from the sin into which Mannaseh had led the people. Jeremiah fully supported the reforms of Josiah (2 Kings 23:1-3), and he with the king called the people to repent to the Lord. Tragically Josiah was assassinated by the Egyptians and because of the ungodliness of Judah Josiah’s reforms did not last long. In the midst of all of this Jeremiah had a difficult message to preach to the people. Jeremiah’s message was that Judah and Jerusalem were going to be destroyed by a nation from the north and the people would be carried into captivity all because of their sin (Jeremiah 4:5-9; 6:22-26). You can imagine how hard it would have been to preach this message to the people, but Jeremiah had to because just as James said he spoke in the name of the Lord. And this was the message of the Lord (2 Kings 21:26-27). Jeremiah proclaimed God’s truth and unsurprisingly aroused bitter opposition from everyone.

As all of this was going on in Judah the world powers were struggling for supremacy. Babylon was struggling for power against Egypt. Eventually King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon defeated Egypt to become the world superpower. With Babylon taking over as the superpower King Jehoiakim, who came after Josiah, was looking for counsel as to what to do. The counsel that Jeremiah provided for the king did not make him any friends. Jeremiah’s counsel was that it would be futile and contrary to God’s will to resist Babylon. Can you imagine preaching the theme of unconditional surrender to your enemy? It was from this point on that Jeremiah faced constant hatred and suffering. There are many accounts that illustrate this in Jeremiah’s life but one in particular stands out to me.

A series of events led to Jeremiah’s imprisonment. In Jeremiah 38:4-6 we find the King and his officials trying to decide what to do with Jeremiah. Ultimately they threw him into the cistern. This cistern was a giant pit that had been filled with water. However, because the city was under siege they had used up the water from the cistern. All that was left in the bottom was thick mud. We do not know how deep this pit was, but it must have been deep because they had to lower him down with ropes. At the bottom of this pit Jeremiah couldn’t sleep, or eat, or drink, and he had nowhere to relieve himself. Ultimately the Lord delivered Jeremiah from this situation, but it serves as a good example of what Jeremiah’s ministry looked like.
Jeremiah was patient throughout his entire ministry. He knew what God’s word was, and he proclaimed it. Jeremiah remained faithful in spite of the difficult situations that he faced. In the end Babylon took Judah into captivity, and Jeremiah was forced to move to Egypt. There Jeremiah ended his ministry and his life. We do not know exactly how Jeremiah died, but it is likely that he was stoned to death in Egypt. Not exactly a story book ending, huh?

After hearing the story of Jeremiah’s life you may be wondering why on earth you should model anything in your life after Jeremiah. From an earthly perspective everything that could have gone wrong did! However, from an eternal perspective, which is what James is trying to get us to see, Jeremiah received the ultimate reward. Look at these words from Jeremiah found in Lamentations 3:55-59:

I called on Your name, O Lord, Out of the lowest pit. You have heard my voice, “Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help.” You drew near when I called on You; You said, “Do not fear!” O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause; You have redeemed my life. O Lord, You have seen my oppression; Judge my case.

Jeremiah may have faced earthly trials that we cannot imagine, and he may have never seen the fruit of his ministry on this earth, but in the end Jeremiah was redeemed by God. God would take care of the unjust oppression he had faced. This is the perfect example for James’ readers to look at. James is not promising that this life will ever be easy, or that we will ever see the evil of this world punished. In fact, the bible tells us that as Christians we will face persecution because of Christ. We must not take from this passage that things will get easier in this life if we just be patient. No! The point is that like Jeremiah things may never get easier, but it will be worth it when Jesus comes back! For then we will see the “great reward in heaven” that has been promised to those who follow Jesus.

b. Those who endure are blessed; just look at how Job endured until he saw the merciful and compassionate result of the Lord.

James gives us another example to follow in v. 11. James writes, “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” From the beginning James states his purpose in using Job as an example. His purpose is to demonstrate that those who endure are blessed, and thereby encourage his readers to endure. The story of Job demonstrates to us that the Lord is not vicious or unjust in his dealings, but rather He is compassionate and merciful. In order to see this clearly we must take a closer look at the life of Job.

From a spiritual perspective Job was a noteworthy man. God Himself described Job as “a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” There were none like him. Additionally, from an earthly perspective Job was the most successful man in the known world. No one had attained as much wealth and prosperity as Job. When you try and understand how wealthy Job was just imagine the wealth of Donald Trump and Bill Gates combined! Job had everything going his way.

Then in Job 1:7-12 something happens that will completely change Job’s life. It is a dialogue between God and Satan. Quickly the conversation comes to the point when the Lord asks Satan to consider Job. Satan’s reply is that Job is only faithful because of his earthly blessing. God’s reply is shocking. He puts Satan in his place and says “Ok, take away his earthly blessings and see what happens.” And this is exactly what Satan did. We find the details of Satan’s work in 1:13-19. Everything that Job had, one after another, was taken from him. What would your response be? We find Job’s in 1:20-22. In all of this Job did not sin! He understood that God was in control of his life in the easy times and in the difficult times. This would not be all that Job would have to endure, in chapter 2 Satan is permitted to affect Job’s health. Here is a list of all that Job endured with respect to his health:

  • Inflamed, ulcerous sores (2:7)
  • Persistent itching (2:8)
  • Facial disfiguration (2:12)
  • Loss of appetite (3:24)
  • Depression (3:25)
  • Sores that burst open, scab over, and ooze with pus (7:5)
  • Worms that form in the sores (7:5)
  • Difficulty breathing (9:18)
  • Foul breath (19:17)
  • Constant pain (30:27)
  • High fever (30:30)

Job literally ended up out by the town garbage dump scraping sores off of his body with pieces of broken pots. In a very short time Job lost everything and he went from being Donald Trump and Bill Gates combined to the guy you see sleeping underneath the overpass.
To add to Job’s misery Job’s wife was not handling the grief of her loss very well. It is understandable that a mother, after losing 10 children, would be upset. Mrs. Job was exactly that, and she vented those feelings on Job. In 2:9 she tells her husband to curse God and die! Job’s response is the essences of endurance:

“But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (2:10)

Later in the book of Job our example of endurance did have his difficulties handling God’s work in his life. But ultimately he endured. The end of Job’s story is much different from that of Jeremiah. Job was able to see the outcome of God’s work here on this earth when God restored his wealth twofold and blessed him with more children.

The point in this example is that, as was the case with Job, the believer can be confident that ultimately every situation he faces will result in good (Romans 8:28). However, the material blessings that Job received for his endurance are not necessarily what James has in mind. God may bless you in that way, or he may bless you the way that he blessed Jeremiah. Really it doesn’t matter. The blessing that James is looking to is the blessing that believers will receive when Jesus comes back. John Calvin speaking on this matter said, “Afflictions ought ever to be estimated by their end.” James had this same idea in mind in 1:12,

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Conclusion:

We are going to face hard times in our lives. And if we are going to make it we must look to the good and perfect end for which God is working. We must be patient for the Lord is coming back at any time now.

God Speaks to John Piper

John Piper wrote a short article about the experience he had when God spoke to him. Here is part of that:

As I prayed and mused, suddenly it happened. God said, “Come and see what I have done.” There was not the slightest doubt in my mind that these were the very words of God. In this very moment. At this very place in the twenty-first century, 2007, God was speaking to me with absolute authority and self-evidencing reality. I paused to let this sink in. There was a sweetness about it. Time seemed to matter little. God was near. He had me in his sights. He had something to say to me. When God draws near, hurry ceases. Time slows down.

If you are wondering what in the world Piper is talk about then read the entire article here (it is excellent). And just in case you do not have the time to read the entire article here is another quote to help clarify a bit:

And best of all, they are available to all. If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5-7. That is where I heard them. O how precious is the Bible. It is the very word of God. In it God speaks in the twenty-first century. This is the very voice of God. By this voice, he speaks with absolute truth and personal force. By this voice, he reveals his all-surpassing beauty. By this voice, he reveals the deepest secrets of our hearts. No voice anywhere anytime can reach as deep or lift as high or carry as far as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible.