I remember as a youngster – wasn't very old – we lived in an area of Nebraska that had a lot of critters, if you will. We had deer and opossums, raccoons, just about everything you could imagine, pheasant, quail at that time. But I remember one day watching something of unique color run under a porch, and my friends and I, in our inquisitiveness, decided to go find out what that was – without a flashlight, so you had to go underneath the porch until your eyes adjusted to the light – and we saw something that had two very definitive colors – not the primary colors of red, yellow or blue – but this was black and white. And we had sort of chased it when we saw it, so it was kind of off in the corner and I will never forget what happened next. All I can say is that in my mind it is very vivid and clear of the stench and the stink. Now, there are people that like that smell. I have a good friend – that I won't mention his name, but his initials are Randy Stiver – that likes the smell of polecats or skunks. To me, it was a stink. It was awful. Thankfully it didn't get on us, but it was awful! If you've ever had a dog that comes in from the field and has been sprayed by a skunk, I've heard all of the things you can try – tomato juice and shaving them, lighting them on fire or whatever to get rid of the smell. (I'm kidding.) But it stinks!
I remember finding a dead armadillo while working on security in Big Sandy. It was a hot day. It was in the 80's/low 90's, very humid, and the armadillo had been hit by something – a vehicle or a truck – and was laying in the road. And the hotter the temperature climbed and the wind picked up, the stench wafted in toward the security booth that I was in. Another awful stink – it was awful!
I remember one time in high school – the chemistry lab – they were playing or working with sulfur, and somebody had some experiment going, and they opened the door, and it came out and it went down the hall. It permeated the halls of the school. I put a cloth over my face. It was awful to me.
And I had intended today – because I have given this sermon before – I had intended today to bring something that some of you will say, "Oh, I love that." Others will say, "P.U.!" But I was unable to find any here in the Carolinas. You can special order it in a couple of weeks, but Limburger cheese. Have any of you ever had Limburger cheese or like Limburger cheese? They tell me if you can hold your nose, it's delicious. Doesn't make sense to me – if you hold your nose – your olfactory – you can't smell it, but... I used that once or twice for a prop in a sermon and then handed that down – which I'll be doing with a couple of other things here in a minute – but I handed that down and as it went through, people were like "Aw, aw, AW!" And I had let it sit out a little bit to age and let the air get to it. My father-in-law…he always enjoyed when I gave those sermons, because he liked Limburger cheese and he would come up and say, "Can I have it?" So I would give it to him. He would take it home and eat it. I haven't held that against him, I still love him, but Limburger cheese, I'm not fond of it. It has a pretty strong stink in my opinion.
There was a television segment once where – and this is not an advocate of watching this film, this series – but the Three Stooges – clearly I remember mistook some Limburger cheese, and instead of mentholated rub for his chest – he had a very bad cold – he put the Limburger cheese all over it. And he was in a very well-to-do home, or a house, and the servants and everyone. He had a bad cold. He couldn't smell it. He couldn't figure out why everyone was staying away from him and running from him. And he was just rubbing that on and I guess it helped clear his passages as well.
Well, we've talked enough about stinky or stinking smells. Let's talk about pleasant fragrances. Pleasant fragrances. What about the smell of apple blossoms in the spring? Or maybe flowers in a field? Those of you that have been with me when I go to the zoo and to other areas…I will stop and smell flowers. When we travel into Latin America, I will stop and smell…and a lot of times they are beautiful, but they have no smell. But other times they smell wonderful – very aromatic.
I recall after the Day of Atonement – this is pretty common – you can – after fasting for several hours – you can drive by a really greasy hamburger joint – you know the kind that you can buy a pound of French fries, maybe a burger that's just really good sized and full of a lot of things that maybe they're good for you and maybe not – or maybe a fine steakhouse, or maybe the Golden Corral, or whatever it is you like – and when you go by, and you smell it, and it's like (inhales deeply), "Ah, that smells good, doesn't it?" It's the fragrance that you enjoy.
Maybe it's the perfume you're wife is wearing right now – or used to wear when you were dating. You remember what that was, fellows? Please don't look at me like, "I have no idea what kind of perfume my wife wore before we were married and dating." Maybe you don't have any idea, I don't know. But I remember Chantilly was something I think my wife wore. Maybe it was Chanel No.5, or Hugo Deep, Red or White Diamonds, or Safari, Lovely, or maybe years ago, Midnight Madness. How do I know all of those? Do I buy those? No, I went online and looked up, "What's the most popular fragrances?" My wife doesn't wear any and I don't wear cologne due to sensitivities.
I'd like to pass around and I'll ask – uh – let me see – I'll have – maybe Mrs. Bost can come up here. Don't worry. This is not...I would ask, because there are some sensitivities, please don't spray it, but you can take the lid off of it – it won't leak – and put your nose by the sprayer, and you can smell this. I'll hand this to her. Be careful. It is glass and please, please don't spray it. What that is is Polo. It is thirty-one years old. Thirty-one years ago, I purchased that and it has sat on my dresser – ask my wife – for thirty-one years. I seldom use it. It is still as potent and it smells – they say that some people like that smell. It's kind of got an earthy, woodsy smell. I thought about spraying it before I go deer hunting, but maybe they wouldn't like that.
I want to look at another very important fragrance that, in our lives as Christians, we do need to examine. We do need to examine closely. That fragrance, brethren, we will see today, is our prayers to God. Our prayers to God. Let's go over to Psalms, chapter 141 please. Psalms 141. Here we see the psalmist, David, making a very incisive comment about this fragrance.
Psalms 141:1(A Psalm of David.) LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. See All... - LORD, I cry unto You; Make haste unto me! ... quickly! ... Give ear unto my voice when I cry out to You. Vs. 2 - Let my prayer be set before You as incense; as the lifting up of my hands and as the evening sacrifice.
David states, "Let my prayers to You – or my prayer to You – be as incense." We're going to talk about that today. In Revelation 8 – we've been going through at the Home Office Bible studies – they've been going through the book of Revelation.
Revelation 8:3And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. See All... - And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
So it says to offer up our prayers and with and as incense to God. What you will see as we go – and you and I will find, as we go through this topic, God enjoys nice smelling, sweet smelling, good smelling fragrances and odors that come to Him. My question for your today is this: what kind of odor does your prayer and my prayer give to God? Have you thought about that? What kind of odor does your prayer give to God? Ecclesiastes 10 and verse 1 – let's go back to Ecclesiastes. Here we see another part of what Solomon here, the preacher if you will, writes.
Ecclesiastes 10:1Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. See All... - Dead flies ... or in Hebrew, the flies of death, better written ... cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor ... You know, the apothecary was one who prepares and sells drugs for medicinal purposes. When an ointment was put on, it sent forth a stinking savor. ... So does a little folly ... a little foolishness ... to him that has a reputation for wisdom and honor. So if you have a reputation of being wise and honorable and you've become foolish, you do something foolish. It is similar.
Dead flies – the stink. Brethren, when we are doing something wrong – foolish – that we know better, God says this sends off a stink. It is not appreciated. When we send…God does not say, "Ah, that smells wonderful." It is an unpleasant smell to Him.
Let's turn over – and I'd like you to keep your fingers here as we go through today – or a finger or a bookmark – to Exodus 30 and verse 34. I want to read several verses, and then we're going to go back and I want to break it down and analyze it. One of the benefits of sermons and Bible studies is to be able to dissect and to pick apart the scripture and clearly explain what it is God intended. What is it God wants for you and me to understand?
Exodus 30:34And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: See All... - The LORD said to Moses, Take unto you sweet spices ... sweet spices ... stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each there shall be ... an equal or likened ... weight ... or amount. Vs. 35 - And you shall make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure ... notice that, pure ...pure and holy ... pure and holy. Vs. 36 - you shall beat some of it very small, and put it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with you: it shall be unto you most holy ... most holy. Vs. 37 - And as for the perfume which you shall make, you shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto you holy for the LORD. Vs. 38 - Whosoever shall make something that is like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.
So here we see that God is intricately interested in your and my prayers. And we're going to go through, as we see more clearly what this means, we see the ingredients in this chapter of the holy anointing oil, and then it lists the ingredients of the priestly incense. You'll notice it says multiple times that it is holy, sanctified, set apart, recognized by God as something very, very specifically for Him. God makes things holy. God gives direction to make things holy.
I want to look, during the course of this sermon, at verse 34 and the specific ingredients, and see if we can learn something from these. I found it fascinating as I went through this. In verse 34 The LORD said to Moses, Take unto you sweet spices ... the sweet spices, sweet smelling, enjoyable spices. You know, Jackie Gleason used to say, "How sweet it is!"
Here is a sweet spice, stacte. The Hebrew is nâṭâph. It means a very, very small drop. Now why is that important? What does that mean? It also explains through here in more detail, but this ingredient has to be ground up into very small particles. And it took a lot of work to break it up into those small particles. The inference here is that we need, in talking about prayer, we need to break down – we need to grind our prayers in detail before God – to work at it – to work at it. We need to pray about specifics. We need to get down to, as we say, to the nitty-gritty during our prayer. It used to be years ago, when I would mention to someone, "I will pray for you," that it meant a lot. It meant a lot. I still have widows in some of the areas we have served that I will call, and I will say, "Will you do me a favor?" They will say, "I know why you're calling." And I'll say, "Oh, I don't call just to ask for things." They say, "No, not always." But I will call to ask for prayer for me, or my family, or a specific need that we have, because I know that they will and I know that God listens. Do we pray for God's people around the United States? around the world? I think sometimes you and I may have forgotten how effective prayer really is. The results we don't often see by the flash of lightening or the audible voice – we don't see that – but we see in the end term of what takes place – the positive that God produces.
Romans 8 says that all things work to good – all things, not some things. All things work to good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. I think the financial challenges that we face as a people, as a church, give us opportunity to ask God, "Are we relying on God or ourselves?" Who are we relying on? I think I can learn more on how to rely on God to do His work through me. And similarly we all can do the same. The condition – to be very frank and up front – the conditions of the churches of God – perhaps, gives us an indication that the prayers maybe are not where they should be – staying close to God. How can I say that? I can look at…any given day I can look up on the Internet and look at some of the things written attacking other people. Those concern me. It is sad, but it is the world we live in. As a general rule, in the world, people are very free to speak openly and disrespectfully about everything from leaders to co-workers, to companies, to this, to that. You know, God says every idle word, we will be held accountable for. We seem sometimes to forget that.
In 1981, we sent out a survey – and I have it here with me – several pages – 1981 and 1982 we sent a survey out to students at the college asking, "What are some of the challenges you have with prayer?" And those results filled several pages. I have them here – multiple pages. They are quite interesting to read through. I won't today, for time, read all of them, but quite interesting those things that were mentioned. We then, after reading through those and compiling those, gave out or passed out a guide to daily prayer. I have one of those here, too. The paper is turning kind of yellow as it was a time when we used a typewriter, that everything wasn't aligned just perfectly, but it is a guide to daily prayer from Matthew chapter 6, verse 9 thru 13. And we're talking about breaking down our prayers, grinding them to a very small bit. Let me give you some examples. I'll just read…there are multiple categories.
Opening address to God the Father
Glorify God's name
Glorify God's greatness
Pray for God's kingdom to come
Discuss the world's ills
Discuss the need for God to intervene
Pray for the Work
Guidance from God
Pray for the leading ministers that are supporting the administration, the Council of Elders (which I have as more applicable to today)
The ministry around the world
The local ministry
Ambassador Bible Center
Pray that if it's God's will, more new people would be called
To bless the work financially
Open doors for the gospel
Bless and guide the TV program
Bless and guide the Work's publications
The distribution of the GN (Betty Bost definitely would like you to pray about that)
Another sub point: Pray for God's will, guidance and direction
Other church members
Spokesman Club – you know, I'm planning on beginning a Spokesman Club and a leadership training class here in January, trying to combine Hickory and Charlotte for those that would like to do that
Pray for the youth in the congregation, another sub point
Pray for daily physical needs
Just reading this list will fill up about seven or eight minutes. Sometimes some mention they have difficulty praying more than a couple of minutes.
Thank God for the blessing of protection
For adequate income
Ask Him for good health
Blessings for your mate, your family
To supply the needs of other members
Pray for daily spiritual needs, more of God's Spirit
Ability to handle tests and trials
Inspiration and guidance for personal Bible study
Other members' spiritual needs
Pray for spiritual growth
Ask for God's help in aiding you to build His mind and character
Ask for wisdom
Ask for the fruit of the spirit and then it goes through those: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, mercy and longsuffering, temperance
Ask for forgiveness of your sins
Ask for help for you to forgive others
You see, this is breaking down in great detail our prayers.
Pray for spiritual protection - critically important – our adversary and his minions. Do not sleep, brethren, they don't rest! Were it not for the grace of God, you and I would be finished in a heartbeat if they could, if they were allowed to
Protection from Satan's broadcasts, from this world's influences
To correct wrong attitudes and viewpoints that we may have
For God's help to overcome our weakness and sins
Help us to resist temptation
To spiritually protect other members. Remember, Christ prayed for Peter. He said, "Satan would sift you as wheat, but I prayed for you."
Pray for others
Thank God for His Son's sacrifice
For His mercy and forgiveness, for our calling, for our blessings
And then close with Christ's name and amen
A very specific list. We could add to that by going through and breaking our prayers down – the stacte part that we talked about.
I remember, in the Bible, as you do as well, Stephen's sermon. You remember? It says it fell upon closed ears. We can pray that the messages on Beyond Today – what we do – will fall on fertile ground – that people will say, "Oh, wow!" From time to time, I will get an email from someone that is not part of the United Church of God – that doesn't attend anywhere – and say, "I listened to a sermon of yours online from this and thank you." Sometimes they don't thank me, but sometimes they do.
Pray for ministers you know. I will ask you, as a congregation, to please pray for me. My job is not the hardest one in the world, but it's not the easiest, and I rely on those prayers when I'm traveling – my family and I do. They are appreciated. They are not taken lightly. It is discussed, at times. I hope we are praying for one another. Specifically pray for one another.
We need to pray that our attitudes will be receptive to God's way of thinking – that we will be teachable by God's Holy Spirit. You know, it's sort of funny, but there's an old saying, "Well, the pastor's done preaching and now he's meddling." And when things are discussed, maybe you say, "Do I do this when I listen to sermons?" I will say, "Ooh, ouch. That one's talking to me." He may not even know where I live or know me, but I'm saying, "That's directed to me. I need to make a course correction," or, "I am doing this. I need to do it better." Pray for that spirit of teachability that comes from God.
We have responsibilities as well to pray for the sermonettes and the sermons and the Bible studies. You know, where do those ideas come from? Years ago, a man was talking and he said, "Well, here's how I was inspired." He said, "I'd open the Bible and I'd put my finger down and whatever verse it was on, that would be my text for the day." Right? So he opened it up, and he put his finger down, and it said, "Noah took to himself a wife." He said, "That's not very good." So he did it again and it said, "The width of her was sixty cubits." He said, "No, I'm not going to use that one either." I don't prepare a sermon, and say, "Well, I prayed." I asked God for inspiration. But I consider the needs. I consider the times. I consider the overall conditions of the church. I consider my life, interaction that we have had, discussions – I put all of those pieces together, and then I say, "God, what is it this flock needs? What can I give them?" What can I give them that will help them, and help me, and help us all in our pursuit of the kingdom of God? Adam Clarke said, "If you have not prayed for the success of something, don't expect anything out of it."
In Acts 15:3And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. See All... - And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. Vs. 4 - And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. Vs. 5 - But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
In other words, they said it's hard to change. What are they talking about? Sometimes all of us face those challenges spiritually. We are coming to a time within the church of God that things are changing – not doctrinally, so don't misquote me, those that might listen to this or see this – but the times are changing, or "a changin," as they say sometimes. Economically you look at what our country is. We are now on a fiscal precipice – a cliff. What happens – if you've ever been on a cliff? When you go over the cliff, you don't just kind of, you know, get on your floaty thing and fly away and everything's okay. You go down the cliff. Sometimes, at the bottom, it's a pretty awful hit. So I want us to be concerned and realize that our focus must be away from ourselves, on Jesus Christ, on God the Father in our prayers and on the work that God has called us to do – spreading the gospel of the good news of the kingdom of God.
Years ago Mr. Armstrong – those of you viewing this may not know who he was – but he said, "If your heart is not wrapped up in God's work, you will not grow spiritually." Our heart must be wrapped up in doing. Jesus Christ over and over said, "I must do the will of My Father proclaiming the kingdom of God" – the gospel of the kingdom. It's about what we can do to serve God and fulfill that commission and He can use us as we yield to Him.
Historically, remember, the church was excited. If you go back in the early days of the New Testament church, they were excited that gentiles would be walking into the church. But the leadership at that time…not all of them were. There became great tension. What if God says this is the direction we are going, and we say, "Nope, not doing that." God's will is sovereign. It will be done. He wants us to help, but if we say, "No, this is what I did in1963 – I'm not going to go this direction." God is going to say, "I wish you would, but here's where I'm going." It's important to consider when we pray what Christ said, "Your will be done." Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. All these other things, He'll take care of.
And in Acts 15:12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. See All... - Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles ...
All the multitude – the rest of the people – after this situation, you know – read in Vs. 7 – much disputing. There was a lot of discussion going on. "No, we can't do that," or "That's not what we did before." Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren ... and he goes through and explains. But you will notice in Vs. 12 - all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience ... they backed up ... Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought to the Gentiles ... what God had done. Vs. 13 - And after they had held their peace .... And James then spoke up and we know the story as it goes through. The churches wanted to know what was going on.
We have, today, more information than ever before within the churches of God. How do we look at it? It's a great benefit. More to pray about, less to complain about? More to pray about. More to ask God to direct. We can pray for God's will, guidance and direction, pray for daily physical needs, spiritual needs, spiritual growth, protection, praise God – all those things break our prayers down.
In 1 Kings chapter 3, let's go back to 1 Kings chapter 3. I want to show you how God wants us to be specific, to break our prayers down.
1 Kings 3:1And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. See All... - Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem about it. Vs. 2 - And the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. Vs. 3 - And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: and he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. Vs. 4 - And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer. Vs. 5 - In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give you ... What shall I give you? Vs. 6 - And Solomon said, You have showed unto your servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before you in truth, and in righteousness, in uprightness of heart with you; and you have kept for him this great kindness, that you have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Vs. 7 - And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king instead of David my father: and I ... notice the humble attitude ... I am but a little child ... He didn't say, "Well, I know everything anyway, I need to tell everybody how wrong they are and how much I know." ... I am a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. .. I don't know how to even go in or out of the door. Vs. 8 – Your servant is in the midst of your people which you have chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted. Vs. 9 - Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people ... there is something you can pray for ... that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this your so great a people? Vs. 10 - And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Vs. 11 - And God said unto him, Because you have asked this thing, and did not asked for long life or riches, or the life of your enemies ... that those be taken ... you have asked for yourself understanding to discern judgment; and in Vs. 12 - Behold, I have done according to your words: I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; that there was none like you before you, neither shall there arise any like unto you.
God wants us to be specific – away from self and toward others and towards God. Here we see an example specifically. He said, "Here's what I would like, please." God notices that. When we break our prayers down intricately, minutely small, He notices that.
So then God said in vs. 13 - I have also given you ... by the way ... that which you did not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto you all your days. He said, "I have given you even more. Here are some blessings."
In John chapter 17 – we won't go there, but – Christ, in the final hour before He was brutally murdered, when His blood was spilled and He died…. I would have been concerned about myself if I were in that position, but instead Christ said that He prayed for His disciples and for you and me, that they would have joy, that they have one, that they would be given the protection spiritually – that help, in detail. He broke it down in very minute detail during those chapters. He mentioned things specifically.
Let's go back to Exodus 30:34And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: See All... , the second ingredient. Take unto you sweet spices, stacte .... The second one is what? O nycha. The Hebrew for this word, onycha, is shechêleth . It means to roar like a fierce lion. Anybody here ever hear a lion roar? I was in Masai Mara National Game Park in 2000 in East Africa. I heard a lion, way out in the middle of nowhere with a pride of several others, just roar. It sends chills up your spine. It just gets in every little part of you and you can feel it, as well as hear it. It also can explain – it is similar to taking gasoline and whoof, throwing it on a fire. That's what this ingredient does. In Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. See All..., here we see – Hebrews in the faith chapter, verse 6:
Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. See All... - W ithout faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that he is ... believe that God is. Do we see a shift in this nation of a lot of people that don't believe that God is? Unfortunately, yes. ... and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him – d iligently seek Him. We must be stirred up – energetic, not as we heard as a child, "Uh, Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep..." We need to be energetic.
I want to read you a story. This is one of the most energetic prayers I have ever read. It's by Sam Walter Foss and an informal prayer, the prayer of Cyrus Brown.
"The proper way for a man to pray,"
Said Deacon Lemuel Keys,
"And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees."
"Nay, I should say the way to pray,"
Said Rev. Doctor Wise,
"Is standing straight with outstretched arms
And rapt and upturned eyes."
"Oh, no; no, no," said Elder Slow,
"Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed."
"It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,"
Said Rev. Doctor Blunt.
"Las' year I fell in Hodgkin's well
Head first," said Cyrus Brown,
"With both my heels a-stickin' up,
My head a-pointing down;
"An' I made a prayer right then an' there -
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I every prayed,
A-standing on my head."
Would that be enthusiastic or energetic? Absolutely. Hanging upside down in a well, I would say it would be. So we need to make sure that like onycha or shechêleth as it is, that we are stirred up, energetic, enthusiastic when we pray to God.
Genesis chapter 32 let's go back there for a moment. In Genesis 32 we read the story, a very famous story – we won't take the time today, but – of Jacob. You recall, Jacob was wrestling with what we believe to be Jesus Christ – wrestling with Him – and we know what took place in verse 24.
Genesis 32:24And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. See All... - And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And we see that during this process his hip, He touched his hip and it went out of joint. I've had things out of joint. I played football years ago. I have a thumb that still goes out of joint pretty easy and doesn't always stay where it should be. And when that happens, it is very painful. Very painful. His hip went out of joint, but he would not let go until he had an answer. He worked hard – fiercely, diligently. We sometimes look at this story in a very negative light, but here you see an example. He was tenacious. And then we read on in verse 28:
Vs. 28 – And God said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed. He wanted to work things out by himself, yes, but he prevailed. He didn't give up. In prayer, we cannot give up. We can't say, "Oh, God, You haven't answered my prayer and it's been six months, so forget it." We must continue and be diligent.
I remember one of the first assignments I had for a sermonette back in – oh, it's been a long time ago now – but I was given an assignment. Back then we were assigned sermonettes and I was asked to explain the word supplicate . I had no idea what supplicate meant. Sounds like a pretty neat word and religious. I started to research it. It means to continue, to go before, over and over and not give up. David talked about it. Let me give you a more modern example. We have some small children out here – and soon-to-be small children – and we look out, and sometimes they come up to us, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. Mommy, Mommy, Mommy..." "Not now." "But Daddy, Daddy..." "What? Not now." "Okay, can I have a bike?" "When you are older." The next morning: "Can I have a bike?" "Uh, we discussed this yesterday." "I know. But can I have a bike?" "Um, not yet. I'll think about it." Okay. Two hours later: "Daddy, can we go look at bikes?" Right? And eventually they continue to get your attention. If you don't badger them and make them do something, but eventually realize this child is serious. They want a bike. "Okay, Daddy will get you a bike." "When?" "Okay, I'll set my watch. I'll put it on my calendar." So you say, "Okay, tomorrow at 3 o'clock we will go and try to find you a bike." "Yeah!" So then they come up and supplicate more. "Is it 3?" "No, that's tomorrow." "I know. What time is it? Do you have a – what time is it? I don't know how to tell time. What time is it? Do I get a bike?" Right? And so, we go before God, and we say, "God, I'm struggling with this. I need this help." And He says, "You are right. I remember." "But, God, nothing's changed yet." "I know. Be patient." You know, Abraham and Sarah – "We would like a child." "I'll give it to you." "When?" "When I'm ready." "But, but when's when?" "When I'm ready."
Back to Exodus chapter 30, the next ingredient is galbanum, it says, and galbanum – the Hebrew chêleb . It means the choicest part. It burns for a long, long time. We need to give God our best when we pray. We need to save our best time for God.
In Mark, chapter 1 and verse 35, here we have recorded for our edification as well: Mark 1:35And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. See All... - And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there he prayed.
There He prayed. We see Christ getting up early, going to a private place to pray.That applies to most people, not all. Someone once said, "I am useless until 11 o'clock." I said, "I can relate to that." I'm not a morning person and now that I can't have my morning coffee, I'm definitely not a morning person. Before I would kind of stumble down the stairs, you know, at 6:30 or something, or 7, and my wife was kind enough to make me a cup of coffee, and I'd smell it, and then drink that. Now I have to – it says I can go and exercise or do yoga. So I'm not into yoga and I can't exercise much, so we'll have to figure something out.
But He got up and He drew close to God. It was His best mental time. Maybe your best mental time is 2 o'clock in the afternoon or maybe 11 o'clock at night. Some people are night owls. You know, after 10, things just become alive until 3 in the morning. I knew a man like that – a fellow pastor, a good friend of mine – that I could call him 12 o'clock at night. He would be up. He'd say, "Hello, how are you?" He was awake. It was some of his best time. He would work during that time. In Daniel 6:10Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. See All..., it says that Daniel had a habit of giving his best time to God – a good example of doing that. Psalm 55 and verse 17, let's go back there, please. Psalm 55:17Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. See All.... David says in verse 16:
Psalm 55:16As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. See All... - As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Vs. 17 – Evening, morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. Here is an example, by inference, of three times a day – not necessarily just three times, but in an attitude of constant prayer, walking and talking with God. And it's not a bad idea to pray morning, noon and evening. The world will fill our down time if we don't. That I promise you, because our adversary with all the things involved doesn't quit broadcasting. Right now, if I were to get a radio, unless there is some damage to the antennae and the station, and I push certain frequencies in, it's on. Growing up years ago, I would sit, when we finally got a TV and have a couple of channels, I would sit and about – I forget what time it was when the FCC didn't allow broadcasting anymore – you would get that black and white pattern – James McEachern might know what that is – but that black and white pattern, and I would kind of wake up in the chair, and hear eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. It was no longer broadcasting. Our adversary doesn't do that. He continues to broadcast so that any that can be affected will be.
I have multiple articles here where it talks about prayer in school and teaching families to pray. The world itself recognizes the need to pray. Here's an article from the Janesville Gazette, Playing vs. Praying – front page. How To Pray For Leaders In Government ; Resolution #1, Teach Them How To Pray . So the world recognizes the importance of praying. We do. We rely – we trust – on God through prayer.
Go back to Exodus chapter 30 again, and let's look at the final ingredient here. these sweet spices ... then you add ...with pure frankincense ... Frankincense. I happen to have some frankincense with me today. Someone gave me this years ago – and I'll leave it up here rather than pass it around. But I have some here. There is an authenticity recepticle here. Frankincense. One side has myrrh. You can look at that. I've tried burning some of it. It's quite fascinating. But I'll leave this up here if you would like to look at it. When you add frankincense to the other three ingredients, what happens is fascinating. It makes the incense to burn like a brilliant white light. It is almost blinding – very, very bright, very white.
In Revelation chapter 3 – they've been going through this in the Home Office Bible Studies – I remember them covering this. But in Revelation chapter 3, notice what it talks about in verse 14 in relationship to prayer. This is important.
Revelation 3:14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; See All... - And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; Vs. 15 - I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I wish you were either cold or hot. Vs. 16 - So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth. Vs. 17 - Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods ... I don't need anything ... and do you not know that you art wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked .... Notice what then it says in verse 18. Vs. 18 - I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Turn from that approach to God. White here is symbolic of righteousness – of having white raiment .
Let's go back to Deuteronomy chapter 26. Here we talk about another example.
Deuteronomy 26:12When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; See All... - When you have made an end of tithing all the tithes of your increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within your gates, and be filled; Vs. 13 - Then you shall say before the LORD your God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of my house, and given them unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, according to all the commandments which you have commanded me: I have not transgressed your commandments, neither have I forgotten them: Vs. 14 - I have not eaten in my mourning, neither have I taken away thereof any of the unclean, nor given for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD and have done according to all that you have commanded me.
There are times in this life, even when we go through it, that we will say, "I don't get it. I'm doing the right things and it's not working." Well then, the logical reason from a human perspective would be to stop doing it, if I'm not getting something. And God says, these persons, they didn't give up. It says, "I will not." Remember the three men that said, "Even if God chooses not to protect us from that fire, we will not worship this idol or bow down to it." Remember the young man that came to Christ and said "I've done all these things, what do I get?" There is a human tendency to think, "Well if we do this, we get this." God says by His grace , we what? Enter into the kingdom of God. And we have responsibilities to obey and keep the commandments, but you can't earn salvation. And in prayer when you go before God, when you pray to Him, this ingredient of frankincense, it is holy and righteous as you connect with Him and you talk with Him. When our prayers are given to God, they are as incense to His nostrils. They come before Him. They get His attention and help us take on His righteousness. A big part of our prayer should be, "Father, live in me. Let Jesus Christ, let that Spirit live in me and change me according to Your will, not my will. Help me to see things how You see them."
Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All... – I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I don't live – it's not me, but it's Christ living in me by what? The faith of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us. That's Him living in us.
When we pray, ask ourselves, "What odor do our prayers give off?" Think about the incense in Exodus 30:34-38 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:  And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:  And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.  And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.  Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.
See All... that the priests set before God. What odor does our prayer give off to God? Is it positive? Is it good? Is it sweet smelling? Is it negative? Is it a stench or is it a fragrance?
So remember these ingredients…
· Stacte ...small drop, grind our prayers up, small and specific.
· Onycha ...to stir up with effort!
· Galbanum ...our best part...the choice part of our time.
· Frankincense ...white and holy,burning bright – God’s attention is drawn as we kneel before the God of this universe. Let our prayers be as a sweet smell to our God! The more we reflect on God , and His will in our lives we will find that prayer is that vital source of contact with the very God that gives us life. And we will become, and begin to reflect more and more, how God truly wants us to be!
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