DOES GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.  Matthew” 21:22
Prayer is exemplary in the Bible. We find it everywhere. There are many teachings on prayer; many commendations of prayer. Jesus is an example to us in his recourse to prayer—and the Bible is abundant in teaching and inviting us to pray. Jesus gave us instructions regarding prayer:

1) Don’t pray like the Pharisees who love to be heard in public for the impression that they can make. (Matthew 6:5)

2) Pray in private; “Go into your own room and close the door and pray there.” (Matthew 6:6)

3) “Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)

4) “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

5) Jesus gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy
name—Thy kingdom come—Thy will be done…Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer presumes a personal relationship with the living God. There are prerequisites to prayer: We must pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. We must pray according to the will of God;

“Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

If we affirm that God answers our prayers, we mean all of the following: That he will give us, sooner or later, what we have asked of him. That he will tell us to be patient and wait; the answer will come. That the answer will come because we have asked for something that is good for us or for others. That we are to be in harmony with God in our prayers.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Jesus told the parable of the widow and the judge (John 18:1-8), who ignored her and refused to decide her case, because it was a small matter that was beneath him. However, she persisted, and continued to come back to court. He finally said, to get her off his back, “I will decide her case”.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.”  (John 18:7)

Prayer does not mean that we put God under our control. We are to be submissive to God, who is amazingly great. He is not to be submissive to us. Prayer is not like Aladdin’s Lamp (just rub it and your wish will be fulfilled). Indeed, prayer is speaking with God. We should expect to listen as well as to speak. He speaks to us through the scriptures, through the Sunday sermon, through our consciences.

Many have recognized that there are five aspects to the complete prayer:
1) Adoration and praise
2) Confession
3) Thanksgiving
4) Supplication
5) Intercession

“Call to me and I will answer you—and will tell you great and hidden things which
you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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IS IT HARD TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

Jesus_Savior_Pilot_Me

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Is it hard to believe in God? It appears that many think that it is hard. They cite deficiencies in the scriptures; the failure of God to banish all evil, and Christians who are not true to their faith. It is said that the British philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, an atheist, was asked—if he died and found himself standing before God, what would he say? He responded, “not enough evidence”.

Actually, the evidence is abundant. The scriptures say, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1,2) The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:19,20)

Jesus was asked by the pharisees, “Show us a sign from heaven.” The fact is that Jesus was daily performing miracles around them, giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, feeding multitudes—but they wanted something special. They wanted to be compelled to believe! Jesus refused, although he pointed ahead to his resurrection by referring to Jonah who was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. It appears that if people are determined not to believe, nothing will change them.

The evidences for Christianity are many:

  • the evidence of design in the universe and in all of life
  • the consistency and reliability of the Bible
  • the person of Jesus Christ; no other human being is his equal
  • the public miracles of Jesus
  • the astounding resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • persons whose lives are radically transformed by their Savior
  • without righteous, justice, and goodness we are destitute without God

Our troubles, as human beings, are the consequence of our own wrongs and sins: we fight wars; we steal from one another; we murder people whom we hate or from whom we would take their possessions, we can be mean and cruel. I am speaking of the human race. We commit all kinds of sin, and then we ask why does not God do something about it? The answer is that God teaches us in the scriptures the kind of life that we should live. He reckons with our sin and in our inability to save ourselves in calling us to trust in him for our salvation. Every person on Earth has the opportunity and responsibility to believe in God; to study the scriptures; to confess Christ as Savior; to become engaged in the work of the kingdom of God. Is it hard to believe in God? Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28,29)

What is the gain in following Jesus Christ?

  • We are forgiven by God of all of our sins
  • We become members of God’s family
  • Life has meaning and significance
  • Sanctification: we grow to become the persons that God would have
  • We live eternally in heaven with our Heavenly Father

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)


Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

jesus-man-lies-sm

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It is not unusual for many of us to feel that the world is being overcome with
evil! Where do we find goodness? There is only one source, and that is with the God
who has created us. We can pass laws to restrain evil behavior, and surely they help.
But all nations, from the beginning of history to the present, have been passing such
laws, and the problem of evil continues. Most of us would like to live in peace without
having to worry about those who would harm us—deceive us—exploit us—mislead us.
To ignore God is folly and dangerous. To attempt to solve problems without him will
frequently lead to disaster.

Many of us were stunned by the arrest of California State Senator, Leland Yee
the week of March 24. According to the San Jose MercuryNews: “The 65 year old
career politician has been charged with seven federal felonies as a result of dozens of
such clandestine meetings with undercover FBI agents, many involving promises of
political favors, influence peddling with fellow legislators and a Hollywood-stye scheme
to arrange a multimillion-dollar illegal weapons deal through the Philippines for an
undercover operative claiming to be a New Jersey Mobster.” Somewhere in his life, he
turned his back on goodness and decided to walk on the path of evil.

Why does a person with an important position, prestige, and respect stoop to
deceit, corruption, and conspiracy? Here, we have a single individual. But alas, the
story has been told in the lives of many others, and in all times and locations.
Choosing evil over good is not uncommon. Yet, what we desire in all people is
goodness. What we find all too often are “successful” people, who are consciously
willing to do wrong to add to the money or power that they already have. As we look
at the world, we must not always see it through skeptical eyes, as if there is only
darkness. Neither, should we live in a denial as some do, ignoring or explaining away
the evil that is in our midst; pretending that it does not exist.

Where do we get the concept of goodness and integrity? We are fortunate that
we know the source. Our Savior, of whom we read in the Bible, is the ultimate source
of light and life and goodness. All other sources are either insufficient or detrimental.
We must bend our wills to the will of God. “I myself am satisfied about you, my
brethren that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able
to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

The words in the following passage were written by the prophet, Jeremiah, but
it is a promise for us today: “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare
it in the coastlands afar off; say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and
will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. For the Lord has ransomed
Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall
come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the
goodness of the Lord,” (Jeremiah 31:10-12) Healing and help and goodness come
from God.

We need good institutions of government, education, business, family. Do we
sometimes look in the wrong place? Our salvation is in our Lord!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT

Lent

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Ash Wednesday is right in front of us:  Wednesday, March 5. The idea is to begin preparation for the recognition and celebration of Christ’s sacrificial offering of himself on Good Friday, and the triumph of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday begins six and one-half weeks before Easter Sunday. Its purpose is to begin a period of spiritual renewal leading up to Good Friday and Easter. For many Catholics and Protestants it encourages accepting a special discipline during this period. It may mean giving up a bad habit that you may have taken on—or some of the foods or desserts that you might otherwise eat —or taking on a spiritual discipline of prayer and scripture reading. Many churches offer programs to encourage and further such practices including special studies and times of prayer.

As you know a counter reaction is that of Mardi Gras. The idea that you should live it up before the time of discipline begins! This is a bad idea. It frequently leads to excesses that have nothing to do with Christianity. I fear for some people it even implies that you can do naughty things leading up to Lent, thinking that in the following weeks you can find forgiveness. The Bible does not encourage us to follow such a pattern.

As a matter of fact, times of spiritual renewal are encouraged in the scriptures.

The apostle Paul to Timothy: “Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;” (II Timothy 1:6)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

“For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.” Romans 6:19)

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

I was reminded this week of my first awareness of real spiritual renewal. I was in the sixth grade in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. In our neighborhood the father of one of the girls was a reporter for the Tulsa World and Tribune and published a local newspaper for our town. He was know for excessive drinking (in a dry state!) and disregard for Christian principles. Somehow, his daughter persuaded her dad to go to church with her. He not only attended, but came to the point of professing his faith in Christ. I was amazed when I realized later that he had become the teacher of the men’s Bible class! Over the years, I have had the privilege of witnessing that kind of transformation many times.

If Lent is a later invention by the church, it is surely in harmony with the sprit of new life and new living that the scriptures encourage. So bless your brothers and sisters who are in earnest about Lent. And consider the participation that is appropriate for you.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
(Matthew 6:33)

The Bible deals with many themes: the crucifixion of our beloved Lord, the wages of sin, disobedience, suffering. These themes and others like them are important. But it would be a mistake to take any one of them and stew in it so that we cannot see the forest for the trees. The overall emphasis of the Bible is positive. Christ triumphed over the powers of death, sin, and evil in his suffering on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Suffering can draw us closer to God, help us to see our need of him, help us to give up things in life that are no good. We are set free from the burden of sin through the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4):

God is the creator of the universe and of planet Earth

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

We are created in the image of God

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

We are loved by God

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

God gives us a new life

“You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. (John 11:28)

God gives us purpose in life

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

Our Savior leads us in victory

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (II Corinthians 2:14)“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Our Savior’s purposes will be fulfilled

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,” (Revelation 1:1,2)

“And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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There IS Gain With Pain

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Mark 2:  The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

Mark 2: The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

The knee replacement surgery, which I experienced on the 10th of January, and the accompanying slowness of recovery and pain has caused me to reflect again on what the Bible has to say about temptation, difficulties, and trials. The Bible makes it plain that all people will suffer in one manner or another, and that the end result can be beneficial. Suffering takes many forms: disappointment, failure, illness, financial losses, mistreatment by others, etc. The experiences of the unbelieving are not necessarily beneficial, but the difficulties of life can lead the believing to draw closer to their Lord. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6,7)

One of the greatest of Christians, the apostle Paul, suffered from a thorn in the flesh. We do not know what it was, but it must have been severe, otherwise he would not have mentioned it. In II Corinthians, chapter 12, he tells of a special blessing; being caught up in the spirit to Heaven and experiencing marvelous things. But our Lord must keep the lives of even the best of Christians in balance. Thus, Paul writes,

“to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.”

God’s purpose for us is that we may grow in his grace:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

Why do we need to be tested? As we look to the scriptures, we find good reasons:

1. To keep us from being conceited. Conceit is overweening self-esteem; having an excessively fine opinion of one’s self. All of us have gifts and abilities, and in some areas find ourselves more able than others. It is all too easy for us to think that we are not only more gifted and skilled–but that we are superior to others.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

2. That we may never forget our need of God and draw near to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

3. That sanctification, our growth in grace, may continue as we reckon with factors in our lives that do not belong.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Our conclusion: Temptations, illnesses, disappointments will come. Some of our suffering, we bring on ourselves through our own sins, carelessness and bad decisions, but much of it comes from the world, the times in which we live. We are to draw near to God for comfort and strength; to seek his will; and to reckon with our faults

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Psalm 118:5)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Lady Reading Crystal Ball

 

As we look forward to the New Year, most of us hope for something better. Many make New Year’s resolutions—hoping that their behavior will be better in some significant way. When we look back a year, we might wonder whether 2013 was better than 2012. If anything, the situation in the Middle East was worse with more conflict and no solution to the continuing slaughter in Syria. Conflicts in many African nations have increased. The federal debt in the United States increased: 2012, 16 trillion; 2013, 17 trillion. Many of the divisions that we have in the United States seem to have sharpened rather than lessened.

However, in our families and homes things may be different. Some may be healthier than they were in the previous year. Perhaps for the majority, things are about the same. In a nation of 317 million, how many lottery winners did we have last year? As we look forward to the future, we know that there are uncertainties. We may be surprised by good news or devastated by bad news. Our health may be very good or we may become seriously ill. Promises made to us may be fulfilled—and some not.

In contrast to the uncertainties in many areas of life, our Savior gives us a positive perspective. We are all created in the image of God. We are all loved by God. If we will allow it, we all have a purpose in life. And if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior we have many wonderful promises. Let us consider some of them as we look forward to the new year:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war nay more.” (Isaiah 2:3,4)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and rase your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28)

The future is in God’s hands: if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we are, for sure, in God’s hands.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE WORTHWHILENESS OF A LONG JOURNEY

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By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from
the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of
the Jews?’ We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew
2:1,2 NIV)
The Magi (Wise Men in many English Bibles) came from the East. This story
properly belongs with the celebration of the birth of our Savior, although their arrival
was at least a year (probably more) after the Savior was born. Near the beginning of
the first century A.D. Parthia (Persia) was the most prominent kingdom east of the
Holy Land. We properly think of them traveling on camels, which were the Cadillacs of
their day. The camel travel is undoubtedly based on Isaiah 60:6, “A multitude of
camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba
shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of
the Lord.”
The journey of the Magi could have covered as much as a thousand miles. If
we estimate their travel time at 30 miles per day, the journey would have taken at
least a month, if not more. We also properly think of them as traveling on camels,
because they were court astrologers, which would have placed them high in their
governmental structure. In their day, astrology was looked upon as a science. When
they arrived in Jerusalem, they were properly received by Herod the Great as
important emissaries. The whole city took note of their arrival. But their primary
intent was not a diplomatic mission. They had come to find the Messiah of the Jews,
to worship him and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We know for
sure that there was more than one of the Magi. We have probably liked to think of
them as three because they brought three gifts.
At the time of the visit of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon was among the
greatest of kings in the Near East. Like the Magi, she made a long and costly journey
to see Solomon. This event finds a parallel in Luke 11:31, “The queen of the South
will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she
came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,
something greater than Solomon is here.” In our day, the rover, Curiosity, is
searching the surface of Mars, and the Chinese have just landed a mobile explorer on
the Moon.
How can we miss the lessons to be found here? It is not worth our trouble to
find the Lord? To have God is to have everything. Not to have him is to be incredibly
deprived. Some live their lives as militant and proud atheists, not wanting to have
anything to do with God. But many others just seem plain indifferent. We find
encouragement from the prophet, Isaiah: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call
upon him while he is near;” (Isaiah 55:6) The Christmas Season is a good time for
us to be renewed in worship and in the wonder of our great Savior. May many, who
seem to be tone deaf and not paying attention, find our Lord in these days!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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DON’T WORRY

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Worry

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

Anxiety and worry have to do with a tomorrow, over which we have limited control. We are not sure what will take place in the future regarding our work, our relationships with family and friends, with our health, with our finances. When it comes to tomorrow faith in God is essential. The trouble with worry is that it concerns itself with things that may never happen. Worry is not a small matter. Anxiety and worry drain our strength, our energy, and our hope. Beware of giving yourself over to your worries—they can take possession of you.

Worry is more than concern. It is more than planning for the future. Anxiety is a particular kind of fear—fear of the future. It causes life to be out of balance, and is a continuing sense of disquiet and pain. For most of us—rightful concern, preparation, anticipation—and then worry and anxiety are on a continuum, and it is easy to slide from proper concern to unhealthy worry.

A close relationship with our Savior is the solution to our worries. In Christ one can be right with the world and the future. The believer in God is to fear God rather than man. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” (Matthew 11:29) It is far easier to respect, serve, and honor God than it is to placate all those persons, situations and inner feelings that appeal for our allegiance. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matthew 6:34)

Believing in God, we trade an insecure future for a secure one. One of the difficulties for many people is that they become confused. They hear one thing one day and so live their lives in one direction—and they hear another thing the next day and try to live their lives in two directions at once. There is great peace in fearing (respecting) God, because in fearing God, we need fear no one else. In prayer God helps us to sift through the various inclinations that tug upon us.

There are things that we can do to make tomorrow alright or even better:

1. Show up for work

2. Don’t live beyond your means (Be disciplined in your financial planning)

3. Maintain a regular exercise regime

4. Don’t overeat or drink

5. Treat other people kindly

6. Above all else—put God first

Finally, We need to focus on and be grateful with what we have:

1. We are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26)

2. We are loved by God. (John 3:16)

3. God wants those who trust in him to make the best of life: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

4. In our Lord, we have a future that is beyond compare: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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CHAOS IN LOUISIANA

Shoppers decimate shelves in a greedy feeding frenzy. What happened to, “Poor, but honest”?

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It was Saturday, 12 October that the electronic EBT system, (electronic benefit transfer cards) operated by Xerox for the Federal Government, broke down for several hours. During this period of time, Food Stamp Cards could not be used in seventeen states. In two Wal Mart stores in Louisiana, the company decided to remove any limits on the cards so that they could be used for needed food purchases. Many people in these two stores went into buying frenzies. They purchased things that they must have known full well were not allowed by the EBT, including television sets. One woman attempted to purchase $700.00 of food, when her card showed that she only had a valid 49 cents on it. Managers in Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and Springhill, Louisiana called in police to stop people from loading up several carts with as many things as they could hold. It is reported that in stores, where the cards were temporarily left inoperable, people helped themselves to whatever they chose, and went out without paying. “Shelves were picked clean and went empty until stores were able to restock.” These people had to know that what they were doing was wrong, despite whatever inner excuses they may have given to themselves.

Probably at this point, someone is going to say, “Foster why are you picking on these poor people.” My answer is that the basic laws of life apply to all people. Regarding our relationship with our Lord, there is a reasonable question to ask: “What would you do if no one else were looking?” The Seventh Commandment states, “You shall not steal”. Do you think it is all right if someone steals your property? I know, this is different! The government has a lot of money—and, certainly, Wal Mart is not strapped for cash. The reasoning that would follow: if your economic status is above average or if you are a municipality, or the federal government—it is OK for people to steal!

It is time for us to reaffirm that we expect honesty of the rich, the middle- class and the poor.

You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall your judge your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:15)

To the degree that we lie and cheat and steal, we deprive someone else of something that rightfully belongs to them. Indeed, the victims may be those who pay taxes, and have their taxes raised to pay for the costs of thievery and dishonesty.

Hopefully, most of us believe in and prefer justice: that the laws of the land treat all people equally. To the degree that we cheat, steal, and lie, personal relationships break down, business operations can be seriously damaged or destroyed, and respect for governments can evaporate. In other words, the greater the disregard for the basic laws of society, the more likely that society will become dysfunctional and even disintegrate.

It is proper for each of us to take a look at ourselves, and make sure that we are committed to the laws of God, that are meant to keep us from harm and misery. It is also proper for us to be sympathetic with those who are truly poor and give to churches, World Vision, Salvation Army and other agencies.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!