A Rehearsal of Blessing
Dr. Joe Temple

Open your Bibles, please, to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 13, verse 1. We read:

Acts 13

1Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

That is as far as we are going to take the time to read, but were we to read the rest of this chapter, we would discover that it contains the record of a whole year of ministry of the Word of God in various places. It contains the record, as does chapter 14, of great victories of faith.

We come to the end of chapter 14 and call to your attention verse 27. Keep in mind that Barnabas and Saul had gone out, sent by the Holy Spirit, and had ministered the Word for one whole year. They had returned to the place from whence they had gone out. In verse 27, we read:

Acts 14

27When they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

I would like for us to think together about the words, “They rehearsed all that God had done and how He had opened the door of faith.'' If this seems like a rather strange text to some of you, may I remind you that approximately a year ago I brought a message on a verse of Scripture which God had given me for the year. I challenged you, as the Holy Spirit led you, to trust that verse of Scripture with me and see what God would do when we lived by His Word. I pointed out to you at that time that each year—not necessarily on the first of the year, but sometime in the beginning of the year—God gives us a verse of Scripture on which we are to live for the year.

Review of the Verse

In the beginning of 1963, approximately a year ago, He gave us a verse of Scripture presented in I Chronicles, chapter 4. I would like for you to turn back to that passage of Scripture today that you may remember the verse, and then I would like to rehearse in your hearing today how God has opened the door of faith in regard to that particular verse of Scripture. I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10:

I Chronicles 4

9And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

You will remember that when we introduced our meditation upon this particular verse, we said three things about it. We said that these two verses contained a divine designation, a deep desire, and a definite declaration.

The divine designation was found in verse 9: “Jabez was more honourable than his brethren.'' You remember we said that that intrigued us because in the book of Chronicles there is an endless list of names. Nothing much is said about these individuals save that they lived and that they died. Then suddenly, out of the clear blue, so to speak, the statement is made: “Jabez was more honourable than his brethren.'' We could not help but wonder why. Why was Jabez more honorable than all the other men of his generation? We wanted to know why.

We discovered that this word honourable was not really a reference to the honor of men, but it came from a word that indicated blessing . Examined very closely, it revealed that Jabez was weighted down with blessing. We suggested that that meant more to us than the suggested text, because we are not particularly interested in the honor of men. We wanted to know what it means to be weighted down with blessing, and we wanted to know how we could possibly be so weighted down with blessing.

So the divine designation developed into a deep desire for our own hearts, voiced in the words of Jabez in verse 10, where we read: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.'' That is the reason he was the most honorable man in his generation. He said, “Oh God, that thou wouldest bless me indeed.''

We said that this deep desire for blessing was manifested in a threefold petition. The first petition was a petition related to prosperity, if you will glance there at verse 10: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast.'' That phrase, we said, was a petition for prosperity. Jabez was saying, “Oh that thou wouldest push back the boundaries, that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, that thou wouldest do greater and more wonderful things than thou hast yet done.''

Accompanying this petition for prosperity was a petition for the presence of God, because, as we learned, Jabez well knew that unless God was with him, there would be no enlarging of the coast. If you will glance at verse 10 again, the second petition was, “That thine hand might be with me.'' The hand of God on any individual will mean prosperity, and Jabez knew that.

But Jabez knew something else. He knew that if God were to bless him, prosper him, and be with him, it would stir up the Devil. The Devil would do everything that he could to fight against the plan and the program and the purpose of God in his life. So, he made a petition for divine protection. Glance at verse 10, where he said, “That thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!'' “That thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not vex me, that it may not slow me up in the process of carrying on for thee.''

You will remember that we told you that this deep desire of Jabez was followed by a very definite declaration on the part of the writer of the book of Chronicles. If you will glance at the last part of verse 10, you will see it there: “God granted him that which he requested.''

How God Has Enlarged Boundaries

I pointed out to you that God gave me that verse for 1963. I challenged you to accept it, and many of you did for your own lives. Testimonies have come to me of how God has worked in your lives on the basis of this verse, and I wish we had time for those testimonies; but our time is limited, so I would like to rehearse with you as Paul and Barnabas did after their year of ministry, after our year of trusting this verse, how God has opened the door of faith.

In order to do that, it is going to be necessary for me to repeat some of the things that I said approximately a year ago which the Holy Spirit laid on my heart and in relation to this particular verse.

In Regard to Radio Ministry

I said, “I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries as far as the radio ministry is concerned. I believe that in 1963 we will have another radio program.'' You will remember, and perhaps this will be new to some of you, that in July of 1963 we began a daily radio program on station KHAP in Aztec, New Mexico, which is known as the “station of the four corners'' and which reaches into Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Just yesterday I had a letter from a missionary among the Navajos, and he very graciously told me what a tremendous blessing the ministry of the Word is in that area; how he would meet people on the street, in the bank, and they would ask him if he had heard that particular message and mention what that particular message had meant to them that particular day.

This was of God. You will remember that just a month or two before the month of July, I was speaking at a conference in Farmington, New Mexico; and a man approached me after one of the services and said, “I have just bought a new radio station. I have been interested in having some real Bible-believing preachers on this station. Would you consider taking some time every day on this radio station for the ministry of the Word of God?''

I say to you that God has granted what we have requested. He has enlarged our borders as far as the radio ministry is concerned, and for that, we praise Him.

May I digress long enough to say that as I rehearse these things, I trust you know that I am not attempting to draw attention to myself. I want to draw attention to God and His glory, for this that we say is no doing of ours; it is God granting that which we requested.

In Regard to Church Building

You will remember that I also said, “I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries here at the Center. I do not know how He is going to do it. We all recognize that we are crowded for space, and that in many instances we are uncomfortable in our seating. I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries literally here at the Center during 1963.''

And you are aware, I am sure, that in 1963 there was installed, without any building program, without any pledge system, without any money-raising gimmick, central heating in the building, more space in the chapel to seat people comfortably, and in addition seventy-five more seats than we did have to begin with, three more Sunday School rooms, and a large assembly room in that section of the building that is dedicated to our Sunday School work. This, we say, is a fulfillment of God's Word. God granted all that we requested.

In Regard to Missions

I also said on that particular Sunday, “I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries. I am being very literal now. I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries by enlarging our missionary program, and I expect before 1963 is over that we will have another missionary on the field.''

As I rehearsed in my own mind this particular statement, a number of verses of Scripture came to my mind. I would like for you to notice them with me because God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Many times we are not aware of the manner in which God will work when we pray.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament—a little prophecy there that you are prone to run across in a hurry if you are not really careful. Notice with me in the book of Habakkuk a statement that is found in the first chapter. Habakkuk was making a request of the Lord. He had some very definite things in mind when he made that request, and he waited on God for the answer. God gave him the answer in verse 5:

Habakkuk 1

5Behold ye among the heathen [or among the nations], and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

I like the Amplified version of this verse because it does just that; it amplifies some truth in relation to it in fewer words than it would take me to do today. So, may I read for you, you following in your Bibles, the Amplified version of Habakkuk, chapter 1, verse 5: “Look around [you, Habakkuk, replied the Lord] among the nations and see! And be Astonished! Astounded! For I am putting into effect a work in your days that you would not believe it if it were told you.''

I like that, don't you? Habakkuk had been praying and asking God for a certain thing, and it didn't look as if God would do it just that way. And God said, “Look around you. I am putting into effect a work which it will be difficult for you to comprehend even when you see it.''

Another verse of Scripture came to my mind as I meditated upon the statement which I made approximately a year ago. Turn with me in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 8, and notice verse 26:

Romans 8

26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Once again I would like for you to follow this verse in your Bibles as I present another translation of it which brings to our minds some things which are emphasized in a few words. According to this translation: “The Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying, for we don't even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling it cannot be expressed in words; and the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as He pleads for us in harmony with God's own will.'' I like that, don't you?

Back in 1963, I prayed that God would enlarge our borders from a missionary standpoint. I had in mind possibly one missionary out somewhere telling the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes God burdens our hearts and the burden is there, but our phrasing of the burden is not always consistent with His will. But if we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will take the burden and put it in the language that is consistent with the will of God, and God is able to bring into effect a ministry which we find it difficult to comprehend even when we see it, so that we are astonished and astounded as was Habakkuk.

Beginning of Tape and Printed Page Ministry

While we were praying that God would put one missionary on the field, God was working in the hearts of some people who are still in our midst (and whose names I will not mention because they are still in our midst and they want no glory for themselves) and He put on their hearts (I mean that literally—no suggestion came from anyone else) to start what we have referred to as the “Tape and Printed Page Ministry.'' They were burdened to tape the messages which are delivered here at the Center and elsewhere, to put them on tape and put them in print, and to make them available as God may desire anywhere the need is. This ministry has grown certainly beyond the expectations of any individual.

Instead of one missionary on the field, God has put several. Jim and Joni Foster, who were in our fellowship here, moved to the New England states. With them they took the tapes and the printed lessons, and they are carrying on Bible classes in New England, reaching people who write to us concerning the blessing of God's Word in their lives and how the Word is making a change. I must confess to you that when I was praying for one missionary, I was not thinking of two missionaries in New England.

Jim and Joanna Palacas went out from our midst to Colorado. They took with them the tapes and printed lessons, and in Denver and the surrounding area there are Bible classes where the Word of God is being given forth. We had no idea when we prayed that prayer that we would have missionaries in Colorado, but God worked.

Bill Damewood, who was in our midst for some time, took the tapes and printed lessons to the rural areas of Missouri. And today, in homes where there are not but two or three in a class, the Word of God is being given forth every week. Once again, we had no idea that God would place a missionary in the rural areas of Missouri.

Boyce and Alice McQuay went out from our midst. They took with them the printed lessons and tapes, and today in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, they are reaching faculty and students of John Brown University with the ministry of the Word of God. We had no idea missionaries would be in Siloam Springs when we made that request of the Lord.

Time would fail us to tell of individual missionaries who have been burdened through this particular ministry, but in order that you may be able to comprehend this thing which God has done and the tremendous effect of it, I might remind you that over 1,300 sermons are in circulation on these tapes which are sent out by the tape committee. I might remind you that over 11,000 printed sermons have been distributed since 1963 when we first prayed for a missionary.

And I might remind you that these messages are reaching not only this country, but across the sea as well. We have had two letters already about the tremendous blessing these printed lessons are to the Nationalist Chinese on the island of Formosa as they use them for Bible study classes.

I repeat, when we said, “God, give us a missionary in 1963,'' I had in mind one missionary somewhere in the world. Perhaps God will be pleased to do that yet, but I had no idea that He was going to do anything such as this that we have been describing, and we praise Him for it.

In Regard to Television Ministry

About a year ago I said, in the course of the message to which I have referred, “I believe that which I have been praying about in regard to a television ministry for two years is going to come to pass this year.'' And as I meditated upon this particular statement, a number of verses of Scripture came to my mind. As I suppose all of you know, God did not see fit to grant this request; and yet, I felt as definitely about this request as I did about all of these others which He did grant.

Naturally, because we are questioning individuals, we would say to ourselves, “Why? Why, if God was pleased to grant all of our other requests, did He not grant this particular request?'' We never look within for the answer first; we look into the Word of God first. And then if the Word of God directs us to look within, as sometimes it does, we are able to see the better because the Word of God is a light and a lamp. If you try to look within the dark recesses of your own heart or within the dark recesses of your own emotions without the light of the Word of God, you will not be able to see anything. But when you look into the Word of God first and then with the light of the Word look into your heart, you will be able to see what you need to see.

So God brought to my mind several passages of Scripture as I waited before Him in regard to this particular statement which I have just made. I would like to remind you of them, too.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel, chapter 10. This chapter, you remember, records an experience where he asked God for something and it did not happen right away. He asked God to meet a need, and the answer did not come within the time that he expected, but it came. The answer came in these words of Daniel, chapter 10, verse 12. An angel had come and raised Daniel from his knees and given him a message of which this is a part:

Daniel 10

12He said unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to humble thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Let us look at this verse for a moment or two. “Daniel,'' said the heavenly messenger, “as soon as you prayed, your prayer was heard in Heaven. That is the reason I am here. If your prayer had not been heard, I would not be here, but I'm here because your prayer was heard. It was heard as soon as you voiced it, but as I came with the answer, the prince of Persia withstood me.'' Who is the prince of Persia? One of the emmisaries of the Devil, one of the tremendous hosts of principalities and powers that occupy the space between earth and Heaven who are occupied with one thing and one thing alone, and that is preventing God from doing the things that God has in mind for His children. But, you will notice, that prevention was only a hindrance; it did not defeat the purpose of God ultimately.

Delay of Answer to Prayer

As I meditated upon this verse and said to God, “Why? Why, in view of all these other requests being granted, did it not please Thee to grant this particular request?'' God directed my attention to this message in Daniel. God said to my own heart in so many words, “It isn't that I am not pleased to grant the request; it is that there is much opposition to the granting of that request.''

Turn with me, please, to Matthew, chapter 17, as I mention another verse of Scripture to which He brought my attention. As I remind you, though I am speaking in terms of myself today about the things which I asked God for, some of you claimed this verse along with me, and some of you could say, “God granted me that which I have requested.'' But perhaps some of you also will have to say, “He did not grant me this particular thing.'' You may be wondering why He did not grant it. The things which I am saying are applicable to my case could be applicable to yours, too.

Did you ask God for something and He did not do it? Are you wondering why? Don't throw up your hands in despair and say, “Well, God just doesn't answer prayer.'' Recognize what God's Word teaches—that if you prayed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the will of God, your request was heard; and God sent His messenger with the answer as soon as the prayer was heard, but there has been an interception. Remember, prayer is not an uttering of words. Prayer is a warfare.

That becomes evident here in Matthew, chapter 17. You remember that the disciples had tried to cast a demon out and they had failed. The Lord Jesus Christ was victorious when the matter was brought to Him. In verse 19, the disciples took Jesus apart and said:

Matthew 17

19…why could not we cast him out?
20Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible with you.
21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Now, notice these verses. The Lord Jesus Christ was not saying to the disciples, “The reason you could not cast this demon out is because you didn't have faith.'' He did not say that. He said, “I want to remind you that if you have faith, living faith, active faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can cast out demons and you can remove mountains, but you need to remember that some things in our spiritual warfare are more difficult to handle than are other things. There are some demons that will not be cast out until time is spent in fasting and prayer.''

I would emphasize that statement in regard to the subject which we are discussing at the moment, prayer warfare. Sometimes, you know, we make a request of the Lord, and we think that that is all we need to do. There are other times when we need to hold on to God, when we need to hold on to Him and refuse to let Him go.

Persistence In Prayer

I would say to you today as I ask you to turn to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, for another verse which the Lord gave, that all too often, I am afraid, we quit before we should. All too often we say, “Well, I prayed about it, and I guess it isn't the Lord's will to do this, so I'll just stop praying.'' Sometimes that is true. Sometimes the Lord says, “No.'' But I wonder if too often we do not interpret the delay as a negative answer when we should continue to hold onto God. In Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 10:

Jeremiah 29

10For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11[Notice] For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Notice that verse as we think about it. That is the literal meaning of the verse. What is God saying? God is saying, “I have not refused to grant you that request.''

I am simply saying that if the request is granted, then there must be a holding on to God. If that request is granted, there must be a warfare with the forces of evil who occupy the air, who do not want such a ministry. I have not said that God said to me, “I am not going to grant your request.'' God said, as a matter of fact, “My thoughts toward you are for good. I have said that My thoughts toward you are for peace. I have said that My thoughts are toward you that I will do the thing that you expect.''

Keeping the Verse for Another Year

I bring this message to a close by saying that I have been waiting on the Lord for a verse for this year, and that verse has not been forthcoming. I pointed out to you last year the verses that God had given over the past five or six years. God gives me a verse, but this year He has not seen fit to give me one. I have been waiting on Him, asking why, asking for a verse and God has spoken to my heart. He has spoken to my heart in the terms of the verse which I have just read in your hearing. He has said to me, “There is no new verse for you this year. There is an old verse that you must believe even more intently than you have.'' Continue with I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10: Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, that thy hand might be with me, that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not vex me! And God granted him all that he requested.

I am going to hold on to this verse for 1964, and I expect God to do tremendous things, marvelous things, more marvelous than He did in 1963.

Prayer

Our Father, we thank You today for this time spent in rehearsing how Thou hast opened the door of faith. We thank Thee that Thou hast been faithful, and we recognize, our Father, that it is entirely of Thee and we give Thee the glory. Thank Thee, Father, for Thy faithfulness in using Thy Word. Grant this moment that the Spirit of God may speak to our hearts, that we may be challenged to even greater things. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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