prayer

PRAYING FOR YOUR PASTOR

It is always meaningful when someone earnestly lets me know they are praying for me. It simply never gets old.

We all need prayer and we all need to be praying for one another.

I don’t know if pastors need prayer any more than other believers, but I do know that we don’t need it any less!

Pastors do have some unique pressures which make them vulnerable to the enemy and to weariness.

Jason Allen is a pastor who shares a few reasons why it is good to pray for your pastor in this article.

Praying for your pastor will not only bless him and his family, it will bless you and your church family.

 

HOW TO SPEAK TO THE KING OF BORNEO

 

If you want to speak with a king, be prepared to either be ignored, or jump through an impressive series of hoops.

An interesting example of this comes from the pen of the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first voyage around the world from 1519 to 1522.

In his journal, Magellan records his visit to the king of Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world, at almost twice the size of California.

Here is the description of what was involved in speaking to that king:

When we arrived at the city, we were obliged to wait two hours, until there came two elephants covered with silk, and 12 men, each carried a porcelain vase covered with silk, for wrapping and conveying our presents. 

All the streets were full of men armed with swords, spears, and bucklers, the king having so commanded. 

We entered the palace and ascended a staircase, accompanied by the governor and some of the chief men, and entered a large room full of courtiers; there we sat upon a carpet, with our presents.

There were placed 300 men of the king’s guard with naked daggers in their hands, which they held on their thighs.  At the end of a second and higher hall was a great opening, covered with a curtain, and on this being raised, we saw the king sitting at a table.

One of the chief men informed us that we could not speak to the king, but if we wished to convey anything to him, we were to say it to him, and he would say it to a chief of higher rank, who would lay it before a brother of the governor, who was in the smaller room, and they by means of a blow pipe placed in an opening in the wall would communicate our thoughts to a man who was near the king, and from him the king would understand them. 

He taught us meanwhile to make three obeisance’s to the king, with the hands joined above the head, raising first one foot, then the other, and then to kiss our hands to him.  This is the royal obeisance.

Magellan’s experience doesn’t surprise us, because people in power often want to demonstrate their greatness.

How amazing it should be to us, that Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, allows us to have immediate and constant access.

You don’t need an appointment

You don’t have to speak through a priest

You are not limited in the time you have to spend with him

You can come as often as you want

And you always have his focused attention

Child of God, consider how sad and wasteful, when we neglect to use the wondrous access we have to speak to the King of kings!

 

WHY DOES PRAYER SEEM SO HARD?

cry-out

by Debbie Huber

Many of us struggle to pray even though we say we believe that God hears our prayers and that praying to Him is a good thing. 

There are a lot of reasons why Christians have difficulty persevering in prayer but a significant reason is that we really do not value it enough to make time for it.  We are too busy so we just say, “God help me”, or “God help them” and then we are on our way.  Does it really make that much of a difference anyway?

God has used the examples of others in my life to encourage me to see the great value of prayer. 

I can say with complete conviction that nothing has had a greater impact on my marriage than my husband’s commitment to prayer.  I remember the time, years ago, when Kyle committed to worshiping God in his prayer time and witnessing his growing desire to love and know God more because of who God is and what He has done.  And this has made our marriage relationship grow.  When I struggle with prayer, God reminds me of this evidence that God meets us in our prayers.

I have a dear friend who pursues me to persevere in prayer.  She has been battling recurring Cancer, and has family problems and financial difficulties, yet she never tires of lifting up the concerns and difficult circumstances of others in prayer.  I see her take joy in praying for others and trusting God in her prayers.  In love, she pursues me to pray with her which strengthens my desire to pray.

Paul Miller says in his book, A Praying Life, that many of us “struggle to learn how to pray because we are focusing on praying, not on God”.  The difference that I see in Kyle and in my friend is that they see prayer as relationship; and the focus is on getting to know God.  Consequently, as our relationship with God grows, we get to know our own heart as well and He changes us.

Do not wait until you feel like you have it all together to pray.  Paul Miller says to “come messy…come overwhelmed with life, come with your wandering mind.”

 

Greentree Church Women’s Ministry is hosting a live simulcast of a nationwide prayer event, “Cry Out!”, presented by Revive Our Hearts on September 23, 2016. On this night hundreds of thousands of women will gather in thousands of locations to seek the Lord together . . . for such a time as this!

What could be more vital at this critical time, than for women to get on their knees—together—to cry out to the Lord for mercy and intervention.

This three-hour prayer meeting will focus on 5 areas of prayer emphasis: 

personal, families, churches, our nation, and the world

Each segment will be led by a different keynote speaker and will include Scripture reading, a short devotional message, corporate interactive prayer, and worship.

Praying together with other believers in Christ will encourage and strengthen your personal prayer life as well as draw us together in unity and love for our God.

We will meet in the Learning Center meeting room at 6:30 with the prayer event to beginning at 7.  For more information and to register online use this link

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.19.16

‘In Jesus Name’

John 16:23-28

 

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is preparing his followers for when he will leave them. Part of Jesus’ encouragement is the way his leaving will bring to them greater access to God

 

Jesus transformed how we pray

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mt, he taught his followers to pray

He gave them an example prayer, which we know as the Lord’s Prayer

In it he taught us to pray “our Father”; this was the first time we were invited to address God as ‘Father’

It is a revolutionary new perspective that emphasizes the depth of the relationship we now have with God through Christ

In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus adds another revolutionary ‘first’ in how we pray (v23)

Six times in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, he tells his disciples to now pray “in my name”

Praying “in Jesus name” is not a magic formula to get answers

1.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Position (vs 26-27)

Those who trust in Jesus are fully accepted by the Father and we can speak to the Father just as Jesus did on earth!

Praying to our Father, in Jesus name, says we belong in this relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Verse 27 brings up an issue that is widely misunderstood in world

As John 3:16 says, ‘God loves the world’. However, this doesn’t mean he is in loving relationship with everyone in world – as the following verses make clear (John 3:16-18)

Unless we have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin, we are condemned

Trusting in Jesus’ name brings us into a relationship of covenant love with God

2.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Purpose 

This point has been made throughout the Farewell Discourse

John 14:13 – what we ask and how God answers is meant for his glory

John 15:7 – asking in Jesus’ name requires abiding in him and his word

John 15:16-17 – God answers our prayers to bring kingdom fruitfulness

We are never given privileges or promises from God that diminish his sovereignty

In the middle of this section, Jesus tells disciples that he will soon speak ‘plainly’ (v25)

He contrasts this to his speaking in “figures of speech”

The word used here often means “perplexing” speech and that meaning fits the context best

Jesus will soon be able to speak plainly, because after his death and resurrection, Jesus’ teaching will become clearer to them

The events of the gospel will make all Scripture clearer to them (Luke 24:27)

Immediately after saying this, Jesus repeats about “praying in my name”

Clarity about the purpose of Christ in the gospel helps how we pray

We now know what values should drive our prayers

 

There are questions about prayer we cannot fully answer

This is because God answers our prayers from his sovereignty, not ours

However, we know God’s sovereignty is complete, wise and good

So “Ask” – often and with faith!  This is a clear application of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse

There is a parallel invitation from Jesus in John 7:37-39

Jesus invites us to “come and drink” for he is sending the Holy Spirit

Yet, we tend to come and ‘sip’; we half-heartedly seek Jesus!

What is the state of your “asking”?

v24 instructs us to “ask that your joy may be full”

Most of us are good about praying for rescue in times of great distress

But there is much more to pray about!   

Let us be filled with ‘asking’ – for the glory of Christ!

GREAT PRAYER TIPS THAT WILL NOT WEIGH YOU DOWN

pray-1024x682

I refer to prayer a lot in my preaching, because it is simply and absolutely necessary:

to mature spiritually

to know God more closely

to love God in reality

to resist sin more consistently

to hear the Holy Spirit more clearly

to live worship-fully

to be used of God more fruitfully

etc.

Even so, my anticipation can be somewhat modest when I click on a link for another article on prayer. Articles on prayer can be burdensome, shallow or even worse – convicting!

But I am glad to connect you to this article on prayer by David Qaoud from the Gospel Relevance Blog

Actually, it is not an article, it’s a list. More specifically it is “25 Quick Tips and Reminders to Help Your Prayer Life”.

I found David’s list to be excellent! There are no “filler” points just so he could get to 25. His list is balanced, wise and most of all – practical. It was not shallow. I was not burdened. But yes, I was hooked by a point of conviction.

And if you have a point to add to David’s “25” – please share it with us!

BACK IN THE SWAMP

 

How did we get into the swamp of sin – again?

John MacArthur gives us an obvious, yet insightful clue:

“Nobody just falls out of a tree. They climb up in it, move around a bit, and then fall out.”

Erik Raymond, shares this quote and some very helpful thoughts in this article found on the Gospel Coalition Website, “A Secret Life of Prayer Will Prevent a Secret Life of Sin”.

Erik’s article is only an important reminder if you are ever tempted or struggle with sin.

Temptation will keep coming, but that doesn’t need to overwhelm or discourage us.

Because God’s presence, wisdom, strength, and commitment are all greater than our temptations and our Tempter!

However, we do need to operate in God’s grace and not keep walking in our own ways. Let’s become more consistent in holding onto the handrail of God’s abundantly offered grace to us.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.21.15

When life is hard, God is still here       

Psalm 6

The Psalms connect our struggles, fears and questions, with the greater realities of God’s presence with us

 

Concerns We Have In Bringing Burdens To God

1.  We are fearful God will respond as we deserve (v1)

David recognizes we never deserve God’s “grace”

Whether or not our sin caused our current problem, we are sinners

God’s help is plentiful, but it is always a grace

Knowing this, should effect how we come to God

We approach with a heart of humility, submission and gratitude

We don’t accuse God of being unfair  

Knowing we are undeserving, should never keep us from coming – otherwise no one could ever come to God!

We come with confidence in Christ, and how his life, death and resurrection allow mercy to flow

2.  We become discouraged that are needs are far beyond our strength (v2)

We think we are capable of solving most problems, but we are actually fairly helpless

We cannot fix people, stop aging, change hearts or stop evil

We all realize we need God sometimes, but we need to see that it’s a constant need

Encouragement is found when we embrace our weakness and God’s infinite strength

3.  We struggle with how long God allows our burdens to last (v3)

We expect trouble will come, but when it doesn’t go away our heart murmurs

Like David, we can be honest about how this is hard for us. God wants open communication, he wants conversation

But, he also deserves our trust, our having an eternal perspective, and our contentment in him

4.  We feel as if God has turned away from us (v4)

Even though we may “feel” this way, we shouldn’t remain in a perspective based on our feelings

We answer how we feel and what our limited eyes see – with biblical truth

We apply what the Bible tells us about God, his gospel, and his covenant with us

5.  We think God hasn’t given us enough grace to fulfill his purposes for us (v5)

David wants to praise and serve God for the sake of the people who are living

He is showing that he is not like people who only want God’s help so they can go on their way

We were created to know and worship God, but sin perverted that

Jesus saves us in order to return us to that purpose

How we come to God for help should keep that agenda in view

It Is Real That Burdens Hurt and Wear Us Down (vs 6-7)

This is part of life in a world that rebels against God’s rule

Faith and godliness stop our own sin that would bring sorrow, but it doesn’t keep us from being hurt by the world’s sin

The Psalms show that God gives space and grace to share hurts

As his people, we should be that way with one another (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

We cannot imitate God unless we are serious about biblical community

This should be exciting! We can imitate God, impact each other and get the attention of people who haven’t see God’s power to transform

God’s grace and presence is a greater reality than our burdens (vs 8-10)

The Psalmist’s hope is based in God’s character and faithfulness

v8  God sees our burdens and understands how they affect us

v9  God does listen to us and he knows how to respond

v9  God will respond – he never ignores us

 However, v10 those who ignore God, will ‘be put to shame’

In the end they will discover all their labors wasted pride empty

Burdens and God’s grace are both real

But the realities of God are far greater and they should be what rules over our heart

Which reality rules how you live – that life is hard or that God is faithful?

BOLD PRAYERS

iStock_000004136424XSmall

Every Christian wonders at times about the worthiness and effectiveness of their prayers.

Perhaps you may wonder if they are being given much attention. Certainly it can often seem as though our earnest prayers are not being answered

I cannot answer or solve all those prayer concerns in this blog, but I can give you three prayers which every Christian can pray with absolute confidence.

As we offer these prayers, we can know that God not only gladly receives them, they will be answered beyond our expectations!

1. Pray for our sanctification and that of other believers

The Bible tells us that God will complete his perfect work in us (Philippians 1:6) and that everyone who has been justified, will be glorified (Romans 8:29-30).

So pray boldly for your growing holiness and love for God

2. Pray that more people will be saved

If Christ has not yet returned, it is because there are more people He is committed to saving

So pray boldly for God to save many

3. Pray for the glory of Christ’s Kingdom

Our Lord is and will always be “King of kings and Lord of Lords”. Nothing will ever diminish him, his
kingdom or his plans

So pray boldly for our Lord’s kingdom to be glorified

PRAY FOR THESE FAMILIES

c4c5c6

Summer camp is now over, but the work God will be doing continues. Please continue to pray that God will work in these families. Ask that God will enable us to keep connecting with them

Photos by Bill Wright

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.20.15

“Excited to Pray”

Matthew 7:7-12

One of the biggest struggles in prayer is that it often seems to be one-sided. Jesus wants us to know that prayer is an activity we should enter with anticipation

Jesus Urges Persistence Toward God

The verb tense for “ask–seek–knock” indicates we are to keep doing them

The Christian life is described as “Walking with God”, which is a life engaged with Him

We will sink the deep roots of maturity through being persistent with spiritual disciplines

And we will regularly taste the sweet fruit of joy and peace that the Bible holds out to us

As Christians, the alternative to persistence toward God is inconsistency

God often seems distant

Sins in our life are not overcome

Obedience to God becomes a grind to us

Just becoming persistent in godliness would revolutionize your life

 

However, the Weight of This Passage is On God Not Us

Our persistence is not the foundation of living for God

The “ask–seek–knock” in vs 7-8, is in response to what God is like in vs 9-11

If the weight of life fulfillment is on our ability to persevere – it will crush us

Persistence not a magic power, it is like faith which has its strength in its object

When the weight of life fulfillment is on what God is like – we find rest

Now persistence makes sense, because it is building on a secure foundation (vs 24-27)

 

What About God Deserves Our Persistence?

1.  God is Wise

He “knows” how to care for us (v11)

Persistence with God keeps our life connected to unfailing wisdom

We don’t have to figure everything out to find rest

2.  God is Good

He knows what are “good gifts” (James 1:16-17)

‘Goodness’ only exists, because it is in God’s character

Knowing God is good, helps me push through what is not easy

3.  God is Faithful

He will never fail in his character or his covenant

There is comfort in knowing that every time we come to God, he is the same

4.  God is our Father

Learning to see God as our Father, is a prominent Sermon on the Mt theme (Matt 6:9, 26, 32)

Jesus wants us to see God with the same perspective he has

 

We Need To Address The Elephant In The Room: Unanswered Prayer

All Christians experience it and struggle with it (Psalm 13)

God always answers us, but it is according to his values

(1) God works from an eternal perspective

(2) God works for his kingdom

What if my prayers have a wrong perspective?

The answer depends on our relationship with God

1.  For people who don’t love God, he is not their Father

They have no relationship with him and cannot expect answers

The truth is they don’t care about God, they only want to use his power

For them, the one prayer God will answer is to save them (Romans 10:13)

2.  For the people who are children of God

Our Father uses even our faulty, misguided prayers (Romans 8:26-27)

This should encourage us even more to be persistent in praying

How do we keep from discouragement if we don’t see answers?

We keep our eyes on Christ with conviction that the cross is enough!

What we have in Christ is proof that v8 is abundantly true

 

Jesus Exhortation to Ask–Seek–Knock is Invitation to Be Engaged With God

(1) Bring our needs to him

(2) Learn from him

(3) Have fellowship with him

God is not interested in a one-sided relationship

He wants our responsiveness to him, just as we want that from him

Asking God to answer our needs, involves inviting him to work in us

 

When Life Is Engaged With God the “Golden Rule” Flows Out (v12)

If we are content in God’s care, we can freely turn our life outward

What we know of God and experience in him, empowers us

We have not only experienced that life is bruising, we have experienced Christ is healing

When we are rooted in that faithfulness, we will bear a similar fruit to others

When our heart belongs to God – to treat people as we want will be what God wants