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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

I lift up my eyes to the hills and ask, “From where does my help come?”

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

 

The President cannot say “Who!”

As Pastor I cannot say “Why!”

In my helplessness, I turn to you O’ Lord.

You who have been our help in ages past,

let us find our peace in You.

 

I do not know what to say to the injured.

I do not know what to say to the grieving.

In my speechlessness, I turn to you O’ Lord.

As we walk through the valley of shadows,

let us see You at our side.

 

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Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room … 

because the devil doesn’t get lazy around you. (1)

Most Christians only pray when they are desperate.

As Screwtape might say to Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters:

“Never let them think they need to pray.  Let them have enough confidence in themselves and fate that they do not ask Jesus to intervene.  This way they create more space for our tempting ploys.”

Prayer is a bother to us because we have nothing measurable to show for it at the end of the day.  

This is why many pastors rarely pray.

How do you explain to the Church Board that the 3 hours you spent in prayer this morning was productive work, while Mr Jones and Mrs. Smith were at nursing home ailing in loneliness, while Darrin was off being a teenage derelict, and while the homeless at the shelter needed someone to cook them breakfast?

Let’s be honest, what would impress your boss and friends the most?

Tell them you woke up at 6 AM and prayed for 3 hours for the Spirit of God to mold your heart and mind, to send Jones and Smith a friend, to get Darrin on track, and to motivate volunteers to work at the homeless shelter.

Or

Tell them that you woke up at 6 AM to serve breakfast at the homeless shelter, then met with Darrin before he went to school, and visited with Smith and Jones as you passed the nursing home before arriving at the office at 9 AM.

No contest here.  We know who will get the big raise.

Genuine praise, adoration, and glory comes to the man, woman, or child who works for God serving the needy, while pleasing pleasant platitudes are offered for prayers.

At the end of Luke 10, when Martha complained to Jesus that her sister avoided kitchen work to listen to him, Jesus said:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (2)

In Luke 11:1, Jesus is praying and one of his disciples said, “Jesus teach us how to pray!”

We all need more knee time with God.

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  1. I compiled this quote by combining two statements, the first from Oswald Chambers and the latter from Martin Luther.  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).  Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 240). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Luke 10:41–42.

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Fellowship with Jesus does not guarantee loyalty to Him. 

It takes more than that. (1)

 

My Dad raised me to be loyal.  It is one of those values which he holds to tightly.  I am not sure why loyalty is so important to him, but it is.  Perhaps he was once stung by the kiss of betrayal. 

 

Jesus had 12 close friends into which he had poured out His heart and soul.  They were together 24/7 for three years.  Who could ask for a more loyal group of friends?  Jesus could!

 

In the moment of His greatest need, after unveiling the disloyalty of one of His friends, Jesus asked His remaining friends to stay awake and pray for Him while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The friends slept.  This was only the beginning.

 

For three years they had been with Jesus, worshipped with Him, prayed with Him, and grew in faith as He discipled them.  Jesus had fed them, protected them, saved them, inspired them, and strengthened them.

 

Then one dark night, it was all for nought.

 

I see many Christians do the same thing.

 

They worship, sing, pray, listen, and use His name frequently.  They have tight fellowship with Jesus, until the world offers them a better deal.

 

The world’s offerings are varied.  You may be offered 30 silver coins from men in power or you may be desperate for popularity when a little girl asks you a question among campfire friends.  

 

Quietly we slip away from Jesus enjoying the jingle in our pocket and hoping the rooster does not crow.

 

Regret always comes before sun rise when you are disloyal to Jesus.

 

Being tight with Jesus today does not guarantee you will be tight with Him tonight.

 

What are you doing to protect yourself from being disloyal to Him?

 

I pray:

“Lord, lead me not into temptation. Protect me from the Evil One, the great tempter.  Guard my heart and mind, keep me close to You.” (2)

 

Will Jesus find you worshipping Him tomorrow?  It’s going to be a beautiful day!

 

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  1. Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).
  2. Matthew 6:13 and Philippians 4:7

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Jesus breathed on them and said, 

“Receive the Holy Spirit.” (1)

I am poised to blow by Pentecost.

I have too much to do to sit around and wait for the Holy Spirit to come to me.

When Jesus died, it was 3 days before He was resurrected.  By then, his disciples were back fishing and the women were gathering burial spices.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

They burned oil for 10 days while gathered in an Upper Room praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come.

Imagine a Pastor today inviting all the members of a congregation to come to worship on Sunday and stay for 10 days, praying and waiting for something to happen.

I can imagine the Pastor praying for a hospital emergency by the second day.  It would give him an excuse to leave the sanctuary, abandon the time of prayer, and get on with ministry.

Who has time to wait 10 days for God, for Jesus, and for the Holy Spirit?

Christians today are action oriented.  

Sitting and waiting and praying and waiting and sitting and twiddling thumbs for a day or two, muchless ten would drive us all insane.

Hmmm ….

No wonder the church has so little to offer the world.

Perhaps I need to join Edwin Hatch in his prayer song:

Breathe on me, Breath of God; fill me with life anew;

Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure;

Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am all yours. (2)

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), John 20:22.
  2. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 156.

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Thank You God

When I teach leaders to pray, I start by teaching the group the Thank You God form of prayer.  It is a simple and safe form of group prayer.

Everyone prays in turn as we move around the circle.  Pray what you wish.  When you have finished your prayer, close with the words, “Thank you God”. These closing words signal the next person in the circle to pray.

The beauty of this prayer is not everyone prefers to pray out loud in groups.  They do not need to do this in this form of prayer.  They may pray quietly and then, when led by God, simply pray aloud, “Thank you God”. Thus, signaling the next person to pray.

Martin Luther wrote:

We’re showered with blessings every day, and we’re always using what God gives us. …  we accept his gifts as if they simply appeared out of nowhere or as if we earned them through our own efforts, diligence, or wisdom. We think that God somehow owes us these things, and therefore we don’t need to thank him. (1)

As I walk through my day, whether with others or alone, I pray the Thank you God prayer regularly.  

It keeps my heart and spirit grateful and humble.

As you journey through today take time to pray the Thank You God prayer.

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 117). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

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Easter has come, but it does not need to be gone.

If yesterday’s celebration is beginning to fade, I encourage you to print and post this personal affirmation of faith on your computer screen, refrigerator, mobile devices, and anywhere else you regularly look during the course of your day.  

Read it, memorize it, and recite it.  Jesus went all the way to the cross and through the crucifixion to secure for you the forgiveness of your sins and the resurrection of your body at death.  Surely, you and I can do the same.

Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you who wrote this commitment.  Regardless, make it yours.

My Commitment as a Christian

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. 

I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees,  colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. 

I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer, and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough,  my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. 

I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,  hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. 

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. 

And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, my banner will be clear!

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Easter Sermon Notes

Remember What He Said

Scripture: Luke 24:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 54-58

To listen to this sermon, click here on April 9 and click on link for sermons

.

I. Don’t you remember what I said ….

A.  Words we have all heard

B.  Luke 24:5-6 – The 2 men/angels to the women at the tomb

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here!   He has risen!

Remember how He told you …

C.  The women had already forgotten

When reminded by the angel

=> 24:8 Then they remembered His words

D.  Regarding His death and rising

Matt 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, and Luke 9:22

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

E. Regarding His Resurrection

Matthew 22:31-32

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I am not God of the dead, but of the living.

John 11:24

I am the resurrection and the life.

II. Paul writing to the Corinthian Church

A.  1 Corinthians 15

Reminds us of the reason for the season

What are we celebrating today

Everyday within the church

The resurrection of Jesus

B.  He reminds them to believe in 15:1

The good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved,

C.  ==> theological discourse on the resurrection …

3 sections in 1 Corinthians 15

1. 1-11 – The Truthfulness of the Gospel

2.  12-24 – The Resurrection of the Dead

3.  35-58 – The Resurrection of the Body

D.  Crescendo of chapter 15 is reached in verses 54-57

When he speaks of the victory of the cross

Listen to Paul’s summary about

what the resurrection of Jesus means for us:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, 

and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

E.  The resurrection of Jesus represents the two victories of the cross

Over two powers/realities which deeply affect our daily lives

1.  Over the power of sin to cause our spiritual death

2.  Over the power of physical death to end our life

III. The Resurrection gives us victory over Sin

A.  Sin has incredible power over us

In Romans Paul tells us about the realities of sin

Romans 3:23 – All sin and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death

B.  While we like to argue about what sin does to us,

We all know deep within our souls

What sin does to us, to our relationships, to our lives

And to our relationship with God

C.  Sin destroys life,

it weighs down life,

it takes life away,

it kills life

D.  While we may bravo in our sin when committing it

We regret our sin when is shatters our life

E.  Examples of sin destroying life

1.  Zacchaeus – the tax collector

Cheated and greedy, loathed by the people

Found forgiveness and restoration in Jesus

2.  Former Illinois Governor – Rod Blagojevich

Now serving 14 years for corruption as governor

Affect on his 2 daughters

I will guarantee you sin is weighing him down

3.  The Woman caught in adultery

Leaders wanted to stone her to death

Have you ever been in room

When spouse reveals/confesses adultery to spouse and family

Looks could kill – pain, anger, grief

Weeping of regret for sin … Weighs down heavy

4.  Even unintended sins ==> deep regret

Elderly priest – Good Friday – ran over 5 parishioners,

killed one, imagine the weight on him

9 year old playing with gun kills his twin –

Imagine the weight on his shoulders

and father who left gun loaded and available

F.  Anyone who says sin is

without consequence without victims is deceived

G.  Every sinner prays for a do-over

All of us in this room have done something we regret

It hurts … It pains … It weighs us down

H.  The wages of sin is death

But because Jesus died for us

Took on the death of our sins

And because he rose from the dead

The death of our sins has been removed

==> why Paul proclaims

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?….

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I.  At Easter … because of Jesus’ death resurrection

We celebrate the forgiveness of our sins

The removal of the wages of sin from us

J.  This news, this fact, causes many in the church

to move from lamenting

to singing and rejoicing

Examples:

1. African-american spirituals:

2. The American spiritual

3.  Those whose lives have been broken by sin

shame us in our ho-humness of Easter Hallelujahs

Friday at Rockford Rescue Mission

Weeping, wailing, dancing, shouting

Genuine joy … lives saved by God’s grace

K.  If it weren’t for Easter … The resurrection

We couldn’t sing these songs

IV.  Resurrection gives us victory over death at the end of this life

A.  As believers and by God’s grace

We share in Jesus’ resurrection

John 11:25-26

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

B.  I have spent much of my ministry with people as they deal with death

C.  Death not only ==> grief and sadness

it also ==> anxiety, worry, fear in all of us

What comes after death?

Is death the end?

Is this all there is to life?

D.  Jewish faith places emphasis on remembering

Because no belief in an after-life

Jesus teaching about resurrection, an after life

was something people had never heard

People do not simply live on in the memories of others

there is life after our physical, earthly death

E.  Easter – Jesus’ resurrection

Is more than Jesus telling us

It is Jesus proving for us that

There is more to life on earth

than death at the end of the day

F.  Paul said in Philippians 1:21

For me to die is gain, for me to live is lost

G.  Jesus’ resurrection becomes

The resurrection of our bodies after death

The gift of life eternal

The communion of the saints

H.  Life in and of itself is hard

For most people in most cultures

Negro spirituals sung while toiling in the fields as slaves

Joyously sing of resurrection and better heavenly world

Three most moving ones are:

The Gospel train’s comin’ 

Swing low, sweet chariot

Soon and very soon.

V.  These two victories of the cross

A.  The forgiveness of sins

The resurrection of the body

Are not victories everyone will celebrate

B.  Do not be fooled by sentimentality that says

the forgiveness of sins

the resurrection of the body

is for anyone

We love to say …

Pastor, you know 

the friendly neighbor, the nice lady down the street

their spouse, the caring coach, my good muslim neighbor

they’ll be heaven!  

Won’t they?

C.  We may wish it, but scripture teaches differently

Scripture teaches – Only for those who believe in JC

will share in the victories won by Jesus in His resurrection

D.  These victories are for those who believe

In Jesus as God’s Son, as Lord and Savior.

As the two angels at the tomb said to the two women:

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee:

This is what Jesus said:

Mark 16:16

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

John 3:16-18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus to Martha in John 11:25-26

Reveals the importance of belief

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 

Do you believe this?” 

John wrote his gospel so we might believe and be saved

John 1:6-7  => belief

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

VI.  The Easter Invitation

A.  Easter is a celebration

For believers and followers

B.  Not only is Easter a time for celebration

But it is a time for commitment

for recommitment

C.  Perhaps

You have taken the Lord for granted

Jesus died for me but I am going to do what I want

You have fallen away

Placed distance between you and Jesus

You know you have not been a faithful follower

D.  Now, today is the time

To commit yourself to the Lord

To accept Him as Savior and Lord

To recommit yourself to follow him

If you have not professed your faith in Jesus

as God’s Son, as your Lord and Savior …

If you have not repented and confessed your sins

asking for God’s forgiveness through Jesus …

Do so now, today

so that Jesus’ resurrection, His victories

Over the power of sin to cause your spiritual death

Over the power of physical death to end your life

will be yours

Do so now,

so that Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness

will be your resurrection and forgiveness

Paul put it this way:

This is the good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved

That Christ died for our sins 

That Jesus was buried

That he was raised on the third day 

Just as He said,

in accordance with the Scriptures.

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