6/21/2020 When a Father Prays Luke 18:1-8
This being Father’s Day, what better way to acknowledge a dad than when he prays. Men in general and especially dads are fixers by nature. They like to fix things, build things, work with their hands to accomplish a task, and the best task that a man a father can do is to fold his hands in prayer. A father’s desire is to fix whatever is broken, be it a material thing, a relationship, or whatever it is that is lacking. And there are things that simply cannot be fixed except through prayer. From Sunday’s sermon we know that prayer is a conversation with God and to know that your father prays for you, what better love can there be? Prayer is lifting up our loved ones to God, asking him to act in their lives for their needs and hurts. Parents whose children are hurting… pray for them. Pastor George gave us points in his message to Pray with Consistency – don’t ever give up; and Pray with Creativity – change things up, a different place, use written prayer, or however the Spirit guides you to come and pray. We heard that we are to keep praying until prayer is answered or prayer is changed. To persevere just like The Parable of the Persistent Widow from Sunday’s scripture passage in Luke, to always pray and not lose heart, God is listening and acting even when it seems that he isn’t.
In one of the video’s that we viewed this week in RNM from Todd Wagner, “Gifts I’d Give my Children” he states that there never is a wrong place or a wrong time to start praying. Prayer is evidence that we believe in God’s Word. Todd says that we should first bring ourselves before God to ask God as stated in Psalm 130:23-24, Search me O God and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me. Asking God to allow you to examine yourself, to see yourself rightly. Then ask that answers to prayer brings transformation in you so that you are satisfied with God alone and not with the world. Psalm 80:14; And to pray with authenticity, God wants it, ask ‘ Lord Help me’. Philippians 4:6-7,8. We first need to be right with God so that we can bring the prayers of our loved ones before him.
James Banks in his video on Praying with Jesus, talks about prayer being a privilege. To turn your worries into prayers. He says that most of us feel inadequate to pray, and the Disciples felt the same way, they even asked: Lord, teach us to pray. Prayer is so important to Jesus that he is still praying for us now, he continues to intercede for us. James says that somethings will only happen when we pray. There are battles in our lives or the lives of our loved ones that only God can win. When your kids hurt, you hurt. We need faith to keep asking, keep believing, persist, take His Word, pray promises back to God (Matthew 15:28) The best way to love someone is to pray for them, just like Jesus does for us continually. God’s mercies are new every morning, Banks says we never know when our prayer will be answered, it just may be today!
James Banks talked about how sometimes moms and dads hold on to things that their children give them, art projects, papers, gifts, those things that we hold on to because of the love a parent has for a child. A gift from a child says I Love You. Pray is our gift to God and to think that God feels that way about us, to hold onto our gifts of prayer. He referenced Revelation 5:8 “…they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” That’s us-God’s people. Our prayers are incense to God. Prayers mean so much to God that He keeps them before him in golden bowls. Prayers that are precious to him, of people who prayed throughout history, he keeps, that they are actually incense in heaven. He loves us so much that he treasures those moments with us, and he chooses to have our prayers around him continuously. Our prayers before him all the time. As Pastor George said to keep praying ‘til our prayers are answered or until they are changed… we are to pray taking time in prayer… waiting with God, waiting isn’t easy but an important part of prayer…to persist. As we pray, we draw closer to God, we learn to how to keep company with God. In prayer, says Banks, we are in preparation for eternity with him. James Banks says in prayer we declare our dependence on him, his promises, his timing. It’s through prayer -that moves the hand- that moves the world.
Kathie Lipp in Praying for your Kids give us suggestions to aid us in praying for our kids. Start a prayer journal for each kid, write specific needs for each, write gratitude expressed for them, find scripture you can claim for your kids and pray that back to God. Pray for character development for our children. Ask what do you want me to be praying about for this child? Make praying for your kids a daily priority. Where we see hopelessness, God see hope. Keep asking for results. Jesus says in John 14: 13-14, ask in my name.
A father’s love, a father’s prayer – when a father prays moves God. Father’s how important are your prayers!
Happy Father’s Day to the men who move and act in another’s life for Christ’s sake. Amen
Larry & Darlene
6/14 How to Pray for Others James 5: 13-20
The first line of our scripture passage for this week reads “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.”
Pray – okay, who me? What does that mean? How do I because I really don’t want to screw it up. I don’t want to get it wrong; someone is suffering, and I want to help them, but pray? I’m a little scared to pray after all I’m praying to God! Can you relate to this? Our sermon topic this week is How to Pray for Others. We know that as Christians we are to pray. And yes, we pray corporately in worship service but then someone else is saying the words I’m just agreeing to what is being said with my head bowed and eyes closed. That’s prayer, right? So, if I send a prayer request to the church then someone else will pray for that situation, for healing or help in the suffering for me or my friend. There then that’s how I address the command, “Let him pray”. While yes that is one way, but that is not what James is referring to when he said,” Let him pray”.
In Let him pray – you missed the him part. Him is us personally taking it to the Lord in prayer. Prayer in its simplest form is talking with God. A conversation much like you would sit and talk with someone you trust or confide in. In one of the RNM videos we viewed this week from Dr. Ed Young on How to Talk to God he says to start with the mindset of “Our Father”, to feel in your heart that God is dad and to talk with him that way. Jesus refers to God as Father many times throughout the Bible. We know that God sent his son Jesus to redeem us back to him. Dr. Young stated it this way, Jesus lived the life you and I did not live – He died the death that you and I deserve – so that you and I will be in family and be able to pray “Our” Father. Ed says we are no longer orphans in this world. We are in a family relationship, we have keys to the house so to speak, our legal status has changed. We are no longer citizens of this world, our citizenship is of another Kingdom, Heaven. Philippians 3:20 “We have a Father who cares deeply for us, he is Our Father who art in heaven”.
We as humans here on Earth will continue to struggle with our sin nature, that’s a given, that’s suffering. Again, from Sunday’s scripture passage In James 5:16 we read “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.” Pastor George reminded us that we are to pray for others and for self. Prayer lifting others up, bringing them before the Lord. We are God’s intermediary in praying for another in their suffering, they need help, in our suffering, we need help. We need “daddy’s hand” to help us. In Teach us to Pray, another of the RNM video series we watched this week, he talked on The Lord’s Prayer. We heard him tell us on the part – And lead us not into temptation – we are asking God to lead us away from testing, the sin of the world, the flesh and/or the devil, to lead us away from testing that we are not ready for yet, not strong enough to resist, and deliver us from the evil one. He referred to it like asking God to place his hands on our shoulders leading us through it all. For God goes with us each step of the way, for us and with us, there is always love in daddy’s hand. When another whom we love is suffering, we pray for God’s hand on them to guide and direct. That’s what Pastor George meant when he said in his sermon Sunday that prayer is lifting others up, bringing them before the Lord. In showing empathy to another that suffers in sin, we pray. We pray to Our Father for His guidance, for endurance, for help in the midst of suffering.
In What Should We Pray? by Alistair Begg another of this week’s series we learned in everything, turn to God in prayer. Pray for our world, the work of the gospel in our lives, to bring our lives in line with His purposes. In Ephesians 3:14-21 is a Prayer for Spiritual Strength, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. The passage ends with a giving glory to God, vs. 20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen”. God can do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. Take it to him in prayer, trust him to.
But, you say, God has let me down, God has hurt me, I’m angry with God and just can’t pray right now. In Charles Betters teaching on How Should I Pray when I’m Angry with God? he says we ask the Holy Spirit to interpret our brokenness. He referenced Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning’s too deep for words” The Holy Spirit intercedes. Charles talked about the temptations that Jesus went through after his 40 days and 40 nights of fasting in the dessert. He was tempted. He denied the temptations. In Matthew 4:11 we then read….”then the devil left him and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” In our pain too deep for words to express we seek help from the Holy Spirit to intercede for us to God, in our weakness from being under the burden of sin, once confessed and acknowledging our sin and of wanting to repent, to turn away from it, it’s then that Angels will come and minister to us, to help us out of the suffering and pain.
From Sunday’s sermon we heard again that we are to share the love, grace, and forgiveness that God offers. We are hands and feet to people in their time of need. We are to put aside our own stuff of fears, embarrassments, lack of confidence, but to pray with and for others. We are told that “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” May your Spirit guide us, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN.
Larry & Darlene
6/7 Honest Assessment James 5:1-12
This week’s message is titled Honest Assessment. That’s like grading our own test paper. How honest will we be? Basing that on this week’s scripture passage continuing in the Book of James we turn to Chapter 5 which is titled Warning to the Rich. It talks about our self-indulgences. Need we do an honest assessment on this, self-indulgences? They are all good right? Or at least good for me. Sunday’s sermon posed the question, Have I allowed what I have to rot me regardless of the cost to indulge? Take a moment to give that question an honest assessment. Then we change our focus beginning in verse 7 titled Patience in Suffering. It’s in our suffering that we question the why? We seek answers, we want to point blame, we even get angry with God and yes, we do lose patience These two parallel each other. Self- indulgence making me happy versus suffering through something causing me hurt or causing another’s hurt. Would they or could they ever intersect? So, giving an Honest Assessment, how are you handling both of these? In assessing we ponder – reflect on things – what’s really happening here? What are my feelings telling me? What motive drives me? What am I hearing, who or where do I get my information so that I can learn, think, and grow in understanding? Or do I even try?
This past week we’ve read and heard much about Black Lives Matter, the protesting, and rioting occurring and the death and destruction that follows. This is the current cultural issue going on. Pretty upsetting to hear. So, in an honest assessment what’s upsetting you about issues such as this? Can you name it? This week we’ve had several RNM videos to watch dealing with the issue of racism in our culture and more importantly in our churches. As Pastor George stated on Sunday that during his Pastoral studies a topic often discussed was the ’Bible versus the Newspaper’, how do we reconcile the two of these?
In the RNM video series The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby, he referred to a definition of racism stating that racism is a prejudice plus power; or another way in defining it is as a system of oppression based on race. We’ve only begun to watch this series. It has much history tied to its content. In Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans, he states that the goal of racial unity is Oneness. Oneness of purpose without denying a persons created identity. Dennis and Colleen Rouse in their series titled ONE, calls for a maturity beyond natural identity to a spiritual identity. Oneness in Christ. There is a racial divide, the challenge is to reconcile to other cultures and to one another. Colleen says it’s going to take intentionality – trying to evoke the change necessary in becoming one in Jesus name. Christianity and the Church- and being complacent versus courageous in dealing with our prejudices. It’s forcing us to own our own junk, to do an honest assessment. How is the church shown through me? Working towards reconciliation is not something to achieve but to receive, says Dennis Rouse. It’s a change in our mindset, in our hearts. He says that if you work the Word of God, the Word of God will work. God sees all people as one. He does not see race or color; God sees our heart. He calls us to love our neighbor as we do our-self. Recalling our study from James 2, ‘A Warning against Prejudice’, verse 8 says “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Another passage referred to in the series One was from 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) “Three things will last forever, Faith – Hope –Love, and the greatest of these is Love”. Love is a verb, it’s an action. The action of love prompts a response. When we’re faced with issues such as racism, are we reacting out of fear (a feeling) or responding through Truth and love?
Tony Evans says that the church needs to get more involved in the culture. The enemy loves to keep us at odds, divided with one another. The overriding conflict is fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. Needed are uncomfortable conversations, starting in the church. The church needs to be a visual demonstration of a comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. The solution to our problems comes out of God’s house, the Church. We need to have those difficult conversations. Take it out to your circle of influence, break free from perceived ideas and allow God to move our hearts. Tony says Justice is the equitable and impartial application of God’s moral laws in society. We the church need to be courageous in justice for all. Setting examples. Exemplifying Love in all we do. Loving others as they are. Standing firm in our faith and what it teaches us. As Pastor George states we are to live and love the way God wants us to live and love, following His example. In doing our Honest Assessment we are to remove what’s not good and to do what’s right in God’s eye. This could take some time, it’s never too late to start, and is starts with an honest assessment.
Larry & Darlene
5/31 First Things First Part 3 of Series: The Art of Decision-Making James 4: 11-17
The last three Sundays were grouped into a series titled: The Art of Decision Making. Decision making is an art, a skill, the principles, or methods governing any branch of learning. First, we studied Wisdom. We now know wisdom is based on biblical morals. We obey and seek to follow as God teaches us to. Then we addressed our selfishness and pride through humility. We learned that puffing ourselves up is squashing another. It’s through helping and serving others with humility that we make an impact. God sees our heart. He knows our every motive. This week we are addressing First Things First.
Pastor George in his Children’s Time mini sermon talked on The Priority of Following Jesus. Following Jesus is a priority to all of us who profess to be Christian. But how often have we as adults stopped to ask God, what should I do? How can I honor you with what I’m doing? Martin Luther King summarized it best when saying…to do the will of God, come what may! This week’s series in RNM we watched and learned from Andy Stanley on Discovering God’s Will. He says that our life is a subtotal of the decisions we make. So far, we’ve talked about First Things First, God’s Will, and life’s decisions. Do all of these go hand in hand? What about wisdom and humility? Do they play a part in God’s will for me since they too are a part of this series?
Throughout all of life we make many decisions. Some are simple, some are more difficult. Some will affect us a little, some will affect us a lot. All decisions we make reflect the God we follow. As Pastor George asked us, as we seek to put First Things First, what God is the best for me? In the scripture passage for this week, James 4:17 says……”it is sin to know good and yet not do it”. In making our decisions are we listening to our moral compass? In other words, following Jesus? Or what god has us closer than the one true God?
In My Dreams and God’s Will by Phil Vischer, he talked about his experience through his business called Veggie Tales. Phil said, “My dream is important to Him (God), and because my dream is good for God, He will bless my dream – this is when God is going to show up.” In reality, what he said he was saying is “The work I do for God is more important than my relationship with Him”. He was asking God to: open the door, bless us, then get out of my way – that kind of mentality. He wanted his dream. Veggie Tales eventually went bankrupt. Phil said in living the way God intends is for us to focus on obedience – God what do you want me to do? And am I doing it? He said, Life becomes about loving others not about accomplishing objectives. That’s where you find the fruit of the spirit – that’s where you find joy! Joy, an inner sense of wellbeing and satisfaction that endures through good times and bad.
Andy Stanley says we have a God who cares about you because He knows where you are in your life. God wants you to know His will for you more than you want to know it. The ultimate thing is God wants you to discover Him. God does not give us direction for consideration, but for action/obedience. God says Trust Me. Growing in your faith and obedience then you will be able to know and discern His will for you. Andy explained that in this life we have the Providential will of God. Those things God is going to do no matter what. We can read of these in scripture on what he’s accomplished through men and women of the Bible. Then there is the Moral Will of God, the basic do’s, and don’ts of the scripture. To remain morally pure. And then the Personal Will of God for each of us. The personal decisions all of us make. Every decision will cross with a principle of God’s word. What is the wise thing for me to do? Andy says we are to study our Bibles to dig out the principles. He said, you can disobey a command, but a principle….it’s the way the world works. There’s no disobeying a principle without a consequence.
First Things First – God’s will – our dreams. Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways”. We need to get to know God better. Read the Bible, look for principles, timeless truths, a cause, and effect behavior. Acting on the First thing, the priority of following Jesus, getting to know God, then when we dream dreams for our life – a career, marriage, family, finances, and so on, we need to first see it, get a vision, what does “it” look like? Define it, describe it, allow God to have some impact to this picture. Have courage, make decisions, accordingly, saying yes or no to opportunities that bring the vision into clear focus all the while living the way God intends for us to.
As Pastor George said on Sunday, we need strength to act and live. How can I honor you Lord with what I’m doing? Life and Religion says life justifies living. Grace and religion say its grace that justifies living. With God all things are possible. In making those decision in life we should: Stop – Ask – Pray – Listen – Respond. Pursue God’s best for me. Questions we can ask ourselves are 1. What one thing I could do that I am not doing now that would make a positive difference? And 2. What one thing in my academic/business/professional life would bring similar results?
Yes, learning the Wisdom that’s found within our Bibles and from others who God brings into our lives, plus living humbly in service to what God wants us to do, will lead us into doing the will of God and mastering the art of decision making. But always its First Things First – God is First.
Larry & Darlene