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Archive for January, 2009

Prayer – Part 2

prayer-4Not so long ago a man sat across from me at my desk telling me of the struggles of other Pastor’s in ministry. This man is a person who is involved with a thriving Men’s Ministry in his area. One of the areas that seemed to be lacking was that of prayer. He went on to tell me of a sin that Pastor’s who he talked to admitted having in their lives that held them back from prayer. I was completely blown away by this statistic. It had me wondering how many people in God’s Church are struggling with besetting sins that hold them back from crying out to God. Sin must be dealt with! The starting place is on your knees crying out to God to release you from whatever has its control on your life. Prayer is the only place that you will find forgiveness and healing.

One of the biggest problems for some could be that they are looking for instant deliverance. That does not always happen. But one thing that is certain is that God longs for His people to cry out to Him and confess their sins so that they can not only be forgiven, but that there can begin a process of renewal as well. Philippians 4:4-7 says;

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If you are not going to approach God through prayer you cannot expect His movement in your life. If you do start to approach Him you will find forgiveness, healing, and a greater desire to walk with Him. We have too many gimmicks and programs in the Church that just are not working! We need to get back to the basics of our faith. Our Churches need to be crying out to God! Our prayers together will only be affective as we live in holiness before Him. If you really want to see transforming power in your life and in your Church then start by taking care of the besetting sins in your life through prayer. If you commit yourself to this you will see God move in your life. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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Prayer – Part 1

prayer-31I have come to realize that the greatest gift that Jesus left for His disciples was prayer! We see in the beginning of the book of Acts that Jesus tells His disciples to wait from power on high. They spend their time waiting and then Pentecost comes and the Church begins with power that results in many conversions. As we go beyond the day of Pentecost we see the Church at work. One of the most prominent things that is clear to anyone is that the Church continued to pray and received from God the power, direction, and strength to fulfill their call. For those of us who spend regular time in the Word the book of Acts and the New Testament passages that talk about prayer can seem average to us. That is perhaps the biggest problem with our calling upon God with faith that He is working.

Perhaps we have tried to pray and did not see the results we wanted so it has now become some type of basic routine in a routine Christian life. But why would God give us this gift if it was not meant to have greater results? Perhaps one of our problems with prayer is that we not only give up easily, but we don’t pray in a way that lines up with the Will of God. If you would read through the book of Acts in one setting and look at the different types of prayers going on you will discover that the Church prayed the Will of God. Put more simply they prayed to accomplish something for the Kingdom. How often does the Church today pray about its Sunday Service through the week? How often do we pray for healing, revival, conviction for sin in our lives, power from the Spirit to be greater witnesses, and a greater desire to see the Great Commission fulfilled through our local assembly. Maybe the biggest problem with prayer is that we are not seeking God’s Will, but our own. When we don’t get what we want we just let it become some ritual or routine we go through and think that we are pleasing God on some level.

As I read the New Testament I see all the wonderful passages on prayer and believe that God wants us to pray with a greater expectation than I see in the Church. It could be that we have become so result driven that when things do not immediately change we think that prayer really does not do anything at all. I do know that through the centuries individual Christians, Churches, and Mission Organizations have been radically transformed by prayer. I do not want to miss out on what God has for me and my Church by not seeking God as much as I possibly can. What would become of our Churches, families, and lives if all of us prayed several times a day for only 15 minutes each time to start off with? I believe with everything in me that radical transformation would happen. The Church has been stepping backward for far too long not to seek God and wait for Him to move. Are you praying? Are you willing to let God begin to transform you in new ways? Are you wanting greater power from on high? Get on your knees and start praying. It is not a routine, it is a privilege!

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Our Church is currently going through the book of Philippians. While this book is considered a book of  joy I see the Apostle Paul as being focused on certain key elements. One of those elements is the Gospel. In this letter we have the Apostle writing from a stay in prison and while he is in a trial he is focused on the Gospel being proclaimed. That attitude is a wonderful testimony and a rebuke to the modern Church. It is a rebuke to us because it is an area that most of us are lacking in. In Philippians 1:12 Paul says;

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.

The trial that Paul is going through is serving to advance the Gospel. If you read through chapter 1 of Philippians slowly you will notice that this gives him great joy. I have been thinking a lot about evangelism lately and I have noticed that my passion concerning the lost coming to the faith has waned over the past few years. My solution is to cry out to God to turn this area of my heart around. I believe that God is faithful as the New Testament says many times and that by praying to have a greater desire for the lost that God will turn this around. Part of our problem in the Church today is that we want spiritual satisfaction and knowledge over the Will of God. The Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20 has not changed. We have a message of hope that needs to be heard by everyone around us. If your desire for evangelism has died out then start praying and ask God to change your heart. In time God will open up doors of opportunity. The Gospel (Romans 10:9-14) needs to be proclaimed by God’s people. Considering what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us we have a great responsibility to share the message.

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Lessons From a Puritan

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During the past week I picked up The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven J. Lawson and found that I had a lot to learn from one of the last Puritan Preachers of our country. In this book Lawson focuses on many of the Resolves that Edwards made and how he strived to live out the Christian life in the context of his day. His struggles and how he dealt with them are portrayed in a good light throughout this book. This book is small in size and has the potential to bless any Christian who picks it up. In a day that is lacking holiness and integrity this book is a great reminder to any Christian that our life with God is only what we make it.

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