Live and Pray as People of God – Philippians 4:1-9

Write out your prayers as you pray through this outline:

 

…that you would stand firm in the Lord.

 

…that you would agree in the Lord.

 

…that you would rejoice in the Lord.

 

…that you would be reasonable with each other.

 

…that you would trust the Lord in prayer.

 

…that you would consider the truth and live it!



A Mother’s Fervent Prayer – 1 Samuel 1:1-20, 24-2:1

In ancient Israel children were viewed as a sign of blessing from God; they were considered gifts from God!  Women unable to conceive were viewed suspiciously; a barren woman must have done something wrong for God to have withheld His blessing from her!

Hannah found herself in such a predicament. Not only did she have to endure the pain of barrenness but she had to contend with her sister-wife who tormented her about her unfortunate and desperate situation.  So Hannah prayed!  She prayed passionately and persistently for a son. She made a deal with God: if God gave her a son she would dedicate him to the Lord.  So, Hannah prayed a prayer of relinquishment.  She gave up control of a future son to God.

God answered her prayer favorably!  Hannah gave birth to Samuel and Hannah followed through on her promise to God; she dedicated him to the Lord!

We learn from Hannah’s experience how to pray for our children and grandchildren.  First, we should relinquish control of them to God.  Remember, your kids belong to God not you.  Second, pray with fervency, passion and sincerity of heart.  Let God know that your kids really matter to you!  Third, pray persistently.  Like Hannah, don’t give up praying for your kids. Regardless of how far they stray from God or what they do or how old they are, keep praying for them! Finally, pray with joy and gratitude for them
 
Thank God for your kids.


Make Prayer A High Priority! – Luke 5:12-16

Jesus made prayer a high priority in his life!  In Luke 5:12-16 Jesus healed a man with leprosy, a dreaded skin disease.  Jesus warned him not to tell anyone and  “yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. (vs.15-16)

Jesus didn’t seek popularity. Unlike many leaders today, Jesus tried to avoid the limelight.  In response to his growing popularity, Jesus would withdraw to lonely places and pray.

Jesus did this to avoid the temptation to become proud.   He didn’t want the crowds to treat him as a miracle worker or superhero!  Through prayer with God the Father, Jesus tapped into supernatural resources for life and ministry.  Jesus valued his time alone with God the Father.  He used it to enjoy intimacy and fellowship.

We can and should follow Jesus’ example. Make prayer a high priority in your life! Use time alone with God to build your relationship with Him.  I love my quiet times with God in the morning.  Do I have a quiet time every morning?  No, I miss some mornings.  But normally I take 20-30 minutes each morning to read the Word, pray and enjoy fellowship with God.  I believe these times have a cumulative effect; over time, they build my relationship with God gradually.

Some habits we develop are really good for us.  Habits like attending worship regularly, remembering our kid’s and spouse’s birthdays, maintaining friendships and praying as Jesus prayed.  Make prayer a high priority in your life!



PRAYER BEGINS WITH GOD – COLOSSIANS 1:1-4

Did you know that our prayers begin with God?

Prayer begins with God!

God moves in our hearts and puts the desire to pray within us! God enjoys the time He spends with us in prayer. That’s why Jesus prayed: to enjoy fellowship with the Father.
          
Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae begins with prayer.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you..” (vs.3)

God prompted Paul to write this letter when he was in prison in Rome and God prompted Paul to pray for the Christians in Colossae, a group of people he had never met.

When God prompts you to pray for someone or something, take a moment and pray for that person, situation, or relationship; whatever it is that needs prayer. I have heard some amazing stories of people encountering very difficult circumstances and God miraculously delivering them. Later, the people who encountered the difficulties found out a friend or family member had been praying for them at that exact time they were having the problem!

Realize that God loves to communicate with us! That’s why He places that nudge to pray in our hearts. When we pray, God really listens to us. Does it bother you (like it bothers me) that when you talk with some people they don’t really listen
to you? They’re looking at people passing by or are distracted by something on their phone, or whatever. God is never distracted when we pray! God listens to us carefully and answers according to His perfect will. This fact should make us more inclined to pray!
 
We can and should be open to praying at all times and in all places. We can pray in our cars, in restaurants, at work, at the baseball field, anywhere!

Prayer begins with God.

When you feel the prompting to pray, pray!!

 



ANNUAL PRAYER WORSHIP DEVOTION

‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is offensive way in me and lead me in the way  everlasting.’ Psalm 39:23-24
 
Ask Holy Spirit to silence all distractions and allow you to pray. 
 
‘He who did not spare His won Son, but gave Him up for us all…how will He not also, along with Him,  graciously give us all things?’ Romans 8:32
 
Reflect on Jesus, on the Cross.  Thank Him for what He did your you.  Thank Him specifically for the good things He has graciously given you! 
 
‘To the elders among you…be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve: not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.’ 1 Peter 5;1-3
 
Pray for our church leadership, for God to help them be men and women of faith as an example to all.  Ask the Lord to protect them, their families and marriages from the Evil One. 
 
‘Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.’  Psalm 86:11
 
Pray for our ministry as a church.  Ask God to direct us, correct us, encourage us…whatever He needs to do that we would glorify Him.  Pray for you and your family to walk closely with Jesus! 
 
‘Train up a child I the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.’  Proverbs 22:6
 
Pray that God would touch the lives of our  graduates, that He will protect them as they move into this new season of life, that they would not depart from their faith. 
 
Pray for the children and youth of our church in in your family that they would grow strong and grow in their faith.


‘To Whom Shall I Go?’ John 6:60-71

After Jesus’ message (see 6:22-59), the crowd grumbles in offense. Not only do they misunderstand some of what Jesus says (i.e. His call to feed upon Himself), but they also reject that which they do understand (i.e. His claim of divinity). As the crowd turns away from Him, Jesus asks His disciples if they will go too. Peter’s response is powerful. He says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”(68).

As emphasized on Sunday, we are called to hold fast to Christ Himself and to His Word. The question for us becomes “to whom shall we go” when the Bible says something that at first seems offensive to us? In other words, where will we turn when we disagree with a command in Scripture? Where will we find answers when it makes no sense to us? What will we do when it calls us to do something we’d rather not or calls us out of our comfort zones?

For Peter, the answer was simple: they had no where else to turn. Christ alone had the words of eternal life! What about you? Spend some time reflecting and writing. What are some things in Scripture that are hard for you, if you are being honest? This could stem from not understanding or from having strong feelings that are in conflict with Scripture. Write out some of these things now:

So what will you do? Your choices are to reject or ignore those parts of Scripture, to reject all of the Word, or to wrestle through these difficult things. Assuming you will wrestle through, what would that look like? What can you do to study and pray through these things more and come to a higher appreciation and love for the Word?



GOD’S WORD ENDURES FOREVER! – ISAIAH 40:6-8, 1 PETER 1:22-25

 We live in a fast changing culture!  People change jobs, marriages, churches, homes, friends and many other things. Science and technology continually change the way we live.  Just a year ago Sally and I were still using a desk-top computer at home.  Now we use a lap-top computer, a tablet and our phones!

Though our culture features rapid change, many of us respect people who endure.  The press often interview people who’ve lived past 100 years old.  We want to know “what’s the secret to longevity?”  We respect couples who remain married for a long time.  Recently at my annual check-up my doctor asked how long I had been married.  When I told him 40 years, he reached out and shook my hand!

We respect the Bible because of its enduring nature.

God’s word endures forever!

Both Isaiah and Peter teach this truth.  Note several characteristics of God’s enduring word.  First, observe that it’s a powerful word!  God’s word has great power!  I think about how stubborn and prideful I am.  It took a powerful Savior and His powerful word to move in my sinful heart and convert me.  Observe God’s powerful word in creation.  In Genesis 1 we read a refrain that repeats, “And God said..” God spoke creation into existence.  Talk about power!

Second, it’s a living word.  Peter describes God’s word as “the living and enduring word of God”.  The Bible lives because our living God inspired it.  God’s word has the power to speak to our hearts and change us.

Finally, it’s a resilient word.  God’s word has the power to withstand the attacks of heretics, critics and other naysayers.  We can always count on God’s word to be steadfast and true for it endures forever!



HOLY HELPER – JOHN 14:15-27

On Sunday, May 15 we celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost is often referred to as the ”birthday of the church”.  We read in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came down on Jewish believers in Jerusalem and they began manifesting His presence in amazing ways.

 
God sent the Holy Spirit to  help us live the Christian life.
 
He is our holy Helper!  Most of us know that living the Christian life can be very challenging and difficult.  Jesus set incredibly high standards for us to keep such as loving and forgiving our enemies, seeking God’s kingdom first in our lives, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus commanded us to take up our cross daily and follow him, preach the kingdom of God and make disciples of all nations.

Good news!  We can obey and follow Jesus’ challenging commands with the Holy Spirit’s help! What kind of help does He provide?  First, the Holy Spirit helps us obey Christ’s commands. Jesus said,

“If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23)

Second, the Holy Spirit instructs us.  In John 14:26 we read, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things.”  
 
Third, the Holy Spirit helps us remember what Jesus taught us.  In the second part of John 14:26 we read, “and will remind you of everything I have said to you”.  This means the Holy Spirit helps us remember scripture we have read or memorized.
 
Finally, the Holy Spirit fills our heart with peace.   Jesus said: “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid” (vs.27)
 
Clearly, Jesus meant that the Holy Spirit would bring peace to our troubled and fearful hearts.  Thus, we don’t have to be afraid!  Let the Holy Spirit help you live the Christian life!


SURVIVE TEMPTATION WITH GOD’S WORD – LUKE 4:1-13

Temptation.  It affects us in many different ways!  When tired of work, we’re tempted to lie and call in sick; at school we’re tempted to cheat on tests or for those of us older, to cheat on our income tax.  We’re tempted to make idols out of good things in our lives like sports or hunting or music.  We’re tempted to carry grudges against people who have hurt us in some way.

In Luke 4:1-13 we see that Jesus used scripture to deal with temptation.  We learn from Jesus that we should

use the Bible to confront temptation!  Use the Bible to confront temptation!

In the three temptations of Luke 4:1-13, Satan tried to get Jesus off track; he tried to get him to leave his Messianic mission of introducing the kingdom of God to a broken and sinful world.

Satan also uses temptations to distract us and move us away from God’s plan for our lives.  It’s important that we know scripture in order to confront satanic temptations!  How well do you know scripture?

I challenge you to memorize scripture, especially scripture that pertain to temptations which entice you.  For instance, if you struggle with gossip, memorize

Psalm 141:3 “Lord, set a guard at my mouth, a sentry at the door of my lips”.  If you struggle with self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself, memorize Gen 1:27 “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”.  If you struggle with pride, memorize 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt you at the proper time casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you”.

Like Jesus, use the Bible to confront temptation!


GOD’S WORD AT WORK IN ME – 1 THESSALONIANS 2:13-16

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul wrote, “And we also thank God continually because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”.

Paul tells the Thessalonians and us that we should accept the Bible as the word of God not as the word of men.

 The Bible is a unique and special book.  No other book is like it!

Paul expressed his thanks to God for the Thessalonians.  They accepted the Bible as the word of God not as the word of men.  When we read the Bible and put it into practice it results in gratitude in our hearts.  We become more grateful people!

Paul noted how the word of God is at work in the Thessalonians.  The Bible functions as the word of God working in us to accomplish His purposes.  The word of men cannot produce spiritual life.  Books written by men and women can communicate information, interesting stories, they can motivate us and challenge us, they can touch our hearts deeply but they cannot produce spiritual life!  Only the Bible, the word of God can do this!

Finally, we read in

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

that the word of God can help us grow spiritually. The Thessalonians suffered for their faith as the Judean Christians were suffering for their faith. Through these ordeals they were growing spiritually.  As they endured their hardships their faith grew!  The same can be true for us!  Our hardships and sufferings can lead to endurance, perseverance and spiritual growth.

God wants us to accept the Bible as the word of God.  Unlike any other book, the Bible has spiritual power, power to change our lives!