Thursday, December 9, 2010

He is Here!

You may already be familiar with the meaning of the name Immanuel--God with us. The prophecy of a Messiah, one who would save His people, was physically and literally fulfilled upon Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. However, throughout the Old Testament, God told His people that His Spirit was with them. For example, in Hosea 11:9:
"I am God and not a human; I am the Holy One, and I am among you." 

Before you read any further, reflect on those last four words, "I am among you." Do you believe that? Jesus is no longer physically present on earth, but just as God's Spirit was with the Israelites in Hosea's day, the Spirit of Christ is with you right now. He wants you to know He is in the midst of your world. Wherever you are as you read these words, He is present. In your car, in your office, in your classroom, your bedroom, your den. He's near.

God is in the thick of things in your world. He has not taken up residence in a distant galaxy. He has not removed himself from history. He has not chosen to seclude himself on the throne of some cloudlike castle.  He has drawn near. He has involved himself in the carpools, housing projects, funeral parlors, nursing homes, unemployment offices and hospital beds of our day. He is as near to us on Monday as on Sunday. As present at the coffee break as at the communion table.

The question is, What will you do with Him? Will you live as if He is here, or will you choose to keep Him packaged and predictable? Will you leave Jesus in the manger at Christmas, or let Him be the risen Lord of your life?

Take advantage of your position as a follower of Christ and a child of God. Turn every joy and every sorrow into an opportunity to pray to the One who is here.

The birth of Jesus
Worship opportunities

People in financial crises
Healing for recent surgeries

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Impact of Your Prayers

Do you ever wonder if prayer really works?  You're praying about something and Satan whispers to you, "This is a waste of time."  The only way to refute that lie is with the truth of scripture which says,
"God hears us whenever we ask Him and we know also that He gives us what we ask from Him." (1 John 5:15, GNT)

Prayer can do whatever God can do. His resources are available to you.  Twenty times in the New Testament it says "Ask."  It's encouraging to know that things that are out of my control are not out of God's control. So, you are probably thinking, "Then, why don't I get everything I pray for?"  Good question.  Here are three reasons:

1) God is not a genie. You don't put in a prayer, rub a lamp, and out pops whatever you want. If every prayer were answered that way, we would be spoiled brats. Do you give your children everything they ask for? I hope not. You know what's best for them. You can see the bigger picture. If you can see the bigger picture for your kids, how much bigger is the picture God can see?

2) Sometimes Christians pray in conflict.  You get two Christians praying for opposite outcomes, and whose request is God going to answer? First, He needs to bring about some changes in our hearts and our fellowship.

3) God knows what's best and you don't. I think this is the biggest reason for not getting all our prayers answered exactly how and when we want them to be. 1 John 5:14 tells us, "We are sure that He (God) hears us if we ask Him for anything that's according to His will." (GNT) The attitude of your prayer needs to be: "Lord, this is my prayer request, but Your will be done." That's the way that Jesus prayed when He was facing the cross. ~ taken from Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Connection

Your prayers have the potential to unlock all of God's power in response when you are praying in His will. Spend some time in prayer, today! He is waiting to answer.

Fishers of Men movie filmed in Bainbridge
Opportunities for bible study & small groups

Reaching across denominational boundaries
Reaching outside the church
Leadership & direction

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saying "Thank You"

Worship is when you're aware that what you've been given is far greater than what you can give.

Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you'd still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken.

Worship is the half-glazed expression on the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage.

Worship is the "thank you" that refuses to be silenced.

We have tried to make a science out of worship. We can't do that. We can't do that any more than we can "sell love" or "negotiate peace."

Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer. ~Max Lucado from In the Eye of the Storm

He brought them out of their gloom and darkness and broke their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord.
Psalm 104:14-15

Take some time to reflect on all the Lord has done for you and just worship Him today.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Praying together = Praying with Power

Jesus said, "And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them."
(Matthew 18:19-20, TEV)

Are you missing out on the power that can be found by praying with other believers? In Jesus' teaching about prayer, he spoke specifically about praying together. If you're not consistently praying with others, you're missing out on one of the major benefits of being a Christian. If the thought of praying in a group scares you, it's okay to start slowly:

1) For starters, try praying aloud when you're alone, and get used to hearing the sound of your own voice in prayer.

2)Next, find a small group (no more than 5 or 6) friends who want to pray together. You can start your group by briefly (and I do mean briefly) sharing prayer concerns with each other. Then try having everyone simply relax with eyes closed and listen to a worship song on CD in order to center your thoughts on God. Allow a short time period at the end of the song for people to pray either out loud or to themselves, and just be quiet together.

3) After several weeks of using this approach, you may want to move on to one sentence praises and prayers. Remember, it's not the length or the eloquence of the prayer, it's the sincerity that impresses God.

4) Within 4 -6 weeks, you will find your group becoming closer to God and to each other, because nothing binds us together like prayer. You will experience Christ's presence, and His power along with a new level of accountability and fellowship.

Begin this week to move toward the power of praying together!

Good start to the school year
New beginnings

Friendship House fundraising efforts
Open ears for God's call to service
New prayer groups to form

Friday, August 13, 2010

Truth in Love
"Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do."
(Psalm 89:14, CEV)

The single most difficult pursuit is truth and love. That sentence is grammatically correct. I know every English teacher would like to pluralize it to read: The most difficult pursuits are those of truth and love. But that's not what I mean to say. Love is a difficult pursuit. Truth is a tough one, too. But put them together, pursue truth and love at the same time and hang on baby, you're in for the ride of your life.

Love in truth. Truth in love. Never one at the expense of the other. Never the embrace of love without the torch of truth. Never the heat of truth without the warmth of love...To pursue both is our singular task as Christians.
~ from The Inspirational Study Bible

Can any of us hope to "speak the truth in love" as we are commanded to do? Not on our own. That's the way Jesus lived and spoke. It's why He could rebuke the sin, while drawing the sinner closer to Him. Pray and ask God to give you the Spirit of Christ. Only He can enable you to be filled with the compassion of love and the clarity of truth at the same time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Retreating Forward

A friend told me about his church's leadership retreat. For 2 days, church leaders pulled away for a time of prayer, planning, and worship. He told me, "This retreat is really going to help us move forward as a church." The notion of retreating in order to move forward may sound funny, but often you have to pull back and regroup before you can make meaningful forward progress.

Jesus practiced "retreating forward" quite frequently, spending time alone in prayer with the Father. Matthew 14:23 tells us that "when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there."

In this fast-paced, get-ahead world, it's easy to wear ourselves down--pressing ahead and moving forward at all costs. But in order to be truly effective as Christians, we need to retreat into God's presence in order to find the resources to move forward in our service for Him.

Oil spill in gulf stopped
Answered prayers for little girl who drowned

Prayer Requests:
Teachers/Administrators/Students - back to school

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Answer to Arguments

Foolish people are always fighting, but avoiding quarrels will bring you honor. -- Proverbs 20:3

"Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

Unity doesn't begin in examining others but in examining self. Unity begins not in demanding that others change, but in admitting that we aren't so perfect ourselves...

The answer to arguments? Acceptance. The first step to unity? Acceptance. Not agreement, acceptance. Not unanimity, acceptance. Not negotiation, arbitration, or elaboration. Those might come later but only after the first step, acceptance. ~ from In The Grip Of Grace by Max Lucado

Remember that Christ loved us while we were yet sinners. How can we who are sinners saved by grace offer anything less than love to those with whom we disagree?

Pastors calling and leading people to pray

Prayer Concerns:
Reaching the lost
Unity in the body of Christ

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

When we confess our sins and accept Christ's sacrifice on our behalf, we become children of God. As children, we inherit certain privileges. We have the right to call the sovereign God of the universe 'Our Heavenly Father'. We have ready access to God's presence where we can bring all our concerns.

On July 4th, as you celebrate the freedom of our great nation, celebrate also, your freedom to enter God's presence in prayer.

Prayer Focus - Leaders in Government

Praises - Freedom to Worship

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Place of Prayer

They went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives...They all continued in prayer together. Acts 1:12, 14

Do you desire power for your life?...It will come as you pray. For ten days the disciples prayed. Ten days of prayer plus a few minutes of preaching led to three thousand saved souls.

In our typical "revival", we tend to invert the numbers. We're more prone to pray for a few minutes and preach for ten days! Not the apostles. They lingered in the presence of Christ, never leaving the place of prayer, yet look at the fruit of their work.

Better said, look at the fruit of God's spirit in them.

We can only wonder what would happen today if we, who still struggle, did what they did: wait on the Lord in the place of prayer.
~Max Lucado from Come Thirsty