Families Under Construction

For the past few months several families have met together on Wednesday nights to work on their homes.  Quite honestly being part of this class is one of my favorite things to do.  It is intensive amounts of information. Like drinking from a fire hydrant.  Time spent with other people interested in making a difference in the homes is not to be traded for anything. What we learn can immediately be put into practice when we pick the kids up and load them in the vans. We have covered topics like teaching moral principles in parenting, encouragement in child training, getting to the heart versus controlling behavior, and we are now in several weeks of practical, helpful biblical discipline.  My personal lesson favorite is called “The Father’s Mandate.” Man, was that ever practical and convicting! I think we can all say that we have been very impacted.  These people in the class are the best.  I mean we have grown to really enjoy being together and learning.  That by the way is what biblical fellowship is all about.  Growing closer to God and to one another around the Word of God. The long-term effect of a class like this is very exciting to me. Sowing seeds that will grow and produce fruit over time. We recently had a Saturday night get together and had a super time laughing and eating. Yes the girls did win the game.  The guys won in eating but I am not sure that is good.  Kids all did well with no squabbles so maybe the parenting class is taking hold a little. Just a word to my class…thanks for being such willing listeners, and for fun laughter, and for friendship!

A Confident Prayer

One thing that we know about prayer is that when we pray according to God’s will, we will receive that petition.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)

Part of our struggle in prayer is asking “amiss” as James puts it; other times, it may be that we do not discern God’s will.  Last Sunday the choir sang this prayer:

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Look at that last line again.  I find great comfort in that prayer, because this is a prayer strikingly similar to one prayed by Jesus himself.  Let’s not miss the fact that Jesus prayed these words for us:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (Jn. 17:20, 21)

Now, I don’t think Jesus was in the habit of not praying according to the will of His Father.  Even in Gethsemane, he chose his Father’s will, as opposed to his own human desire.  Because Jesus prayed this for us, we may pray with confidence the same thing:  Father, make me one with You.

While there may be some mystery as to what that fully means for us, I find great strength, encouragement, and assurance in knowing that this prayer is one God will answer.  For one, it is the will of the Father.  Two, I know the Spirit is making intercession for me according to the will of the Father.  What great encouragement there is for us to persevere, to press on, because “he which hath begun a good work in [us], will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)  Being one with the Father means there is available to us an abundance of wisdom, strength, fellowship, comfort, guidance, and on and on it goes.

We would jump up and down if God dropped a large sum of money into our laps.  How often do we rejoice over the oneness of fellowship that God is giving us in this life? Praise God that Jesus paid the price and bore sin’s curse that we could receive this adoption!

Praise, Prayer & Fasting

“Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Wow! I can remember one of the first times that this verse hit me – prayer and fasting? You can define fasting as doing without food for a designated time for spiritual purposes. The intent of this post is to get you to consider the spiritual discipline of fasting from time to time.

I thought only Jesus and few other biblical characters participated in fasting, but as I began to look through the Bible I found that many biblical characters practiced prayer and fasting. Men like Moses, Samuel, Jehoshaphat, Nehemiah, Paul, David, the Apostles, Ezra, Jesus, Elijah and Daniel; women like, Hannah, Esther and Anna. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who practiced prayer and fasting. What you find when you read the Bible is that this is not a practice one must be “called” to do, but rather it is a spiritual discipline much like Bible reading, church attendance and praying are.

The Sermon on the Mount probably gives the most helpful teaching on assuming a Christian would practice this spiritual discipline. Jesus said in Matthew 6:2, “when thou doest thine alms,” in Matthew 6:5, “when thou prayest,” and in Matthew 6:16, “moreover, when ye fast”. In all three cases Jesus assumes of his audience that they would give, they would pray and that they would fast.

A few quotations for you to consider from Christians of the past:

Charles Spurgeon said, “Our seasons of fasting and prayer have been high days indeed. Never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory.” Matthew Henry stated, “It (fasting) secures God’s power to assist us, it sharpens prayer, it demonstrates humility before God, it controls the body.” David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians said, “Be as much in fasting and prayer as your health will allow, and live above the rate of common Christians.”

My Jesus Fair

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am with the introduction of My Jesus Fair to our congregation this past Sunday.  Our quartet did a great job introducing the song and the congregational singing on the final stanza was tremendous!  I mean, we could have kept going and sung the whole song over a few more times.  I love that kind of service where there is an obvious response to the preaching of the Word that is expressed in song.

As we talked about last Sunday night with our Praise Emphasis Week, we have printed the words to My Jesus Fair on the back of your “table topper.”  I want to challenge you as a family to sing a stanza and the chorus together.  I really want you to try it.  This song is on Christ Only, Always that was commented on in another post as we have included a link here to the singing of the song with congregation.

If you can’t remember the tune, click on the link and sing with the music. Reading through those stanzas as a family will be very profitable and I think there are many points on which to stop and have some conversation.

A Pure Heart is a Praising Heart

Do you ever feel like your “praiser” is broken? When Pastor challenged us to have a praise emphasis week did you find yourself terribly deficient in this area of your walk with God?  Did you find that your mind more often ran to the earthly difficulties than the heavenly delights you were experiencing?  Did you find yourself wishing you were more like that friend who always seems to have a word of praise to God?

Psalm 119:9-16 teaches us that a praising heart is the byproduct of a pure heart.  Continue reading

Saved to Pray

Sometimes it’s easy to wonder whether prayer really makes a difference. Have you thought about the fact that prayer was one of the primary purposes for which you were saved?

Think about it. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” That is, saved people are intended to become more like Jesus. Pretty basic. But what was one thing that Jesus spent tons of time doing? Praying!

Does prayer matter? Does it make a difference? God saved you so that you would pray. I guess God’s opinion is that it does matter. So…what does God want you to pray for today?

Dependent Doing

Many times in churches like ours, there are two types of people: the pray-ers and the do-ers. Whenever there is a need, the pray-ers get on their knees and entreat the Lord to intervene on their behalf. The do-ers sweat and toil to make something happen.

The problem is that we’re often either/or instead of both/and. Either we spend a lot of time in prayer, or we do something to change things, but we rarely do both.

Nehemiah and his comrades were quite different. Nehemiah 4:9 “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.” When faced with the threat of an attack from their neighbors, they prayed and they set a watch. They were pray-ers and do-ers.

Are you trying to do something for God? Have you prayed about it? Have you been bringing something before the Lord in prayer? Have you tried to do anything about it?