Have you ever wanted to climb a mountain, play piano or be in the Olympics? It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, sacrifice and discipline to work towards a goal. Maybe you even paid a price for not doing the hard work, or spending time on things that are a distraction.
Let’s look at an excerpt from Louie Giglio in his book The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life as we grow in our relationship with God.
“We don’t wake up one day to discover that we know God intimately just because we want to. Knowing God—like going up the Matterhorn requires that we pay a price. And that we take a lot of small steps every day.
But the main thing is to take the first step. In the little book of James we find the promise, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” God has already made the first move, inviting you through His Son Jesus Christ to come as close as you want. But you have to respond, telling (and showing) God that you want to be His friend.
To draw near to God simply means to take the first step toward Him today. How? A good place to start is with this prayer: God, I want to know You! Don’t just pray the prayer, really tell God that’s want you want most from Him. Ask Him to open your eyes, expand your ability to know and discover who He is, and draw close to you as you run to Him.”
Take some small steps today, make some small changes in order to grow in relationship with your loving God. Finding a quiet time - for some it might be in the morning, for others the evening when you can open His Word, read, grow, thank and praise Him for who He is and all He has done and is doing in your life.
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.
PSALM 20:4 NKJV
Times of prayer should never be an option for us. Getting alone and quiet with the intent of hearing God is the most encouraging, energizing, and edifying thing we can do. Our souls are moved when we move closer to our purpose. And there is a deep satisfaction in being confident about how we’re created and why the desires of our hearts are what they are.
God has everything to do with discovering what we’re in this world to do. He saw our life in its entirety before we took our first breath. It’s amazing to think about. Who better to turn to and trust completely? We need only to look back at what He’s done, how He’s shown Himself in unquestionable ways and small miracles, and how we’ve grown in the wake of them. He has so much more for us to do. Each of us is an invaluable, irreplaceable part of His plan.
Our purpose is connected to the passions God put in our hearts. Our gifts—the unique traits we have and what ignites a fire in us—will be engaged in our life’s journey. Not one of our paths will be exactly the same. They might run side by side, intersect, or go in completely different directions, but they all lead to the glory of God. That’s why we’re here. We’re here, most importantly, to love as He loves. The good life is never about us or what we gain or accomplish; it’s how good we are at loving the people God puts in our lives.
Our purpose for today is perfectly bound to the One who is love, life, light, and kindness. All the things that make this world beautiful are found in Him. We’re here to learn to trust Him with our one, extraordinary, unique life and to pour it out with love and grace.
Dear God, I trust You with the plans You have for me. I know they begin and end with love, and every desire in my heart leads to a life lived for Your glory.
This is an excerpt from The Mountains are Calling: 90 Devotions for Peace & Solitude – a devotional journal by Dayspring.com
Don’t you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves?
1-2 If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?
Salty air. Warm sand. Pelicans gliding. Sandpipers scurrying. Saltwater mist. Sun. Soothing shelter from puffy clouds slowly passing. Standing in the surf. Steadying ourselves when the waves pull, and we sink a little as the sand races out from under our feet. Smiling into the face of endless blue water. Everything about being at the beach calls our souls to relax. And God loves to see it. We can almost hear Him whisper, “Rest. I have you in the palm of My hand.”
As fun as a day at the beach is for us, it’s even more enjoyable for our heavenly Father to see us in a relaxed, carefree state of mind. When our hearts and minds are at rest, peace follows. And when we’re at peace we’re in a place of trust. It makes God happy to be trusted with everything in our lives. Our bodies weren’t designed to carry stress. Sadly, burdens can be like blankets for our souls, giving us a false sense of security. We wrap them around us, and it feels comfortable—to be in control, to prove we’re capable, to feel responsible for taking care of everything that concerns us. We carry our cares around until they’re all worked out, never mind what the stress is doing to us in the process. It just seems easier to pick up that blanket and drag it along, carrying all the stuff ahead that needs to be resolved, fixed, decided, done, and provided for, even when there isn’t a thing we can do about them right now.
Here’s where real comfort comes from: “Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall” (Psalm 55:22). Today, let’s stop grabbing our “security blankets” of worry and instead spread out our beach blankets of peace. That’s when we can fully enjoy God’s company by believing He will never let us down.
Father, You enjoy giving me rest so I’m giving my cares to You. I trust Your strength, Your plans for me, and Your love.
This is an excerpt from The Beach is Calling: 90 Devotions for Rest & Relaxation – a devotional now available on DaySpring.com.
As we think about the people principle this week, let us look to the ultimate example of a perfect person, Jesus.
As we read about Jesus in Scripture, we are introduced to a person that was described by His character, not His appearance. Clearly an importance to which society needs to pay more attention, as we live in an age that is obsessed with image and how people look.
Jesus, by contrast was described by His actions, His words and character. In today’s terms, one could describe Jesus as a ‘people person’ in as much that He, although the King of Kings, interacted with all people.
Jesus is a person who has perfect qualities, yet such contrast in those qualities. Such beauty and majesty, yet humility. His strong commitment to seeking justice, always came with amazing grace and mercy. Jesus a deity, yet came as man and totally relied upon God. His tenderness was never a sign of weakness, His boldness, never harsh. He spoke with authority and in truth, yet always approachable and His truth was delivered in love, sensitivity, integrity, passion and never prejudice.
Yet in this perfection, He was still rejected.
So as we enter another week, we have another opportunity to be more like Jesus and strive to live like Him. Jesus totally relied on God and remained in communication with Him, seeking His will at all times. Even right up to death on the cross, Jesus sought God and what He needed to do to be in God’s plan and serve others.
How are we going with living like Jesus? If we are honest, we know we are missing the mark, more than making it. However, we need to make sure we are in constant communication with God and rely on Him and His Spirit to help us as we interact with people.
Are we treating every interaction as a God appointment?
Do we need reminding it is not about us?
Are we willing to be vulnerable?
Are we looking at making engagement with others a priority or are we shying away from people who are different from us?
‘Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant or automatic, it is a gradual process that will take the rest of our life’1. Yes, we are all a work in progress, but let us continue to work to live like Jesus more each day. Become people who love and serve people, in the way Jesus has shown us.
Prayer: Almighty God, I come before You with a grateful heart for all You do for me. I give You all honour and praise, that You so richly deserve. I recognised that I was made in Your image and seek Your continual help to live, love and act according to Your will and guidance. Help me to be more like Jesus every day, and it is in His name, I pray, Amen.
We have been reminded over the last few weeks that when seeking the Lord for breakthrough, we need to be patient and trust God and His perfect timing. The how we wait and what we do whilst we wait is important as well. Today we look at the praise principle. So what happens when we praise God and why do we need to praise God?
We may well know that Scripture instructs us to give God praise, basically because He deserves it. The fact that He is God, is enough, but there is so much more to praise Him for. On the days when things are going ok it is easy to praise. However we know that some of us, simply by nature, don’t like being told what to do, so the fact that we are being told to praise God isn’t always easy.
Then there are the times that, if we are really honest, we just don’t feel it. We all have those challenging times and life is hard, it is difficult just to get through. These are the times when praising God is exactly the best thing. Its good for God, and also good for us. You see, God is so wonderful that He gives us pleasure when we praise Him. Amazing isn’t He!
2 Chronicles 20 gives us the account of what happened when people who were really in a pickle paused and praised God….Verse 22 (NIV) reads ‘As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.’
You see God will fight for you too, when you place your full trust in Him and praise Him. Praise is about acknowledging God for who He is, His character. So in the process of praising God, we focus on His power and faithfulness, His omnipotence and wisdom etc. This shifts us from worrying and trying to fix things all on our own and allows space for God to step in and trust in who He is. Trust that God is working for our good in all things.
So when seeking breakthrough it can be so easy to focus on the need and/or what is wrong. Instead of allowing that focus to wear us out and be left weary, let’s sing God’s praises. Allow them to fill our heart with joy as we lift up our heart to God and allow Him to refresh and renew our spirit.
Praising God will open our eyes to see the way God is at work, to see the blessings.
Praise can turn around even the worst day and make your heart feel light. It can boost your spirits and put a smile on your face, if you allow it.
So, turn up a worship song and sing along. Pray along with your favourite Psalm of praise. Look around you and praise God for all the blessings you see. Set your eyes upon Him and you will see Him more clearly.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full, in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Songwriters: Ken Bible / Traditional Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus lyrics © Music Services, Inc, Songtrust Ave
When you look at your Breakthrough Card, where you have scribed the needs and prayer points for areas you are seeking God, how do you imagine He will answer?
An age old question for those who wait on God for Him show the way forward for particular situations—is ’does God still speak to people? You know, like He did as recorded in the Bible?’ What do you think?
I believe God can speak to everyone, but the key point is we need to learn how to listen to Him! When we read the Gospel, like John 3:16 we see God uses a language of love. His Bible is full of how God loves us all and how He spoke to different people. Sometimes directly, like Abraham, Moses, Elijah and others. So how is it that they could hear Him?
Firstly, it was in God’s plan. Secondly, these people loved God, and were living according to God’s purposes. They were ready to hear His voice. We too, can learn to hear Him.
Heb 1:1-4 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
We can learn to hear God speak through Jesus and learning from Him. We can hear God speak through His church, the love of His people, and through the voices of His followers, like our Pastors. When we listen to, read and study the Bible, God speaks to us using the voice of our heart with our helper Holy Spirit. Scripture also tells us that God uses circumstances and people we encounter to teach and minister to us.
Romans 10:17 ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ When you meet a person of great faith, most likely they are a person of great hearing who know how to listen to God and His Word. Are you one of those people?
At the very heart of God are His people. He designed us, He made us, He uses us for His purposes.
Here are a few questions to ponder, as we reflect on the partnership principle…
· Are you prepared to be one of God’s people? If so, are you sharing your faith, your experience of God, with people?
· Are you open to His leading through other people, are you testing it against His Word?
· Is God calling on you to be part of an answer for someone else?
· Are you loving people as Christ loves us?
Prayer: I ask, Father, that Your Holy Spirit will speak to me now as I wait on You for wisdom, insight, and direction. And whatever You show me or direct me to do, I pray that I will quickly obey. In Jesus's mighty name, amen
Ever lost hope and felt like giving up waiting for something? Felt despondent and like it was never going to happen? You are not alone. We are going to have a quick look at the story of Sarah in the Old Testament, a prime example of someone losing hope and giving up.
Sarah was married to Abraham and they both longed for children. However, the Bible says that they were both very old and Sarah was past child bearing age, and still no children. One can easily see why Sarah would lose heart.
Then one day, three men came to visit, and Abraham organised to serve them some refreshments under the shade of a tree. One of them asked Abraham, where Sarah was, and he answered she was in the tent. Then he said, this time next year I will return and when I do, Sarah your wife will have a son! Whoa wait, what! Sarah heard this guy and laughs—as if that’s going to happen now I’m this old!
However, we can follow the story in Genesis and fast forward the 12 months and know that Sarah did indeed fall pregnant and had a son. There are lots of twists and turns in this story, but one thing remains….what God promises, always comes to pass.
You see God promised Abraham to make of him a great nation that would bless the whole world. Sarah knew this but thought that if perchance it did happen, she wouldn’t be part of it and she wouldn’t be a mother. The one thing her heart longed for. She not only doubted herself, she doubted God. In her impatience, her heart became heavier and broken. She did things to manipulate and make it happen, but to no avail. It only stood as a reminder of her failings.
As we seek breakthrough, we need to be waiting on God, and this of course needs patience. It is not always easy, especially if we are like Sarah and waiting so long, it seems impossible. However with God, all things are possible.
We know and can rely on God and His promises. Trusting God’s promises, not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting. Just as Olympic athletes develop their skills as they practice hard and long before the big event, so God’s children grow in godliness and faith as they wait for the fulfilment of God’s promises. Faith is a journey, and each happy destination is the beginning of a new journey. When God wants to build our patience, He gives us promises, sends us trials, and tells us to trust Him (James 1:1-8).
Are you prepared to be patient and wait on God?
Prayer: God, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit and the gifts the He provides. I admit I struggle with waiting, grant me a greater portion of patience as I look to You for strength. Show me how to honour You as I wait, in my words, actions and thoughts. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Have you ever had the experience of praying for something in particular to happen, to later discover that God answered the prayer in a completely unexpected way, but that His answer was so much better?
A widow in the Old Testament days, her story is recorded in 2 Kings 4:1-7 experienced an immense need and sought help from a man of God and God answered her need in a very unusual, but miraculous way.
In a nutshell the woman’s husband was a prophet and suddenly died. Leaving her and their two sons unable to pay their debts. The creditor decided to take the two sons as slaves as payment of the debt. It was an awful situation for them all. Can you imagine being in that position?
Then Elisha comes into town and the widow begs for his help.
What happened next is a very curious and unusual outcome. The Lord used Elisha to meet the widows needs and in doing so, showed the power and character of God.
You see Elisha tells the widow to go and get all the jars she could get her hands on. She did, even seeking the help of her neighbours. She then was told to go home, close the door and begin pouring the small amount of oil that she had left into the borrowed jars.
Now I am sure you will agree this is a weird thing but it is also a risky thing for the widow. This oil is literally all she has left, and even then it was only a very small amount. However, she followed Elisha’s instructions and as she began to pour, the oil just kept coming, until all the jars she had gathered and borrowed were full!
The widow told Elisha what had happened, and he instructed her to sell the oil and pay off the debts.
At this time, oil was a precious item in international trade and used for many things, including perfumes, fuel and a healing balm.
Wow! This is an amazing picture of God’s caring, loving and powerful nature. He provided for this lady in a way that can only be described as a miracle, and one that had to come from God.
But, I just want to highlight that it came to happen that way because of a few key parts that needed to be played.
One, the widow needed to ask for help and two, the widow needed to follow instruction, being obedient, even in the unusual request.
You see the widow, having asked for help needed to be pliable and not fixed in her ideas or understanding of what the answer might be.
When we seek breakthrough and ask the Lord to meet needs, either for ourselves or others, we need to be open to His leading and direction for the response and perhaps not so prescriptive in our expectation that we miss the answer.
What if God calls you to do something that seems outside of the usual for you, will you obey?
In being pliable we do need to be very careful that we are only pliable to God and His ways. We need to be open and ready to hear from Him and Him alone.
Preparation Principle—For what are we preparing?
We have just celebrated Easter, the centrepiece of the Christian faith. Jesus being revealed as Saviour, was crucified, but as was prophesied Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.
Just as Jesus fulfilled that promise, we know we can trust in the promises of His return. This my friend is what we need to be prepared for!
Remember Noah? God told Noah that He would destroy the earth by a flood, and He gave Noah instructions on how to be prepared so he and his family could survive. God told Noah what to do, but note He didn’t tell him when it would happen. What did Noah do? He prepared. Nobody else prepared and yes Noah was ridiculed, but look at the result. Noah believed and trusted God and acted accordingly. When the flood came, Noah was ready.
The result? Noah was saved. God did as He said, and He did it in His perfect timing.
Likewise, we as people of faith need to be prepared. We need to be prepared for Jesus coming again. So how do we do this?
Firstly we need to be living like we believe Jesus is coming again. We need to act like we profess. Let us be found working on our relationship, our knowledge and understanding of Jesus and His Word.
We also need to be watchful and not be led astray by the latest fad or theory. (Mark 13) We need to be discerning about what we hear and check against Scripture and seek the Lord for what is true.
We need to be prepared for the fact that we won’t have all the answers. We, like Noah, don’t know when Jesus will come again. We just need to be living in anticipation and expectantly.
In our waiting we should be living self controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for the hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13
We need to be encouraging one another (1 Thes 4&5) and affirming that the Lord will come again and to build each other up. May we not lose heart, become complacent or lose our focus on Jesus.
Let us live expectantly that today, just may be the day. Until Jesus does come, we are called to keep doing what He would have us do. That is tell others, to be a witness for Jesus, so that none miss out on God’s saving grace.
As we wait for Jesus’ return, we also wait for His perfect timing with our heart’s burdens, our break through items. Is God asking us to see these requests in light of His returning? Does that change what we are seeking break through for?
We have much to do. Let us be encouraged to be preparing for God to work in and through us as we wait.
Until He comes….
How did Jesus spend his time?
2,000 years ago, Jesus conquered death forever. The stone was rolled away from the empty tomb, and we were given new life in Christ.
But what happened next?
Discover five things Jesus did after His resurrection—and what they mean for us today:
1. Jesus showed up.
Jesus spent 40 days on earth after His resurrection. During this time, He eased His followers’ doubts and gave them direction for the future.
Jesus didn’t shout His love from heaven. He showed His love on earth. Today He does the same, by bending low to hear our cries and heal our hearts.
2. Jesus modelled community.
From breaking bread on the road to Emmaus, to having breakfast on the beach with His disciples, we see Jesus make time for relationships.
Jesus was never too busy to stop and show He cared. As His followers, we’re called to intentionally serve people in our families, workplaces, and cities.
3. Jesus comforted the broken.
When Jesus came back, He wasn’t frustrated that His disciples hadn’t understood His plan. He met them in their uncertainty and fear instead.
Jesus consoled the woman weeping at the empty tomb. He eased Thomas’ doubts. He spoke words of life and peace.
Today, our Savior still has grace for our questions and confusion. He still draws near when our hearts are broken.
4. Jesus redeemed mistakes.
Before the crucifixion, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Later, we see Jesus restore Peter by asking Him three times if he loves Him, and instructing Peter to care for His flock.
Even though Peter stumbled in his faith, it didn’t cancel his identity in Christ.
In the same way, we can trust that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
5. Jesus instructed and empowered.
Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His followers to “go and make disciples of every nation.” With these instructions, we’re called to live every day with intentionality, looking for opportunities to share the Gospel.
It’s our job to show people what it means to know God and to make Him known.
Easter might be over, but what it means for us matters all year long.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we’re able to access God’s grace, presence, and reassurance like never before.
If you would like to read more https://blog.youversion.com/2022/04/what-happened-after-easter
For a lot of people Easter is about a holiday, time out with family and eating hot cross buns and chocolate eggs etc. Whilst there is nothing wrong with any of these things—after all who doesn’t love a good hot cross bun—as people of faith we know that the true meaning of Easter is about Jesus!
So here is our challenge….how are we going to share what we know to be true with those who don’t yet know or understand Jesus’ relevance to them?
As Christians, it’s our lifelong challenge isn’t it. We can come and worship our God and enjoy the company of our friends and church family and then go about our lives, until next Sunday. But when was the last time you actually spoke up and were open to the fact that you are a Christ follower?
We are not talking about standing on a soap box and yelling out to anyone that will hear, we are talking about relationship. Just as Jesus encourages relationship with us and seeks to communicate and impart His holy wisdom and way of life. We too need to be doing the same with those around us.
I can almost hear you thinking, well it was ok for Jesus, after all He is God and it’s easy for Him. However, surely the very sacrificial act of willingly going to the cross to endure the cruelty, abuse and horrific death as an innocent man shows Jesus knows about difficulty and hardship, yes?
Sometimes we simply need to be reminded that as challenging as some things may be, we have a God who is for us and will equip us to do His will. All we have to do is ask.
So this Easter, let us remember and honour Jesus, who died for us, in our place, so we could have abundant everlasting life with our God. Let us rejoice as we celebrate Jesus being resurrected from the dead on the third day, as we can know we too have received life through Jesus. And let us share why we celebrate Easter with those around us and be brave enough to ask the Lord to reveal to us and open up opportunities to speak about His love and the extreme lengths He went to, so we could have a living, loving relationship with Him. A relationship He wants with everyone. 2 Peter 3:9 The Message: ‘He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.’
Jesus will come again, and until then we have some work to do. Will you be ready to speak of the hope you have?
1 Peter 3:15 The Message: ‘Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. ….. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.’
Praise our Almighty God and give thanks for Jesus our Saviour and the amazing grace and love freely given.
Ever wondered why people in Jesus’ day chose to cut branches from trees to wave around when Jesus came into town?
Well this was by intention and has significant meaning. Firstly Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem was foretold...
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zech. 9:9 .
His entry was one of triumph and so to mark this special occasion of joy and celebration it was only right that people use palm branches to signify their joy. (See Lev 23:40 & Neh 8:15).
Date palms are very tall trees that grow abundantly in Israel. Their large leaves spread out from the top of a single trunk. In these times palm branches also symbolised goodness, well being, grandeur, and victory.
When you next see such a date palm tree, and its majestic nature, may you be reminded of our one true King, Jesus the Christ, the Son of our living God.
Jesus rode in on a donkey and when you read the account of how that happened in Mark 11 you can see that even that detail was planned and divine. The donkey represented peace. Jesus is showing us that He is the Prince of Peace and came with peaceful intentions.
When the people waved their palm branches about, they also cheered and shouted ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s name!’. This word Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration and means ‘oh save’. The people thought He was to be an earthly king, but God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation.
Palm Sunday is a time of rejoicing and celebration and reminds us that Jesus Christ is King and His reign is far greater than anyone of us could possibly conceive. God’s ultimate plan was one of immense love, so much so that He was prepared to send His only Son to take on the immense price of sin. Jesus did for us, what we couldn’t do for ourselves, then or now, and that is save us. In doing this He is giving us freedom and the way into a beautiful and loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.
If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour then you can definitely be rejoicing and celebrating this wonderful and significant time. If you are yet to make this decision, then may you be encouraged to seriously consider Jesus. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Because of Jesus we can ask anything of our God and know we will be heard.
If you would like to speak with someone further about what it means to give your life to Jesus, then we would love to chat with you.
You can let us know by filling out a “Care Card” or speaking with one of the Pastors or if you are unsure, ask the Marshal on the front desk to direct you.
Don’t wait, now is the time!
Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:9 NIV
Throughout the Bible God shows us, often through His people, about prayer. The verse here from Paul written to Philippians is at the end of the letter, after many references and encouragement for us to pray.
Here are just a few:
“Prayers for you all, I always pray with joy”
“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”
“through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ….will turn out for my deliverance”
‘in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
These are all practical examples of prayer. In these snippets of Scripture alone, we can see that the practice of prayer is for everyone
It is with joy
It is so love may abound
It is so we can know the Lord and gain deeper understanding
It is for provision
It is for rescue
It is for all times and circumstances
It is to be with thankfulness
We need to practice steadfastness in prayer
Colossians 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving
We need to practice watchfulness in prayer
Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak”
We need to practice reliance in prayer.
Eph 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
It is easy to grow tired, lose our focus and we find ourselves becoming so quickly ungrateful. Yet it is so often in these times of our weakness and at our most vulnerable, it is then that we are most ready to be helped.
So let us continue the practice of looking to the Lord and with prayerful hearts give Him the thanks and praise He so richly deserves. With that as our starting point we soon are reminded we only have, because of God. He is our source of peace and comfort, our provider for all we need, and our strength to do His will, according to His purposes.
Prayer is powerful. However we know that it is only powerful, not simply because we pray, but because of whom we pray too.
This week we are looking at Hezekiah’s prayer as recorded in 2 Kings 19.
Hezekiah was a king and he was a dedicated man of prayer. In his time as King Judah faced impending invasion by the Assyrians who had invaded the land and besieged Jerusalem.
The general of the Assyrian army sent a letter full of threats to Hezekiah. So the King Hezekiah took that letter and read it, then went to the temple of God, laid it before Him and prayed, oh, how he prayed.
Here’s how Hezekiah prayed taken from ‘The Message’
“God, God of Israel, seated in majesty on the cherubim-throne.
You are the one and only God, sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, Maker of heaven, maker of earth. Open your ears, God, and listen, open your eyes and look. Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent, a brazen insult to the living God!
The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria
have laid waste countries and kingdoms. Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their no-gods hand-made from wood and stone. But now O God, our God, save us from raw Assyrian power;
Make all the kingdoms on earth know that you are God, the one and only God.”
There is a lot we can learn about this prayer and as Pastor Stephen encouraged us last Sunday, use Scripture to pray today.
We see here that the king’s first response was prayer and it was bold and public.
When crisis hits you, what is your first response?
Hezekiah’s prayer came from a desperate place, but he prayed to a sovereign God. In stating who God is, Hezekiah could also receive assurance of God and His immense Power.
When we are afraid, overwhelmed, desperate we can pray to our powerful God.
Hezekiah laid it all out before God. He told God all about it and the challenges He was facing. He was also indignant that the enemy dared to be so brazen as to try to insult God.
Have you heard people insult God through misinformation, lack of understanding and grief? You may even have been desperate enough to vent your anger towards God in this way.
We need to remind ourselves (and others) that God is bigger than that, He can cope with insults. He even allowed His Son Jesus to endure this.
God is almighty, He is Lord, He reigns, He is alive and powerful. He is all knowing, His is wisdom, He is listening.
Be encouraged today. Pray to our powerful God and watch and wait expectantly just as Hezekiah. For the times you are unsure just how to pray, just start with telling God all about it. Seek Him and His will and see Him work in mighty ways, because we as His children prayed to God our Heavenly Father.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:13-16
How comforting are these words from Scripture!
In just these few verses we can see that God is very aware of everything! What’s more is that Jesus understands us and empathises with us and that it is through His actions we have access to approach God.
So what is prayer? If we search through the Bible we can see that prayer is defined as ‘human speech addressed to God’. When we pray, we ask something of God, we talk with and hold a conversation with God. When we study the Word of God, His Bible, God speaks to us, but when we pray, we speak to God.
About Prayer. To gain a better understanding of prayer, we can look at to whom we pray to, God. Here are just some of His attributes that relate to prayer:
· God seeks a relationship with us, so He made a way for us to do just that. Even more than that God actually wants to hear our prayers.
· God, being all knowing, means He has the best answers for us. Answers that are for our best and from His wise perspective of seeing everything in the ‘big picture’.
· God is listening—He is not a distant God, He is Immanuel, meaning God is with us.
· God is faithful and trust worthy—we can believe His promises in His Word, and we have Jesus as our evidence of this.
Prayer is an act, not merely an attitude. It requires of us to come before our God and interact, just like a child/father relationship. After all, we are called His children. Imagine yourself sitting on His lap, with His loving arms around you, whilst you chat with Him.
Reasons for prayer.
· Firstly Jesus prayed and He is our example.
· We are also commanded to pray 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
· It is through prayer that God bestows upon us His gifts and blessings.
· An important part of prayer is to say thank you, to give Him praise for who He is and to say thank you for what He has, is and will do.
· Prayer also allows us to say sorry. We need to repent and seek forgiveness—how else can we do that if we don’t pray?
Here’s a ‘handy’ hint for aspects of prayer:
Adoration: 1 Chronicles 29:11-13
Confession: Proverbs 28:13
Thanksgiving: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Intercession: Colossians 4:12
Petition: 1 John 5:14-15
Ever heard some news, and your immediate response is one that you regretted later? Of course, haven’t we all?! There is an account in the New Testament where a person reacted with such surprise she literally forget what she went to do, that is open the door!
Her name is Rhoda and Peter came and knocked and Rhoda was so surprised to see him she just left the door closed and ran to tell everyone!
What was so surprising about seeing Peter? He was supposed to be in chains in a prison cell. What is even more remarkable about this, is the fact that Rhoda was in a ‘prayer meeting’ praying for Peter!
The account is in Acts 12 and is nothing short of God working in another miraculous way. Peter was not only in prison, but he was chained in between not one, but two, prison guards. Yet not an issue for God. He sent an angel to Peter whilst all were sleeping. The angel woke Peter and said to get up—with that, the chains fell off and Peter simply walked free!
If that isn’t enough of a miracle for you; remember that all this is happening whilst faithful people were praying for Peter and his unjust situation. You see Peter hadn’t done anything wrong, he was simply a threat because of his faith and his public ministry.
What can we learn from this about prayer?
Prayer is for people—it is designed for people to seek God, to communicate with Him, to pour out their souls, to ask Him—to meet needs-to receive help and guidance.
Prayer is by people—Rhoda and her group were praying together—check out Matthew 18:20’s promise of God’s presence. In James we read ’we have not because we ask not’. This doesn’t mean we get everything we ask for, but the act of prayer, and seeking God and talking it through with Him, we gain an understanding of how to ask for what He wants.
Prayer is also about other people—Rhoda and her group were praying for Peter. God heard and answered in a way only He could. He sent an angel and miraculously freed Peter from his chains. How many people do you know and love that are chained in a different way? Maybe they are chained to their grief, their pain, their anxiety, their sin filled life. They need a breakthrough for their ‘chains’ to freedom in Jesus. This is why we pray.
People are blessed—When we pray we are not simply speaking empty words, we are talking with the creator of the world, our Lord. Jesus intercedes for us, even when we don’t have the right words to express our needs and thoughts. More importantly our God is listening. He longs to hear from His people, not just a few, all of us. He has told us to ask Him, His Word encourages us to come to Him. Why? Mainly because He loves us so much; but also for His glory. You see when we pray and God in His infinite wisdom answers, we can see God at work, and we can attest to Him and His blessings.
This is why an important part of prayer is to pray together.
As a church community we have the opportunity to pray too. We not only can pray individually, but as a team and as a church.
MCC has a prayer team—we pray for the requests that come in. Requests can come in via Care Cards/Email/Phone/Website/App/Pastoral Care. The requests are passed on to our prayer team who diligently, faithfully and confidentially pray. Please let the church office know if you would like to be part of the team or have a prayer request.
MCC also meets and prays every 3rd Wednesday in the church building or via zoom. What are you waiting for?
John 9: 3 ‘Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’
2022 is our Year of Breakthrough—it is clear from our message last week, that prayer is an integral part of our Christian walk, in light of seeking breakthrough.
But what is the purpose of prayer—is it really still relevant in a modern world?
Our verse from John 9 gives us a clue as to the purpose of prayer, as do many parts of the Bible.
When we read Psalms in particular, we can also learn some of the purposes of prayer.
Psalm 86 begins with David asking the Lord to hear him because he is in need. But David doesn’t stop there, he quickly follows it up with the qualities of God and how thankful he is to God for His goodness and mercy.
Psalm 17 is another prayer where David bears his heart to God, honestly and completely. David can do this because of the confidence He has in God in His righteousness and salvation.
Be encouraged to delve into these verses further. As you reflect, you might like to the think about how these verses highlight the following aspects of the purpose of prayer….
· See how David opened His heart to God, by quieting his mind David could experience open and honest communication with God. Prayer is a two way conversation.
· This open and honest communication allows David to recognise his shortcomings and needs and the way in which God in His abundance could meet those needs. Prayer allowed David to focus on God.
· David was also very quick to express his thanks to God. He recognised that he was not on his own but rather dependant on a faithful God.
· David also sought forgiveness, he bared his wrongdoings before a loving God and sought God’s mercy and forgiveness.
· Back to the beginning in John 9, we see that Jesus was being asked about why someone was blind and who was at fault? Jesus’ answer was a surprising one. He turned their attention to the facts of what God can do. Here is how The Message puts it…. 3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” So we can see here a key purpose of prayer is to look to God to see who He is, what He has done, what He can do and what He has promised to will come to pass.
To answer our other question, ‘is prayer still relevant in a modern world’…. Let me ask you this….Do people still have needs? Do people still make mistakes and suffer guilt? Do people still need Jesus as their Saviour? Does God still exist?
For me the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes! God has given us this amazing avenue that gives us direct access to Him—the Creator of the Universe—our Saviour and Heavenly Father who listens to each and every one of us. How could we not pray!?
What do you say?
“Priority of prayer”
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Timothy 1:1-2 NIV
We all have an opinion about most things, right? We are often very quick to identify what is wrong with xyz situation or circumstances or what we don’t have but think we need etc etc.
How often do we turn those opinions and observations into prayer?
Our verse today urges us, FIRST OF ALL…to pray!
As we launch this prayer series we are seeking to explore together the importance of prayer for breakthrough. In the Scripture here God is telling us to really make praying a priority. So how do we do that?
It will depend on the format of our day and our personality somewhat as we are all so different—we will have different ways. Some are definitely morning people, some are night owls, but let us think of it as God being the first person we talk to about any situation. When you have those moments…’I must tell so and so’. Sure tell that person, but first tell God. Have a conversation with Him. Ask Him for a Scripture or a word that directs your thinking. Maybe use a Psalm to praise and say thank you for the good news or to remind you of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love when it is not a good situation or a hard decision.
Particularly in light of breakthrough—these are usually the big issues aren’t they. They can be small ones too—there are no rules. But often we do tend to need breakthrough for circumstances that are just beyond us. Where we need for a miracle. Even in this description it shows us we need for God to do only what He can. So we need to ask, and we need to ask Him first.
Our verse also tells us not to limit our prayers to our own issues and concerns. But to include others, especially our leaders and those in authority. We need to pray for breakthrough for our community, our country, and our world. Which of course means those who are charged with authority over others. The governments, rulers, kings and queens, the oppositions, those that help hold leaders accountable. There are a lot of people, so let’s get started.
We can’t change the world by complaining about it, but we can seek God to ask Him what He wants for the world and pray, pray, pray. And watch and wait, looking expectantly to how God will move and be ready to give thanks and praise for when He does.
Scripture repeatedly tells us to devote ourselves to prayer (Col. 4:2). Devotion requires that we not only set aside uninterrupted time for prayer, but that we also think seriously about what we’re asking. We must give God the time and attention He deserves in order to have a growing relationship with Him. Because when we put Him first, everything else falls into its proper place.
“Anything is possible if you have faith.”
Mark 9:23 NLT
One might read this and think, wow! All my problems are fixed. Well, yes and no.
Last week we looked at needing to read the Bible, God’s Word. One of the key things we need to know about doing this is, not to take things out of context. In other words, don’t get the wrong meaning of verses, by just pulling them out because they sound good and convenient.
God’s wisdom is far beyond ours and so He gave us all the Bible to help us gain insight of Him and His purposes. His main purpose is to have a living, working, and genuine relationship with us. To do this, we needed Jesus. Jesus is our way, our truth and our life, leading us back to God.
So when we read sections of God’s Word such as our verse this week; we need to keep in mind, it is about God and our relationship. Not our wants.
This verse is the response from Jesus who is being asked by a desperate father to heal his child. The verses around it read…’Oh, have mercy on us and do something if you can.” 23 “If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith.” 24 The father instantly replied, “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more!”
This gives us a clearer picture; Jesus was showing us that whilst anything can be possible if we have faith, it is more about the whom we have faith in, rather than the request in the first place.
On this occasion, the son was healed and Jesus cast out the demons that had taken over his body. But the result wasn’t only healing, it was about a God loving man, yearning and seeking to have more faith in God. That is relationship.
This Vision Sunday as we explore the theme for the year, may we always remember the fact that God desires for us to have a heartfelt relationship with Him.
Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favour that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son”
May we each rise to the challenge that our Lord calls us to. It might look a little different for us as individuals; but for as a church family—let us unite in the direction we are being called to and work towards increasing our knowledge and understanding of our Lord along the way. When we need help we know we can still ask, God encourages us to ask—especially if it seems beyond human capacity.
Remember Jesus’ words are not a promise that we can do whatever we want; rather, He makes it clear that the believing one has power only due to whom he believes in; namely, Jesus, the Son of God. The power is God’s, accessed through faith and prayer according to His will. It is because of God that the believing one can accomplish much. As we live for Jesus, let us focus on the object of our belief.
We had a little sneak peak on this a couple of Sundays back. So this week, we will look at one aspect in particular. The source of the book.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Tim 3:16-17 NIV
So the author of the Bible is God. How do we know this and how do we know the Bible is true?
In short, each person needs to answer that question for themselves, with help of Holy Spirit.
‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake’. 1 Thes 1:5 NIV
You know the saying that there is nothing new under the sun?….(also from the Bible Ecc 1:9).
Psalm 24:8 NIV encourages us to taste and see that ‘the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!’
The Bible written all those years ago came up with the idea of ‘try before you buy’… Here we are being encouraged, to try it; taste it; check it out. It is then we learn for ourselves, in our own experiences, in our own heart and mind, the truth that God is who He says He is, He is good!
Once we have accepted God to be who He says He is we can know that He can be trusted because God is rightly described as Omniscient.
‘Omni’ meaning ‘all’ scient meaning ’knowledge;
Omniscient is all knowing. God knows the beginning from the end. He tells of things yet to happen, thousands of years before they do. God’s omniscience is based on His authority for He is the ultimate standard of what is true and false. Not only does God know what is true, but He is the very nature of truth.
God’s truth and knowledge gives us as His people such comfort and blessing. He knows the hairs on our head. He knows when we are joyful, and when we hurt. He is attentive to our needs, all because of His love. When God says He loves us, He can be trusted because we see it with creation, we see it in the person of His son Jesus and we experience it with help from Holy Spirit.
God’s Word, His Bible is such an enigma, yet can begin to be defined when we seek to know and understand. How are you going with your regular reading and checking out of what God has to say each day through Scripture?
As the Bible is like God and beyond our human capacity to grasp, we need to ask Holy Spirit to help us. After all that is why God sends Him to us, Holy Spirit is our God Helper. All we need to do is actively pursue God through His Holy writings and allow His Words to be etched on our heart.
‘A false balance is abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.’
In Biblical times, a lot of trade was done by scales; just like our fruit or vegetables are still sold by the kilo today. If you were to go to your favourite grocer and wanted to buy some fresh bananas—and when the cashier weighed them to calculate the cost, they left their hand on the scales—would you be happy? Or would you, like most of us, be annoyed. It is fine to pay for what we get, but no one wants to be cheated!
So too it is with God. We know God is righteous, fair and just. For Him to see people ‘tipping the scales’ is something that He find’s disgraceful.
People by nature, are often trying to ‘tip the scales’ in their favour. Most of us are always keen to get something for nothing. But in God’s economy, this is just not ok.
Here is where we as Christ followers are being called to ‘balance’. In other words, we are to be careful to do what is right and just, as Jesus does.
Balance in our daily lives can be in various ways and affect different areas of our life. However this week we are being encouraged to do some soul searching and seek the Lord for any areas we are not acting justly, and ensure we have a good balance in our life.
Here are just a few examples.
· Ensuring those we employ are paid what they are due
· Giving 100% to our role, whatever the task
· Prioritising our time—do we work/play/rest in a balanced way?
· Who/what do we spend our money on?
· Is there something we are totally focussed on to the point of obsession?
· Do we give time to others, or just do for ourselves?
· Do we seek to be honest and diligent, or do we do the least amount we can get away with?
· Are we seeking to serve, care, pray for others or are we just about us and our problems?
· Do we worship/connect in with the Lord as often as we could?
It is easy to fall into the trap of not having a balanced life. 1 Peter 5: 8-9 Amp says
‘Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]’
We are all in this together so let us, as Scripture warns, be alert and cautious to be well balanced. And let us help each other to do likewise.
Dear Lord, help me to attain that balance in all areas of my life. Examine my heart, and show me those places where I may be out of balance. Help me to focus on the things that are most important, and keep me from being distracted by the things that would steal my time and attention. Protect me from those things that try to keep me from reaching my goals and achieving the dreams that you have put in my heart. Amen.
“Our need for the Book”.
In this short series, we are looking at what we as Christians need to be faithful followers of Jesus. This week we highlight the need for reading God’s Word, the Bible.
As 2 Tim 3: 16-17 tells us…. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
To be equipped to live like Jesus and follow God’s teaching, we need to know what Scripture says. The word Scripture means Holy writings, and the verse here clearly defines ALL Scripture—meaning Old and New Testament. So it is clear that the Bible is God’s words to us. He breathed the words, so the ultimate source is divine, not human, even though God used people to record. Scripture is from God, formed out of His Spirit, and in Psalm 19 and 119 we see that it is perfect.
Reading Scripture is useful—in other words, reading it is for our benefit and to our advantage. Scripture is wise, helpful, educational, empowering, and also convicting. It helps us get right with God. So how do we, as Psalm 119 tells us, hide God’s word in our heart, and meditate on it? The best way is to read, study and devour it and do this every day. Remembering key verses is a great way to put into action what we learn. As circumstances come up and decisions need to be made, we don’t always have time to wait, we need to speak, act, do, on the spot. Memorising Scripture is beneficial for us; this is us doing our part so that Holy Spirit can help us recall what Scripture says and guide our words and actions.
So how to memorise Scripture? Basically the answer is repetition, repetition, repetition! Here are a few tips:
· Work at one verse at a time, rather than multiple verses. Read the verse aloud 20 times—read aloud, then speak the verse from memory—do this 10 times. Next, try to quote the verse without mistakes 5 times in a row. Once you can do this, move to the next verse.
· Perhaps use pictures or props to help.
· Maybe writing it out, or if you are more musically orientated, say it to a beat.
Find what works for you, and ask God to help you. You will be surprised at the results if your heart is really in it.
Our challenge for this week: to be thoroughly equipped for every good work!
In the current climate of making everything about ‘me’ and looking after number one, setting boundaries can quite easily have selfish overtones.
Setting spiritually healthy boundaries however are quite the opposite. When we look at Jesus’ example of interacting with others, we can learn that boundaries can be caring and helpful if done lovingly.
Healthy boundaries define expectations and show respect for others. When we read our Bible we learn that boundaries are related to self control. As Christ followers, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. Boundaries come as a result of submitting to God’s will. When we do this the Lord enables us to make the right choices.
Remember Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They had freedom to wander all over, except one place. However they chose to overstep the boundary and they did what they were specifically told not to do. They each blamed the other, not taking responsibility and suffered the consequences.
In Galatians 5, we are urged to not use our freedom we have in Christ to be indulgent, but rather serve one another humbly in love.
Jesus shows us that there is a time and place for our words and actions. When Jesus was being accused, He was silent. Matt 27:12. When there were angry crowds wanting to push Jesus over a cliff, He walked right through the crowd and went on His way. Luke 4:30. In Matthew 23 Jesus rebukes the scribes and pharisees.
How do we know when and how to act within Christlike boundaries?
Psalm 119:10-11 helps…
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
This time of year is a great time to assess our boundaries. Ask ourselves the hard questions and seek God to reveal to us what changes we need to be making. But honestly, it is a daily challenge isn’t it? Let’s strive to learn from yesterday’s mistakes, and by God’s grace and wisdom, seek to be more and more like Jesus.