Prayer, a misunderstood blessing

When I think of prayer, I often think it is one of the most misunderstood or under-utilized blessings God has given us.  Many times people are not sure what to say or how to say it.  Other times people do not pray because they are afraid of what others may think if they see them praying.   Lastly, people choose not to pray because they don’t have enough faith in the fact prayer truly does work.

A solution to the first problem can be found in Mt 6:9-13 which many mistakenly call the Lord’s Prayer but is better termed, “The Model Prayer.”

Lord's prayer

Paul teaches us in Rom 1:16 the proper attitude we should have toward the Gospel.  If we have this attitude we don’t need to worry about the second issue listed above.  If we’re not ashamed of the gospel, we won’t be ashamed to show it in front of others, no matter what they may say.

not ashamed of the gospel

The Hebrew writer in the 11th chapter and verse 6 deals with the final issue above, reminding us that we must believe in God’s power and ability to answer prayer.

This section will be devoted to the study and discussion of prayer and it’s importance to our spiritual life.  Feel free to share thoughts and comments as well as any prayer requests you may have.

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This is Nothing New

I am sure much like me, many of you have seen the adds for Miller-Motte Technical College.  They use two very well known phrases that you have are probably familiar with, “Changing futures.  Changing lives” and “We need you.”MMTC logo

When I hear these two statements, I can’t help but think this is nothing new.  The Lord’s Church has been “Changing futures and changing lives” since long before the establishment of this educational institution.  The Lord’s Church has always reminded us that,  “We need you!”

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The big difference between the Lord’s Church and this school is the school makes a change for your life here on Earth while the Lord’s Church not only makes change in your life here on Earth, it makes changes in your life eternally.  Miller-Motte needs you to attend their school to help keep it’s doors open.  The Lord’s Church needs you to help spread the Gospel to the world and lead as many souls as possible to an eternity in Heaven.

While there is a possibility that Miller-Motte may one day be gone, the Lord’s Church will remain until Christ comes again.

How we know the Lord’s Church is changing futures and changing lives?  Consider the following.

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The problem of sin

  • Rom 3:23 “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
  • Rom 6:23a  “23 For the wages of sin is death…”

The promise of eternal life

  • Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  • Rom 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Col 1:22-23 “But now [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”
  • 1 Thes 4:13-16 “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
  • Rev 21″3-4 “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”

A difference in our lives today

  • Eph 2:13-14, 18,22 “At that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…through him [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
  • Mt 11:28 “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

How do we know the Lord’s Church needs us?

  • Mt 9:37-38 “37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Let us always remember that as members of the Lord’s Church we have been given a changed future and eternal life and we need to work to bring in others to help us spread this change throughout all the Earth.

Once a Year Just Isn’t Enough

It’s that time of year again when you have to say thank you.  I know it may feel like you did this last month but the truth is another year has come and gone and once again we have reached Thanksgiving Day, the one day of the year where we have to sit down and  tell God our Father why we are thankful to Him.

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This statement sounds shocking doesn’t it?  It almost seems offensive.  That’s the point.  While Thanksgiving Day is an excellent reminder to all of us to be grateful for what we have, if it is the only day we do so, that is disgraceful and shame on us.  As a parent I can tell you if my child only came and said thank you one time out of the year I would not allow it.  I would remind him that he needs to be thankful for all the things he has been given.  Why should we expect anything different when it comes to our Father in Heaven?  We need to have an attitude of gratitude year round because God is providing for us year round.

Let us enjoy this day as a time to be with family and friends with good food, but let us remember that the next time to be thanful is not next year, but no later than our next day here on Earth.

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Ps 136:, 26 “136 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever…26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!  For His mercy endures forever.”

1 Thes. 5:18 “18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Social media, bringing friends closer together, households further apart?

Please take a moment to look at the photo below

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Does this look like the scene at your home?  A scene where everyone is messing with their data device and no-one is focused on the other family members in the house?

Have we forgotten so focused on connecting with people who are away from us that we have loss connection with the very people we share a home with?

When we go out to dinner together do we forgo conversation with each other so that we can text our friends, search the web, or play a video game?

If We were to look inside our heads and try to see what we are thinking would it look something like the pictures below?
Social Media Logotype Background

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With all that clutter running through your mind, where is there room for anything else?  Things like family or the Lord.

I believe the book of Ruth is an excellent reminder to us of the importance of family.  Ruth gave up all else to stay with her mother-in-law Naomi despite not even being of the same people.

In Lk 15:32 we have the parable of the prodigal son.  We see in the parable the great example of the love a parent should have toward his/her child.  Are we showing this type of love if we are to busy to spend time with out children because we have to make sure we read every possible tweet, Facebook post, or blog ever written.  Or, are we too busy to spend time with them so we hand them some type of electronic device or computer and tell them to go entertain themselves?

Social media can be a wonderful think if we keep it in perspective and use it wisely.  Social media is not worth the break up of the household.

For more on this topic check out the following link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0465031463/ref=mw_dp_mdsc?dsc=1

Rain, a reason for sadness, or joy?

I walked out of my bedroom this morning and noticed that all the lights in the house were off.  Christian had lit the candles we keep in the fireplace and was playing some soft music through the television.  I looked out the window and saw the rain coming down and the grey skies.  Now you would think that someone who lived a great deal of his life in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon would be used to seeing this kind of weather.  Sadly, it made me feel kind of depressed.  I guess I have just gotten spoiled the last couple years of my life and have enjoyed not seeing the rain.

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Then I got to thinking.  There has to be a reason why we have days like this.  As I often try to do in my life now, I tried to find a spiritual application to help me feel a little better.

Christian reminded me that Noah was stuck in an ark while it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.  I am sure that had to be difficult but Noah understood that God had a purpose for what was happening and God was going to help see him and his family through.   And here I am complaining about rain that at this point probably hadn’t lasted  more than 40 minutes and 40 seconds.

For any of you who might feel the same temptation to be discouraged by the rain, here are some verses that remind us why it is a gift from God and should bring us joy as it helps to sustain the land we live in.

Lev 26:4 “then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”

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Is 55:10 “10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater”

Jer 14:22 “22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain?  Or can the heavens give showers?  Are You not He, O Lord our God?  Therefore we will wait for You, Since You have made all these.”

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Amos 4:7 ““I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest.  I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city.  One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.”

Acts 14:17 “17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Jam 5:17-18 “17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Let us always be thankful for the gift from God that is rain.

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It is Not in Man to Direct his own Steps

Jer 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
As many of you know this past September I experienced some physical issues that created a great deal of pain and ultimately required some minor surgery.  The experience caused me to gain a greater appreciation of this verse.  I will explain below.
When I first started to feel the pain I tried to just ignore it figuring it would just go away.  As the pain began to increase and people could see I was acting different, I began to research the condition on the internet thinking maybe I could find the answers there.  For about three weeks I tried all the suggestions man had to offer and I was getting progressively worse.
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My next step was to go to a clinic and see if there was anything they could do.  The doctor offered some anti-biotic medication to make sure there was no infection but I continued to struggle and suffer from the pain.  Finally one of the members of my congregation encouraged me to follow up with a specialist who could take away the pain.  At first I was hesitant but because of the pain I was experiencing I decided to give it a shot.  Within 24 hours of meeting the specialist I was going through a surgery to remove the suffering and pain.  I can now say I am no longer suffering from the terrible pain I was in.
What’s the point?  Look at the process, first I tried to heal on my own with no success, second I tried the advice of men and women who didn’t have the ability to remove the suffering, third I sought help from a doctor who still didn’t have the tools or ability to remove the suffering, finally I found the specialist, the one who had the ability to take the pain and suffering away and I was completely healed.
In the same manner, if one wants to be free from the pain and suffering of sin, they can’t do it on their own, they can’t find the answer in man’s suggestions, they can’t even look to a PHD to solve the suffering of sin, they must go to the only one who can take the sin causing their pain and suffering and that is Jesus Christ and Him alone.
If you are currently suffering and in pain from your sin, don’t make the mistake of looking for the cure anywhere else, go to Christ and He alone can heal you.

Almost but Lost

“Almost but lost”,  For the Oregon ducks, a shot at the national tile, for Agrippa (Acts 26:28) and the non-Christian, eternity in Heaven.
So I am watching what is supposed to be the biggest game of the college football season so far but what I actually see is one of the most disappointing performances Oregon Duck football has seen in a long time.  As the “so-called” game is going on, you can hear the commentators talking about what a disappointment the Oregon team looks like because they are constantly getting penalized (violating the rules) and they are playing as if they have no purpose or belief they can win.
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Then it happens, after 53 minutes of hopelessness, there appears to be a spark of life.  Finally a score which brings just a small hope to the Duck players.  Then, not 2 minutes later a blocked field goal attempt returned for a touch down.  Still down 2 scores with only around 5 minutes to play, there appears to be some belief from both the players and the commentators.  Could this be opportunity they had already given up on?  Was there really hope?  An onside kick recovery follows and the ducks score again.  from 26-0 to 26-20 in less than 6 minutes.
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They are one touchdown away from a win.  They are “almost there”.  A second onside kick, this time recovered by Stanford and the game is over.  What an exciting finish right?  They almost did it!!! They almost came back and won!!! That’s good enough right?  Nope!  It is still a loss in the record books and clearly takes them out of the national title picture.
For Agrippa, There was also a moment of hope.  A belief that he might change the outcome.  How do we know this?  Because he says in Acts 26:28 “Almost you persuaded me to be a Christian”.  Just likes the Ducks, he was right there for the chance to avoid the loss, but just like the Ducks he couldn’t quite finish the job.  Just like the ducks, almost was not enough to keep him from losing eternity with God.  How sad to come so close and still lose it all.
Don’t let this situation happen to you or others in your life.  Let them know that almost is not enough.  Let them know, as we sing in one of our hymns, “Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail, sad, sad, that bitter wail, almost but lost”
Let us always look for the spiritual lessons we can find in physical lessons we are taught here on earth.