Sunday, September 29, 2013

Exit Please


Today’s message will be taken from 1 Corinthians 9 & Philippians 3. As you turn in your Bibles I want to show you a picture and tell you a brief story which will serve to connect us to the central truth God will remind us of today.

(Production Note: Bring up the Bull Riding picture)

I don’t suggest any of you try this for yourself. And if you are wondering, that’s a picture of me when I was much younger and perhaps a little more agile. I think I must have been about 18 or 19 at this point and if you can see the look on my face in that picture you can see that I am really concentrating on riding that bull. There is no doubt he has my attention and I am doing everything I know to stay connected.

That picture was taken in Linden, Texas. I rode that bull for 7½ seconds before he dislodged me and I hit the dirt hard just as I heard the buzzer go off. Boy was I upset … I really tried hard to stay on that bull.  A couple of weeks later I entered the bull riding event at the New Boston Texas Rodeo held in celebration of Pioneer Days. I drew a big old 2 ton white Brahma bull that did not want to cooperate.

This bull kept raring up on his hind legs trying to jump up and over the chute every time we would try to get my bull rope on him. Some rodeo nuts would stick him with a cattle prod thinking that would settle him down. Meanwhile I was trying to get set down on him and get my rope tight so we could turn him out for the ride. On one of my attempts I was just about ready when he decided to try and jump over the chute gate with me on his back. My right spur got hung in my rope and I couldn’t get my leg up and even with cowboys pulling up on me trying to hoist me to safety my knee got crushed between that bulls shoulder and the chute gate. He ground it back and forth for a while before my spur let go and I was yanked up and out of there.

They passed me by and bucked a couple of other cowboys out and came back to me once the bull settled back down a bit. My brother-in-law, Steve, helped tighten the rope as I rosined it up good and hot and sticky and laid it through my hand, around the back of my glove and back through my grip again. I closed my fist down tight and pounded on it to stick the hot rosined glove together like a leather clamp. Then with one motion I quickly sat down on my hand, scooted forward, pulled my hat down, raised my free hand and gave the nod to let him out.

Unlike the bull I rode a couple of weeks earlier that I really tried hard to ride … This ride was different … On this ride - All I was looking for was an exit. Whether he knew it or not, all I wanted was off … and with the first jump he made … off I went. If they had had closed the chute gate too quickly they would have shut me inside …

I have thought about that ride so many times over the past 40 years or so and have come to realize … You’ll never ride a bucking bull when the only thing you want is off.

If all you can think about is an exit … you’re probably not gonna win!

1 Corinthians 9
24  Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
25  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
26  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.
27  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Philippians 3
8  Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11  so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
13  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

You can’t win a race looking for the exit. It does not apply to everything but chances are it does apply to your thing: “Stop looking for the exit!” 

You will never fix your marriage looking for the exit.
You will not create a better work place looking for reasons to quit.
You will not be a better witness looking for excuses to hide your light.
You won’t press through the tough times looking for places to give up.
You won’t make it to the finish line if you don’t keep your eyes on the prize

Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy before Him

2 Corinthians 4
17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Psalms 23 declares – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …” – not around it – not get me out … but take me through … “Yea … I will fear no evil – for God is with me!”

Often our victory over the situation comes after we gain victory in the situation.

This does not apply to everything but most likely it does apply to your thing … so I’ll encourage you again … most likely things will begin to get better if you will simply:
·       Stop looking for an exit.
·       Start looking at what it will take to win this thing!

I can testify that in 1982 I was on my death bed, looking for an exit, searching for a way out, trying to find a place to quit, and all I wanted to do was give up. Right about the time I decided to throw in the towel I realized that it was not all about me … and that I had been so focused on my sickness and my pain and my problems that I had almost forgotten my responsibility to my wife, my children and to the Word of God which had saved my soul.

I was fully confident that if I died I would go to heaven and be welcomed and rewarded. However, I also felt that I owed it to Jesus to not quit and take the easy way out. That night I made a declaration and spoke directly to the devil and those enemies of my life had me bound and decreed:

“Devil – I win! – By the sheer fact that I will live longer than you will. And, if you kill me you are going to have to do it with me fighting every step of the way because I’m not giving up and I’m not quitting.”  Well – I’m still here. You see, our Victory is not in our healing but rather in our obedience. And, our obedience demands that we fight the good fight of faith.

So let me say a third time: Stop looking for an exit and start looking for a way to win. Obey God in all things and fight the good fight of faith.

BTW – I decided I didn’t need to end life afraid of those big bad bulls so for my 50th birthday I went to Pamplona, Spain,

and ran with the bulls and participated in the enciero, fighting 5 fresh young strong bulls in the bullring.

Then, 6 or 7 years later I decided I needed to ride another bull so I found the biggest Texas longhorn I could find and got onboard. He wasn’t so tough!

You can exit at any time … for not – fight the good fight of faith and keep running the race!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 12 – Missions


When you were born again, you were considered by God and all of creation as a babe in Christ. Little if anything was required of you. Much like a newborn, life was all about you. Although babies are not necessarily considered selfish, they are nonetheless dependent and cannot provide for themselves but must be cared for continually.

It is God’s design that babies grow through stages of development into mature adults. Given time and education each person is designed to take on the greater responsibilities maturity demands. The individual who is able but who simply refuses to grow up, take responsibility, and begin caring for others is a misfit in life. Such are those born again believers who continually cry and whine and complain feeling that life is all about them and their needs. We must encourage and even demand growth and the acceptance of personal responsibilities from ourselves and from the others we influence with the Gospel.

We must grow up in Christ and take responsibility for this kingdom of life.

When we hear the word “missions” most of us traditionally think about going to some foreign country and working with the native population to help them with some need. “Missions” however is much broader than this. Missions includes any effort we make to fulfill the purpose of the Church. This brings up another question: “What is the purpose of the Church?”

The purpose of the Church is to accomplish the plan of God. God’s plan is our mission. The mission of the Church is to:
·        Reach
·        Teach
·        Keep People
… Basically to care about and care for individuals and families while they dwell on earth in preparation for heaven and eternity.  

The Church in each generation has been solely responsible to accomplish this mission not only to the unreached in faraway lands but also to those who are sitting right next door. For this reason many Churches like ours define their mission efforts as either:
·        Local Missions
·        Home Missions
·        Foreign Missions

Jesus put it this way: “…You shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, throughout all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

We are responsible to care about and do our best to care for everyone in our generation in ever increasing concentric circles from our home to the last home on planet earth.  This is the mission of the Church in each generation until the end of this age. This brings us to our Key Scriptures for Block 12.

Key Scriptures:
Matthew 28
18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

We have long believed God has a plan. Suffice it to say this Great Commission contains the only “Marching Orders” God has given the Church. The disciples of that day received these orders as an assignment. Their duty was no different than the responsibility which is laid upon every disciple in each generation since. Their mission was to reach, teach, and keep their generation with the love of God and for the cause of Christ … so is ours!

The Old Testament covers a period of about 4000 years, give or take a few. It is a picture of God working in generation after generation to ultimately bring Messiah to a lost and dying world. The New Testament however covers only a period of about 40 years, from about AD27 or thereabouts when Jesus called His first disciple to about AD67 at which time the Apostles Peter and Paul were already off the scene and the New Testament was for the most part completed.

The New Testament gives the testimonial account of what 1 home group did in only 40 years. Those 12 boys, minus Judas Iscariot and plus Paul the Apostle, carried the Gospel of Jesus and planted Churches in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Philippi, Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Laodicea, Corinth, Colosse, the regions of Galatia, Athens, Thessalonica, Pergamos and Rome just to name a few. These 12 boys took their assignment seriously and in only 40 years they took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their whole known world and not one of them even owned a bicycle.

The Great Commission became their mission and their purpose was to accomplish the plan of God. They felt personally responsible to do God’s will. They were what we call “Missions-Minded” Believers working in a “Missions-Minded” Church … is there any other kind?

One of the greatest challenges faced by the Church in every generation is to stay on point. The devil would love to distract us, detour us, derail us and thereby render us ineffective. The devil cares less for who is running the governments of this world and their plans than he does about who is running the Churches and their plans. The Church must stay on point, committed to its mission.

The Church, not the governments of this world, is the hope God has of accomplishing His plan. The work of the Church cannot be accomplished, however, unless individual Born Again Believers take a personal interest in and shoulder a personal responsibility for the mission of the Church.

Communities and Countries which were reached with the Gospel of Christ by the first generation Church 2000 years ago must be re-reached, taught, and cared for in every generation since. You see, sinners are born every day and before we can ever reach that proverbial last house in the world for Christ we must also reach every other house in the world in each generation. This is why it is so necessary to not just evangelize countries and communities but rather insure that we are raising up Church families everywhere we go … even within our own neighboring communities.

The population of the world is increasing each year and along with each increase our responsibility to establish more Churches grows as well. The world's oldest surviving ancient census, the Han Dynasty, counted its people to determine revenues and military strength in each region. This census taken in AD2 confirmed 57,671,400 people living in China. Even in the first century, China accounted for a huge portion of the world's overall population which at that time is estimated to be about 200,000,000.

In the first century Rome and Alexandria boasted a population of near 1 million each and we estimate Jerusalem to have about 25,000 permanent residents, not counting the extra 100,000 attending the yearly feasts on occasion. In essence, by the standards of the growing world population today, there simply weren’t as many people to reach, teach, and keep in the first century … but the mission of the Church was the same.

It was not until the 1800’s that the world population finally reached 1 billion people. In 1960 the number had grown to 3 billion and by late 2011 that number had more than doubled to reach 7 billion. Within one generation, my generation, the mission of the Church has increased by more than 250 percent. Chances are we will see our responsibilities triple before we pass the baton and yet many people wonder why we are so driven to plant local Churches and do world missions. God is simply trying to keep up and you are His vehicle of choice.

Important Points
1.   The mission of the Church never changes.
2.   As the world grows, so do our responsibilities.
3.   God is counting on us to stay on point and accomplish His plan.
4.   What is God’s plan for the Church?
a.   Reach the Lost
b.   Teach the Saints
c.   Care for the Church in the Earth

Saturday, September 21, 2013



Acts 1:8  "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

It always seems that the young, the brave, the bright … the idealistic souls, are those who long to get onto the front lines and put their hands in the heat of the battle, wholly given to a desire to make a difference. Neither controversy nor the threat of danger and loss dissuade these champions of the cause … what they feel is more tangible and valuable than life itself.

Only the pure motive to serve and save others can rise so high as to demand our life, our honor and our all. For these chosen vessels, life is wasted on the pursuit of things which cannot endure.

Such was the heart of a brave and bright young man named Jim Elliot. Jim was born in Seattle, Washington in 1927. He was raised in a home which espoused Christian values leading Jim to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior at age 6. Throughout his school years Jim was recognized for his willingness to speak up and stand up for his convictions.

Everyone who knew Jim imagined he could do great things with his life and he was encouraged in many directions. Jim however felt a call on his life to reach out to and evangelize those who had not yet heard about and did not know the loving grace of God in Christ. Specifically Jim felt called to the indigenous Huaorani Indians of Eastern Ecuador, a small tribe known for their distrust of and hostility towards outsiders.

Considering his home church to be well fed Jim systematically prepared himself for the task, assembled a team of like minded men and set out to the work. Once established in Ecuador Jim and his team continued preparation while ministering to receptive natives in the less threatening border areas surrounding the Huaorani Tribe. From February 1952 until September 1955, Jim put his plan together and finally felt it time to advance to the next stage. During this time Jim had married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth, who had recently joined him on the mission field.

From September 1955 until the 3rd of January 1956, Jim and his team flew their airplane over the jungle villages of the Huaorani people dropping leaflets and speaking on loud speakers informing them of their intent to make contact but do no harm. On January 3rd the 5 men established a second base camp closer to the Huaorani village and later made initial contact with tribal representatives, one of which was given his requested ride in the airplane. Little did they know that in order to save his own reputation this man would return and tell vicious lies to the Huaoranian Indians which served to incite them to violence.

On January 8, 1956, while preparing to make their first real outreach to the Hauoranians with the Gospel of Christ, Jim Elliot and his 4 friends were savagely attacked with knives and spears, killed by Huaorani Indian warriors, and their dead bodies were thrown into the river. Later all of the bodies were recovered along with their journals.

Life Magazine picked up the story and ran a 10 page exclusive resulting in international coverage which boosted missionary commitments from all around the globe. Other young, bright and brave men and women identified the longing of their souls to stand on the front lines of eternity and pledge their life to the cause of Christ. That same year, 1956, brought even greater conviction to the Jim Elliot’s young widow, Elizabeth, a new mom herself.

Elizabeth, along with one of the martyred team member’s sister, Rachael Saint, pledged her life to continue the work her husband had begun. These two ladies persevered and Elizabeth spent the next two years reaching out and evangelizing the Huaorani Indians, even leading some of those warriors who had savagely killed her husband to salvation in Christ, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Elizabeth went on to publish several books which still serve to inspire others to the continuing tasks at hand.

One of the notations which was found in a Jim Elliot’s daily journal leads us to better understand the perspective of one who would dare to put his plans on hold and place his life on the line for the cause of Christ. He wrote:

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot’s Daily Journal, October 28, 1949)

Today Jim wears the eternal crown of a martyr. Killed in the service of loving others.

I suggest that it is not the death of Jim Elliot that should inspire us but rather the way Jim chose to live his life. He was only 28 years old and yet he knew the most important truths of life. Only what we do for Christ will endure. Life for Jim was a choice … he was chosen, but the choice was his.

Have you ever wanted to be chosen? Have you ever felt special? Special enough to be chosen … well you are special and specially chosen – but the real choice is yours. Once chosen, the choice is yours.

As I said earlier, Acts 1:8 describes Spirit-filled Believers as martyrs. Not the dead kind but rather the living kind - Those who give their lives to the service of Christ. Some may ask: “Preacher, what’s in it for me?”

This is my guarantee:
·        If you will give your comfort and your concerns to Christ laying your life at the foot of the cross and simply follow Him … it may not mean a change in jobs but it will mean a change in life … and it’s a choice

If you will follow Jesus Christ I can faithfully and sincerely promise you:
·        Wealth beyond your wildest imaginations
·        A bigger house than you’ve ever dreamed about
·        Closer family relationships than you have ever experienced
·        No more sickness, no more pain, no more crying, no more dying
·        A longer and stronger life than you can begin to describe
·        You’ll be smarter, wiser, more intelligent and knowledgeable
·        Always know exactly what to do and precisely when to do it
·        Everything you attempt will be successful
·        You’ll never worry or be afraid of anything ever again
·        On top of everything else, you will be immortal

It is just a short journey from where you are to everything God has for those who will follow Christ. Won’t you come and follow Jesus today?

It’s nothing less than the call Peter and John and their family and friends received near 2000 years ago while they were all busy with life:

Matthew 4:19  Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

What gave them the power to follow Christ? The same thing that convinced Jim Elliot, those other 4 men, Elizabeth Elliot, Rachael Saint and it’s the same thing that convinced me … it will convince you too --- do you hear it? It’s God choosing you …

There is a voice within the voice … a voice that speaks straight to the heart. Deep calls to deep … (Psalms 42:7)

You were chosen in Christ before the world began … (2Timothy 1:9)

There is a fresh call from heaven going throughout the earth today … I hear the Lord saying afresh, “Come and follow Me!” – Refresh your choice.

Who cannot deny the voice of the Lord? Who has not heard the call? Who has not felt the witness and the drawing of heaven’s hand? Come …

Come just as you are …
Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden … (Matthew 11:28)
Just as I am without one plea … I surrender all …
Jesus is tenderly calling today … Though none go with me still I will follow

Respond to the voice of the Lord. Get up out of your seats right now …
·        Bring your life to the altar of His service
·        Bring your spouse to the healing waters of Zion
·        Bring your children to the crossing of the Jordan
·        Bring your friends to the foot of the Cross
·        Come, willing to forsake all to Follow Him …

Chosen to Come just as you are and receive your calling afresh. Certainly God will let you know the next step in its time - but for now – you know the first step and it is yours to take … come and surrender your all to Him!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Law & Life


In the fall of 1973 I was home on leave from the military before reporting to my next duty assignment with 2nd Air Force’s, 2nd Security Police Squadron located at Barksdale AFB, which was a part of the old Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force. The newly-agreed-to Paris Peace Accords had detailed the end of the Vietnam War and the Homecoming for our POW’s had taken place just a few months earlier. The last American bombs were dropped in Indochina on August 15th of 1973 on a target in Cambodia and for the most part, things were quieting down on the world scene … or so it seemed.

Anwar el Sadat, the newest President of Egypt, was struggling with his country’s failing economy. President Sadat had recently expelled the 22,000 Russian advisors from Egypt and opened up new diplomatic channels with the US. His hope was to gain sympathy and support in recovering the land in the Sinai which had been lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Sadat also formed an alliance with Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current Syrian President, Basher al-Assad, and was formulating a secret plan to attack Israel.

To complete the political scene in the fall of 1973, the Prime Minister of Israel was Golda Meir, the Russian President was Brezhnev, the US Secretary of State was Kissinger, and the President of the United States was Richard Nixon. These all played their roles in the events which took place now 40 years ago.

Why am I mentioning these things today? Because of the anniversary which just took place yesterday in Israel … the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, marked by celebration of the most holy day of the year for Jews. I remember it well. I was sitting in the living room of Brenda’s parents home when an announcement interrupted the programming on the television requesting all US military personnel on leave or away from post to report to their superiors immediately. I did so and found that my name was not on the deployment list and that my leave had not been cancelled as of yet. Nonetheless I was intensely interested in the unfolding events.

That evening the news carried the report that Israel had been attacked and invaded by both air and ground attack by Egypt from the south and Syria from the North. The attack happened while Jewish families were celebrating the most holy day of the year, Yom Kippur. A day in which all Jews are called to 25 hours fasting and prayer … a day in which many military personnel are released from duty to travel home to be with family on this special day set aside for repentance and return to God for forgiveness of sin. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day to reconcile with neighbors, friends, enemies and Almighty God.

It took a few days before Israeli forces could get organized and begin to aggressively repel the onslaught. President Nixon withheld sending military support for a week to show sympathy for Egypt’s concerns. In the meanwhile, Iraqi forces joined Syria who also received support from Jordan. However … once the Israeli military got fully into place they pushed back the Syrians and held off the Egyptians for 19 days amid heavy casualties until a cease fire was secured by the United Nations. In the end, Israel held its ground in the south while gaining new ground in the north. Perhaps this war, more than any other, is remembered because of the element of surprise and the total disregard of the holy moment observed on Yom Kippur.

In Leviticus chapter 16 we are told of the significance of this holy day. The fall season is marked with several important events all beginning with the first day the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. The month is called Tishrei and although it is the seventh month it nonetheless is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The first day of Tishrei is Rosh Hashanah – the New Year’s Day.

Jewish tradition teaches that on that day God writes names in the Book of Life and the Book of Death along with each person’s fate for the coming year. Those fates, however, are not sealed for 10 days thus giving each person an opportunity to get right with God. Two things are generally required during those 10 Days of Awe: 1) to reconcile with others; & 2) to get right with God. The 10th day of Tishrei, called the Day of Atonement, is a day of total fasting and long prayers of repentance. That day ended last night at sundown in Israel. According to the law, it is now too late to change your fate. Either your name is written in the Book of Life or it is not!

It was on the Day of Atonement that the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies for his once per year visit, to consecrate the Temple by sprinkling the blood of a bull and a goat on and before the mercy seat which set atop the Ark of the Covenant. Then the High Priest would also sanctify the whole temple by consecrating the altar with the same sprinkling of blood. Once these holy moments were accomplished, he would turn his attention to a scapegoat which had been chosen by God for that purpose. The High Priest would lay both of his hands on the head of the goat and pronounce, or confess, all of the past year’s sins of Israel over the goat thereby laying all of the sins of Israel on this scapegoat which would then be led into the wilderness and released.

This had to be done each year to clear the people of sin and temporarily release them from the penalty of death which sin requires.

Leviticus 16
10  But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
21  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22  And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Once, this was the only hope mankind had to temporarily rid himself of the penalties of sin and be accepted by God. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the sprinkling of blood and the confession of sins, laying them on the chosen scapegoat, were all shadows of a better and more permanent event to come. These elements of worship were foreshadows of what God would do through Messiah – not once each year, but once and for all, eternally and forever!

Jesus is not only the Sacrifice whose blood cleanses us from all sin and reconciles us to God but He is also the High Priest of God entering into the very throne room of heaven once for all mankind to obtain mercy and make a way for us.

Jesus bore our sins and took our infirmities to the grave. He also rose victorious without those sins, sicknesses, worries or fears … He left them in the grave … He left them in hades … He left them in hell with the devil.  

As I said earlier, according to the law, it is now too late to change your fate. Either your name is written in the Book of Life or it is not!

Personally, I am thankful that the law does not have the last say concerning the salvation of my soul! Don’t get me wrong … in order to have eternal life we still must be right with God – however, righteousness cannot come by keeping the law.

Galatians 3:21  Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

Righteousness and eternal life cannot come by the law but rather by faith in the Righteous One who is the Giver of life.

Romans 8
3  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

1 John 5
11  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Colossians 1:14  In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

You can seal your eternal fate today by simply opening your heart to God and receiving Jesus as Messiah. This can be your Yom Kippur, once and for all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 11 – Prayer


There is no greater example for the Christian to follow other than the life of Christ. Jesus lived a very open and public life known to all around Him. People from all walks of life, kings and common men, both the young and the old, from the wealthy to the poor, the condemned to the commended, religious men to heretics, the demon possessed, the widow, the tax collector, the Roman guards, the governors, the harlot and the high priest all took note of Him.

People who knew Jesus never doubted His habit and manner of life. They all knew Him to be a man of Word and Prayer. These two elements, more than any others, are essentials in the life of every follower of Christ. On the scale of Christian priorities, the Word and Prayer rank high above every other display of faith: higher even than helping the poor, displaying the power to heal, attending Church or giving of offerings. It is not to say that these other things should ever be forsaken or left unattended, however it is necessary to understand that the daily priority of our Christian faith is to give attendance to the Word of God and prayer. (Acts 6:4)

Perhaps the greatest responsibility we have as Believers in and Followers of Jesus is the New Creation Responsibility of prayer. Every Christian is called to prayer and called to pray. No one provides us a better example to follow than Jesus Himself. Though He is the Only Begotten Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Jews and the undeniable Savior of the world, He continually engaged the Father in prayer.

Whether at His baptism, (Luke 3:21); in the wilderness, (Luke 5:16); before the appointment of the Apostles, (Luke 6:12), where He continued praying all night; whether alone in prayer, (Luke 9:18), or together with others, (Luke 9:28-29), as on the Mount of Transfiguration; in times of loss, (John 11:41-42); in times of anguish, (Luke 22:42); or in times of glory, (John 17), Jesus always led and lived His life with prayer.

Prayer is nothing less and nothing more than talking to God.

Those disciples closest to Jesus observed Him and His daily habits. Hearing His Word and seeing His power they could no longer restrain their desire to be like Him. In this pursuit the disciples asked Jesus for a favor.

 Luke 11:1  Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."

In response Jesus repeats to His disciples what He had long before taught the multitudes on the hillside in Galilee. We call this: “The Model Prayer”.

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The model prayer is not a legal formula for success but rather reveals the heart and the spirit of effective prayer. The model given us by Jesus begins with the clear recognition of God to whom we address all our requests. Furthermore it is essential we submit each request to the overriding will of God who has a greater plan than we can know. Nonetheless we are taught by Jesus to petition our Heavenly Father for our daily needs both physically and spiritually as well as His continued divine leadership and intervention in our lives. Finally our hope in prayer is the sovereignty of our God to whom belongs all glory and power forever and ever, Amen!

Believers in Jesus have a clear spiritual responsibility to cover the earth with prayer. Prayer is a God given priority to every Believer.

Key Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men

The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy whom he had left in Ephesus to continue the work of building the Church in that city. Here in this letter Paul gives instructions for the carrying on of public worship and encourages a priority be given to the ministry of prayer during Church services. The various types of prayer are also listed which are:
      ·        Supplications – Common individual and corporate needs
      ·        Prayers – Wants; wishes; hopes; desires
      ·        Intercessions – Prayers directed to God for others
      ·        Giving of Thanks
o   Philippians 4:6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (New Living Translation)

The passage and exhortation in 1 Timothy 2 continues … supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men …

2  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The desire of God is that through earnest and continual prayer for all men, that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Prayer is big to God! Prayer moves mountains! (Mark 11:22-24) – Even the mountains which are keeping the souls of men from knowing the truth! God is serious about prayer … perhaps it’s time we got serious too …

2 Chronicles 7: 14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Important Points
     1.   If we want to be like Jesus, we will pray.
     2.   Prayer is talking to God.
     3.   God cares about our wants as well as our needs.
     4.   Prayer is big to God … Prayer moves mountains!
     5.   If we will, He will!