Basic 6: Prayer-May 30, 2012

Basic 6:  Prayer-Francis Chan

2 Chronicles 7:14-16; Luke 11:1-13; Matthew 6:5-15; James 4:1-3

Members of the early church devoted themselves to prayer.  When reading the book of Acts in may seem enormous what that small group of believers was supposed to accomplish.  We take prayer seriously when we understand the depth of our need for God to work supernaturally in our lives.  If we are going to really live out our calling as the church, then we need to devote ourselves to prayer.

Ecclesiastes offers this perspective:  God is in heaven, and we are on earth, so we should address Him accordingly (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7).  Balancing this out is perspective in Romans where we approach God is “Abba” or daddy (Romans 8:14-17).  There is also discipline involved (Hebrews 12:5-11), but it is the faithful correction of a loving Father who knows what is best for us.  The image of God as our Father speaks of intimacy.  This doesn’t mean that we lose the respect for God that Ecclesiastes calls us to.  Because of God’s character, He is worthy of our love and respect simultaneously.

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are claiming solidarity with Jesus.  We are identifying ourselves with Him and acknowledging that His mission is also our mission.  We are saying that the things we are asking are the same things that Jesus would be asking for (John 14:13-14.  Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Prayer for the early church was not a program; it was a natural response to the intense setting in which they lived and the impossible task they had been given.  We too need to build prayer into our lifestyle for the purpose of accomplishing our God-given mission.

A good place to start is by analyzing the frequency and intensity of our prayer lives.  We cannot deny the fact that our true beliefs manifest themselves in our actions.  Regardless of what we say we believe, our actions reveal our fundamental assumptions about life.  Such as, does the amount of time we spend in prayer reflect our view of God?  Do we see prayer as vital and necessary for accomplishing the mission God has called us to?

We join together in fellowship, teach one another, pray, and share in communion so that we can work together to accomplish this mission.  Part of our fellowship should involve praying for one another.

What is the difference between the meaningless, repetitious prayers that Jesus condemned in Matthew 6 and the persistent prayers He commended in Luke 18?  Then what do we do with the statement “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)?  As ones who are praying for His kingdom to come, it may mean processing everything you encounter in the presence of God, asking Him what He thinks and how you should respond.  It will probably look a little different for each person, depending on your unique situation.  But the point is, God wants prayer to be a constant and essential part of your life.

If we are going to seriously pursue our calling to live out God’s intention for His church, we will need to persistently pursue Him in prayer.  This will require sacrifice, but as we experience more intimacy with God and see Him working in and around us, we won’t regret a single minute that we devoted to prayer.

Additional Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 4:7

1 Samuel 1:27-28

2 Chronicles 7:1

Proverbs 15:8

Matthew 6:5-6

Matthew 26:39

Acts 4:24-31

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Transitions-May 29, 2012

At the end of each school year I was thankful that the time was over until…my senior year.  Then, I would have to consider my life and identity would be expanding.  I had come to know myself and my identity within this community of my high school.  My high school community was my friends, classmates, teachers, and family.  In a moment known as graduation, it was becoming real to me that my world and identity was changing and expanding, as well as that of my friends.  This is a lot for a 17-year-old to take in, in such a brief period of time.

Graduation would be marking for some of us the first major transition of our lives.  I looked around that day knowing that some were going to college, military, or the work force.  Those experiences like my own of college and then graduate school would continue to shape the young men and women we were becoming.  We have an identity as members of that high school community, but our communities were expanding.  How would that shape each one of us, I could not know, really who could?

Through my life I have had the opportunity to reconnect here and there with those who were part of the community, in many ways we are all very different than we were then.  However, in more subtle ways the personality of each seems to still be present.  The high school community was the place we lived in and found our identity as a part of it.  Good or bad, and hopefully more good than bad.  We helped to shape what it was then and prepared both ourselves and that community to be better and different because we were a part of it, both in our living and leaving.

In many ways the community of Christ is not so different.  We live in the community being shaped by our identity with it, even as we too have a role in shaping the identity of the community with our presence.  Good or bad, and hopefully more good than bad.  We help to shape what it is to preserve and prepare ourselves and the community of Christ, to be different from the world around us, and hopefully better for us and the community that we were a part of it.

We are shaped and are shaping each community we are a part of.  In the living of our days do we so quickly move from one thing to the next that we do not take notice of what our living and believing say about our leaving?  The next transition is out of this world, and so in what ways have you allowed yourself to be shaped by the community of Christ around you?  In which ways have our lives shaped the community?  So that in our unknown time of leaving we may know we have been faithful to prepare the community of our identity to continue to play this vital role in the lives of those to come.  It truly is our belief about the transition of leaving that shapes our living.

Please pray for graduates as they think, live, prepare, expand, and transition into a yet unknown world to them, it is a lot to take in.  Pray for our community of Christ that we will be those that will bless them in their transitions as we prepare for our own.

Armor of God-May 27, 2012

Sermon-Armor of God-May 27, 2012

Scripture-Ephesians 6:10-20

Being strong in the Lord is not the same as doing life by our own strength.  It is trusting His power and provision,  This is  trusting beyond ourselves and is not something we are always accustom to.  In our day and culture we too often try to go it alone, not getting help from God let alone any other person.  It is as if our strength is perfect or endless, that is until the first trial or illness comes along and we are reminded or our mortality.  Trust the strength of the Lord in difficult times.

Paul reminds them to put on the full armor of God.  Not just the partial.  It also seems odd that when trying to protect ourselves we don’t want to use all the resources we have to accomplish this task.  In many of our lives we may not take the doctor’s advice, children may not brush their teeth, many more do not wear seat belts, and so on and so forth.

The struggles that we face are not just in the physical world but begin in our heart and minds for Christ.  We join in by recognizing that we are in a spiritual war and it is not just our physical bodies at stake and we begin by standing on the promises of God, and then mentally preparing ourselves both mentally and emotionally for this warfare.  Therefore as we make our stand put on the full armor.  Girding ourselves with truth, and the breastplate of righteousness.  Then preparing our feet to bring the gospel of peace, in addition to taking up the shield of faith to extinguish the  flaming missiles of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of Word of God.  These things the promises of God truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God are all necessary as we battle.  No soldier in  Paul’s day or our own would dream of going out to battle with out the full armor, so why do we often times forget to do so when it comes to spiritual battles.

We are instructed to pray, ask, and be alert.  Pray not only for ourselves but one another.  It doesn’t matter what if you get to the end if you have also left your brothers and sisters behind.  No military person would leave the men or women in the field of battle, so why do we Christians sometimes leave our wounded on the field of battle.  Paul then asks them to pray for his boldness in the gospel.  Do we pray for boldness in the gospel, and do we see ourselves as ambassadors  of that gospel.

Before we leave the premises, we need to be standing firm on the promises and putting on the full armor of God.