Sweet hour of prayer
The Bible talks about many kinds of prayers. Prayer is simply communicating with the one true God; talking to God and God talking to us. The different kinds of prayers mentioned in the Bible are petitions, supplications, intercessions, praying in the Spirit, and communications with God through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Ephesians 6:18 declares, “Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Today, I will share seven steps toward prayer. Above all, I pray that this teaching will help many sincere people take a giant step toward becoming a fervent part of a praying church. As a child, I would pray the Lord’s Prayer every night before I went to sleep. For the last thirty years, I’ve used the Lord’s Prayer as more of an outline to guide me into a more effectual lifestyle of abiding prayer.
I believe the following seven steps will help you in your daily prayer life:
• Begin worshiping God. “Our Father which art in heaven hallowed be thy name.” Jesus said in John 4:23, “We must worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Worship God for who He is and not just for what He can do for you! He is the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth. Exalt His name and sing praises to Him.
• When you pray to God, remember He is holy and we must cleanse ourselves with repentance of all sins, wrong thoughts and impurities. Be ye holy, even as God is holy.
• Begin to focus on the Lordship and character of God. Psalm 100:3 declares, “Know ye that the Lord is God; it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.” A simple prayer could be, “It’s my desire to live for Jesus, and to be like Him.”
• Petition God for your daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Remember, God’s ears are not dull, nor His hand short concerning your petition and your needs. Bring your specific needs to God. Remember, God specifically made you and He can meet all your specific needs.
• Rejoice with thanksgiving for the answers to your requests and needs. God responds to a grateful and thankful heart.
• Love God, and because you love Him you must obey Him. In doing this you can proclaim God’s promises. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
• In closing, we should know and remember that prayer was the pulse and the heartbeat of Christ. Jesus taught His disciples to pray and to live a life of abiding prayer. Remember, life is too short and eternal life too long to neglect spending a, “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” with the Lord.
Bible & Lent
From Wikipedia: “Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.”
From the website of the United Methodist Church the question is asked, “What is Lent and why does it last forty days? Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others. Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a ‘mini-Easter’ and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”
Although “Lent” is observed by many different churches, such a religious observance itself cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. If Christians today are suppose to observe something called “Lent,” then why didn’t Jesus and His apostles ever command it (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:42)? And why don’t we ever read of the first century Christians every practicing “Lent”?
The reason why we never read of Lent in the New Testament is because it originated in the hearts of men well after the NT canon closed. Lent is of human authority not divine (Matt. 21:25). As Jesus once said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9).
We need to search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) and make sure that what we are teaching and practicing are the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37) and not the “traditions” and “commandments of men” (Col. 2:8, 22; Titus 1:14)!
By what authority do you observe Lent? (Matt. 21:23) It is not with any Bible authority. It is not by God’s, the Lord’s, or the apostles’ authority. Peter said, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). Paul declared: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). The same apostle also warned that anyone who preached a different gospel would be accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). So let us be content “not to think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), and nothing about Lent or its observance is written about in the 66 books of the Bible!
Repent? Yes, it is commanded of all men (Acts 17:30-31), and if we refuse to do so we will perish (Luke 13:3). Fast? Not commanded of Christians, but a personal liberty. Self-examination and reflection? Yes (2 Cor. 13:5; Jam. 1:22-25). Self-denial and sacrifice? Again, yes (Lk. 9:23; Rom. 12:1). But the observance of Lent? No. If so, where is the Scripture? Let us learn to be content with simply doing what the Bible teaches, nothing more and nothing less! Please visit us at www.biblework.com.
Down for the Count?
Almost any time you go anywhere where there is a parking lot or a street or a sidewalk, you will eventually end up seeing a penny lying somewhere in your path. I was at Kroger yesterday afternoon and walked right over one. I did not pick it up. I have always heard that you should because one day, that one penny may be the difference between getting something to eat, or starving to death. Well, I don’t know about that in today’s economy, but it sounds good, anyway. It makes it sound real noble.
The trouble I have with bending down to pick anything up is using crutches. If you have ever used them, you know what I’m talking about. For that reason, I will usually bypass a penny. I know there are times when you run across a nickel lying in your path. Now I must be honest, I will bend down and pick up a nickel. I don’t know why, but it just looks like it’s worth more, because of its silver color. So, using that same reasoning, I will also pick up a dime, quarter, and so on. I’m sure that most of you, if you are able, would do the same.
The reason, I’m sure, for most of us for not bothering to pick up the penny is that it is just not worth much at all. In today’s economy it is extremely insignificant. In a country such as India or similar countries with their same economic status, a penny would be significant, I would venture to guess. For them, picking up a coin or token might be equivalent to perhaps 25 cents in their currency.
I’m sure you already know where this is headed, but what if God used our same value system that we do, when He looked at us, His creation? I know where I would be. I would probably be dead, or someone with absolutely no direction or self-worth. I would be destined to spend eternity in a place called hell, separated from God forever and ever, with no hope of ever getting out.
God sees His creation as the most valuable thing in the universe. The proof of this is found on the blood-stained, but empty cross where God once and for all sent His only son ‘down’ to earth for those He ‘counted’ to be worthy of saving (down for the count). There was no one more valuable than another. One died for all.
So, next time you are walking across that parking lot and spot the penny lying in your path, you don’t necessarily need to bend down and pick it up, but let it serve as a reminder of how much you are valued in the eyes of God, the One whose opinion really counts.
God bless you.
Faith News: Tables
This past Wednesday our church welcomed the Baytown Rotary International as they began having their weekly luncheons in our Fellowship Hall. They will be gathering at 11:30 and usually are through by 1 p.m.
Rotary International is a service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 member clubs worldwide, with and 1.2 million members.
The Rotarian’s primary motto is “Service Above Self.” Rotary International has a moral code for personal and business relationships called the four way test of the things we think, say and do. The four questions we ask at the end of every meeting are:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
How did I get involved? I read a blurb in The Baytown Sun calendar that said when and where they met so I visited on my own for several weeks before someone ask me if I would like to join. I said, “No one has asked me.” I was sitting next to Don Coffey and he said “I’m asking.” I said, “OK.”
There are several steps to membership. One of them is that we have to sit at every table to meet other members. On one Wednesday I literally took them at their word. I sat at every table for 1 or 2 minutes, even those that had no one at them. I announced, “I got that one done at one meeting.”
Like other worthy service organizations in Baytown like the Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club and the Pilot Club, Rotary International does a lot for our community. Like us, they support Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels. I am very excited about being able to not only support this organization with my participation, but by Faith opening our doors to host them.
This Sunday in worship I will be preaching about the day that Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple because they had made his Father’s house, which was to be a house of prayer, into a den of thieves. I’m looking forward to hosting an organization that not only brings together people who serve our community but one that I believe Jesus would gladly join around, rather than turn over ... tables.
Faith Presbyterian Church is located at 3900 N. Main, between Baker and Rollingbrook. www.presbees.com
It’s just impractical ...
I believe that the essence of Jesus’ mission and message is found in the Sermon on the Mount. This ethical treatise has long been recognized by even atheists and skeptics as the most profound and transcendent message ever delivered. In this sermon Jesus elevated human characteristics like meekness and humility to a status far above those we more naturally admire. He clearly proclaimed that no one is more sinful than anyone else. We are all equal in that respect, church member and serial murders alike. He enjoined men to love everyone, even themselves, emulating the Heavenly Father in the process.
Many seem prone to dismiss or minimize the lessons of this scriptural account by saying that Jesus merely talked about the ideal situation without any real expectation that mankind could really embrace these concepts. The counter-argument generally cites the apparent impracticality of trying to operate in this world without conflict against “evil” and the requisite judgment of others. In effect, the response is that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said. He was just expressing a wishful concept which describes Heaven, maybe.
The idea of using impracticality as an argument against the instructions of Jesus’ is a provocative one. If this portion of scripture can be avoided by citing the “impossibility of ever complying”, how can one then embrace the Orthodox Church’s conversion model as the God mandated way? Nothing could be more “impractical” than the idea that the church must convert all outsiders to its way of thinking before God will allow those outsiders to escape eternal punishment.
If I am forced to embrace an “impracticality” no matter which way I go, why not choose the admittedly daunting task of being my “brother’s keeper”, instead of his judge and instructor in righteousness? Please visit us at www.sjolanderroadfellowship.com.
— Rick Crotts