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Archive for December, 2008

How Long?

 

Question – “How long should I pray for something or someone?

Answer – That’s a good question! Sometimes we think that because God knows everything, including what we’re going to pray for, we should only pray for something once or twice and leave it at that. We may even think that anything more would be a lack of faith in God.

I think this response is wrong for the following reasons:

God commands us to pray. Yes, He knows what we’re going to pray and what we need, but all through the Bible we’re told by God to pray – to come to Him and express our thoughts and feelings. In other words, we have an obligation to pray and the Lord didn’t give us a limit on how much or how long.

The wording of Matthew 7:7-8 supports continuing to pray. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” In Greek, the words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock,” in verse 7 are present active imperative verbs, which means that we’re commanded to do these things continually. We’re to “keep asking,” “keep seeking,” and “keep knocking” – don’t stop.

The parable of the persistent widow supports the idea of continued prayer. Jesus tells this parable in Luke 18:1-8. The purpose of the parable is stated in verse 1 – “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” We’re to pray and not give up.

A correct understanding of prayer supports the idea of continuing to pray. We don’t pray in order to “twist God’s arm” or to get Him to change His mind and give us what we want. When we pray, our will and mind are brought into line with God’s – we find ourselves wanting what He wants and desiring what He desires.

So, how long should we pray? As long as it takes to get an answer. While you’re doing that, remember that God answers every pray (some with a “yes,” some with a “no,” and some with a “wait”). Keep praying and don’t lose heart.

For His Glory

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Prayer Request

 

Please pray for us – my wife especially – as her father (my father-in-law) died yesterday. 

He was 74 and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a brain tumor. By God’s providence, the entire family got see and visit with him on Christmas.

We grieve, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13).

Thank you for your prayers.

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Merry Christmas!

We had a Christmas Eve service at Immanuel last night – an excellent one, by the way. We decided to go ahead with it and praise God for those who braved the elements. I put together a service of “readings and carols” as it’s known. Scripture readings are alternated with Christmas carols in such a way that the story of salvation is told. We lit candles and sang “Silent Night” to end the service. It was good to be together with other believers in a worship service after two weeks of not having one!

One of the great things about Christmas is that it’s absolute proof that God keeps His promises. After the fall of man into sin, God promised to send a Savior (Gen. 3:15). Thousands of years later, that promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ – “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). The angels announced to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Once again, merry Christmas!

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The massive Christian worldview touches everything, embraces everything. It can be simply put, for it has a center; it can be endlessly expounded and lived out, for in its scope it has no restrictive perimeter. (D.A. Carson, “Athens Revisited” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns)

That’s a good quote for all of those who deny any such thing as a “Christian worldview.” Creation, fall, redemption, and restoration (properly understood) touches and embraces everything. I fail to see how anyone could deny it while adopting a minimalist view of the Bible (that sees justification or any other subject as the Bible’s single and simple message). The Bible is about justification, but it’s also about sanctification, glorification, and living all of life for the glory of God.

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As far as our weather has concerned, I’ve reached the tipping point. I probably reached it several days ago. It started snowing last Saturday (8 days ago) and hasn’t really stopped.

Snow is great, don’t get me wrong, but only for a couple of days. After that it’s a nuisance and a major interrupter of life in general. You can’t go anywhere for the most part – you’re basically stuck. We canceled worship services at church the last two weeks. As long as I’ve been a Christian (since 1980), I can’t remember that ever happening where I’ve lived.

All of this is a reminder of God’s sovereignty – He’s in control and I’m not. He doesn’t consult me regarding the weather or anything else, which is a good thing I’m certain.

Proverbs 16:9 is a favorite verse of mine:

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

I don’t think it would hurt to meditate on that today (and tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, too).

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President-Elect Barack Obama chose Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church, to give the invocation at his inauguration on January 20th, 2009.

A few words of advice to fellow-Pastor Warren (he probably won’t read this, but here goes anyway):

  1. Make sure to pray “in Jesus name” of “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” A Christian, especially a member of the clergy, should be expected to pray like a Christian, not like a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Mormon.
  2. Resist the temptation to pray (or act) in such a way that “the cool kids” will invite you to sit at their lunch table. The desire to be popular, liked, and accepted by the “in crowd” is incredibly strong in all of us.
  3. Please pray for the unborn. Obama has indicated that he has a strong interest in justice, and what issue could be more justice-laden than protecting the life of every unborn human being? The correct answer is “none.” Abortion is a dividing-line issue. Please don’t leave it out.
  4. See this as a great opportunity and a tremendous honor.
  5. Pray in such a way that you will be able to stand before God and justify what you prayed on that historic day.

Pastor Warren, you’ll be in our prayers.

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Great Joy

 

This last Sunday, due to bad weather, we cancelled our worship service (sort of).

We officially called it off, but by the time we did there were between 15 and 20 people in the building – mostly musicians and those hearty souls who didn’t get the word in time. 

We decided to have an impromptu (and brief) service. There’s just something not quite right about going to church and not spending some time in worship! We sang a few songs, prayed, lit the Advent candle, read Scripture, heard a short (and I mean short) sermon from me, and heard a benediction pronounced. All in about 20 minutes.

Since the Advent candle representing joy was lit earlier in the service, I thought I’d focus in that. Luke 2:8-11 says:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Good news of great joy. What is it? Our Savior has been born! In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus – the Savior – will reconcile us to the Father. Everyone who believes in Him will be forgiven of their sins, given new and everlasting life, be declared righteous, and adopted into God’s family (among a myriad of other benefits).  What could give us more joy? Nothing!

I’m not always as joyful as I should be, but pray that the fruit of the Holy Spirit (joy, in particular) would be a more regular part of my life. May it be a regular part of yours, too. I’m of the opinion that Christians should be the most joyful people in the world because we have “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

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