As I reflect back to this powerful moment from a few years ago with the students of LFBC, it makes me realize how blessed we are as members of God’s family! Let me encourage all Christians to never take for granted being a part of the church, having the privilege of prayer, and having the privilege of knowing Jesus more. We have these everlasting privileges because Jesus paid it all! I know we’re all busy, but making time to be with your church family is really the most important part of your week. Let me encourage you to be at your church this Sunday, you need it and your fellow brother and sister in Christ needs it. We need to grow spiritually together and that is seriously hindered when we miss meeting together with our church family.
No, church is not about seeing someone or being seen; it’s all about looking to Jesus and growing closer to Him through praise, prayer, and the Word! It really is the most powerful, most satisfying, and most lasting time on earth. Don’t miss out! “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”
Love in Christ,
Why does it seem that God is not listening to our prayers? It may be that we don’t have a clean heart. It’s true that when we place our faith in Jesus we have right standing with God, and that will never change, but disobedience in our lives will effect our fellowship with God including our prayer lives. Disobedience will always keep us from a close walk with Jesus every time, and that is not God’s fault. The only thing that will help us get closer walk with Jesus is not necessarily reading more Scripture, praying longer, attending church more…first we must have a talk with Jesus confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) so that God will cleanse our hearts (Psalm 51:10). When we have a clean heart and a closer walk with the Lord then our prayers will get above the ceiling.
I like what Pastor Greg Laurie wrote in a devotional about having a clean heart, “Unconfessed sin in our lives will stop our prayers from being answered. The psalmist wrote, ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear’ (Psalm 66:18). We can pray with passion. We can pray with faith. We can pray with all of the gusto we have. But if there is an area in our lives that is not right before God, then our prayers will not be heard.”
In this “me-first” and “me-centered” day we might hear people say, “how dare God not hear MY prayer!” Instead we ought to say, “how dare me to allow the very things that Jesus died for to enter my heart and life.” How’s your prayer life? When we intentionally include confession in our prayers before we ask anything we will see a difference.
When someone responds to the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation that person begins a wonderful, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The good news is that the new person in Christ will never be alone again, and through prayer and an opened Bible a close relationship with the Lord develops. I have found that my walk with Jesus helps me better than anything this world has to offer. I can certainly relate to the song Give me Jesus by Fernando Ortega, “Give me Jesus, give me Jesus. You can have all this world but give me Jesus.”
One great leader that comes to mind when I think of prayer is Nehemiah. When we read Nehemiah it would be easy to focus on the great things that Nehemiah did without realizing the key to him doing those great things. Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything, and that is a lesson that every Christian should learn and keep to heart. When we don’t pray we are really saying “God I don’t need you,” and when we do pray we acknowledge our need for God. When we rely on God through prayer we bring God’s power into our lives. It really is true that a prayer-less Christian is a powerless Christian.
Jesus said that “men ought always to pray” so let’s make sure that we realize the importance of prayer each and every day. Imagine how different our lives, our homes, and our churches would be if we wouldn’t neglect to pray. I like what the hymn writer wrote, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
As we are now in the middle of summer during the heart of vacation time I’m grateful that we are maintaining good attendance in Sunday school, Sunday morning and evening worship, and Wednesday nights. I believe that we are displaying some evidences of a healthy church that includes members who desire to be together to encourage, pray, fellowship, worship, and receive God’s Word. However we should never become complacent and we should always strive to improve. Let’s all do our part to remain faithful to the LORD as part of His church the rest of the summer. If you’ve missed Sunday school let me encourage you to come this Sunday and bring someone with you! Also I’d love to see new members in our choir! The summer months would be a great time to join the choir and be a part of an encouraging group who desires to sing to our great God and King to prepare the way for the preaching of God’s Word! As I’ve often said, I love a good choir special and a full choir is such a blessing to everyone in our worship service.
I’m also grateful that we have the powerful tool of prayer available as the family of God and I’d love to encourage everyone to utilize prayer for our church. I believe that prayer changes things and our church is only going to be as strong as our prayers that we offer to the LORD. As you pray for our church please remember our Nominating Committee as they seek God’s guidance for the upcoming church year that begins in September. As the Nominating Committee is faithfully doing their part, please be willing to do your part by praying about where God would have you to serve. In our church God has given a variety of gifts that, if used, will bring joy and blessing to those who are willing and obedient.
Also please join me in praying for our Deacon Election process that will be taking place during the month of August. This election if very important and should be something that we bathe in prayer. The biblical qualifications for the deacon are found in 1st Timothy 3:8-13 and in Acts 6:3. May God continue to lead us and bless us here at First Baptist! May we each do our part in fulfilling what the Author of Hebrews wrote about:
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).
When something happens that you don’t like, when something comes up that hurts, when difficulty strikes…what do you? Many times our human nature response differs from our Spirit-led response. I wonder how many posts or tweets on social media would have been stated differently, if stated at all, had the response been led by the Spirit?
To be led by the Spirit includes the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. The human nature response includes qualities also found in Galatians 5: selfishness, hatred, idolatry, envy, discord, among others. I have found that when I take those things that I don’t like, that hurts, that are difficult…to the Lord He enables me to view the circumstance from a different perspective that also includes strength, grace, and His peace to get through it. A believer is at his or her best when we look to the Lord and let Him guide us. He is able!
Remember that believers have a powerful and privileged tool called prayer that many times is not our first response! James says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful (James 5:16b)! Also Paul wrote that “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). When was the last time prayer was your first reaction to something? If we’ll pray then we can experience the peace of God!
The battle is the Lord’s and we should first look to Him so that He can do His work (1 Samuel 17:47). He can do more in 1 second than all of us could do in a lifetime! What a mighty God we serve!