Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lord, Teach Us How To Pray!


My scripture today comes from Luke 11:1-14. 
There was a program on British television about the state of religious experience among children. It told about a young boy whose parents suffered a very serious accident. The boy told the police, "I wanted to pray but didn’t know any prayers." Alfred Lord Tennyson stated, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Prayer sustains society more than any other factor.

Today I want to say……"Lord, teach us to pray."
Do we know how to pray as we should? Prayer is a spiritual discipline. It can be strenuous and frustrating, mentally and physically demanding. I think the disciples may have been struggling with the art of prayer. They didn’t ask Jesus how to preach or teach, but they recognized how they needed help with prayer.

Luke mentions that Jesus was "praying in a certain place" (11:1), when the disciples approached Him concerning prayer. It may be that our Lord’s example of prayer brought into contrast their lack of an effective prayer-life. Seeing the deficiency of their prayers, they asked for help. Although the need to pray is natural for believers, human weakness calls for Jesus to teach us to pray.
When we pray, we receive the gift of God Himself-Prayer is communion with God. He wants us to know Him. As we grow in prayer we discover that prayer is more than simply asking God for things, a selfish means to an end. Prayer is not an attempt to force the hand of God, but an act of submission to Him, with the understanding that God’s answers are wiser than our prayers. Prayer is to impress us with God more than it is to impress God with us or our needs. If we never gain anything from prayer but the opportunity to commune with God, that should be sufficient for us.

For many people, the Lord’s Prayer is simply a prayer to recite. But as we discover this prayer, we can find this model prayer to be a life-changing experience. There is no magic in a prayer, and mechanical recitation is empty and meaningless. Jesus discourages us to "not keep babbling like pagans who think they will be heard because of their repetitive prayers" (Mt 6:7). But as we truly pray this prayer-with understanding-we may find it changes our lives. All the petitions in this prayer are in the imperative mode in the original Greek, which indicates there is an intensity to prayer. Prayer is social action, economic force, and  political might-there is more power in prayer than all the armies of the world.

Some people think of prayer as a parachute-they’re glad it’s there, but they hope they never have to use it. In prayer we rely on God; prayer is our steering wheel, not our spare tire! Those who don’t pray are trusting in their own, limited resources. Some people turn to God only when their fragile foundations are shaking, and they discover it is God who is doing the shaking.
We sometimes also struggle with how God answers our prayers. C.S. Lewis once confessed that he was grateful God hadn’t given him everything he wanted: "I don’t know where I’d be if I’d gotten all I asked for!" Prayer may not change our situation, but it changes us. If our request is wrong, God says "No." If our timing is wrong, God says "Slow". If we are wrong, God says "Grow", and if our request is right, our timing is right, and we are right, God (usually) says "Go!" In John’s first epistle 5:14 he cautions that our prayers need to be "according to God’s will".

There’s no "spiritual frosting" in the Lord’s Prayer. It avoids pompous, high-sounding phrases, sticking to simple, meaningful concepts. We begin with God’s glory, and then we bring up our needs. It’s been said, "When God is first, prayer makes sense." The Lord’s Prayer is God-centered, not me-centered. It highlights the primacy of God.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t discuss the posture of prayer-in the Bible, people prayed kneeling, sitting, standing and laying face down. He doesn’t dictate the place of prayer-we can pray anywhere; the whole world is a Temple. He does not discuss the manner of prayer-prayer isn’t getting a serious look on our faces or adopting a certain tone of voice. Nor does Jesus specify the time of prayer-some people organize their lives in such a way that they have very specific times of prayer-that’s fine, but prayer is fitting any time, under any circumstance. We can go pray in church, but we can also find that church within ourselves-we are called to be portable sanctuaries. Is it OK to pray while driving? YES!  That is as long as your eyes are open! -And it’s a good idea if you’re on 431 or I-20! Paul instructs us to "pray without ceasing". Author Matthew Henry wrote, "Prayer is the key to the am, and the bolt to the pm." When we live in a God-conscious state, we begin to recognize the presence of God around us, which opens up the channel of communication with our Lord.

 Some Christians don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer because they want to avoid empty religious ritual. I agree that we don’t have to pray these exact words. Even Jesus doesn’t use the exact words on another occasion, His sermon on the mount in Mt 6:9-13. There He introduces this prayer, not by saying "pray this", but "pray like this". The Lord’s Prayer is a blueprint for prayer-a flexible model, not a rigid formula. Yet it is appropriate to pray these words because in them we unfold the entire message of the Bible and a summary of our relationship to God.
There’s another reason people avoid this prayer. Praying this prayer places some demands on ourselves… it is a risky prayer: John McArthur said it this way…..

I cannot say "our" if I’m living only for myself.
I cannot say "Father" if I don’t try to act like His child.

I cannot say "Who art in Heaven" if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say "hallowed be Thy Name" if I am not striving for holiness.

I cannot say "Thy Kingdom come" if I’m not doing my part to hasten that day.

I cannot say "Thy will be done" if I am disobedient to His word.
I cannot say "in earth as it is in Heaven" if I’m unwilling to serve Him here and now.

I cannot say "give us this day our daily bread" if I’m not relying on Him to provide.
I cannot say "forgive us our debts" if I harbor a grudge against someone.

I cannot say "lead us not into temptation" if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say "deliver us from evil" if I haven’t put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say "Thine is the Kingdom" If I am not loyal to the King as His faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him "the power" if I fear what people may do.

I cannot ascribe to Him "the glory" if I am seeking honor only for myself.
I cannot say "forever" if my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

The question for us all this morning at Midway is this-what are we relying on?
-When we rely upon education, we get what education can do;

-When we rely upon skill, we get what skill can do;
-When we rely upon technology, we get what technology can do;

-When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do;
-When we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.

Russian reformer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an address to Harvard University: "We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession-our spiritual life."
Those devoted to prayer do things by prayer-they begin with prayer, not tacking prayer on as an afterthought, after decisions are made. When faced with a challenge, the first thing to do is to go into prayer, not action. Those devoted to prayer give priority to prayer, and are never too busy to pray. Our level of Christian commitment is gauged by the character of our prayer-life.

Prayer is not a special gift for a select few. All who have trusted Jesus for salvation can pray as He taught. True prayer will not be achieved by human effort; it is a gift of God. Prayer is grace. If we are followers of Christ and we want to learn to pray, He stands ready to teach us.
So today I want to say…and I hope you will join me…"Lord, teach us to pray."

 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The 5 W's of Praying For Children


 
Scripture: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)
 
Every morning I read the newspaper or watch the news on tv to keep up with what is going on in the world. Do you ever read the newspaper? Did you know that the people who write the stories for the newspaper have a special way of deciding how to write their story? Well, here is what the reporter does. To make sure that the facts of the story are complete, a reporter makes sure that the article answers five important questions. Those five questions are: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. When we read a story, it is good for us to ask ourselves those same questions to help us fully understand the story.
Today, we are going to read some verses from the Bible. These verses were written by James, the brother of Jesus. In these verses, James is teaching about prayer. After we finish, let's see if we can answer the who, what, when, where, and why questions about prayer. (Read James 5:13-16)
Well, let's see if we can answer the five questions about prayer.
• Who should pray? Anyone! These verses tell us that anyone who needs God's help or anyone who has received God's blessing should pray -- and that is all of us.
• What should we pray about? Anything! We should pray for healing when we are sick and for forgiveness from sin. We should offer prayers of thanks when we are happy, and ask for help in times of trouble.

• When should we pray? Anytime! If we should pray when we are in trouble, when we are sick, when we are happy, or when we have sinned, that is just
any time, isn't it?

• Where should we pray? Anywhere! These verses don't come right out and tell us where we should pray, but I figured it out. If we should pray any time we need God's help, then I guess it just makes sense that we should pray anywhere we are, because wherever we are, God is there!
• Why should we pray? Because God answers prayer! These verses tell us that prayer is powerful and effective and that if we will pray, God will hear our prayers, heal the sick, and forgive our sins.

The five W's of prayer. Who? Anyone. What? Anything. When? Anytime. Where? Anywhere. Why? Because God answers prayer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! So glad you're here today! If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then run say hello to the neighbor who linked before you. Here we go-


1. Pokemon Go...your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?
I don't know at all what it is, but I do know it involves people running in pairs and groups all while looking down at their phones as opposed to where they are and what's right in front of them. Do we really need more of this? Ugh!  I know there have been some deaths because of this and I know the police have been called locally because it has frightened some of the elderly.  It reminds me of Street D & D and I think it is dangerous.

2.  What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you're a parent what's something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a 'collectible'?  I never collected anything as a child.  AT Christmas my mom would make me clear out toys to make room for new ones and then I would donate them to the Salvation Army Toy Drive.  My daughters  collected Barbie Dolls and Beanie Babies.  Eric collected scale cars.  I never camped out or ran all over town for a particular 'fad' and never paid more than the regular price for a collectible. 

3. 'Collect moments, not things'...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.
I have collected a lot of moments this year.  Frank and I spent a week together at PCB.  We held hands, we kissed, we enjoyed ourselves.  I spent time with my dear friend Susan, I spent a few days in Michigan with Susan and Amanda, I helped with VBS and had a blast!
4.  What's something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?
I am going to be honest and say I'm not highly motivated to dust my house just now. I will have it done by the time school starts back on August 1st.

 5. A favorite song relating to time?  I love the song Joyce chose and so I am going to use it too.


 
6. What's been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?
Hmmm...my most frightening was probably the time a dog attacked me when I was 3. I was playing across the street from our house and a Rotweiler knocked me down and stood over me growling and slobbering.  I do not like big dogs to this day.

7.  On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?
No. There's not enough Dramamine in the world to fly me to the moon. I'm truly thrilled there are explorers, astronauts, brave men and women who push the boundaries of space and time to show us what's out there. I'm just not one of them. Amen Joyce, well said!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
When did you start school?  When does school start where you live?  Before or after Labor Day.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Make Time For What's Important

My Scripture Today Comes From Luke 10: 38-42
What lessons can we learn from the story of Martha and Mary? Before we begin to answer that question we should know who Martha and Mary were. We know from John 11 verse 5 that Martha and Mary were the sisters of Lazarus and were loved by Jesus. Many scholars believe that although Martha, Mary and Lazarus were not among the 12 disciples, they were members of one of the larger groups of disciples. We most often think of Jesus traveling only with the twelve, but there is a lot of biblical evidence that there were at least three circles of disciples. The innermost circle was of course the twelve. The next circle probably consisted of about thirty people and probably included Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary and Lazarus as well as several of the wives of the twelve. The next circle included all the other followers of Jesus.  Our lesson says that when Jesus came to Bethany, Martha invited him into her house and began to prepare a feast. In a society that required hospitality, Martha and Mary were renowned for theirs. While Martha was busy with the meal Jesus was speaking and Mary sat at his feet listening. We don’t know who else may have been at Martha and Mary’s house. We could probably assume at least some of the twelve disciples were there since they were with Jesus before Bethany and afterwards. Mary’s position as Jesus’ feet was the place of honor. This is noteworthy since in Jesus’ time women were not allowed to sit with the men and listen to the rabbis. Unlike today’s homes, the houses in those days did not have a separate kitchen and living room. Martha was most likely able to hear what Jesus was saying but because she was so busy she wasn’t listening. After a while she decided she needed some help and came to Jesus and asked if he cared that her sister was loafing while she was forced to do all the work. Jesus should make Mary help. Jesus replied that Martha was too busy with her preparations to pay attention to the most important thing. Since Mary was paying attention to what was most important, Jesus was not going to tell her to stop. From the tone of the scripture Jesus did not sternly rebuke Martha. Since he repeated her name we know that he addressed her with affection.  When I was a child….every time we had dinner at my grandmother’s house she would spend all day cooking. For dinner we would have at least one meat, potatoes, corn, at least two vegetables, rolls and cornbread, some form of congealed salad and a homemade dessert or two. As soon as dinner was over she would wash the dishes. We would all offer to help or tell her to leave them for later but our help was generally refused. When we got ready to leave she always complained that she hadn’t had enough time to visit.  It sounds like it’s almost the same story doesn’t it? Probably every one of us could think of someone (if not ourselves) that acts exactly like Martha when it comes to visitors. If you think about it though, this passage applies to much more than just meals.  In our daily lives how often do we get caught up in the details and miss what is important? Those of us who are parents may be spending all our times shuttling our children from activity to activity when what is most important to them is one-on-one interaction with their parents. When our children get older do you think that they will treasure their dance classes and ball practice or the times when Mommy or Daddy read to them or the whole family played games together? Think about your own childhood memories. What do you remember best? One that sticks out for me was a vacation we took to Santee Cooper River in South Carolina. We spent a week in a cabin on the river….fishing, swimming, playing games….and we didn’t see another person the entire time.  Many of us are overworked. Back in the 1950’s it was envisioned that the average work week would be 30 hours, instead in the 1990’s many people were working 50 to 60 hours a week with some doing as many as 80. But what are we missing out on with this sort of schedule? Is it really worth it to make extra money to buy things and not be able to enjoy them or worse yet to not enjoy our life at all? You may remember the Mac Davis song from the Seventies "Stop and Smell the Roses". In it we heard that "the way to heaven is a rough and rocky road" if we don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.  The scripture also applies to our relationship to the church. When Midway began I am sure everyone pledged to participate in its ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts and service. But do we? This pledge was made to God with the congregation as witnesses. As every new member is brought into the church we renew that pledge. Many of us however walk out of church on Sunday morning and get so busy that we forget all about it until next Sunday. We don’t pray for the church and its members if we pray at all. Sometimes we are too busy sleeping in to attend church on Sunday morning. Special events such as potluck dinners, youth carwashes, the parking lot sale and talent show are poorly attended. We have a Sunday night worship service yet the greatest attendance is ten people. We have a Wednesday night Bible Study….and the most in attendance is ten…. Any churches are struggling….they are too busy during the summers to remember that church expenses continue even when their members are not there…it is then that the finance committee is not sure how they are going to pay the operating expenses such as bills and salaries, let alone apportionments. Many have agreed to serve on committees but have never been to a meeting. What is so important that we cannot honor our pledge?  I want you to consider what I have said this morning. Although everything I said is important, it is not the “one thing” that Jesus was talking about. What was Jesus talking about? He was talking about our relationship with Him and with God! Martha was so busy preparing for Jesus that she forgot to be with Jesus. Yes it was important to feed her guests, but a simple meal would have been sufficient.  When we come to worship on Sunday do we approach it as a time to be with God? An article I read recently said that for churches to grow today they need to keep the people entertained. According to this article the church is just another entertainment outlet competing with all the others. If you want a thriving church you have to have great acoustics, a praise band, a professional quality choir, contemporary music, a multimedia center, beautiful decorations, lots of parking, and a charismatic minister with short sermons. Nowhere did it say anything about Jesus or God being a requirement. While some of these things are nice as extras, without Jesus why even bother?  I hope that is not what is happening here at Midway. Our worship services are not meant to be entertainment. We should never forget that the purpose of worship is to study the word of God and praise him. The hymns we sing are musical prayers. No matter how bad we may think our voice is every last one of us should sing for just that reason. We are not singing for those around us, we are singing for God, and every voice is beautiful to him since he made them. As we sing pay attention to the words and feeling of the hymns. Take the time after the service to read John Wesley’s directions for singing in the beginning of the hymnal.  After we leave the church do we continue to worship God and thank him for what he has given us? God is the most important thing in our life. Please do not get so busy that you forget this as Martha did.

 

 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?


Have you ever been in a room when a radio or television is turned so loud you can hardly think? Sometimes a car will go by playing very loud music and it feels as if the noise thumps in your head. This is called a distraction.

We can also be distracted by bright lights, certain colors, a bad odor, cells phones, or a lot of people trying to talk all at once.

Have you ever tried to talk to someone, maybe ask a question, and you realize the other person is not listening to you? You get the idea that the other person is thinking about something else - that person is distracted.

There is a story in the Bible about two sisters, Mary and Martha who were friends of Jesus. Jesus came to visit them. Martha was busy doing things and Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to him. Martha complained that Mary was not helping her with all the things she had to do. Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things," (10:41) "but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part…" (10:42).

We may feel like we have many things to do, but we must remember that when our friends or family members want to talk to us it is best to stop what we are doing and give them our full attention. In this way we honor those who are reaching out to us. We let them know we really care what they have to say.

Mary chose to become very quiet and listen to Jesus. She really wanted to hear what he had to say. That is what we do when we pray and worship God. Becoming very quiet and listening is a way of honoring God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Bountiful Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Answer the questions on your own blog, then jump back here and add your link at the end of Joyce's  post. Be sure you say howdy to your neighbor on the list, because that's how we roll here on Wednesdays. Here we go-
 
1.  Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it more the other way around?
I like to think I influence my world....but that is not always the case...sometimes the world gets a hold of me and I cannot seem to break free from the rip tide.
2. July 14th is National Tape Measure Day...the device was patented on this date in 1868. When did you last use a tape measure? Do you always know where to find one in your house? Tell us one way in which you feel blessed 'beyond measure'.
I keep one in my purse and constantly am measuring.  The last time I used mine was at Home Depot last weekend.  I am blessed beyond measure with my family and friends. 

3.  The Plaza Hotel (Eloise), The Land of Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), The Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh), Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), or Never Never Land (Peter Pan)...which storybook land (on this list!) would you most like to visit and why?  I'm going to agree with Joyce and say The Hundred Acre Wood. I too like the beauty found in nature, and the wisdom of Pooh and company. The Hundred Acre Wood seems like a peaceful place to take a break from the chaos, anger, name calling, and political rhetoric we're confronted with on a regular basis.  Well said Joyce, well said.

4. Where and when do you get your best ideas?  In the car, sitting outside, at the beach, in the mountains and at Cades Cove in the Smokies.

5. So what have you been watching on TV this summer? Anything good?  Food Network and Hallmark Movies.  I can't wait for the Olympics to start.

6. 'Don't swim for an hour after you eat', 'Dog days of summer', 'Knee high by the fourth of July'...choose a summer saying from the list or share one of your own, then tell us what image or memory comes to mind when you hear it spoken.  I grew up at the Beach, we would pack picnic lunches and go spend the day there.  I can remember my mom always telling me not to go swimming for an hour after I ate. I never understood why, but found myself telling my own children the same thing when we lived at Lake Martin.

7. In a single sentence, sum up one life lesson you've learned.  The acronym ASAP means Always say a Prayer to me.  Prayer is a big thing in my life.

8. Insert your own random thought here.  Have you ever been to Mackinac Island in Michigan?...or Traverse City?  I was there last week on a girl trip and it was awesome.  If you have never been....you should go.  It takes you back to another day and time.  Vehicles are not allowed.  You will see walkers, horse drawn carriages, and bikes.  There are 4 vehicles allowed:  1 police car, 2 ambulances, and 1 fire truck.
Arch rock

The porch at the Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

Island View

 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On The Family of God

Today I want to tell you that….. God adopts us as his children. He gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus.

 
 

Have you ever been to the dog pound? If you want a puppy, you may find one at the dog pound. These beautiful young animals need a place to grow up. They need a person who will adopt them and care for them. Do you have any pets that you tend? 

Well, my story for you today is about how much God loves us.
God has given us every spiritual blessing. Some of those blessings are love, joy, and peace. God has blessed us by adopting us as his children. Adopted means that you are taken to a new home to be cared for and loved by parents. He even makes a promise to us that he will always love us. He makes a down payment on us by giving us his Holy Spirit. That guarantees that we are his children. We belong to Jesus. He cares for us and loves us.  I don't know about you...but that makes me very happy.