Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What is Lacking in Our Prayer

I believe one of the greatest weaknesses in the church today is our prayer. Many of us lack power in prayer as individuals and as corporate bodies.

That's because too often, our prayer consists of a list of who is sick that week. And that's it--we don't ask God for anything else. We don't go any deeper.

But when we read through Paul's letters--that's not how we see him praying. If we do believe in the Inspiration of Scripture, then the Holy Spirit would have been the One motivating Paul to write them down. That's because there is something even in those prayers that was for more than just his immediate readers. There is something in those prayers for us. Meaning, if Paul was living and writing today, you would see him praying for us in much the same way addressing many of the same issues and needs in our life and the life of the church.

Below are most of the instances where Paul is writing down his prayers, his needs or talking about prayer. I recommend reading through all of them and take notice of the kinds of things he prays for and asks for prayer for himself. Couple what you see in those prayers with the Lord's Model Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13

Philippians--1:3-11, 4:6-7
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 3:11-13, 5:23-25
2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11-12, 3:1-5
Ephesians 1:17-19, 3:14-21, 6:18:20
Colossians 1:9-14, 4:2-6, 12
1 Timothy 2:1-3
Philemon 4-6
Jude 24-25

1. God’s Name to be Exalted & His Kingdom Expanded—Matthew 6:9-13
a. Hallowed Be Your Name
b. On Earth as it is In Heaven
c. In the Church
d. In our hearts
e. Around the World
f. 2 Thessalonians 1:12

2. To Know & Experience God & His Will
a. Eph. 1:17
b. Philippians 1:9-10
c. Colossians 1:9
d. For God's will to be done on earth--His people need to know what His will is since we are often times the agent He uses to accomplish His will. This is also more than just knowing or facts, but also experience and being an active part of. "Not my will but Yours be done."

3. Oneness with God & Love for Each Other
a. Unity with Christ
b. Unity of the Body
c. Oneness in Mind/Purpose
d. Beliefs & Actions out of Belief

4. Full & Mature Awareness of the Grace & the Greatness of Salvation
a. Eph. 1:18, 3:16-19
b. The only way we can half-heartedly live the Christian life is when we don't really understand just how much God has done to redeem us.

5. Raise Up Mature & Empowered Leaders & Workers for the Harvest
a. Luke 10:2
b. Realize that when you are asking God to send workers--He may fill you with the knowledge of His will which may include "You're just who I had in mind" and we are then given the choice of Isaiah to say, "Here am I, send me."

6. Empowerment, Opportunity & Boldness to Fulfill the Mission
a. Eph. 1:19, 3:20-21
b. Colossians 4:2-5
c. 2 Thess. 1:11
d. Ephesians 6:19
e. Remember that when Paul wrote Colossians & Ephesians, he is in prison. In Col. 4 he doesn't ask for doors to open for his release, but doors of opportunity for the Gospel and boldness and wisdom in those opportunities. He would be speaking before judges & officials--who could free him, kill him or even come to faith.

7. Fruitfulness in the Mission
a. Phil 1:11
b. Col. 1:10-11
c. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
d. Philemon 1:6
e. Fruitfulness expands the kingdom--but too often we are doing things in our own strength and power, thus lacking results. We need to ask for God's power to do the hard work of growing the fruit. And if we know His will, we'll be doing what He wants and serving how we should serve.

8. Power & Discernment to Resist Satan & Temptation
a. 1 Thess. 3:13
b. James 4:10
c. Personal Holiness
d. Holiness in the Church
e. Protection
f. Resist Temptation—1 Corinthians 10:13
g. Recognize False Teachers & Teachings—Matthew 24:4-5, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 2 Peter 2
h. This is a big topic. Realize that Ephesians 6 is greatly directed toward the spiritual conflict. And when we are tempted, God will provide a way of escape. But we also need to realize that when we "submit to God" we have the true ability to "resist the devil" and as a result of the power that comes from submitting to God, the devil "flees"--the devil runs from the power of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

9. Confession of Sin & Repentance
a. 1 John 1:9

10. Thanksgiving
a. Phillippians 4:6

11. Specific People for Salvation or Restoration
a. Ephesians 6:18
b. God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. And this is a major part of the mission we are here for--we are a part of His rescue mission. Even when we as His children wander away--God will discipline (Hebrews 12) but that discipline is always with the hope and intention of restoring relationship and bringing someone home.

12. Specific People for Health & Comfort
a. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6
b. 1 Timothy 2:1
c. This is where our own experience of God's comfort can overflow to serve and minister to someone else.

13. Prayer for Government & Officials
a. 1 Timothy 2:2
b. 1 Peter 2:13
c. Romans 13
d. Whether you like those in the position of power or not. Remember, the gov't these men were dealing with was far worse than any political party we know today. After all, it executed Peter & Paul and blamed the Christians for burning Rome (oh wait, maybe we're getting closer...)

14. Christ’s Return, the Peace of Jerusalem and the Future of this Congregation
a. Revelation 22:20
b. Our future is in His hands and our hope is and should be always looking forward to His return. In all the lessons of the 2nd coming, we need to keep in mind three basic things:

Be Watchful--anticipating and looking for His return

Be Hopeful--not afraid of what may be coming or how "bad" things may get first. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."--Hebrews 11:1 that goes along with 2 Peter 3:3-4-"be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days... saying, "where is the promise of His coming?"

Be Faithful--be doing what we should be doing in the meantime--seeking His power, doing His will, fulfilling His mission--

This is by no means an exhaustive list--but please add these elements to your prayer--we have not, because we ask not.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

8-21-11 The Power of a Changed Name

In this message, I’ve let Scripture do most of the talking. I interspersed a little bit of commentary form what I shared this morning but most of that is not here. Here’s the message about the Power of a Changed Name.

My son and I sang a song about God and some of the words and phrases used to describe Him and His relationship to us. Some of them are identified as His Name. I AM, YHWH, Alpha & Omega, Savior.

Some people grow up hating their names. I have never hated my name but sometimes it is annoying because not many boys are named Kelly. And for a while, women’s cosmetics or pantyhose companies would send me samples in the mail—assuming that Kelly was a girl.

Anyone here not like their name? Just be glad you’re not named like some of these poor kids…

Apple: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
Audio Science: Shannyn Sossamon
Blue Angel: U2's The Edge and Aislinn O'Sullivan
Bluebell Madonna: Geri Halliwell
Fifi Trixibell: Bob Geldof and Paula Yates (also parents to Peaches and Pixie)
Jazz Domino: Joe Strummer
Kal-El Coppola: Nicholas Cage (Kal-El is Superman’s original birth name)
Lark Song: Mia Farrow and André Previn
Moon Unit: Frank Zappa, also father to Dweezil and Diva Muffin
Moxie CrimeFighter: Penn Jillette (also father to Zolten)
Pilot Inspektor: Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf
Sage Moonblood: Sylvester Stallone and Sasha Czack (also parents to Seargeoh)
Tallulah: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (also parents to Scout and Rumer)

How many of you are happier with your name now?

In the Bible, names were chosen for their meaning or some characteristic of the person. In many instances, the name is an indicator of their life.
The amazing moments in Scripture is when God intervenes and changes someone’s name—and when God changes the name, He changes their Destiny.

• Abram—Exalted Father (ironic since he didn’t have any children) became Abraham—Father of Nations

• Sarai—My Princess was changed to Sarah—Princess of YHWH

• Jacob—Heel-Grabber, grasping at things not legally his to Israel—Prince of God and as you know, the rightful inheritance is supposed to pass on to the Prince

• Simon—to be heard or listening to Peter—a rock or stone

We tend to think that God only changes the names of the important characters in the world—the ones that really make a difference. But that is not true of only the elite. Whenever you become one of His children, He gives YOU a new name and changes your destiny.

Once, God described the Israelites in a similar way—hear how their future changes with a new name.

• Isaiah 62:1-4
1 I will not keep silent because of Zion, and I will not keep still because of Jerusalem, until her righteousness shines like a bright light and her salvation, like a flaming torch.2 Nations will see your righteousness and all kings, your glory. You will be called by a new name that the Lord’s mouth will announce.3 You will be a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand, and a royal diadem in the palm of your God.4 You will no longer be called Deserted, and your land will not be called Desolate; instead, you will be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land will be married.5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so your Builder will marry you; and as a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

• Revelation 2:17c—“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

Revelation 3:12—“To the victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new name.”

In Christ, your name is changed, your identity is changed, your eternity is changed. Look at the words used to name and describe your new Identity in Christ.

• New Creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17—“ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

• Adopted into the Family and Co-Heirs with the Rightful Son--
Galatians 4:3-7—“ In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world.4 When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “•Abba, Father!”7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Romans 8:15-17—“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “•Abba, Father!”16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ —seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

• Citizen—Ephesians 2:17-19—“ When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household,

Citizenship was not automatic in the Roman Empire. You could be born to it pay for it or serve in the military and if you live long enough, you could get it. Citizenship came with certain protections, rights and responsibilities.

• Friend—John 15:13-15—“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.

• Ambassador—2 Corinthians 5:20—“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

An ambassador is one who lives in a country but whose citizenship belongs to another. While they are visiting this kingdom, they represent the King and the Kingdom of their true citizenship. But this representation can be positive or negative. An ambassador is supposed to champion the greatness of their home and encourage everyone to see for themselves, but too often loyalties become divided, they love the country they are visiting more than home. Or their bad character gives the home country a bad name. Too often that is how we as Christians have lived.

• Body of Christ—1 Cor. 12:27—“Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”

Eph. 4:11-13—“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”

• Royal Priesthood—Holy Nation—Belonging to God
1 Peter 2:9-10—“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

• Sanctuary or Temple
1CO 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

• Bride of Christ –
John 3:29—“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Ephesians 5:25-27—“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Revelation 19:7-9—“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' "

Revelation 21:1-Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed.2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”

Rev. 21: 9-11—“Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.

All of this ties back in to Isaiah and how we are being built and married to our Builder

Isaiah 62:1-4
You will be called by a new name that the Lord’s mouth will announce.3 You will be a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand, …you will be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land will be married.5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so your Builder will marry you; and as a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
Revelation 3:12—“I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new name.”

Never forget who you are and who you are called to be. In Christ, your name has been changed. A change that redefines your Destiny, your Purpose and your Mission. That destiny comes with rights and also responsibilities.