Sunday, September 29, 2013

Prayer - a conversation with God - 1 Thes 5:17

Prayer a conversation with God
September 29, 2013
1 Thes 5:17

- As we were growing up, if we grew up un a Christian home, we learned to pray
- Prayer was a time to kneel down, close your eyes, and talk to God
- I remember our family getting on its knees together each morning in prayer
- I had a list of things to pray about, my prayer list
- As a child we were not worried about what happens if God does not answer a prayer, we just trusted God implicitly
- And God responded!  Time after time!
- So what happened?
- We became distracted
- We saw suffering and our trust shriveled up
- We became caught up in our own interests, and neglected God
- We became ashamed of our belief and became macho but empty
- The awesomeness of God is that he allows us to come back to him
- He forgives our neglect and he allows us to come back to him!
- Today we are going to look at what we can do to revitalize our prayer life

- The long and short of it is, prayer is a two way conversation with God
- God created man to have relationship with him.
- God's intention is that he shares everything with us
- He sent Jesus to die for us so that there would be forgiveness and we would have a chance to experience this relationship
- Wherever we have been, we can be restored to closeness with God
- If we never accepted Jesus, we can take that step today
- If we grew up as Christians but we backslid, we can sort things out and have a fresh start
- If our prayer life is dead, it can receive new life!
- God created us for relationship
- Do you know how much he wanted that relationship?
- He sent his son to die for the sake of that relationship
- It is something precious to him
- When he has that relationship with us, he wants to be real close
- Like when we fall in love with someone, we want to be real close
- We never want to be apart
- Wherever they go, we go
- God is the same!
- John 14:23 - God makes his home with us
- This does not just mean that he is in our home, in our car, in our office, in our classroom
- It means he is inside of us
- Paul talks about "Christ in you, the hope of glory" Col 1:27
- The Holy Spirit had been with the disciples, but would be in them - John 14:17
- When you were in love, and wanting to be close to that other person, how did you do this?
- You did it by talking
- You had long conversations with them
- I remember my phone bills when I was courting Dianne
- But it was worth it, wasn't it?
- Time invested in prayer is worth it.
- The fruit is a close relationship with God

- Is it about the position we are in when we pray?
- No of course not!
- Someone once said the best position in which to pray is hanging upside down in a well
- Last week I drove by the Catholic church on Nevada Street, and had to think about the well that is across the street from it
- I wonder how many people fell down the well, before they put a cover over it?
- You can pray on your knees.
- You can pray lying down
- You can pray prostrate with your face to the floor
- You can pray standing up with your arms raised to heaven
- All of these examples are mentioned in scripture
- Is it about the number of words we say?
- Actually, no
- The Bible gives us examples of long prayers and short prayers
- We are told to consider the content of our prayers though
- We are told we will answer for every idle word we speak - Matt 12:36
- But when we have a conversation with a loved one, do we monitor every word?
- No, because the conversation is an expression of the love inside
- So if our heart is right with God, our prayers will be pleasing to him
- Prayer is a conversation

- Yesterday I was in a parking lot, and the lane I was in had an arrow going only one way
- Sometimes we pray as though we were on a one way street
- We give God our thanks, we give him our requests, we say we are sorry
- And then we get up and think we have finished
- Prayer is two way!
- God wants to speak back to us
- This is a conversation, not a monologue
- Take time to ask God questions, and listen for his answer
- Often the very first thought, even perhaps before you have completed asking the question, is from God
- Try it!
- Learn to converse with God
- Let your prayer be a conversation
- Prayer will be come a precious time you won't want to miss
- Sometimes I ask the questions verbally, other times I journal them
- But the same thing applies, God does respond
- He delights in relating to the things we are experiencing

- Books about prayer may have different categories
- But there are some types of prayer I am particularly interested in, for our church
- 1. Church service prayer covering
- I need a prayer covering over the service
- I pray for the service, each Sunday
- But I need others praying with me
- ILL: Dr. Wilbur Chapman often told of his experience when, as a young man, he went to become pastor of a church in Philadelphia. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, "You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can." Dr. Chapman thought, "Here's a crank." But the man continued: "I'm going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you." Dr. Chapman said, "I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!"
- If we have people who covenant with me to pray for me and for our church service, God will grow this church
- 2. Prayer team
- We need people here in church who will commit to pray for those who come forward at the end of the service
- We will have a prayer ministry team training session on October 27, after the potluck meal
- I want to pass on what I have learned about prayer ministry
- If you feel called to praying for people, feel free to come
- It will be in next week's bulletin
- 3. Prayer walks
- We need people who are becoming prayer-warriors, to stand with us as we recapture this town for Jesus
- Describe a prayer walk
- 4. Silent times in church
- Today we are going to have a time of silence before the Lord
- We will listen for what he has to say to us
- Then we will respond
- This is for all of us to participate in

- During this next week, let's reconnect with God
- Let's initiate conversations with Him
- Not stale dried out prayers, but a fresh, real conversation
- Be listening for what God has to say to you
- When God's people pray, things change, and God's purposes are fulfilled

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Way Forward - Acts 2:46

The Way Forward
September 22, 2013
Acts 2:46
. There was a famous evangelist some time ago, who used to preach up a storm
. He toured the length and breadth of the country, and thousands were won to Jesus
. He had a warm and compassionate heart, especially when he saw the hurting people who came to his revival meetings
. In his meetings he preached the full gospel, he believed in miraculous healing by the power of God
. He believed in deliverance, in the form of casting out demons
. And he preached good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God
. Thousands followed this man!
. He had an enormous reputation
. And yet, there came a time when many left his ministry
. This was as a result of his getting up close and personal in some of the things he said
. It was toward the end of his ministry in this country
. people left in droves
. But this did not say that his ministry was bad, wrong, or not of God
. It just said that people left!  They did not agree with what he was teaching.
. John 6:60-69
. This is saying, that numbers are not the important thing.
. On the other hand, numbers do have a role to play in ministry
. For example, we are to go out into all the world to preach the gospel and make disciples
. Today we are going to take a look at the future

. Luke 9:62 - don't look back
. When we look back, we are focussed on things that cannot be changed,
. When we look back we are comparing the present with the past
. God wants us to be moving forward, not thinking backwards
. The Israelites were continually comparing the past with the present
. The result was that they became dissatisfied and grumbled and upset the God who freed them
. We too can look at our present situation and think I wish I was back there
. But God has plans for us which are yet future
. These are the tings to be focused on, not the good or bad days of the past

. God's plans for us are good!
. Jer 29:11 Gods plans are to prosper us
. He gives us hope and a furture
. In our approach to life we need to be moving in synch with what God has planned
. God's intention for the church is to reach the whole world with the good news of the kingdom of God
. This kingdom was embodied in Jesus
. This kingdom's reign will bring healing into all parts of our life
. Mat 13:33
. We can look forward to the future

. God's future for this church is good!
. He has called us to be his instrumnents in reaching this hurting society
. Just like Jesus reached his society, with compassion and love
. Next week we are going to start our training for the Billy Graham event in November
. As you came in you were handed a Matthew leaflet
. In your bulletin there is a sheet with a few questions. 
. Please take out a pen and fill out your answers to the questions
. This will be helpful information for me in encouraging us into the future
. Our vision for the future is that these Matthew groups will bear fruit and people will be drawn to Jesus
. These Matthew groups will form the nucleus of small groups
. As time goes on, our friends whom we invited to the group, will themselves invite their own friends
. This will be the start of a growing small group movement
. This is our vision, and a plan for the future
. We pray for God to guide and lead us on this journey
. Prayer will be the basis for this movement
. Come along next week to learn more about prayer!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Learning From the Early Church - Acts 2:46

Learning from the early church
September 8, 2013
Acts 2:46

  • Last week was communion Sunday
  • It was a time of reflection on our relationship with the Lord
  • In the sermon last week we examined the lessons of Ezekiel 37, where it speaks of the Valley of Dry Bones
  • In its application to us, these dry bones can refer to a nation that has turned away from God, the Church as a whole, or the church where we attend, or even to ourselves
  • We all go through periods when our relationship with God seems to have gone behind a cloud
  • It is only through the Spirit of God that these bones can be made to live, this is the lesson of Ezekiel 37
  • This sermon was the start of a series, leading us into the naturally supernatural Christian life
  • Today is the next sermon in this series
  • We will be examining the structure of the early church

  • 1. The early church was social!
  • They got together in home groups
  • Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
  • It is good for the church to be socially active
  • This church has a history of being knit together
  • We have regular potlucks and activities to draw us together
  • This is a necessary part of deepening relationships
  • Just coming to church once a week and then living as loners the rest of the week does not do it for us
  • Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
  • This means relationship.
  • 2. The small groups were more than social gatherings
  • In the home groups they would deal with the day to day real issues, beyond just eating together
  • Prayer
  • Act 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
  • Teaching
  • 1Co 16:19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
  • They were teachers of the word, who had a big impact in Paul's ministry - Act 18:26
  • There is nothing magic about home groups, except that they are a place where members get together in a closer way than we are able to do at church
  • In the groups, people gained experience in the Word, in prayer, in loving each other, in caring for one another
  • It was a place to live out the Christian life
  • It was a place where new Christians could grow up in the nurture of the Lord, in a loving environment

  • While the early church had a lot of small home groups, it also met together in a larger context
  • Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
  • They met as a church on a daily basis – this sounds like a revival!
  • This sounds like a group of people who love being together!
  • The church apostles were not able to attend all the home groups
  • So they would have meetings where the apostles would teach and exhort the body as a whole
  • Translated into our experience, the church would meet on Sunday's and the home groups would get together during the week
  • It is at the weekly church service that we recognize we are part of a larger whole
  • And it is where we are encouraged to all walk the same walk, as the pastor follows Christ
  • It is my intention as your pastor, to set you an example of the way Jesus lives and does things.
  • It is a place where we receive teaching from the Word, by people whom Jesus has set in the place of under-shepherds over the flock

  • As we read about the early church, it is as though it was soaked in love
  • This is the way the Holy Spirit works
  • Rom 5:5 And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
  • That love flowed through everything
  • However, we are living in the last days, almost 2000 years on
  • The world around us is cold and selfish and materialistic
  • Mat 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
  • Our handicap is that the church is made up of people who live in that kind of society. It is easy to be come infected by selfishness
  • The story of the early church however is that they did not allow society to infiltrate the church
  • Instead, they set out with the light of the gospel, to set the whole world ablaze!
  • It was in the church body that their flame was kept burning brightly!
  • If we as a church want to have an impact in society, church needs to be a central part of our lives
  • We can say, yes, but I have Jesus living in me, so I don't need the body
  • But Jesus dwelling inside us means we are a part of a larger body of which he is the Head
  • And he tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together
  • In the early church, people are told the be cheerful givers, to be supporting the church
  • Elders who rule well are to be given double honor, speaking about the church providing financial support for their pastor.

  • As we move forward into becoming a naturally supernatural church, like the early church was, we will be implementing the lessons we see today
  • This is a different world than it was back then, but the things we have seen today are even more necessary
  • The love and commitment to the larger church needs to be there, to provide a nursery for new Christians
  • New believers will come into our fellowship, as we go out and share the love by which we will be known
  • We will have home groups to nurture them in their Christian walk
  • And the church will move into its role to make a difference in Susanville, reaching the lost

  • Next week is Back To Church Sunday
  • Take a few packets and invite your family, friends and colleagues to come to church with you
  • It's going to be an exciting service!