Sunday, January 29, 2012

Believing Your Own Prayers

The story is told of a small town in which there were no liquor stores. Eventually, however, a nightclub was built right on Main Street. Members of one of the churches in the area were so disturbed that they conducted several all-night prayer meetings and asked the Lord to burn down that den of iniquity. Lightning struck the tavern a short time later, and it was completely destroyed by fire. The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed, sued them for the damages. His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss. The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges. After much deliberation the judge declared, "It's the opinion of this court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!" While humorous, this does apply occasionally to our own prayer life. All of us have those momentary episodes when we pray feeling more doubt than we do faith. I think this was the very issue Jesus was trying to clarify when dealing with the father in Mark 9. This man cried out asking that his son be delivered of a deaf and dumb spirit. Jesus responded by saying, “if you can believe all things are possible to him that believes.” This statement was made immediately following what I would consider to be a prayer offered. This father is quick to respond, “Lord, I believe help my unbelief.” Jesus was asking, “Do you believe in what you’re praying?” Doubt is a part of life. It is something we all contend with from time to time. We cannot blame others for expressing their doubts and we cannot condemn ourselves when we are gripped with this challenge to faith. Although we experience it, we must realize doubt can be an inconvenient part of our journey when praying but can never be a final destination. Do you believe what you are praying?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Revelation and Activation

Our church is into the third week of a twenty-one day fast. If you are like the average person, you might be asking, “Why do we need to fast, is prayer not enough?” There is a simple reason. Prayer is for activation while fasting is for revelation. Prayer allows you to approach God, but fasting reveals why and how you approach Him. Prayer is what you say to God about your problems, fasting helps reveal what you say to your problems about your God. Let me give you an example. I have a parishioner that has been in the hospital six times over this past year because his potassium level continues to drop. He has been on a respirator several times and has almost died. He has been to several hospitals trying to find out what is causing this problem. They have treated his symptoms but have not been able to deal with the root cause of his illness. His primary doctor suggested that he thought he might know what it was but was not a specialist and could not make the determination. This last week he was sent to the Cleveland Clinic for tests. A specialist looked at him and did indeed identify the problem and was able to call his illness by name. Now he can be treated. That’s what fasting does for the believer. It allows us to become specialists. Through revelation we are able to call things by their right name and deal with it. Many of you are praying for a change in your life, but you are addressing only the symptoms and not the disease. I believe we need to know specifically what to call those things that need changing in our lives. Fasting brings this kind revelation, allowing us to then begin praying for activation.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More than Enough!

I heard the story of a man who pulled up in a fancy sports car. Standing nearby was a young boy who was captured by the automobile’s style and elegance. Being curious he asked, “how much horsepower does that car have mister?” The owner replied, “More than enough.” I get the feeling that is how the psalmist felt when he penned the words, “He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over.” This also seems to be the point Paul wanted to make when he wrote, “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think.” In essence these men were saying that the Creator of the universe is “more than enough.” I like the way Haddon Robinson expresses himself on this thought: “With Him the calf is always the fatted calf; the robe is always the best robe; the joy is unspeakable; and the peace passes all understanding. There is no grudging in God’s goodness. He does not measure His goodness by drops like a druggist filling a prescription. It comes to us in floods. If only we recognized the lavish abundance of His gifts, what a difference it would make in our lives!” God is indeed the greatest philanthropist and gives to us accordingly. However, our cup can only overflow as we continue to realize the status by which He provides. This means if we should find ourselves bearing a cup only half-full, the problem is not in the supply but in our ability to apply. God gives “more than enough!”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Tuit

I would venture to say that all of you have seen the little coin called the “tuit.” While normally given in jest, it does carry a message, and that is to get to what needs to be done and do it. Procrastination is an evil culprit to say the least. It is that sly thief of productivity that causes us to operate with the spirit of delay. Its fruit can be best understood by the following prose: "They were going to be all they wanted to be, tomorrow. None would be braver or kinder than they, tomorrow. A friend who was troubled and wearied they knew, would be glad for a lift and he needed it too, and on him they would call and see what they could do, tomorrow. Each morning they stacked up the letters they’d write tomorrow, and thought of the folks that they would fill with delight, tomorrow. The greatest of people, they just might have been. The world would have opened its heart to them, but in fact, they passed on and faded from view and all that they left when their living was through was a mountain of things that they intended to do, tomorrow." Needless to say in 2012 all of us will be faced with the temptation to put things off that need to be done. However, I read something recently that offered some wise counsel. The author admonished his readers to keep “short accounts." In essence he was saying someday you will do something, love somebody, give something or help someone. Why not let it be today? Why keep a ledger filled with unpaid deeds and good intentions? Why not start this New Year out right and get “tuit.”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Beginnings

How have you chosen to start 2012? Maybe you feel like the person who made the following resolutions:

• I’ve decided to eat more and exercise less.
• I’ve decided not to join the gym but to drive by it at least once a week.
• I’ve decided to sit more and walk less.
• I’ve decided to spend the dollars but save the change.
• I’ve decided my motto this year for paying bills will be “better late than never.”

It sounds as if this person wasn’t very successful fulfilling last year’s goals so he’s making new ones that carry less expectation. This is a time when we normally come face to face with our failures and broken promises with the hope of doing better. We often say, “I realize I wasn’t all I could have been in 2011, but this year is going to be different. I’m more determined than ever.” It very well could have been during this season that Paul wrote Ephesians 4. Here he talks about stopping and starting. He speaks of the old verses the new. He encourages us to be “renewed in the spirit,” and to “put on or become a new man.” By doing this he reveals a great truth. Changing who we are is directly related to our choosing who we want to be. Simply stated, we are who we are because of the choices we made yesterday and the person we are tomorrow will be based upon the choices we make today. In light of this, should we not incorporate God into our lives, resolving to study seriously the things we choose to do, the places we chose to go and the words we choose to say? Our future and ability to complete our goals depend on it! This can be your year of new beginnings.