We’ve been praying upside-down.

Tonight in prayer meeting we looked a some passages of scripture that showed how Christians or believers in great need prayed. We looked in Acts 4 and Nehemiah 9. If you look in those passages, you will see that the prayers start with acknowledging who God is and what He has done in an act of worship and praise. Whether it’s the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day or the Jewish followers of Jesus in Acts 4, we see a pattern of praise before petition.

Brian asked us what can we learn when we look at out own prayer pattern in light of this biblical pattern. The agreement is that we and most people spend just a little time praising God for what He has done and a lot of time praying about our problems.

This is what I learned looking as the Holy Spirit searched my heart. I often pray with a level of doubt and a lack of expectancy. There’s a common phrase often used in prayers that while is righteous and awesome, being prayed by Jesus Himself, it often leads us to hold back hope. “But not my will, but Your will be done.” This is an awesome prayer that I believe only Jesus prayed perfectly. I so often fail when I engage in that type of prayer. It comes out “Not my will, but Yours.”, but in my heart it’s more like “Not my will, but Yours, but it probably isn’t Your will or it very well could not be” The last part of my version has some truth to it but taken down a sinful path in can produce doubt and even despair.

You see, the reason why it’s good to flip our prayers around is to see that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift as the James tell us in his letter. We can acknowledge that God delights in giving His children good things. Are we promised there will be trouble in this world? Yes we are. Jesus Himself made that promise. But we are not promised only trouble. A follower of Jesus will not have an easy life. And often God will give us the request of our prayers in a way we don’t understand at the time and may not understand until we are in heaven, if even then. But He promises that if we trust in His will, He will provide exactly what we need at the right time. That may be what we ask for here on Earth or the comfort needed in the promise of the future glory of  being with Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth. Sometimes He won’t just give us our request in a different way than we thought, but  He will actually just say no. Like a parent who says “No” to the child who asks for candy and the parent knows the child does not need the candy. God knows your need. He richly provides. He “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”.

Pray for boldness in sharing the gospel.

Sharing the gospel can be scary. In fact it’s way easier to find a way out of sharing than it is to find a way to share. As a follower of Jesus who would love to evangelize to be both individuals and groups, I know the fear that can come. Public speaking does not frighten may. The idea of telling a person about Jesus just out of the blue, really freaks me out. Maybe for you, public speaking isn’t your thing. Maybe you’ve been given an opportunity to share with a group of people but you’re extremely scared to stand in front of a group of people and speak.

The apostles dealt with a different type of fear. In their situation, sharing the gospel could mean being arrested or killed. It’s no wonder that they felt the need to pray for boldness.  Take a look at the situation they were dealing with as told in the book of Acts :

Peter and John Before the Council

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[d]said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’[e]

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

A day is coming where it will be just as tough to share the gospel as it was for these believers. We have an obligation to share. But we not go boldly into the world, without prayer. No amount of music or preaching will can empower you to go into the world and preach the gospel. To be filled with Holy Spirit which results in boldness, we must pray for God to give us boldness. We know the task that must be done. Our hearts hopefully feel the conviction. What we need now is boldness. Take every opportunity for private and corporate prayer. A bold gospel-sharing soul-capturing church will first be a praying church.

Reminders from God

This Sunday, Brian is going to be teaching from the 2 Peter. In this letter, Peter is reminding the churches of things they already know about their relationship with God. 

We live in a culture that believes what is new is more morally correct. The big call is to not “be on the wrong side of history”. Of course, there are improvements that come to cultures and even God’s people have had to repent of things and change the way they believe and act. But we are in dangerous territory when we throw away the the doctrines of how holy God is, how sinful man is, and how big God’s grace is. When culture wants to make amendments to the definition of marriage, or life or wants to throw away doctrines of sexual purity or wants to distort the design of manhood and womanhood, a weakened biblical worldview will not sustain you. We need reminders. We need to spend time in God’s word. Every day we should be so prepared for the devil’s schemes we can be like Jesus in the wilderness, always having the right scripture at the right time.

 If you were at Ferris Hill on the Sunday Roy preached about the armor of God  or listened to the podcast you learned about the sword of the Spirit. The sword is God’s word. As we learned or were reminded of that day, the sword is a dagger. Being used to cut right where it needs to. The bible verses we memorize into our heart will be the sword in times of temptation. When you are tempted to give into what the world says is right, what “everyone’s” doing, be reminded of what God’s word says. When trials come as Jesus said they would when you resist the world’s ways, be reminded He has “overcome the world”.

Spend time in God’s word. Be reminded of His holiness, be reminded of your sinfulness, and be reminded of His love and grace.

 

 

 

 

Seeking Him

wise_men_still_seek_him_by_kevron2001-d5ox6fv

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5) “A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.” (Proverbs 24:5) “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Always seeking God and His kingdom will ensure you are walking the path of an authentic follower of Christ.  The book of Timothy calls us to “Pursue righteous” this means to walk in the ways of Christ and pattern our lives after Him.  Of course we will fail for we all fall short of the glory of God, but it is the pursuit and our heart that matter to God.  The person who pleases Jesus is the one who knows he sins, admits it, repents and genuinely tries to do better.  Above all always seeking God and always seeking righteous.  Wise men seek God and righteous for the rest of their lives, it does not stop once they are saved.

Bread

 

bread

Do you ever have a time when you feel something is out of balance with your life? Something is out of sync and you can’t quite put your finger on it? When our body gets that way, we have doctors to go to who can perform tests and examinations and tell us exactly what it wrong. But when we just get to feeling a little off it is up to us to examine our lives and determine what is wrong. Just as the doctor can determine our sugar levels are off or our enzymes are out of balance and need adjustment, we can be out of adjustment with our spiritual life.

The sample prayer that Jesus gives us to pray includes: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) Yes I do believe He is referring to the bread we eat, but as I pray each day using this prayer as my guide I am mindful that our Jesus is our “bread”; “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’ (John 6:35)  He says again: “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48) and again “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)

Jesus IS the bread of our lives.  He is what holds us together what bridges the gap and what fills us up.  God gave His people manna (or bread) in the desert: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.’ (Exodus 16:4) and God gives us Jesus for our bread now for our daily consumption.  We have to grab onto Jesus and His word and cling tightly to His promises.  He loves us.  He will return for us.  He is our bread.  If we don’t feed ourselves, daily, we can find ourselves out of balance, confused, and lost. For this reason we must be sure to feed ourselves on the Bread of Life just as surely as we eat our fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Otherwise, our spiritual being will starve and be out of balance, just as easily as our body can be, if we don’t properly feed it.

 

Selling Seeds

seedsImagine for a moment you are a flower and your job as a flower is to sell seeds from yourself.  If you look sickly you probably aren’t going to sell too many seeds.  But if you were a robust flower who was flourishing you would sell more seeds, right??  Same theory applies to Christian life.  God wants us to thrive in this life.  Yes this life is temporary and we shouldn’t store up treasure on earth because our Heavenly treasure is our real reward.  But in order to sell our “seeds” we have to thrive.  Now, what in the heck am I talking about?  I am saying we have to take our seeds or the Gospel and sell or tell everyone about God.  I am not saying we have to be rich to thrive.  The apostles literally left to spread the news about Jesus with nothing more than the shirts on their backs, and still they were able the sell their seeds.

So, how do we thrive?  We read God’s word.  We have a real relationship with God and realize that the communication really is two ways; therefore we have to learn to listen for God to speak to us.  We get fed through corporate worship and teachings of those who have more knowledge than we do.

Now that we are thriving, how do we “sell our seeds”?  Be obedient to God’s voice.  Always live your life as a living testimony, but be prepared to use words also.  Be ready to pray with someone who asks for prayer; be ready to help someone with scriptures.  Most of all know the scriptures which show the path to salvation, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, [resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;  for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-13)

Thriving in Christian life is a day-to-day battle because Satan is always trying to tear you down.  Just as a weed would be trying to starve the nutrients from the soil in a flower bed.  Each day we have to weed our flower beds and rebuke Satan.  Pray for the power to thrive in a fallen and sinful world.  Pray for opportunities and wisdom to “sell our seeds”.

Three Things

FHBC logoThere is surely something you do well that you wish to be “known” for.  Maybe it is the way you cook or bake desserts or play baseball.  We all want to be known for the things we do right.  So, what are some of the things that we as Ferris Hill Baptist Church are known for?

  1.  Prayer – We are a praying church!  Our week starts off at 8:50 with a call to pray before Sunday School.  Then there is a team called “The Pastor’s Prayer Team” who prays during the entire Sunday morning service.  We have our most powerful service of the week on Sunday nights which is simply put a prayer service where we pray for salvation for specific people whose names have been submitted.  We also pray for any and all prayer requests that come to us from many different avenues and the needs of ourselves.  God already knows our needs even before we ask, so you may ask why even pray?  Because (1) praying is recognizing God as being holy or hallowed, (2) praying gives us an opportunity to express our thanksgiving to Him, (3) praying gives us the time to confess and repent of our sins and, (4) praying over time aligns our will to God’s will.  When we say we take prayer seriously we mean it!!  So, if you have a prayer request there are many ways to submit a request.  You can (1) fill out a prayer card that can be found in the seats in the sanctuary and put it in the offering plate or in the “prayer box” in the foyer, (2) send an email to prayer@ferrishill.org, or (3) write it on a piece of paper and drop it in the drop box located in front of the church.  Rest assured, your request WILL be prayed over!!  In addition to what we do each week, we have scheduled prayer walks throughout the year.  This is when we go out into the community surrounding the church and blanket the community with prayer.  Sometimes we drop off prayer cards which give people the opportunity to request prayers, other times we simply walk and pray for the homes as we pass by them.  But always praying for our community.
  2. Giving – We are a giving church!  Through our I-58 Ministry we are able to supply the needy with clothing, basic hygiene items and sack lunches.  This ministry is based off of Isaiah 58:7-8, which says: “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”  We also are able to give a warm place to sleep during the winter with the Cold Weather Shelter.  Guests will get a warm bed and a warm meal.  Lastly we as individuals in the church tithe with more than just our money.  Tithing (giving) can and is also using your time, gifts, home, food, vehicle and life to give back to God.  If there is a need within our church whether it is a need at the physical church or a need with a church member there will always be another member of the church who gives of themselves to meet the need.
  3. God is using us – Whew!!  This is a BIG one.  God has chosen us, a small church from a small town to spread the Gospel to the Han Chinese who live in North Korea.  What is even better that that – God even opened a door so that we were able to be in North Korea this past year!!  God also continues to do amazing things through our church in Cap Haitian, Haiti.  There is pastor training, which our pastor does every other week and we go there each year for a week.  God uses our church to reach people all over the globe and in our back yards.  It is amazing to watch Him at work!

After saying all of this, I have to say that we as Ferris Hill Baptist Church do not do any of these things without the help of the Holy Father.  We are simply His obedient hands and feet.  Everything we do would not be possible without His blessing and without His help.  God directs the path for our church.  He opens doors to places that only He can open.  All of the glory belongs to God, the Father.  We are a body of authentic followers of Jesus Christ seeking to do His will.  We have written a “blank life check” to God telling Him to use us as He wishes.

It is my prayer that in 2016 I am able to post this exact same post again only adding more of the glorious things that God has allowed us to help Him to do to further His kingdom.