The pastor is away for a few weeks (first for vacation and then for youth camp). In his absence I hope you will find encouragement from a few ‘repeat blogs’. The pastor will begin blogging again (in real time) on July 23.
Thanks for your support.
Director of Communications.
This is going to be a good week! Our read-this-together-with-your-friends-at-FBC-for-a-blessing-from-God passage this week is 2 Samuel 11 and 12. It is a study of Samuel as an old man. Samuel after he counsels Israel not to choose a king. Samuel after they go ahead and do it anyway. Samuel who feels, unappreciated and rejected. ” far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”, he says in 12:23. After praying for Israel his whole life, Samuel is unwilling to let a chapter of disappointment, legitimate as it was, keep him from his task. He is determined to “pray through” his disappointment. Not to do so would be sin. The kingdom of Christ would advance faster if His sons and soldiers would learn this lesson. I do not pray because I feel loved and appreciated by others. I pray because I have been loved and blessed by God. It is something I do for Him.
Good morning. In a few hours the people of FBC will meet to seek the Lord by listening to His word, together. Our text for today is Judges 4 and 5. Deborah was a mother who realized that her nation, and therefore her children, was captive. Led by the Lord, she became convinced that they should FIGHT. Most of us have no idea how captive we are. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a SLAVE to sin.” (Jesus, John 8:34) To be free we must fight. Faith isn’t passive. Prayer is a powerful weapon, but it must be used or it is useless. “Therefore, take up the full armor of God. . .with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:13,18) As you pray this morning, dear friend, will you cry out to God against our captivity? Will you remember that others are praying with you?
It rained Wednesday. We prayed and it rained. Coincidence? No! Tomorrow (Sunday) at FBC we will think together about the leadership/courage of Deborah. As worthy of our admiration as she is, my attention has been on vs 3 (Judges 4) “the sons of Israel cried to the Lord.” Prayer was the first cause. It always is. God sent Deborah because people prayed. Prayer is the breakthrough moment when the people of God realize their captive condition and remember their gracious God. This morning as you pray, will there be a “cry” in your voice and heart. Have we become so complacent that we can no longer grieve over the state of the church and the world? Will we cry out to the Father for kingdom and bread and forgiveness and protection? He will hear and send the rain.
“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) Holly and I will leave this morning for a few days away. I am grateful for the renewal that comes with rest. Vacations, for me, are closely connected to vocation. (to vacate means “to leave”, vocation comes from a word that means “to listen”) When I am away, like Elijah, my hope is to hear the “still, small voice” that it not heard in the wind or fire of normal life. (Read 1 Kings 19–one of my favorite scripture stories) As strange as it may sound, being away from you will not mean that I do not think of you. Actually, I will pray for you often , and with more insight. Thank you for the opportunity to be in your life. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf. I will see you after the 4th.
When I pray, I have to remember that I am looking for a PERSON. “If my people who are called by my Name will humble themselves and pray and seek my FACE. . .” Sometimes I get caught in busy stress. I get locked inside myself. I become a closed loop–seeing my own needs, hearing my own ideas. Prayer is God’s break in this chain of isolation. “Come unto ME and I will give you rest” Today when you pray will you look for Him? Will you set as your goal that, even if you have not fixed every problem or settled every question, at least you have spoken with a friend, confided in a Father? “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his FACE to shine upon you, and give you peace.”
“Return O Israel to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘take away our iniquity and receive us graciously’.” (Hosea 14:1-2) Sometimes in counseling, a person will say to me, “Pastor, what will I say?” It is a desperate cry of a person in crisis, searching for something to say that will make the situation better. I understand this need. I often need similar guidance. We have to be careful as we repair broken relationships. How thankful we should be that Christ has given us words that we can say to the Father, appropriate words, powerful words, words that when spoken from sincere hearts guide us back toward God and His blessing. Today, friend, as you go before the Father, will you be thankful for the Lord’s prayer? He has given us the words to say.