Prayer (Part 1)

Prayer is a method of communicating with God, or a god. The first thing people do when they are in crisis, is to pray. Even people who do not believe it God, will pray.

For Christians, prayer is like the communication between a child and a parent. When children are about 2 years old, they begin communicating by asking a lots of questions. A good parent will communicate with the child by answer the questions appropriately.

As the child grows, the questions become more complicated and difficult to answer, but the parent will still try to give an answer that they think is appropriate or explain to the child where they might find the answer to their question. This is how the child gains knowledge about life. This is also how young Christians begin to communicate with their Heavenly Father. They ask the Father questions and He provides the answers.

The Bible has much to say about prayer.

In John 16, Jesus is talking to his disciples about what is going to happen.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24 (NIV)

This indicates that we are praying to God, the Father. When we ask God a question in Jesus name, we will receive an answer and our joy will be complete.

In the first part of Matthew, Jesus is giving instructions to his followers. In those instructions are the instructions about prayer.

 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

What he is saying is that if we ask God for something, we can look for the answer to our request and can expect to find it. Not only will we find it, but we will be led through doors of new opportunities.

In Jeremiah 33, God is talking to Jeremiah about the restoration of His people. God didn’t tell Jeremiah that he needed to figure out some way to make things happen. What He told Jeremiah was that he should call on God and God would show him what to do. In fact, God would tell him things that could not even be researched!

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

In other words, God will show us things that only he can show us. We may not get the right answers by going to the televisions, friends, social media, etc. But, we can always be sure that the answers we get from God will be the right answer.

Paul writes this in Ephesians 3:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

God is able to do for more that we can imagine according to his power that is at work within us, which is the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It is not answered according to our power, as world would have you to believe, but according to God’s power at work in us through the Holy Spirit.

NOTE: All scripture printed it from the NIV version found at http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV

What is a supply pastor?

The definition of a supply pastor varies some from denomination to denomination.  I happen to work as a supply pastor for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and am an installed Associate Pastor of Education and Outreach in a part-time position. Since my position as Associate Pastor of Education and Outreach is part-time, I have the opportunity to help out other church on Sunday mornings when my services are not required at Lebanon. This allows me to preach periodically in other churches.

A supply pastor is a person that has preaching credentials, or is working on his/her preaching credentials and is able to work as a ‘substitute pastor’ for a short time. In some cases they are retired ministers that still have a desire to preach when they are able and needed. Sometimes it is a pastor that is between churches. Churches that need a pastor for a Sunday, or two will hire a supply pastor to preach for the worship services and perform any other ministerial services that the church requests.

The advantage of supply pastors is that churches can allow their pastor to have time off periodically and not have to be concerned the spiritual leadership of the church. This is especially true for the small country churches that have only one pastor. Sometimes when churches are looking for pastors but don’t have a pastor for a given week, they may ask a supply pastor to come for that week.

Roaring Lions

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. I Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)

How does a roaring lion look for prey?

When wild animals look for prey, they make every effort to blend into the background so their prey will not see them; they will get as close to the prey as possible before they spring on it. The Lions will also go where they are most apt to find the prey they want to eat.

That is the same way that Satan tries to catch his prey. He first goes where people are plentiful, then blends into the background. When people are least expecting him, he will spring on his prey, turn them from God and make them follow him.

The people who Satan likes to devour are those people who know something about God but are not concerned in learning more about God and what God wants us to do. Satan takes the truth and bends it slightly to make it look more pleasing. He will take a verse and leave out a word or two or perhaps just take a verse away from the rest of the passage so it will say something else. It is much like a hacker does when they are trying to get into someone’s computer. They make it look like you are signing into a certain site when indeed you are going to the hacker’s site and giving them personal information that you didn’t intend for them to get.

Let me give you an example of how the Lion looks for prey.

The other day my wife and I were in a store where there were several different items in the store with the words “All things are possible if you believe” printed on them. Most people reading this phrase would be led to believe that if they just believe something it will happen. It is all done by them. After researching the phrase, I discovered that the phrase is in the Bible. In fact, it comes from Mark 9:23b (NIV).

However if you read the entire passage (Mark 9:17-24) you will see that Jesus is talking about believing in God. He didn’t tell the man that he should have been able to heal his boy himself. What he was saying was that the man should believe in God, who was able to heal the boy. The man had to believe that God could do it.

How do I know Jesus wasn’t referring to the man’s ability to heal the boy in his own strength?

Jesus knew how man was tempted to do things his own way.  In fact, Jesus asked God if He would take this cup away from Him, but He surrendered to God’s will and said. “yet not my will but yours be done.”

 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46 (NIV)

Again in John 15:5 Jesus is talking about the vine and branches. The branches of a vine cannot grow without the vine. In the same way, we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in the vine. In other words, we can only bear fruit when we rely on Him. [John 15:1-17 (NIV)]

Satan wants us to believe that we don’t need God. We are capable of doing things in our own strength.