Praying With Jesus: Good Friday

Today is one of the most important days of the year. It is Good Friday the day Jesus died on the cross. I am always asked by the kids in chapel why is this day called good, when the most terrible thing happened? Here is the answer.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I remember a story told by St Jerome who was an early translator of the Bible. As told by him he went to Jerusalem and Bethlehem for a time of study and prayer and one night he had a dream. In this dream Jesus appeared to him and Jerome gave him everything he had. Jesus did not want those things. Then Jerome gave him all of his money. Jesus did not want that. What would you like? Jerome asked. Jesus replied, “Your sins.”

The day is called ‘good” because we find that Jesus takes our sins upon himself so that we might have the righteousness of God. In ways we do not always understand Jesus became our sin so that we might know the amazing love and grace of God.

Thank you for this day Jesus. For all that you did for me I am amazed by the magnitude of your grace. This day truly is good.

Pastor Dave

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Praying With Jesus: God’s Timing

Can you keep a secret? Can you keep a secret from God? Absolutely not. Jesus knew of this plan and took steps to make sure it did not disrupt his plans.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)

One of the most unusual actions of Jesus, that follows this in the Gospels, is when the disciples on the next day ask where they are going to celebrate the Passover? Jesus tells Peter and John to go into town and they will see a man carrying a water jar, follow him and that will show you where we are going to meet. Prepare everything there. Is there more than one person carrying a jar of water in Jerusalem? Of course, but Jesus does not want to tell the group where they are going to be eating this evening because that would be the perfect place for Judas to tell the guards to come and arrest Jesus. Jesus wants to make sure he has time to wash the disciple’s feet, teach them some last few things, and then most importantly, Institute the Lord’s Supper. That Passover celebration had to happen without interruption, so Judas would later lead the guards to Jesus when they stopped to pray on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus knows the timing of all things. Judas was looking for the first opportunity without the crowds around Jesus and this meal would have been perfect. Some things have to happen in a certain order for God’s will to be done. We always need to remember that when we pray. In life I have had so many prayers answered but not on my timetable. When I have to wait I sometimes wonder and question God. But this passage reminds me that God always has in mind what is needed and important. His knowledge of the future is better than my knowledge of the past. We are often told to live by faith. Today I also want to remind you to pray with faith. Knowing that today, tomorrow and all eternity is in God’s gracious hands.

Thank you Lord, for knowing the timing of all things. Help me to understand your plans for me so that I may grow in faith and trust. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Turn Me To You

We have started Holy Week and one of the things Jesus did this week caused quite a commotion in the Temple.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it `a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:15-18)

Have you ever been challenged on something you are doing? The chief priests were taken aback by the boldness and the words of Jesus. Was it a den of robbers? Jesus found that the Temple had lost it’s way and became an institution and not a house of prayer. We always have to take these words to heart and be reminded that the church is here to be a house of prayer. That is connecting people to God in the various newer methods of today and the tried and true ways that have worked in all of history. Lent is in fact one of the oldest seasons of the church year and goes back way before people celebrated Christmas. This week reminds us that faith is never business as usual. Sometimes church and our lives walking with God can get stuck in a routine. Maybe there is a table in your life that needs to be flipped. It looks to be messy but it can open up new ways of seeing Jesus in faith and how he impacts your daily life.

Jesus, you turned many things upside down. Turn me so that my life is filled with your presence and help make my life a life filled with prayer.

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Praying On Holy Ground

What is holy ground? I have heard of several Christian coffee shops using the name Holy Grounds. Holy ground is when we come into the presence of God.

So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:3-5)

This is a unique example of prayer and it brings some important truths that we can include anytime we pray. First God called Moses into this situation. He did something that got his attention with a burning bush. It was not a scrub fire but something that kept on burning. It reminds me of Jesus saying I knock calling us to prayer. God wants people to pray and calls people in a wide variety of ways.

Secondly, God says “Moses, Moses” when he draws near. Prayer is very personal. Just as God knows our name He wants us to know Him. The next verse has God telling Moses I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. A great comfort prayer gives us, is that God has time for us as individuals. He knows your name and wants you to speak and listen to Him.

Finally, we have God telling Moses the place where he was standing was holy ground. Moses too realized this because after God spoke to him he covered his face. Prayer is entering into the holy presence of God. We need to be reminded that prayer is entering into the holy presence of God. There are certain customs of prayer that remind us of this fact. We do this whenever we bow our heads, kneel, or sometimes stand up to pray. Prayer brings us into the presence of God, therefore wherever it may be, becomes holy ground.

Lord, thank You for holy ground. Anyplace You reside is holy ground. Remind me of that when I pray. Just as You called Moses to come, You call me to come into your presence every day. For that I thank You. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying with Jesus: Praying Without Distraction

Do you shut your eyes when you pray? I usually do except when praying while running or driving the car. As your Pastor, I advise you to do the same for your own safety and public safety. I like shutting my eyes because it takes prayer into a place where we leave our focus on this world. To help explain please read this passage.

 

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

 

 

 

Praying without the distractions of sight and without anyone talking and your ears focused on anything, opens us up to hear the whispers of the Spirit. Our big struggle at times is to quiet our minds when we pray so we can be open to get a small sense of what God has planned for us. It is beyond description. It is beyond anything you have ever seen or heard. Paul describes it also as a peace that passes all human understanding.

Jesus, help me stop all things every day and abide with You. This world you made is incredible but speak by your Spirit so I may realize what wonder is planned for me. I know how much you love me in everything Jesus said and did. Amen.

Pastor Dave

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Praying with Jesus: Sing Songs of Praise

Prayer happens in many ways and in many situations. This verse gives two different times of praying.

 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. (James 5:13)

 

I think we are all familiar with the prayers of those who are in trouble. When faced with problems people often turn to God in prayer. In turn, the opposite situation of being happy is a great time to sing songs of praise. How many of you like to sing? My singing is not the greatest for public consumption. However, I do like belting it out at church without my microphone turned on (please forgive me when I forget to turn it off). I also love singing in my head and not vocalizing the words. I am sure you all have songs that you have memorized portions of. I think about half of the songs that are in my memory are traditional hymns and newer Christian songs. Songs of praise remind us that these times are a blessing of God.

My favorite example of this was when Orel Hershiser pitched for the Dodgers years ago in the World Series. It was late in a crucial game and he was filmed sitting alone in the corner of the dugout, singing but not for others. On the Tonight show after being named Series MVP, he was asked, what he was singing? Being encouraged by the audience he sang the song for the nation. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Lord Jesus, help me to sing songs of praise. I may not be in the World Series today but I am a child of God blessed in so many ways. All blessings, every good and perfect gift comes from you and I say thank you.

Pastor Dave

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Praying with Jesus: Giving Thanks and Praise

Last week was a pretty amazing week for Melissa and I (Kurt). The birth of our son, Eli, was scheduled for Monday morning. On Sunday night before bed, our whole family gathered together and prayed for a safe delivery. On Monday morning, Melissa and I got up and headed to the hospital. On the way, we spent some time praying for Eli, Melissa, and the Doctors and nurses. After Melissa was taken into the O.R., I waited outside the O.R. for several minutes. I spent most of the time praying. While in the O.R. during the c-section, more prayers were offered. We were praying for a safe delivery and for the health of Eli and Melissa.

Then Eli was born. He was healthy.

I texted Melissa and my families. I took some pictures of Eli and sent them out. I posted the stats of the baby. Then we headed to recovery and I went down and got family members and brought them up to the room. It was all very exciting.

A little while later I had to head back to our house to deal with some things. As I was driving home it dawned on me. I had texted people, posted pictures, and visited with family, but I hadn’t stopped to pray and thank God for the safe delivery and healthy mommy and baby.

Prayer often comes easily and frequently when we are concerned about something or facing a difficult time. However, in times of joy and prosperity, sometimes our prayers become few and far between. It reminds me of when 10 lepers saw Jesus and cried out to Him for to heal them. He did. Nine went off to show the priests they were clean. One turned around and thanked Jesus. Jesus responded,

Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

May we always remember to be the one who goes back and thank Jesus.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for the many blessings you have given me. Help me to come to you in prayer at all times, whether I’m struggling through something or doing well. May I always remember to say thank you.

Amen.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kurt

God Doesn’t Do Things Half Way

psalm103_1-3 “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
-Psalm 103:2-5

God can be difficult to comprehend. When we try to think about words to describe Him, we use words like omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all seeing), and eternal (forever). [Read more…]

Gathering Discussion: Daily Devotions

Scripture

  • Matthew 4:1-4 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
  • Mark 1:35 “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
  • Luke 5:15-16 “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Why do we do it?

  • Focus on our minds on Christ or being Christ-like
    • Transform our minds (Romans 12)
    • Sword of the Spirit
  • Communion with God
  • Ask for guidance
  • Learn about God and learn the Word of God
  • Grow in faith (faith comes from hearing)

How do we do devotions?

  • No set way
  • Prayer
  • Word
    • Topical
    • Read through a book of the Bible (a little or chapters)
    • Bible in a Year
  • Study (optional)
  • Prayer
    • Pray from heart
    • Pray pre-written prayer
    • Prayer journal
  • Individual or as a family
    • Deuteronomy 11:18-19 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
    • Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

When to do devotions?

No set time, but…

  • Morning tends to be best because you are starting your day, setting the tone, focusing your mind, etc.
    • If you don’t feel like you have time in the morning, just pray, maybe while driving to work and maybe listen to the Bible on your phone. Then find time later in the day (the earlier the better) for more dedicated time.
  • Bookend your day.

Conclusion

Read Ephesians 6:10-20 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

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