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: Jesus Is Always Beside Us

Monday I talked about praying in an unusual place. Today I want to talk about regular planned prayer and what Daniel did when he prayed toward Jerusalem.

So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:9-10)

This passage has Daniel praying 3 times every day towards Jerusalem and the Temple. The temple was the spot where God made the promise to his people to be present, to hear their prayers. Why do we not pray towards the temple? It is because of Jesus. A big part of the New Covenant is that the old temple commandments and the worship there, is replaced with Jesus and his one sacrifice on the cross. When Jesus died you hear that the curtain in the temple was torn in half (Matthew 27:51). The old ways were now over, and the focus of our faith, and of God speaking are now on Jesus.

Jesus, Thank you for opening faith and prayer in new and powerful ways. God and the Temple may have felt far away, but now we know that you are always beside us. In You we know we hear the Word of God straight from your lips and our prayers wherever we may be. Amen

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: Helping Those With The Least

Have you ever seen the face or felt the powerful presence of Jesus in something you have done? One place where that happens for me fairly regularly is at our homeless feeding.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

I want to ask all of you to pray for the ministry we carry out each week with the homeless. I got a call yesterday from Metropolitan Ministries that the police are going to stop allowing churches to feed where we have been doing so for the past 9 years. We started helping people there on a dead end portion of Livingston behind just north of Fletcher. Since we started there three other churches have been feeding on differing nights of the week at the same site. We sort of have a chicken or the egg situation. We helped there because that was where the homeless lived and some are now blaming the homeless situation there because all of the churches are feeding them there.

The police are supposed to help find us another location and I ask that you pray for God’s will to be done. I understand the complex issues that surround the homeless and this specific situation, but God wants us to give testimony of who Jesus is by our lives and actions.

Lord, help us to see you in every action that we carry out in life. May our lives be a living testimony to the love and care you give us so that we may share our blessings with others.

Pastor Dave

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Praying With Jesus: Where We Are

Sometimes prayer is made with great sorrow and a heavy heart. There is a great example of this in the prayer of Hannah for a child.

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11)

The problem of not being able to conceive is a hardship that many couples face. In fact Hannah’s soul is described as being bitter. We often say Jesus gives his grace to you just as you are. The same can be said of prayer, our Lord wants to meet us just where we are. God wants to lift up our souls and even takes the bitterness of life upon himself in Jesus.
God gives even more than we expect and God gave Hannah the child prophet, Samuel.

Lord Jesus, thank you for meeting us where we are in life. You don’t hear our prayers because of our goodness, but because you are loving. Thank you for answering Hannah’s prayer in a powerful way. And thank you for always hearing and answering us. Help us to be patient because sometimes we have to wait for that answer. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying with Jesus: Be Alert!

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

“I’ll be praying for you.”

I’ve heard that phrase a lot and say it myself. You hear about something difficult someone is going through and you promise to pray for them. How wonderful!

Here we are encouraged to not just pray for each other, but be alert. We should be looking for opportunities to pray for each other. Sometimes it may be obvious, like when a friend tells us about something difficult they are going through.

Sometimes, however, people don’t share their struggles. Have you ever seen a someone you knew and they said everything was fine, but you could tell something wasn’t quite right. That’s being alert.

The passage also talks about praying in the Spirit. Pastor Dave talked about that in his blog post from Day 12 and that can be another way to be alert for how to pray for others. To be quiet in your prayer and ask God to direct your prayers and be alert for who God leads you to pray for.

So, let’s be praying for each other.

Heavenly Father,

Please make me alert to the needs of others and encourage me to pray for them. When I do not know about the needs of others, guide me in my prayers to pray for them. Today, I want to pray for these people specifically…

Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Kurt

Praying With Jesus: A.C.T.S.

For the last three days, we have done the prayer acrostic A.C.T.S. A is for adoration, C is for confession, T is for thanksgiving, and finally today S which stands for supplication. This may be the one where you do not know supplication means, but we can easily do this in prayer. Supplication is asking God for help. It may be for things like daily bread or it may be for people and healing like Uncle Joe who is going through chemotherapy. God wants us to bring all of our issues to Him in prayer. God cares and he understands what it is that we go through in Jesus. In fact, I love how all 3 times Jesus encountered a funeral in the Gospels, what did he do? He ended it with person rising from death. Keep praying and asking and know that God wants to bless you in ways that you have not even imagined.

Lord Jesus, You understand our struggles because You became one of us. Remind us to pray in all situations and to share with You the burdens we bear. With You, our burdens are lightened and our wounds are healed. Thank You. Amen.

Pastor Dave

Praying With Jesus: A.C.T.S.

The third part of A.C.T.S. is T for thanksgiving. Is giving thanks a natural part of your prayer life? Sometimes kids need to be reminded to say thank you. This acrostic also reminds us to say thank you in our prayers. Some days it is easy. Right now I am in Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys with the 7th grade. We are on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by perfectly clear blue-green water. The temperature is 76 with a light breeze. The only drawback is in 5 minutes I have to jump into the cold 72-degree water to prove I can swim. I can say prayers of thanks here but on tough days it is not easy. It is important to say thanks because it puts in perspective our issues and problems.

Dear Lord, thank you for perfect days. Thank you for loving families. Thank you for the excitement of teenagers. Thank you for the certainty of grace in Jesus and the cross.

Pastor Dave

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