Too Busy Not To Pray

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Matthew 26:41 (NLT)

41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

“I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day.” (Martin Luther). Of all of the excuses that people in our society, including me, use as to why they don’t pray this is probably at the top of the list. Yet, we wonder why we struggle is our war against sin! Jesus here plainly tells us that prayer will help us deal with temptation, and yet we still throw sin to back of our priority list. More than any other thing on our “to do list” prayer ought to be at the top and minimized to something we do when we have time. The issue that we need to deal with is “do we have time not to pray?” We are faced with things like materialism, pornography, crime, violence and stress, do we really have time not to pray? Jesus took the time to pray and he had more on his plate than any of us! He made prayer a priority in his life and the results of his life ministry bears this out. After a day of preaching, teaching and healing people Jesus needed to re-tool his spirit, so he went to pray. “After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone” (Matt. 14:23, NLT). So if Jesus took the time to pray shouldn’t we do likewise?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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Furnace Room

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 4:31 New Living Translation (NLT) 

31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

“Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.” (Our Daily Bread, April 24)

The latest craze is to come up with a word or phrase to focus on for the year, or maybe a lifetime. For my wife Tina, her phrase list year is #NewThing, based on the verse from Isaiah that says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Is. 43:19). My close friend, Cornell Jordan, has a single word #winning. Well, I have a phrase this year, and perhaps the rest of my life, and that phrase is “#shakethebuilding.” It is based from Acts 4:31, which describes what happened in the early church as the result of a prayer meeting. The text concludes with, “…and the meeting place shook…” My determination this year is a new personal devotion to prayer. Honestly, my prayer life is often a disappointment to myself, and I am sure, to God. So my determination is change that part of my life. Likewise, our church has decided to take this aspect of our life together more seriously too. We recently started a new prayer ministry on Sunday mornings, before church, called, “The Furnace Room.” Our people are encouraged to come early to church and to go to the fellowship hall and spend time in prayer. We believe, like the early church did, that God will meet us there in a powerful way. We also believe that this will bring the power of God not only to our church service, but also to our community. Like the early church, we believe that through the power of prayer we can change the world. 

Will you join us in devoting yourself to prayer, and together let’s change the world!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Are You Ready To Covenant With God?

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “…if my people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” All true spiritual awakenings that have had a lasting effect on local churches, communities and towns have found their start in the same way; men of God encouraging and challenging the body of Christ to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s correcting, leading and empowering to pray. One such man of God was the Rev. James McGready, who was a circuit-riding preacher who rode on horseback throughout Logan County, Kentucky in 1798. Logan County was inhabited by horse thieves, murderers, highway robbers and counterfeiters. He believed that the principles set forth in 2 Chronicles 7:14 were as true in his time as they were when Ezra the priest wrote this passage of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He challenged, encouraged, and led by example the congregation of three small churches to enter into a covenant of prayer and fasting. Those who surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leading covenanted to pray every Saturday and they devoted every third Sunday of the month to fasting and prayer. They first asked God to search their own hearts and bring them to repentance. Did it work? A year later the most daring of sinners attended church service with intentions of disrupting the meetings. They found themselves coming to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Within another year of obedient prayer and fasting the great revival of 1800 was in full swing. The camp meetings became so large that three preachers representing three different denominations were preaching at the same time. Great numbers received Christ. This great revival swept all through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and parts of Ohio. What happened to this area where three small churches dared to say “Yes” to the challenge, encouragement and example of one fiery Presbyterian preacher? Within three years the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches gained 10,000 members each. Are you ready to covenant with God in prayer and fasting?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Can Anyone Tell Me What Christmas Is All About?

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 3:16-17 (NLT)

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

A television interviewer was walking the streets of Tokyo at Christmas time. Much as in America, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan. The interviewer stopped one young woman on the sidewalk, and asked, “What is the meaning of Christmas?” Laughing, she responded, “I don’t know. Is that the day that Jesus died?” There was some truth in her answer. At Christmas we need to ask ourselves this question, “Why did Jesus come to earth?” Did he come to be born? Did he come to teach? Did he come to heal and do miracles? No, he came to die! As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “…without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22), which tells that Jesus didn’t come just to be born, but he came to die for us. Unless he died nothing has changed and we are still lost in our sin and destined for hell. However, because he came and was born as a human, and sacrificed his life on the cross we have the hope of new life. Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Walking In The Light

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 John 1:7 (NLT2)
7  But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“In His powerful book The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul observes that unbelievers often feel uneasy in the presence of an obedient Christian. The holiness of God reflected in a believer’s life makes the non-Christian uncomfortable. Sproul then shares this truce incident to make his point. “A well-know professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over one of the other pros on the tour asked, ‘Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?’ The pro said with disgust, ‘I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!’ With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, ‘Was Billy a little rough on you out there?’ The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, ‘No, he didn’t even mention religion.’ “Sproul comments, ‘Astonishing, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat.’ What had happened? Simply this: The evangelist had so reflected Christlikeness that his presence brought the same feeling to the pro as experienced by Isaiah. He knew he was ‘lost, a man of unclean lips, and living among a people of unclean lips.’ In the life of Billy Graham, the lost pro had sensed the presence of our Holy God.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

Experiencing Jesus

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 John 1:1 (NLT2)
1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
We can love him with our mind by reading all the great things he has done for us, we can have warm loving feelings toward him because of these things, but may I suggest that this is where many Christians are stuck. The part that is lacking is an experience of Him that makes the thoughts and feelings about Him real to us. By letting him use us, do we really experience who he is, and the extent of His love?

The best example I can think of is when people fall in love by chatting on the Internet. All they have experienced are words and possibly pictures of the other person, but have had no real experience of them. Most of the time when they finally do meet in person the experience is very disappointing. It’s the same person but the actual personal experience of them leaves us uncomfortable and disappointed. Anyone can look great on paper, including God, and if that is all we have without personal experience of Him, it will be a shallow love. Have you had a personal experience with Jesus?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Life Together

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 2:42 (NLT2) 

42  All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 

“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

In Christ,

Pastor Mark