In our final part of the God in Our Midst Series, we look at prayer, the kingdom, and Jesus’ instruction for us to prayer the kingdom to come and for His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
This book is an excellent read that inspired the current sermon series, God in Our Midst. As God’s presence impacts us through the work of his Holy Spirit, we are his Faithful Presence in our community, homes, and workplaces. An excellent read for any believer. The Amazon page is below. It is available in paperback, eBook, audiobook, and CD.
A church member asked for prayers for the hurricane that was hitting Florida this past weekend. In follow-up to that, I mentioned that we need to be praying not only for the victims of Hurricane Irma, but also the victims recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Then there’s the people of Mexico recovering from an earthquake and Hurricane Katia. Then, we should also be praying that Hurricane Jose harmlessly blows out to the Atlantic Ocean. One storm after another has hit the news over the past several weeks. Meanwhile, there has been repeated calls for relief efforts. Electrical grid workers are flooding Florida to rebuild what Irma destroyed. As the news continues, it makes me wonder, doesn’t this hurricane season feel like certain seasons in our lives?
In Psalm 13, the Psalmist wonders if the Lord has forgotten him. He wonders how long the Lord will hide his face from him. Then verses 5-6 say, “But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” The storms of life may leave you feeling alone and forgotten. Yet the Psalmist shows that on the other side of a continual season of turmoil, we will recognize God’s provision and love throughout. We see that the Lord has heard our prayers, just as the Lord heard the Psalmist’s prayers. If this is you, I would encourage you to listen and follow the words verse five. Trust in his mercy and rejoice in the salvation he has provided you.
How does spiritual gifting, the church, and humility come together?
Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.” I’ve heard similar quotes about ministry. The truth is that we live in a success driven, yet discouragement filled world. A world of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram where we see the amazing lives of everyone around us. Yet, our lives typically don’t feel the same. In a way, social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s lives, and we compare our normal lives to everyone’s highlights.
Jesus called out disciples to follow him. There were many more that listened to him and followed him for a time, but he chose twelve to truly be present with. Within the twelve, he chose three, Peter, James, and John, as his inner circle. Jesus didn’t try to do everything, try to be all to all, or to match the worldly success of the greats of his day like Herod and Caesar.
John Maxwell has defined success as being respected by those who are closest to you. That’s a success that we can all achieve. That’s a success that builds community and relationships, instead of driving us away from people. Worldly success tends to drive us to work long hours and to use or manipulate people for our own ends. Jesus taught a different success, a deeper form of success. His form of success is focused. His form of success builds relationships and community. His form of success ultimately helps us be more successful. Not by what we do, but by what we don’t do. We don’t overstretch ourselves. We simply show up. We stick with it. We seek trust and to be trusted.
Why do we work? How does our faith and work interact? We took a break from our current God in Our Midst series to talk about this in recognition of Labor Day. For more on this, pick up Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer.
Here’s the book that I mentioned yesterday in worship, it’s Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer. It’s one of the finest books out there on the connection between our faith and our work.
On Sunday afternoon I was listening to the post-game show for my beloved Cleveland Indians. They discussed Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Astros are relocating games to Tampa Bay during the clean up. The host concluded by saying that regardless of the baseball discussion, we need to think of the people of Houston. He then said, from all of us here at Let’s Go Tribe, our wishes are with the people of Houston. Hearing this got me thinking, is that what we should be sending to Houston? Some have also said that they are keeping Houston in their thoughts. What happened to keeping them in our prayers? A thought or a wish has little more power behind it than brain activity. The power of prayer brings with it the power of the God of Universe. Our God who created the heavens and the earth and watches over the world. And yet we are settling for thoughts and wishes?
In the day and age of political correctness, it is much easier to simply send wishes or thoughts instead of prayer. Prayer implies a high being, a creator of all of this, a God who is above all things and in all things. It’s much easier to sidestep the God debate by settling for wishes. But let us call it what it is, settling. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” When we humble ourselves before God, we will ultimately be exalted by him. When we seek his mighty hand, we see him at work. And when we cast our care upon him, we see his answers to our prayers. This what the people of Houston need today. They don’t need our wishes or thoughts as much as they need our prayers. The people who are trapped in their attics or left homeless need our prayers today. They need believers asking for the mighty hand of God to provide, rescue, and comfort them. They need to know that the God that cares for them is with them. Wishes and thoughts will never move the mighty hand of God. Peter tells us that humble believers casting their cares, casting their prayers, upon him is needed.
The same is true in our own lives. Have you ever told someone that you would pray for them, then forgotten to do so? We need to go beyond simply wishing or thinking and pray. Because God cares for us and tells us to cast our cares on him. When we cast our cares on him, we will see him answer. So to all the people of Houston, you are in my prayers.
Jesus talks of feeding the hungry, providing drink for the thirsty, and visiting the ill. He says that what we do for the least of them, we do for him. In this sermon from 8/27/17, we look at the fourth practice relating to being God’s Faithful Presence. It includes my attempt to put the idea into action.
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that “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.” The latest Pastor’s Perspective article looks at this in the context of a current movie, Dunkirk.