This week in World History. Did anything happen at all? I thought that this week would be dull. Oh boy, was I ever wrong!
Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…
Superman is invulnerable. Pastors are not. God’s people are not. Pastors have flaws, temptations, and struggles. Pastors have insecurities. Pastors do not always know exactly what should be done next. Pastors yell or want to yell at their kids. Christians are all clay called to shine the light of Christ.
What is the answer? Pastors need prayer. They carry the burden of their ministry, the burdens of their people, their own burdens, their own fears, and their own sinfulness. Pastors need prayer.
The funny thing is, I am not the first one to declare this. Paul was. He asked for prayer. He begged for prayer. He asked that words would be given to him when he needed them. He prayed that he would be bold even as he felt the chains around his wrists. In other words, he was praying for courage. Do pastors need less courage today than they did in those days? Do pastors need God’s words to come out of their mouths less today than Paul did then? How can we today not pray for our pastors?
Yet, pastors aren’t the only ones who need prayer. Paul begins his request for prayer by urging the church to, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18) Paul asked for prayer for all the saints. That’s you and me. In fact, Paul urges them to persevere in prayer. Simply put, that means to keep praying. Don’t stop.
We need to be folks who passionately pray for one another. We need it. Pastors need it. All Christians need it. This brings two questions to mind:
1 – Do we actually pray or do we just talk about praying?
2 – Do we let folks know about our needs? That requires transparency, but the Scripture declares that it is worth it.
What do I need? I need three things – 1) In these difficult times I need the boldness that Paul asks for. 2) I am desperate for the wisdom of God to lead through these rough waters. 3) As we keep reaching out to our community, I would ask for the strength and energy to meet the need.
Paul asked for prayer. He shared his need. We should do the same. We need it too. Then, let’s pray for one another!
Something to think about,
God has promised to be for us. To echo the apostle, if God is for us who can be against us? God has not judged us – He has given us His own Son! So, Paul was convinced that nothing could separate us from the love of God that is found in Jesus. Are we so convinced?
Paul declares this: God, who could declare us guilty, is the One who has made us clean. Jesus, who could declare us unworthy, prays to the Father on our behalf. With both the Father and the Son on our side, who can stand against us?
Do you have a voice declaring that you aren’t good enough? That voice has no real power and shares no real truth. The truth is that if you are in Jesus, you are a new creation. If you are in Jesus, God’s love has entered your life and He never lets His child go.
Have you stopped and considered what “Jesus loves you” means? Paul, a man who knew what it was to be on the wrong side of God, declared that nothing could separate us from the love of Jesus. Powers, principalities, nakedness, sword, things from Heaven, things from Earth, and all other created things cannot keep the love of Jesus from surrounding you.
Let me encourage you. If you have known God’s love, walk in confidence instead of defeat today. God’s love, commitment, and salvation are all greater than any of our struggles. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. You will more than conquer in Jesus. He promises it!
Something to think about,
Isn’t church all about me? Isn’t it about my wants, my wishes, my hopes, and my dreams? Are you saying right now, “No, of course not! It’s about Jesus!”? It is about Jesus, but do we make it sometimes about us?
Paul spoke to the Corinthian church about something like this. He said, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’” They were arguing about several things, but Paul highlighted their personality fight. They were fighting about which teacher they liked best. Does that sound like they were making it about Jesus?
It is a common temptation: we think that we know best and we fight for our opinion. We fight hard because we think we are right. We don’t stop and consider that we are fighting against our brothers and sisters. We don’t stop and think about how we are sacrificing our relationships with them for something less than the gospel. We don’t stop and remember that people are supposed to know we are Jesus’ followers because of our love for one another and not for how well we can get our way.
Paul warned the Galatian church about this. He said, “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” Have we become petty? Have we been fighting for our way and not the way of Jesus? Do we keep choosing the wrong fights? Are we fighting for our opinions instead of for each other? God asks us to fight for each other. Is that fight our priority?
If the body of Christ is going to be strong, it must do things God’s way. God wants us to be unified. Sometimes, that unity requires me to submit what I want to what you want. Sometimes, it requires you to submit what you want to what I want. Will we commit to that today? Will we commit to submission? Let your love be without hypocrisy. Love the family of faith!
Something to think about,
Think for a moment who you call when you need help… It probably is a short list. Yet, the people on it are people that you can call on with confidence. How do you know that?
You know it because those people have shown that they are committed to you. They have been there when you have needed them. They have answered your call before.
Do we treat God that way? Is He the friend you call on because He is there for you? Or, when we pray do we can get caught up in theology and words? Do we talk to Him as if He is a kind-hearted stranger? When we look at them, the prayers of God’s people in His word don’t look like that. They are passionate pleas to a loving Father. They are calling on the One who loves them passionately. Why did they pray like that? They prayed like that because they remembered how God had taken care of them in the past. They knew that He will take care of their present.
Do we forget that? In Romans 8 Paul tells us the Spirit groans with us. He speaks to God on our behalf. He has a plan for us. He cares deeply about us. He even declares that our circumstances are being worked out for our good.
God is committed to us. How committed? Jesus died for us. The Spirit prays for and with us. The Father has our good always in His mind. Is it time to remember His commitment? Will we pray with passion because we know that God cares like this?
Something to think about,
Have you thought much about what makes a person worthy of trust? When I think about that question my answer is generally that the person is honest with me, keeps their word, and doesn’t reveal my heart’s secrets. Are those the things which come to your mind?
However, when it comes to those heart secrets there is one more word that comes to mind: kindness. I know several people who are honest with me, keep their word, and won’t reveal the secrets of my heart. However, I don’t share my heart secrets with them. I hide them. I won’t let them completely in. Why? It is because of kindness. If I do not see a person practicing kindness to others, I simply won’t trust them with my heart.
Think with me about two amazing people of the Scripture – Ruth and Boaz. Most of us know their story. We don’t know their story as a great story of faith, nor is their story one of those amazing and heroic journeys. No, what Ruth and Boaz are known for is their great kindness. Ruth showed it to Naomi by sticking with her through thick and thin. Boaz showed it to Ruth by protecting her in the field and providing for her and Naomi’s needs. Simple stuff, to be sure, but it meant a great deal to these folks. In fact, Boaz comments several times on the kindness of Ruth. He comments on her kindness to Naomi and her kindness towards him. He says, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.” (Ruth 3:10)
The book of Ruth could just be another history of normal people. However, we read it as a love story. Even Ruth’s declaration of commitment to Naomi has been turned into wedding vows. Do you remember these words, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)? Who did Ruth say those words to? She said them to her mother in law, Naomi!
What makes us read the book of Ruth as a romance? It is because of the nature of kindness. We can almost see the love dripping from its pages. Kindness communicates this. It communicates that my heart is safe in your hands. Kindness tells me that I won’t be betrayed by deed or by word.
Our challenge today: Demonstrate that you can be trusted with the hearts of the people in your life by being kind. Perhaps you’ve noticed some distance in your marriage or in your relationships with your kids. Could it be that kindness is missing? By the way, kindness is not a “fix”. We can’t use it as a gimmick to get what we want from others. If we do, we will teach those in our lives that their heart is not safe in our hands. They will know instinctively that while we are nice, we are not truly kind. Kindness is consistent. Kindness chooses relationship over efficiency. It chooses relationship over and over and over. So, our question today… are you choosing kindness in your life?
Something to think about,