“Step One: PRAY” Weekend of August 9th & 10th
Imagine, you are on an Airplane… • When the fasten seatbelt sign comes on in an airplane, it means one of three things: • You are taking off; • You are landing; or • You are experiencing turbulence; • Since 9/11, air-travel has changed dramatically, and most often the seatbelt sign stays on for most of the flight. • We know the seatbelt sign is for our safety.
You are on a Ride of Your Life… • It could be that the fasten seatbelt sign has come on for you personally: • Your daughter is pregnant; • The doctor called with your test results; • Your job is at risk with the company down-sizing; • Whatever the situation, as on the airplane, we too, are not in control. • Actually, we have never been in control, but it is fun to think we are. Right?
I have Good News for You • Most of what we have in the Bible was written for a time of uncertainty: • The Bible is not filled with feel-good messages for a world we don’t live in; • Instead, we hear God speaking directly into people’s lives, while they live in and with uncertainty; • Joseph found himself at the bottom of a pit, while his brothers debated what to do with him… and we discover that God was still with him. • King David was awaken one morning with the news that his son Absalom was conspiring against him… but God would protect David.
I have Good News for You • Mary, a young teenager, heard the angel tell her she was going to have a baby, but she was perplexed and confused. Her future would never be the same. • The Apostle Paul was sure God had called him to share the Gospel, but he found himself bound and dragged off to prison. • What did all these events have in common? Est. 1950
I have Good News for You • The Bible is filled with stories of people facing uncertainty and discovering that not only is God NOT absent, but He is diligently working to accomplish His Will in this world and in the lives of those He loves. • The Bible is a book about how very much God is in control and how very much we are NOT. • That’s why we do not like some of the answers we get in prayer, when it comes to responding to uncertainty;
I have Good News for You • I would prefer there be three answers to getting my life back to normal and I would be back in control; • But what we find in the Bible seems to leave us so vulnerable and dependent; • I don’t want to fasten my seatbelt! • I want the turbulence to go away. • I don’t want to be guided through it! • I want to be led around it, avoid it. • I want a guarantee of safety: • Like the complete end to terrorism; • A miracle cure for cancer; • A booming economy where I can make lots of money;
I have Good News for You • As frustrating as some of God’s answers to prayer may be, the alternative is worse: • There is always worry, panic and fear! • But how productive are these activities? • They generally do make things worse, don’t they? • As we continue this series on prayer, don’t underestimate what God says about times of uncertainty. • Times of uncertainty not new to God; • The Bible is not a manual on how to get our lives back to normal, with me in control; Not very!
I have Good News for You • The Bible is all about learning to follow God through the valleys of life with confidence that God is in control and His purposes for my life are GOOD. • So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride of your life. • There are two things I am certain of! Do you know what they are? Here goes:
I have Good News for You Philippians 4:4-7 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 …[For] the Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Where is Paul when he wrote this? • After being shipwrecked in Malta, Paul arrives in Rome while Nero was Emperor. • Nero hated the Christians and blamed them for the fire that nearly destroyed the city of Rome. • He ordered all Christians to leave Rome. • Those who could not leave, he put to death, including our beloved St. Paul.
So very Surprising! • “Rejoice!?!” • We are not to get sucked into the same sense of gloom and doom as everyone else. • We know who is in control. • “Rejoice…the Lord is near!” • God is still in control; He has not gone anywhere! • Ruth Graham’s devotional book:
So very Surprising! • “Be anxious for nothing.” • Remember who wrote this? • He is sitting in prison, watching other Christian being executed, and awaiting his own death; • If Nero has his way, there will be no church because there will be no Christians left; • “But in everything by prayer … present your requests to God.”
I have Good News for You • The idea here is not that we inform God of our needs; He already knows them better that we. • Rather, it is for us to discover what we are really in prayer and then verbalize that to God. • Paul is saying, I want you identify your fears, your worries, your concerns, revealing what’s on the inside of you, and take that to God in prayer. • Here’s an example: • Your Prayer might be: “I need a job, Lord.” You lose your job! True, but not the whole picture!
I have Good News for You • The real issue is Fear: “I won’t be able to support my family.” • God’s answer: “I can handle that, just trust Me.” • You still don’t have a job, but you can accept that God has not left you alone. • You are at peace, knowing that God will answer your prayer when the time is right. Now we’re getting to what’s inside. God wants to grow our faith & trust.
I have Good News for You • The Result: “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” • The real need in prayer was not finding another job, but the fears and anxiety of not having one. • Once you and I are assure that God can handle all our fears and anxiety, peace comes over us, even though we have not yet found a job. • That “transcends all understand.” How can a person be at peace and not have a job? This is how it happens.
I have Good News for You • Peace is grounded in the fact that God is in control; • Psalm 46:10 “Be still [at peace] and know that I am God.” • Therefore, Peace guards and protects our hearts and our minds; our emotions and our thoughts; • We are no longer worried and all knotted up on the inside; • Often times, answers to prayer is an “Inside Thing” that makes a difference on the “Outside.” • As Jesus said…
I have Good News for You • Bottom Line: Prayer is not about changing things, but rather about us being changed. • Changed to trust the Father with things only He can control; • Changed so that we are free from worry and fear which only knot up our lives; • Changed because we have placed in God’s hands what only God is capable of handling;
I have Good News for You PRAY! • When the fasten seatbelt sign comes on, • You will approach prayer hoping that the world will change, but find that it is you who will change. • When that happens, you will discover a peace and a new perspective on how God handles the uncertainties of your life. Questions -or- Comments?