This is semi-funny. In my retirement ministry–preaching in various churches–I naturally preach the passages that mean a great deal to me. And, since I know them so well, in many cases I quote the verses from memory. Often I don’t even carry a Bible to the pulpit with me. To read, I need cumbersome reading glasses, and if I already know the Scripture, what is the point? Just recite the passage and preach it. If someone asks–as they often do, probably not seriously– whether I have memorized all the Bible (try to imagine that!), I say, “No, I just preach the parts I’ve memorized.” That’s flippant, I suppose, but pretty much how it is.
I do love the Word of God. I love all of it, not just the parts I’ve preached again and again. And I love how those well-known familiar passages keep yielding insights and blessings. Here are a few thoughts on ten passages that I dearly love…
One. Romans 8 is the mother lode of spiritual insight.
In my sermon on prayer last Sunday morning, Romans 8:26 played a huge part. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…”
We are poor pray-ers. If the Apostle Paul did not know how to pray, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that you and I don’t!
But, we’re not to despair.
“O Thou who dost hear prayer, to Thee all men come” (Psalm 65:2).
God hears prayers. It’s what He does.
God delights in answering the prayers of His children. Scripture is consistent on this.
The disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And Jesus said, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father….'” (Luke 11:1ff).
Slow down. Do not rush through the “Our Father” (what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”). Look how it begins.
You are praying to the Father. He is not just yours, of course, but “our” Father. He has quite the large family.
He is the Father. He birthed us. Created us. Knows us.
God is on your side. He is not impartial and definitely not antagonistic. He wants to do well for you, to bless you in every way. Jesus said, “Fear not, little children. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
All right. It’s Wednesday, the day after.
If you stayed up for the election returns last night, you’re experiencing something like a hangover today.
Donald Trump has been named President-elect of this country.
Like it or not, he won. And half the country does not like it, let us admit.
Which statement we could just as easily make if Hillary Clinton had been elected instead. Half the country either way. The very definition of divided.
I want to say a word to my friends who are trying to get their minds around this development which all the polls and most of the media said would not happen.
Next January, Donald Trump and his wife Melania will move into the White House and he into the Oval Office. Everything inside you weeps at the thought.
When friends (like me) urge you to pray for Mr. Trump as we are commanded, something inside you rebels at the thought.
Here are some reasons that may explain why some among us do not wish to pray for the man…
The forces of hell will do anything to keep us from praying.
Satan tells lies to keep us from praying. He uses pleasures and misinformation and our laziness to keep us from praying. He uses false teachers and busy schedules and great television to keep us from praying.
He also has been known to use truth.
As odd as it seems, the dark prince does not hesitate to speak the truth if it will make us think we shouldn’t pray.
Here are eight true statements Satan uses to put a stop to the most powerful force in the world, the prayers of God’s people…
1–God already knows what you need. No point in asking.
“How many times I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38).
Almost daily, I hear of churches that are firing their preachers, are engaged in lawsuits, and struggling with inner conflict. I know a hundred churches that were strong a generation ago but are fighting to survive now.
These are difficult days for churches, which makes these challenging days for church leaders.
If you are not grieving for the church these days, it must be because your mind is on other things.
Let us care for what is happening, and pray for the Lord’s people.
I grieve for the trendy church which is drawing people in from the smaller surrounding congregations and bursting at the seams, but leaving the smaller ones to shrivel and die. The huge church often cons its members into thinking they are doing something for the kingdom since they are experiencing such growth. Churches can be so self-centered.
I grieve for the church which is having mind-staggering growth but gradually becomes secretive about what it does with the millions of dollars it takes in, protective about the pay it gives its pastor, and dismissive about the questionable personal lives of its leadership. Churches can be carnal.
I grieve for the smaller church which turns an envious eye at the growing congregations in its community and, desiring to be like the others, dismisses its faithful pastor and worship leaders because “we have to stay current with modern trends.” Churches can be wrong-headed.
In the morning, O Lord, I will direct my song and my prayer unto You and will look up. (Psalm 5:3)
O Lord. I feel so weak. So helpless. So unworthy. So guilty. So lazy and so unqualified. I feel fleshly, not spiritual, and burdened, not free.
If You were to mark iniquities, O Lord, surely I would be the first to fall.
Thank You for grace. Thank You for Thy infinite mercy.
Thank You that this is not about me.
It’s all about Thee. Thy riches, Thy supply, Thy will, and Thy honor.
I have no words to say how liberating that is.
Thank You, Father.
Second article in a series on The Effective Pastor.
Now, it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught the disciples.’ (Luke 11:1)
The Lord’s people want to pray.
Most of the Lord’s people want to learn to pray.
You are the one to teach them effective praying, pastor.
You do know how, don’t you?
Granted, none of us do it very well. Even the great Apostle Paul said, “We do not know how to pray as we should” (Romans 8:26). So, we are not saying any of us do it as well as we should, only that we know enough to be able to help others.
Here are some thoughts on the subject….
“Faithful is He who called you, and He will bring it to pass” (I Thessalonians 5:24)
If God starts something, He will see it through to the end.
And that’s how I pray the way I do:
“Lord, these are your children. They would not exist without Your love. Had you not laid it on my wife’s heart to adopt a foreign child, and later pulled me to the same decision, their mama would still be in Korea and these three granddaughters would never have been born.”
“Therefore, Lord, I feel a special confidence in interceding on their behalf. They are your responsibility. They were your doing. They are yours.”
“So, I ask you to watch over them.”
“But when He saw the multitudes, (Jesus) was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to the disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38).
Little of this is what we would have expected.
The newly baptized Savior was moving in and around Galilee preaching and ministering. Was this the first time He had “gotten out” and seen the crowds, growing up as He did in the small town of Nazareth where He worked alongside His father in the carpentry business? Was this a surprise to Him, seeing the crowds in this way?
The people seemed as sheep with no shepherd. Think of what that means….
Ronald Dunn, now in Heaven, was a prolific writer and speaker on prayer and the deeper life. He pastored in Texas and authored many books. What follows are stories taken from his book “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something: The Incredible Power of Intercessory Prayer.” Published in 1991 by Thomas Nelson.
First story. (I’ve heard this from numerous speakers, but it’s Ron’s story.)
I was speaking at a banquet for a church’s intercessory prayer ministry when (this mother of a teenager) shared a recent answer to prayer. A few days before, as she was getting a pie ready to put into the oven, the phone rang, It was the school nurse. Her son had come down with a high fever and would she come and take him home?
The mother calculated how long it would take to drive to school and back, and how long the pie should bake, and concluded there was enough time. Popping the pie into the oven, she left for school. When she arrived, her son’s fever was worse and the nurse urged her to take him to the doctor.