How do we do this? – Week of Prayer Day 7; 2018

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Luke 11:1

Isn’t this a great question? I wonder which disciple it was who asked…

Yes a great question followed by a famous answer. An answer which provides Jesus’ framework to help us with prayer.  But there is something in this request and answer that we can easily sidestep, or overlook – both the question and the answer make an assumption that we will pray. You see The disciples are eager to pray (“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”) and Jesus is eager to help them, as we find out if we read on (Luke 11:2-11).

A regular question in churches today is “how can I get better a praying?” It’s a great question and rightly Pastors across the world will turn up many passages of scripture to encourage us, to lead us, to remind us and be examples to us. God has provided all of this, but, as with all of the Bible, to profit from what we read we need at have hearts that are eager to understand, and get busy with what we learn – in short, the way to learn about prayer is to pray – do just what this disciple did, ask Jesus and be willing to respond to the answer.

Here are a few more pointers about prayer:

  • Remember that ike everything we do well in our lives, we need to practice prayer.
  • Use the framework set by Jesus for a start, or find one of the psalms that fits the need and pray it relating it to your circumstances.
  • Make prayer a habit every day.
  • Find a time and a space where you can focus.
  • Expect to find prayer rewarding.
  • Expect to find prayer hard work at times.
  • Expect to God to respond, and watch out for those answers.
  • Expect to be challenged by God.
  • Expect to be Encouraged by God.

Direct communication with the Living God! Why wouldn’t we want to pray?

Children’s Prayer Activity  

DAY 7

Adoring God – When you’re saying your prayers to day think of as many things as possible you really love and thank God for them, and remember too to tell God how much you love Him 🙂

 

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Building – Week of Prayer Day 6; 2018

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.

Psalm 127:1

In the midst of your busyness, do you ever find yourself skipping the odd prayer meeting or housegroup? Do you find your quiet times get shorter or stop completely, might your bible be less well read?

As the busyness and stresses and strains increase, does communication with God come only in short sighs of desperation? Ever considered that there is a very clear link?

There is a sense of peace that comes when we lean on God in our busyness and in our stress. Are you working hard? Is it for God? That’s great! But here’s the question, is it really for Him? Are you letting Him be in control, or are you calling the shots and making His plans for Him?

If He’s not the one in control, if He’s not the one building the house, then your work is pointless, you’re wasting your time, just as Solomon reminds us in his psalm. When this happens instead of experiencing all that God has for you, you are unnecessarily exhausting yourself, like a builders labourer who ignores the plans, digs hard all day but at the end of it has achieved nothing but a big whole…

We have a God who is the best architect, able to build the most amazing creations out of nothing, He laid His life down to give us  a perfect foundation and when He builds, the gates of hell will not prevail against it Matthew 16:18. So step back… take a breath… ask Him again to slow you down, refocus you on His perfect plan and work alongside Him in it.

As a Church, it  serves us well too, to remember that in our seeking for land and a building we must never step out of His plan, never drag behind Him and Never rush ahead – It is a scriptural truth that be it physically or spiritually “unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.”

So today as you take time with the Lord, seek Him on this aspect of our life as a church, ask Him to build us up and thank Him that in all things He will provide and protect His people.

 

Children’s Prayer Activity

Day 6

Look in the mirror today and thank God for all the  things He helps you with and give Him a smile 🙂 in the mirror as you thank Him for making you such a special person.

What next? Remember to talk and listen to God every day, as He loves to get to know you better. You could learn this short bible verse about prayer

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT

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Doing everything to spread the Good News – Week of Prayer Day 5; 2018

I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:23

Well, so said Paul and without a hint of ego, it was just a statement of fact.

So often today we might read something like this in scripture and think – wow, that was an amazing character, he must have had a special blessing from God to live like that, but of course, if we stop and think it through even for a second, this is exactly what Jesus calls each of us to do in our Christian lives – to be blessed as we live lives that do everything to spread the Good News. But here’s the “exam question:” Do we do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessing?

Imagine you knew that one of your friends were about to make a dreadful mistake, and from the outside you have the perspective needed to see what is at stake but they have no clue?

Say your friend told you he had started an affair, or your daughter or granddaughter had started to regularly turn up drunk, or your son was spotted hanging around with known drug dealers? What would you do in those circumstances? To what lengths would you go to in order to make these people you care for, see the awful errors of judgement, and the likely outcomes?

I’m guessing most of us would do everything possible, but What if those people were on (to use Chris Rea’s phrase) the road to hell?

For most of us it will be easy to go all out to save someone from their worldly bad choices. For most of us it is not quite as easy to go all out to save someone from choosing the clearly dangerous road to hell.

If you have a hard time motivating yourself to share Jesus, borrow some enthusiasm from Paul. It couldn’t be more important for people to find out about forgiveness. Without Jesus’ forgiveness a very real, very hot, eternity is on the horizon.

Paul would do everything possible to get people to listen to the story he had to share, the story of God’s love for his fallen creation. For Paul, sharing the gospel was the most important thing, and it should be for us too. This is why we are here. God wants to use us, of all people, to show his love to the world.

It all starts and ends with Jesus. Like Paul we were once lost. Like Paul we were joined to God’s heavenly family by the love of Jesus. Like Paul we are compelled by Jesus to do everything possible to share Jesus until he calls us home or comes to collect us.

So today, let us give thanks that we have been saved, and ask the Lord to fill us with His undeserved love so that our lives will overflow with His love to the world around us, and let us by every possible means share His gospel every day.

Children’s Prayer Activity

Day 2

Print and colour in this picture to make it look like you, and as you’re colouring think and pray about your friends who don’t know Jesus!

 

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Follow The Leader – Week of Prayer Day 3; 2018

“But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness.”

Psalm 78:52

Have you ever noticed, that the people of Israel often remembered what they should have forgotten and forgot what they should have remembered…

Here the psalmist is reminding Israel that they are chosen by God, that they were rescued by God in the most incredible way, that God set his own mark upon His flock, by the blood of the Lamb sprinkled on their door-posts; and He led them through their enemies streets, across enemy territory, through the sea which separated before them, and on into a new land, again protecting them though they grumbled. But, as we know through scripture, the people rebelled against God…. Time after time they wanted to be their own shepherd and time after time the enemy attacked until they cried out again to the one and only Good Shepherd.

We might read through the Old Testament and think why ever didn’t they learn to trust God; we might do that, but then we might also compare the ancient Israelites to ourselves…

Christian people are God’s chosen ones too, not replacing Israel, but grafted into that great vine of Israel, and as people living after Christ, with the whole revelation of God in His bible and the blessing of Him dwelling in us as His temples filled by His Spirit, we might do well to remember as the Psalmist reminds us that we too were rescued by God in the most incredible way. God set his own mark upon His flock, by the blood of the Lamb, and He leads us through enemy territory, and will lead us into that New Heaven and New Earth, again protecting us all the way.

So Christian, today, might you find yourself grumbling, wanting to know the way, but unwilling to follow the one who loves to lead you? Might we find the enemy territory we’re wandering through just a bit hard going? Might we seek for ourselves a cross to carry that is easier and more convenient, might we look for our own paths to follow father than take the narrow path with Him?

Today why not use this verse to remind you what an amazing shepherd we have, and seek His leading, His will for your life and the life of your church. Then be radical, be really radical! Obey Him, continue to listen and stay close to your Lord step by step.

 

Children’s Prayer Activity

Day 3

Sometimes we can get things wrong, can’t we? Maybe we make bad choices instead of good choices?

If you have something to say sorry to Jesus for today, why not have a quiet time just like Snoopy and ask Jesus to help us say sorry and make better choices next time?

 

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He is Jealous! Week of Prayer Day 2; 2018

You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. Exodus 34:14

Today when we read of God describing Himself as jealous, we can get confused by the modern understating of Jealous; for us Jealous is a negative unpleasant thing, and so we marvel at how God who is love can also be jealous.

As in all illustrations man may use to describe God, the one I’m about to share will fall short, but I hope it will help a little in grasping what it means that our perfect God of love and justice is also Jealous.

Let’s say you come home one day to find a stranger in your kitchen chatting to your 14 year old daughter. He says they’ve been talking online and they’re madly in love. He looks the wrong end of his 50’s. He goes on to say that they have decided to go to a country where girls her age can marry without annoying things like consent of parents getting in the way.

Now assuming that before you throw him either out, or against the nearest wall, assuming you could control yourself long enough to weigh up what you’re feeling… what you’d find is that you have become jealous for your daughter – jealous for her safety and happiness which rightfully belong to her and jealous for the affection that rightfully belongs to you. And you’d act quickly, and with God’s grace, within the law, to get that pervert out of your daughter’s life, and you would do all you could to reteach her, and care for her, to nurture her and help her understand what good and proper loving relationships are.

When God is jealous, He is jealous like that – He is jealous for his people, for their affection which is rightly His and for their safety, welfare and growth, which is rightly theirs.

Isn’t that just the most humbling thing – God, the only true God, the creator of all things is so in love with you that He will jealously watch over you to keep you from getting hooked up with anything at all that will harm you.

As you pray your way through the day keep that picture of pure jealous love in your mind and let it lead you in your worship of God, as you seek to walk in His way, with the knowledge of His jealous love guarding you.

Children’s Prayer Activity

Day 2

Let’s thank God for all He has made –which is your favourite day of creation?

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On A Mission! Week of Prayer Day 1; 2018

“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

                                                         Acts 1:8

Christian people ARE filled by The Holy Spirit of God; we are filled for many different purposes, and to fulfil many different needs.

Some of those needs will be personal, in that we have our needs met and our lives changed, bit by bit, as He works in our lives to sanctify us (that is to make us more and more like Christ). But here we also see that as He comes to live in our hearts we will, as a matter of course, become His witnesses; we will become people who have His grace, compassion, wisdom, and power to share that Gospel truth. Yes, to share that truth where we are and wherever He will lead us, even to “the ends of the earth”!

Today then, let us welcome afresh the truth of these words and the impact of them on our lives, and let us give ourselves over to His filling, and as we do so recommit ourselves where we are, and also recommit ourselves in prayer for others where they are, be it in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or to the ends of the earth…

Children’s Prayer Activity

Day 1

Today use a ball inside or outside. Each time you catch or kick it remember that without the air inside it wouldn’t work well, and that unless we have God in our hearts we don’t work well either!

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A Miraculous Study

Some questions based on Mark 6:33-52; if you missed the sermon you can hear it here: I Believe in Miracles

  1. Discuss our reactions to living the Christian life and being called to give of our time and energy when we’re feeling we’d like to rest or at least slow down a bit.
  2. What is the purpose of miracles?
  3. Do miracles still happen?
  4. Talk thorough the two miracles, what were the lessons for the disciples and what might we take away from them and apply to our lives?
  5. Spend some time talking about Jesus’ example to us in prayer and what we can learn from Him.

 

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A Study on Mark 6:14-32

This study is based on the sermon The Death of A Conscience.

  1. Mark 6: 14-16 Discuss who the people were thinking Jesus was; what was the reason for each and why were they wrong?
  2. Mark 6:17-29 Talk through this glimpse of Herod’s life – at each twist and turn discuss the positives and negatives and look at how we might learn from this account.
  3. What is a conscience?
  4. How might our consciences become dull, damaged, and dead?
  5. Which ways can we keep our consciences in ‘tip-top’ condition?
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Mark 5:21-43 – A Bible Study

This study is based on Mark 5:21-43 and Misha’s sermon: Reach out and touch

  1. What does Jairus attitude tell us about him, and what can we learn and apply to our lives v 22-23?
  2. Try to put yourselves in the place of the woman with the illness, how would you have felt approaching Jesus?
  3. In what every day situations might we have to put our faith and trust in the Lord?
  4. How does Jesus react when He arrives at the house of Jairus in contrast to the gathering who were there?
  5. We don’t hear of Jairus and this lady again in scripture but how do you think the rest of their lives were impacted by this event?
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A Study of Storms…

This study is based on Mark 4:35-41 and the sermon The Teacher Tests Us

  1. What is the setting of this passage, i.e. what has been going on during the day before we get to the ‘that evening’ in our passage?
  2.  Did Jesus know that there would be a storm? If so, why did He tell His disciples to sail into it?
  3. How do we know whether our circumstances are as a result of, spiritual attack,  our own disobedience or our obedience?
  4. Why does Jesus test us, and what should we expect to learn through that testing?
  5. take a look at our verses of the year and compare them to this passage. How might our following the encouragements of those verses enable us to support one another and be supported in the storms that come our way?
  6. Spend some time lifting up the work and life of God’s Church at New Connexions in prayer.
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