Twenty Days of Prayer #4

Our church is engaging in twenty days of prayer for 2020. I invite any readers to join with us.

A Prayer for Those with Unspoken Struggles

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9 NIV

Lord who art Love, we stand in awe of the depth and beauty of Your love. Throughout the Bible, we find Your love expressed countless times: creating woman for man; sparing Noah and his family; embracing David as a man after your own heart; and your forgiveness of the Israelites over and over and over again. However, Your quintessential love was in sacrificing Your son in payment for our sins. We cannot comprehend so great a love. We pray that we try to love as we are loved.

Lord of Grace, would that there was nothing for which we need to be forgiven, but we fall again and again. We give thanks that your forgiveness is “absolute, total, and complete.” We are humbled by your graciousness and compassionate patience. “You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…” Our ways are not your ways, but we aspire for them to be. At best, we are perfectly imperfect within the constraints of our humanity. We are unable to sin not, but help us to sin less.

Lord of Peace, we worry about the morrow, grieve the loss of loved ones, hurt when our loved ones hurt, agonize with our trials and tribulations, and struggle with forgiving ourselves for the sins which you have already forgiven. We implore that You and Your Son grant us peace which passes all understanding.
In and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Amen
Prayer by David Burkett

David I. Burkett, Esq. is a Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. David has over 40 years of experience to assist you with all of your estate planning and probate needs. You can find him on Facebook.

Twenty Days of Prayer #3

Our church is engaging in twenty days of prayer for 2020. I invite any readers to join with us.

A Prayer For Our Church to Grow

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 

Ephesians 3:20-21

Dear Jesus who seeks and saves the Lost, we are so thankful that you sought and saved your church. Each one of us can only say that we give you all credit and glory for our salvation. Thank you for the church, the assembly of the saved, and the sacrifice made that brought salvation to all who believe.

Lord we live in a dark world. So many do not even know that they have a need for salvation. We pray that you would give us bright lights to shine into the culture around us. Help us to reach out with the gospel and share the good news of salvation with all. We pray, Father, that you would draw the lost to you. We pray, Holy Spirit, that you would convict sinners and bring them close. 

And we pray, God, that we would be the kind of church that would offer warm welcomes and sweet friendship to those who come to you. Help us to be faithful to you, Father. We pray for our church to grow through the saving of souls. We pray for our church to be a welcoming place to all Christians who seek a family of believers to whom to belong. May you be glorified in the church universal and in our church local. Amen.

Prayer by John Dobbs

John Dobbs is the minister for the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, LA. He can be found oversharing on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@bigpoppa1130).

Twenty Days of Prayer #2

Our church is engaging in twenty days of prayer for 2020. I invite any readers to join with us.

A Prayer for Love for the Neglected/Overlooked

My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.  They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Ezekiel 34:6 NIV 

Lord, please make us shepherds of your flocks. Convict us to take Ezekiel 34 to heart.  “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves” should haunt me daily. Help me strengthen the weak; heal the sick; bind up the injured. Have us bring back those who have strayed and search for the lost. Let me not rely on my own strength, wisdom, or wealth, but keep my eyes focused on you, the giver of all that I am.  

Let us touch those who need with your hands, not our own. The widow, the orphan, the poor, the sick, the hungry, the disenfranchised, and those with no voice are our responsibility as full sons of God. We don’t get to decide who we help. We must not assign worth to people, but accept one another as you have accepted us.  

We are all unworthy made worthy by your son’s blood.  Let us give fully of our bounty as we are given. Unto all things, make us servants of you, Lord.  

Maranatha!  

Prayer by Jayme Stokes

Jayme Stokes is the High School Principal at Ouachita Christian School. She is one of the writers at the Sheltered By Grace blog. You can find her on Facebook where she frequently posts on important subjects such as education, raising the next generation, and humor. Oh, and pictures of a large crew of beautiful grandchildren.

Twenty Days of Prayer #1

Our church is engaging in twenty days of prayer for 2020. I invite any readers to join with us. This is the first of twenty.

A Prayer For A Spirit of Prayerfulness to Continue Throughout 2020

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Adoption. By Him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.”

Romans 8:15, NIV

Father in Heaven, we’re asking for your help and guidance. We desperately want to be closer to you this coming year. We ask that you strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being so that Christ Himself may live in our hearts through faith.

We know your Spirit calls us to prayer. Because He is in us, we cry, “Abba, Father.” Since that is true, we won’t rely on ourselves as we draw closer to you this year, but we’ll rely on you to help us. Draw us nearer and nearer. Fill us with your Presence. Keep us hungry for our prayer time spent with the One who loves us most.

Lead us by your Spirit this year so that the idolatry of distraction fades and the beauty of your face shines brighter and brighter as we joyfully persist in prayer. 

We believe this increasing nearness to you is your will for us. We believe it because you sent Jesus to show the world that you love us as much as you have loved Him (John 17:12).

Thank you, Father, in the Name of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Prayer by Keith Roberts.

Keith Roberts is the minister for the Calhoun, La Church of Christ. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. You can hear his sermons on their podcast. And you should buy his book, Why God Waits for Us to Pray.


Jesus Amazing Teacher

Introduction

The one thing we can never do with Jesus is be bored by Him. We can reject Him, we can receive Him, we can love or hate him, but he can never be boring. We notice in Mark that people are often Astounded or Amazed by Jesus – and we should be as well.

Jesus is AMAZING! From the beginning of his ministry he was known as an amazing teacher.

They went into Capernaum, and right away he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. 22 They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.

Mark 1:21-22, CSB

As we step into a new year, I want us to step into a renewed perspective of Jesus and our love for Him. The rest of the chapter gives us settings in which we can see Jesus as an amazing teacher.

Jesus Had An Amazing Identity

Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him. They were all amazed, and so they began to ask each other: “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once the news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.

Mark 1:23-28, CSB

The demons who operate in a spiritual world knew who Jesus was – the Holy One of God! Jesus: Be quiet – lit. be muzzled, gagged. The demon came out because the One with authority commanded him to do so. 2nd time the text tells us that they were all amazed!

Jesus: Holy One of God who teaches with authority. Disciples of Jesus Christ are people who have placed their lives under the authority of Jesus. Troubles often come when we resist his authority. What does it mean to give Jesus Authority in our life? “Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship.” -Elisabeth Elliot

Jesus Had Amazing Ability

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. So he went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Mark 1:29-31, CSB

He was compassionate toward those who were ill. The Healing of Simon Peter’s mother in law: the power of Jesus over sickness and disease. This was not just to exemplify his ability but also his spirit – his compassion toward those who suffer.

What do we notice about Jesus here?
-He healed in spite of being tired. (evening )
-He healed in spite of the whole city gathered
-He healed in spite of knowing that they were only there for healing, not HIM.
-He healed without making any demands of faith
-He healed with no fanfare, not seeking to publicize himself yet.

I do not know anyone who has the healing touch of Jesus, but I know the One who still has that healing touch. Jesus still heals, though I do not know or understand . We can also be agents of healing in our world. Healing words – seeking reconciliation, offering comfort, urging enthusiasm. Healing actions – helping, he did not hold back. Healing teaching – sharing the gospel, and bearing the light of Christ to others. Healing attitudes – humble service, offering true friendship and acceptance, love.

Jesus Had Amazing Tenacity

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying. Simon and his companions searched for him, and when they found him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.”

Mark 1:35-39, CSB

Jesus was a prayerful person. He prayed in the morning – before daylight. He prayed in his tiredness – how long before he had healed the city…yet he got up early. He prayed in solitude – spending time alone with God. The mission of Jesus was fueled by prayer – time with His father.

Our mission is fueled by prayer as well. If Jesus needed to spend time in prayer, how much more should we? Never let a question or trouble keep you from prayer. I hope you pray daily – but also the 20 Days of Prayer

Jesus Had Amazing Capacity

He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees,[d] begged him: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion,[e] Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

Mark 1:40-42, CSB

He was able to serve those others rejected. Luke adds that this leper was ‘covered with leprosy’. Hanson’s Disease produces disfigurement because it acts as an anesthetic, numbness to the extremities as well as the ears, eyes, and nose. In 3rd world countries vermin sometimes chew on sleeping lepers. Dr. Paul Brand calls this disease a “painless hell.”

This leper was a castaway – Unable to function in society / temple / friendship. He had Confidence that Jesus could heal him, but he did not know if Jesus was willing to heal him. Jesus was able to love when others wouldn’t

Josephus says that lepers were to be treated as if they were dead men. He touched the leper – unheard of in his time. There are at least 8 touches in Mark’s gospel. Philip Yancey: Dr. Paul Brand devoted his life to treating leprosy patients in India. In one examination Brand laid his hand on the patient’s shoulder and informed him through a translator of the treatment that lay ahead. To his surprise the man began to shake with muffled sobs. “Have I said something wrong?” Brand asked the translator. She quizzed the patient and reported, “No, doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until he came here no one had touched him for many years.” Jesus had great capacity for loving others.

Conclusion

The one thing we can never do with Jesus is be bored by Him. We can reject Him, we can receive Him, we can love or hate him, but he can never be boring. Jesus was an amazing teacher – because of his identity, his ability, his tenacity, and his capacity for loving others. Jesus said to the leper: “I am willing” – sweet sound. Jesus is willing to save us today … and to heal us … to help us … to give us hope.


LifeGroup Questions

  1. In this text Jesus heals the many townspeople who come to him with all kinds of diseases and problems. We depend on medical professionals to provide care for us today. Can you name a doctor or medical professional who was most memorable in your life and why?
  2. The healing power of Jesus has a central place in this chapter. What does the healing power of Jesus tell you about Him? If Jesus still heals today, why does He not heal everyone – even people for whom we are praying? Can you name some people in Scripture who were godly people who were not healed? In what way does faith require us to accept we do not have all the answers about healing?
  3. The early morning prayer habit of Jesus is well known. Why do you think Jesus needed to pray? What prayer habits have you experienced that have been a blessing? Why is it hard to develop prayer habits?
  4. In what ways do you think Jesus identified with the outcast leper? How important is it for us to try to identify with the hurting people in our world? There are a lot of hurts … what hurt moves you the most? (Ideas: hunger,
    homelessness, orphans, addiction, mental illness, etc.)
  5. Mark 1:28 says “And immediately His fame spread through-out all the region around Galilee.” Chris Tomlin sings a song named ‘Famous One’ (http://youtu.be/yujTyMTnbYA). What are some ways Christians make Jesus ‘famous’? Brain-storm some ways we can make Jesus ‘famous’ in our city?
  6. What else did you see here that you wanted to talk about today?

Responsive Reading : Psalm 103:1-5

L: Let my whole being bless the Lord!

C: Let everything inside me bless his holy name!

L: Let my whole being bless the Lord!

C: Never forget all his good deeds!

L: God forgives all your sins, heals all your sickness, and God saves your life from the pit.

C: He crowns you with faithful love and compassion.

L: God satisfies you with plenty of good things

C: so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s.

ALL: AMEN!