To Those Who Will Pray –
Jesus once said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) When he said it, he wasn’t being prophetic; but rather he was being honest. He was simply speaking the truth. In fact, in another part of the conversation, he told them that the world would hate them because of their association with him.
Now, I’m not sure what they thought or felt at that moment, but I do know this. They ultimately had peace, and here’s how I know that. It’s because of what Jesus said right after declaring that they would have trouble. He said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In that moment he did what he has done countless times throughout the ages, he gave Himself as the solution to the problem…the answer to the question. He simply offered the reality of who He was, is and is to come; and that right there…in and of itself…is all we need no matter what we face.
In light of the vast trouble in this world, there are a number of ways we could pray in this next season; but I want to invite you to pray in two ways:
- For the persecuted Church around the world
- Our church right here in the QCA
I’ve provided some ways for us to do that together below.
Keep pressing on.
The Church around the world:
:: On Sunday, February 15, ISIS-affiliated terrorists beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped in Libya. The terror group videotaped the beheadings. Pray for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East, as well as pray for the international community and their response – particularly during Sunday services, February 22.
:: Here are 5 ways to pray from Ephesians:
- Please pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:8).
- Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Ephesians 3:16).
- Please pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Ephesians 3:17)
- Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
- Please pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).
:: How to Pray for Practical Needs
- Please pray persecuted believers would have access to a Bible.
- Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
- Please pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian “family” who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
- Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
- Please pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live.
Our church right here in the QCA
:: This is a busy and important season in the life of our church. We are advancing in our projects related to the Ericsson School building, operationalizing our strategic plan and preparing to launch a new church year…all as we continue to lead the church family to live loved, linked and SENT. It is a time where the Lord must show up, go before us and grant us favor. Please continue to pray that He will continue to do each of those things.
:: Pray for those who made life-changing decisions during our Renovate Series. This was an impactful series for many people. Pray that they would continue to invite God to renovate their lives.
:: Pray that the Heritage Church family will increasingly live linked through the winter Journey Groups, and that through those investments we will be a community that continues to multiplying disciples and leaders.
:: Pray the Lord will lead many people to a salvation experience through new life in Jesus. Pray for spiritual protection and for mature believers to come alongside and disciple them as they lean into that commitment.
:: Pray that the Lord, Jehovah-Nissi [“Our Banner”] will continue to go before us in the Ericsson School Building initiatives and in the preparations for our “Just 1” church celebration at the iWireless Center on April 26. Pray that he would grant us continued favor in every area, resources in all logistics and impact that brings Him glory.
:: Pray by name for the person/people God wants you to invite to connect with Him as we move towards Easter in our Heroes Series. Pray that God would draw many people into relationship with Him as we celebrate the most important event in human history…the resurrection our Lord.
:: Pray for the people who will come to a Heritage location during this season as we approach the Easter season. Pray they would encounter Jesus in new ways and go from ordinary to extraordinary by HIS power.
In 2012, Edvard Munch’s 1895 painting The Scream sold for a record $120 million.
Well…it was actually $119.9 million; but apparently when you’re working with numbers that large, it is acceptable to round to the nearest million. 😉
The Scream depicts human anxiety, and is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It was supposed to sell for $80 million, and the previous record for the most-expensive work of art sold at auction had been $106.5 million.
I imagine The Scream’s previous owner rested well the day after that sale with a cup of coffee and a sense of unparalleled satisfaction as the world debated the pros, cons and realities of such a sale.
For some, this raises an issue of opulence and the overly wealthy giving value to things that don’t inherently merit it. For others, the bigger problem is the myriad of more important ways to spend $120 million; and then there’s the rebuttal about the increasing privatization of beautiful works of art. Each has some validity.
However, this unequaled and seemingly ridiculous sale prompts me to consider: value.
See…the value of any given item is determined by what someone is willing to pay. Plain and simple…a painting, a car, a home or a gadget is worth: what someone is willing to pay. The quantified value of something is whatever amount the appetite of the purchaser can summon to exchange for that item. Right or wrong…value is determined by the buyer.
As I reflect on what I would do if I had $120 million, I quickly find myself grateful that God saw value in us. So much so that He bought you & me for an absurd price: the priceless life of His Son.
Now that’s a seemingly ridiculous purchase we should really be talking about.
Anyway…here’s a question to consider: What do you value?
What are you willing to exchange at a great price?
Your answer can be driven by a need, a desire or even a cause; but what we value actually reveals something about us. It reveals our heart. What we do with our valuables or money…especially the larger sums reveal what we love.
Jesus once spoke about this. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:21] It is pretty simple, but profoundly true.
What we value is where we find our heart. It reveals what we love.
The Norwegian man who now owns The Scream obviously loves art….or Edvard Munch…or something close to that. What do you love? Not…what do you say you love, but what is it that you really love?
Does what you value reflect the heart of God?
Find your treasure…find your heart.
We’ll dig into some of these realities a bit more as we gather as a church this weekend. See you there.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27
Happy New Year! It is 2015, and we are all poised to experience a new year with new opportunities and challenges…successes and failures.
There’s something invigorating about the start of a new year. Each January 1st feels like a fresh start…a new beginning; and its in these moments that we make resolutions.
Sometimes these resolutions are to break an addiction, improve fitness, end a habit or start another. Whatever the specific resolution, we’re typically seeking to be better, healthier, more disciplined and more successful version of ourselves.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with New Years resolutions. They’re goals, and goals are good. They have the potential to help us accomplish things we deem a priority; but for those who make resolutions, the vast majority fail to keep them.
Here are some very interesting statistics released by the Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, a few years back:
:: 62% of people make New Years resolutions
:: 8% are successful
:: 19% achieve resolutions every other year on average
:: 24% never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year!
There are lots of reasons why some succeed and others fail. The goal may be too big. The planning may be lacking, which reminds me of the old saying: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
That’s true, and I’ll add making a decision based on a date alone or submitting to a date as the means to a better you is a plan to fail. In fact, believing that combining a certain date with willpower will yield different results is simply a recipe for failure.
Real change…real improvement is always only found in Jesus. He is the one that transforms. He is the one who sets free. He is the one who positions us to leave the past behind us to step into a future where we are new creations. [ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17]
To break an addiction, to change behavior or to ultimately become a better version of ourselves requires the power of Christ at work in us…not willpower built on a new year.
A New Year resolutions plan that can position anyone for success starts and ends with submitting to God and not a calendar date.
Dwight L. Moody once said, “If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!”
He was right!
That being said, I encourage you to take a few moments right now to pray. Seek the face of the only one who can transform you into all you can be in 2015.
Know that I’ll be praying for you as you do.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
In 1914, the celebration of Jesus’ birth brought a literal peace to war during World War I in one region of Belgium.
The cease-fire now known as the “Christmas truce” began on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches for Christmas. They started by placing candles on trees, and then continued by singing Christmas carols. Silent Night was one particularly significant song.
When the British troops in the trenches across from them heard them, they responded with singing, too. The two sides continued singing and then shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon, there were calls for visits across the killing fields. These warriors then met in “No Man’s Land”, which was the area between the trenches, to exchange small gifts like chocolate and jam. 
So the birth of the Prince of Peace once again brought peace as the soldiers met and exchanged presents.
This weekend as part of Christmas celebration will will dig into how the presence of God brings peace!
Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us,” and he is the Prince of Peace. He brings peace. He commands peace. He offers peace. He provides it to those who will receive it. [ref. John 14:27]
Is there an area of your life in conflict this Christmas?
Do you need to experience the peace of Christ?
Maybe you need to call a truce with someone in your family or workplace; or perhaps you need to call a truce with God and quit wrestling with Him.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, brings peace into any and every situation. His presence changes everything: in war, in families, and even in our private lives.
Christmas makes true peace possible. No matter what we are facing or dealing with, Emmanuel allows us to know His Peace.
Having His peace does not mean there is no conflict, trouble or difficulty. No. The peace of God means we are at peace in our hearts and minds in the midst of those things.
We may desire peace; but even when we work at it, doubt, uncertainty, fear, worry, anxiety…even sin…can creep in and create conflict with in us. True peace is found only in a relationship with Jesus.
If your life is marked by stress, worry, conflict, fear or a lack of peace in any area, ask Jesus to fill you with His peace. His peace is a gift and it passes understanding. [ref. Philippians 4:7]
 Information obtained and adapted from Wikipedia.
So invite a friend and we’ll see you there.
Once the holiday season starts there is an inherent busyness and rituals of preparation that we begin to engage with. Some of these are comforting and remind us of wonderful memories, favorite people, and special experiences. Our expectations often run highest at Christmas as we look toward December 25th!
The reality is though that some of our focus during the holidays can leave us empty, tired, and wondering if there might be more. Before Christmas arrives this year, we invite you to look for new ways to prepare your heart, family, and home to experience the Hope that the Christ of CHRISTmas brings.
24: Purity [Candlelight Service]
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
This Thanksgiving, I am keenly aware that our God works and moves at levels and times that I cannot even begin to comprehend. The fact that He was and is and is to come blows my mind! He moves in the realms of yesterday and tomorrow. Paul wrote, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:17]
That is incredible!
Thanksgiving provides an occasion to recognize and thank our God who functions like that. He works and moves in ways that position people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes and bring Himself glory.
God is always working beyond our knowledge and understanding.
Just consider the circumstances surrounding the pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving Day. Although there is some debate about this, there is an incredibly cool story about how God used one young man’s journey to make a huge difference. It is the story of a Native American named Tisquantum of the Patuxet tribe. His story involves being kidnapped in 1608 and sold into slavery in Spain. However, by God’s providence, he was sold to monks who not only provide instruction about language, faith and God; but they also provide him with freedom. Eventually, Tisquantum is able to travel back to his home after ten years only to find his people are all gone. A terrible sickness killed them all.
Tisquantum was the only one left from his tribe, but the story does not end in the despair. Ultimately, Tisquantum, more commonly known as Squanto, would befriend Englishmen, called pilgrims. He would help them learn to live in their new land; and when the first autumn came, they held a feast to thank God and celebrate his merciful blessings.
That, my friends, is a story of a God who works and moves in extraordinary ways. More details are recorded in a book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxas; and our family has taken time to read this story as part of our Thanksgiving day celebration. The final lines of the book capture the impact of God’s higher ways:
Hallelujah! Who but the Glorious God of Heaven could so miraculously weave together the wandering lives of a lonely Patuxet brave and a struggling band of English Pilgrims in such a way that would bless the whole world for centuries to come?
Here’s the thing. If you follow Jesus Christ, you will be led into situations this Thanksgiving where he wants to work through you. Make the most of those opportunities. Love well. Forgive much. Live with hearts filled with joy & praise.
If you have not yet given your life to Jesus, today could be the day. God will bring opportunities before you this week where you can choose to be reconciled to Him through Jesus. Do it!
Stop striving in vain.
Start a relationship with Jesus. If you are ready to take that step, you can even do that right now by taking the following steps.
- Admit that you, like everyone else, are a sinner.
- Ask for forgiveness from God.
- Start a relationship with God by trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
You can do that right now by simply talking to God in a prayer like this:
Dear Lord Jesus: I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I give all I am to all of you. In your name I pray, amen.
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
To Those Who Will Pray –
Did you know that the entire Gospel of John is summarized in one verse?
After writing 20 chapters, John succinctly records the ultimate purpose in preparing this book. It is in verse 31 of chapter 20, which says he wrote so that you and I “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
He wrote so others may have life in Jesus, and that is the same reason we ought to pray. It should be the greatest reason we are praying.
E. M. Bounds once wrote, “Prayer is God’s settled and singular condition to move ahead His Son’s Kingdom.” If that is true…and I believe it is…then prayer must become our utmost focus.
It must be the thing we did yesterday, the thing we do today and the thing we do tomorrow. All other activities must take their proper place behind this most prominent calling.
As you approach the throne of God this month, go with confidence and determination so that all “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [they] may have life in His name.”
Keep pressing on,
What strikes me is that, in just one chapter [ref. John 18], Peter moves from aggressive defender to cowardly betrayer. It is also in this chapter that Peter begins a process of learning in three’s. He betrays Jesus 3 times here. In a few chapters, he will affirm his love for Jesus 3 times, and he will learn of God’s plan to take the Gospel to the Gentiles through yet another set of 3. [Acts 10]
It seems like Peter needed to hear things 3 times before he learned what God wanted him to know. I wonder if his name Peter, aka Cephas, which means “rock”, had any connection to his learning style.
If so, we all probably need to be named after rocks, too. Just kidding. Although. I, for one, feel like I am on something more like a “3 dozen plan.” 😉
Actually, I wonder something else, too. How many times does God have to say, show or teach you something for you to listen?
Yet, in verse 37, Jesus says, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Do you listen to God the first time? Take time today to pray and ask God to help you listen to Him the first time.
Lord Jesus – In 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, You say that Your eyes and ears will be attentive to what we say when we humble ourselves, turn from wickedness and pray. I continue to ask You to do that, but I also ask that You would allow our eyes and ears to be attentive to You. May we hear You clearly as we continue to chase hard after You. Help us listen to You the first time. Amen.
When the last lifeboats were launched from the Dorchester, the chaplains prayed with the soldiers who couldn’t escape the sinking ship.
27 minutes after the torpedo struck the Dorchester, it disappeared below the waves with 672 men still aboard. The last anyone saw of the chaplains, they were standing on the deck, arms linked and praying together.
One survivor recalled what he saw from the water: “The last thing I saw, the four chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”
Of the 940 men aboard the Dorchester, only 230 survived. Many of those who did, and specifically four owed their lives to the clergymen who were found to be adequate for the task.
The dictionary defines adequate as: as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit. Synonym: sufficient.
Did God make Clark adequate? Sufficient?
Absolutely! Chaplain Poling was adequate because God made him so. Poling selflessly gave so another could live.
The Apostle Paul wrote about sufficiency. He said, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” [Philippians 1:20]
What would it look like for you to be more sufficient?
What about us as a church?
We don’t have to be at war on sinking ship to experience that kind of adequacy, but we do need to have as Paul said “sufficient courage”…to live well in every circumstance so that Christ is exalted in our bodies…by life or death.
What is adequate…fully sufficient…in your life? What isn’t?
Take a few moments right now and talk to God about what areas of your life are adequate and which are not.
Then ask him to make your life adequate instead of safe.
But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9
[Source of pictures & facts: Wikipedia]
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
What do you think of when you hear the word…adequate?
We often think of things like the minimum necessary, half-baked, second-rate, C-/D+ work, etc. It’s a common perspective that many hold, and it reminds me of a statement I frequently heard in the military: “It’s good enough for government work.”
Adequate often makes us think of mediocre, but I have found there’s a different kind of adequate for those who follow Christ.
Have you ever heard of Clark Poling? [Pictured above]
He was a minister in the Reformed Church in America and a lieutenant in the United States Army. He served as a chaplain for U.S. soldiers; and prior to being deployed overseas, he wrote these words in a letter to his father:
“I know I shall have your prayers, but please don’t pray simply that God will keep me safe. War is dangerous business. Pray that God will make me adequate!”
It is an interesting request and word choice…pray that God will make me adequate.
We may think he’s asking for the wrong thing; but if we understand the word and the commands of Christ, it makes complete sense…especially when we know what happened in February of 1943. Check it out.
When Clark wrote to his father, he was preparing to deploy to the battlefields of World War II. While aboard the transport ship the Dorchester, Clark became friends with three other chaplains; and the four lieutenants developed great friendship and effective ministry aboard the ship.
However, on February 3, 1943, a German submarine [U-223], spotted the naval convoy in transit and closed on the ships. Shortly after midnight, it fired a torpedo, which struck the Dorchester; and it quickly started to sink. Hundreds of soldiers scrambled to get to lifejackets and lifeboats. Several of the lifeboats had been damaged in the attack, but even with life jackets, the chances of survival were slim to none in the frigid water.
Clark and the other chaplains began to organize frightened soldiers. They distributed lifejackets from a locker; and when the supply ran out…
…Clark and the other chaplains gave their lifejackets away to other soldiers.
Was that being adequate?
Check back later this week for the rest of the story.