Thursday, June 29, 2017


Being "old school" the way that seems to work best for me at present is to keep track of things I pray for is on index cards, such as the one in the picture.  One of the things I do after church on Sunday afternoons is to update the cards I will use for the next week.  One of the cards will have the names of the people who came forward to prayed over for healing.  Another one will have the names of the people for whom prayer was asked for during worship.

The card for healing prayer is the hardest, in that I have to remember who came forward that day.  Occasionally I have to ask Robin, telling her that I counted ten people but can only recall nine names, and see if she can help me recall that last person.  The other card is easier, because I wrote all those names down as the requests were made, so my index card is done by copying the names from one place as I write them down from another list.  

This past Sunday there were ten people who came forward to be prayed over for healing.  There were also 29 names given to me of people to pray for during our congregational prayer.  With the cards I can more easily keep these people in prayer during the week.

Names.  Names are usually the only thing I have as I pray.  Occasionally people ask for prayer for this person and that concern, but usually they only give the name.  As far as healing goes, again, I occasionally know something more specific, but most often all I know is that some person feels the need to be healed of something and they ask me to lift them up in prayer.

Are the names enough?  I believe so.  Absolutely, I believe so.  Psalm 139:16 says,

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

We pray to a mighty and powerful God.  There is nothing about us he doesn’t know.  There is no situation in our lives he doesn’t have power over.  We may not be able to understand why he allows certain situations and circumstances to come into our lives, but we need not doubt that he cares for his children and that when the timing is right, from his vantage point in the story of our lives, he will answer our prayers.

The names I pray for vary from week to week, but the God I lift them to does not change in any way whatsoever.  If a name is all I have to lift to God, I can lift it with confidence and faith, knowing that the name itself is more than enough.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Have you ever found yourself taking a moment to consider your life at present and then looked back at an earlier time and wished that perhaps you were there in the past, rather than here, in the present?  I know that I have, as recently as yesterday morning.  I know that I do this kind of looking back more days than not.
There is almost always a trigger.  There is something that is giving me difficulty today, or is perhaps disappointing in some way.  I look back and see a different set of circumstances, when something that is hard to do now was effortless then.  I see a relationship that is challenging now was nothing but joy then. 

In a sermon titled, "The Young Man's Prayer," Charles Spurgeon said, "We look back upon our younger days and think that they were far happier than our present state.  We sometimes fancy that we used to be satisfied then, but I believe that our thoughts imagine a great falsehood."

Ouch!  There is a lot of truth that touches me in those words.  The satisfaction that we recall from the past, that we may find ourselves longing for in the present, was likely not as satisfying as we remember it.

This coming Sunday I am preaching from Philippians 2:9-11, where Paul writes,

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

In these verses Paul looks forward, to the end of history, where the lordship of Jesus Christ will be clearly evident to all peoples.  Christ will be seen in a place of unparalleled honor and glory and there will be great rejoicing from his people.  To combine the thoughts of Spurgeon and Paul, the "good old days" were likely not as good as we think they were, while the "day to come" will be more glorious than anything we can imagine.

We can certainly learn from our past, but we shouldn't seek to dwell there.  Paul points us forward, to the glorious future promised to all people with faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.   Enjoy a look back from time to time, but set your eyes, and your heart, on the future promises of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


The day I wrote my sermon for this week I read Matthew 5-7 in my morning prayer time.  This is one of Jesus' most famous pieces of teaching, the Sermon on the Mount.   Again and again in these three chapters of the Bible Jesus teaches people how God would have his children live with each other and serve him in the world.  The sermon closes with these words:

"And when Jesus finished these sayings the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."

The teaching that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount grabbed people's attention not just through what he had to say, but through the unseen force that his words carried as they entered into people's minds and hearts.  Matthew compares the power of teaching that comes from Jesus with that teaching that comes from the scribes, and basically finds that there is no comparison.  The scribes were educated people, thoroughly understanding all parts of Jewish law and religious practice, and I suspect that many of them were good teachers, but compared to Jesus their teaching is found to lack something of critical importance.

"Authority" is a word with multiple definitions, and I believe that two different ones are meant here. The first is "persuasive force; conviction," and the second is "a statute, court rule, or judicial decision that establishes a rule or principle of law; a ruling."

The readers of Matthew know something that the original audience of the Sermon on the Mount don't know, which is that Jesus is God Incarnate.  By his very nature as God the words he speaks carry with them an authority that no one else on earth has ever had.  He is not saying "Live this way" as a piece of advice or wisdom, something we might want to give consideration to as we go about our business each day.  He is saying "Live this way, because the Lord God says that this is the way in which his children should live."

And because Jesus has the very authority to make declarations that carry the weight of God with them, it follows that his words carry with them a singular persuasive force, a sense of conviction, that no other words in the world can possibly compare to. 

Ultimately, the authority that speaks the words in the Sermon on the Mount is the same authority that fills every page of our Bibles, from the first words of Genesis to the last words of Revelation.

We may wrestle with understanding things in our Bible.  I know that there are times I certainly do.  But we are wrestling with words that are trustworthy, that are true, that are good, and that are unfailing.  They are words that bring us peace and comfort.  They are words that challenge the way we see the world and our place in it as disciples of Jesus. 

And they are words spoken with authority by one who loves his children in whatever state of mind or circumstance of life they may be in.  Amen.    

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.