TOO GOOD TOO KEEP QUIET

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The Bible says there is a time to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7) and we’ve all heard the adage, “Silence is golden.”  There is also an entertaining saying that is usually credited to Abram Lincoln or Mark Twain: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”  Or as my Irish Grandfather would rephrase it, “It’s better to keep you mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”  And if you read Proverbs 17:28, you’ll see that the Proverb writer basically says the same thing way back in the 700s B.C.

However, the same Bible verse that says “there is a time to be silent” also says “there is a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  There are somethings that you just cannot keep silent about.  Have you ever been so excited about something that you just had to share the news with someone else?  Have you ever had something that you loved so much that you just couldn’t stop talking about it? Have you ever heard some good news that was too good to keep quiet about?  I know I have and I bet you have too.

The Bible says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7, NLT).  This Sunday, I am beginning a brand-new sermon mini-series that I am calling “Too Good To Keep Quiet.”  For the next two weeks, we will be looking at how the early church in the book of Acts grew and was blessed by God because they knew the Good News about Jesus was just too good to keep quiet about.

Chad

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The Garden of Gethsemane

This Sunday (3/4/18), I am continuing our new sermon series, “A Resurrection Hope,” that will build up and take us to Easter Sunday.  Ron and I are preaching this series focusing on the last days of Jesus time on earth culminating with His death and ultimate resurrection on Easter Sunday some 2000 year ago.  Our text comes from Mark 14-16.  In this second lesson, we will focus on Mark 14:32ff looking at a powerful scene and time in the life of Christ – His time in the Garden at Gethsemane.

“Gethsemane” literally means “oil press,” it was located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus went here on multiple occasions to pray.  However, in our text this morning, it will be His last visit there before His crucifixion.  Although we are focusing on Mark’s account today, it would be advantageous for you to read what the other Gospel writes have to say happened in the garden (Matthew 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-53; and John 18:1-11).

The events that occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane have reverberated down through the centuries. The passion Jesus displayed on that momentous night has been depicted in music, books, and films for centuries.  I invite you to join us this Sunday at the Ham Lane Church of Christ as we look at the important impact of this event in the life of our Lord

Chad

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Pastors Praying for Pastors

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I meet regularly with a group of pastors and preachers from a vast variety of churches here in the Lodi, CA area for a time of prayer.  I was asked to “lead” our prayer time this morning.  We began by all sharing a “Good God Moment” in our life and/or the life of our congregation where we serve.  It was a pretty awesome time of sharing some really awesome God stuff!

Then shared a list of 9 ways we could / should pray for each other (which I adapted from “Nine Ways to Pray for Church Leaders” by Chuck Lawless).  We read over the list, I’ll attache below, and each prayed as they felt moved to do so.  It was a great time of prayer and I felt truly refreshed and re-energized from out time spent together this morning.

Let me share these nine ways with y’all and I would ask that you pray these for me, for yourself and/or for your church leaders and staff.

 

1. Pray we will keep our eyes on God.

King Jehoshaphat faced three combined enemy armies, and he did not know what to do – except to lock his eyes on God. That’s the answer any time we have no clue about next steps.

“For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.” (2 Chron. 20:12, HCSB)

2. Pray we will not take a step apart from God’s leading.

Moses prayed this prayer when God would send only an angel to lead His people after their fiasco with the golden calf. He would rather the people not start the journey if God Himself were not leading them.

“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here.” (Exod. 33:15)

3. Pray we will beware of relying on our own strength.

David, who knew the Lord is the one who fights for him (1 Sam. 17:47), trusted in his own might when he took a census of the Hebrew armies. Recognizing his sin, he prayed a prayer most leaders need to pray at some point:

“I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away Your servant’s guilt.” (2 Sam 24:10)

4. Pray we will be wise in leading God’s people.

When Solomon might have asked for much more, he instead asked God to give him a “listening heart” as he governed the people of God. All of us who lead congregations need this wisdom.

“So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kgs. 3:9)

5. Pray we will weep over the sin and failures of God’s people.

The best shepherds are those who genuinely grieve the spiritual brokenness of the people they lead. Like Nehemiah when he heard about the damaged walls of Jerusalem, they are themselves broken when they see the results of spiritual decline.

“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:4)

6. Pray we’ll know when to push away from the crowds to pray.

Ministry is time-consuming, and needs are ever before us. Nevertheless, as leaders we must have time alone with God to be renewed for the work – just as Jesus did.

“But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)

7. Pray we will walk worthy of our calling.

If we pray more for church leaders today, it’s likely fewer will fall tomorrow. We must pray they walk in obedience and bear fruit, just as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers:

“we haven’t stopped praying for you . . . so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)

8. Pray we will speak the gospel boldly.

Paul wrote from a prison cell – his punishment for preaching the Word – but still he sought prayer support to continue his evangelizing. If Paul needed such prayer, surely church leaders do today.

“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19)

9. Pray we will finish well.

Those church leaders who finish well PLAN to do so; that is, they choose from the beginning to stand against the devil and glorify God. Pray that we can one day echo these words of the Apostle Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7).

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A Veterans Day Prayer

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Our Great God, it is appropriate that we should pause at the beginning of this Veterans Day service to invite Your presence among us. We ask your blessings on all who gather here today and we are thankful for all who are participating in this service of honor and remembrance.  We are also thankful for the American Legion and other Veteran Organizations in our country that are comprised of men and women who served and now continue to serve by serving others who have served.

Today God we give You thanks for our nation’s veterans. We honor them for their faithful service in defending and preserving our freedom. We are grateful to those who served during times of peace, standing ready, bravely awaiting their call to duty.  We are grateful to those who served during times of unrest, enduring conflict and bearing the physical and spiritual wounds of war.  We ask that you bless them, heal their wounds and give them peace.  We thank you God for all our veterans, those of generations past and present.  May we never forget what our country has asked of them and what they have given in return.

We pray also for the leaders of our nation. May they seek to find solutions to the difficult task of creating a peaceful world, while inviting young men and women to serve their countries in a safe and a politically supportive arena.

Instill in the hearts and minds of our young people the knowledge that love of country is more than a catch-phrase of our culture. May they be given the wisdom to value the sacrifices made by their forefathers and the strength to emulate their mission of universal peace.

On all of us gathered here, we ask your favor, Lord. May we enjoy the peace that passes all understanding and is only found in You. Through your Son Jesus we pray – Amen

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Six of My Favorite Prayers from the Bible

“Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child.”  ~ Max Lucado

Almost every book in the Bible has some type of prayer, plea or request, and page after page shows us why we are in need of our Savior.  There are times that we may feel a loss of what to pray and the good news is that there are times when we don’t need to know what to say because for the believer, God promises that His Holy Spirit will intercede for us during those times (see Romans 8:26).  However, it can be a good practice to see what men and women of God prayed for in the pages of Scripture.

Although there are over 600 prayers recorded in the Bible, here are just six of my favorite to show you how filled to the brim the Bible is with ways to call upon our Great God.

Jonah’s Prayer for Salvation – Jonah 2:2-9

He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight;
yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.  I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

The Prayer of Jabez 1 Chronicles 4:10

10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

David’s Prayer for Deliverance – Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

 Hannah’s Prayer of Praise – 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.“The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength.Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.“The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them he has set the world.He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; 10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

The Believers Prayer During Times of Persecution – Acts 4:24-31

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed one. 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

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Committed To Tell

There are several accounts of Jesus healing someone who was paralyzed.  The most well-known is the time when Jesus was in a house and it was so crowded that the friends of a paralyzed man could not get their friend in to see Jesus – so, they make a hole in the roof and lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus (read about it in Mark 2 and Luke 5).  In Matthew 9, Jesus had just got out of a boat when some men meet him on the shore carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat and Jesus says to him, “Get up, take you mat and go home” (Matthew 9:6b) and the man did just that.

The point that is often over looked in these stories of healing is that it was not necessarily the faith of the paralyzed men that led to their healing; it was the faith of the friends who brought their friend to Jesus for healing.   The Bible says it was when Jesus saw their faith that he healed not only their physical issues but also offered them forgiveness of their sins, meeting their spiritual needs as well (Matthew 9:2).

If you consider yourself a Christ-follower, a disciple of Jesus, a baptized believer, who has been saved and redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ; then you are called to be committed to sharing this wonderful gospel news with others.  It is sinful for us to remain stagnant in our evangelism, enjoying our salvation in Christ and the fellowship of His Church, but neglecting the call to share it with others.  We are called to be committed to tell.

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Stay Spicy

SpicyI love good spices.  Spices bring out flavor in food and the spicier, the better to me.  I love things that are full of flavor and I really love hot spices.  The hottest spice in the world believed to be the Red Savina Habanero Pepper developed by GNS Spices out of Walnut, California.  A single grain will produce detectable heat in 1,272 pounds of bland sauce.

Is your good influence detectable in our world?  In the Bible, Jesus spoke of influence in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13).  The Bible says that we are to be God’s “spice” to influence our world for good.  The main way we influence others is by our words and by our actions.  People are affected by what they hear you say and they are even more affected by what they see you do.  I want to be a good spice and do what God requires of me.  Here is what the Scriptures says, “…the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Stay spicy.

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