September 24, 2013

Careful What You Ask For… You Might Get It

“Simple Prayer involves ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father. There is no pretense in Simple Prayer. We do not pretend to be more holy, more pure, or more saintly than we actually are. We do not try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God—or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things
(1 John 3:20).”      Richard Foster, Prayer
Prayer is an integral part of helping to lead people into a growing relationship with Christ in every area of our church. It’s also vital to building the kind of community that supports spiritual growth.
During the worship service this past Sunday I explained that Jesus is actively fulfilling God’s purposes of the church’s mission through His followers (AKA: disciples).  I explained Acts 1:8 describes what Jesus’ believers empowered by the Holy Spirit, were expected to do.
Next I shared the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch found in Acts 8:26-40, as an example of a new disciple hearing and obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit which eventually leads to the expansion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Ethiopia (thought to some to be the “ends of the earth” in that day).  It is a powerful story that shows not only is God concerned about “quantity” (Phillip, earlier in Acts: 8, hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit, was responsible for large numbers of believers from several cities and villages in Samaria) but also “quality” (Phillip worked one on one with the Ethiopian Eunuch).
At this point, before I knew it, I went “off Script”… meaning I deviated from the sermon notes I had prepared, and I challenged the congregation to pray that the Holy Spirit would lay a person, persons, family, or situation on their heart that God wanted them to share the “Good News” of Jesus, be an encouragement to, meet a need of, or whatever they felt God was leading them to do.  I reminded everyone that you can’t stay “here” and get to “there”.  It would require each of us to listen, obey, and “GO”.
I also reminded everyone that sharing the Good News of Jesus
-         Can disrupt their normal routines
-         Will require them hearing AND obeying God’s prompting (through the Holy Spirit)
-         Acknowledges God is always at work, and is asking them to join Him
-         Will transform coincidences into Divine appointments.
-         Many times makes you the answer to someone else’s prayer.
At the conclusion of the service, I asked people to send me some of the stories later this week, of how God answered their prayers.  These stories would be a personal “witness” of God’s activity in their lives and in the lives of others, which they spoke to. 
Weird how even a preacher, who has prepared all week for a message, can sense (hear) “something” from the Holy Spirit in the midst of his “normal routine” of speaking on Sunday mornings, and “deviate” or “Go” to a different place than what he had originally planned.  What my congregation didn’t know at the time… they were witnessing Acts 1:8 being lived out right in front of them, and many of them didn’t realize it, until they read about it here in the previous sentence!
By the way, after the service, as I spoke individually with several people, I realized God had just transformed the coincidences of the LifeSpring congregation worshiping together on a rainy Sunday morning in September, to a Divine Appointment.
I hope to share some of these stories later in my blog.  If you have any personal stories that might be your witness for Jesus, feel free to share them with me too.

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