< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: June 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Living Prayer

I get an e-newsletter from Our Prayer and wanted to share (and remember) this wonderful article by Marci Alborghetti.

The last time I visited my good friend Gwen in Key West, she told me, “I’ve been pursuing peace for a long time. What I’ve finally realized is that peace isn’t something to pursue, it’s something to grow inside myself. Now I don’t have to stop whatever I’m doing to pray. I feel that every moment of my life is a prayer.”

As Gwen continued to talk, I realized that “living prayer” was more a way of life than a formal prayer. And I understood that living prayer was the next step toward complete trust.

In saying that her life was a prayer, Gwen meant that everything she did, every thought she had, every word she spoke, grew out of her sense that God was with her. Gwen’s living prayer was the result of many years of praying and searching. Those of us who haven’t yet experienced that level of prayer can at least dedicate a particular period of time to try living prayer.

The process may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it can teach you a new way to be close to God, even if you’re not able to continue it indefinitely. However, if you do commit yourself to this kind of prayer, you may find it becoming more natural and easy every day.

It’s important to know that living prayer won’t be the answer to all your problems. Gwen’s life isn’t perfect. Like everyone else, those who practice living prayer sometimes feel down, discouraged and as if they’ve failed. But living prayer isn’t about living in a dream world where everything is exactly right. Living prayer is about living always in the presence of God.

A day of living prayer, whether expressed in words or thoughts or both, might go something like this:

* Wake up and thank God for your day, for your life. Ask for help as you face the day’s challenges. Thank God that you are able to get up and start the day. Ask His help in dealing with your aches, pains and other health problems.

* As you eat your breakfast, savor the taste even if you’re in a hurry, thanking God for food and drink. Pray for those who are hungry, and ask God to help you to help meet the needs of all of His children.

* As you begin your daily work, whether it’s at home or elsewhere, manual or mental, thank God for your colleagues and family members, even those who irritate or frustrate you. If you work alone, give thanks for the peace of solitude. Offer your labor to God, asking Him to help you to perform it well. Pray particularly for anyone you will meet today who is likely to be difficult and for the grace to handle the situation.

* As you interact with the people around you, pray for them and pray that you will be a good influence in their lives. Offer special thanks for those who have a positive influence on you.

* As you notice the weather, thank God for the miracle of nature, for good weather and for shelter in bad weather.

* When you read or hear the news of the day, thank God for the peace and stability in your life. Pray for those who have no peace, and that world and local leaders will be guided by the Lord.

* When you break for lunch, gratefully taste whatever food and drink you have, thanking God for the chance to rest. Praise Him for the flowers, the trees, the snowflakes or whatever of His good creation you encounter.

* If you have time for exercise during the day, ask God for a healing, healthy workout and thank Him for your body.

* When you return to work, recommit yourself and thank God again for the opportunity and ability to work.

* When you’re returning home from work, offer thanks for your transportation whether it’s a car, bike, train, subway or your own feet. Pray for the safety of all who are traveling.

* Begin your evening by praising God for time to eat, rest or complete any of the day’s unfinished work. Give thanks for those you’re enjoying your evening with. If you’re alone, remember that God is with you and thank Him for His presence. Pray for the people you know who are troubled and for patience with them.

* At dinner, enjoy your meal slowly, praising God again for His provision. As you finish your chores, thank Him for the chance to get them done and for rest from labor.

* If you read before going to bed, thank God for eyes to see and a mind to discern. If you watch television or a movie, thank God for the time and technology that allows you to enjoy them.

* As you lie down to sleep, thank God for the day. Ask for forgiveness for your failures and mistakes, thank Him for your successes and ask Him for healing rest. Occasionally God blesses those of us who are on the path but have not yet arrived at the place of trust with a glimpse of what it is like to live prayer, to live in Him. If we are ready for these glimmers, if we can accept them, they can prove to be breathtaking catalysts for our journey.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

What John 10:27-29 Tells Us About Being a Christian

Pastor Kurt Gebhards continued his series: Signed, Sealed and Certain today.

John 10:27-29 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

The first thing this tells us is we are His sheep. In other words, we are under His care. We are His and He guides us.

The second thing is: we hear His voice and we immediately act in obedience to what He says.

And third: He knows us! Salvation includes an intimate knowledge and relationship with Christ. John 17:3 says that to know Him is eternal life: Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

We also learn that we are saved forever, protected by Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit!

Jesus says that NO ONE can snatch us from His hand. We will never perish. John 5:24 says, 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. And Romans 8:1: 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

And God has given believers to Jesus who says “No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” So God is holding us tightly too.

We can look at Ephesians 1:13-14 to see the Holy Spirit’s part: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

I think we’re pretty secure! Don’t you?

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

All believers are eternally secure in Christ.

Last Sunday our Pastor shared some great Bible verses to support a believer's eternal security:

We are secure because it is God’s Will and Purpose.

John 6:39-40 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Ephesians 1:4-5 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Romans 8:28-30 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

John 1:12-13 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The security of the believer has everything to do with God’s plan. Salvation is His will, His purpose and His plan.

We are also secure because we are God’s gifts to Jesus.

John 17:2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
Revelation 19:6-8 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

And because He went through too much to lose us now!

John 17:12 and 18:9 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[a] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

And we can trust Him. His last words were “It is finished”!

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