Grounded in heritage: Reaching out with the love of Jesus
Pastor Rosemary and Joe
Partners in Ministry
We Are Loved; Not Condemned March 11, 2018
March 13th, 2018
We Are Loved; Not Condemned
Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
Oprah Winfrey is shifting her perspective on how childhood trauma impacts people’s lives. For today’s, March 11, “60 Minutes,” Winfrey traveled to Milwaukee, where she grew up, to learn about a revolutionary approach in the city to early trauma. She spoke to Dr. Bruce Perry, a world-renowned expert in the field who has treated survivors of high-profile events like the Columbine shooting. He said a child’s brain gets wired “differently” when they’re raised in a chaotic or violent environment.
“If you have developmental trauma, the truth is you’re going to be at risk for almost any kind of physical health, mental health, social health problem that you can think of,” Perry told Winfrey.
Winfrey said she believes the conversation could be a ‘game changer.’ “This story is so important to me and I believe to our culture that if I could dance on the tabletops right now to get people to pay attention to it, I would. It has definitively changed the way I see people in the world, and it has definitively changed the way I will now be operating my school in South Africa and going forward with any philanthropic efforts that I’m engaged in,” she said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”
“What I recognize is that a lot of people working in the philanthropic world, who are trying to help disadvantaged, challenged people from backgrounds that have been disenfranchised, are working on the wrong thing,” Winfrey added.
“While there have been plenty of job and training programs to help the disadvantaged,” Winfrey said, “If you don’t fix ‘the hole in the soul,’ the thing that is where the wounds started, you’re working at the wrong thing.”
The shift in perspective comes down to what Winfrey calls a ‘life-changing question.’ “See, we go through life and we see kids who are misbehaving. ‘You juvenile delinquents,’ we label them. And really the question that we should be asking is not ‘what’s wrong with that child’ but ‘what happened to that child?’ And then have the resources to be able to address what happened to them. The most important question you can ask of anybody, which is what I now say even for the Parkland [school] shooting – instead of what’s the matter with that kid, I say what happened to that child?”
As a result of her reporting, she said she went back to her school board [in South Africa] and said, “Hey, we’ve been doing it all wrong. We need to be a trauma-informed care institution.”
CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King pointed out that this was a personal story for Winfrey herself. “Number one, it’s in Milwaukee where you were raised. You certainly suffered trauma there. You weren’t physically abused in your home, but you talk very candidly about –” King started.
“I got enough whippings to call it [abuse]– we just didn’t call it physical abuse at the time,” Winfrey said. “Today I would have to report my mama.”
“Today it would be. But you’ve certainly been very candid about the sexual abuse. And a lot of these kids suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I marvel, Oprah, with the environment you grew up in, that you don’t seem to have suffered from PTSD. Are you rethinking that?” King asked.
“No, I – I definitely do not have PTSD,” Winfrey responded. She said she asked Perry why some people like herself, “raised in chaotic environments,” turned out OK.
He told me it’s directly proportional to relationships. So, he was saying for me, for instance, it was school. I found my refuge in school,” Winfrey said. “I found my place in school from teachers. So, everybody needs somebody growing up that says, ‘I believe in you, you’re OK, things are going to be all right.’ And that can be a teacher, that can be a coach, that can be somebody in Sunday school.”
Years ago, Parade magazine featured an interview with comedian Steve Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, on their many years together in marriage. Much of the article focused on Steve’s unstable and dysfunctional family background. In a final comment about his childhood, Jayne said, “We are who we are because of where we’ve been.”
Often, you hear me say, ‘In this very moment in time, we are whom we have been.’ What happened to us in our past; the words spoken to us, the things done to us, the decisions made and the lessons learned, have made us who we are right now.
Psychologists tell us that by the time we reach two years of age, 50 percent of what we ever believe about ourselves has been formed. Think about how you were raised, and how you raised your children. Think of the importance of those first two years of life. By the age of six, 60 percent of our self‑belief has been established, and by the age of eight, about 80 percent. By the time we reach the age of fourteen, over 99 percent of us have a well‑developed sense, either correctly or incorrectly, of who we are.
In ministry I meet people who just can’t overcome what has happened to them in the past. They have learned to manipulate other people, simply to survive. Early on, I judged them harshly. Through the years I have learned to look at people as God looks on His ‘Created in His image’ human beings. I’ve learned to look at others with love.
John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
This is our focus for today. We are loved, not condemned! Some adults were raised in homes where they heard angry hurtful words, spoken to them or to the people they love. Some have been raised in homes where they were abused; physically, and sometimes sexually. Or maybe they were abused by an authority figure outside their home; a teacher, a priest or pastor, a coach. These adults only know what they have experienced, so they raise their children and treat others the same way.
Men who do the prison ministry tell of prisoners who have never been told they were loved, by the people in their life, or by God, and some who have never even had a birthday party. The Keryx (prison) ministry, does both. They tell the men that God loves them, He isn’t a condemning God. When they ask forgiveness, by God’s grace it is granted. And they have one big birthday cake that they write all the prisoners’ names on and sing Happy Birthday to them. They also demonstrate their love for the prisoners, by spending their weekend with them, and many prisoners recognize that as being a demonstration of God’s love living through the men who come in from the outside. It is this kind of sacrificial love which will break the chains of sin that bind the hearts of the men in prison.
They may still have to suffer the consequences of the sinful crimes they have committed, yet when they ask forgiveness and receive it through the grace of God, they discover a freedom which repairs the, ‘hole in their soul’ as Oprah put it.
The people of Israel, who Moses was leading to freedom from their slavery in Egypt, were a sinful complaining people. They were traveling to the promised land, and they began once again to complain. Numbers 21:5-6, ‘They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.’
The Israelites repented, asked God’s forgiveness. God forgave them and gave them a way to be healed from the bite of the poisonous snakes. “The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
God readily forgave their sin by having them look up towards Him. Jesus tells us in John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” This is just what happened. Jesus was crucified being lifted up on the cross. And those who believe Jesus gave His life for them; and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and God raised Him from the dead, will be saved! Saved from death and given eternal life! Eternal life is complete healing!
Every time I am tempted to judge and condemn someone, I remember Billy Graham’s quote, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” I try to live my life and do my ministry by this mantra.
People are whom they have been. Each of us has a past that made us who we are today. I agree with Oprah Winfrey, we must ask ourselves, ‘what kind of environment did that person grow up in? What happened to this person as a child? We cannot change people’s past, yet we can change their future by loving them with the love of God, rather than condemning them.
The Apostle Paul, was the Pharisee Saul, who condemned followers of Jesus, until Jesus brought him to his knees on the road to Damascus. As Paul he wrote to the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
May we be the church who encourages one another, who loves one another as God loves us. May we be the church who does not judge or condemn, but a church who loves!
Preacher, theologian, and Christian writer Fred Craddock tells the story of his father, who spent years of his life hiding from the God who was seeking him out:
“When the pastor used to come from my mother’s church to call on him, my father would say, ‘You don’t care about me. I know how churches are. You want another pledge, another name, right? Another name, another pledge, isn’t that the whole point of church?
My nervous mother would run to the kitchen, crying, for fear somebody’s feelings would be hurt. I guess I heard it a thousand times.
One time he didn’t say it. He was at the Veteran’s Hospital. He was down to 74 pounds. They had taken out his throat, put in a metal tube, and said, ‘Mr. Craddock, you should have come earlier. But this cancer is awfully far advanced. We’ll give radium, but we don’t know.’
I went in to see him. In every window—potted plants and flowers. Everywhere there was a place to set them—potted plants and flowers. Even in that thing that swings out over your bed they put food on, there was a big flower. There was by his bed a stack of cards 10 or 15 inches deep. I looked at the cards sprinkled in the flowers. I read the cards beside his bed. And I want to tell you, that every card, every blossom, every potted plant from groups; Sunday School classes, women’s groups, youth groups, men’s bible class, were from my mother’s church—every one of them. My father saw me reading them. He could not speak, but he took a Kleenex box and wrote something on the side from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. . . . He wrote on the side, ‘In this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.’ I said, ‘What is your story, Daddy?’ And he wrote, ‘I was wrong.’”
May we be a church like this. May we also speak encouraging words to the young people in our lives. Remember, we do not know what goes on behind the doors of their homes, or what they have experienced in their life.
Some years ago, the great boxer, Mohammed Ali, was asked by a ghetto youth how he could quit college and start a boxing career since he had bad grades. Ali smiled at the young man and said in his poetic fashion: “Stay in college and get the knowledge, and stay there! Til you’re through. Cause if God can make penicillin out of moldy bread, He can make something out of you.”
This is the good news of John 3. Because God so loved the world, He sent His only son to make something out of us through His love. Not to condemn us. When we accept Him into our lives and commit our hearts to Him, then He gives us new life in this world – and new life in the world to come.
May we believe, live out in our lives, and share this truth: We are loved and not condemned.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
March 11, 2018
March 13th, 2018
Turning the Tables, March 4, 2018
March 5th, 2018
Turning the Tables
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and John 2:13-22
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
The man stood before the crucifix in the chapel. The crucifix did not hold a Savior who was emaciated and weak. The Jesus hanging on the cross had huge muscles in His arms and His legs. He was a Savior who conquered Satan, who conquered sin and death. While the man stood there weeping, another man who was in the chapel, saw a glow emanating from him and surrounding him with light.
Joe, my husband and partner in ministry, is passionate about doing the Keryx, prison ministry at the Marquette branch prison. The Keryx is now done in Level 1 through 4. It used to be done in Level 5, which is the level for the hardened criminals, the lifers. He went to the first meeting for the spring Keryx, this past week. One of the men who used to do the Keryx in level 5 was at the meeting. He shared this story at the meeting which Joe shared with me. When I thought about the scripture passages for today, it seemed to me a good illustration of ‘turning the tables.’ Turning the tables on Satan.
In the chapel in Level 5 there is a crucifix made by a prisoner. The crucifix is hewn out of stone. The Jesus hanging on the cross represents the power of God. The man who carved the crucifix understood that the Son of the Almighty God was not weak, but rather His victory over sin and death came because He was the Almighty God, yet fully human. It was the strength, which came from His love for all mankind, which held Him on the cross, and conquered sin and death.
Sunday, the end of the 72 hours of the Keryx ministry, the prisoners have a chance to share what the weekend has meant to them. As this man, who had wept before the crucifix in the chapel, began to share; the man who had witnessed what happened in the chapel heard a noise behind him. He turned to see a huge wave, which knocked some of the prisoners over as it came over them. A wave of Holy Spirit power went through the room and washed over the man sharing his story!
True illustrations, such as this, keep encouraging Christians who are called to share their faith with those who are still lost and suffering from sin. Jesus has the power to turn the tables on Satan’s influence in our lives!
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”’ Paul knew this from Isaiah 29:14. God is telling the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder, the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
The Apostle Paul, had come to understand that God’s way of thinking is not like the world’s way of thinking, human wisdom. God offers eternal life, which the world can never give, yet many humans think they have God all figured out. God tells the prophet Isaiah in chapter 55:8-9, “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.”
Paul goes on to write, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, —” (v. 22-23) The Jews had been looking for the Messiah to be like King David, a warrior king. They could not understand that Jesus was the Messiah, with their worldly wisdom. Besides Jesus was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior? The Greeks considered the resurrection of Jesus foolish. They did not believe in bodily resurrection. They did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified. To them death was defeat, not victory.
Do you see how the cross turns the tables on human wisdom? We are simply not able to comprehend a love so strong, that our God would die for us! No other worldly religion basis their faith on a God willing to die for them.
Jesus begins to turn the tables on Satan’s influence on humans when He clears the Temple. To turn the table is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘to change your position from one who is disadvantaged, to one who has the advantage.
Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate the week-long holiday of the ‘Feast of Unleavened Bread,’ which included a Passover meal. It was during this time that the temple tax must be paid, which would bring money changers to the temple to change the money of people from out of town. They of course, charged exorbitant exchange rates. The people would then buy the animals needed to make their sacrificial offering, and only the animals sold in the market place of the temple were good enough. The sellers could charge anything they wanted. The Temple courts had become a den of robbers and thieves.
Jesus became angry at the abuses going on in the Temple, His Father’s house, the place of worship. ‘In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (vv. 14-16)
It was at this point that the tables began to turn against Jesus. He became the disadvantaged one. Up until this point in time, Jesus had just been an irritation to the Jewish leaders. Now all that was about to change. Yet being the disadvantaged one would not last. Jesus would soon turn the tables and have the advantage.
When Jesus declares in verse 19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,” The Jewish leaders think he is talking about the Temple in Jerusalem. The disciples would remember that Jesus said this, and verse 22 tells us, “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
Do you see what happened here? Jesus, the Son of the One True God, allowed himself to be beaten and crucified, that he might turn the tables on Satan, once and for all time. When they buried Jesus in the tomb, they believed Jesus’ life was over. God raised him from the dead three days later, and from that moment and for all time, believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the faith that God was raised him from the dead; have the advantage over Satan’s influence in our lives.
Sin has no power over the ones who come humbly before Jesus, and declare, ‘I am a sinner. I confess my sins before you and ask forgiveness. I give you my heart and my life. I want the Holy Spirit’s power to come like a wave over me and wash me clean. Please guide my life from this moment on.’
In some churches Jesus still hangs on the cross. In protestant churches our cross is empty. We celebrate the Risen Savior. From now on whenever I look upon a cross whether an empty cross or a crucifix, Jesus hanging on the cross, I will envision, not a weak and emaciated Savior, but one with huge muscles in his arms and legs. I will envision a Savior who turned the tables on Satan’s influence over my life. I pray you will do the same.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice of love. Thank you that you humbly suffered and died on the cross to turn the tables on sin and death. I thank you that with your mighty power, you claimed victory over Satan. All praise and glory be to you! Amen
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
March 4, 2018
March 5th, 2018
Prayer, Does It Make a Difference? #4 February 25, 2018
February 26th, 2018
Prayer, Does It Make a Difference #4
Psalm 25:1-7, 16-18 and Ephesians 3:14-20
(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)
During the open prayer time in a church service, a young woman began to pray in a clear but wavering voice, “God, I hated you after the rape! How could you let this happen to me?” The congregation abruptly fell silent. No more rustling of papers or shifting in the seats. “And I hated the people in this church who tried to comfort me. I didn’t want comfort. I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt back. I thank you God, that you didn’t give up on me, and neither did some of these people. You kept after me, and I come back to you now and ask that you heal the scars in my soul.”
Philip Yancey writes that of all the prayers he has heard in church, this one most resembles the style of prayers he finds in the Bible. This is the 4th and final message based on Philip Yancey’s book, Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference?
Today we’ll explore how we are to pray, what language to use, and if written prayers that we read are better, or if extemporaneous, those prayers uttered unrehearsed and spontaneously are okay. We’ll also try to answer the question, what to do when we don’t feel God present with us when we pray.
Reading the Psalms, prayers written by others, we find every emotion human beings can feel expressed. Human beings haven’t changed since we were created, and neither have our emotions. In the Psalms we read of; fear, praise, anxiety, anger, love, sorrow, despair, gratitude, grief, doubt, suffering, joy, vengeance, and repentance.
I used two Psalms today, beginning with verses from Psalm 19 for the call to worship. This Psalm expresses praise for God’s creation and His glory which is so evident all around us. The writer, and today we, end this litany praying that the words we say and the mediations of our hearts would be acceptable to God who is our rock and our redeemer.
The unison prayer is a Psalm of comfort. When we read Psalm 23, we acknowledge God as one who cares for us, leads us in the right paths, walks with us through our darkest valleys, and brings us to the table of love and to everlasting life.
When I feel angry about words said, or things done to me or others I care about, I find Psalm 69 helps express what I feel. “You know the insults I receive, and my shame and dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Insults have broken my heart so that I am in despair.” (v. 19-20a) –Pour out your indignation upon them and let your burning anger overtake them.” (v.24) “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living.” (v.28) If we are honest with ourselves, we admit we’ve all been angry with some injustice done to us, or others that we care about. I’ve never prayed to blot my enemies out of the book of the living, I’ve never been that angry or hurt!
We all have times when we feel deep sorrow, grief and even despair; the loss of a loved one, becoming dependent on others when we have always been independent and helping others. Sometimes this occurs when we are suffering from an illness, or maybe we’ve just reached the age when we are no longer able to care for ourselves. Psalm 6:6-7 express these feelings. “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.”
I visited a woman in a nursing home who is struggling with these feelings. As she talked, I could see that she was trying to hold back her tears over what she was feeling. I assured her whatever she was feeling was acceptable to God, and as I hugged her she cried tears of sorrow and despair, grieving the loss of her independent life.
When I am convicted of a sin I have committed, and I am human and I sin; I turn to Psalm 51. In Psalm 51 David is convicted of the sin he has committed against God, in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, found in 2 Samuel 11-12. As a result of David’s sin, the child born from the affair dies. David falls on his knees and cries to God, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.” (v.4) –“Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (v. 10-12) Many times I have prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.’
Philip Yancey writes, “I learned from Psalms to converse with God as I would converse with my employer, my friend, my wife – in short, to treat God as a Person in every sense of the word. I had seen prayer as a kind of duty, not as a safe outlet for whatever I was thinking or feeling. Psalms freed me to go deeper.” (page 176)
There are Psalms we read which express adoration for God’s love and joy in what God has done in our lives. Psalm 103:1-2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” And Psalm 126:1-2a, 3, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; —The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.” Read through the Psalms. I guarantee you there is no emotion that you are feeling that is not expressed there.
So what do we do when we feel God is not present with us when we pray? Philip Yancey writes, ‘Instinctively we blame ourselves, assuming we have done something to offend God. A voice inside whispers that I am unworthy of God’s presence, that God would not possibly respond to someone whose mind has been filled with such impure thoughts.’ Philip writes that he counters that inner voice with the reality that he is praying because of the pollution in his mind. He is praying for cleansing, for help. (page 200)
Job felt that way about God when he was going through his troubles, Job 23:8-11 reads, “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.” When God did show up for Job, he showed up in a mighty way, and rewarded Job for his faithfulness in waiting.
Yancey gives us advice on how to survive those ‘God is silent’ times. Seek God, he writes. Continue to ask, seek, knock on the door of God’s heart. Continue to work on your relationship with God, by pouring out your heart to Him and trusting that His answers will come. He writes that during those time of dryness in prayer, he notices the rest of his life come alive. He listens more attentively to friends; ideas leap from books; nature speaks to him more deeply. He writes, “God is alive all day, living both around me and inside me, speaking in a still, small voice and in other ways I may not even recognize.” (page 202-203)
Pastor Henry Blackaby says this about God’s silence, “You can respond to the silence of God in two ways. One response is for you to go into depression, a sense of guilt and self-condemnation. The other response is for you to have an expectation that God is about to bring you to a deeper knowledge of Himself. These responses are as different as night and day.” (page 204) We are free to choose our response to God’s silence. I encourage you to choose well.
There is one more thing I’d lift out as we close this series on prayer. If you read through the Apostle Paul’s letters to the various churches, you’ll find that in each of those letters, he told them he was praying for them. We read in Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with the power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I encourage you to tell people you are praying for them, and better yet, stop and pray with them; when talking with them on the phone, or wherever you meet them, in a store or in a restaurant, or at an event. What better witness to your faith and the power of prayer, then to stop, take the hands of a person in distress and pray right then and there. How often do we tell someone we will pray for them and the minute we hang up the phone or walk away, we forget?
Thank you for allowing me to explore Philip Yancey’s book Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference with you. What have we learned from this series?
We’ve learned from Jesus’ example that we have a resource that can help us in life’s daily battles. We must make time for prayer. When Jesus was drained physically, emotionally, spiritually, he would spend time in prayer with his Father God. After which he had the strength; physically, emotionally and spiritually, to continue the battle against sin and evil. Henri Nouwen wrote “To pray is to walk in the full light of God, and to say simply, without holding back, ‘You are God and I am not. I need you.”
We’ve learned that we have to believe three things; God exists, God is capable of hearing our prayers and God cares about our prayers. This is called faith, and a basic requirement of being a Christian. We’ve come to understand the best reason to pray is because Jesus did. We’ve also discovered that not all Jesus’ prayers were answered the way he wanted them to be, so why should we expect all our prayers to be answered the way we want?
We’ve explored seemingly opposing scripture; one in which God says, ‘I the Lord do not change.’(Malachi 3:6) Another where God says, ‘My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused I will not carry out my fierce anger.” (Hosea 11:8) We’ve learned that our prayers do change the mind of God, based on what we read in scripture. When God told King Hezekiah, through the prophet Isaiah, that he was going to die, Hezekiah prayed, “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with whole hearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” God changed His mind and Hezekiah lived for 15 more years. (2 Kings 20:1-5) We’ve come to understand that when we pray for healing for ourselves or a loved one, that healing may come when they go home to God.
John the apostle wrote in 1 John 4 that God is love. God does not merely have love or feel love. God is love and is unable to not love. Because God’s character is love, God answers our prayers with what is best for us and what is best for the people we pray for.
Jesus tells us to be persistent in prayer, to continue to ask, seek and knock. We are to be persistent because God wants to be asked. He wants to be pursued, like the parable of the persistent neighbor. Philip Yancey writes “Persistent prayer keeps bringing God and me together, with important benefits. As I pour out my soul to God, I unload some of my burden to the One who can handle it better than I. What I learn from spending time with God then better equips me to discern what God wants to do on earth, as well as my role in that plan.” (page 152)
We learned today that no emotion we are feeling has not been felt by humans since the beginning of creation. We may learn from reading prayers that someone else has prayed, yet when we cry out to God in our own words, from our authentic self, that’s what God wants to hear. Building a relationship with God, a speaking, listening relationship, an intimate personal relationship, is God’s desire. And we learned that when God is silent, we must have patience in our waiting and God will reward us for our patience.
I’ll leave you with a final thought from Philip Yancey. “Prayer invites us to rest in the fact that God is in control, and the world’s problems are ultimately God’s, not ours. If I spend enough time with God, I will inevitably begin to look at the world with a point of view that more resembles God’s own. What is faith, after all, but believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse?” (page 210)
In other words, trust God with what He is doing in the world. When we look back we see that He is working out His plan. However, we are the workers in that plan, and prayer does make a difference.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut February 25, 2018
References: Yancey, Philip (2006). Prayer: does it make
any difference? Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan
February 26th, 2018
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Sunday Service 11:00 A.M. Central Time (nursery available)
Phone Number: 906-932-3900
Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut
Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays
~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~