Saturday, 28 September 2013

Parable: Prodigal Son; Loving Father

“Parable: Prodigal Son; Loving Father”
Luke 15:11-32

Jesus tells this parable amidst remarks of the company he keeps ‘tax collectors and sinners’ and in doing this he also shares with his listeners as to who really needs to hear the story of and define who is lost.
            A man has two sons- one content to remain at home and the other restless to see and experience the world using what would be his inheritance money. The younger son went away and squandered all he had in wild living. A famine came across the land and having nothing he needed to work. He was hired out and worked with pigs. Thinking on his new lot in life he ‘came to his senses’ and realized his need to return home. His father filled with love welcomed him home with loving arms and with a party. But his brother was not happy for when he heard from a servant that his father was throwing a party for his son which was now at home he became angry. He refused to attend the party even at his father’s request. This son would rather not have fellowship with his father than accept his father’s treatment of his brother. But he father’s love is because his is gracious and rejoices over the found son.
            The loving Father God is gracious and rejoices over all his found children. God wants to have a party when each of his children return to him through faith. No matter what you have done, you can come home to God, be forgiven and God will celebrate in your being found again. God welcomes those who realize that they need Him and he welcomes them with outstretched arms, and shares in a celebration of love.
            We do not know what happens with this family. Did the older brother to go the party? This is not shared because this is the question God sets before the Pharisees and us. Do we accept or reject God’s gracious treatment of the most unworthy of sinners in light of the fact that we need God’s grace? The possibility is that we can be in God’s fields as servants but not really in His house because we do not really know God as Father- who welcomes us and loves us.
Loving God- like a parent who kisses our wounds better, supports us when we are weak and guides us with wisdom, we come to you. We were lost but are not found in you as renew our faith and love for you. Call to me and I will follow. Speak and I will listen.
Love and I will love in return. Amen.

Quotes from  Gary Inrig, “The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant” 1991.

The Prodigal Son is a favourite parable of the many that Jesus told. Often in the telling of this story the focus is on the younger son and the relationship with his loving father. As we think of the older brother’s feelings and not even being notified that his brother had returned, how do you think the brother felt about it all? How would you convince the brother to attend the party?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Unrealized Logic of Prayer

“Unrealized Logic of Prayer”
Romans 8:26-28

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercessions  for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (vs.26)

Last in this Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers, “If You will Ask”
            Unrealized logic of prayer, just what does this mean? We do not fully understand what prayer is but we try to define is at the interchanging action of the Divine Spirit and the human spirit. But there is a point in time when we might be / are unsure what praying is and how to do it effectively.
            The disciples were good people and well versed and taught to pray in Jewish tradition, yet when they came in contact with Jesus, instead of realizing they could pray well, they came to the conclusion that they did not know how to pray at all and as Jesus to instruct them in the initial stages of prayer.
            We too become conscious of our words, body positions and even preparation for prayer and we will often be afraid of praying out loud. But why? Because we hinder our life of devotion when we lose our independence to pray with confidence. We rely on the Holy Spirit for prayer is. And in these verses from Romans, Paul uncovers the truth of what we need to remember. The whole source of our strength is receiving, recognizing and relying on the Holy Spirit.
            We often will say “I don’t know what I should say”. Yet if we pray in Jesus’ name we come into the presence of God because Jesus made this closer relationship with God possible. This is also true of praying in the Spirit. If the Spirit of God is in us, we are able to approach God in a way that draws us closer to Him than first thought. This is because we have made a connection with God and it is now growing in truth and knowledge in us- through the Spirit and in Jesus.
            What is your connection with the Holy Spirit and prayer? Do you make it easy for the Spirit to work out God’s will in you or are you putting the Spirit aside by empty requests?  Do we bring ourselves into obedience of Christ when we ask in His name for what really is in our hearts? Or do we know? If you ask, do you wait for an answer?
            Remembering that your intercessions can never be mine and vice versa, and that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for both of us,  do we worry about the words we say needlessly? Let us reflect on the depth, height and solemnity of our calling to be God’s children and pray as we ought—to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in the name of Jesus Christ,  as the Spirit intercedes and through God’s grace. Praying is working together for the good of all so let us do so and ask in faith.

Gracious God we praise you that we may ask and you will answer our prayers. We thank you that we are yours through faith in Jesus Christ who lived a life of prayer, who taught his disciples to pray and through whom we pray to you. You call us to pray to you so that we may be shown how to live following your example, and how you enable us to be and become your faithful people. We thank you for these words of wisdom written by Oswald Chambers many years ago, but still so relevant to us and our faith development. Bless us O God as we continue to grow in faith and in love. We ask in Jesus name, knowing that the Spirit intercedes for us. Amen.
Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 12 The Unrealized Logic of Prayer.” Please note that this book was first published under the title, “If Ye Shall ask” in 1937.

Oswald Chambers first wrote these thoughts in the early 1930’s and his thoughts were published in 1937. How relevant are his thoughts today for you and for Christians as we seek new opportunities to grow in faith through prayer?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Key to Service

“The Key to Service”
Matthew 9:38
Tenth in a Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers

            Jesus considered prayer work not preparation for work. But somehow we consider prayer an option before putting our words into action. We are called to do greater works which involves praying. But ‘there is a real danger of worshiping prayer instead of praying because we worship.” It is easy to do if we lose sight of our Lord and put the emphasis not on His command but on the thing that He commands.
What happens when we pray for others? The Spirit of God works in the unconscious domain of their being that we know nothing about and the one we are praying for knows nothing about. But after time, the conscious life of the one prayed for begins to show sings of unrest and disquiet. An example of this is praying for someone to come to know Jesus. Only when this person comes to speak to you about Him, will you know the answer to prayer.
We are called to pray in order to produce fruit—and pray always. We are to pray and go do the work of the Lord. Because “all authority has been given to Christ and on earth we need to go. And to go into the harvest field knowing that Jesus is with us.
            The field of service that has no snares is the field of intercession that is praying for others. This is the key to all our work for God- pray and the prayer we share is what we do.
            Why is prayer so important? Jesus told us that prayer is grounded on His redemption and is the greatest gift He puts into our hands. It is also important because of the personal presence of the Holy Spirit today.  We receive our knowledge of the Spirit through Jesus. The Holy Spirit is here with us and it is through prayer that we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and what we are called to do. Prayer is work for us but it is also simple to do. Yet it is simple only because it cost Him so much to make it possible.

Loving God give us wisdom this day to worship and work and be well-pleasing to you. Reveal yourself to me as I come into your presence and seek you. Call me to pray and be the prayer others see. Amen.

Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 11 The Key to Service

“Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” When we read Jesus’ statement, we often focus on the sending but Jesus asks us to pray first. How often do you  pray before attempting a particular task or even meeting where discussion might be difficult? What is Jesus teaching us to do? To pray first then go. To put before the situation and ask for His response so that we may learn from Him.
Reflect on a time when you did pray first and then acted second. What occurred in the situation and for you personally?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Prayers of Intercession

“Prayers of Intercession”
Genesis 18:25-33
Ninth in a Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers
            Abraham and God are in dialogue about saving righteous people in Sodom because had planned to destroy this city filled with wicked people. Abraham wants to save those who live by God and makes a deal with him. Abraham would find 10 righteous people in Sodom and God would save the city. Abraham is speaking to God and interceding on behalf of Sodom’s righteous people. He is praying to God because he is in dialogue with him.
            Have you ever been in a situation where you hoped people were praying for you, that is interceding on your behalf before God? Maybe it was when you were ill, taking treatments, grieving the death of a loved one, feeling alone and wondering what was to become of you. When you ask others to pray for you, you are asking them to speak to God and bring about a change in your health. But the question is what should we ask for as Christians?
            Chambers writes, “We are all Pharisees until we are willing to learn to intercede. We must go into heaven backward.” We must grow into doing some definite thing by praying not by seeing.” It is a Christian’s duty to pray not to himself or to others, but to Christ.
            Prayer must be thought of as essential work in order for us to grow and understand our daily living. When we pray intercessional prayers we are to let God decide what will happen all we can do is pray on behalf of the other person. If a person has sinned greatly- we can pray for his/her forgiveness  but it is up to God. When a person is very ill we can pray for healing but it is up to God to bring about change and we must be aware that is God’s will that decides. Healing we must also remember includes death unto new life.
            We might say that God knows the things you have need of before you ask. But the purpose of prayer is to get to know God- truly know him and it is in this that we struggle through until we see that He is love and justice. We are to pray and not only for our needs but for the needs of others. And through our praying we will come closer to God.

Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 10 Intercession

Have you experienced others praying for you? Have you prayed for others and told them that you did? It does make a difference in our lives when we pray because we focus on others needs instead of our own. Praying for others moves us from our needs to those of others but we must always remember that we need to let God answer in his time.
Consider praying for someone you know who is in need right now. Pray and then tell them you will continue to pray for them. Not only will they be lifted up to God you will be too. This is the power of prayer.