Pray First

"Women pray during Friday noonday prayer ...

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There are a lot of things I like about our church and the church leadership… The church I go to is called Hornby Presbyterian Community Church (HPCC) in Christchurch New Zealand…

What makes me proud of our church is the fact they they have decided every year to have 3 weeks of prayer.

Why does this excite me?

Well first of all is that it is Biblical… all throughout the Bible we are told to pray first… It would be easy for a church like ours to try and get stuck into doing community work and start big ideas to have through the year… but here is the thing, unless we pray first all of the things that we are doing haven’t been given to God to deal with.

And Secondly… it’s not about us.

It’s easy to get stuck into the rut of praying for ourselves… our own needs… our own problems. However what my church leadership has done (and what other churches around the world continue to do) is given us an example of putting prayer first, but it’s more than that… it’s reflecting as job of the Holy Spirit – interceding for others.

What a great way to start the year… bringing the needs of others before the altar of God.

It shows that it’s not about us… it’s about a God who cares for all.

It shows that in all things pray first… or as it says in 1 Timothy

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1

 

 

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Looking out while looking in…

World map showing location of Oceania, (green,...

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I’ve been around a lot of churches in my life… and I have spoken at at few… and I have found one thing to be true for lots of them.

They are either really good at looking after themselves… but they neglect the community…

OR…

They are all for getting out in the community and all about mission but they are really bad at looking after themselves.

Our church recently had two weeks that we called ‘Go Global’ a chance when we can look at what we are doing outside our own country and supporting mission. It was AWESOME to see some of the AMAZING work that people are doing in places like Laos, India and Indonesia.

You see we feel good when we see us lending a hand to things that we see are a need. We look at the plight of Africa with it’s  famine… we see the pictures and we think “I need to help that cause”…

We see pictures of destruction in Canterbury and we think “I should help…”

And for the most part we are really good at chipping in and helping these areas… however I wonder how good are we at looking after those who are closest to us?

The people who may seem like they have it all together… but who’s lives are slowly dying?

The people who we stand to next to at church and sing “All things are possible” when the person standing next to you feels like their life is slowly becoming impossible.

I don’t think we’re that great at looking after each other… it’s often easier for us to help those on the other side of the world because we don’t have to engage… we don’t have to stay long… we can do our part and move on.

But relationship… that’s hard.

Remember when Moses was taking the Israelite people out of Egypt into the promised land?

They spent a good 40 years in the wilderness bickering and complaining… and these were Gods chosen people.

These are the people we’re forgetting about in our society… our neighbors.

We talk about living in community… but if we really looked around we’re not that good at it… we’re only hanging with the people we LIKE, and even then I bet you couldn’t tell me the hard stuff they are currently working through i their lives.

What are you doing to get to know the people next to you, at  work? church? The bus? The plane ride?

Lets change the world…

Yes lets go to ALL Nations…

Yes lets live in slums…

But lets live in our communities… as a part of our communities. 

 

Are you spreading skepticism?

Recently it dawned on me to the fact we don’t trust God, and more to the point by our actions we encourage people tyo do the same while acting the complete opposite.

We have started to look at every situation that God is moving in and instead of looking at the amazing stuff that God is doing we are starting to see the people part of the equation, and we make sure people know about it…

The problem is that God uses people to be his hands and feet in this world, in fact more than once in the Bible it tells us that we will be able to do more than Christ did while he was here (Eph 3:20, John 14:12-14 are two good examples) – yet we seem to be skeptical of anything that has any of ‘us’ involved.

You see the things that God accomplishes isn’t because of us, it’s in spite of us, and it’s a very delicate balance, that we seem to be so intent on corrupting, but it’s why he chose us to do his work… because we are broken, meaning that he gets the glory.

To me it seems to be a matter of faith.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” : – John 14:12

In Mark 6 it said that Jesus couldn’t do “no mighty work” in his own home town, except for a few healings when he laid hands on people.

Why? Because every one there had seen him grow up… they had seen him grow to be Mary and Joseph’s son, they didn’t believe that the Spirit of God could be in this normal looking person.

And I wonder in this new global community are we doing the same?

These days you can look up and see the history of almost anyone… there is no mystery anymore – and I wonder if we have lost the sense of wonder… and therefore lost faith and trust that God is God, and can do anything through ANYONE.

Sometimes we ask for healing or help in a situation and nothing seems to happen so we start to take offense at God, and then we start to look at the things that don’t seem right everywhere else… and make sure everyone knows about it.

I recently heard this great quote.

“Taking offense at God leads to skepticism; skepticism leads to unbelief; unbelief to hopelessness – and hope is the seed bed of faith.”

– Pastor Murray Talbot Hornby Presbyterian Church, Christchurch, NZ

I think lack of faith can start at anyplace down the chain… sometimes we may have heard stories about a particular healer or church that may have heard ‘rumors’ about, and the first thing we do is start is share our skepticism… and that in turn leads to unbelief in us and others, and it becomes like a cancer that seeps into the very fabric of the church.

You just can’t second guess faith… other wise it’s just not true faith.

Instead of being onlookers, or critics, lets really focus on praying for those who need healing, lets pray for those with the gift of healing… and while we are at it… lets stop spreading the ‘helpful observations’ that are only putting a wedge between what God is doing, what people are experiencing and their faith.

Because at the end of the day God is still God.