Pray for Someone

This morning at Oak Grove, I preached a “Mother’s Day sermon” on 2 Timothy 1:5;3:14-15. You can listen to it here if you’d like.

To set up the context of verse 5, we looked at the surrounding context as Paul begins his letter to Timothy. In verse 3 he writes,

“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

I shared with my folks at church this morning that we should pray for one another. Paul at the end of his life not knowing if he’d ever see Timothy again tells him, I’m praying for you. I think we’d do well to tell our brothers and sisters that we love them, that we thank God for them, and that we’re praying for them (really actually praying for them). I’m not inclined to think we should dismiss thoughts of people when they come to our mind. I think those seemingly random moments when a particular person comes to mind is a great opportunity to pray for that person. The simple act of praying and shooting that person a text can be a difference maker in someone’s day. It glorifies God, reminds us of our dependence on him, and can be a huge encouragement to someone else.

There’s nothing incredibly profound or insightful here, just what I think to be a helpful reminder to pray for people and let them know you’re praying.

Be Patient Until the Lord Comes: Pondering Charlotte

The world we live in is chaotic. The world is broken. The world is fallen. It isn’t just humanity that is broken and fallen, the Apostle Paul tells us that all of creation is groaning as it awaits for the return of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:20-22). As an American and a North Carolinian this week has show how broken and fallen our world is. The city of Charlotte has been in turmoil this week. I’m not going to get political. I’m not going to put myself in the role of judge, jury, defense, or prosecutor in this post. I, however, am never hesitant to get theological. Men and women created in the image of God have lost their lives and have been harmed for reasons considered just and unjust. I’m not sure what the right response to all of the events that have taken place should be. I know many have made knee jerk reactions in the media and individuals on social media. There is one thing that I do know that I can do and that is to place my hope and trust in the Lord.

I was reading the book of James this morning and began thinking about the implications of James 5 on the current situation. James was writing to Christians who were enduring suffering and persecution, and I readily accept and realize that what is going on in Charlotte does not directly have an impact on me. I’ve not lost any loved ones or members of my community to the violence taking place. However, my heart groans to see the conflict in my country, especially when it hits so close to home. James wrote to these suffering believers:

 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.-  James 5:7–11 ESV

He tells them to be patient as they wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus. There is much work to be done in seeking reconciliation, peace, and justice with the seemingly constant shootings and responses in our country. I hope and pray by God’s grace we can begin to see some of that in our nation, but ultimately I know there will always be conflict because men are always going to be fallen. So, while I can share unhelpful memes on Facebook and make my pronouncements about what has happened or not happened, I think it would be of much more benefit to be a person of prayer, a pursuer of one trying to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18), and to be a person of patience waiting on the one who can bring peace. I have confidence that he can bring peace even now in the midst of chaos and hopelessness and I long with confidence that there is coming a day when he will bring peace eternal. He is our hope and he is our peace. May Charlotte, Tulsa, and the rest of our nation find their hope and peace in him, his name is Jesus and he is coming again.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. –  Revelation 21:1–7 ESV

Loathing Prayer

Scripture calls us to pray all the time. We all know this. We all know we should pray, but we don’t always pray. If we are honest with ourselves we don’t always want to pray. We cannot always focus in prayer. There are times when we just do not want to pray, it is the last thing we would want to do. Most of us probably wouldn’t admit this. John Bunyan, however, was willing to admit this. I came across this quote while I was preparing last week to teach on the Holy Spirit’s ministry of intercession and supplication. I think we’d all do well to share in Bunyan’s honesty and reliance on the Holy Spirit in those times where we loathe prayer.

May I but speak my own experience, and from that tell you the difficulty to praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make you poor, blind, carnal men, to entertain strange thoughts of me, for, as my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so loathe to go to God, and when it is with him, so loathe to stay with him, that many times I am force in my prayers; first to beg God that he would take mine heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there (Psalm 86:11). Nay, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray I am so ignorant; only (blessed be Grace) that the Spirit helps our infirmities [Romans 8:26].

Oh the starting-holes that the heart hath in time of prayer! None knows how many by-ways the heart hath, and back-lanes, to slip away from the presence of God. How much pride also, if enabled with expressions. How much hypocrisy, if before others? And how little conscience is there made of prayer between God and the soul in secret, unless there Spirit of supplication [Zech. 12:10] be there to help. – as quoted in, A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones. p. 426.

May we pray with Bunyan for the Lord to constantly set our affections and set it on himself in Christ, and once our hearts rest there that He might keep our hearts there. May we pray with the disciples, “teach us how to pray.”

Prayer without Bounds: A Gospel Cordial from Spurgeon

“Praying always.”
Ephesians 6:18

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial.

We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock—Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication”? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them.

He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

– from Morning and Evening, February 6

Lord’s Day Thankfulness: A Gospel Cordial from Spurgeon

“Let Israel rejoice in him.”
Psalm 149:2

Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, “God, my exceeding joy.” Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that he sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things!

Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. That he is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That he is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness. That he is everlasting, should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither as the grass. That he is unchanging, should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour. That he is full of grace, that he is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant he has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory—all this should tend to make us glad in him. This gladness in God is as a deep river; we have only as yet touched its brink, we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but onward the depth is greater, and the current more impetuous in its joy.

The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were wont to think much of God’s actions, and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of his mighty acts, and “sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” Nor let them ever cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so should their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts in providence and in grace show itself in continued thanksgiving. Be glad ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God.

– Charles Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening, Sep 22.