Have you ever seen a medieval castle? Have you noticed the broken lines at the tops of the walls? A rook or castle on a Chessboard has the same cuts.
I suspect you could guess what those were if you didn't already know. They were essential to the defense of a castle. Those slots were the lookouts for soldiers on watch.
On several occasions Scripture tells us to watch and pray. Have you thought about what God is saying to you in those passages? Let's look at those Scriptures and allow God to speak to our hearts through them. The first of them that comes to my mind is when Jesus was praying with His disciples in the garden before the cross. He prayed earnestly that that cup might pass from Him. And yet He surrendered His heart to the will of God. Then He looked and saw that Peter, James, and John were asleep. He was amazed that they could not watch with Him for one hour. And in Matthew 26:41 Jesus commands us.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The word translated, “watch” here is also used for soldiers, or possibly shepherds, keeping the watches of the night. On that very night while they were in the garden soldiers would come to arrest Jesus. This would be the most severe trial that the disciples would ever face. Earlier Jesus had told them they would all abandon Him. Peter and the rest swore they would never leave Him even if they had to die with Him. Their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak.
You might say they should have known this trial was coming. Jesus had told them over and over again. And it didn't take any great genius to see that the High Priests had determined to kill Him.
And it it should not surprise you that you are going to face trials and temptations. Peter himself warns us that we are going to be tried. In 1 Peter 4:12 he wrote,
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Like soldiers on guard duty we are told to watch and pray for spiritual strength and protection.
The next place we are told to watch and pray is in Luke 21 where Jesus warns us about the trials that will come in the last days. In Luke 21:36 Jesus gives us this same command.
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
It seems to me that many of these things are already coming upon us. I am crying out to God for a great prayer movement. We need to be on guard, and pray as we have never prayed before. These things could be seen to begin when the Roman General, Titus, led his army to destroy the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus predicted, not one stone of the beautiful temple was left upon another. 2 Timothy 3:1 and other Scriptures warn us that there will be terrible times in these last days. Will we be on guard as these things come about? How seriously will we watch and pray?
We are also to watch for our hope in God during difficult times. He has made very great and precious promises to us even for the worst of times.
Another place where we are called to watch and pray is much more positive. Colossians 4:2 says,
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
We not only need to watch for spiritual attack that will come. But I am afraid we are not alert enough to see God at work around us. There is great encouragement and joy in seeing the hand of God and thanking Him for working in our lives.
Finally, we need to watch and pray for others in our families and in the church where God has stationed us. Ephesians 6:18 commands us.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
In 1 Samuel 12:23 Samuel said he would be sinning against the Lord if he failed to pray for the people of Israel. Are you alert to pray for those God has commissioned you to pray for?
We need to see watching as motivation and preparation for prayer. But all four of these passages see watching as integral to prayer. As we spend extended time in prayer God shows us more and more of what we will face and what He is doing and preparing to do all around us.
Last Sunday our pastor preached on Psalm 133. And God spoke to me as he preached. I am reminded of something I once heard from a spellbinding preacher. He said God gave him his best sermons as He spoke to him when he was listening to other preachers preach. Well, in fact, although my preaching is now done with my pen, God still seems to be giving me sermons. And I would like to share this one with you. And my sharing will be most blessed, if at some point in reading this God gives you a sermon to preach to His people.
UNITY AMONG BROTHERS
I once heard a denominational leader say he could tell the spiritual temperature of a church by simply walking into a worship center as people were gathering for the service on a Sunday morning. I think he was absolutely right. You can sense excitement in the people or the lack of it. And most of all you can feel the love and unity binding the church together. Jesus said all men would know we are his disciples by the way we love one another.
One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 133. The first verse of Psalm 133 calls us to see the goodness of unity in the family of God.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!”
The wording of this reminds me of the creation account in Genesis 1. There the Hebrew word tov, which translates to our English word “good” is first used in the Bible. Again and again as God creates, the scripture says “God saw that it was good.” But after He created man, we have His greater exclamation in verse 31 which begins with the word, “Behold.”
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
With this call for us to sit up and pay attention, Psalm 133 is calling us to see that in the unity of the family of God, He is restoring the goodness of His creation.
And he says it is good and pleasant. There is a sweetness that is not only enjoyed by our Heavenly Father, but that He shares with us in the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Verse 2 of Psalm 133 paints a vivid picture for us.
“It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!”
The Holy Spirit is comparing unity in the family of God with the consecration of the priesthood. What this must have brought to the minds of the Children of Israel is something very similar to some things God did in my early life.
I grew up in Oklahoma going to Falls Creek Baptist Assembly. You do not have to be from Oklahoma to have herd of the largest Youth Camp in the world. But I remember going as a young person with thousands of other young people and listening to the word of God preached. At the end of each evening service hundreds of young people would go forward in the altarcall to commit their lives to Christ. When they would finally bring that invitation to a close they would lead those young people to the chapel where where there was counseling space. And as they marched away we would all sing, I have decided to follow Jesus. I seldom sing that hymn without chills rising up on my neck and the the backs of my arms as I remember seeing those crowds of young people, and myself being one of those committing our lives to Christ.
The psalmist here is saying our unity is a God thing. He brings it about. And it is an expression of consecration to him.
But I said this reminds me of two things in my early life. The other is when I first sensed God calling me to preach. I struggled with His calling for an entire semester in college. And when I became convinced that God was indeed calling me, that became the driving force of my life. It is that to this day. You may not be called to preach. But as you sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ you have been given a calling by God. And like Aaron and all the priest who followed him you have a special anointing, a purpose that is to be the driving force of your life. This picture says the unity of the church is an expression of our
The next picture given in verse 3 is very different but quite as vivid.
“It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the
mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
This is a picture of rich blessing from God.
Mount Hermon is a snow capped-mountain, part of a snow-capped range just north of Israel. We lived for 30 years in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by glorious snowy mountains. And the rain fall was a continual mist of blessing. We had a 90 foot Douglas Fir in our backyard. There was a hundred fifty foot tree in the park two blocks from our house. And our library had in a glass case a cutting of the largest Douglas Fir ever removed from the forest. The base of that tree was over 12 feet in diameter. In this picture God is saying unity the church grows from his continual blessing upon us. And it ends by saying this blessing is itself eternal life.
When we see and enjoy unity in the family of God we ought to immediately think of John 3:16. Let's say that verse together in the version we have projected.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Do you have a longing in your heart to be part of the unity of God's family?
The sermon that God gave me is different from the sermon our pastor preached. And I suspect if God speaks to you through this brief, the sermon you preach to your people will be much different than mine. However, I suspect any sermon preached on Psalm 133 would depend upon similar fundamentals. In the days when I was preaching week by week I always began with the basics listed below. With these basics in my mind I would usually take a walk. As I walked my sermon I would preach everything that came into my mind on these basic points. And so I actually composed my sermons out loud.
THE CENTRAL IDEA OF THE TEXT : The psalmist exclaims over the God given goodness of unity among brothers.
PEOPLE : believers who make up this church
Felt/Need : unity in the church
PURPOSE : Doctrinal; I want my hearers to know unity in the church is a work of God.
THRUST : Unity in the church is a God thing.
PICTURE : The Dew from Mt. Hermon
STORY : Oil on, Aaron's beard
Good and Pleasant
This week in a worker's class, the worker was speaking of a musical instrument that is used in a religious service. Afterwards a front row student asked about it, saying he had seen it in a church. This made the worker wonder. The worker asked the student if he is a Christian. The student replied, 'yes.' When the worker inquired further, he learned that the student and his sister are former Muslims who had recently become believers in Jesus. The student appreciated that the worker was sensitive in asking and talking with him before others, as the student's parents are not keen on this belief.
The student seems bold and eager. He wants to get together with the worker, as he has questions that he wants to ask about the Bible. The worker would like to know the student's story. Pray that the student would have grace to continue growing, become united with a worthy group of believers, and become strong in knowledge and faith.
Please click here to read the entire prophetic word.
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Praise God for organizations like the World Food Program who are doing all they can to fulfill Isaiah 58:6-7 in the war torn areas of the world. Pray for favor over their efforts.
Prayers for Wisdom
Abu H, his wife, and children have lived with Christ for a number of years already. There are no known believers around them. Abu H struggles as to how to raise his children. Young as they are he does not want them to reveal to friends, teachers, or cousins that they believe in Christ. Such knowledge coming into the hands of the wrong person would probably lead to severe persecution; perhaps even death. Should we therefore not speak of Christ to them?
Abu H is considering to immigrate. But this is not an easy option, first to be accepted as a refugee of religious persecution, but then also to consider what kind of effect immigration has on the image of Christ among their friends and family. They could think that the Christian message has been the cause for them losing their family members, resulting in even more anger towards Christ.
Will you pray that this family will be able to fix their eyes on Jesus rather than the waves, pressures, and fears of the world?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)
Pray that God's great wisdom and council will fall on the hearts of this family allowing them to discern where God is leading them and how He would want to use them.
Like many American families our siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews are scattered across the country. We count ourselves fortunate if we see each other once a year. For about ten years we have been doing something to help bring us a little closer. Mostly at the initiation of my wife and sister we have all purchased (or received as a gift) the same daily devotional book to read through the year. Of course, we can't read them together as if we were in the same room, but we occasionally call one another to talk about a particular devotional. This year several people compiled a list of family birthdays. So as we received our books or as we gathered books to send, we went through them marking each one of our family member’s birthdays with the understanding that we would all pray especially for the person born on that day. In the case of some who are no longer living, we remember them on that day. Interestingly enough, we have been surprised at how the devotionals fit the needs of the one whose birthday it was.
Thanksgiving is a good time to encourage our grandchildren to be thankful for the many good things they experience.Help them make a list of their home, food, clothing, school, friends, church, toys and the opportunities they enjoy for which they can be thankful. Gratitude always improves ones attitude. Send your grandchildren a Thanksgiving card, email or call them to let them know you thank God for them, you are thankful they are your grandchildren and you are praying for them. ¹
Another Thanksgiving Idea
Before dinner, ask your guests to write down something they are grateful for on a piece of paper and place it in a bowl in the middle of the table. Later, pass the bowl around and have each guest read one note aloud while everyone guesses who wrote it. “Some may be obvious, but others will surprise you-that is the fun of it.” ²
"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done." I Chronicles 16:8 (NIV)
¹ This is an excerpt from the book Grandparenting with a Purpose, Seasonal Suggestions for Connecting to your Grandchildren, page 95. The book is available on a special Christmas offer at http://www.gdptpr.com.
² Taken from “20 simple solutions for Turkey Day headaches." Nov. 2012 dashrecipes.com/thanksgiving
By Lillian Penner
When we were first approached by a young Christian mom with a vision in early April with the possibility of bringing the national prayer movement - God Belongs in My City (GBIMC), we were rightly inspired and gung-ho about the opportunity to participate in a growing national/worldwide movement which had its roots in a New York City subway! GBIMC sprung from the hearts of a youth group who happened to see a poster in the NYC subway system from
American Atheists which said “A Million New Yorkers Are Good without God. Are You?" They went back and reported this to their senior church leadership and were so moved that an idea was birthed. This was in October 2009. One month later, youth from all five NYC boroughs began what is now the God Belongs in My City prayer walk through Manhattan. It has since spread like wildfire to Canada, Switzerland, Africa, Puerto Rico and last year over 30 cities in America alone!
|Sarah, Sam, Vicki Lutchman|
Last Saturday August 24, GBIMC came to the capitol city of Illinois - Springfield and had a solid impact on the Spiritual life of this wheeling-dealing political and business oriented city of 115,000! It was not easy getting this through a closed and tightly religious system where every major church and denomination holds on firmly to its territory...all except one - Calvary Temple Christian Center. Senior Pastor there Mark Johnson caught the vision and empowered his outreach pastorStacy Barnett and contacted me and together with Ezella Millswho brought the idea in from New York, we set forth on a course which really made this take off.
|Jessica McGee and Gigi|
This was solidified after the National Day of Prayer in May, which I hosted for the eighth year in a row and we were joined by former Channel 20 Morning TV host Jessica McGee who now works as the Marketing Director for the wonderful Staab Family. She represented them magnificently and our final planning meetings were attended by PJ Staab himself, without whom we would not have had the major business involvement necessary to underwrite the upfront costs and police permits and street closure permits necessary to make this happen in the natural. PJ is a super joy to work with. He is well loved by the regions military veterans for his involvement in a huge memorial outside the city of New Berlin as well as his sense of humor.
|Calvary Temple Pastor Mark Johnson|
Through all of this, we were covered in some major prayer, as there was one obstacle after another or one spiritual attack after another. We had tireless and faithful leadership from Stacy Barnett and her church support - not just from the pastoral offices and administration, but from the core of Calvary Temple. They believed in this. We have many people to thank and they will be mentioned in no particular order at the end of this post.
The Day of the Prayer Walk, which we called GOD BELONGS IN SPRINGFIELD and had hundreds and hundreds of t-shirts made up at cost by Edgar Williams of Ambitious Designs. We met at the Comer Cox Park at the corner of 18th Street and Capitol for the 1 1/2 mile walk down Capitol Avenue to the State Capitol Steps. The love and camaderie and Christian fellowship across deep racial lines was a beautiful thing to behold. Even though almost every church officially turned down this movement to re-establish Jesus as the LORD of this City, many of their members turned out anyway!
|Senator Sam McCann|
One thing I will not forget is our tireless leader Stacy working so hard to get 1500 bottles of water iced down and ready for the anticipated crowd at the end of the walk; the volunteers there; the worship band already praying on the ground of the End of Walk service. My fond memories is the excitement of all different Christians in the same event T shirt all ready to work for Jesus. Stacy and I edited some ten or so prayer points which I read out all over the part to different groups of people with my bullhorn. The awesome sight of the Christian Motorcyclists Association led by brother Nick Courtney and the three Crosses behind them as almost 1000 people of all ages and backgrounds took off in a brisk walk down Capitol, was a sight to behold.
|BMIC President Bernie Lutchman|
The subsequent hour long service on the Capitol Steps by the Lincoln Statue was so powerfully moving that worship, constant worship was breaking out all over the place!! PastorJerry Doss of Abundant Faith Christian Center, assisted by his magnificent choir set the mood for Prayer and the Word as they led off they service. I was next with the spirit-led Praise-Repent-Yield call to the Assembly. We went through 7 minutes of that and they pressed in!!! We were followed by the Bishop of Springfield - Thomas Paprockion Religious Liberty after he was introduced by PJ and then some powerful praying by our State Senator Sam McCann. The powerful and timely message by Pastor Mark Johnson topped off an amazing and life altering (for this city) day. The clarion call Pastor Mark proclaimed was to stand together, united, under the Banner of Jesus, or fall. This is the underlying theme of GBIMC - not unity at any cost where we toss aside the Basics of the Christian Faith, but unity in the Essentials to get right with God, through Repentance and then lead others to Jesus. This is the only way we can make any kind of difference and thus, show the world that God really DOES belong in our city!
Thank you to Springfield First Baptist led by Pastor Mike Henderson, for being the only other church, apart from Calvary Temple and Abundant Faith, to step up and support us from early. Over 30% of their church walked with us. Thank you to Todd Green and the Green Family Stores for underwriting the costs from the City of Springfield. Thank you to PJP Autos, The Staab Family and so many more who gave selflessly to this cause. Finally thank you - and in no small measure, to our wonderful MC - Calvary Temple Outreach Pastor Stacy Barnett! We are already planning next year's event and learned several things we can improve from this our first endeavor. Our primary purpose, my friends - to Lift up the Name of Jesus and proclaim Him as King over Springfield! Mission? ACCOMPLISHED!
God has been stirring up a burden in my wife, Julie and me, for our many unsaved family members. We’ve also heard this from other Christian friends we know as well. This is a clear indicator that the Holy Spirit is about to be poured out upon all flesh in these last days before tribulation comes upon the whole world. I believe this is our “hour of opportunity”—an open window to pray like never before with the burden of the Lord for our lost family members and to prophetically proclaim Household Salvation, even as Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 when he declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”!
It’s time for Christian parents, whether still together, or a single mom or single dad, to have daily devotions with their children. A reading from the Bible along with a family prayer will do wonders for the children. It will ground them in the fear of the Lord and in a sense of divine purpose for their lives even at an early age. Fathers are the priest of their home and they are responsible before God to bring up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is also the joy and honour of single moms to instill the truth of God’s word into their children and God will be their husband and a Father to the children. It cannot be stressed enough that when you get this priority right, God can begin to move in your situation to bring forth Household Salvation.
There are two main passages in the Bible that support the scriptural principle of Household Salvation—the first one is Exodus 12:3 which says,“Speak unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, they shall take to them every man a lamb, a lamb for a house”. And when the Death Angel came through Egypt, he passed over every Hebrew house that had the blood of a lamb applied, and the entire family inside were saved. The harlot Rahab in Joshua 2 is another example of household salvation where her entire family was spared death because of her faith. The second passage is in Acts16 where Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison and prevented the jailer from taking his own life. In desperation, he cried out to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”. It was God's desire to save, not this man only, but all of his family. So the promise included his house.
Your prayer and intercession breaks the grip of the enemy upon your loved one. It softens the ground of their heart to receive God’s mercy. It awakens in them a sense of conviction that they need to get right with God. That’s exactly how we all got saved—because someone was praying.
We are a vital part of the Holy Spirit’s “last call” for men and women to repent before Christ comes for His Bride! The devil is not happy with us praying for our loved ones who are held captive by him, so be prepared for a fight as you begin to stand in the gap, but know that God stands with you to strengthen you in the fiercest warfare ever fought on planet earth. You can expect your loved ones to react in a negative and even angry manner initially, but do not be disheartened—that is a sure sign that God is working. Keep up the praying and stand your ground and see the salvation of the Lord! Here are four basic points to assist you in knowing how to pray more effectively for your loved ones.
POINT #1. Pray with CONFIDENCE—this is the ASSURANCE that God hears your prayer! 1John 5:14 tells us, “this is the confidence that we have in Him, for if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” We also know according to 2Peter 3:9 that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” That includes your loved ones! So pray in faith and boldness knowing that you are praying according to God’s will for your unsaved family. Household salvation is always God’s will.
POINT #2. Pray with COMMAND—this is the imparted AUTHORITY that we have in Christ, according to 2Corinthians 10:4-5 for the “pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, (arguments) and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” Command the enemy to release your loved one from his grip of deception, apathy and human reasoning.
POINT #3. Pray for CONVICTION—this is the God-aroused AWARENESS in your loved one’s soul of their need for repentance and godly sorrow that works salvation. How does this happen? Through intercessory prayer that removes the spiritual blinders from their eyes and awakens them to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. No one can come to Christ on their own accord until they are first drawn by the Spirit. This happens when you pray for hot conviction on their sinful heart. Remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
POINT #4. Pray for COMPASSION—this is the unconditional ACCEPTANCE of who your loved one is, regardless of their ungodly lifestyle. No matter what they have done, they are a still a soul in need of salvation. Matthew 9:36 tells us that,“When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd”. Lost sheep without a Shepherd. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and let’s remember where we came from and what our lives used to be like before Jesus, our Good Shepherd, rescued us from sin and destruction, when old things passed away and all things became new. While not condoning their sin, your loving acceptance of them will work more powerfully upon their heart than a thousand sermons. Leave the preaching to others who God will bring into their lives to witness to them through your prayers of compassion.
At the time that I was preparing this article, the reality of Household Salvation Prayer hit home full force to Julie and me, when we received the tragic news of two sudden deaths in our family involving a head on collision. A father and son that we will never see again on this earth. They won’t be at family gatherings anymore at Christmas time and weddings and special occasions. Death is so final and that’s why the Holy Spirit is sounding an urgent plea to bring our loved ones to the throne of grace while there is still time, where God can extend mercy and grace in their lives toward Household Salvation. Jesus stands poised with the Lamb’s Book of Life opened, ready to record your loved ones’ names in its eternal pages, and when the roll is called up yonder, they’ll be there!
It’s been said that the family that prays together, stays together—but do you know just how true that really is? Seriously! A 1993 Gallup poll revealed that among married couples who attend church together regularly, the divorce rate is one out of two. How sad. That’s the same statistic as for marriages anywhere. But get this: among couples who pray together daily, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. [i]What a difference!
One of the best gifts a couple can give their children (and each other) is the gift of a strong marriage and family life knit together through prayer. Prayer builds unity and intimacy. We become intimate to whom we pray, for whom we pray, and with whom we pray. Prayer is the key to unlocking extraordinary blessings for children and families the way a key unlocks a gate.
Years ago, my husband Doug came up with a slogan for our family that, in our house, prayer should always be “the first response, not a last resort.” I’d go so far to say that prayer has not only been our lifeline to heaven (and sometimes to sanity!), but it’s also been our greatest and most valued parenting tool.
What that's meant for this mom, specifically, has been to make every effort to pray first, open mouth second. I've had to work on it even harder as my kids have grown and become adults. More often than not, my role is not to fix, not to correct, not to express an opinion … but to pray. And then step back and trust God. (Yes, hard to do I know. But He always comes through and I’ve learned to trust Him.)
Proverbs 31: 27 says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” I skipped merrily over that verse for years until one day I just happened to read it at the same time as I was reading elsewhere in the Bible that day. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest.”
That jumped out at me. I’m a word person. Both roots of those words—watches and watchman—have similar meanings, “to peer into the distance, observe, watch; to hedge about (as with thorns), guard, protect, attend to”[ii] They can also be translated “lookout” or “doorkeeper.”[iii]
How very cool. I realized way back then that prayer is one of the most powerful roles a mother can play in her children’s lives. So much more can be accomplished for my kids from my knees than from my mouth! Correction, instruction, suggestions, and advice are all very well and good—and necessary. But years of experience tell me (and I know many other praying moms who will agree with me) that some of the most powerful breakthroughs I’ve seen with my children have been when I prayed instead of only trying to fix a situation with natural means.
My friend Cindy has a sign posted in her family room, where she can see it every day, that says PRAY BIG. I love it. I think it's the perfect mom-slogan. :-)
Have you PRAYED for your kids today?
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