Pastor's Blog
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May 24, 2017, 10:44 AM

Our Father in Heaven

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus bases prayer on personal relationship. He taught us to call God our Father, and the implication of sonship changes the whole aspect of prayer. Whatever difficulties may remain, interaction must be possible between father and child, and to suggest that a child may not ask of a father would be to empty the terms of all meaning.

It is a child’s right to ask, and it is a father’s responsibility to hear in affectionate sympathy and discerning love. The wonder is not that God hears prayer, but that He is our Father. The greater wonder includes the less. The revelation that God is Father establishes the possibility and reasonableness of prayer. The one establishes the other. God would not be Father if His children could not pray.

All the teaching of Jesus about the supremacy of the child-heart in the kingdom of God is rank blasphemy if God is not our Father. The relationship carries with it accessibility, intimacy, and fearless love. Sons of great men have sometimes remembered their father as an institution rather than as a father, and God is to some of His children little more than an institution. It was not thus that Jesus revealed Him. God is our Father and Jesus reminds us of that fact repeatedly in the New Testament. Consider one such passage:

Jesus declares in Matthew 6:25-26, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Samuel Chadwick writes, “He is our Father! That is the crowning fact. To the child he is just Father. Others may cringe in fear, but the child heart is a stranger to terror… Love is the bond of fellowship in prayer. Attempts to rationalize love dampen its fires, but where reason is dethroned, emotion becomes a conflagration… God as Father is the key to the problem of prayer. God is more than a Creator. He is our Father: Heavenly Father, holy Father, righteous Father, the God of love and still the God of law. ‘The Sabbath was made for man,’ and the universe of God was made for the family of God.”

Let us pray together: O Father, make it our delight to praise you, to call to mind your loving-kindness, and to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Do more and better for us than we can either desire or deserve, for the sake of our blessed Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

May 17, 2017, 9:51 AM

Prayer in the Spirit

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit does nothing of Himself, neither does He do anything for Himself. His mission is to glorify Christ, and all He does is based upon the finished work of Christ. He could not be given until Jesus was glorified, and in experience there can be no Pentecost until there is a coronation. The Spirit is the coronation gift of Jesus, whom the Father has made to be both Lord and Christ.

The fellowship of the Spirit in prayer is made possible by an experience in Christ. The sequence is set forth in the eighth chapter of Romans (vv. 9-27). According to the Apostle Paul, those who pray in the Spirit must be in the Spirit, and if the Spirit of God is to make intercession for us, He must dwell in us. If we live after the flesh, we die; if we are led of the Spirit, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, then the Spirit dwells in us, lives through us, and works by us. Then comes to pass that which is written: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (vv. 26-27).

The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God. He takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. God knows the mind of the Spirit; we pray in the Spirit, instructed and inspired by Him, and He makes intercession for us in wordless intercession. That is the New Testament explanation of prayer that prevails.

Samuel Chadwick writes, “The Spirit instructs and inspires all true prayer. There is no truer word than that ‘we know not what we should pray for us as we ought.’ There is no realm in which we so soon come to the end of what know as in that of prayer. Our petitions urge wants that are immediate, obvious, and urgent. We cannot see deep enough or far enough to know what is real need. Most people would like good health, home comfort, congenial conditions, happy friendships, a little more money, and better success; but who can tell if these would be for their ultimate good? God sees deeper and farther, and He may will otherwise… The Holy Spirit knows the mind of Christ and the will of God, and He teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.”

Let us pray together: Lord God, send your Holy Spirit to be the guide of all my ways, and the sanctifier of my soul and body. Give me the light of your presence, your peace from heaven, and the salvation of my soul, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

May 10, 2017, 8:34 AM

In Jesus' Name

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The most incredible things are promised to prayer. The Old Testament abounds in promises and examples. Deliverance and help, guidance and grace were assured to those who called upon God and committed their way unto Him. Nothing was too hard for the Lord, and nothing was impossible to those who prayed. Some of the passages are overwhelming in their challenge to prayer. For example, 1 Kings 3:5 declares, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” Prayer passes from entreaty to command. There is no limit to the possibility of prayer, and the Old Testament confirms and attests the promises by examples and demonstrations of its power.

Our Lord speaks with the same unlimited speech in the New Testament. He declares, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to the him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Jesus gave prayer a new basis, a new confidence, and a new range. For he gave as its reason the fact that God is our Heavenly Father. Prayer is a child’s petition. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). There is one saying of Jesus that is even more starting. “Therefore,” he says, “I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

Samuel Chadwick writes, “The promise to prayer reaches its climax in the Upper Room on that memorable night of revelation and tragedy. Jesus declared Himself to be the basis of prayer. They were to pray in a new way. They were to pray in His name, and they would be heard for His sake... ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask for in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14)… Prayer reaches its highest level when offered in the Name which is above every name, for it lifts the petitioner into unity and identity with Himself.”

We are not heard for our much speaking, nor for our loud shouting. Neither are we heard for our fine phrasing, nor our much weeping. Neither are we heard for our good works, nor for our self-denials. Prayer in Jesus Name is heard for His name’s sake. “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

Let us pray together: Gracious Father, thank you for Your Son. May He abide in me and I in Him. Through Him, may I have victory over sin and death. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

May 3, 2017, 8:12 AM

The Prayer Closet

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’” (Matthew 6:5-6)

If prayer is the greatest achievement on earth, we may be sure it will call for a discipline that corresponds to its power. Being with Christ in the School of Prayer has its conditions and demands. It is a forbidden place to all but those of set purpose and resolute heart. The discipline curbs freedom, and drills the mind to attention. The reason so many people do not pray is because of its cost. Spending time alone with God in prayer is hard work.

Samuel Chadwick writes, “The cost is not so much in the sweat of agonizing supplication as in the daily fidelity to the life of prayer. It is the acid test of devotion. Nothing in the life of faith is so difficult to maintain... The School of Prayer is for those who really want to learn to pray.”

Those who come to learn from Jesus how to pray are true disciples. They put themselves under the yoke of Him from whom they seek to learn, and the first condition of learning is a teachable spirit. Our Lord has the authority to teach, and He Himself is Example as well as Instructor. There is no appeal beyond Him. Having asked Him to teach us how to pray, we surrender mind and heart to His teaching and yield all to the discipline of loyal and believing obedience.

Therefore, what does our Lord teach regarding prayer? One of the first things he commands is that there shall be a place of prayer. It is quite true that the whole earth is the Lord’s, and that there is no place where prayer may not be heard. Yes, God wills that we should pray everywhere. So, why does He insist upon this inner chamber and the closed door? In short, God requires authentic prayer. Hypocrites never pray in secret. Prayers that are a mere pretense require an audience. They are intended to be heard by others and they have their reward in skill of phrasing. These things do not count with God. Prayer must be offered genuinely from one’s heart to God. This does not preclude us from times of corporate prayer. Yet, neither do times of corporate prayer free us from the call to time alone in our prayer closets with God.

Let us pray together: Gracious Father of infinite love, enter and fill me and take control of every area of my life. Let my mind be as transparent as a window for letting your truth shine through. May I never be found guilty of neglecting my daily time alone with You. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

April 26, 2017, 8:58 AM

Teach Us To Pray

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1)

Can prayer be learned? Is it not of the very soul of prayer that it shall be offered in the freedom of the Spirit? Yet, John the Baptist gave his disciples a form of prayer, and the disciples of Jesus asked to be taught to pray. There were not many things they asked Him to do for them, and when they did, they were usually wrong. I wonder: Would He have given them a form of prayer if they had not asked Him? Why did they ask? In short, His own praying awoke within them a desire to pray, and when they wanted to pray they found they did not pray like Him.

The disciples felt the need of some ordered form by which they could speak out of their heart to God. Forms are easier than a creative spirit. Such praying, as those found in prayer books, help the inarticulate to expression. Such praying may be perfectly sincere, and the devout may find in provided prayers a real help to devotion, and it may be that such praying may need to be learned at the feet of instructors. For, the reality is, all praying begins with forms of prayer – such a prayer is offered below. And there is hardly a soul who does not remember the simple, earnest prayers repeated at the mother’s knee with reverent wonder and joy.

Yet, while there is a time to learn and repeat those prayers which have been authored by others, there is also a call for us to sincerely poor out our own hearts to God. The secret of Elijah’s power in prayer (James 5:17-18) was that he “prayed in his prayer.” That is the translation given in the Authorized Version. The NIV says, “He prayed earnestly.” The ESV declares He prayed “fervently.” The Greek text literally states that he prayed with prayer; he prayed in his prayer. That is to say, he really prayed his prayers. He did not say prayers; he prayed in praying. His whole personality was in his supplication. He fervently meant what he said. Can that kind of prayer be taught? And do we really offer those kinds of prayers?

It is the fervent, earnest prayer that prevails. Prayers are measured neither by time, length, nor by number, but by intensity. Psalm 63:1 declares, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

Let us pray together: Gracious Father, thank You for the stirrings in my mind and the longings in my heart. They are a sure evidence that You are calling me into prayer. Help me to live out Your calling to genuine, personal, humble prayer and communion with You today. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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