Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Circle Maker

Mark Batterson shared this in an article and I pass it along....
.In the first century B.C., there was a drought in Israel that threatened to destroy that generation. It's the inter-testamental period; the prophets had died off 400 years prior, miracles weren't happening; but there was one man who was famous for praying for rain. His name was Honi the Circle Maker, and let me tell you how he got the name. When the Israelites asked him to pray for rain, he did something curious. He used his staff and drew a circle in the sand, then he knelt in that circle and he prayed, "Sovereign Lord, I swear before Your great name that I will not leave this circle until You send rain." And it began to sprinkle.
Now here's the cool thing, Honi wasn't satisfied. He said, "Not for such rain have I prayed, but for the rain that will fill pits and caverns and cisterns." Then it starts raining so hard there is a flash flood and people have to flee up to the temple mount. So he's still in his circle and again he says, "Not for such rain have I prayed, but for the rain of Your blessing and favor and graciousness." And it starts to rain in perfect moderation.Well, that's prayer! The Sanhedrin threatened to excommunicate him because they thought it was too bold—as if you can't draw a circle and demand something from God. Finally, some saner minds prevailed and Honi was ultimately honored for a prayer they said saved a generation.
So this is a book about drawing prayer circles, and the basic idea is: God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God. He loves it when we ask Him to do things we can't possibly do ourselves. I believe that's the way God gets the glory, and that is the story in a nutshell.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Faith Of A Friend

(Luk 5:20)  And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
Intro:  There was a sister in Hawaii whose baby got sick, listless, not even crying, but the mother realized something was seriously wrong and took the baby to the hospital.  The baby was so dehydrated, so sick, it couldn’t even cry.  Its whole life was bound up in the mother noticing the needs of that baby.  The baby was completely dependant on someone else’s compassion!
There are times in our life when we are so down, that we need someone else to help us up.  We are so wounded, so sick spiritually, so messed up in our brains that we can’t think straight, we become almost completely dependent upon someone else noticing our need and bringing us to God!

This was the case of the man in the story of the good Samaritan
a.       He came across some people who had the wrong attitude.
                                                               i.      The thieves said “What is your is mine and I am going to take it.”
                                                             ii.      The priest and the levite said “what’s mine is mine and I am am going to keep it!”
                                                            iii.      The Samaritan said “What is mine is yours and I am going to share it!”
b.      He had Compassion!
c.       If He would not have cared, that man would have died!
d.      He didn’t have an attitude that said
                                                               i.      “good enough for him, he was probably doing something wrong anyhow!” 
                                                             ii.      “If he wouldn’t be hanging around the wrong crowds he wouldn’t get into that mess.”
                                                            iii.      He believed this man is worth it.  He is worth Helping!
                                                           iv.      All men are worth helping!
                                                             v.      Who are we to determine that some just aren’t worth the time?
e.      A church is a hospital
                                                               i.      A hospital is not about the doctors and the nurses and the medical techs
                                                             ii.      The hospital is about the patients!
f.        He had to believe!
                                                               i.      If I can just get him to  a safe place
1.       Church ought to be a safe place
2.       Children ought not to fear other children
3.       Adults ought not to fear what others say etc..
                                                             ii.      A Place where he can be fed
                                                            iii.      A place where he can be nursed to health
                                                           iv.      A place where he can find rest (NOT Turmoil!)
                                                             v.      A place where he can be loved!
g.       He Risked!
Four friends who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus
h.      In all of the gospel accounts it said Jesus saw THEIR faith.
i.         Sometimes God responds to the faith of our friends!!!
j.        Sometimes a broken body can lead to a handicapped faith
k.       A sickness can lead to a diseased attitude
l.         If the man wouldn’t believe, the friends would!
m.    If we can just get him to Jesus, Jesus can make a difference in his life!
                                                               i.      Interesting to note, the first thing Jesus did was forgive his sins.  Maybe that sin was one of the causes of his low or little faith
                                                             ii.      A broken body and a broken faith
                                                            iii.      We believe enough to stir up  the normal
                                                           iv.      To sacrifice our time
                                                             v.      Our pride, to take a risk to bring someone to Jesus!
Jesus Tells Peter
n.      I have prayed for you that your faith fail not
o.      Peter was still shaken
p.      Fear took hold
q.      He denied once, twice, three times
r.        The courage he once boasted of was gone
s.       He went out and wept bitterly
t.        But as he cried, maybe he remembered those words
u.      I have prayed for you!
v.        (Pro 27:10)  Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
He was shaken but not taken!!!
Application:  We can’t stop believing that bringing someone to Jesus can change them.
We need to pray one for another when we have compassion and see the needs of one another.
Conclusion: Loved to Life!; (From Reader’s Digest) The two twins born…As her first baby, a little boy, was born, Ogg caught a glimpse of a floppy, white body. Was that what a preemie should look like? She had no idea. As the team rushed to insert a tube into his lungs, Ogg delivered her second baby, whom they would name Emily. The little girl let out a cry, and for the first time, Ogg realized something might be wrong with the silent boy they’d planned to call Jamie.
The staff worked frantically on Jamie, but he never drew a breath. Finally, one of the doctors turned to Ogg. “We’ve lost him.”
As they handed Kate her baby, she noticed him gasp as if trying to breathe. “It’s just a brain stem reflex,” the doctor told her before leaving the couple to mourn in private. Kate gently unwrapped the blanket that surrounded Jamie and placed his fragile body on the warm skin of her chest. She wanted to get to know him. His future had been snatched from her, and she ached to get him back. For a while, she sobbed. Suddenly, Ogg thought she felt Jamie startle. She looked down and saw his chest move.
“I think he might actually make it,” she said excitedly to David. Again they were told it was a reflex. Then the newborn opened his eyes and seemed to grab for his father’s finger. David hurried to find a doctor, who explained that they weren’t seeing what they thought they were. “But look!” said Ogg, who had moistened her finger with colostrum from her breast. “He’s licking my finger.”
Quickly, the doctor listened to the baby’s chest. By now, Jamie’s lungs were inflated, he was breathing unaided, and he had regained full color. The medical team rushed Jamie to intensive care.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Road To Bethlehem Part 5 "Salvation!"

(Mat 1:21)  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Luk 2:10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luk 2:15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Luk 2:16  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Luk 2:17  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luk 2:18  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luk 2:19  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Luk 2:20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Intro:  We began this series talking about the great joy the angels had announced at His coming…

Today, as we finish the series, we find we are not disappointed!  It seems that almost everyone in the bible account is rejoicing.

The angels rejoiced and sang
The shepherds
The Wisemen
Mat 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
I.                   Why were the Angels rejoicing?
a.       This wasn’t about them! 
b.      They had seen the havoc the devil and sin had brought upon mankind
c.       They knew how satan wanted to steal kill and destroy man
d.      They saw how he had lifted himself up and tried to overthrow God
e.       They knew that what God started, He is always able to finish
f.       To God begun, is as good as done…!!!
g.      (Php 1:6)  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
h.      If you started serving God, you can finish by His grace and His help. 
i.        They knew the truth that Nahum had said
j.        (Nah 1:3)  The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
k.      Like Elijah praying, when he saw the cloud as a man’s hand, He knew He was on the way!
II.                Why The Shepherds?
a.       Usually when you send out birth announcement of a king you send them to the heads of state, silver engraved announcements to dignitaries
b.      But God announces the birth of His Son, not to dignitaries, but shepherds.
c.       He did send out a star !!!
                                                              i.      To them that look for Him shall He appear!
                                                            ii.      It is still the same today. 
1.      He is here
2.      He is coming
d.      Why?  Maybe because God wanted the shepherds, the ordinary everyday man to know that this is good news for them.  They can be forgiven! They are not forgotten about.
                                                              i.      Sometimes that is how we feel, especially around the holidays
                                                            ii.      Did someone forget you?  NOT GOD!
e.       What did they think when they came in contact with Jesus?
                                                              i.      Questions…I am sure…
                                                            ii.      A king…but in a stable?  A feeding trough for animals? The Savior?  God still confounds the wisdom of the wise.  Sometimes the power of God is in the little crowd, not the big multitude but the faithful few!
III.             Herod….He Got Mad, Not Glad
a.       Wisemen announced the coming of Christ
b.      Where is He that is born king of the Jews?
                                                              i.      Herod inquired and this is what he found out
                                                            ii.      (Mat 2:6)  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
                                                          iii.      Herod didn’t want to give up the leadership, the rulership of the kingdom.
                                                          iv.      Christ is never Co-regent of your life!
                                                            v.      He is never co ruler…He is Lord of All or Not Lord at all
                                                          vi.      Same today…many come in contact with Christ, what should be joyful announcement is a terror to them.
                                                        vii.      They see it as a threat to them and losing control of their life
                                                      viii.      They get mad that someone would tell them what to do and what they have to give up etc and therefore never experience the joy that God intended for them to have!
                                                          ix.      If you love me…Obey my commandments
IV.             Wisemen
a.       They came looking for the king
b.      They came ready to worship
c.       They came ready to give (offer)
d.      They weren’t put off by the humble surroundings!
e.       We have got to meet the king