“Galatians 4:6-7 says that the Spirit leads us to call out passionately to God as our loving Father. Paul refers to this experience as ‘knowing God’ (4:8). That’s the ground motive of Spirit-directed, Christ-mediated prayer – to simply know him better and enjoy his presence.
Consider how different this is from the normal way we use prayer. In our natural state we pray to God to get things. We may believe in God, but our deepest hopes and happiness reside in things as in how successful we are or in our social relationships. We therefore pray mainly when our career or finances are in trouble, or when some relationship or social status is in jeopardy. When life is going smoothly, and our truest heart treasures seem safe, it does not occur to us to pray. Also, ordinarily our prayers are not varied – they consist usually of petitions, occasionally some confession (if we have just done something wrong). Seldom or never do we spend sustained time adoring and praising God. In short, we have no positive, inner desire to pray. We do it only when circumstances force us. Why? We know God is there, but we tend to see him as a means through which we get things to make us happy. For most of us, he had not become our happiness. We therefore pray to procure things, not to know him better.
All this changes when we discover that we have been mired all our lives in forms of self-salvation, and we turn to Christ. When we grasp his astonishing, costly sacrifice for us, transfer our trust and hopes from other things to Christ, and ask for God’s acceptance and grace for Christ’s sake, we begin to realize with the Spirits’s help the magnitude of our benefits and blessings in Christ. Then we begin to want almost desperately to know and love God for himself. His love and regard make popularity and worldly status look pale and thin. Being delighted in him and delighting him become inherently fulfilling and beautiful.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)
“All prayer is responding to God. In all cases God is the initiator – ‘hearing’ always precedes asking. God comes to us first or we would never reach out to him. Yet all prayers are not alike or equally effective in relating to God. The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers. Instinctive prayer is like an emergency flare in reaction to a general sense of God’s reality. Prayer as a spiritual gift is a genuine, personal conversation in reply to God’s specific, verbal revelation.
Yet prayer can be even more than that. Many or perhaps most of our conversations are relatively superficial. Persons can exchange information without much self-disclosure. Some conversations, however, go deep and we sense that both of us are revealing not just information but our very selves. The conversation then becomes a personal encounter, a true connection.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)
On Sunday, June 7th Crosspoint Community Church celebrated it’s 1 year anniversary of moving into a new facility and changing its name (it was New Vision Fellowship for 10 years). The year has flown by and I am incredibly grateful to have pastored such a wonderful group of people for the past 3 years.
Over the past year we have seen 25 people join our church, baptized 13, and paid down the note on our building $300,000! We have given over 10% of what is given to our church to local, national and international ministries. We also have 6 children that have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ and we are working with them and their parents as we prepare to baptize them in the coming months. God is at work in and through our church family!
We should celebrate all that God has done over the past year but I am convinced that he wants to do more! Statistics tell us that 80% of our community is unchurched and they lack a relationship with Jesus Christ. The mission field around us is huge and I believe the Lord wants to use our church to pierce the darkness and carry the gospel to our community.
Will you join me in praying for our church and our community? Will you ask God to open doors of opportunity for us to reach into the darkness around us? I am reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples in Matthew 9:38, “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into his harvest.” Let’s pray. Let’s go. Let’s see what God will do!
“The Church is in urgent need of shepherds and teachers who will study. The pressures and pace of contemporary life make that an increasingly difficult goal to achieve. Christ’s flock on earth depends upon its undershepherds to lead it into fresh pastures of God’s Word. Undershepherds maintain an effective ministry as they extend their own understanding of God’s Word. If we are constantly pouring out without pouring in, we will soon cease to pour out anything that is of value to others.” (Derek Prime & Alistair Begg in On Being A Pastor)
“Our goal is not empire building. Although all called to serve our Lord Jesus Christ would accept that, it is easy nevertheless to err in this respect through lack of personal watchfulness. Lording it over others has no place in the work of shepherds and teachers (2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 5:3). The key title for those in Christ’s service is servant. Shepherds and teachers are for churches, not churches for shepherds and teachers. Churches do not exist for our benefit or for our livelihood. We exist rather for their good.” (Derek Prime & Alistair Begg in On Being A Pastor)
The Christian pastor holds the greatest office of human responsibility in all creation. He is called to preach the Word, to teach the truth to God’s people, to lead God’s people in worship, to tend the flock as a caring shepherd, and to mobilize the church for Christian witness and service. The pastor’s role also includes an entire complex of administrative and leadership tasks. Souls are entrusted to his care, the trust is entrusted to his stewardship, and eternal realities hand in the balance. Who can fulfill this job description?
Of course, the answer is that no man can fulfill this calling. The Christian pastor much continue acknowledge his absolute dependence upon the grace and mercy of God. As the apostle Paul instructs us, we are but earthen vessels employed for God’s glory. On his own, no man is up to this task. (Albert Mohler in On Being A Pastor)
In the woods of New Hampshire, near the beautiful Kancamagus River, I once had a picnic with some friends. We were talking about the transforming power of the word of God on the mind. I dug out a small rock from the forest floor and took it to the river, where I fished out another rock of similar size. I asked them to look at the two rocks and compare them. Someone said, “One of the rocks is covered with dirt, but the other one is clean.” So I crouched down and swished the dirty rock in the river for ten seconds of so. It came out wet and clean of all dirt. Again, I asked them to compare the two rocks. They took them and looked at them carefully. Another of the guys said, “The river rock is smooth and shiny, but the forest rock has all kinds of sharp edges.” New Hampshire is the Granite State, and this rock had crystalline peaks all over, hard as granite. I asked, “How do we transform the forest rock into a river rock?” The answer was simple: put it in the river. But for how long? Well, perhaps a century or so! A hundred years of river water gently flowing over the surface of the forest rock, carrying small granules of sand as a mild abrasive, would transform that jagged rock, and make it as smooth and shiny as the other. The patient activity of the Kancamagus River would do the work.
So it is with the transformation of a Christian from immaturity to maturity. Some dirt particles (sin habits) get washed off immediately after conversion, but the rest of the change is more difficult. Transformation only comes by immersing the mind in the word of God, allowing it to wash over our thoughts, until gradually we have learned to think as Christ does. And this is precisely what Paul is commanding us to do in Romans 12:1-2. (Andy Davis in An Infinite Journey)