Going Deeper: Are You Hungry?

*Due to technical difficulty, our sermon did not get recorded for 8-12-18

God’s word is not only meant to infiltrate our minds, it’s meant to infiltrate our lives. Learning God’s word should always lead to living God’s word. There’s a difference between knowing and doing. Many of us know what God’s word says, but are we doing what it instructs? We need to hunger and thirst not just for knowledge, but for making a difference in God’s Kingdom as well!

That was our main takeaway from our message yesterday in our continued Radical: Living Differently than the World Expects series. So let me just ask this question. Do you actively try to read the Word of God on a regular basis AND then apply what you read to your life?

Here’s the deal. All to often, people look to the Church as their main source of spiritual food. Whether that be for us individually or expecting the Church to be where our kids get their main source of what it means to follow Jesus. But when you look at the Word of God as a meal (which is an analogy that is found in multiple places in the New Testament), then if you are only feeding when you are at Church, then you are going hungry. Even worse, if that’s the only time you are helping your kids to eat, then your kids are starving.

We need to be in God’s Word daily, because if we are not, then we will have a hard time applying the principles and truths that are found there to our lives. And it isn’t good enough to just be reading His Word without application. Knowledge is not the goal. Knowledge does not feed the soul. Only a deepening relationship with Jesus nourishes the soul, and that happens as we mature in our faith. We mature in our faith by applying what we read to our lives. Do you see how all of this is connected?

There was many years that I didn’t get this right. I expected to be fed by the Church and didn’t proactively try to feed myself. But the Church gets to see you maybe 4-5 hours a week. That is if you attend every single function that is available. If we aren’t feeding ourselves outside of this time, then we potentially starve.

Why is this important? Because we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are on the narrow path that leads to life since we made a decision to be baptized sometime in our life. We think that decision is enough and we don’t have to grow in our relationship with Jesus. But that is simply not the case. Jesus warned in Matthew 7 that there were going to be those in the last days that thought they were on the narrow path, but would be told in the end to depart from Jesus because He never knew them. Matthew 7:21-23;

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

How do we do the will of God? By learning His Word and applying it. By devouring His Word. By becoming hungry not just for the knowledge found in Scripture, but for the life-giving change that we find there when we start living our the principles found in God’s Word.

I thought about challenging our faith family to read a certain amount of Scripture in a certain amount of time. There are many different plans, such as reading the Bible in a year. Or an even more audacious plan of trying to read the entire Bible in 90 Days (one that I have tried many times and failed), or even reading the New Testament in 30 Days. There is nothing wrong with any of these plans. But I chose not to make a specific challenge. I get that everyone has different reading levels, skills, and comprehension. I didn’t want someone to feel obligated to finish a reading plan just to say that they read it without necessarily getting anything out of it.

So my challenge is just to be in the Word daily. Develop a hunger for it. And then do everything you can do to apply it. Again, knowledge is not the goal. Life change and becoming more and more like Jesus on a daily basis is the goal. James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

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Going Deeper

We started a new series yesterday titled “Radical: Living Differently Than the World Expects”.

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Radical BookThe base for the series is a book by David Platt, Radical. I read this book years ago, and honestly, at first I wasn’t real sure about how I felt. That’s because what is described as radical living in this book is really just how Christians are supposed to live anyway. There really isn’t anything radical about it. That is until I realized that I don’t know very many people, myself included, that actually live up to what Jesus says His disciples will be.

While we are using this book as the jumping off point in the series, the sermon content is not coming from the book. So, as a supplement to our messages, I would recommend reading the book on your own if you are interested in going a little deeper. You can order it here.

In this first message, I posed a question that I think is at the heart of our discussion, and I’ll begin with that here as well. What, if anything, has following Jesus cost you? All too often in our American culture, following Jesus doesn’t really cost us anything. Yes, we may get laughed at or told that we are only using Jesus as a “crutch”because we can’t deal with life on our own. But that really isn’t very costly, is it?

Jesus told His disciples that following Him would cost them their lives. And it should cost us ours as well. No, I’m not talking about physically dying because we are a Christ follower, although that may be the case for some of us. But we are to die to our own desires daily. We have to surrender our will for that of Jesus in our lives. And that is a daily decision.

We all have things in our lives that we unfortunately seem to place in front of God or Jesus. And it is different for each of us. What we need to do is to identify those things and lay them at Jesus feet, and make Him our top priority. He demands nothing less. That is exactly what our main text for this message states. In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus lays out very plainly what it means to follow Him and be a true disciple. He says you must hate your father and mother, your siblings, even yourself, and, you must carry your cross and follow Him. And if you can’t do that, then you cannot be His disciple.

What does He mean by hating your family and even yourself? Are we really supposed to hate them? Can we really have nothing to do with them? Absolutely not! But what Jesus is showing us here is that we cannot put anything in front of our love and devotion to Him. He must be our first and most important priority, meaning that in our love for Him, our relationships with others pale in comparison. In other words; Our love for Jesus should take priority above all others in our lives!

That may cost us dearly at times. Friends and family may not understand this. It may hurt our relationships with them, especially if they are not Christ followers. This may make what we choose for a career or hobbies different than what we would actually choose on our own. Following Jesus, and by that I mean truly following Jesus the way that He wants, is a costly thing. His disciples got that. They left everything to follow Him. Read Matthew 4:18-22, which is one of the accounts of the calling of His first disciples. They left family, friends, and careers to follow Him. And they were never the same.

Sometimes we have to die to ourselves daily, even hourly, because in our human nature we keep falling back to what we want instead of keeping Jesus our number one priority. So, we have to keep coming back and dying to ourselves. And that is exactly what He calls us to do. In Luke 9:23-26, Jesus states;

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Deny yourself and take up your cross daily. You don’t do that for yourself. You do that because you want to follow Jesus. You do that because He is your number one priority. Is it difficult? Absolutely! But you know what else it is? It is so worth it because He is so worth it!

I’ll leave you with this for now. Read this section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Chapter 3). Paul knew what it meant to follow Jesus. He knew what it cost. And he knew it was better by far than anything he knew before.

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowingChrist Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I’ll pose the question again. And I want you to really think through it. Because your answer to this question may show you exactly where you stand in how you have been following Jesus. What, if anything, has following Jesus cost you?

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Have You Begun to Live?

Every man dies. Not every man really lives

The parable of the Prodigal Son that Jesus tells is probably His most well known story.  It is the one that we are most familiar with, and in my opinion it is because we can all relate to it in one way or another.  The story is found recorded in the gospel of Luke, and is actually one story in a collection of three about lost things being found that Luke records in chapter 15.  You can read them here if you are not familiar or just want a refresher.

It’s one of my favorite stories as well.  I relate so much to the story, and it resonates with me.  In fact, we are gearing up for a sermon series based around some themes found throughout the story of the prodigal son.  I can tell the story in detail from memory because it is so familiar to me.  But, just like other passages that we read over and over, we can get something new out of it every time.  And just that happened to me recently.

I was reading through the story as part of my daily devotion time.  It is easy to zone out sometimes when reading such a familiar passage, especially when it is early in the morning.  And I admit that was happening to me this time around.  But then I came to the last few verses, when the older brother was throwing a fit because the younger brother was being celebrated.  The father in the story steps in and explains why they needed to celebrate.  And bam, there it was.  Something stuck out to me a little different than in any other time I have read the story.

I was reading in the NASB translation, which I try to do when I am studying on my own or prepping a message.  I teach out of the NIV usually.  So, I am more familiar with the story in NIV format, and reading in NASB is what caused something to stick out this time. 

Luke 15:31-32 in the NIV reads,

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

He was dead and is alive again.  That’s the way I have always heard this part of Jesus’ parable.  And that is a significant statement.  Returning to the Father is the only way we have life.  Otherwise, we are dead in our sins.  That is what the story is getting at.  It is also teaching that there is a celebration that happens when anyone gives their life to Jesus through baptism.  But the NASB translation worded things a little differently, and it made the passage come to life in an amazing way for me.

Luke 15:31-32 in the NASB reads,

31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

He was dead and has begun to live.  That paints a little different picture.  The earlier translation makes it seem like the son was alive, died, and began to live again.  But here, in the NASB, there is a picture painted of how things truly are.  Before we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, no matter what we are doing in our lives, how successful we are in worldly standards, what our bank statements show, how our relationships are going, or anything else, we are dead in our sins.  We are the walking dead so to speak.

We are living in the sense that our physical bodies are alive, but we are dead men walking.  Nothing we do matters in the grand scheme of things.  We are searching for life, something to fill the void that we know is there, but for some reason just cannot figure out why it is there.  And then we come to Jesus. 

A relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to truly live.

Someone introduces us to Him, and we are open to learning more.  Before we realize it, that void that we have been seeking to fill in our lives starts to disappear, and we don’t really understand what is happening.  We accept Jesus our Lord and Savior of our lives, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we truly begin to live.  A relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to truly live.  That void that we all feel is only filled by God; nothing else that we attempt to fill it with will ever completely fill the void.

This idea of being dead in our sins and finding life in Christ is a common theme in Paul’s writings, so it’s not like the idea is new to me (You can read some of them here, here, and here).  I have often taught about the freedom that is actually found in surrendering to Jesus.  The world around us would think that it would be just the opposite; to follow Jesus would mean becoming more restricted.  But something great happens when your sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus and we truly begin to live in the freedom that He grants us. 

We have been set free.

That doesn’t give us carte blanche to keep sinning.  God’s grace covers our sin, but we shouldn’t purposely keep sinning just to increase His grace.  That’s not the point of the freedom we find in Christ.  The point is that we are not enslaved by sin anymore.  In our human nature, we are going to mess up from time to time, and sin.  But we are free from the enslavement of sin.  We have been set free.  We, as Christ followers, have truly begun to live!

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A Light Shines in the Darkness

As I woke up one morning this week, the news flashed across my iPhone screen about another potential terrorist attack, this time in London, England.  As I type these words, five have been confirmed dead, including one police officer.  There are at least 20 injured.  The person responsible for the attack is thought to have acted alone, and is also dead.  We see this all too often anymore.  Every time we turn around it seems some kind of violence is happening in our world, rather it be nation against nation, terrorism, or individuals against each other.  There is no doubt about the fact that we live in a dark world.  I’m not sure if it is actually getting darker, or if it’s just because the world is so connected through technology and we hear more about what is going on.  But there is no doubt that we live in a dark and dying world.

Just here in Carlsbad, we are reminded almost daily how dark and broken our world is.  We see a city that has the potential for a bright future, but we also see a city with a bad drug and alcohol abuse problem.  In the past few weeks, friends of mine have lost close friends suddenly.  There are many other things I could type, but I think I’ve made my point.  This world seems to be lost in darkness.

There is light, however, we just have to where to look for it.  When we see the void in our lives because of the darkness, we try to fill it.  That’s why drug and alcohol abuse are so prevalent.  That’s why there is so much violence in this world.  But, like I said, there is a light.  There is something to fill that void that we feel in our lives.  That light is Jesus Christ.  We’re in the middle of a sermon series here at Central called “I AM Jesus: Who Jesus Claims to Be”.  In this series we are looking at what is called the “Seven I Am Statements” that Jesus makes in the book of John.  One of those statements that He makes is “I Am the Light of the World”.

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There is so much packed into this one statement that we actually took two weeks looking at it.  Jesus actually makes the statement twice, once in John 8 and then again in John 9.  The setting for these claims are related, but there is enough difference in them to take them one at a time in our sermons.  In John 8, the setting is the Temple.  Specifically the Court of the Women, in front of the collection areas for the offering, probably early during the Feast of Tabernacles.  Jesus is teaching in the courtyard, and as usual, a big crowd has gathered to hear Him.  This setting is important, because on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Courtyard of the Women is illuminated with four giant candelabras.

It is said that the Temple would be aglow from all over Jerusalem during this ceremony.  It is likely either during this time, or the next day, when it is still fresh on everyone’s mind that Jesus made His first “I Am the Light of the World” statement.  In John 8:12, Jesus is recorded as saying;

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Think about that.  Jesus is saying, possibly with the backdrop of the Temple being illuminated in a great way, that He is the light of the world.  Not the Temple.  Not the Pharisees who made it almost impossible to follow God, not even Moses or Abraham.  He is the light of the world. 

As impressive as the Temple had to be illuminated the way it was, Jesus is saying, “I shine a light in the darkness of this world, and only through Me can you see”.

After this conversation that eventually ended with the Teachers of the Law picking up stones in an attempt to stone Him, Jesus is with just His twelve disciples.  They come across a man that had been blind from birth and the disciples ask Jesus if it was because of the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that he was blind (The Jews, at this time, believed that one could sin in the womb, and therefore thought that this man could have caused his affliction.  I don’t have time to go into too much detail with this now though).  This led to Jesus making His second “I am the light of the world” statement.  This time around, it was just the twelve disciples and the man Jesus was getting ready to heal that was present for the statement.  John 9:1-5 records the event this way;

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus continues and heals the man, however, this is done on the Sabbath and that gets the Pharisees all in a twist again.  They cannot understand how someone “from God” would “clearly” break the Sabbath.  But you see, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing.  He was continuing His teaching from the Temple from the previous chapter.  He used the physical blindness of the man he healed to lead in to a discussion on what He considered an even bigger issue; Spiritual blindness. 

He’s basically saying to the Pharisees, and to us, that we are spiritually blind.  But through Him we can receive our sight.  Jesus knows the darkness that is in the world, but He has the cure.  In His own words, He is the light of the world.  The Pharisees bring in the man healed of blindness and question him.  They are not satisfied with his answers, and eventually kick him out.  That’s when Jesus enters the picture again.  John 9:35-41 records the rest of the story;

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

There is no question what Jesus is claiming here.  He is claiming to be the Messiah.  He is claiming to be the Son of God.  And He is claiming that only through Him can we truly see in this dark and dying world.  That is because He is the light of the world.  That is because only through Him do we have a relationship with God the Father.  You want to fill the void of this life?  You want to see clearly in the darkness?  John, continuing the thought of Jesus as light in this world, writes in I John 1:5-7;

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

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Follow Me on SoundCloud

Over the last few months, we have been trying to find a reasonable option of uploading audio recordings of the sermons each week at Central Christian Church.  I have been broadcasting live almost every week through the app called Periscope, but the problem with that is the recordings are only available for about 48-hours after broadcast, meaning that those that want to listen have a very short timeframe to do so.

I have also been recording my sermons on my iPad each week, I just did not have a way of uploading them.  Today, however, we think we may have found an option that will work.  Have you heard of SoundCloud?  It is an online streaming app, mostly for music, but it can double as a podcast as well.  What this means is that we are going to be trying it out.  I have yesterdays message “The Restless Soul”, the first sermon of our “Soul Detox” series uploaded on my personal SoundCloud account.  We are looking into all the options, and we may create an account specifically for the church.

This is a very exciting thing, as we can keep a recording of all the sermons from our congregation, and if someone has to miss a Sunday for whatever reason, they can keep up with the series on their own time.  It will also let our Children’s church workers listen to messages from the Sundays that they are teaching our kids, so they can keep up with each series as well.

If you are interested in checking it out, you can click here.  You can also create your own SoundCloud account, and follow mine, meaning you will get updates every time we upload new content.  I have said this recently, but I just want to say it again; I love technology!

Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak

I Believe in God, But… (Newspaper 4-30-16)

Have you ever said something along the lines of the following; “I believe in God, but…”?  It is so easy to fall into that mindset.  We see something that we think should be different, and it makes us wonder about God.  Culture around us does not want us to take God too seriously.  For the most part it is fine to say that you believe in God or a god, but the moment your belief and faith start changing who you are, people think that you are taking it too seriously.  In other words, you can believe in God, but don’t let it change who you are. 

We have been taught this for so long but the culture around us, that it has created an interesting phenomenon.  Craig Groeschel of Life Church, in his book, The Christian Atheist, calls it being a Christian Atheist.  At first glance, I am sure that most of you are thinking that those phrases do not really go together, and I would agree.  That is until I read the book and realized what Mr. Groeschel is actually talking about.  And I realized that I have lived a big part of my life as a Christian Atheist, in one way or another. 

So, what is a Christian Atheist.  It is simply someone who says that they believe in God, but their lives are not transformed by that relationship they claim to have.  They say they believe in God, and then add a qualifying statement to it.  Something like, “I believe in God, but I don’t think He’s fair”.  That was a big one for me.  It was tempting for a long time in my life to say that I did not think it was fair that my dad passed away when I was fifteen years old. 

The thing about our relationship with God, however, is that we have to be fully committed.  The way we live our lives have to match up with what we claim when we say that we are Christians.  To be a Christian means to become a follower of Jesus, trying daily to become more like Him.  And that means to change who we are at the very core, to look more like Him.  Titus 1:16, the verse that this idea of Christian Atheism is based from, says, “16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”  In other words, you cannot claim to know God and then not back it up by your actions if you want to be taken seriously.

Starting May 9th, at Central Christian Church, we are going to be going through a series based off of this idea, called The Christian Atheist, looking at topics such as “I believe in God, but…I don’t know Him, I don’t fear Him, don’t go overboard, don’t trust Him fully”.  I would love to see you here, and feel free to get in contact with me if you have any questions going forward.  Let’s all strive to live like we truly believe in God.

Praying Audaciously…Now What (February 2016 Newsletter)

Last month, I wrote about praying audaciously, looking at Jesus’ prayers from John 17.  It ended with a challenge to prayer big, tough, audacious prayers throughout the month of January.  If you want a refresher of that article, you can click here to read it again.  This month, I want to follow up on that article.  We’ve talked a lot this past month about prayer, and have even partnered together to pray over all aspects of Central Christian Church for 24-Hours straight.  Prayer is an important part of our relationship with Christ, but we can’t treat it like prayer is the only thing that we should be doing.  One of the things that I have noticed in my own life, and in the lives of those that I am close to, we are either really good at praying, but not following that up with action, or we don’t take time to pray, but we’re really good at jumping to action right away.  Neither of those are the best that we should be doing.

Take for example the prayers of Jesus in John 17(click here for a refresher).  Jesus prayed and prayed hard at that time.  He was hours away from going to the cross.  Actually, all four gospels record some version of His prayer that night(Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22).  He not only took time to pray for His disciples and for all of us that would eventually come to know and follow Him, He was praying that God’s will be done.  He didn’t want to go to the cross.  In fact, Luke’s account of His time in the garden praying says that Jesus was so stressed over what He knew was coming, He was literally sweating blood.  It would have been easy for Jesus to pray, and just think that was enough.  To walk away because He did what He thought was enough, and prayed about something that was bothering Him.  We do that a lot.  But He didn’t do that.

He prayed and then He went out and did what He had to do.  He didn’t just leave it at prayer.  He put the physical effort in and He went to the cross.  And we should all be so glad that He did.  That was God’s will, and Jesus put in the work to complete the task that God had given Him.  If He had just left it at prayer, and then walked away because He didn’t think He needed to do anything else, the sacrifice for our sins would not have been completed. 

Other scriptures speak to this, but the first one that comes to mind when I was thinking through this was James 2:14-26.  James is talking about faith vs. deeds, but I think it can easily be seen as prayer vs. work as well.  So in other words, what is prayer without putting some work in at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to pray, and He is more than capable of handling the situations that we pray about.  Sometimes, however, by allowing us to work at the things we are praying for, He uses that to help us grow in those areas and in our faith. 

In the article last month, I mentioned an author and preacher by the name of Mark Batterson, and his book The Circle Maker, all about praying big prayers.  One of my favorite Batterson quotes, and I can’t remember which of his books it’s int (probably in multiple), is this; “Pray like it depends on God, but work at it like it depends on you.”  That’s my challenge to you this month, and it will be a main focus of our teaching times over the next few weeks as well.  Put the time in praying, but don’t be afraid to put the work in either.  God doesn’t want us to just sit idly by after we’ve prayed.  He wants us to do the work as well.

So, think about that big prayer or prayers that you’ve been praying over the last month (if you haven’t been praying those big prayers yet, it’s not too late).  Keep praying those prayers.  Pray bolder prayers.  Then ask yourself, “What can I do to help bring about the results of the prayers that I have been praying?”  And then do it.  Figure out what needs to happen on your end, keep praying, and then do the work!  Let’s all get out there and put in the work to reach this community for Christ.