Sunday, October 2, 2011

Peace that passes all understanding

My church has been such an amazing blessing to me. I am challenged every week to a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior. As a church we have been challenged to include Scripture memory in our disciplines. Memorizing God's Word is a healthy habit of the Christian life that has so many benefits! This is an area I have struggled with. In college we used the Topical Memory System and I became disciplined in committing Scripture to memory. That slowly faded and it is something I hadn't done in a long time. We are going through the Topical Memory System as a church and it has really helped me to be disciplined in this again. It helps me so much in my daily walk with the Lord to be committing Scripture to memory. Psalm 119:11 says "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Yes, I still sin, but focusing on God's Word is so helpful in keeping my focus on HIM where it belongs. Our Pastor has been using the verses we memorize each week in his sermons. Today was on prayer. I want to share my sermon notes here.
The verses for this week are John 15:7 - "If you remain in me and my words remain in you; ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." and Phil. 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Pastor Marty started by talking about how you would react if someone came up to you and said "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." Of course, context is important. A little kid could come up to you with some tootsie rolls from the street after a parade and say "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." That might not be so appealing. But what if you walked into Best Buy and the clerk came up to you and said, "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." - pretty appealing offer. Or how about a billionaire saying, "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." - yep, I could think of some things to ask for. Well, what if the God of the universe said "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." That's who is saying this.
There are two qualifications for prayer:
1. Stay close to Jesus and His Word.
Notice it says IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. IF is a small word yet has big implications here. When you stay close to someone they begin to rub off on you. The more time I spend with Jesus the more what HE wants will be what I want. What's important to Jesus? Pleasing His Father, bearing fruit, bringing God glory. This is what should be important to me as well. My prayers should be a reflection of these things.
2. Pray with faith filled Thanksgiving.
Faith that God can build my character (James 1:2-5)
Faith that God is with us in the battle (Deut 31:8)
Faith that God can bring good out of it. (Rom 8:28)
Faith that God promises the grace I need (Heb 4:16)
Faith that God cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Faith that God is sovereign - He is bigger than the challenge I face. (Rom 8:37)
There are 2 promises of prayers
1. It will be given to you.
Matthew 7:7-8 "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; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
John 16:23-24 "In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."
Ephesians 3:20-21 " Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you"
James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
1 Peter 3:12 " For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
2. The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.
2 Chronicles 20
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."

I am so thankful to serve a God who loves and cares for me in this way. I am grateful for a peace that passes all understanding when life doesn't make sense. I am thankful that the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE wants to have a relationship with me and that He cares for me!

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