5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2014

 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – I Timothy 2:1-4

1. Pray for their spiritual protection from the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Whether it was Moses’ sinful anger leading to his striking of the rock (Num. 20:7-12), David’s adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11), or Simon Peter’s denial of the Lord (Matt. 26:69-75) and practical denial of justification by faith alone (Gal. 2:11-21), ministers are faced with the reality of the weakness of the flesh, the assaults of the world and the rage of the devil. There have been a plethora of ministers who have fallen into sinful practices in the history of the church and so brought disgrace to the name of Christ. Since Satan has ministers of the gospel (and their families) locked in his sight—and since God’s honor is at stake in a heightened sense with any public ministry of the word, members of the church should pray that their pastor and their pastor’s family would not fall prey to the world, the flesh, or the Devil.

2. Pray for their deliverance from the physical attacks of the world and the Devil.

While under prison guard in Rome, the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi to pray for his release when he wrote, “I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19). (See also 2 Cor. 1:9-11). When Herod imprisoned Simon Peter we learn that “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). After an exodus-like deliverance from prison, Luke tells us that Peter showed up at the home where the disciples were continuing to pray for his deliverance. This is yet another example of the minister being delivered from harm due, in part, to the prayers of the saints.

3. Pray for doors to be opened to them for the spread of the gospel.

In his letter to the Colossians Paul asked the church to be praying “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains” (Col. 4:3). The success of the spread of the gospel is dependant in part on the prayers of the people of God. In this way, the church shares in the gospel ministry with the pastor. Though he is not the only one in the body who is called to spread the word, he has a unique calling to “do the work of an evangelist.” The saints help him fulfill this work by praying that the Lord would open doors “for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”

4. Pray that they might have boldness and power to preach the gospel.

In addition to praying for open doors for the ministry of the word, the people of God should pray that ministers would have Spirit-wrought boldness. When writing to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul asked them to pray for him “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). There is a well-known story of several college students going to visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle in order to hear Charles Spurgeon preach. As the story goes, Spurgeon met them at the door and offered to show them around. At one point he asked if they wanted to see the church’s heater plant (boiler room). He took them downstairs where they saw hundreds of people praying for God’s blessings on the service and on Spurgeon’s preaching. The gathering of the people of God to pray for the ministry of the word is what he called “the heating plant!” Believers can help ministers by praying that they would be given boldness and power in preaching the gospel.

5. Pray that they might have a spirit of wisdom and understanding.

One of the most pressing needs for a minister of the gospel is that he would be given the necessary wisdom to counsel, to know when to confront, to mediate and to discern the particular pastoral needs of a congregation. This is an all-encompassing and a recurring need. The minister is daily faced with particular challenges for which he desperately needs the wisdom of Christ. It is said of Jesus that “the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, and of counsel and might” was upon Him (Is. 11:2). The servants of Christ need that same Spirit. Much harm is done to the church as a whole if the minister does not proceed with the wisdom commensurate to the challenges with which he is faced. Those who benefit from this wisdom can help the minister by calling down this divine blessing from heaven upon him.

– Nicholas Batzig
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/5-ways-to-pray-for-your-pastor/

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We Are Not Alone

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, andwe will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

– John 14:18-31

Gospel Presentation

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  – John 14:1-6

“The Gospel is very simply Jesus Christ. Who among us is tired of hearing of the Lord Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God, the Son of Man. Sent into this world to be born of a virgin that He might be sinless, that He might be born under the law, to keep the very law that you and I break day after day, after day. The perfect, sinless, Son of God has perfectly met all the requirements of God’s law, and is ready to give His righteousness to us that we would have a perfect standing before God. That He went to a cross; there He was lifted up to die. There upon that cross, the sins of everyone who would believe in Him were transferred to Him. And Him who knew no sin God made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. The great exchange of the cross—the worst about me laid upon Him, the best about Him now to be laid upon me as He shed His blood upon that cross.

He reconciled sinful man to holy God. There is no other way for us to have a relationship with an infinitely holy God except through the blood of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it was by his sin-bearing, substitutionary, vicarious death upon that cross, it was as if He took sinful man in one hand, and holy God in the other hand and brought the two together through His death. By that death He satisfied the righteous anger of God and appeased His wrath towards all who would believe in Him.

There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through that death that He redeemed sinners out of the slave market of sin, and redeemed us out of the tyranny of Satan’s grip upon our lives. It was by that death that Jesus Christ has provided now salvation free for all who will call upon His name. He was taken down from that cross, He said, “It is finished.” Not I am finished—”It is finished.”

He had completed the mission of salvation that He had come into this world to accomplish. He was buried in the rich man’s tomb and on the third day the power that was inherent in Him—the Son of God—He raised Himself from the dead. He came walking out of that tomb a risen, living, victorious, Savior. He ascended back to heaven, He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He is mighty to save to the uttermost all who call upon Him.

To call upon the Lord Jesus Christ is to look away from yourself, to look away from religion, to look away from your church, to look away from your denomination, to look away from your baptism and your church membership, and all of your good works, and to look exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He says, “Him who comes unto me I will in no wise cast out.” He loves to save sinners. He is the friend of sinners. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He came not for the righteous, He came for the unrighteous. He is a good physician. He came not for the well but for those who are sick.

Will you tell him this moment what a sinner you are, how sick you are by sin?—that you’re unable to save yourself. Would you call upon Him? Say, Lord Jesus save me. I am a wretched hell-bound sinner, but your grace is being offered to sinners like me. And if you will call upon His name this very moment I promise you by the authority of the word of God that He will save you—that He will save you today. He will wash your sins away. You will be clean and pure from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.

He says, “Come, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be white as wool.” If you will call upon Him, He will give you His righteousness. It is a free gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it. There’s nothing that you can do to merit it. He will clothe you with the perfect garments of His righteousness. And as God looks upon you there will be a covering for your sin. He will see only the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ covering the entirety of who you are—your sin sick soul. You will find acceptance with God, and one day when you die He will take you into the very presence of the Father and present you faultless before the throne of God.

He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” Peter said there is salvation in no other name. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Paul says there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. Who gave himself, a ransom for all a testimony born at the proper time.

If you turn away from this free offer of the gospel there is no hope for your soul. You will be trampling underfoot the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to say to you hell cannot be hot enough for you to hear this message, to hear this truth, and to refuse the Lord Jesus Christ who suffered and bled and died upon Calvary’s cross to save sinners.

If you refuse the gospel your blood is on your own hands and you will suffer in hell forever under the torment of the wrath of God. You will be among the torment of the damned, and you will never find relief for your soul.

But today the gates of paradise are swung open to you, and you may come in and you may enter. And Jesus says, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for you will find rest for your souls. For My burden is easy and My yoke is light.” How hard it is for you to continue to live a life of sin. How glorious it would be to come into the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ and to receive His salvation. This is a decisive moment in your life. You may never have an opportunity like this again where the gospel is so clearly being presented to you, and so I beg you, I urge you, if you are not saved, if you are not committed, to this moment commit your life to Jesus Christ. He will receive you, He will save you, He will wash you, and one day He will take you to heaven where you will spend all eternity with Him.

This is the greatest offer that has ever been made to anyone on this earth. This is the glorious good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. So I would urge you this moment if you have never believed upon Jesus Christ, in your heart of hearts to say, Lord Jesus I am a sinner, and you are a Savior; I am a great sinner, you are a great Savior, and I now this moment as an act of my will, I commit all that I am to you. If you have never done that, I would urge you to do so this very moment.

– Steve Lawson
https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/5530276-steven-lawson-s-impromptu-gospel-presentation

Four Ways to Get Along with Your Brother or Sister

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:1-7

 

“Mine!”

“No, it’s mine!”

“Dad, why does she have a bigger piece than me?”

“Give it!”

“I had it first!”

“If you don’t let me have it, I’m telling Dad!”

“I’m older, so I get the biggest scoop!”

“Grandma gave it to me, so I’ll share with you after I’m done!”

I’m sure you’ve never heard these phrases in your home, but I’ll honestly admit that they not only spew out of the mouths of my kids, they also bring me back to my growing up days far too frequently and painfully. If you’re at all like me and my siblings, you fight more often than you hug (even figuratively). You’re on the fritz with each other most of the time, and love is a rare word for the type of relationships inside the walls of your house. (Okay, so maybe mom and dad are a little more mature.)

But, really, it’s all your bratty sister’s fault, right? It’s your stupid, selfish older brother who causes all the fights, you say. Hmmm. I’d normally be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, except for a little bit of common sense I’ve gleaned along the way, and, more importantly, some facts the Bible writer James shared with us. Here’s what James says:

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

In plain English, here’s what he means: YOU fight because YOU’RE selfish! Fights come about because two selfish sinners have a conflict. (If you’re still trying to get over that sinner bit, get a grip—you are one! Just admit it.) It’s takes two to fight. One selfish person can’t fight alone.

Now that we understand why we fight, it’s helpful to understand how to stop the battles. James gives us four ways to stop fighting.

  1. Give up! For starters, let’s just rebound off of the fact about selfishness (lusts). If selfishness causes fights, the obvious solution is to stop being selfish. There you go. Simple. But not easy. Not at all.
  1. Shut up! Sure, maybe there are nicer ways to say it. But, really, if you just closed your mouth instead of letting those selfish words out, you’d have a whole lot fewer fights. James wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (1:19).
  1. Make up! I’ll bet you’d fight a lot less with your sibling(s) if you made it a personal rule to confess your selfishness to them anytime you realize you’ve fought with them. Try it. You’ll think twice before fighting again. “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16a). Don’t forget that those are God’s words; He commands you to confess to your brother and sister.
  1. Look up! If all this seems too hard, just remember that doing right by yourself is always hard. But obeying God with God within you and enabling you is always possible, never beyond your reach. Next time you’re thinking of “duking it out” with a sibling, try obeying this command instead: “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16b). God answers prayer. He will change you. And He might just change your brother or sister, too.

And, just in case you think all this “don’t fight” jazz might not be all that important, remember that James’s whole point in his book is to help you remember that you show your faith by how you act. People who fight show that they aren’t like God. And people who aren’t being changed to look more like God don’t show evidence of His salvation. That’s serious business.

Don’t fight—God says so, and God gave you all you need in order to stop. That’s called grace. Use it.

– Andy Merkle
Continue Challenge

Kalashnikov’s Conscience

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. – 2 Corinthians 4:1 

How would you like to go to the judgment as the creator of the AK-47?

Aged 94, Mikhail Kalashnikov just did.

He had previously refused to accept moral responsibility for the people his creation killed. But as death loomed, fear of hell increased, and the 91 year-old went to church for the first time. He followed that up with a long emotional letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church saying he was suffering “spiritual pain” over the many deaths his gun had caused. If you’ve ever doubted the power of conscience, read these extracts from his letter, published in Russia’s pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia:

My spiritual pain is unbearable….I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I… a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?

The longer I live, the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression.

He signed it “a slave of God, the designer Mikhail Kalashnikov.”

Don’t Give up

This should encourage us never to give up on someone, no matter how old they are or how hard they seem. The conscience within is our greatest ally and God can “drill” into it even after years of searing and numbing.

Let’s just hope that Kalashnikov took his conscience to the blood of Christ and not only to a Russian priest. The blood of Christ can cleanse from every sin, even the tons of blood shed by Kalashnikov’s guns.

– David Murray
Head Heart Hands Blog

Focus on the Important, Not the Urgent

“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”Ephesians 5:16 (NLT)

I’ve got good news and bad news for 2014. The 365 days you’ll be given next year aren’t enough time to do everything. But here’s the good news: God doesn’t expect you to do everything. God has given you just enough time to do everything he wants you to do.

That’s why it’s so important for you to set goals for 2014. Goals help you focus your life. Paul models this in 1 Corinthians 9. He says “I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something — not just the air.” 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NCV).

Paul had a purpose. You need one, too.

Too many of us focus our lives on unimportant causes. Trivial Pursuit isn’t just a game; it’s a description of our culture. Most of what’s going on in our world today won’t matter in a week—much less for eternity.

Most people can’t tell the difference between urgent and important. Urgent is almost never what’s important. ­­We set aside our family time, our time with God, and our friendships for the urgent matters that almost never matter for long.

Goals are a great antidote for the kind of life that chases the urgent rather than what’s important. Goals will focus your energy.

For example, if you made it your goal to get healthy in 2014, that decision will focus your energy on that task. Any time you try to get healthy, you’ll be tempted to skip a workout for more sleep or eat junk food.

But a goal will focus your energy on the important task of getting healthy. The Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”Ephesians 5:16 (NLT).

Set some goals. Make the most of 2014. Don’t waste another year on the urgent rather than the important.

Talk It Over

  • What are some urgent but unimportant tasks that have filled your time lately?
  • What changes can you make in your life to maximize the important and minimize the urgent?
  • What are some goals in the important areas of your life that should be prominent in 2014?

– Rick Warren
The Daily Hope Devotional

Serve the Lord with Gladness

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

– Psalm 100

Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent. Our God requires no slaves to grace his throne; he is the Lord of the empire of love, and would have his servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God serve him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in their ranks. That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looketh at the heart, and if he seeth that we serve him from force, and not because we love him, he will reject our offering. Service coupled with cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true. Take away joyful willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, “It is sweet for one’s country to die,” proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism. Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness. The man who is cheerful in his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,

“Make me to walk in thy commands,

‘Tis a delightful road.”

Reader, let us put this question–do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.

– Charles Spurgeon
Morning and Evening