Thursday, January 24, 2008

Study on Prayer

This is the first of a 3-part series on Prayer - specifically, what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

I taught this series in our Wednesday night services. This particular study is comprised of the text I taught from, and a handout that I gave to use during the week.

This is the first time I’ve ever posted a study like this on this blog - so we’ll see how it goes. Please feel free to e-mail ( me with comments or questions.

I hope you enjoy it.


Week one - introduction

I have heard it said that “Nothing intimidates Christians more than prayer.” We all know we should do it, but none of us, I think, are quite sure about just how to do it…

I know for myself, it has been a life-long struggle. Let me ask you this… how many of you struggle with prayer? What are some of the things you struggle with? Praying enough - how much is enough? What to say? How to listen? How to be effective? How to know when the answer is no?

Me, too… I used to think I was the only person who struggled with how to pray; and not only how, but sometimes even “why” to pray.

A search on prayer on (where I order a lot of my books) turned up a list for 6,764 different books or resources on prayer… I believe it’s the number one concern of Christians.

I’m sure that as we go through this next few weeks, you will hear me say things that you’ve heard me say before because for more than 30 years as I’ve taught, written, and preached, prayer is probably the number one subject that I’ve dealt with…

You may even hear me say things that you’ve read in other places, or heard other preachers and teachers say. The reason is - I’m not that smart. I just have good resources, and I listen a lot. And I want to share what helps me - as you’ve also heard me say before, I’m just one beggar telling other beggars where I’ve found bread!

For the past 3-4 years or so I’ve done my studies on my laptop, but I also have a big manila envelope with copies of nearly all the talks and sermons that I’ve done for 25 years or so before that. And going through that envelope, the one thing that amazes me is how many times the topic is prayer. As much as I love the Old Testament, you would think that something from the OT would be the most frequent. Or perhaps the parables - lay speakers love the parables, but no, I’ve spent more time and study on prayer than any other area, and I still have struggles with it!

Like I said, I thought I was the only Christian with this problem; enough so that I was almost ashamed to talk about it, or admit it.

But what I’ve come to understand is - if you’re not struggling with prayer, then you’re not praying enough!

Let me say that again, if you’re not struggling with prayer, then you are not praying enough! Only someone who spends much time in prayer knows that they don’t know how to pray, as they ought; and not only that, but as one commentator put it, “Nor do these anxieties subside, but rather deepen, with the depth and ripeness of our spiritual experience.” In other words, it doesn’t get any easier either!

Did you ever notice that the only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them, was to pray? They never asked Him to teach them how to witness. They never asked Him to teach them how to heal. They never asked Him to teach them how to preach. The only thing they ever asked Him to teach them - was how to pray.

There are probably as many “methods” for prayer as there are writers who write about it. For instance, one that is making the e-mail circuit is the “Five Finger Prayer.” (Let me know if you’d like a copy of this.)

Another method for praying is to use the acronym A.C.T.S. - this stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

A variation on that is F.A.C.T.S. Hank Hanegraaff in his book, “The Prayer of Jesus” gives this as standing for Faith, and then Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Yet another was the acronym P.R.A.Y. This stands for Praise, Repentance, Asking for others, and praying for Yourself.

To use either of these methods, you spend time praying, using these “topics” as “prompts” to guide your prayer.

Other methods include praying the scriptures; praying the Psalms, specifically; praying the Names of God or the Names of Jesus; and one I love, praying hymns - a lot of the words to the old hymns are simply prayers set to music…

But the most important thing to know about prayer, we can find in the Nike slogan… Just do it!

For this study I encourage you to get a folder so that you can keep the handouts and any notes you take. I also encourage you to get a notebook or something so that you can keep a prayer list and especially so that you can keep answers to prayers… It is so exciting to go back and read of answers to prayers…

This is going to be a relatively short study on prayer - only a few weeks - so we won’t have time to study much about prayers in the Bible, but I’ll be giving you some scripture references that you can read during your own prayer time. Reading prayers, before you begin to pray, really begins to focus your mind on God - it gets you into the “groove” or “posture” of prayer…

For these last few minutes of tonight’s study, we’re going to look at - “What about this prayer that Jesus gave…”

Let us begin with prayer….

[Father, as I taught this study, and now as I’m posting it on the World Wide Web via a medium known as a blog, I can’t help but be amazed at Your hand in all this technological communication. No matter how advanced “man” becomes - You are still God! And You are still in control!

Father, I pray for everyone who will read or copy this study. I pray, Lord, that in some way, You will use this to benefit someone. You have blessed me with a passion to study and to write - and so Lord, I pray that you will use me for Your Glory and Honor.
In Jesus’ Name - Amen.]

Our scripture text for these first 3 studies will be from Luke 11, plus we will also compare this version of Jesus’ model prayer with the version from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6.

If you have your Bible, turn to Luke 11. As I said earlier, the only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them, was to pray. They never asked Him to teach them how to witness. They never asked Him to teach them how to heal. They never asked Him to teach them how to preach. The only thing they ever asked Him to teach them - was how to pray.

(Read Luke 11:1)

Luke 11:1a:
“while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished…”

Luke gives us more instances of Jesus praying than any other Gospel. Luke 3:21 At His Baptism; Luke 5:16 in the wilderness; Luke 6:12 at the appointment of the apostles; Luke 9:18 when He asked “Who do men say that I am; Luke 9:28-29 at His transfiguration; Luke 11:1 here and; Luke 22:39-45 in the garden of Gethsemane.

I have said many times before that instead of praying in between teaching, ministering and healing, Jesus taught, ministered, and healed in between prayers! It has more to do with attitude than action!

The disciples had walked with Jesus nearly 3 years by now, they had watched Him go from being extremely popular, to extremely unpopular. Many commentators believe that this takes place while Jesus is in Peraea. If that is true, He is less than 6 months away from the Crucifixion…

The disciples are not blind, nor are they stupid. They can see what is happening. And so as they once again watch Him praying, when He finishes one of them (I suspect, Peter) steps up and says:

Luke 11:1b “Lord, teach us to pray…”

I have often said that one of the drawbacks to reading scripture is that we can’t determine “tone of voice.” It’s hard to know what one really means without tone of voice or body language. It’s like reading an e-mail when someone means something sarcastically, but it comes across as mean and hard. If you don’t know how they meant it - it can read entirely different.

But I was wrong. We do have a way to know “tone of voice” in the Bible. That is by studying the original languages. I mentioned in my last sermon that I have desires in my heart today that I didn’t put there - that 5 years ago would have never crossed my mind? Well… I want to learn Greek. In the original Greek there are tenses and moods in the language that tell us exactly what the tone of voice was, and exactly what it meant.

Here the phrase reads, “Lord, teach us to pray…” but in the Greek, the verb “teach” is in the “imperative” which makes it really say, “Lord, teach us NOW to pray!”

Why now? After 3 years, why now? (Why do you think they asked now?)

Several commentators said that they didn’t think Jesus would have ever verbalized this prayer if they hadn’t asked. He did, of course, give a version of it in His Sermon on the Mount, but that was within the course of a sermon when He was teaching on attitudes of prayer.

Matthew Henry says: “Lord, teach us to pray", is itself a good prayer, and a very needful one, for it is a hard thing to pray well and it is Jesus Christ only that can teach us, by his word and Spirit, how to pray. “Lord, teach me what it is to pray; Lord, excite and quicken me to the duty; Lord, direct me what to pray for; Lord, give me praying graces, that I may serve God acceptably in prayer; Lord, teach me to pray in proper words; give me a mouth and wisdom in prayer, that I may speak as I ought; teach me what I shall say.”

And when you couple that with “Teach us now to pray” it adds a sense of urgency to its importance.

Next, verse one says:
Luke 11:1c “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

We usually think of John the Baptist as a prophet and martyr, and yet Jesus’ disciples remembered him as a man of prayer.

Having just come off the Advent season, we remember John as the “miracle baby” of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born, and yet he had to pray.

John was given the privilege of introducing the Messiah to Israel, and yet he had to pray. In Luke 7:28, Jesus said that John was the greatest of the prophets, and yet John had to depend on prayer. If prayer was that vital to a man who had these many advantages, how much more important it ought to be to us who do not have these advantages!

At least a couple of Jesus’ disciples were first, disciples of John. In John 1:35-40 we read about Andrew and an unnamed disciple, who we know to be John, following Jesus after John declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…” So we know that they, at least, had first hand knowledge of John’s prayers.

We know that the scribes and Pharisees prayed, but their prayers were mostly ritualized, or were doxologies. The priests prayed the Psalms. But, there was something different about John’s and Jesus’ prayers that made the disciples want to learn how to do it.

Jesus had taught them by precept, or word in the Sermon on the Mount. And He taught them by example time and again, but especially when in Luke 9:29 we read that “While He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming…” But, somehow the example of Jesus on this occasion stirred them to fresh interest in the subject, and to a revival of interest in John’s teachings.

There are those who “say prayers” and those who converse with God. The disciples wanted to converse with God!

Someone has said that many people pray like sailors use their pumps - only when the ship is leaking…

What is prayer? There is an out of print book titled “A Pilgrim’s Guide to Prayer” by Edward C. Briggs (I think it can still be found online, though.) It is one of the very best books on prayer I’ve ever read.

In the introduction, Rev. Briggs says: “Real prayer is like wrestling. It’s a struggle, a sort of work. It’s Jacob beside the Jabbok as a desperate dawn begins to break. It’s Christ in Gethsemane. It’s Paul in Romans 7 bemoaning the hold of sin on his life. It’s Moses saying, ‘Blot me out of Your Book, O Lord, if I can’t save this nation!’ (Ex.32:32)

Prayer is for the souls what food is for bodies, gasoline for cars, money for retirement, film for cameras. In other words, it makes life work, and without it things grind to a halt.

Prayer isn’t tame. Anything that’s tame or loose or half-hearted can’t be called prayer. Prayer sweats, cries and gripes. It shouts, but never yawns. Nothing that yawns can be called prayer…

That strange and wonderful Baptist, John Bunyan had it right. He said, ‘When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words, than thy words without heart!’”

And I fully agree.


We closed the study with comments and questions, then prayer. And again, I urge you to e-mail me with your comments and questions.

The following is a the handout that we wrote to go with this study. I encourage you to read the scriptures, ponder the questions, and spend time in prayer and meditation with your Heavenly Father. He loves you SO much that He gave His Son to die for your sins!

To God be the Glory!


Study of Prayer - Week One Handout:
“Lord, Teach Us Now To Pray”

Key statement(s): “Jesus knew that His disciples would never properly understand examples of prayer without first understanding principles of prayer.”

“The Secret to Prayer is secret prayer.”

Scriptures to read this week:
2 Chronicles 1: 6-13
Matthew 6: 9-13
Luke 11:1-4
Luke 18:9-14
2 Samuel 7:18-29

When King David goes before God in 2 Samuel 7:18, many commentators believe that when it says he “sat before the Lord” it indicates that he sat there for some time meditating on what to say before he began praying. How much time do we spend “listening” to, or just thinking about, God before we begin praying, or even while we’re praying?

In this passage of scripture, when David says, “Who am I, O Lord God,” the Hebrew word for “God” is one we’re familiar with - “Jehovah”. But the word for “Lord” is “Adonai” which means “My Lord” and is a more personal confession than simply saying “God.” It is more as we will be studying in these lessons, a familiarity as intimate as saying “Our Father…” but it means much more - it means “Lord”, “Master”, even “Owner”. Before we can fall on our knees before God, we must bow to Him as Adonai, our Lord and Master. Acknowledging Him as Lord has to be something more than mere words. It’s a relationship, and how can you develop a relationship with someone other than spending time alone with them?

Questions to ponder this week:
(*Hint* Take one question a day and “ponder” on it. Jot down your impressions and thoughts to reflect back on them later.)

Is prayer really important to me?

When do I pray?

Why do I pray?

What do I pray about mostly?

Where do I pray?

Do I really spend time “communicating” with God?

Does your prayer life shape your daily life, or does your daily life shape your prayer life?

If you don’t already have one, create a prayer list. It can be a few or a lot of names. If you’ve told anyone that you’d pray for them (or be “thinking” about them) put them on the list. This is one way to pray for them.

Prayer List Prayer

Father, I lift up to You today, Your servants of the Kingdom. I lift up those who are doing battle - those who are fighting the good fight; those who are running the race, who are staying the course.
I lift up those who are striving on to perfection, those who are children in the faith, and those who are unaware, or worse, uncaring.

I lift them up by name:
(Look at your list. Read off the names, remembering and praying for each person’s need as you know it.)

I lift them up by occupation:
(As you’re looking at your list, pray for others of their occupation. For instance, if someone on your list is a nurse, lift up other nurses, members of the medical field, and those for whom they will be caring this day. If someone is a teacher, lift up teachers of all kinds and their students, etc.)

I lift them up by affliction:
(If someone is sick, lift up others with the same sickness. If someone is traveling, lift up others who are traveling for business or pleasure. If someone is an unbeliever, lift up other unbelievers.)

Father, as I see faces with each name, I know that you see hearts, spirits and souls. Touch them I pray. Speak to their hearts and meet their needs. Strengthen their spirits, and comfort their souls. May they hear Your call and come to know the Joy of the Lord.
Father, I pray that in all we say and in all that we do, Your Name may be praised and glorified.
In Jesus’ Name,

Next time: The Lord’s Prayer - “P’s in a Pod” Part One - Things we need to give God.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Now What: The Song of Action (Simeon's Song)

On the last Sunday in 2007, I had the opportunity to bring the message at our two churches. The following is the text of that sermon.

If you’ve attended the Wednesday night Chapel services or any Bible study when I’ve taught then you’ve heard me say that I like to teach using the inductive study method of “What, So What, and Now What.”

“What” is “what is the scripture saying?” “So What” is “how is the scripture interpreted?” And “Now What” is how can I apply it to my daily life…?

Our last “song” if you will, in the First Christmas Carols is “Now What: The Song of Action.”

Scripture: (Read: Luke 2:22-40)

Prayer: Father, thank you for Dr. Luke and his attention to the details of our Saviour’s life. May we see in the events surrounding His birth what our response to His coming into our lives should be as well. In His Holy Name we pray - Amen.

A woman pulled up to a traffic light that had just turned red. There was one car in front of her, and as she waited, the light turned green, but the car in front didn’t move. She began waving her arms and shouting, “It doesn’t get any greener” among other, um, “choice” words and phrases…

The light turned red again, and the lady was furious by now. In her anger she didn’t notice there was a police car behind her. Suddenly she heard a peck on her window and there stood the officer… She rolled down her window, “What do you want?” she shouted. “It’s not against the law to shout in my own car!”

He asked her to step out of her car, and she continued raving… “You can’t arrest me for being angry… Didn’t you see that that car wasn’t moving… You don’t know where I’ve got to be…” on and on she ranted. He cuffed her and put her in the back seat of his car.

After about 30 minutes of waiting (and growing angrier by the minute) the officer finally let her out and took the handcuffs off. She lashed out at him, “You haven’t heard the last of this! I knew there was no law against shouting in my own car…”

To which the officer sheepishly replied, “Well, I didn’t detain you for shouting or being angry. As I sat behind you I thought, ‘Look at that lady! What a jerk, but it’s not against the law to be obnoxious,’ but then I noticed the cross hanging from your rearview mirror, and the “Got Jesus?” bumper sticker on your bumper. Then I saw the “choose life” license plate and the fish emblem on your trunk and, well, I just concluded that you’d stolen the car!”

Professing one thing and doing another…

Have you ever been lied to by someone professing to be a Christian? Have you ever been swindled, or taken advantage of by someone professing to be a Christian?

We once knew a man who often said, “Forget Christians, just give me a good ole honest heathen to do business with!”

Professing one thing and doing another…

My SS class and my family has heard this story… As I was going up to Gatlinburg to make a delivery one day, a huge pickup truck came up on my bumper going up Hwy 66. I mean he was right on my bumper. Finally he passed me and whipped back in front of me causing me to slam on my breaks to avoid hitting him. Well, that made me angry, but what really hit me was the sticker in his back window which showed a picture of Christ and the words, “Forgiven…”

I followed him all the way to Gatlinburg, hoping that he’d pull into some parking lot so I could pull in behind him and tell him that he’d destroyed his witness by acting like such a jerk!”

Professing one thing and doing another…

But now I have to ask… Do you, Christian, lie? Do you, Christian, treat people badly? Do you, profess one thing and do another?

During this Advent season, in both Jimmy’s sermon series and in our adult SS lessons, we’ve looked at the individuals involved in Luke’s account of the Christmas story. In the SS lessons, we’ve looked at what they’ve been called to do - called to believe, called to be a vessel, to proclaim, to rejoice, and then in today’s lesson, called to witness. In the sermons we heard the songs they sang as the first Christmas carols. We heard the Song of Faith, the Song of the Reversal of Fortunes, the Song of Restoration and the Song of Peace… And so we continue as we read about Simeon and Anna this week, with the Song of Action.

There are several things that all these main characters in the story have in common. First of all, there was their character - their “righteousness…” Thayer’s Dictionary of Greek Definitions describes righteousness as: “the state of him who is such, as he ought to be”.
Luke 1:6 tells us that Zechariah and Elizabeth were “both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.”

Luke 1:30 tells us that Mary “found favor with God” which indicates her righteousness. And even Joseph, whom we haven’t studied, we find in Matthew 1:19 was “a righteous man.”

Simeon continues that character trait. We read in verse 25 that he was “righteous and devout.” And Anna embodies her righteousness in her “worshiping day and night with fastings and prayers.”

And all of these (except for Joseph) were said to either be “filled with the Holy Spirit” or that the “Spirit came upon them…” or in the case of Anna, we are told that she was a prophetess which indicated her possession of the Holy Spirit.

Now it’s important to remember, that before Christ was born and walked among us; before His death and resurrection; before His Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost, not everyone had access to the Spirit of God. Today, after Pentecost, anyone who has submitted their life to Christ, is indwelt with God’s Holy Spirit. If you have made that profession of faith, then you are filled with the Spirit.

So for our remaining time today I want to look at just what it means to be “righteous”, to be “such as we ought to be” and what it means to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

In fact, not just for today, but as a theme for this coming year, when I have an opportunity to bring the message (unless the Lord directs otherwise) I hope to continue looking at just what “being a Christian” really means.

As we saw, there is a difference between “professing” and “doing”. We may profess in our Affirmation of Faith on Sunday morning that we “believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord…” but do we “do” this belief in our daily lives?

As we’ve looked at the other characters surrounding the event, we’ve seen how they lived their daily lives, while serving God. They lived out, what they professed to believe…

So, how do we do that? I believe we can see, in Simeon’s life, 4 things we can do in order to live out what we profess to believe.

~~ First of all, Simeon was said to be “righteous and devout.” Not only was he “such as he ought to be” in his daily life, but he was “devout” as well. Luke is the only writer in the scriptures who uses this word. It’s like “righteous” magnified! If righteousness is doing what you ought toward others, devout is doing what you ought toward God.

What made him that way?

Luke tells us that he “was looking for the consolation of Israel.” Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” says that he was “a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel.”

Do you live in “prayerful expectancy”? In other words, do you pray, expecting God to answer your prayer; expecting God to help?

We see this same word in Paul’s letter to Titus when he says about Jesus: (Titus 2:11-14 NLT)
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,
(see the words “righteousness and devout” there)
while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”

So we live what we profess when we are expectant in our prayers, while living with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.

~~Next we see in verse 26 that “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

In other words, he knew he would see the Messiah before he died…

Many people take it for granted that Simeon was an old man from what he said in verse 29 about dying in peace, but we don’t really know that for sure. There are many instances in the Bible where people are said very old, or to be near death, but then they live a long time after that. For instance, in Genesis 27, Isaac is said to be near death, but he lived another 60 years.

It has more to do with seeking a fulfillment in life than with age.

It’s like, in the movie “Sister Act”, one of the nuns upon learning that the Pope is coming to visit says, “Oh I’m dying, I’m dying…” Now of course, she wasn’t really dying, she is indicating that her life-long ambition has been realized, and everything else now would be (as we say in the South) “gravy.” Everything after this is just “extra good”…

Luke tells us that “it was revealed to him” that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. This indicates that in his expectant prayer, he received assurance. In other words, he believed it would happen. And so he was anticipating it.

Hebrews chapter 11, that great chapter of faith gives us a huge list of men and women who believed that the Messiah would come, but who died without seeing Him. Verse 13 of chapter 11 says “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.”

So #2: We live out what we profess when we believe and have faith that God will do what He says He will do. (If you’re following on your insert - “He looked for answers to his prayers.”)

~~Simeon was told that he would see the Messiah before he died. And now, Simeon’s greatest goal was fulfilled. And what did he do next? He began worshiping God!

In continuing the Christmas Carol theme, Simeon sings a song of worship and salvation, as he praises God for keeping His promise of sending a Messiah, and allowing him to see Him.

Verse28 says (from The NLT) Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let Your servant die in peace, as You have promised.
I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!”

Like Mary and Zechariah, Simeon sings a song that is filled with OT associations. And with that last line, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!” Simeon is quoting a series of prophecies from Isaiah indicating that the Messiah would be, as the angels told the shepherds, good news of great joy which would be, not just for the Jews, but for all people!

So thirdly, we live out what we profess when we recognize answers to prayer and praise God for his faithfulness.

But there was another “verse” you might say, to Simeon’s song.

Simeon also prophesied that the Messiah would bring division. Paul would later characterize Christ as being a “stumbling block to the Jews, and to the Gentiles, foolishness.”

There are times when following Christ - when living out what we profess to believe - will bring division. Simeon said that, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him.”

Warren Wiersbe writes: “Jesus Christ is God’s miracle; and yet, instead of admiring Him, the people attacked Him and spoke against Him. His birth was a miracle, yet they slandered it (Joh_8:41). They said His miracles were done in the power of Satan (Mat_12:22-24) and that His character was questionable (Joh_8:48, Joh_8:52; Joh_9:16, Joh_9:24). They slandered His death (Psa_22:6-8; Mat_27:39-44) and lied about His resurrection (Mat_27:62-66). Today, people are even speaking against His coming again (2 Peter 3).
But the way people speak about Jesus Christ is evidence of what is in their hearts.”

After Simeon, came the prophetess Anna. We don’t know what she said about the Christ Child, but we can see in her actions that she too:
Was expectant; she fasted and prayed.
She believed; she had practically lived at the Temple for 84 years.
She praised God and told everyone she came in contact with about the Child.
And as her very life attested, that it hadn’t been easy.

If we propose to live out, in this coming year, what we profess to believe, we must realize that it may not always be easy. As I said earlier, in this coming year we will be focusing a lot of our study on what it really means to be a Christian. Much of our text will come from Paul’s letters and Romans 12 in particular. In verse 2 of Romans 12 it says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

And there’s only one way to do that - and that is by living it.

Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography about his efforts to convince the city of Philadelphia to light the streets at night. His words didn’t work, so he bought an attractive lantern, polished the glass and placed it on a long bracket that extended from the front of his house.

Each evening as darkness descended, he lit the wick. His neighbors soon noticed the warm glow in front of his house; and passersby found the light helped them avoid tripping over the rough pavement.

Soon others placed lanterns in front of their homes as well, and eventually the city recognized the need for having well-lit streets…

John Wesley said, “Give me a hundred people who love God with all their hearts, and fear nothing but sin, and I will move the world!”

Professing belief in Christ will not change the world, but living for Him will…

Prayer: Father, as we have looked at the lives of these Saints that transition us from the Old Testament to the New, may we see, by their examples, ways in which we can stand strong and live out what we profess to believe.

In Jesus’ Name - Amen

As we come to this last Sunday of 2007 I want you to think about your New Year’s Resolutions. For many of us they’re a joke. We know that any we make will be broken by January 2nd. But on the handout in the bulletin, I’ve listed a place for you to write down your New Year’s Resolutions, based on Psalms 37:4 which says: “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Now, this doesn’t mean “delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you everything your little heart desires…” what it means is that when you delight yourself in the LORD, He will place in your heart, the desires that He wants to be there.

If you truly want to live out what you profess to believe (and believe me, that’s the only way for your witness to be effective) then your heart must be filled with the desires that God longs to put there… And the only way to do that is as our closing song indicates is to say, “I Surrender All…”

If you’ve never bowed your knee before the Lord - now is the time.