Monday, June 15, 2015

Prayer II - Abide

"Abide" is such a fabulous old fashioned word.

There are some words that get lost in the folds of time. Their original punch seems forgotten in the modern vernacular. "Abide" is such a powerful bible word that is worthy of rediscovery. Its call is deeper than at first read. Jesus uses it eleven times in this text, so it is a big word in this teaching. (John 15)

John's gospel is loaded with the "I am's". He has an amazing ability to take us on a journey of the depth of his Jesus. He seems to highlight and draw attention to aspects of Jesus that the other authors are less focussed on.

John seems to have been the "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 21:20). This remarkable intimacy is further reflected when, at the last supper, John was "leaning against Jesus" (John 13:25). Surely then, this is the disciple we want to learn from. John's clear special place with Jesus, draws us close to hear about "abiding".

"Abide" is translated "Remain with me" (NIV), "Stay with me" (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), "Live in me" (God's Word), "Continue in me" (Weymouth New Testament).

I suspect prayer starts here. Before we get into the world of wonder and complexity of the various prayer forms, we are to engage in the simplicity of being "attached to the vine". Finding myself grafted in Jesus as the vine, is not simply a one off affair. Yes in salvation, being born again, happens once at the point of repentance and redemption. However, keeping my life flourishing in the vine, is a daily space of drinking and drawing from Jesus our source of God life.

Daily we can hear his voice. Daily we delight to sing his praise. Daily we can reflect on his scriptures. Daily we are privileged to remind ourselves of his promises. Daily we can enjoy the Father's presence of comfort, assurance, correction and affirmation. Daily the Holy Spirit can teach us, revealing the transformative truths of the text in our lives.

This is not a demand or a law, but a glorious privilege to spend time with the only true God, the All Mighty, Omnipotent God who is personal, intimate and who speaks to us! This is an honor we simply cannot ignore.

We all develop a unique devotional journey. Here is mine, if it helps:

For some 40 years now,
I wake up before the family,
Get my Espresso and Banana (I know, such a sentimental traditionalist)
Open my Journal and Write
(Record what he has done, what I have done - good or bad, what I need him to speak into)
Read 3 chapters  - 1 x The Law, The Prophets, The New Testament
I document the big verses / phrases that the Holy Spirit highlights - I am expecting the Father to speak to me - personal, family, pastoral, leadership, surprises, prophetically, correction, global gospel focus,
Then I pray... firstly for my family, then my community, followed by my global brotherhood and the church plants I have the privilege of working with, and the areas where I am weak and need him,
Then I praise... I do fall short on this one sometimes - busyness, distraction can keep my personal worship a little light, but I love worship. It refreshes me, restores and washes my soul and strengthens my spirit - making much of him and so much less of me.

I hope this helps.
"Abiding could really mean being totally devoted to him!"

Friday, June 12, 2015

Raising the tide of Prayer I

I have loved the last few months.

God is so incredibly kind. He is ever teaching us, transforming us into his likeness and into his deeds, so we can partner with Him in these gospel adventures.

Prayer. A simple word that most of us limp with. It is a word that creates in us a reminder of what we don't do enough of or well enough. Yet it is a beautiful word. It speaks of a God who is not a distant deity, disengaged from our world, challenges and celebrations. It speaks of a redemption story that allows us to be reconciled to a loving, caring God who is intimate, who speaks and who is passionate about our life's journey.

A small group of us prayed together on Wednesday night. We framed our time of prayer around the Lord's Prayer - no, not the one He uses to teach us to pray. Rather, the one He actually prays. (John 17)

Here are our pointers:

1.   Glorify! Amazing how the text always points to Jesus. It is humbling to start our prayer like this. It will then follow with "not my will but yours be done". It is worship that captives us. It is adulation that declares His wonder and majesty. It is reverence that reminds us just how holy and all powerful he truly is.

2.  Know you! The early church revealed remarkable community. As they found their God life, it was loaded with meals, fun, laughter, discipleship, teaching and prayer. Yet, the load punchline was "and the Lord added to their number daily, those who are being saved". A truly healthy church is a church that 'increases' through men and women, boys and girls coming into a revelation of a living Jesus faith. So, we prayed passionately for unsaved family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, coaches of children's activities... Oh Jesus that 'they may know you, the only true God'

3.  I have kept them! Jesus is very passionate in crying out to the Father for those that He has loved, taught and discipled. 'Keep them from the evil one' was His cry. In our community, there has been such an assault against marriages. The enemy has snuck in and tried to bully the marriages into destruction. We are pounding the throne of grace for the sake of our marriages. Some have stood strong. Some have teetered on the brink of defeat. Others have not made it. But we will not give up for these marriages. Jesus was and is praying for them. And so will we.

4.  They may all be one! Disunity, divisiveness and the community's demise is always on the radar of the enemy's devices. Over her history, our community has had two splits. The enemy got it right. We cannot be 'unaware of the devil's devices'. If a strategy has worked before, he will try it again. Jesus models this beautifully. He does not become a 'ghost buster' looking for demons around every corner. Rather, he prays, petitions and pleads for unity. We know, this brings such a smile to the Lord's face that he cannot help himself but 'commands a blessing'. Make us one oh Lord!

5.  I have sent them into the world! Mission, oh what a sweet word. What a privilege that we are now to sent into the world to complete the great Jesus assignment - 'greater works than these will he do'. Jesus did not isolate us into monastic communities, closeted away from the world. Rather He catapults us to the frontline of new gospel frontiers to bring a broken world His extraordinary grace. Each believer on assignment, with the joy of being an ambassador of the most High in our world.

These are prayers worth praying...