Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 6, 2013

Thought For The Week August 11, 2013

Rev. Daniel Henderson shared another interesting idea in his weekly e-devotional this week that I would like to pass on. During a month long sabbatical, reflecting on around 30 years of ministry, he was considering how to focus his ministry efforts for the next 20 years of his life in a way that would have greater impact.

I have these thoughts a lot. As I approach 65 (sooner than I ever thought it would be), I realistically begin to wonder how successful I’ve been in helping people grow in relationship with Christ and how to be better in my service to the Lord in the time I have left. I’m pretty sure that’s what brother Henderson is thinking. His conclusion is that his “life mission is to simply help people ‘engage with God’ so that He can change their lives. I actually think that’s what I’ve been trying to do in every aspect of ministry even when I served in lay ministry. I sincerely want people to know Jesus and to grow so intimate with Him that their lives reflect His glory.

The rest of the e-devotional was what caught my interest. There are many ways to engage people with God (preaching, small groups, outreach activities, worship singing, etc.) and all of them are valuable and necessary to our spiritual growth and intimacy with God. Henderson acknowledged that fact then focused on what he felt was one of the best possible ways. Let me give you his words on it.

“There are many ways to engage people with God, but…I want to focus on one of the best ways possible: Get them praying! There is no greater connection to God than when a person communicates with Him directly. And my goal is to consciously get out of the way of that communication, both during church services and when going through life together with someone.

“In Psalm 50:7-13 the Lord condemned the Israelites for going through the motions of worshipping Him, but in reality being far from Him. I wonder if God would admonish many of us today because our formal ‘prayer time’ from the pulpit is actually hindering genuine worship from His people! Immediately after rebuking the empty motions of formalism, the Lord told the Israelites, Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:14-15 (ESV).

“What if we encouraged everyone who was willing to have a personal encounter with God about their own personal distress? I am not talking about seeing who can pray the loudest, or who can ‘out-pray’ the rest. On the contrary, I am talking about bringing glory to God by helping the most people possible to call upon the Lord in the day of their distress! According to the Lord, people offering the ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving’ as they ‘call upon (Him) in the day of trouble’ glorify Him! And isn’t that what life is all about?

“We should also direct people to God through prayer during the everyday situations of life, not just during church gatherings. Whether it is at the bedside of a loved one entering eternity, during a counseling session for a couple on the brink of divorce, or at a little league football practice, it is easy for me (as a pastor, as the ‘paid professional Christian’) to lead someone in prayer! But if my mission is to help people grab hold of God and let Him change them, then I do not want to just lead them in prayer, I want them to actually pray! I want them to talk openly and honestly to their Creator. All I need to do is ask them to pray right then, and wait in silence as they do.

“And when people genuinely engage God, they are changed! They are never the same again. I have heard a mother cry out to the Lord for comfort and strength and peace and understanding as she lost her child. I have listened to sons declare God’s goodness as their father stepped into God’s presence too soon. I have seen believers ask God to forgive the person who murdered their family member. And time and time again, I have been blown away as the faith of the faithful so beautifully glorifies God as they cry out to Him in their distress! And God is pleased as His people bring the ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving’ from obedient, trusting hearts.

“Do your prayers bring God glory? Do you help others ‘engage God’ in prayer so they, too, bring God glory? Psalm 50:23 says, The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me. Offer such sacrifices today, and then help others do the same.”

What a great idea and thought. We have been actively trying to lift everyone in our congregation to a new level of engaging with God through prayer. We’re making a conscious effort, whenever a need is expressed, to stop and pray right then and there. Maybe the next step is to stop and let the one with the need call out to God, themselves. We’ve seen many of you also stopping to pray and that brings us joy.

We’ve planned 24 hours of prayer from 6am on August 24 to 6am on August 25 where you get to spend one hour with God in prayer. Will you sign up this week so you can personally engage with the living God? We want to hear His plan and strategy for our church to evangelize going into the New Year. In the meantime, set your course, look to Jesus, and ENGAGE! Just a thought.

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