A Prayer of FAITH (sermon audio)

 

This is the audio from the April 30, 2017 sermon, “A Prayer of  FAITH”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text: James 5:13-16

Praying with faith is all about believing that God exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Prayers of faith seek to honor God and pursue His will rather than demand He accomplishes our will.  We pray with faith as we pray with . . .

Focus

Acceptance

Insight

Trust

Hope

. . . and praying with faith is a growing process in our life that ought to result in good works that glorify our Father who is in heaven!

Praying With POWER! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the 2017 New Year’s Day sermon, “Praying With POWER!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text: James 5:13-18 & 1 Kings 17-18

Praying with power is all about recognizing and submitting to God’s power.  We pray with power as we pray with . . .

Purpose

Observation

Worship

Expectation

Repentance

. . . and praying with power means we keep on praying and never give up!

2016: Page 110

After staying late to do my early morning cleaning after a meeting last night, page 110 began a little later than most of my weekdays do.  Even with an extra hour of sleep I still got to work before the start of the school day and did a walk-through of the building to double-check its readiness for the day.  I had a few minor projects to work on throughout the morning but spent much of it working at getting the building systems ready for the inevitable seasonal changeover from heating to cooling.  It seems like there is always a period of time where neither a heat setting or a cooling setting works all that well for the full day and unfortunately, the system doesn’t do well letting it choose which one to run.

When lunchtime came, I went out to eat with a couple of the guys from church with the purpose of encouraging one another and sharing together about our individual walks of faith.  I’ve worked hard this year at better managing my work hours so that work doesn’t consume my life and have a negative impact on my family.  With early starts to most days, this means that my workday is usually done by mid-afternoon.  Today that meant I was home and headed to the riverwalk with my family by 4 PM.  It was a beautiful late afternoon for a walk and for photographing a variety of the sights of nature.  The cute little yellow goslings were out with their protective parents.  Many spring flowers were blooming, including a variety of flowering trees.  A few squirrels were playing in the trees and turtles lined the surfaces of partially submerged logs in the river.

As I thought about the day, and the turtles, I was reminded of the years I worked in youth ministry.  While I believe that by itself the number of youth involved is a terrible criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of a youth ministry, I always used a tag line or slogan of “Always room for 1 more.”  While the turtles startle easily and will slide off the log when they sense danger, I’ve never seen them knock each other off.  Even when the log surface appears to be filled, they will find ways to fit “one more” in what would seem to be limited space.  Most of us are not like that.  We like our space and often feel threatened by anything that shrinks or intrudes upon our comfort zone.  We don’t like to be uncomfortable.  We want our building systems to keep a constant temperature that matches our personal preference and we want a religion that allows us to be lukewarm with no increase in our zeal for God.  We don’t have room for “one more” in our life — even if that “one more” is God Himself.  We especially don’t have room for the stranger, the needy, the different, the poor, the hurting, the “you-name-what-you-don’t-like”.  Yet God says lukewarm is not tolerable to Him and if we choose to remain that way, He will spew us from His mouth.  He calls us to care for the outcasts and those marginalized in our culture as much as we care for ourselves.  He calls us to make room in our lives for Him and for the people who know Him and the people who need Him.  

I pray that you and I would choose a life that is not satisfied with pursuing our own comfort.  I pray that we would allow God to transform us into people who have room in our lives for Him and for others.  I pray that we would not be stingy with the resources that God has allowed us to be stewards of.  I pray that we live life in a way that let those who are seeking God know that in His kingdom there is always room for 1 more.

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2016: Page 82

After a late night of cleaning on page 81, I slept in a little bit but still made it to work by 8 AM to meet the crew that started harvesting timber on the property today.  During the day I took care of needs in the building while also working on the monthly Impact Prayer Ministry newsletter and getting it sent out.  As I was getting ready to leave work, our pest control person showed up so I stayed around while he did his work.  

As I took some time to unwind this evening, I started going through some photos that I had taken over the past few days.  There were quite a few pictures of the osprey that have returned to Potato Creek State Park, including one that at first glance appears to be an osprey with two heads.  While it is obviously just an illusion caused by two osprey sitting close together, it still made me think of the phrase “two heads are better than one.”  While this is a true, and even Biblical, statement in the context of seeking advice and mutual encouragement, the phrase falls completely apart when talking about the church.

The thought of an osprey with two heads soaring in the sky, building a nest, plucking fish from the lake, or accomplishing any other useful task seems rather far-fetched.  Yet how often do we expect a multi-headed church to grow and prosper, giving no thought to who it receives its instructions from?  God describes the church as His body with the head being Jesus Christ.  While most churches that I’m familiar with would claim that Jesus is the head of the church, many operate on a day-to-day basis as if a preacher, an elder, a charismatic personality, an influential group, or some other person or entity is really its head.  Jesus is still given the title but is easily relegated to the role of figurehead as others determine all the decisions while spending little or no time listening to God.

Before we come down too harshly on the church, what about you and I?  Jesus is not only set apart by God to be the head of the church which He bought with His own blood, as individuals we are members of that body still accountable to the same head that the body as a whole must submit to.  The Bible teaches that God has not only knit our physical bodies together, He has carefully fashioned the church out of the individual members that make up the body.  For our physical body to be considered responsive to the head, each part must take its direction from the head.  When a part of the body does its own thing without responding to and submitting to the head, we rightly determine something is not right.  When the individual parts that make up the body of Christ do their own thing without responding to or submitting to Christ, the problem should be just as obvious.  The church is only submissive to Christ as the head to the degree that the individuals within the body are submissive.  When I am more concerned about what people might say or think than I am about what God has said, I am acting as if the body has two heads.  When I start doing that, it isn’t long before I simply choose which head I listen to based on what I want to hear.  

I pray that you and I understand, and live under, the headship of Christ in all things.  I pray that we would listen to the head as we live the part of the church body He has created us to be.  I pray that we would reject the temptation to look to ourselves or others as the head of anything we do.  I pray that our focus on Christ as head of all things would keep His body from appearing to be double-headed and keep us from living as double-minded.

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2016: Page 61

On the road again . . . Today’s page covered a lot of ground while ending up at the same location I started.  🙂  I had the opportunity today to have an Impact Prayer Ministry display at a 5-state regional camp conference in central Indiana.  I left the house around 7:30 this morning and just got back home a little after 9 this evening.  While it was a long day, it was also a good day as I was able to put prayer-based resources into the hands of many camp leaders and have some great conversations about the importance of pursuing God through prayer and His Word.

About mid-morning during my trip, the rain began and continued through much of the day.  It made unloading my display material rather interesting but I managed to get the display set up and keep everything dry.  By the time the vendor fair at the conference was over, the rain was no longer falling as heavy as it had been so I made a short side-trip to Cataract Falls on my way home.  This is billed as the largest waterfall in Indiana and it would have been difficult for me to be that close to it without stopping to take some photographs.  There is a beautiful covered bridge over the river at the head of the falls that adds to the photo opportunities.  While the bridge has had restoration work over the years and is now open only to foot traffic, the current bridge was put into service in 1876!  

As I thought about the day, my mind focused on the enduring nature of God and His overwhelming love.  Whenever I have the opportunity to share with people about the work God is doing in Impact Prayer Ministry, it is a reminder to me of how God will multiply what He gives us when we are willing to use it and share it with the people He wants us to equip and encourage.  Far too often we grasp what we have because it seems so small to us and we’re afraid it isn’t enough for us, let alone enough to share.  Our selfishness not only hurts us, it hurts those that God has desired for us to help.  My experience with the prayer ministry has shown that God’s ability is much like the waterfall I visited today.  As I watched the water cascading over the rocks, it just kept coming with as much force and volume when I left as it had when I arrived.  When I think about God supplying our need according to His riches in glory, I don’t picture a limit to what He has or what He is able to provide.  The only limit I find seems to revolve around how I define and live out the concept of need not only in my life, but more so in the lives of the people I ought to be serving.

As I walked the length of a bridge that has stood since 1876 and read the plaque with its history, it reminded me of the importance of maintenance and restoration.  The bridge has required both to keep it safe, usable, and looking nice.  Our relationship with God requires both as well if we want a spiritual life that is safe, usable, and looks nice.  My work at the conference was all about putting prayer-based resources into the hands of people so they have some tools to help restore and maintain their relationship with God.  Even with that, the tools I have are secondary at best.  They are designed to help people use the primary tools of prayer and God’s Word as the best resources in restoring and maintaining their relationship with God.

I pray that you and I would desire for our relationship with God to grow and be more vibrant each day.  I pray that we would learn to share the things that God gives us — and realize that every good thing we have has been given to us by God.  I pray that even as God has made it possible through Jesus for us to be restored to Himself, that we would be faithful in sharing that restoration with others.

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2016: Page 46

Earthdate: 20160215 — These are the ramblings of one traveler’s journey on earth as he makes his way toward a heavenly home.

Some days I pray more fervently than others that the return of Jesus would be sooner rather than later.  Today is one of those days.  With several inches of snow falling overnight, the day started early to get the snow cleared from the sidewalks and entryways before anyone arrived to pack it down.  I was able to get out of the building a couple times during the day, but here it is over 14 hours since I left home this morning and I’m writing this page at work following a board meeting.

Following the outside work and an investigation of what was going on with a door that I had been left a message about, I spent time with God putting together next week’s prayer guide.  That is probably one of my favorite parts of a week is the time I spend seeking God’s face for direction in choosing a topic to have people be praying about for a week.  Today God led me to the word “instruction”.  It seems that a lot of people like the idea of giving instructions for others to follow but we’re not very fond of taking instruction from others, or even from God.  After the prayer guide was complete, I decided to follow up on an email I received last week from Hope Ministries about some food items they were in need of.  While from my perspective I can’t do a lot, God does expect me to do what I can according to His provision.  After a trip to Sam’s Club and GFS, I had an assortment of things from their list to drop off along with a couple copies of my most recent book.

Once the food was delivered I stopped back by the office to get my list and measurements so I could pick up a few things to try to improve the function of a non-working door.  As I left for lunch, I decided to make a quick trip down to Potato Creek State Park for an afternoon hike in the snow.  It is always good to be out in the stillness of nature where I am surrounded by the creation of God and am more likely to pay attention to His presence.  I always hope to see a bald eagle or two while I’m down there and be able to get some good pictures of them, but was not able to find any of them today.  I did see a few birds darting among the trees and a large flock of geese sitting on the frozen lake but the thing that most caught my eye was a clump of frozen, snow covered, dead seed heads.  I think they caught my eye because today I feel like that.  I look at them and I know they had a purpose and perhaps they even have a future purpose, but it is difficult to imagine their current purpose . . . or is it?  With the absence of the eagles as subjects, these became the focus of some of my photography today.  I marveled at their texture, their durability, and their beauty.  I zoomed in on the intricacies of their creation and was able to worship God for His attention to detail.  I watched as some birds would perch on top of them and while not appearing to get any food from them, it gave them a vantage point to scout out nearby food sources.  The more I looked, the more I came to realize that they not only had a former purpose and likely have a future purpose, they also have a current purpose.

I pray that in the times of mental, physical, and/or spiritual fatigue that you and I face, we would live for the purpose God has created us for in the here and now.  I pray that when we see people who appear to us to have no use, that we would look more closely through the eyes of God to see the purpose not only that He has created them for, but also the purpose for which He has brought them into our life.

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2016: Page 43

While all pages of this journey of life are technically the same length, some just feel longer than others.  In an attempt to avoid being at work seven days a week, Fridays usually find me working both ends of the day and often through the middle as well.  I was greeted by a pleasant surprise as I headed out the door a little before six this morning . . . there was no fresh snow on the ground, the temperature had risen to 16 from the 4 degrees it was when I went to bed, and there was no frost to scrape off my windshield.  Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to brighten a day.  🙂  While there was no snow to clear from the sidewalks, yesterday’s snow meant that the floors inside needed extra attention this morning so I was doing good to have the building ready by eight today.  

Once the building was ready for the day, I began to reflect on the conversations that took place a couple of weeks ago at the Christian Camp Leaders’ Conference about devotional material for summer camp staff.  While my 31-day devotionals went over well with the camp leaders, it seemed like there was a need or desire for something a little different.  As I was spending time praying and considering this, a flicker showed up outside my window to help himself to some seeds from the sumac heads.  He seemed to take only what he needed and when he had his fill he moved on.  Out of that came the idea to sort through the weekly prayer guides I have written over the past few years and see if I could come up with an assortment to serve as outlines for daily devotions with a working title for the series being, “Devotions for Those Who Serve”.  I quickly came up with 13 different prayer guides that I could easily use the daily prayer points from as the foundations for some devotional thoughts and questions without it becoming cumbersome or too lengthy for a daily staff devotion time.  

From there, the thoughts began to lay out in book format that could become a daily devotional guide for 13 weeks with a new topic every week and a new point of that week’s topic each day.  Then I remembered the flicker taking just what was needed and realized that very few, if any, camps had summer staff on site for 13 weeks any more.  What if I took each week’s topic and made a series of short 16 – 20 page booklets that included the devotional thoughts and questions I planned for the book as well as some space for journaling?  By creating a separate booklet for each topic, camps, or anyone else for that matter, could choose just what was needed in both time span and topical content.  This would also allow the series to grow at a more moderate pace by simply adding another booklet to the collection as God gives resources and direction.  As I began to consider that possibility, the thought hit me — who said it had to be one or the other?  Perhaps both formats have merit for different purposes.  Anyhow, it is one of those ideas that has been planted in my mind and is a part of today’s page.  What God wants to do with it, if anything, is yet to be seen.  So I continue to pray and listen with a confidence that God will provide clear direction as He already knows if this idea has any usefulness for His kingdom.

In the midst of all of that process in my mind, a group of guys met at the church and we went out for lunch together for an enjoyable time of fellowship.  It was a welcome break from the day and I pray an encouragement to all who participated.  Once the building cleared out for the day, it was time to start getting it ready for the weekend.  Cleaning in the quietness and preparing the building for our Sunday worship gathering is a great opportunity to spend time in prayer and listening.  Usually in the middle of the cleaning tasks I take a break to let the floor scrubber recharge.  This gives me time to sit for a while or, in tonight’s case, do some writing.

While today’s page isn’t fully lived yet, I’ll wrap up the writing of it so I can finish my work and head for home.  I’ll leave with a photo of the flicker who taught me today that having what is needed really is enough.

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