I had the opportunity to preach yesterday but didn’t remember to take my mp3 recorder with me, so no audio to share this time. As I practice, and teach about, a lifestyle of prayer, there are a number of things that I find happen through such a way of life. I’ve prepared several sermons that highlight some of what a lifestyle of prayer is, and yesterday’s message was one of them.
Many times when we try to describe something we skip the most obvious part of it because it is so obvious we think everyone must know that much about whatever we are describing. In an attempt not to do that, the message I shared was “A Lifestyle of Prayer is a Life of PRAYER”. But not only is it a life filled with prayer, it is a life filled with the results of prayer and that is what the sermon focused on — some of those results. With no audio to share, here is the outline and some of the main points from the message.
A Lifestyle of Prayer is a Life of . . .
Peace: The Bible teaches that it is through a continual process of presenting our requests to God through prayers and petitions that we can replace anxiousness with peace. Prayer may not bring an immediate change to the circumstance that has caused you to be anxious, but it should serve as a reminder of who is really in control of the situation. Our prayers should fill us with peace as we grow in our trust of God to carry us through, and beyond, the anxious moments of life.
Respect: As we live with prayer as a lifestyle, we find that our approach to God grows in regard to the respect we give Him. It seems our respect often fluctuates based on how real we view God to be. When we are consistently engaged in conversation with Him through prayer, we find that He not only demands respect but that He deserves respect. It is this life of respect that continually reminds us that while prayer is a conversation, it is no ordinary conversation — it is communication with the living God.
Answers: This is the part of prayer that we often desire most and can be the most likely to wreck our prayer life when it doesn’t happen according to our expectations. Yet a lifestyle of prayer is a life of answers — some “yes”, some “no”, some “not right now”, and some so far removed from the answer we wanted that we fail to see it. When our prayer life is sporadic, we often fail to “connect the dots” of God at work and thus miss the answers He is providing. But the more that prayer is woven into every aspect of our life, the more we begin to notice that God has been answering all along in ways that are for our good.
Yielding: In nearly every relationship we have, the more time we spend with someone the better we get to know them. An active prayer life is time spent with God both talking and listening so that we begin to become familiar with the things of God that He has revealed by the power of His Spirit through His Word. In a life of prayer, the yielding is often interwoven with the answers as we learn to accept that His answers are better than ours. When we can pray, “not my will but Yours be done”, and really mean it, we find that we will be more likely to yield to the answers that God provides as we learn to trust Him.
Encouragement: A life of prayer can bring great encouragement — not just to those who pray, but to the people that see and hear of the mighty work of God that takes place in the lives of those who pray. It is this encouragement that not only emboldens the life of the one who prays, it often causes others to consider what a life of prayer would do for them. While we ought to pray just for the privilege of talking with the creator of everything, many times it is the benefit that prayer brings into our life that keeps us going back to God. Let’s face it, if every conversation we have with a person makes us feel poorly about our self for some reason, we will likely not seek to continue that relationship. However, when our time with God brings daily encouragement to both us and those around us, our desire to pray ought to grow each day that we live.
Renewal: Isaiah wrote that “even youths get tired and weary, but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” A lifestyle of prayer can result in a life of renewal as we continually seek the “new mercies” that God promises each morning. The Bible teaches that we are to be transformed by a renewing of our mind, and prayer is a major part of that change of mind that can bring about a godly transformation. When we allow a growing lifestyle of prayer to bring peace, respect, answers, yielding, and encouragement into our life, we will find that we are indeed being renewed daily by the power of God’s Spirit and through the truth of His Word.
When we live a lifestyle of prayer, we ought to find that these qualities are growing in our life. And as they grow, we find that we are more drawn to prayer as a way of life each day that we live. It is my prayer that each one of us would grow in our desire to live a lifestyle of prayer that results in a life of PRAYER!
As I’ve worked on the sermon I’ll share on Easter Sunday at the North Wayne Mennonite Church, I have ended up with two different outlines. 🙂 One has more of a focus on what the resurrection of Jesus saves us from — death. The other has a greater emphasis on what we are saved to — life. Since I’m pretty confident they don’t want me preaching both of them on the same morning, here are the main points of the “No Longer DEAD” outline.
Because of Jesus we are no longer:
Distant — While especially true of Gentiles, even for the average Jew the approach to God prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was always from a distance. From the time of Moses leading the people out of Egypt to the time of Jesus, the instruction from God to the people almost always sounded like “stand back!”. Yet while Jesus was on the earth, His words more often beckoned people to “come to me, you who are weary and I will give you rest.” When we are made alive in Christ, we are adopted into His family and are no longer considered distant.
Excluded — Sin separates us from God and excludes us from His presence. When Jesus paid the penalty for sin through His death on the cross, the veil in the temple which separated people from the presence of God was torn from top to bottom. God chose to make Himself accessible to all who were once excluded, should they choose to seek Him. Remaining dead in our sin excludes us from life in Christ, but through Jesus those who were once “not a people” can now become the “people of God.
Aliens — While science fiction fans may first think of strangers from another planet when they hear of aliens, in many ways that is exactly what we are to God when we remain in our sin. Because God’s ways are so much different and higher than man’s ways, while we live according to our own ways we are indeed aliens in regard to the kingdom of God. Yet an interesting thing happens when we arrive as aliens in a foreign land. When we choose to make that land our home and become accepted by its rulers, it becomes our home and we become aliens in regard to our former way of life. Through Jesus we are no longer aliens in regard to God and His kingdom. In fact, it is in Christ that we walk as aliens in this world.
Destroyed — Because the “wages of sin is death”, outside of Christ we are all on a path that leads to destruction. The sin that we commit, whether large or small in our eyes, all requires the same penalty — death. Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus our penalty has been paid if we choose to accept the payment being made on our behalf. When we are in Christ, we choose to walk a path away from destruction and toward a life that remains eternally in Him. It is through the goodness of God and His mercy that He has made a way through Jesus to destroy the power of death so that we need not be destroyed.
Yes, because of the power of the resurrection, in Christ we are no longer dead.
This is the audio from the February 4, 2018 sermon, “The DESIRE of Your Heart!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Psalm 37:4
God promises that when we delight in Him, He will give us the desire of our heart. While it is easy to jump to the thought that God will give us what we want, the larger promise is that our delight in God will put within us a new desire that could only come from Him.
Our delight in the Lord will give us the . . .
Direction of our heart.
Expressions of our heart.
Surrender of our heart.
Inclination of our heart.
Rejoicing of our heart.
Endurance of our heart.
When God transforms the desire of our heart through our delight in Him, we become more like Jesus with each passing day!
This is the audio from the January 28, 2018 sermon, “DELIGHT Yourself in the Lord!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Psalm 37:4
We often like the idea of God giving us the desires of our heart but it is easy to overlook the first half of that promise where we must delight our self in the Lord. The audio file is missing the “Heal yourself in the Lord” point, but here are the main points from the sermon:
Discover yourself in the Lord.
Encourage yourself in the Lord.
Love yourself in the Lord.
Inspect yourself in the Lord.
Guard yourself in the Lord.
Heal yourself in the Lord.
Teach yourself in the Lord.
The key to finding delight in all of this is not the “yourself” part of the statement, but the “in the Lord” part!