Pray For One Another

B. Simpson was right! Prayer is our relational link to God. Prayer has been described as many things, but the idea of a “link” is very effective.  We pray because we want to stay connected with God.  Prayer keeps us abiding in the Lord.  Remember that John reassured us that, this is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15).  I’ve always loved the assurance of the Psalm which says, “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.” (Psalm 34:15).  He hears you.  He is listening to your prayers.  He hears and answers prayer.
But prayer also strengthens the link we share with one another as fellow members of the household of faith.  Praying for one another is an effective way to take care of each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus.  The early church historian Eusebius wrote about the apostle James saying that, “his knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for the people.”  It’s interesting to me that James is famous for at least two statements about prayer.  The first, “you have not because you do not ask.” (James 4:2).  The second, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
There you have it!  Praying for each other is very powerful, very effective.  Powerful enough to ease the weight of a burden.  Effective enough to heal the sick.  Strong enough to restore the sinning saint.  At least five times in the New Testament the apostles asked for others to pray for them.  Why?  Because they knew that prayer was one of their most formidable resources in faith.  Prayer can go where we are not allowed.  Prayer can accomplish what we cannot.  Prayer can change the world.  It can change people, nations, and the world.
That’s why James used Elijah as a prayer illustration in James Chapter 5.  Elijah was the prophet who served during one of the greatest times of apostasy and evil in Israel’s history.  And he prayed that it would not rain so that the resulting drought would humble the wicked king Ahab.  And it did not rain.  At the appropriate moment Elijah prayed again, and it rained.  James is simply telling us that we have great power in prayer to affect the destiny of people and nations.  There is no stopping the righteous man or woman who prays in the will of God.
I noticed in James Chapter 5 that his teaching about prayer and healing are preceded by the instruction, Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged.  The Judge is standing at the door!”  You cannot pray effectively for the person about whom you are grumbling or criticizing.  Grumbling, murmuring, and complaining will kill your prayer life.  And it causes great hurt and harm to others.  James is straight forward, if you grumble against one another “you will be judged.”  The conclusion is obvious, keep your link with God strong and your link with others will be effective and powerful.
Join me on Sunday morning @ 9 or 11 AM to study James 5:13-20.  Can’t wait to see you.
Linked together with you church family!
Pastor Deric

We Are In This Together

During the pandemic, one of the slogans that quietly irritated me was “we’re in this together.”  I wasn’t thinking consciously about it, but I knew that it was bugging me.  Then, it dawned on me.  At best, it was a sincere attempt by well-meaning people to encourage the public.  Good for them.  At worst, it was a slogan created as propaganda offering a false hope.  But the biggest reason it aggravated me was that it just wasn’t true.  It wasn’t true because we live in one of the most fragmented times in modern history.  Data and experience tell us that we are divided right down the middle in a host of opposing opinions.  Proof that we are not in this together is the resulting anathema upon those who dare to question the public health decisions that are forced upon all people without regard for personal and/or principled objections.  Don’t even get me started on the gross duplicity on this front.  For several decades now we have celebrated the freedom of individuality.  The “your life, your choice” mantra has been the guiding principle of personal freedom for a very long time.  But now that the majority sees the vaccine as the only choice, God have mercy on the woman who chooses to say no for her own personal reasons.

The pandemic or the vaccine is not the point of my blog today, the slogan is my point.  We Christians are in this together.  Often, we appear to be nearly as fragmented as the world, but in reality, the Church stands as one in Christ.  We are the “one body” of Christ in the world today.  For all our differences, we are very much the same.  That’s not to say we all believe the same Bible doctrine.  I know we don’t.  But where Christ is mysteriously present in His people, there is the Church.  And we are in this together.  We are united by the Cross.  All who hope only in Jesus’ blood and righteousness are the Church.  Period!  He is our Cornerstone. 

We are in this together “to lift up the fallen.”  Remember Paul told the Galatians that it is the responsibility of each Christian to restore those who are caught in any fault or sin.  It turns out that we are our brothers and sisters’ keeper.  Christians are notorious for pouncing on any evident weakness in their fellow believers.  But the aim is to patiently restore the fallen because we know full well that we are just one step away from a stumble ourselves.  If we understand the Cross correctly, we are all equally loved and equally guilty.  So, when we see our loved ones trip into a fault, we need to bring them back.

We are in this together “to bear one another’s burdens.”  Paul also says in Galatians 6 that it is the aim of every Christian to look for ways to lighten the load that other Christians are carrying. He so much as says, “don’t be conceited” and think yourself stronger or more spiritual than others because they are weighed down by the burdens of life.  Watch for ways that you can encourage someone whose heart is broken.  I don’t remember a time in recent history when so many are tossed about with so many cares.  Burdens of fear, insecurity, poor health, relational hurt, emotional pain, etc., weigh heavily on the hearts of many Christians.  We are in this together.

We are in this together “to sow generously into each other’s lives.”  Paul adds a third way that we can be a blessing to one another in Galatians Chapter 6.  Basically, he tells us to watch for ways to live generously.  If your spiritual siblings need prayer, lay it on them.  If they need cash, give it freely.  If they need friendship, pull up a chair.  If they need counsel, speak wisely.  This gets very practical, doesn’t it?  Perhaps a senior needs a ride to a medical appointment.  Make the offer.  What if a single mom needs a car repair?  Can you help?  What if a student needs a room for a semester while they finish their degree?  Can they stay with you?  The list is endless.  But you get the point. 

The Church really is “in this together.”  Ingeniously God created us for community and we, the Church, can showcase to the world what living in love really looks like.  I can’t wait to be back in the pulpit this Sunday to study God’s Word in Galatians Chapter 6 focusing on what it really looks like to be “in this together.”

See you Sunday morning @ 9 or 11 AM. 

Pastor Deric