And He said to them, "It is written,'My house shall be called a house of prayer,’…”
Matthew 21:13 NKJV

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Remember now, O Lord!

Gary Stebbins
Church on the Rock, Melbourne

Hezekiah was a mighty king over Judah. When the Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem and was threatening to attack the city, the Bible says that he took the message that the enemy had sent him, spread it out before the Lord, and ... "Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, 'O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see;'" (2 Kings 19:15-16)

Later on in Hezekiah’s life he becomes mortally ill, again the Bible says ... "Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, 'Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly" (Isaiah 38:2-3).

Both of these stories about the life of Hezekiah have always been vivid pictures to me that encourage me to pray no matter what difficulty I am facing in my life. In the first case Hezekiah’s prayer concerned the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah from the hands of an enemy army. In the second case, Hezekiah’s prayer had to do with his own personal need for healing. Whether we are praying for issues concerning our country or our own personal lives, God is a God who hears our prayers and responds to those prayers. There is no prayer that is too small or too large for God to hear and respond to. All of our prayers are important to God.

These two stories also demonstrate to me the sovereignty of God both over the affairs of nations and over the affairs of my own personal life. God has the power to deliver a nation from their enemies and to deliver my body from sickness and disease. There is nothing in this world that God cannot take care of.

We do live in serious times. Our nation is facing difficulties that seem almost insurmountable. Many people are experiencing very trying times in their lives personally. The stories from the life of Hezekiah remind me to pray and put my faith and trust fully and completely in the Lord. Difficulties at any level in our lives should drive us into the presence of God where we can find His hope and peace. Fervent, diligent prayer is an indication of our trust in God and not in ourselves.

Pray, pray, and keep praying! God is a good God and He is listening. Prayer can move the heart and hands of God for our nation and in our personal lives.

What about you? Are you facing some serious issues in your own life? Perhaps you are facing financial difficulties, marriage problems, or health issues. Have you taken them to God in prayer? As you listen to the news do you find yourself growing anxious over the future for our nation? Have you taken your concerns to God in prayer? How has prayer helped you cope with the issues of everyday life?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quiet Zeal

Tony Hauck
Church on the Rock - Melbourne

What does zeal look like? We all know the story of Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple, and His disciples remembering that it was written, “zeal for Your house has consumed me”. Don’t forget that whole incident was about the importance of prayer. Jesus spent a lot more time in prayer, not quarreling or crying out, not breaking bruised reeds or quenching smoking wicks (Mt 12:19-20), than he did in flamboyant displays of zeal. Yet I believe He was zealous all the time. So what did His zeal look like most of the time?

"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" (Mat 21:28-31)

I don’t know about you, but too often I’ve sung on Sunday, “Lord I want You, I want to do Your will, yes Lord”, and then, ignored Him on Monday. I really appreciate demonstrative worship, passionate prayer and stirring preaching, but I’m not sure these things are accurate indicators of zeal. Maybe true zeal is seen in daily disciplines, long faithfulness to a task, simple obedience. Maybe it’s less about emotion and more about making decisions in spite of how we feel. Maybe we’re most zealous when we’re dry and tired, but we’re doing it anyway.