The Church at Prayer TOUCHING JESUS September 29, 2015
I love the story of the woman who had bled for twelve years and approached Jesus through a crowd. Upon touching his cloak immediately she was healed. As a young person who was just beginning to attend church I remember first hearing this story described in a sermon by Dr. Harry Fifield of the
First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta.
After the woman was healed, Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?” She fell at his feet and Jesus, speaking through her anxiety, told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace,
and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)
Harry let us absorb that for a few moments and then asked a question that changed my life and continues to speak to my heart, “Are you crowding Jesus or touching him?” Are you one among the crowd Sunday morning, merely chatting with your friends, “Hi Bill, Hi Jenny, Hi Marty,” or are you
touching Jesus – connecting to Jesus by means of your faith in and following of Jesus?
I recall hearing of a congregation that spoke of three kinds of people: the churched, the unchurched, and the overchurched. The unchurched are people who do not relate to a congregation in any meaningful way, even if they are members of a church. The churched are the normally involved church members. By their definition, the overchurched are not people who spend too much time in
church work. The overchurched are people who experience church without experiencing God.
As one who has spent much of his life in the swirl of church busyness, I find Harry’s question helps
me remain churched but not overchurched. It continues to center me on the Lord who loves me.
Are you crowding Jesus or touching him? May this question center you as well.
Joy to you – E. Stanley Ott, April 29, 2014 Vol. 13, No. 7, TOUCHING JESUS
At First Presbyterian, we all enjoy saying, “Good Morning” to those around us. As the Carillon Bells ring before the service begins, take that moment to silently engage with Jesus, as we prepare ourselves for worship.
Pray and ask Jesus for the path you need to take to be a “churched” person. Stay centered on the Lord through your faith journey. We can be easily distracted with so many things going on around us. Find a prayer whisper that is familiar to get you re-centered on Jesus. ie: “You are with me”.
Praise God for our new choir robes. May we remember Clara Baldwin for her love of God and how she loved her church. Clara’s generosity made this purchase possible. God does answer prayers. Amen.
Pray for the Christians all over this world. Keep praying for those who are persecuted for loving and following Jesus, as we celebrate World Wide Communion on Sunday. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” John 13:35 NLT
Remember those on our prayer list. As you read each name, know that God hears you. Some people are grieving, awaiting test results or surgery. Some are sick, lonely, confused or confined. You may not know what they are experiencing, but our Heavenly Father knows. Pray He intercedes on their behalf. ASAP: Always Say A Prayer.
Church at Prayer THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE September 22, 2015
Luke Chapter 9 offers a remarkable snapshot of the ministry of Jesus highlighting both the power of God and the training of the twelve apostles.
It begins with Jesus sending them by saying, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) In other words they could only rely on the power of God and the good will of others to sustain them. They reported back to him the wonderful things that had happened.
A crowd grew and they asked Jesus to send the people away because, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish-” (Luke 9:13) They had seen God work on their earlier mission but failed to connect the dots that God’s power was still available to them.
Jesus then takes them on a mountain to pray, and the apostles witness what is called the Transfigura- tion. Jesus, in his glory, talks to Moses and Elijah. Chapter 9 ends with a word from Jesus about the implications of following Him.
When we arrive at Luke Chapter 10 we discover Jesus again sending his disciples, now seventy of them, two by two, and with similar instructions.
What we see is the progressive discovery on the part of the disciples of the true nature of Jesus as God and the tasks He sent them on to train them as followers.
Think about your own recent “God-sightings” – where you have seen the power of God at work – and
ask yourself, what is our Lord teaching me about my own followership at this time?
Joy to you – E. Stanley Ott, July 23, 2014 Vol. 13, No. 11, THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE
We can only imagine having the kind of faith and trust the disciples had in Jesus, making them feel empowered to keep going without knowing what laid ahead of them. Pray that our faith will be as strong.
Jesus wants a total dedication from each of us. Most of us fall short. We need to re-commit every day, if necessary. Pray and seek advice and guidance from Jesus. It is our faith in Jesus that allows to go where He leads us.
Pray about your own “God-Sightings”. Have you seen the power of God at work? Think about the things you have done in the name of Jesus. Just by giving food to someone in need or similar acts of kindness is, in part, a measure of our faith.
By beings a part of the CAP group, whether at home or in the church sanctuary, we are fulfilling a portion of the discipleship God has asked of us. We care about, and are concerned for, the
physical, mental and emotional condition of others.
Pray for those on our prayer list. May they find solace in knowing we are lifting them up, by name, to Jesus. He doesn’t always do what we ask but He always does what is best them.
Keep in prayer those who have lost so much this summer with the fires in California and the northwest and the floods in Utah.
Church at Prayer FOLLOWERS September 15. 2015
Sometimes what seems like extra information in the story of Jesus actually tells us a lot about what kind of people Jesus developed and how he went about it.
For example, the first verse of Luke chapter 8 tells us Jesus went through cities and villages proclaiming the good news and in the fourth verse the story narrows to the gathering of a great crowd as the setting for the famous parable of the sower.
However in between those two verses we read, “ The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.” (John 8:1b-3)
The twelve disciple-apostles often get all of the attention as the followers of Jesus as well as the focus given on the “inner three,” Peter, James and John. Yet Luke teaches us that women were as close to Jesus as men.
Mary, Joanna and Suzanna had been healed in some way by Jesus, all of them helped finance his work, and two of them, Joanna and Susanna, were present when the tomb of Jesus was discovered
empty and heard the incredible words, “He is not here. He has risen.”
Every single one of us is invited to believe in and follow Jesus. Jesus invites you to follow him, to
place all aspects of your life in his service and to know the wonder and joy of this Lord who lives!
Joy to you – E. Stanley Ott, July 8, 2014 Vol. 13, No. 10 FOLLOWERS
May our prayers today include humility for the things we do at our church. I bet Mary, Joanna and Suzanna did similar things; not to bring attention to themselves but because they loved Jesus and believed in His ministry.
Part of our discipleship at First Presbyterian is to give of our time. Pray what you could do to serve Jesus, as He invites us to do. Join a PW group, join the Bldg. & Grounds team or our Thrift Shop. Wherever God leads you, follow. Pray about it!
Keep Pastor Jeff in your prayers as he diligently works to make our church involvement a blessing we will want to experience daily. His sermons teach us what Jesus wants us to do to make our lives here on earth better.
Pray for this world and the turmoil within it. Pray for the Serbia refugees as they walk miles and miles with the clothes on their backs; trying to find a new life after theirs was destroyed by bombs and the Isis militia.
We have so many names on our Prayer List who truly need your prayers. Take time this week to read aloud each name and ask God to lay His healing hands on them.
Take at least 5 minutes to sit in silence, listening for the words of the Holy Sprit. Then pray a prayer for yourself and those who on your heart today. Amen.
Church at Prayer THE TRUST TEST September 8, 2015
When you face a challenging situation for which no resolution is apparent, what goes through your mind and emotion? Do you “get on the balcony” and think through new alternatives and try to solve it yourself (or yourselves)? Do you wrestle with feelings of hopelessness?
A large crowd gathered around Jesus who asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5b) The apostle John makes this interesting observation about Jesus, “He
said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.” (John 6:6)
For Jesus the resolution of the situation was never in doubt. He wasn’t anxious, nervous, uptight, confused, or upset. In fact, John reports that Jesus used the situation as an opportunity to test
Philip has no clue what to do! “Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’” (John 6:7) Neither did Andrew, “But what are they (five barley
loaves and two fish) among so many people?” (John 6:8b) And neither looked to Jesus!
Sometimes you and I have no clue what to do either!
At this point in the story, Jesus takes over, has the people sit down, breaks the fish and the loaves
into enough to feed everyone.
In whatever situation you face, be alert to the equivalent of the five loaves and two fish our Lord has given you and trust him.
Facing a huge enemy army, Jehoshaphat prayed, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12b) He passed the trust test!
Joy to You – E. Stanley Ott, August 30, 2011 Vol. 10, No. 23, THE TRUST TEST
Phillip and Andrew immediately tried to solve the problem of how to feed that large crowd, with Jesus standing right there! Allow Jesus to take over in your life. Pray the prayer Jehoshaphat prayed and pass your trust test!
When we are faced with a difficult situation, we try to “fix it” without a clue of how or even where to begin. Jesus asks us to trust Him. It’s remarkable what we can hear in quiet meditation. Don’t wait for a challenging situation to arise to pray for God’s guidance.
Keep in prayer all the families who have been impacted by this summer’s crazy weather! Heat, draught, fires, rain, flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes have caused so much devastation. We pray that they will ask Jesus for help and put their trust Him.
Pray for those on our prayer list who wrestles with feelings of hopelessness. Pray that they (and you) turn to Jesus for answers. Sit in quiet meditation, allowing Christ’s Spirit to sustain you and bring you peace.
Let us close this time of prayer to include this line that caught my attention in last weeks’ Prayer of Confession: “Cleanse us, and cause us to love your ways. Deploy us, and may there flow from us sincere service to your kingdom. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen and Amen