Wonderful Words of Life

We have faced an unusual number of deaths in our church family in the last two weeks. I am so thankful that Jesus has conquered death through His death. When a Christian dies, the funeral is so much different.

We read in John 3:14-15:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14-15 NIV)

D. L. Moody served as something of a volunteer chaplain for the Union Army in the days of the Civil War. One evening Moody was summoned to the death bed of a young soldier. The young man recounted a life of resisting God and now believed it was too late for him. He still asked Moody to help him die. Moody explained that he could not help him die, but he could tell him what Jesus had done for him on the cross. Moody simply began to read from John 3. He came to John 3:14-15. The young man stopped him and said, “Read it again.” A third time, the young soldier said, “Read it again.” Moody recounted how he saw a broad smile sweep across this man’s face. As Moody continued to sit with the dying soldier, he saw his lips moving. Moody bent down low to hear him repeating over and over, “Everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.” The next morning when Moody went to check on the young man, he had died. Moody asked the nurse about his new friend’s countenance as he died. “Why,” the nurse said, “he just kept repeating the words, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.’”

Volumes and volumes of books have been written across the ages about salvation, but when life gets to its most crucial hour, all of us need the simplicity of the Gospel. The simplicity of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins brings a calm assurance even in the face of death.

Always Learning, Always Growing

This summer, Linett and I visited one of friends from our first church. James Stewart was a pastor’s friend. James is the kind of man that every pastor needs one or two, or five of, if he is going to survive. Our memories of James are many. He lived across the street, so we cut grass together, ate many meals together, went to football games together, and sometimes investigated strange noises in the middle of the night.

Though he worked long hours as a department manager in a local grocery store and cared for his numerous brothers and sisters, James was faithful. Sometimes I have said that if it wasn’t for James Stewart, I might not be a preacher today. James encouraged us and believed in us when things could not have been worse at that first church.

James is 77 now. Though we had not seen each other in 17 years, we picked up conversation as though we had visited every day. He asked me about things that I had shared with him 17 years ago as if we had spoken the day before our visit.

But, something James said to me near the end of our conversation challenged me and encouraged me. James said, “Bro. Steve, at 77 years old, I’ve learned more about God and the Bible than in the previous 76 years combined.” He was excited about what he was learning. Now, I happen to know that James knew plenty about God and His Word before this past year. Therein is the testimony. James is growing. At a point where many would be tempted to say, “I’ve done that already” or “I know that already,” James is saying “There’s more to learn.”

What will you do today to assure that you are growing in Christ?

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What’s Happening This Week at FBC?

I am thankful to have so many people in our church interested in engaging the world with the Gospel. For some, that means praying and giving. For others, that means going. We have 6 members who have joined with 40 others from Louisiana Baptist Churches in going to Haiti this week. Please pray for Ray, Scott, Reed, Ashley, Laura, and Jessica, as they are in Haiti. Pray for many to profess faith in Jesus. I just heard from them. They are doing great.

Sunday is going to be a great day. I hope you are planning to be with us. We are in the middle of a prayer challenge. We are calling our challenge “This One Thing.” This is not only guiding our times together on Sunday morning as we examine the Scriptures about prayer, but we are also challenging one another about our discipline and habits of prayer. And what a time it is to pray! I could not have imagined the importance of this effort when God birthed this in my heart early this summer. But, now, all of this makes perfect sense, right?

Sunday, we are exploring one of the great opportunities in prayer—praying for those who are suffering and sick. Many who will join us Sunday are trusting God for healing. We not only will look at the Scriptures, but we will immediately apply what we learn during our service. If you know someone who is battling an illness, invite them to be with us Sunday morning.

Sunday night, we will have our New Members Class called First Look from 5:30-7:30 p.m. We would love to see many potential new members as well as our new members here. We will meet downstairs in the D Wing of the Education Building adjacent to the Fellowship Hall. There will be signs and people available to help you find your way.

How To Pray for Almost Anyone

We are blessed to have contained in Holy Scripture the actual prayers that some prayed. We can learn much about praying by offering these prayers. We all know the Lord’s Prayer, but there are other prayers. In Paul’s writings, we have several. Consider Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians and Colossians as recorded in Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Colossians 1:9-12.

From these prayers come excellent principles to follow in praying for almost anyone.

Consider these:

· Give Thanks for people.
· Pray for people to be teachable regarding the knowledge of God’s power, God’s will, and God’s love.
· Pray for people to be true to their walk with Christ.
· Pray for people to be thankful.

Then, believe God is able to do these things and more!

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How to Pray to Determine God’s Will

In 1993, Ron Wolf was the General Manger of the pro football team, the Green Bay Packers. Mike Holmgren was the Head Coach. The late Reggie White, a devout Christian and free agent at the time, publicly declared, “I want to go where God wants me to go.” Mike Holmgren called Reggie and said, “Reggie, this is God, go to Green Bay.” Ron Wolf, reportedly called too and said, “Reggie, this is Ron Wolf of the Green Bay Packers. I would like to offer you 17 million dollars over 4 years for you to come to Green Bay.” Finally, Brett Favre, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers called and said, “Reggie, I want you to come to Green Bay, so I can be assured that you want hit me anymore.”

How do you know the will of God? Wouldn’t you like for God to write His will for you in the sky? “Jim, marry Jennifer!” “Take that job!” Don’t take that job!” “Go to UL!” “Go to LSU!” “Teach 1st grade Sunday School!” But all of us have lived long enough to know that since the coming of the Holy Spirit, rarely if ever to my knowledge, has God spoken in the kind of dramatic ways we read about in the Bible. So, how can we know God’s will?

1. To know God’s Will, we must seek God. (Jeremiah 33)

We seek the answer, God seeks the relationship. God could give us the answer right away. He could write in the sky or speak audibly, but what we would lose is the process to a deep, abiding relationship with Him.
In Jeremiah 29:13, we read, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” We will know Him to the degree that we wish to know Him.

2. To Know God’s Will, we must believe that God will speak. (James 1:5-8)

Henry Blackaby wrote a classic work titled Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. In that book, Blackaby suggested that God speaks by the Holy Spirit through…

Bible

Prayer

Circumstances

Church

These 4 areas are expounded in Henry Blackaby’s classic work, Experiencing God. I’ve always understood that if God is going to speak to us by these four ways, we must understand two keys.

2 Keys to Understanding God’s Will:

• Consistency in these 4 areas.

That is, you must constantly be searching to discover God’s will. If you believe that God speaks to you through the Bible, you must read, study, and meditate on the Bible so that God might speak.

• Consistency of these 4 areas.

That is, you know God is speaking when you begin to sense that these 4 areas are all saying the same thing.

3. To know God’s Will, we must surrender any will of our own. (Luke 22:42)

This is the hard part.

I’ve learned that sometimes knowing God’s will is not our struggle, but doing God’s will is our real struggle. A pastor by the name of John Sartelle said, “Most of us do not want to know the will of God to do the will of God, but to consider doing the will of God.” George Truett, long time pastor of First Baptist, Dallas, said, “To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge; to do the will of God is the greatest achievement.”

(This post is based on the message “How to Pray to Determine God’s Will” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

Prayer and the Wave

A few years ago, our Louisiana Baptist Convention, held a series of prayer gatherings. As I recall, a prayer meeting was held in every Parish of our State at a local place such as the Parish Courthouse. Our State Executive Director, Dr. David Hankins, used an analogy at these prayer gatherings that resonated with me a great deal and has stayed with me.

The analogy was that of “the wave” at a sporting event. For those of you struggling to remember the term, the wave is that phenomenon of a whole section standing up in unison and throwing their hands in the air followed by the next section, then the next, until this human wave makes it around the whole stadium.

Have you ever been part of “the wave?” Better yet, have you ever seen “the wave” begin? Even better, have you ever been part of the first section to begin “the wave?”

In order to get “the wave” going, at least one person has to say, “Let’s do the wave!” Then that person has to convince others. Then, they have to get the attention of the next section or maybe two or three. Usually, several attempts are made before the wave gets enough momentum to make it all the way around the stadium.

Prayer is like that. Corporate prayer gatherings are really like that. Sometimes we call times of prayer with great hopes that those calls to prayer will produce more times of prayer. In order to gain momentum for sustained prayer, we may have to be persistent in our individual praying. Prayerfully, as we are consistent, the wave of prayer will begin.

I think of our Prayer Revival this week as the wave. Others may not join us immediately, but if we stay in prayer, others will join.

Here is a word of encouragement about the wave in the stadium. Once the wave gets going, people are hesitant to stop.

Many of you are going to watch a football game this weekend. As you do, think about prayer. Think about and pray about a day when we will see a mighty revival of prayer throughout the nation. Then, be ready to join us Sunday. Let’s make God’s House known as a House of Prayer.

Thoughts about Our Prayer Revival

First of all, to all who came to our Prayer Revival, Sunday through Thursday, “Thank you.” I trust that you were encouraged and inspired to seek the face of God for everything.

I have so much that I am still processing in my own mind and heart, but I wanted to write about a few things today.

Here are some of my take-a-ways from our Prayer Revival.

1. This is only the beginning. I am excited about all of the commitments that are being made in the area of prayer.

2. Prayer brings great unity. We were already a church that enjoys unity, but I sense greater unity.

3. God answers prayer. God blessed me with several answers to prayer right in the middle of our week. I am thankful.

4. Prayer really is simple. No one should say, “I don’t know how to pray.” All of our leaders gave us very simple plans to follow.

Methodist minister Samuel Chadwick said, “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

Let’s make the Devil tremble.

What’s Happening This Week at FBC?

This week has been incredible. I am so thankful for your attendance for our Prayer Revival. We have one more night—tonight! We are having our usual Wednesday Fellowship meal. We will move to the Sanctuary for 6:00 p.m. pre-service prayer. Our revival service will begin at 6:30 p.m. Our Preschool and Children’s ministries are still happening tonight at 6:00 p.m. Our speaker and leader tonight is Dr. David Hankins. Dr. Hankins is the Executive Director for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Let’s make tonight the largest attended meeting of the week.

As I reflect on this week, I am praying that we will long remember this week.

I look forward to seeing you tonight and Sunday.

Historical Thoughts on Praying for Revival

We are continuing our “This One Thing” Prayer Revival at First Baptist Church, Lafayette. We would love to have you tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) for our Prayer Revival. We will begin at 6:30 p.m. We are located at 1100 Lee Avenue in Downtown Lafayette.

As we continue to pray for revival, think upon these historical thoughts on revival.

“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people . . . “ –Jonathan Edwards

“When did you last hear anyone praying for revival, praying that God might open the windows of heaven and pour out His Spirit? When God sends revival He can do more in a single day than in fifty years of all our organization. That is the verdict of sheer history which emerges clearly from the long story of the Church.” –D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late–and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work.” –A. W. Tozer

“The only reason that we don’t experience revival is because we are willing to live without it.” –Leonard Ravenhill

“I have a theory…that there is not a church, chapel, or mission on earth where you cannot have revival, provided there is a little nucleus of faithful people who will hold onto God until He comes down. First, let a few Christians—there need not be many—get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest, I’m sorry to say, cannot be done, and it will come to nothing. Second, let them bind themselves together to pray for revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God to use them as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That’s all. This is sure to bring revival in any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed, and it cannot fail.” –R.A. Torrey

How to Pray for Revival

On August 13, I asked our church to accept a challenge with me. We have been calling our challenge, “This One Thing.” This is a call to prayer. Jesus said, “My house shall be a House of Prayer.” It’s the one thing to call the meeting house of God. The disciples asked, “Jesus, teach us to pray.” It’s the one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them.

On that Sunday, August 13, I asked our church to take three action steps with me. First, we would agree to pray about “one thing” each week. I also challenged us to adopt a prayer activity of our own.

The other challenge was to prioritize October 8-11 for four days of Prayer Revival. We began last night. Our crowd was great. There is a hunger among many to see revival.

Yesterday morning, I shared four principles regarding praying for revival. These principles have as their foundation a prayer by Isaiah and God’s response as recorded in Isaiah 63-65. I encourage you to read that entire text.

There you will see the four principles for praying for revival.

Recognize the desperation of our situation.

Notice especially the last two verses of Isaiah 63. We might also ask ourselves, “If we are not desperate now, what will cause us to be desperate?

Recognize the definition of revival.

We cannot pray for that which we cannot identify. According to Isaiah 64:1-4, I offer this simple definition of revival.

Revival is God coming down!

Recognize the demand for revival.

Here is the hard truth:

We will never experience revival until there is repentance.

Reevaluate the desire for revival.

Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries, said, “The only reason that we don’t experience revival is because we are willing to live without it.”

We would love to have you tonight (Monday) through Wednesday for our Prayer Revival. We will begin at 6:30 p.m. We are located at 1100 Lee Avenue in Downtown Lafayette.

(This post is based on the message “Be the Change in a Changing World” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)