Praying for Our Children

At First Baptist Church, Lafayette, we encourage our entire church to pray together about “one thing” each week. This week we are praying for families. Specifically, we are praying for strong marriages and strong relationships between parents and children.

As we seek ways to pray for our families, I find myself thinking about the Prayer of Manoah.

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Judges 13:8 (NIV)

Have you ever prayed a prayer like Samson’s father’s prayer as recorded in Judges 13:8? Maybe your prayer didn’t come out quite as eloquent as Manoah’s prayer. Maybe your prayer was simply, “Help!” I believe that Manoah’s prayer ought to be our prayer for our children.

Manaoh’s prayer is, first of all, a prayer of dependence upon the Lord. He knew what all parents ought to know—we are going to need God’s help. Manaoh’s prayer is a prayer of direction. Every child is different, so we need to know what to do with this kid. Finally, Manoah’s prayer is a prayer of dedication. Because he prayed for God’s wisdom, there is the assumption that he would seek to follow that wisdom.

Think of it this way: If you are not going to pray for your child, who do you think is?” I read that it will cost somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000 to raise a child these days from birth to 18 years old. If you were going to invest that kind of money in anything else, don’t you think that you would want to do everything possible to make sure that your investment went well?

For those with children or grandchildren, recommit to the investment—pray the Prayer of Manoah for your children.

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What’s Happening this Week at FBC?

To everyone who volunteered to make last Tuesday’s Fall Fest a fun and safe experience, we say “thank you.” We could not have a successful event without your help. We hope you had fun.

As you prepare for Sunday, don’t forget to “fall back” Saturday night. Then, on Sunday morning, we will continue our series on prayer. Sunday, we will consider “Praying Together.” In fact, we will take a little extra time in our service to do exactly that—pray together.

As we look ahead just a bit, on Sunday, November 19, several important events are happening on this one Sunday. First, this is the day that we will perform two annual tasks. We will have the opportunity to adopt the operating budget for 2018 at the Annual Church Conference during the Evening Service. A presentation and discussion of the annual budget will take place on Wednesday, November 15, at 6:00 p.m. The Ministry Action Planning Team will be meeting next week to finalize the proposed budget.

We will also close nominations for deacons on Sunday, November 19. We have mailed you a list of those men who are currently deacons and a blank ballot for you to nominate up to 15 men. The purpose of supplying the list of current deacons is to remind you of who is presently serving as a deacon and, therefore, does not need to be nominated. Please remember to turn in your ballot on or before November 19.

As you pray about your nominations, please study Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 for a foundation of what God requires for the service of deacon. In addition, please remember that we ask all nominees to be a member of First Baptist Church for at least one year. I will share a message about the service and selection of deacons Sunday night.

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Praying for Our Families

At First Baptist Church, Lafayette, we encourage our entire church to pray together about “one thing” each week. This week we are praying for families. Specifically, we are praying for strong marriages and strong relationships between parents and children. Ephesians 5:15-6:4 gives two helpful principles regarding how to have strong marriages and strong relationships to children.

As it relates to Dads, we could say that a good summary goes like this:

Men, we must love our wives as Jesus loves the Church.

Dads, we must discipline our children without driving them away.

Both are difficult commands. Both are commands that require prayer. We must pray ourselves, and we must have others praying for us.

I am reminded today that there are many things I need to do for my wife and children, but perhaps the best thing I can do for them is to pray for them and to pray for me to be the  husband and father that God commands me to be.

Join me in praying “this one thing” today.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pray for Yourself

In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, in an otherwise mundane list of genealogy, we get these powerful two verses about an otherwise unknown man named Jabez. The brief mention is about this one thing of prayer—specifically a prayer for himself.

Are you afraid to pray for yourself? Are you afraid to ask God to bless your life? If your response is “yes,” maybe you have said more about your beliefs about God than you intended. Why wouldn’t God want to bless you? Don’t you want to bless your children? In the same way, God wants to bless you—His child!

The prayer of Jabez gives us a Biblical prayer that we might pray for ourselves. In the prayer of Jabez we can identify four specific requests that can become our model for praying for ourselves.

Before we consider these four requests let’s consider what we know about Jabez, the person. The Bible does not tell us much about Jabez, but we do learn a few things about his life.

1. We know that Jabez was named for the pain that he brought in childbirth.

2. We know that Jabez stood out among his brothers.

3. We know that God granted his request.

In addition to all of these things, the most important thing to note is that Jabez had a special character to his life that caused the Biblical writer to pause and elaborate on this man’s life in the midst of a genealogy that traced back to Adam.

What was the content of the prayer of Jabez? That is, how should we pray for ourselves?

1. Lord, explode your blessings in my life.

Many of us have a barrier in praying for our lives to be blessed. Perhaps one of these two reasons explains our barrier.

(1) We do not understand God’s blessing.

God’s blessing is not something that happens to us when we sneeze, but the outpouring of God’s supernatural power upon our lives. God’s blessing is not about material blessings. God’s blessing is His provision of what we cannot provide for ourselves.

(2) We do not understand the person God blesses.

Deuteronomy 28 helps us to understand the person God blesses. God blesses the person who is obedient to Him. So, the prayer for God to bless us, Biblically understood, is also a commitment that you are going to be obedient to God.

2. Lord, expand my borders.

We ought to want to have maximum impact on our city, region, state, nation, and world. For the people of Israel, land was not so much about possession as it was influence. God gave His people the Promise Land so that they would have influence throughout the world.

3. Lord, be with me.

As our blessings and borders grow, we will soon find ourselves involved in things bigger than us. We will not survive long unless the hand of the Lord is upon us. The presence of God is a blessing.

4. Lord, build protection around me.

We better be careful in praying this prayer. If the Lord blesses us, enlarges our borders, and His hand is upon us, Satan is going to become real frustrated. As much as God wants to bless, Satan cannot stand God blessing us. Unfortunately, the more we are blessed, the more we are going to be tempted to feel over-confident in our own abilities. The result will be a temptation to fall into evil. We must pray for God’s protection. The protection of God is a blessing. Sometimes, we must pray, “Lord, protect me from me.”

(This post is based on the message “How to Pray for Myself” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

God, as Healer

At our church, First Baptist Church, Lafayette, LA, we are focused this fall on prayer. We have examined a number of subjects regarding prayer. Sunday, we examined the subject of praying for healing.

Isn’t it interesting that God revealed Himself in specific ways in the days of greatest difficulty? If we allow God to work in our lives, we grow spiritually during difficult circumstances. This is especially true when we consider God as Jehovah Rophe—the Lord, our Healer.

Scripture reveals God as Jehovah Rophe in Exodus 15:22-27. Israel has just been eyewitnesses to incredible miracles. They have seen the waters of the Sea open up, and all of Israel safely cross. But now, they are without water. It’s been three days and maybe they are not exactly sure what they have gotten themselves into by leaving Egypt. As background, we see some common reactions to the bitter places of our lives. Like so many of us, Israel forgot the past blessings of God, fussed against God, and made false accusations against God.

As you pray for healing of all kinds today, think about these truths.

1. Sooner or later, we will all come to a place called Marah (Bitterness).

2. For every Marah in our lives, there is Yahweh Rophe.

There are different kinds of bitterness in our lives. Whatever the bitter place of our lives, there is Yahweh Rophe or literally, Restorer.

God is healer to the …

· Broken Hearted (Ps. 147:3)

He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

· Spiritually sick (Ps. 103:3a)

Who forgives all your iniquities,

· Physically sick (Ps. 103:3)

Who heals all your diseases,

3. When we find ourselves in Marah, trust God’s character, not His miracles.

Exodus 15:26-27 reminds us to trust His Word and to trust that He is at work.

If we are patient, we will always see what follows the bitterness.

What’s Happening This Week at FBC?

This Thursday, October 26, 2017, is our monthly JOY Club meeting with lunch and a program. Our church member and State Representative, Julie Emerson, will be the speaker. I hope to see many of you here.

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. This week our one thing of prayer is to pray for the healing of the sick.

Sunday, we are exploring how to pray for ourselves. Don’t be afraid to pray for yourself. God wants us to seek Him. We will look at one example in Scripture of how a man named Jabez prayed for himself.

Sunday is a 5th Sunday. We have a tradition of receiving a second offering on the 5th Sunday for purposes of benevolence in the community. We will receive this offering as we exit the Sanctuary upon dismissal. Give as generously as you are led.

Fall Festival Next Tuesday! Let me encourage all of our families with children to join us next Tuesday for our Children’s Ministry Fall Fest. We will have entertainment, games, and pony rides. We will also have some food and drink items on hand for purchase. The fun happens Tuesday, October 31, between 5-7 p.m.

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Biblical Conclusions about Healing

At our church, First Baptist Church, Lafayette, LA, we are focused this fall on prayer. We have examined a number of subjects regarding prayer. Sunday, we examined the subject of praying for healing. We can’t talk about prayer without including some teaching about praying for healing. Most of our praying has to do with praying for the sick. This seems to be a tangible form of praying for us. The passage in the Bible that deals with this is in James 5.

While there is a lot to consider in James 5:13-18, consider these conclusions about praying for healing.

1. God is the one who heals, not the prayer or the one who prays.

2. God heals to bring glory to Himself and bring others to Himself.

Healing has probably very little to do with the person being healed; healing is all about God!

3. There is a link between prayer and righteousness.

4. You will never figure out why some are healed and some are not!

Join us this week as we pray for healing as our “This One Thing” of prayer.

(This post is based on the message “How to Pray for Healing” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

Praying for Healing and Other Thoughts from Sunday

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Every day is a good day, but some days are better than others.” For me, every Sunday is a good day, but some are better than others. Yesterday was one of those days. We spent more time praying Sunday than most Sundays. We invited people to come forward and pray if they were suffering or sick. We have done this before. Every time has been special. Yesterday was absolutely no exception. Then, last night, we had a great crowd at our First Look Seminar—a seminar designed for new and/or potential members. The room was full, and everyone was so enthusiastic about being there and becoming part of our church. It doesn’t get any better than that!

As we prayed yesterday morning, I explained the passage in James 5:13-18. Here are the four important pillars of instruction in this passage.

1. If you are suffering, pray.
2. If you are cheerful, sing.
3. If you are sick, involve others as you pray.
4. If you are sin-sick, ask God for forgiveness.

Join us this week as we make praying for healing as our “This One Thing” of prayer.

(This post is based on the message “How to Pray for Healing” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)

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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