Thanks Giving … in all circumstances -- Stephen Lucchetti


Rejoice always      Pray constantly Give thanks in all circumstances      For that is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thes 5:16-18

Give thanks in all circumstances Apart from some notable movie examples, I can't think of anyone who doesn't enjoy and look forward to Thanksgiving.  It is a wonderful time for family and friends to get together.  Not too cold, yet cold enough.  Often it's the end of Fall colors.  For some it brings the promise of winter fun.

I find it hard to think about Thanksgiving without thinking about delicious food and fellowship.  I find it hard not to remember Thanksgivings past when we had the opportunity to get together with family and retell old favorite family stories.  Occasionally it has been a time to remember loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord. 

Thanksgiving is also a time for us to turn our eyes toward God and give thanks to the One who has given us all we have.  Ps. 92 reminds us "It is good to give thanks to the Lord".  How easy it is sometimes to find ourselves getting caught up in the busyness of our lives and forget (even as we pray for our loved ones) to give Him thanks for all that He has done and continually does for us.   As Ps 136 reminds us:  

Give thanks to the Lord,  for he is good For his steadfast love endures forever

The psalmist goes on to specifically enumerate the world of spiritual, natural, and man made things for which to be thankful – constantly reminding us that each of these are the result of His enduring love for us!

Pray constantly Prior to Thanksgiving this year, we were especially blessed with national and statewide elections as well as a life-changing embryonic stem cell ballot proposal.  We were faced with voting choices which will affect us for many years regarding abortion, life of the unborn, gay marriage and family values. 

For the past several years, as a community, we have joined with Christians around the country in 40 Days of Prayer for our city.   HOW fitting it was then THIS year prior to such a significant election to receive a call for 40 Days For Life.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of the election we were called to offer prayer, fasting and vigils outside abortion clinics and intercede for the unborn. 

Only the Lord knows . . . How many prayers have been offered and how much fasting have brothers and sisters done?   How many hearts have changed and how many of the unborn have been saved?  Without this prayer and fasting how many more babies would have died?

I believe that the impact of 40 Days for Life has extended far beyond just praying for the unborn.  I know in my life that this effort has spilled over into greater and more fervent prayer for the election and even for society.  I've found myself fervently praying for all the candidates running for office – both Democratic and Republican.  I've prayed for their personal protection against harm and also that the Lord reveal himself to them more and more clearly.  I've found myself putting the candidates into the Lord's hands and praying that they be blessed. 

I may be wrong, but I've got a feeling that prayers like mine have also been offered by many others!  How many minds of women and men have been swayed by people humbly turning to God and seeking His forgiveness and His love – Only the Lord knows.   And yet the call to pray constantly is still there -- all around us it is easy to see that abortion continues.  Women and men fall into sin.  Society continues its move away from the eternal riches the Lord provides . . . .

Rejoice always I'm writing this before the national election is over.  And yet without even knowing the outcome I want to rejoice and give thanks to God for what he has done during this period before the election.  I may or may not be happy with who wins in November and whether this, that or another ballot initiative fails or passes.

BUT I can't think of any other election which has caught up so many good men and women and directed them to the Lord.  How much rejoicing in Heaven there must be because of that. 

There won't be rejoicing because one party or another won but rather rejoicing because women and men sought and seek Him who is the be all and end all of everything.  There is rejoicing in Heaven because men and women, sisters and brothers have repented for their sins as well as the sins of our nation and world. 

Praise the Lord for his call to prayer!   Praise God that so many, many brothers and sisters have taken this on as the word of God for today.    By doing this we as Christians have acknowledged that Jesus and God the Father are in control! 

Ps 136 clearly reminds us that God is in command over Kings, Pharaohs . . . and yes even over our government.   His steadfast loves endures forever -- THAT is why we can rejoice and why I particularly want to GIVE THANKS this Thanksgiving.  Not because of one party winning or one party losing.  Irrespective of the election outcome, the love of the Lord does in fact endure forever.

All Prayer -- Jack Flanagan

PicJackFlanaganIIPaul uses a phrase in Eph. 6.18 that is striking.  He says ‘Pray at all time in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.’  I would like to consider ‘all prayer and supplication’ in our current context.  We’ve been speaking about worship and prayer at our gatherings recently and we have had prophetic input regarding ‘calamities’ (a time of challenge and uncertainty, personally and broader).   As a response the Lord has been insisting that we stay near Him.  The wider context for the above passage is our spiritual warfare, beginning with Eph. 6:10.  Paul, a veteran spiritual warrior, is giving us directions on how to prevail in trial and challenge.  Let’s consider the question of ‘all prayer’ together. First, I still have a clear sense the Lord is saying to us ‘Be near to Me, stay near to Me’

Remember the word ‘Be mine in 2009’?  Why?  Why stay near the Lord?  Look at Psalm 73 for insight on this:

For lo, those who are far from Thee shall perish; Thou dost put an end to those who are false to Thee. But for me, it is good to be near God I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works. (Ps 73:27)

Now this is how the psalm ended.  But it didn’t begin that way.  There was a measure of confusion and dejection with him.  Look at verses 1 and 2:

Truly God is good to the upright,  to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

He goes on for some time reflecting upon the prosperity of the wicked (they are a sense of ease and increase in riches) and the pangs of the righteous (all day long I have been stricken and chastened every morning.)

He acknowledges that his soul was embittered, pricked in the heart. (Not a good place)

I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast to you. (Vs. 21-22)

Thank God for his honesty. 

The turning point comes in verse 16:

But when I thought to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God then I perceived their end.

Oh, in times of pressure and challenge, trial and confusion, dejection and feeling out of touch, how we need

to connect with God, to get His perspective, to see how He has been with us.  And to NOT accept circumstances as they appear to be. 

The psalmist shows us it is in his nearness to God that he maintains his life connection, godly perspective, patience in well doing, balance and so on.

The Lord has room for us in His sanctuary too! What do you think the psalmist experienced in the sanctuary?  What was going on in there?  The scripture is silent on this, but I suspect he experienced in God’s presence an ability to let go of his skewed perspective and to simply surrender.  Knowing that the Lord knows his heart, I suspect he was quiet and waited before the Lord and simply gazed upon Him.  Perhaps he simply pondered a portion of God’s word, awaiting light.  Later, the apostle Paul would say in 2 Cor. 3:16 that ‘when a man turns to the Lord, the veil is removed … and beholding his glory we are changed.’  Sanity and sanctity restored!  I suspect something like this was happening.  Thank God for the sanctuary!  The sanctuary can be our prayer closet, our church, any place where we can encounter the Living God.

What gets you out of touch with the Lord and skews your perspective?  Worry, fear, reversals, sin - things don’t play out as you hoped?  Rejection?  And how do you deal with this?  Do you go to the Lord in the sanctuary, to seek His heart and understanding? 

Now, let’s look at Ps. 30.  A strong start!

O Lord my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou hast healed me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from those gone down to the Pit. (Ps 30:1&2)

But look at vs. 6 and following:

As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By Thy favor, O Lord, Thou hast established me as a strong mountain; Thou didst hide Thy face, I was dismayed.

What does he mean here by prosperity?  Well, it probably means his own sense of comfort and security and wealth.  Things are going well.  Perhaps a sense of ease, even well earned ease. Perhaps he just accomplished something important...

What’s the problem here? It seems he took confidence in himself – ‘I shall never be moved... established me as a strong mountain’ -- and not in the Lord.  God simply hides his face. In his experience God withdraws, and he becomes unsettled, dismayed, lost and in panic mode!  Has this ever happened to you?

Now thankfully the story does not end there; he does the right thing - he cries out to the Lord...

Hear O Lord, and be gracious to me!  O Lord, be thou my helper.

And God hears: (Vs. 11-12)

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing...

In Psalm 30, then, the psalmist gets his eyes off the Lord, to the apparently ‘good life’ of the wicked or onto his own prosperity and good life.  When he does this, his perspective on reality becomes jaded and skewed.  Only when he goes to the Lord, draws near to the Lord, when he turns to the Lord and cries out to Him and surrenders again, does he experience God’s presence and joy.  How necessary to keep our eyes and hearts centered on the Lord!

Doesn’t it work the same way for us?  We are given a wise caution:

Not to find consolation in our prosperity, but in the Lord. Not to find confidence, or strength, or hope in our favorable affairs, our good fortunes, our lots ... but in the Lord only.  Where must our focus always be?  On the Lord! And not to lose godly perspective in adversity.

What can we do to cultivate & live in a continual sense of God’s presence? How can we continue to center on the Lord?  To keep our focus on Him?  I suspect there are a number of answers to this ... Let’s go back and consider ‘all prayer and supplication’ from Eph 6:18.

Again, the context for ‘all prayer and supplication’ is our spiritual armor.  It has been noted that ‘all prayer and supplication’ is the buckle that holds our spiritual armor together.  All prayer baths us in grace and light so that we have ready access to divine help:

To stand against the wiles of the devil, To keep the truth girding our loins and righteousness as our breast plate secure To keep the gospel of peace fresh in us And to enable the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation be strong and be ready.

Paul is encouraging us here to keep in a disposition of ‘all prayer and supplication’ as much as possible, to be aware of the Lord’s mighty presence in us, and to do this through the Spirit - ‘Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.’

What is ‘all prayer and supplication’ then? 

praying in the Spirit (the first part of versus 18) but also bringing to mind scriptures and praying accordingly (see Psalm 1) praying with all types of prayer: contrition, thanks-giving, petitions, supplications, praise, worship and intercessions. It includes praying publically and privately, solemn prayer, singing, prayer closet prayer.  Pleas for help and guidance and counsel and wisdom. It is our heart united with the Lord, in communion and communication with Him through our days.

To what end or purpose?

To keep alert (attentive, watchful) - He will bring us His wisdom.  And when his wisdom comes or He speaks, we need to be attentive to absorb His word.  Usually, His word comes to us in our thoughts.  We need to focus then, lest they become fleeting.  We need to stop then, to absorb them, and let them enter our hearts deeply. So we can persevere in supplication for all the saints - for our needs are great. And for right action, as in witnessing (prayer needs to precede action, not follow.)

Brothers and sisters, He will give us His grace for this.  Not on our own strength are we to do this.  But by the power of His Spirit He will mightily inspire within us.  The Lord is inviting us to ‘stay near to Him’ and ‘Be mine in 2009’.  ‘All Prayer’ is one way we can respond to this word.

The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to, with confidence, ‘enter the sanctuary’ and to ‘draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.’ (Heb10:19-22)

How can we stay near?  In His great love for us, He gives what we need: His Spirit, ‘all prayer’, the encouragement to enter the sanctuary and to draw near in full assurance.  Ask Him for the grace, the gift of ‘all prayer’.

Intercessors Lot -- Martha Balmer

BalmerMarthaIntercessors have a hard time of it. They are the vanguard, pushing the edge, hanging out in unsubmitted territory. They live in the realm of faith and hope—among things unseen, things not yet in their hands. By definition, intercessors are always sojourning in enemy territory — like Joshua sent ahead to scout, to declare the truth, and to lead the people in to possess the kingdom. “Don’t be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.”(IPt 4:12)The warriors go into conflict, the plow cuts into the rough.

The intercessor’s enemy has a very simple and logical strategy—discourage him by stating the obvious, pointing out what is as plain as the nose on his face. Things like how long he has prayed without seeing an answer, the high fatality rate of thus-and-such a disease, the enormity of the task ahead, or the size of the enemy’s army. The things the enemy shows us are easy to see, because they are natural, physical things.

But we are given the task of seeing the unseen, knowing the unrealized, just as Elisha saw and knew and prayed for his servant to see the Heavenly Army. We have been given authority to declare things that are, but they are not things that can yet be seen with the natural eye, because at best they have only been partially manifested in the natural realm.

Prophetic intercessors receive the authority to pull down from heaven things that God has opened heaven to pour out. On His behalf, they claim what is His and take it back from the one who stole it—because God has shown them that it’s time! They manifest what existed long before in the heavenly realm and is now legitimately breaking into the natural realm. They bring forth in this age the first fruits of the age to come, just as Peter did when he told the lame man at the Temple to get up and walk. They make rough places plain, and then they move on to the next rough, unclaimed place.

“Don’t be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Doing things first Because they are the vanguard, intercessors have to do things first. If they are moved to pray for conviction of sin, they should not be surprised when their own sins are the first to bear the light. When they pray for repentance to fall upon the church, they will find themselves stricken with sorrow for sin. As they pray for God’s heart to be manifest in the church, they can expect the very challenges in their own relationships that will call for supernatural love. As they pray for healing gifts they can expect to start tripping over the sick. As they pray for outpourings of faith, they should not be surprised by an onslaught from the discourager that challenges them to exercise that faith before they see it around them. As they pray for change, they will feel the pressure of the resistance. As they pray for prophetic words, they may find that they are the ones who hear them and must speak them. Intercessors are the vanguard; they go in first.

An experienced complainer When I first heard the call to intercede I only had experience in complaining to God about my own desires and needs. I didn’t have anybody but myself on my heart, and I knew it. When I tried to pray for others, it was like walking through mud up to my knees; the suction was almost more than I could break, and I was always in a sweat. But I knew that God is a God who supplies what he requires, so I said yes. I didn’t even want to pray for others, but I said yes.

That was the first lesson. The territory we take is not illumined by natural light or seen by the natural eye or taken by natural strength. It is taken—against natural instinct and inclination—by spiritual sight and supernatural means. We are not guessing. We are not wishing. We are not idealists in a state of optimistic denial. We are standing on the Word of God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. We are acting in obedience to the Master of the Universe, going with a flow that is inexorable. We know the One we believe; we trust the word of the Absolute; we stand on the sure Foundation.

When we move within the authority of His name, we are inexorable as well. Cancer. Depression. Addiction. Perversion. Nothing stands against God’s Word; no stronghold survives against Him. No matter what we see with the natural eye or recall throughout a lifetime of unrealized hopes, we know that any enemy stronghold is so much tissue paper against the sword of the Word of God.

Seeing with spiritual eyes An intercessor has to give up using his natural eyes in order to see the answer. He has to close his mind to the liar. He does this more and more easily as his prayer life increasingly manifests Paul’s exhortation to “pray constantly.”

“Do not be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.” The enemy will lie to us, but the more time we spend in God’s presence, the less time and space his lies can take up in our heads and the less credence we can give his nonsense. This freedom is the logical outcome, because the more time we spend in God’s presence, the better we know who He is. And the better we know who He is — in all His glory and majesty and power — the less afraid we are of His enemy. When the enemy says, “This depression is too hard, too entrenched, too habitual, too deep,” we’ll laugh. Because in God’s presence we have seen sorrow and sighing flee away. We know the enemy is just hustling for time. He’s powerless. He just hopes we’ll believe him long enough to leave him alone during our lifetimes.

Intercessors become healers, teachers and encouragers. They manifest every spiritual gift—because they bring about what they pray for through their faith, and their faith is manifest in their works.

Rolling out the carpet of welcome Intercessors become prophets because they seek God’s heart and He reveals it to them. They become exhorters and leaders because they know what God is up to. And they know what He is up to, because they spend so much time in His presence that they SEE it. They see it unfolding like a red carpet before Him, and they put their hands behind it and PUSH! They push it on their hands and knees until it gets lighter, then they get up on their feet and push until it gets lighter still. Finally they give it a kick and watch it unroll away before them faster than they can keep up.

Abundant Life -- Aimee Bacik

Charismatic Gifts

I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

One of the five main charisms that define The Word of God is that of being charismatic – open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and actively seeking all that the Spirit has for us.  Jesus promised that he came that we might have life, and have it to the full.  This means that we cannot keep the “charismatic” part of our life with him confined to our Sunday prayer meetings or other times that involve charismatic worship. 

We are called to live lives that are characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.  As Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”  (I Corinthians 4:20)  How do we live the life of the Spirit on a daily basis?  How do we live a life of power?

Pray for God’s direction - then listen!  I have always tried to pray about what God wants me to do and listen for his voice leading me.  He has spoken to me clearly in many ways throughout my life.  It was through his guidance that I was able to make major decisions in my life, such as deciding where to go to college, where to go to law school, and whether to join the community. 

While I seldom forget to pray about the big choices that I make in my life, I find that it is sometimes easy to forget that God wants to be involved in the small choices, as well.  The evangelist Benny Hinn wrote that he began each day by saying, “Good morning, Holy Spirit!”  This was his way of inviting the Holy Spirit to guide him and lead him throughout the day. 

While not all of us might feel led to say those exact words each morning, we should begin each day by giving it over to the Lord and inviting him to be in control of what we do and say.  Not only do we need to begin each day this way, but we should also continually ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as we go about caring for our families, interacting with our co-workers, doing our daily work, or even simply being with our friends or family. 

We have heard many prophecies over the past few months about the divine appointments that the Lord has for us.  However, many times we are too busy and too distracted by our daily lives to notice ways in which the Lord might be presenting us with divine appointments.  Just by taking a few minutes every hour or so to come before the Lord and ask for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can become more sensitive to his leading, and allow him to work through us.  I think that we will be amazed by the ways the Lord wants to work through us, even in the small, day-to- day details of our lives.

Expect God’s graceIf you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)  This was probably one of the first scripture verses that I can remember memorizing as a child.  It is one of the verses that is included in the Life and the Spirit Seminars that The Word of God has given over the years to many thousands of people. 

How many of us really believe this passage?  I do not mean just know that it is true, I mean believe it with all your heart, and be willing to stake your life on it?  Do we really believe that God is just waiting to pour his Holy Spirit down on us?  Do we live each day expecting the power of the Spirit to be manifest in our lives?  I know that I do not always find it easy to believe this.  Yet, Paul tells us that the Lord is “able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine by the power at work within us.”  (Ephesians 3:20) 

I believe that the Lord wants to do powerful things in and through us.  If we come before him in faith, asking for his Holy Spirit, he will hear and answer our prayer.  Jesus wants to give us the Holy Spirit more than we want to receive him.  If we come before him with open hearts, we will be filled.  Paul tells us to “strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.”  (I Corinthians 12:31)  He would not have urged us to strive after spiritual gifts if the Lord did not want us to have more gifts.  I believe that we have only just begun to see the gifts that the Lord has for us.  There is much more that he wants to give us.

Broad view of  “gifts of the Holy Spirit”  The Lord does not just have one gift for us, he has many gifts for us.  Often, however, we do not have a broad enough idea of the gifts that the Lord wants to give us.  There are many places in the Bible where gifts of the Spirit are listed.  For example, Isaiah 11:2-3 lists wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.  In Romans 12:6-8 Paul lists prophecy, ministering, teaching, exhortation, generosity and acts of mercy.   In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, Paul also lists apostles, mighty deeds, administration, healing, assistance, tongues and interpreting tongues. 

Do we limit God by our definitions of what are gifts of the Spirit?   When I was in college, I spent a great deal of time doing administrative work for University Christian Outreach.   Although I was good at the work, I did not especially like it.  Once I realized that it was a gift of the Spirit, my attitude towards doing the work totally changed.  I was able to view my work in an entirely different light.  Rather than being something that I was just good at doing, I began to view the administrative work as an opportunity to exercise a gift from God. 

I believe that the Lord has given us many of the gifts listed above, as well as many other gifts that I have not listed.  If we ask God to open up our eyes to the gifts that he has already given us, and to the many gifts he wants to give us, I believe that we will see many amazing ways in which the Lord wants to use us.

Share the life of the Spirit.  God did not give us gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we could hold onto them for ourselves.  He gave us the gifts so that we could build up the body of Christ.   As Paul says, “he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ….”  (Ephesians 4:11-12)  Not only are we called to share our gifts with one another, but we are called to reach out to those around us and share the good news. 

We have been given the amazing gift of abundant life in the Spirit.  We have not been given this gift because we are worthy, but we have been given this gift because we are amazingly loved by God.  This is a truth that the world is dying to know.  God is calling us to reach out and tell those around us of the good news of his love, and of the gift of his Holy Spirit.  Soon, we will have an opportunity to act on this call.  In May, The Word of God will be sponsoring and running a Life in the Spirit Seminar.  Is there someone who the Lord wants you to invite to come?  Is this something that the Lord would like you to attend so that you can be refreshed in the Spirit?

Intimacy and Mission.  In the last few months we have heard many prophesies about intimacy with God, and reaching out to evangelize those around us.  Both of these things are impossible to do without an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.  I think the question that the Lord is asking us right now is, “How foolish are you willing to be?”  Are we willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world in order to show others what it means to live life abundantly?  Are we willing to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us in mighty ways, in ways that we have never imagined?  If we are, I believe that we will see the power of the Lord in ways that we have never seen before

Christ The Source Of Body Life -- Peter Williamson


15 Rather, living the truth in love, weshould grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

Verses 15b-16 sums up 4:11-16, which in the Greek forms one long sentence. The result of “living the truth in love” is that we will grow in every way into him, who is the head, Christ.  Maturity, “living the truth in love,” means growing in union with Christ himself. Again, we see there are degrees of unity and maturity.

Christian faith entails an “already” and a “not yet.” Although the Church is already “in Christ,” united to Jesus, there is plenty of room to be more fully united with our Lord, “to grow in every way into him.”  Christ, as the head of “the body, the Church” (Col 1:18), is not only over the Church, he is the source from whom the whole body, the Church, derives its growth and flourishing.

The term head can mean either authority or source, as in “the head waters of the Nile.” This body, the Church, is joined and held together by every supporting ligament— other translations say “joint.” These ligaments are the individual members of the Church. They provide structural support for the body, but the Greek word translated “supporting” (also in Col 2:19) suggests that nourishment is part of it. “In this way, the writer pictures the ligaments functioning to provide the connections between the various parts and thereby mediating life and energizing power throughout the body” (Andrew T. Lincoln. Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1990. p 263).

Notice the intensely communal vision of the Church’s nature—the parts are touching one another, fastened together, in a way that supports and energizes the body’s activity. This activity depends, however , on the proper functioning of each part. As in 1 Cor 12:15-21, no part is indispensable. The ministers with gifts of teaching and overall leadership must do their part of equipping “the holy ones for the work of ministry.” So must every other member of the body fulfill their role. This cooperation of Christ and all the members of the body brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love. The final word of the   sentence both in Greek and in English is placed there for emphasis. The Church can only be strengthened if her members conduct their relationships and fulfill their ministries in love.

To summarize, Paul is saying that the goal of the diverse gifts Messiah gives the Church is for ministry that leads to Christ-like maturity in the body as a whole and in its members. This maturity is characterized by a unity in doctrine and in relationship with Christ himself. It entails stability regarding the truth. It involves sincere conduct and love, and it requires that each member of the body of Christ fulfill his or her role of service. If we want to see our local communities and the Church as a whole flourish, these verses tell us how.

 Peter Williamson is using his scholarly expertise and pastoral experience to help produce a set of Bible commentaries for use by Catholic clergy and pastoral workers. These will fill something of a vacuum in what is currently available. He is serving as one of the editors for the whole series and an author of several volumes, starting with the book of Ephesians.  Let’s join in praying for the fruitfulness of this effort

Healing Neck Growth -- Keith Dwyer

In March of 2009 I noticed a small growth on my neck. Initially, I thought it was a pimple and that it would go away. When it grew and began looking ugly, my wife encouraged me to have my doctor look at it. He said that it appeared to be a keratoacanthoma growth. In most cases, keratoacanthoma grows rapidly, is benign and disappears within 6 months, usually leaving a scar. He said that it some cases, however, this type of growth is cancerous (squamous cell carcinoma) and should be quickly dealt with. He ordered a biopsy to be taken a few weeks later. I subsequently saw my chiropractor for something unrelated and she advised against the biopsy in favor of a homeopathic treatment of oil of oregano (a natural antiseptic) applied directly to the growth. Well, I was a bit torn about what to do, but prayerfully cancelled the biopsy appointment.  I had to cover the growth with a band-aid so others wouldn’t have to look at it. My wife was still concerned about cancer, so I was happy to hear that Tom Naemi was coming to our prayer meeting to pray with people for healing. I received prayer and felt the presence of the Lord immediately. As Tom prayed he said, “You don’t have cancer.” He continued to pray and said something to the effect that this growth would be gone within a week. I felt a lot better about the situation and continued with my treatment. The growth appeared to be shriveling up and within four days it dropped off. There appears to be no scar. I believe that I am healed. Praise the Lord!

An encouraging word on prayer -- Billy Kangas

PrayBy Billy Kangas

“A day without morning and evening prayers and personal intercessions is actually a day without meaning or importance.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Asking “How does one pray?” is a question that has been asked for thousands of years. Just take a look at Luke 11:1 “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Even those who lived day in and day out with Jesus still had trouble understanding how to pray!

Before we get into how… I think it’s important to talk about why… there are innumerable reasons to pray. Stop and think for a second before reading… Why would one pray? Come up with a reason in your mind…

I can think of a few reasons:

Ephesians 3:14-19 – It strengthens our relationship with God

A person prays, said Augustine, "that he himself may be constructed, not that God may be instructed."

Luke 22:39-41 – Avoid Temptation

Luke 10:2 It empowers us to see God’s will

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote: “the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God wills.”

and empowers us do it (look at the next command of Jesus in Verse 3)

Prayer is really practical! As St. Thomas More once prayed, "The things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us the grace to labor for."

Ephesians 6:10-20 - Warfare

One of my favorite quotes about prayer comes from Karl Barth who wrote, "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."

Requests – Philippians 4:6

“God,” said Pascal, “instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.” That’s a really cool idea to me!

One Final thought by Eugene Peterson: ““Be slow to pray. Praying puts us at risk of getting involved with God’s conditions…. Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. And when we realize what is going on, it is often too late to go back.””