Pressure can make sin look good. When I heard John Ortberg say that this morning, not only could I relate personally, but I immediately thought back to Acts 4 and the message yesterday regarding Smart Prayers Under Pressure. The reason pressure, if not dealt with in healthy ways, makes sin look good is that it can lead to a preoccupation with ourselves. Preoccupation with ourselves inevitably leads to relief being our dominant goal.
Ortberg then commented that a great way to deal with pressure is not to live with the burden of outcomes. Sounds very biblical to me! “And now Lord, take note of their threats…” Acts 4:29. “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. At staff prayer this morning, we read James 4:14ff, “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” There is something about biblical reality that does take the pressure off!
Let’s all take some time this Monday in June to do a bit of soul care! We could all use it!
Great time of celebration yesterday with the baptisms! Hope you can see the difference your regular giving makes for the progress of the gospel. If haven’t explored the option of online giving, check it out here.
Grace and peace,
"Smart Prayers: Under Pressure" Acts 4:23-31
Incredibly dynamic story, isn’t it? These believers were so confident in the truth of the resurrection and the need of everyone to believe in Christ (see 4:12), that no matter what the cost, they would not, could not stop telling others. They also knew the only way to deal with the pressure was through prayer. And what a prayer it was!
THINKING IT THROUGH
Life often seems at cross-purposes with God’s purposes unless it is perceived through the Cross-Purpose of God’s love.
The true worth of man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.
Relying on God has to be done again every day as if nothing has yet had been done.
Don’t pray to escape trouble. Don’t pray to be comfortable in your emotions. Pray to do the will of God in every situation. Nothing else is worth praying about.
LIVING IT OUT
1. How do you normally react when you are under pressure and why?
2. Identify a pressure point in your life, and then take as much time as you need to write out a smart prayer that you can begin praying. Keep in mind the example of the apostles!
3. What purpose or conviction do you have that you would be willing to endure pain rather than compromise or reject it?
"Smart Prayers: Close the Gap" Ephesians 3:14-21
The prayers of Paul recorded in his New Testament letters can serve as a “school of prayer” offering us valuable lessons. This specific prayer of Paul is a smart prayer that will help us close the gap between what we understand and what we experience as believers in Jesus Christ. It is a life-giving prayer Paul prays for all believers that needs to become a smart prayer for us to pray for ourselves and for others.
LOOKING IT UP
1. Notice the phrase “For this reason…” What is moving Paul to pray this prayer? (Notice vs. 1-13.)
2. What is significant about Paul’s description of God the Father in v. 15?
3. Why do you think Paul acknowledges the “riches” of God in this prayer?
4. What do you think is the relationship between the strength of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ? (vs. 16-17)
5. What does it mean to be “rooted and grounded in love” and why is this an important statement in Paul’s prayer?
6. Why is it important for Paul and for us to pray that we “grasp, apprehend, comprehend” the dimensions of Christ’s love? (vs. 18-19)
7. Why do you think Paul closes this prayer the way he does in vs. 20-21?
Posted on Mon, June 24, 2013
by Tom Oyler