Church Wide Prayer Walk

CHURCH WIDE PRAYER WALK

March 26 at 8AM

We will pray over all the rooms in the building, over the ministries of the church, and over the streets/neighborhoods in Cleveland. There will be interactive exercises to guide you in your prayers. Be there unless you’ve got something more important than prayer to do on a Saturday morning.

 

Recent Book Recommendations

Lately, I've recommended several books from eh pulpit. Reading has historically been one of the great tools for spiritual and theological growth in Christian lives. In fact, Christians historically supported and even provided public education to insure every child learned to read and write, so that they would have access to the incredible riches of the Scriptures and the Church's writings. While our culture is no longer the print-based society it once was, reading and meditating on that reading is still an awesome way to grow in the knowledge and faith of Christ. One of my first mentors used to ask me every time we met, "What are you reading?" Too which, he'd always follow up, "If you want to be a Spiritual Leader, you've got to always be reading." I was 18 at the time and hated reading, but slowly, I plodded through. 
So here are the recommendations, I made recently. 

Books for Lent

The Prodigal God

The Prodigal God is an extended meditation on the Parable of the Prodigal Father and Sons found in Luke. This is an incredible book for anyone looking to deepen or clarify their understanding of the Christian Gospel. Timothy Keller is clear, concise, and compelling; often swinging convicting sledgehammers of truth followed by soothing balms of gospel healing. I've read this book 4 times in the last year (3 times in 6 months). 

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Celebration of Discipline

This book is a Christian Classic designed to teach Christians the skills (disciplines) they need to grow in grace and faith. This really is a primer for the basic practices of the Christian life, including prayer, fasting, study, meditation, simplicity, solitude, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. I love how Richard Foster surveys the Biblical verses, Church history, and modern practices to show the benefits of each discipline and the ways we can apply them in our lives. If you want to grow in PRACTICING your faith, in living it out, and in your personal relationship with Jesus, this is the book. 

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I Prayed Wrong, and Here’s My New 9:38 Prayer

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, skip to the big words at the end for my conclusion and your assignment.

Today as I reread Matthew 9:35-38, it hit me that I have been praying incorrectly and even disobediently. For the better part of my time at Oakland Presbyterian Church, I’ve been praying that God will send us the people who need to hear each sermon. I drive around Cleveland and pray for each subdivision as I pass, “Lord, I pray for Summerset Place. I ask you to reveal yourself there, to work in the hearts and minds of families there, to bring them to Christ. I pray you will use Oakland to shine a light in that place. I claim it for you, as part of your Kingdom, that should and will recognize you as Lord and Savior.”

Not that there is anything wrong with praying for lost people or praying for hurting people or asking the Lord for opportunities to share the gospel and alleviate suffering. We should pray for those things, and even more so, do those things. Still, in Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus says plainly, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Matthew 9.38What does Jesus plainly, explicitly tell me to pray for? For people to come or for atheists to become believers? No, he says, “Ask the Lord to send out workers into his harvest.” Jesus says that the harvest is already full, and yet I have spent the majority of my time praying for the harvest to come. Jesus tells me to pray God will send workers into the field.

Honestly, I have not been praying this way. I’ve been living as if we’re mid-summer and the harvest is dubious, and so I’ve been praying for a harvest that might fail. But Jesus (Thank God for those 2 Words) assures me that the harvest is PLENTIFUL and more than the workers can handle.

The Harvest exists. It is here. It is real. It is not in doubt. God has provided a HUGE Harvest. It is not a few people, it is more than every existing church in Cleveland can hold. God has people ready to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has people ripe for faith.  But there are two potential problems we must combat in prayer:

  1. Not enough harvesters – we need more workers, more laborers that know how to harvest, that know how to share the gospel, that know how to make disciples who make disciples, that know who to tell if a person is ripe for faith in Jesus, that know how to delicately “pick” people. We need more laborers, not more hard work, but more laborers. Pray to God to send out skillful Laborers.
  2. Harvesters Not IN the field – I worry that there are harvesters, but they are sitting in the shade resting or in the barn tinkering. They are inside the house watching football. They are too distracted and comfortable and busy. We need harvesters IN THE HARVEST FIELD. Harvest is a hectic time, running wide open to collect as much fruit as we can before it spoils. It is not time to be doing maintenance or optional upgrades. It is not time to paint the barn or build barns or order materials for next year. During harvest only harvest essential tasks are done; only mission-critical tasks are done. Jesus needs more people IN THE FIELD. Actually harvesting. Pray to God to SEND OUT harvesters INTO THE FIELD. Send them out. Send them into the field. If you ran a farm at harvest and your workers where anywhere but in the field harvesting, you'd kick their butts into gear, or you'd fire and replace them with actual laborers.

MAN, IT HITS ME THAT I’VE BEEN ASKING GOD TO BRING THE HARVEST INTO THE BARN, WHEN I’VE BEEN EXPRESSLY COMMANDED TO ASK GOD TO SEND LABORERS OUT TO THE HARVEST FIELD. I'VE BEEN PRAYING FOR GOD TO BRING PEOPLE IN, WHEN GOD WANTS TO SEND PEOPLE OUT.

                  APPLICATION: I ask you to join me in this plan. Let's set 2 alarms for every day this week. One at 9:38AM and one at 9:38PM (because it is Matthew 9:38). When that alarm goes off in the morning and night I will pray not for what I want to pray, but for what Jesus has told me to pray. I "ask the Lord of the Harvest to send workers out into the harvest field."
                  PRAYER: Lord of the Harvest, we beg you to send out workers into your harvest field. Send out men and women skillful at identifying ripe harvest fields and harvesting men and women for your kingdom. Send out men and women willing to work hard and tirelessly to collect the hearts you’ve already won. Lord, don’t make us watch, we want to participate, make us harvesters and send us out into your mission field, that we can celebrate your bounty. AMEN.

SERMON – Matthew 6:1-18 – The King’s Speech – Lost Treasures and Their Hidden Rewards

 

Matthew 6:1-18 - The King's Speech (Part 4)

Lost Treasures and Their Hidden Rewards

Preached by Andrew Ruth

In this sermon we discuss the lost treasures of the spiritual disciplines, especially alms, prayer, and fasting. Jesus assumed we would do these things, and we see in Acts 15, that when the church at Antioch did this things, God gave them a mission and a willingness that changed the world. We fast and pray because we want God to use Oakland like he used Antioch, to start a missionary movement that rocks the world and spreads the gospel to people not yet aware of Jesus' love and saving death.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – July 19 – July 26

Matt 6.19-34 - Reading Slide - The Kings Speech (part 5)

 Questions to Guide You:

  1. Which verse in Matthew 6:19-34 grabs your attention? Which verse will you memorize?
  2. What does it look like to store up treasures on earth? In heaven? How can you better treasure Jesus this week?
  3. How are worry and faith related? How are money and worry spiritual problems? What does worry reveal about us and our relationships?
  4. Why do Matthew and Hebrews tell us not to worry and not to love money? How do you know when you’re in love with money?
  5. Americans are among the top 10% of wealthiest people on the planet, so we should pay attention to what the Bible tells “rich” people. What does Timothy tell the “rich” people in the church? What about James? Why the different approaches?
  6. How can you be a better rich person in the world and in the church?
  7. Both Proverbs 23 and Psalm 127, worn us about wearing ourselves out, how are you feeling right now? You are especially vulnerable to temptation when exhausted, so how can you rest and savor God’s goodness this week?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 

 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – July 12 – July 19

Matt 6.1-18 - Reading Slide - The Kings Speech (part 4)

 Questions to Guide You:

  1. In Matt 6:1, Jesus warns us about practicing our religion in front of folks, but in Matt 5:16, he says let your light shine; what’s the difference?
  2. What assumptions does Jesus make about the role of giving, prayer, and fasting in our lives?
  3. What are alms? How should we give so that our left hand doesn’t know? To avoid ostentation?
  4. What do we learn about God and prayer from the Lord’s Prayer?
  5. How should you act while fasting? Who should know you are fasting?
  6. 1 Kings 18 and Neh 1 give us OT examples of prayer. What do you notice about how these men pray? Do they pray like Jesus? What relation do you see between fasting and prayer?
  7. Phil 1 and Col 4 are NT Prayers, pray them for someone in your life.
  8. Jesus assumes we will do these things. So, what time of day will you regularly pray? Maybe put a reminder in your phone. What day of the month will you give away money to the poor? Maybe put a reminder in your calendar. When will you fast next? Reminder?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 

 

SERMON: The Way of Jesus (Part 9) – I am Called to PRAY

 The Way of Jesus (Part 9): I am Called to PRAY
Praying for OURs not MYs

Pastor Andrew Ruth
March 8, 2015
Matthew 8:6-13
Phil 4:6-7

Remember P.R.A.Y.

Praise

Celebrate God's goodness. Make much of God. Point out what he has done well, beautifully, creatively, redemptively, and lovingly. 

Repent

Acknowledge failures - when I did what I should not or did not do what I should. Decide to take real steps to fight such habitual sin. 

Ask [for others]

Pray for others. The sick, the poor, the victimized, the Church, your enemies, your neighbors, marriages, children, teachers, governments, etc. 

Yourself

Lastly remember yourself. Pour out your heart to God and trust that he cares. Remember not to pray for yourself, things you cannot also pray in good conscious for others. "OUR daily bread." "forgive OUR debts." "Lead US not into temptation." 

Further recommended reading on PRAYER:

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you only read 5 books to augment your walk with Jesus in the next 10 years, make sure this is one of them. His chapter on Prayer (Chpt 3) is a great starting point for learning to pray.

More Info

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference

Philip Yancey is one of the best pastors/writers/thinkers of our time. Following in Max Lucado or or John Stott's shoes, Yancey's book on prayer is a thorough going treatment of the Biblical texts, Christian theology, and finally practical advice. It is appropriate for people wrestling with philosophical questions about prayer, before they can even start praying.

More Info
This sermon series includes a weekly Bible Reading Plan.  Each week we read in preparation for the sermon coming next week. Next week we will finish our sermon series by discussing The Way of Jesus - I am called to DIE, so this week we will be reading about "taking up our cross" using this WEEK 10 READING PLAN. Tips and suggested questions available on the PDF.

TheWayOfJesus-I am called to - Week 10 Reading Slide