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Prayer in Context

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John Maulella brought the message this past Sunday, continuing a series on Prayer.  He looked at John 15:1-17, giving us a context for prayer.

He began by saying that we often ask "How do I pray more effectively?" meaning "How do I get what I want?"  We're practical, wanting a list of techniques, but maybe that's not the right approach.

We looked at the passage in John 15, where Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches.

We are essentially connective.  We're creatures who are made to connect.  It's our nature.

Jesus is the true vine -- the One we're to connect to.  Where do you get your nourishment from -- your meaning, purpose, and pleasure?

His Father is the gardener.

The branches aren't asking to be pruned.

God reserves the right to interfere in your life, to interrupt your plans.

Pruning strengthens the plant.

In Genesis, God formed us and planted a garden.  God gets His hands dirty.  The first command was Be fruitful and multiply.  Our planet is hardwired for fruitfulness.  We want to make a mark.

How do we get to fruitfulness?

1.  We need to get clean.

Dust off our leaves!  If you're connected to Jesus, you're clean.

2.  We need to realize we're helpless.

"Apart from me, you can do nothing."

Cut off from the vine, our efforts can't bring about eternal change.

We pray out of our helplessness.  "When I'm weak, then I'm strong."

Bragging about our weakness is countercultural.  We're a culture of resumes.  As Christians, it's time for un-resumes -- the things I can't do well apart from Christ.

We weren't made to do this on our own.

3.  We need to make our home with Jesus.

Jesus asks us to "abide" -- stay, remain, make our home.

Our home is not just about where our residence is.

Home is where they know you, and you know them.

Some of us are afraid to be home because they know us.

Jesus knows us and invites us home anyway.

Abide in me as I abide in you -- not if.

Jesus is already in me, living there.  God has decided to make his home in us.  We need to catch up!

Back to Prayer:

What do helpless people need to do?  We ask!

God needs to be in all parts of our lives.  Ask.

What do we ask for?  We ask for anything.

James 4 -- We don't have because we don't ask.  But when we ask, we make it all about us.

Practical Ideas:

It takes time.  Take time with God.  Be militant about it, but spend the time.

Get God's words inside of us.  ("... and my words abide in you")  Make His words part of us.

Become interruptible.  Let the Gardener interrupt our lives.

Ask whatever you want.

***

We followed the sermon with a time of Communion.

God-Honoring Space

On Sunday, we learned that a Letter of Commitment has been signed for a bank loan for our new building.

The whole service was carried out in the spirit of dedication -- we want this to be the Lord's project.

We met two men who are working with us from Scott Long Construction.

Then Tim Eagle interviewed Anu Simpkinson and Jan Zacharias, who have been instrumental in helping Gateway get to this point.

And Alex York preached on God-Honoring Space.

God-honoring space has space not only for those who know God, but also those who don't yet know him.

Jesus cleared the temple twice -- at the start and end of his ministry.

In Mark 11:12-18, we see that Jesus was angry.  The temple was to be "a house of prayer for all nations" rather than "a den of robbers."

The religious leaders were getting a percentage, and it was a place of corruption and commerce.

We looked at a picture of Herod's temple.  The Court of the Gentiles was proportionately much bigger than the part set aside for Jews.

God has a heart for those far from him.

Like he did with Abraham, God blesses us so we can be a blessing.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 -- We are Christ's ambassadors.  God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.

Ambassadors encourage cultural exchange.  We need to create safe spaces for others to find out about God's love.

We also need to create space in our own lives for people who are distant from God, a safe space where people can talk about spiritual things.

We should be generous with grace and stingy with judgment.

What's next in the building process?

We've committed to the loan, but we still need to sell the west parcel to close on the loan.

On another track, we want to move toward groundbreaking and are looking to complete a team for site development.

We need to pray for God's favor.  There are a scary amount of things that can go wrong.  We need favor with the county and favor for all the details.

God has been extraordinarily generous through us.  We need to continue to give.

There will be stresses on our unity.

We need people to do the work.

Everybody is on the greeter team!

God has positioned us to be a unique church at a unique time and a unique place.

We're not looking for people to come sit.

Thoughts for the week:

How much "God-honoring space" is there in my life right now?

Who are the "spiritual outsiders" within my sphere of influence that I can be praying for?

Are there specific ways I can create space in my life that will be more available and more appealing to those who are distant and disconnected from God?

 

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