Proposition: We must see the various aspects of the spiritual power we have available.
I. THE POWER OF COOPERATION, vs. 1-3
A. The priority of itII. THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION, vs. 4-7
B. The urgency of it
A. The scope of prayerIII. THE POWER OF CONCENTRATION, vs. 8, 9
B. The attitude in prayer
C. The blessing from prayer
A. Focus on things trueIV. THE POWER OF CONTENTMENT, vs. 10-13
B. Focus on things honorable
C. Focus on things just
D. Focus on things pure
E. Focus on things lovely
F. Focus on things gracious
A. Content in spite of circumstancesConclusion: God gives us these amazing powers. Let us receive these gifts with thanksgiving and use them daily.
B. Content because of Christ
Every day begins in beauty! We begin our days
with sleep-filled eyes and empty stomachs. Our blood pressure is
low and our blood sugar is low and our disposition is even lower.
But God enables us to begin every day with beauty; for every day begins
with sunrise and bird song. With visual beauty and with audible beauty,
every day dawns. If only we had eyes to see and ears to hear!
Someone once wrote: "The will of God will never
lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." That's another
way of saying, with Paul, that we never have temptations greater than we
can bear. We so often pray for lighter burdens when we ought to pray
for stronger shoulders. We pray for an easier path when we ought
to pray for tougher feet. We pray for fewer problems when we ought
to pray for better solutions. We pray for easier tasks when we ought
to pray for stronger muscles. We pray for calm when we ought to face
the storm and ride it out.
When a storm comes at sea, a ship turns to face the tempest. If the vessel allows the storm to hit its side, it will capsize. If it turns its back to the storm, the storm will drive it wherever the wind blows. But the ship faces the storm and is safe. The storms of life must be faced. We dare not leave them to one side, nor turn and run from them. Facing them is our only safety.
Sometimes life boxes us in. We cannot always choose our circumstances. But we can always choose the way we react to our circumstances. We cannot always change things outwardly, but we have ever the power to change things inwardly.
Rabbi Harold Kushner found it difficult to accept
his son's illness. He was told that his bright three-year-old had
a rare disease that caused premature aging. He would not live beyond
his teens. As the Rabbi watched his son grow bald, and wrinkled,
and arthritic over eleven years, he wrestled with the basic questions of
life. He searched the Bible, and he searched his own soul.
The result was a book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
In it, he shows that the painful things of life are not a punishment, nor
are they God's will for us personally. They are rather the result
of the kind of world we live in. If we could, we would choose to
avoid them; but we grow by them. Thus, in working through his own
pain, he was able to help others who suffer.
If an army marches on its stomach, a church marches on its knees! We must never lose our line of communication with God. The hour we devote to prayer has been called the most powerful hour of the day. World Vision holds sessions across the country called a "School of Prayer." Jesus led a school of prayer when His disciples came saying, "Teach us to pray." Jesus and Paul and the early Christians teach us by their example that we must not break our lines of communication with God.