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A FREE GIFT FOR CLERGY
Positive Written Sermons is a FREE service of Positive Christianity to those ACTIVE IN CLERGY MINISTRY to ease your burdens in ministry. Each positive sermon is non-denominational; feel free to tailor to your denominational needs, or personal style. We consider our sermons to be 90% complete; they await your personal stories and anecdotes.
Personal important note: Many (hundreds) have been asking about our retreat center in Ellijay Georgia – Hope Hill.
People have wanted to book it, read about it, etc. and it’s now off-line.
About six months ago as I faced my own storm of life with my health challenge. My financial advisor strongly advised that I sell Hope Hill. He said because of Texas and Georgia law it would definitely go into probate which could last years. But I said, “I love Hope Hill,” and when I’m not using it is rented 90% of the time making it very profitable for the ministry. He said, during probate it would sit vacant you would not be allowed to rent it and that being the case it would go into disrepair.
I put Hope Hill on the market and sold it within days for a high amount which went to help the trust to support this ministry ongoing.
By the way, I’m doing fine, feel-good, and in a great mood. God is with me. Please don’t write asking me how I’m doing because I just can’t keep up with that kind of correspondence. I dislike being the focus instead of God being the focus. Plus, such correspondence in large numbers really brings me down temporarily.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Tennyson once said that more things are brought about in this world by prayer than we can ever dream about.
Let me tell you a story.
There has been a great deal in the news in the last few years about mining accidents in the United States. Years ago, in a Salem, Kentucky zinc mine there were five miners in the mine together there was a rockfall in the mine – a collision of the ceiling. They were trapped. There was no light. There was no food. There was no water. They were there in the darkness.
Now, these five men were non-religious. But at a time like that … You think your life is passing in front of your eyes, and indeed it was for these five miners. So one miner suggested that they pray and sing. Ordinarily if he would have done that, he would have been beaten up. But not today, not in this mine after the collapse.
So, they sat there on the floor, gasping for air, and they started to sing and pray. They sang old gospel songs. One would lead and then another. And they prayed for a total of fifty-three hours. They never slept. They continued to pray. They got into such a feeling of oneness with God that after a while it didn’t even matter to them if they were found or not. They knew there was something more to life than that zinc mine and their daily hum-drum existence. Through personal spiritual experience each miner knew God. And they knew God was present with them there in that mine.
They continued to pray. Finally, they heard axes chipping through the rock. They heard people moving the rock and they heard people coming in, but they didn’t stop praying. They continued to pray and sing as they were lifted up out of the mine. On their miner’s helmets they had scrawled with a rock, “If we’re dead when you find us, we are all saved.”
What does it mean to be saved? It’s not a one-time event. When things happen in your life that knock you down, how do you get through it? Do you go the old, human way, or are you going to be spiritually saved in that moment? Every miner went on to have a profound religious life. All the miners said the collapse was the finest thing that had ever happened in their lives. They said, “Thank God we were trapped in that mine for fifty-three hours, for the experience gave us new life.”
When the outlook is bad in your life, try the up look. Try looking to God – instead of the situation. Try it and see what happens. You are going to make the discovery of discoveries that everybody can make, regardless of religious ties. You are going to find God because God is with you right now. Prayer is a feeding time for your soul. Sometimes our souls are starved, especially when bad things had been happening to us. It is a communion with God.
Prayer is a homecoming!
It’s easy to pray. Often in our lives, we have been given the message that it is hard to pray. No. That’s a human message of your human mind. It’s easy to pray. Our minds were created to pray, just as our lungs were created to breathe.
In prayer, we are consenting. We are permitting God to work through us. God does work through us when we permit God to do so. If we permit God to work through us for even a brief couple of minutes, God will do it. If we want it all day long or for fifty-three hours continuously, God will do that too. And it’s ever expansive. The more we permit God to work through us, the greater it is and the greater we are.
Frank B. Whitney once said, “To get out of personal, difficult situations, you must get out of personal consciousness.” You must lift yourself above the things that you have been thinking about. What do you lift yourself into? Into Power. There is a power in prayer that this talk cannot do justice to. There is a power in God that no human can tell you about fully with human words. You have to experience it, through a personal spiritual experience.
In the Bible, it says, “It is done unto you as you believe.” That is because prayer, like electricity, travels in a circle. When you pray, it is like a boomerang. It’s going to come back into your life. Prayer produces after the pattern is set.
The famous Mayo Clinic is in Rochester Minnesota. The Mayo brothers (Will and Charles Mayo) had a dream of better healing. Will Mayo once said this:
“I have seen patients who were dead by all standards. Everyone knew they could not live. We knew they were going to die. But I have seen a minister come to the bedside of one of these patients and do something that I could not do. I have seen that patient’s life touched in some way that I can’t explain as a medical doctor, with some immortal spark that defied medical knowledge and materialistic common sense. Believe it or not, that patient lived.”
We see this every day in ministry. Through this ministry, we see people who aren’t supposed to live, live; people who aren’t supposed to be able to pull their business out of where it is, pull it out and prosper. People have changed their lives around. People who are destroying themselves with their habits and various things just turn their lives around because of a power they connect with–a power which does not have those problems, a power that is readily accessible to us all.
Prayer, as Jesus Christ understood and used it, is communion with God. For communion of a child with God is a splendid, confidential talk of the child with the Parent. Communion means – common – union.
There is a locked, hidden pattern of prayer that works within the Bible that Jesus Christ used. I’m going to give you an example of how to unlock some of this prayer potential that is within you. I’m going to tell the story of the raising of Lazarus. In that, there is a locked, hidden pattern that can help you unlock your life.
Let me give you the setting for what was going on. Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived at the tomb. Now, I would like you to picture the scene. There are hundreds of wailing women crying their eyes out. Then we see the curious crowd–not so much a faith-believing crowd, but a doubting crowd. They doubt with everything inside of them that a miracle could possibly take place. Then we see the grim, gray, rock-hewn cave with a large, circular stone rolled in front of the opening. [John 11:39-44].
“Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. I knew that Thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.’ When He said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hand and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'”
First of all, how does Jesus address God? Jesus addresses God in a different way than we sometimes address God. He addresses God as if He were an immediate, close, available, mighty and loving Presence.
The basic pattern for prayer is in six steps.
1. “Take away the stone.” The very first step is to take away whatever barrier exists in your life, your mind and your heart. Open your eyes and your mind and your heart to betterment. Agree with God that improvement is possible and consent to whatever changes this may demand of you. Prayer, you see, does not change God. It changes us.
2. “Jesus lifted up His eyes.” This means He lifted up his vision, and His perspective, as well as His sight. What a thing to do in prayer. Sometimes the people praying never get to this point. They are so locked into the problem that they just beg God to save them from their problems. Their eyes are centered on the problem. Never once do they give God the credit for possibly being able to bring something higher into their lives. Jesus saw that with God working through Him, something more was possible.
In the highest form of prayer, we do not ask that God lower God’s sight to ours, but rather we seek to raise our sight to God’s. Raise your sights, to see through God’s eyes, to think through God’s thought, to hear God’s words.
3. “Father, I thank Thee.” Now Jesus had a Bible just like we do, but His Bible was the Old Testament. Jesus read the Old Testament. He was familiar with it. The Old Testament teaches to thank God. The Jewish people thank God as a matter of habit. The difference here, (and it’s a big difference), is that He didn’t thank God after Lazarus came out, but through his faith, and vision, thanked God in advance. There is a world of difference in that kind of faith.
Have enough faith in your life to know that when you pray, you’re not wondering, “Gee, I wonder if God heard that? Did God hear me that time?” Have faith to permit God to work through you. Have faith enough to give thanks in advance. The ultimate prayer is giving thanks continuously.
4. “He cried out with a loud voice.” This is the voice of unquestioning assurance. This is the voice in you that knows. I often ask people, “How would you act if your prayer was already answered?” They have answered, “Well, I would be exuberant. I would be on fire with God.” I would then tell them to act that way right now because it has been answered. It has to come through you – YOUR FAITH.
5. “The dead man came out.” The things that are impossible to you and me as mortal women and men are possible to God. And anything IS possible for you with God working through you if you are God-filled. The Bible says, “Where one thing I know: where I was blind, I now see, whereas I was once dead, I have come alive again; whereas I was impoverished, I am enriched. whereas I was abandoned, I am loved and accepted. Old thoughts and old things are become as waters that have passed away. Behold, all things are made new.”
6. “Unbind him and let him go.” Even though this dead man lives and has walked forth, he is still bound to the old thinking that got him there in the first place. He still has it wound in his consciousness and all that has been healed is the effect. Go beyond just healing the effect to – healing the cause. To heal the cause, we have to unbind ourselves, and loose ourselves from that type of thinking. So many times, we see a person healed of some disease and then a couple of years later they get it again in a different place. You have to go inside, and, if necessary, turn yourself inside-out, and unbind yourself. Completely become new, where the old things have passed away once and for all.
Every morning there are two trains departing. You determine which train you are going to get on. One train is God-faith. It is a happy, exhilarating type of life. The other train is limited human thought. All your baggage is on that train. You feel comfortable on that train because it is what you know. There are many people you know and love on that train. But on that train, you begin to lose your energy. You begin to worry and fret. You have pain in your physical body. Then we shout out and accuse God of gross inefficiency. We pray, but our tone is loud and angry like that of a dissatisfied guest in a mismanaged motel.
Sig Paulson once said, “When we pray, things work out great. But when we don’t pray, our troubles prey on us.”
Emerson once said, “Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of your life from the highest point of view.”
And so, it is.
You see, prayer must become a way of life rather than a series of isolated acts. In his wonderful book, Prayer the Master Key, James Dillet Freeman said, “The great purpose of prayer is this: to turn wordless longing into words of faith; to turn words of faith into life-supporting attitudes; to turn life-supporting attitudes into brave, wise, loving acts; and to turn the brave, wise, loving acts into a full life.”
Prayer is spiritual. It is mental only in the sense that the mind is the necessary agent of it. It is mental to the spiritual, and then the spiritual becomes translated in the mental of you. But prayer unifies us with a realm where discord and imperfection do not exist. Problems are solved through prayer, but this is secondary. The main thing prayer does is lift us up.
(Show newspaper) This morning I cut an article out of the newspaper. In it they give the annual percentage rate of a new car. The only problem with this is it is called a “Pay As You Go Plan.” If the car breaks down, you still pay as you go. If it gets wrecked, you still pay as you go. If it rusts out, you still pay as you go.
What I’m asking you to do is to have a “Pray As You Go Plan.” It’s an investment in yourself. It builds you up. It’s where everything is gained continuously. Nobody, especially not myself, can teach you to be a good Christian. You have to get it through on the job training. And on the job training is prayer. The trouble with some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keep us from catching the real thing.
I’m going to ask you not just to pray about it, but to pray it through, to believe as you have never believed before. Many people keep God as we keep a spare tire on a car. We keep it in the trunk. We want it to be in good shape for emergencies, but we never look at it. We know that it’s there, but we don’t use it unless there is an emergency. Well, I tell you, my friend, there is a higher way to live.
Prayer without ceasing is a persistent effort to educate our minds and hearts to the qualities of God’s nature. When we read of Jesus spending whole nights in prayer, our first thought is He was asking and begging God for something. But we find that prayer is many-sided. He was not only asking, but He was receiving. The Son of man must be lifted up. And there is no way to do this except through prayer.
Many of us just pray for five minutes a day or less. The only problem with that is that it leaves 1,335 minutes for limited, human thinking. If you’re going toward the spiritual life, you need to pray more. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to take his three best hours of the day and save that for prayer. Jesus’ spiritual cycle was continuous prayer, but He did it in this way – taking prayer into everything He did. He prayed. He worked. He rested. Then he repeated the cycle.
In prayer, you are told how to act. You need to take action – not ending your prayer but continuing it through your actions.
A hungry man had prayed to the Lord many times to send him a chicken. Finally, he got the chicken when he prayed for the Lord to send him TO a chicken.
We have to put feet and arms onto our prayers and continue praying when we’re doing our work.
The first thing in the morning when you wake up, you say, “Dear God … ” and you begin my prayer. You keep in mind that everything you do that day, every word you speak, will continue your prayer. And then, the last thing at night before you close your eyes, you say, “Amen.”
I was telling this to a wonderful friend of mine the other day at McDonalds. He said, “If continuous prayer is so important and if it is to be a way of life, why is church necessary?” I loved this. I had French fries in front of me. I took one French fry out of the pack and laid it aside. Now the French fries were piping hot. But in thirty seconds or less, the French fry I laid aside was stone cold. I said, “Feel that French fry. Now feel these other French fries.” They were still piping hot because they were together. They were keeping each other warm. I suppose that is what church is about.
Let me tell you one more story. The earliest African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in their prayer and devotions. They would walk down separate paths through a field into the thicket for a private prayer area. When the tribe would see the grass growing on someone’s path, they would say to the person, “Brother, the grass grows on your path yonder.” They would know that he wasn’t praying. So, they would watch the paths every morning to see if the converts were praying.
Well, we don’t have a path. We have to police ourselves. That is a big opportunity for us because we have the access to God’s power. We realize, perhaps better than most people, that we are children of God. Perhaps we realize better than most how connected we are to God.
True prayer is the greatest act of power in the world that you can ever take part in. it changes you. It changes your attitudes. It changes your conditions, your life, your thoughts, your feelings, your words and your actions. When you pray, you are the miracle that happens. The true end of prayer is not to develop a power to perform miracles, but to develop yourself so in faith you will be able to accept miracles. You, yourself, are the miracle. If you let yourself develop into what you were made to be by God, you’re going to find yourself with innate God-given powers and extraordinary capabilities.
There’s a song that has some wonderful words. I’d like to share them with you. It is the melody of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, but with new words. It talks about continuous prayer and having that attitude of faith.
“Mine eyes have seen the coming of an age that is to be. When from every limitation, I shall know that I am free. For the age is rich in promise and my soul has eyes to see. God’s Truth is marching on.”
(Adlib prayer close)
God Bless You!
PRAYER / MEDITATION_______________________________
In your awareness, I ask you to become one with that wondrous Presence of God.
God is with you now.
Surrounding you and within you. You and God are one.
I would like you to meditate on that Truth. YOU AND GOD ARE ONE. You are not separate. You are one with all Power, one with the Perfect one who does not know imperfection of any kind. You and God are one.
I ask you to bathe your human sorrows in this awareness of God. Bathe your worries and bathe your lost hope. God is with you, cleansing, renewing, bringing a Grace to your life. God is here to help you–an immediate God for an immediate solution.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
God is love. And you feel God’s mighty love working within you, bathing your mind, soothing it. You feel God’s love in the very core of your being. God is a giving God. God is giving to you constantly. During this meditation, you open your mind and heart and say, “Dear God, I accept. I consent to You. I consent to oneness. I consent to an infilling in my awareness.” You and God are one.
Meditate on this idea in the silence of prayer …
Sweet, continuous communion with God is happening here. A common-union with God is happening here. This prayer time is going to continue far beyond this prayer time.
This is just the beginning for your day. It is the starting point. As a great horse leaves the starting gate, you leave, gaining speed in your prayer awareness. You will not know sorrow today. You will pray instead. You will not know depression today. You will pray instead.
Human worry is cast out in Jesus Christ’s name.
You pray instead.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
We have a common-union with God who does not know worry or sorrow. We do not fret today. We pray.
You and God are one. God and you are one. God has great need of you. But God can only use you if you consent to the Divine in your free-will.
Dear God, Now, we consent.
God is renewing us today. God is renewing our old dreams and hopes, the vision we used to have of our perception, the thoughts that we have had in our minds when we have prayed and hoped and believed a lot.
That hope is found in you now. It has been lost in you for some time, and your dreams are fulfilled in your prayer times. The healing which has not been at hand is at hand in prayer.
You and God are one. God is closer than your breath, as near as your thought. This activity is happening now. Allow it to happen. Ask for it to happen.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
God and you are one strong, indivisible unit. You cannot be divided from God. God and you are inseparable. You are bonded together. You are fused with new strength. You are fused with that portion of yourself that never doubts. It does not have a concept of doubt. You are no longer alone. God is with you. And you are so aware in your mind that you are working as a pair. You turn your attention away from limited human thought. Continuously you are turning your attention toward abundance, illumination and healing now and forevermore.
In Jesus Christ’s name, we pray … Amen.
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GOD BLESS YOU,
Christopher Ian Chenoweth