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Archive for December, 2008

“The prayers of the righteous accomplish wonderful results,” or so says Timothy.  We see an incredible example of this in II Chronicles 6.  Solomon stands before the entire assembly of the people to offer a prayer of dedication over the Temple.  When the prayer was concluded, II Chronicles 7.1-3 tells us that fire came down from heaven, consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.

Seeing all of these things happen, the assembled people “knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

Two simple thoughts flowing from this passage to help us prepare for our FACE DOWN time on Sunday night at GCF . . .

First, never doubt the possibility that your prayers can move mountains.  As Solomon poured himself out to God during the prayer of dedication, he was igniting amongst the assembly an awareness of God’s glorious and powerful presence with his people.  Because of Solomon’s prayer, the people find themselves FACE DOWN; worshiping before the glorious presence of God.

What will happen during FACE DOWN on Sunday night and living into God’s vision for GCF to become a diverse body of believers, leading many into spirit-filled relationships with Jesus Christ and sending people into the world to fulfill the Great Commission has as much to do with the prayers that you will pray today as it does with the prayers we will pray in worship on Sunday morning or the prayers that will be prayed on Sunday night.

Second, when the people see the power of God displayed in their midst as an all-consuming fire; devouring their offerings and sacrifices, they do not run away from the Temple in fear.  They respond by giving God thanks.  They say, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

During the week before Thanksgiving, I watched the news and saw homes in Southern California being eaten up by wild fires.  In the wake of the destruction, I didn’t see or hear any families on the news who responded to the devouring flames by saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”  Fires that destroy quite naturally provoke fear and anger.  They do not arouse a sense of thanksgiving and joy.  Sometimes, we respond to the all-consuming Spirit of God in much the same way as a family whose home is about to be destroyed by wildfire.  There is a fear that arises within us when we think about God having complete and total control of all that we are.

This sense of fear must not keep us from opening our eyes to God’s presence and pressing into that presence.  God is not a wildfire that destroys all that is in its path.  God’s Spirit is a consuming fire that burns away all of the stuff that would keep us from knowing his.  The “fires” of his presence refine us and purify us make us into the image of Jesus Christ.  Would you join me in praying that our ability to sense the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit with us today – and on Sunday night – would be so strong that any fears we have about being consumed by his presence would become songs of gratitude and assurance?  When we leave GCF on Sunday night, may our hearts be filled with the words of those who experienced the fires of God’s presence at the dedication of the Temple:  “He is good; his love endures forever.”

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This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month at GCF which means it iss time to go  FACE DOWN.  As we prepare ourselves for our second evening of prayer and worship together as a body, I want to begin a week long series of devotional writings that will hopefully help us get our hearts ready for this coming Sunday evening and guide our prayers for the FACE DOWN time throughout the week.

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 19.1-3

The city of Sodom was in a lot of trouble.  In Genesis 18, Abraham asks the Lord to spare the city from trouble even if he God can find only a handful of righteous people within the city’s walls (ten, to be exact).  The Lord agrees to Abraham’s request and says that he will spare the city if he can find at least ten righteous people.  At the beginning of Genesis 19, God sends two of his angels (possibly disguised as travelers to the entrance of the city of Sodom.  Abraham’s nephew, Lot, just happens to be hanging out at the gate and is the first person to meet the two angels.  It is not quite clear if Lot recognizes them as angels, but he does recognize them as guests to the city.  Lot is really familiar with the hospitality rules and traditions of his day, so he immediately welcomes the guests to the city.

His invitation takes place in 3 parts that have some bearing for us as we approach our face down time this Sunday night.

First, Lot, who has stood up to greet them, then bows his face to the ground.  This is an act of humility.  Lot is telling these two visitors that he will be their servant and he will consider them greater than he considers himself as long as they are guests in the city and guests in his home.  Being FACE DOWN before our Father is way of physically humbling ourselves before him and telling him that as long as we are in his presence we will consider him to be far greater than we consider ourselves.  Being FACE DOWN is a way of welcoming God into our hearts and into our lives. 

In recent years there has been a trend toward comfort in prayer.  Some have referred to it as “soaking prayer”.  The idea has been to get the body as comfortable as possible so that we can “soak” in the presence of God.  Soaking prayer is a good thing.  Some of my most meaningful and transforming times with the Father have come as a result of these times of “soaking”.  But in a time when we have grown accustom to setting comfortably in our chairs or putting our body in comfortable positions, I wonder how much it might do us some good this week (and this Sunday) to begin by bowing to the ground before the Father to honor him as a welcomed presence in our hearts, our homes and our ministry center and to clearly honor him as the one who is our holy, glorious and powerful God.

Second, Lot wants the angels to come to his home to wash their feet.  Jesus, the King and Savior, does the same for his disciples in the last hours of his life.  What would it mean for us to wash the feet of our Lord? 

Perhaps we could wash our Lord’s feet by making praise a part of our FACE DOWN times throughout the week and this coming Sunday night.  Of course, our Lord’s feet are not “dirty” or in need of cleansing.  But, in a world where we are sometimes really acquainted with our needs, we may need to acquaint ourselves with the practice of washing the Lord’s feed through praise by reading some of the Psalms aloud during our FACE DOWN times.

Third, Lot prepares a feast for the angels.  We can prepare a feast for our Lord in our hearts by giving our hearts to him.  In our FACE DOWN times, the Lord wants to consume all that we are.  He wants to take our joy and the things that we can glory in and multiply those things for us, but he also wants to know our laments and our sorrows and the deepest needs of our hearts.  Don’t hold back.  As you are bowing FACE DOWN before the Father, set before him a feast of all that you are.  He is sure to trade sorrows, shames and hurts for joy, freedom and love.

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