Recessions. Downturns. Natural disasters. Terrorist attacks. The things that rattle our senses and challenge our sense of security have a unique way of exposing our idols for what they are. And show us that praying for "our daily bread" - the way Jesus tought us to pray - increases our understanding of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of our God.
Learning How to Pray, part 4: The Provision, the Protection and the Power
Learning How to Pray, part 3: Recessions and Daily Bread... And Why We Need Them Both
Learning How to Pray, part 2: Why We Want His Kingdom to Come
The ACTS of Prayer: A Way to Enrich our Communication with God
Learning How to Pray, part 1: The Importance of Listening to Our God
Shut Up, Stand Up, and Stop Eating Cheetos: Our Greatest Hindrance to Effective Prayer
Rehearsing Truth so You Don't Move Counter to God
The Foundation for Prayer: The Real Thee Talking with the Real Thou
If you are new here, if you haven't been here for a while, let me tell you what we're talking about. We're working through a little series on how to deepen our intimacy with God, and the way we deepen intimacy with anybody is through communication, through talking to one another, and through getting to know one another and understanding hearts. Prayer is not so much something we crank through as it is a relationship we live in.
We all know the verse that says, "Pray without ceasing." You've heard it if you've been around the Scriptures at all. The idea is not that you should be on bended knee, prostrate, in your closet, going through some little journal all the time and not even really take bathroom breaks or come out to eat. You kind of go, "How does that work?" The idea is having a constant, ongoing, abiding awareness of your need for God and your relationship with him.
What we're looking at now, specifically, inside that little series we're calling Vacate, where we let God be God and just enjoy him, is what Jesus said about prayer. It's interesting what the disciples didn't do, by the way. The disciples didn't say to Jesus, "Teach us to preach." They didn't say, "Teach us to heal." They didn't say, "Teach us to gather a following." They didn't say, "Teach us to share the good news." They didn't say, "Teach us to do miracles." They said, "Teach us how to have the relationship with God that you have. Teach us to pray."
What we have done is we've taken these little words Jesus used and called it the Lord's Prayer. It should really be called the "Disciples' Prayer," because it's a prayer given by our Lord to us who want to learn. That's what the word disciple means. It means learner. If you're here today and you're not a follower of Jesus, you might still be learning about him. We think you're here this morning to learn about God, so we're not trying to lift up anything about us; we're trying to lift up Jesus so that you might learn of him.
One of the things we're going to do this morning is share with you what Jesus says you ought to know about how to talk to God. It's interesting. When Jesus was responding to this question, he said, "When you pray, pray this way." A lot of us have taken that to mean, "Pray using these words." That's not what it means at all. He means, "Pray in this manner." This is a framework for prayer. He didn't say, "Pray these words." In fact, think about it. This is the prayer he gave us so we might not use meaningless repetition.
He just got through talking about that. He said, "Don't use meaningless repetition like the people who don't know God do, who think through their endless words they're going to somehow awaken a deaf God." God is not asleep. The purpose of prayer is not to move God to do something he is disinclined to do. The purpose of prayer is to remind ourselves of who he is and to bring glory to him by acknowledging continually, personally and publicly at times, that we need relationship with him.
So Jesus says, "When you live out this attitude of surrender before God, live it out this way." He says, "Start by reminding yourself who he is, that the whole ability for you to have communication with God is based on relationship, based on his relationship with you. He is a Father who has brought you forth by the goodness of his sovereign purposes and will."
So he starts this little thing and says this. We've spent two weeks on this. Know who you're talking to: your Father who is in heaven. In other words, he's eternal. He's omnipotent. He's omnipresent. He's omniscient. He's everything good in the complete and full. He's nothing like you. His name is holy, altogether different.
We said that is both a declaration and the very first request. "God, I want to align my life to yours so that your name might be seen as hallowed, as blessed. I want to be obedient to you. I want to be about what you're about. I want to live as your child would live, this good name you have given me as a child of God. I want to bring glory to my Father in the way I live."
Jesus is trying to say in this model prayer, "When you pray in this manner, start by reminding yourself who you're talking to so you will have hope when you pray. He is a Father who loves you, who is good, who if you ask for a loaf of bread is not going to give you a stone, who if you ask for a fish is not going to give you a snake. That's who you're talking to, and he is great and divine and good and perfect. So what should you pray for if that is who he is? You pray that what you really want is to get on his track, to live according to his purposes."
That's the second part: "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done." Know who you're praying to. Whenever you start your prayer, enter his gates with praise and thanksgiving. Make your prayer about him. I have told you others have said prayer is not a domestic intercom to bring the butler to your room to fluff your pillow. It is a wartime walkie-talkie to keep you tracking with the Sovereign King who is seeking to redeem a world that has rebelled against him, and you are his soldier in active service.
So you're saying, "Don't let me entangle myself in the affairs of everyday life. You holy, good, loving Father who has created me for a purpose, redeemed my life from the pit, let me live for your kingdom. Let your will be done, not my will be done. If you call me to war, I'm going to war. If you call me to freezing cold, I'm going to freezing cold to serve your purposes. If you've called me to want, I'll live in want. I want your will, not my will to be done. I don't mind telling you that I like peace, I don't mind telling you I like health, I don't mind telling you I like prosperity, but it's not about me."
Who you pray to, what you pray for, and then you get into some requests, but I want to remind you why you pray. "Give us this day our daily bread." That's what we're going to look at. That's the whole thing we're going to look at today, those little words, and we're going to wrap it all up next week. "Give us this day our daily bread." What are we really asking for there?
Just remember this: Jesus is telling you, "This is the manner in which you should pray. Remember who, remember what, and then when you ask this, let me tell you why you're asking this: because you are not sovereign, you are not king. God is the one who gives you the ability to exist, and the reason you want to exist is that you can serve him with your abilities."
"So, Lord, give me what I need today to live as you would have me live. I'm not asking you to make me more comfortable. What I might need today is a perspective that I won't have unless I focus on you and who you are. So, Lord, give me today the ability to set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.
Give me today, Lord, a heart that is comforted by who you are, that even as I move toward the grave, as cancer invades my body, as wicked men raise the sword against me, give me today what I need to not shrink back from declaring your goodness. That may be what I need. Now, I wouldn't mind if the sword went down. I wouldn't mind if the cancer was eradicated.
I wouldn't mind if food came to my hunger, if water came to my dehydrated self, if a rescue came to my lostness at sea, but let me not curse your name while I wait for that provision, knowing, Lord, that I don't fear those who can destroy the body; I ultimately fear you. So give me today a perspective about you being in heaven and me being on earth and you being hallowed and holy and altogether right and good."
When you pray, "Give us this day our daily bread…" Let me say this again. Prayer is not something we do to get God to do what he otherwise would not do. The purpose of prayer is to glorify God. The purpose of prayer is to get us aligned with God's interests, concerned with God's glory, to live for God's kingdom, to be under God's will. So when I'm on my knees, I am acknowledging that he is God and I am not.
Now here's the problem. When we do well, we think we're nice to cut God in with a couple of percentages here and maybe even…wow…10 percent. Isn't that nice of us? "We're going to give to you your daily take, however disgruntled we might want to give it to you." God says, "Man, you have that all wrong." Let me walk you back through a few key verses that God would want us to understand about why we want to always ascribe to him the glory that is due to him.
First Chronicles, chapter 29. This is what it says. "Yours, O Lord , is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion…"What does that sound like, by the way? That sounds just like Jesus said. "When you pray, pray this way. Remind yourself who he is so that you will be inclined to want to go back there." He's just starting the same way people who know God have always started.
"…O Lord , and You exalt Yourself as head over all." In other words, "Your kingdom come." Now he declares this: "Lord, give us our daily bread." Are you ready?"Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone."
"Lord, I might think it's my industry, I might think it's my geography, I might think it's my wisdom to fight for capitalism, I might think it's my creativity, I might think it's my discipline that brings riches and honor, but guess what: any genius I have, any opportunity I have, any productivity I have is a gift from you. It comes from you." This is what it says in Deuteronomy 8:18: "But you shall remember the ** Lord ** your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…"
You see, people who don't believe that don't pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." We go, "Oh, we'd better give God his 10 percent cut." God is going, "Are you kidding me? I don't need your 10 percent. The earth is the Lord's and all it contains. I don't need to tax you. I am not hungry. My government is not in debt, but I want you, as an expression of your awareness of me, to participate with me, and every day, I want you to remind yourself that I gave you the power to make what you're making. Who do you think gave you that in their sovereignty?"
Look at what it says in Proverbs 10:22. I love this. "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich…" This verse has a couple of different ideas to it. I don't think this verse is talking just about physical prosperity. In other words, when God shepherds your life, when his kingdom comes, that is a life that is really, really rich. I've had many people tell me this. I, by the way, have experienced this myself.
There are eight of us in the Wagner household now. When there were seven of us, we lived in 1,700 square feet, and it was wonderful. In fact, when we moved to over twice as much square footage we still kept our kids, three boys and three girls, in the same room, even though we had a couple of other rooms they could have gone off into, because we believe love grows best in small places. We've seen it happen.
You're either going to kill each other or learn to love each other when you live… The bathroom we used to have… I used to laugh. The shower was so small where we lived for eight years together that if I dropped the soap in the shower (this is true), I had to open the door so I could bend over and get the soap. I could do a deep squat, but on a slick floor with soap down there, that created some really awkward positions in the shower.
The whole house, everything in it… We still drive by that house, and we have great memories of living there together. There was a richness there that square footage can't give you. The people we bought the house from would come back to us… They moved, and their marriage fell apart, not because they lived in a bigger house but because they were chasing a bigger dream. If not both of them, one of them. They just, in a sense, said, "I wish we had never left."
It wasn't because that house they left was blessed; it was because they sought blessing as the world offers blessing, and even though they got it, and they got it in spades, there was no richness. In fact, there was great sorrow to it. How many of us has that been our story? We have just continued to run after things, saying, "Give me this day through this business deal, through this next promotion, through this next relationship. If this comes through, that bread will be life to me."
Jesus goes, "Let me just tell you, I'm not against business, I'm not against relationships; I am against those being your god. If you serve those things more than you serve me…oh man! Let me tell you something. There is sorrow with the world's riches." I had a great conversation with my 9-year-old this week. One more time, Proverbs 10:22: "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes you rich or satisfied or full." And there is nothing lacking there. There's no sorrow.
We were driving along, and my 9-year-old said, "Hey, Dad, why did Michael Phelps smoke that dope?" He didn't say that. He used the street term for fourth graders. He said "hooch." No, he didn't. What he said was, "Hey, Dad, why did he do drugs?" I said, "Great question. Here's the reason: because what Michael Phelps was telling you without meaning to tell you is that eight gold medals in one Olympics and the cover of the Wheaties box doesn't fill you up.
You still are insecure, and sometimes you get in a room and want to be loved by people or you still need to mellow because you don't have really deep, abiding peace or you want to escape the pressure of having to keep what it is you think you had to get, so you just want for a minute to drift away into a little less consciousness. He has some sorrow in his 'Wheaties box,' 'eight gold medal' world, and he was declaring that to you all the way from South Carolina. That is why.
So I want to tell you, son, if you want eight gold medals in the Olympics, man, you go. You work hard. You develop the fullness of your athletic ability, but I just want to tell you, make sure, more than that, you develop food that will fill your soul, because otherwise, you'll not just do drugs; you'll do all kinds of things that will add sorrow to your life. It is the blessing of the Lord that makes you rich."
I had to tell him, "I can remember as a kid there were other people on my Wheaties box, and I thought, 'How cool would that be that every kid in America puts me in front of them as they try to become this great thing.' But a lot of those guys… I could go back and look at Wheaties box people, and there is sorrow there. That's why he did drugs." This is why God is saying, "You look to me to give you what you're looking for. You can't get it anywhere else. It comes from me."
Here's Hosea 2:8. He's talking here about Israel, a nation that Hosea is writing to. "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal." You go, "What's Baal?" Baal is just a god the world has created. In other words, "They used their riches to serve a god that was no god at all. They forgot I was the one who gave them that."
How many of us have used what God has given us to keep serving another god…materialism, comfort, wealth, ease, self? And he goes, "Oh man." God loves us enough that when we use what he has given us and we fall more in love with what we have been given than who the giver is, he sometimes loves us enough to let that god die.
I mentioned to you last week that I was going to talk a little bit about the recession, and I want to. I want to walk you through some truth about the recession. I'm going to go one more place in the Scripture just to tell you that God has always been about this point. God doesn't have a problem with great relationships. He doesn't have a problem with folks he has abundantly blessed…as long as they don't trust in the blessing and live for the blessing and, frankly, fearfully do everything they can to hold on to that blessing. He says, "Hold on to me."
What happens is when some of us are blessed by God with children or riches or even health, we can become absolutely fearful that we'll lose those things instead of just enjoying them, thanking God during this season but knowing that even if riches and children and health go, he is still good, and he can redeem my life from the pit. "So, God, give me what I need today in the loss of this circumstance I was in. I never, Lord, want to love the circumstance; I want to love you, the one who is Christ over the circumstance."
The longer you have nice circumstances, the more it is to believe that that is a faithful god, so you try to make that god even greater by investing in it. I'm going to show you what God is loving us enough to do sometimes if we start to worship that. That is a Baal. It's just a foreign word for lord. That is a lord that is no lord at all.
All right. Two verses. One is a series of verses. I won't read through them all, but in Exodus, chapter 16, when God was taking his people out of bondage into freedom in relationship with him, what he shows them is that "You have to every day live with a sense of wilderness in your life, with dependence upon me, not people who are full of yourself like you're the owner and operator of a Wonder Bread bakery where you don't really need God and you're capable of giving yourself all that you need every day. In other words, have a wilderness sense of dependence upon me."
The problem with provision, the problem with wealth is that, often, we have a tendency to do what the fool did in Luke, chapter 12, which is to say to our soul, as if we had control over tomorrow, "Eat, drink, and be merry. Take ease, because you have set yourself up for comfort forever. Yeah, tip your hat to God, but you don't really need to depend on him anymore, because you have acquired for yourself great security."
Really. Let me tell you, you're just a diagnosis away, you're just a windstorm away, you are just a recession away from having God, in love, remind you of who is King. And he is good in recessions, in windstorms, and in unhealth, because he has made provision there.
In Exodus 16, what is going on is he's walking them through. I'll grab a few highlights for you. Verse 4: "I will rain bread from heaven for you…" He says, " [You will] gather a day's portion…""I don't want for you to be able to cut me out by getting a truckload so you don't need to remind yourself of your daily need for me." We want to be people who live, as it were, in a wilderness in dependence upon God.
If you drop down to verse 8, Moses says, "God will give you meat in the evening and bread in the morning." God will give. "You're in the wilderness. He's going to drive the dove to you, and in the morning he's going to bring the manna to you." When you go down a little farther, in verse 16 it says, "This is what the Lord has commanded, 'Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer [about a gallon] apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.'"
"You don't need to hoard. Take what you need. I'm going to make sure you don't lack provision. Take what you need." Watch this. I love what it says. "The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little [according to the need of their household] . When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat." Just like a loving father should provide.
Moses said, "But don't leave it till morning." And here's why. Look at what happens. "They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt." We go down a little farther, and look at what it says. In verse 20, it says, "But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul…"
"Because it wasn't given to you to store up; it was given to you to use. It was given to you, if you're a loving father, just like he's a loving Father, to provide for those in your care and network of relationships. When you stack it up…" A guy said a long time ago money is like manure. If you spread it around, things grow, but if you stack it, it stinks. God says, "It's going to draw maggots, the maggots that will eat away the life at your life, because you will not live as I want you to live in dependence upon me." "Give us this day our daily bread."
This is what is going on in Proverbs 18:10. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower…" Remember how Jesus says, "When you pray, pray this way. Start by reminding yourself that his name is hallowed, not your ability to make money, not your ability to provide for yourself and to take care of yourself." "The name of the Lord, who God is…he is a strong tower, and the righteous run into it and live in relationship with him, and they are safe. But a rich man's wealth is his strong city, like a high wall in his own imagination."
In other words, you think you're safe because of what you have done. You're not safe. Do you guys know in the last several months, $8 trillion…? Eight trillion. That's one of those words you have to pause and go, "What comes after a billion?" That used to be the case until now our national debt is regularly talked about in that number, so it's becoming more familiar to us. But think about this. What comes after a trillion? Somebody might know. A quadrillion.
It's one of those numbers you go, "What is next?" It's one of those numbers that's so big you go, "Are you kidding me?" In a matter of months, $8 trillion has been lost. We would think to ourselves, "If we build enough barns, we're safe." God goes, "Let me tell you what I can do to your barns. I can maggot-fill your barns in no time. Here's the problem with barns: barns have a tendency to have you trust in barns and not in me, and barns are not worth trusting in. I am."
Let me give you a couple of illustrations. One of the things I love about where we live today, not geographically but in history… God has done some things in the last year that are reminders to all of us. I think there are certain things that have happened of biblical proportions that we can go, "Man, you know what? I ought to be informed by this." In other words, fast-forward 1,000 years. Sometimes I read the Bible, and I read some things in there and go, "Are you kidding me? I mean, come on. That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it? Why does God have to say that happened?"
What if I told you 1,000 years from now that the strongest military power on the face of the earth, in the history of the earth, had been brought to its knees by 19 men, that the whole nation huddled in fear because of 19 men, that he grounded every airplane, the most sophisticated aviation system that had ever been developed? They all parked them because of 19 men. The 19 men froze their economy and froze them in fear and just stymied them.
You'd go, "See? That's what's so crazy about the Bible. I know it says that Samson killed 3,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, but come on. If he just would have whipped six, that would have been impressive. Why do they have to go to thousands?" Because sometimes God is going to go, "I can do it. I can take 19 guys, and I can bring you to your knees. Okay. Those little towers of financial strength? I can melt them. I mean, I can melt them to where it's like they don't even exist in 20 minutes."
You'd go, "Now why does it say that? Why does it say they disappeared in front of everybody's eyes in 20 minutes? That's what's wrong with the Bible." Except I saw it, and I kind of go, "Okay. I guess he can do that. I guess we shouldn't trust in riches. I guess we shouldn't trust in military might. I guess maybe it is true that if we don't trust in God, those other things…" God is saying, "When you pray, remind yourself. I don't care what position you're in. You need me."
John Calvin, 500 years ago, was writing to his friends. He was actually reading the book of Zechariah, and he was meditating on truth that is found in that book. He made an observation to some truths of what was happening to Israel because Israel was worshiping Baal, the lord that wasn't the lord. He said, "It is therefore necessary that we should be subject, from first to last [from the moment we can think until the last moment we think], to the scourges of God…"
In other words, it's good for us that we get recessed. Why? "…in order that we may from the heart call on him; for our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity, so that we cannot make the effort to pray." In other words, we become weak, as people who profess our need to God, when prosperity surrounds us. Has that been your experience? It has been mine. Where did America that has become enfeebled in its prosperity to trust in God…? Not stamp it on its money (words are cheap) but really run to God.
Our country ran to God for a couple of weeks there pretty hard after September 11. Guess what. Sociologists have studied, and they looked at every great recession from 1968 to 2009. Some guy at Texas State University did an in-depth study at attendance in evangelical churches, and there is consistently a 50 percent spike in church attendance during recession. Why? Because we start to come to the end of ourselves.
Here's what happens, guys. We are Galvestonians. September 8, 1900. It was the most prosperous place in the South, and God decided to say, "You know, anytime I want, the sea is going to rise up, and it's going to wipe you out, and your prosperity… I don't have a problem with prosperity, but you need to realize this. At any moment, what you delight in can be gone." So what do we do?
"This will never happen again. Let's build a sea wall. That sea wall will protect us, and we are now dominant over the sea." God goes, "All right. How about if I let you believe that for, oh, let's just say, 108 years, but anytime I want… Let me tell you about your little sea wall. I will take your feet out from underneath you, Geraldo, and it will not stand." What God says is, "Your riches are a high wall in your imagination."
I have to stick this one little thing in there. I want you to hear that God says the best place to live… The church is at its weakest when it is least dependent upon God. By that I mean because you don't get to live consumed with faith. You really are weak, because fear defines you. You run around and go, "Well, how can I keep this? How can I hedge myself against this?"
God goes, "You know what? You can't build a wall high enough to hedge yourself against my sea. When I want my sea to come over your wall, it's coming over your wall. You can't hedge yourself enough. When I want to take $8 trillion from you…" I know most of it was paper money, but didn't that paper money feel good to you when you got it and your little statement said, "Guess what. It's growing. You're safe. You don't need to worry about tomorrow. Your retirement is secure. Everything is taken care of. You can boast about tomorrow"?
God goes, "Really. Watch this. Watch me move that decimal point in months." And we start to go, "Oh! Maybe we shouldn't trust in that. Maybe we should trust in God who even when we die is faithful." Some of you guys know John Piper. Piper did something two weeks ago somebody forwarded me. He's a pastor up in Minnesota. He went through and did an entire message on some stuff, and he had five points. I'm going to just read you his five points rather than come up with some on my own today, and I just want to make my own observations about them.
Let me show you what he did when he was saying why the recession is a good thing. Here was his first point: "[Sometimes God uses a] recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing." It shows us that we've been trusting in things we shouldn't be trusting in. That really is what I have been talking about in my own words for a little bit. We don't know sometimes how we've been putting a lot of confidence in what we've stored up in our barns for tomorrow until those barns are gone.
I think sometimes this can be a chance for us to go, "Lord, thank you. If you are God and you are everything, thank you for destroying things I started to put trust in, because those things are not trustworthy. You are trustworthy. So thank you for exposing. If there's any anxiety in me, it's because I have not been resting in you the way I want, because I've started to shift some of my confidence in my 401(k), in what I could do for tomorrow.
I don't want my confidence to be in what I can do tomorrow. You've told me to not boast about tomorrow because I don't know what a day could bring forth, and I have built some sea walls. I would walk through Galveston of my life and feel good because of my sea walls, and that has always been stupid. Thank you, Lord, for these waves that have come over, because you're going to help me trust in that which alone is trustworthy."
Secondly, "He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind." That's a pretty brilliant little insight. All he's really doing there is saying in a rather eloquent way what 2 Corinthians 1 says, which is that we can comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted and we can grow in our sympathy. We can become more empathetic. We can become more compassionate.
Let me tell you, we have a long way to go before we can really identify with the poor, a long way to go, but at least maybe we can identify with them that what we think we need today to bring joy and peace to our lives, we don't have the means to make it happen. Now, our problem is still we think we need a lot more than folks who are really in impoverished, recessed worlds think they need to live again tomorrow, but at least we're starting to learn and be empathetic with what it really means to be people who live to trust God and walk with him.
Thirdly, "[God loves us enough] to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth." Five hundred years ago, a guy by the name of John Calvin was doing some meditating on the book of Zechariah, oddly enough, and he wrote this down. He was talking about hard times that were coming on the people the book of Zechariah was written to, and he was pulling it in to the folks who were in his little contemporary world, and it has application to our world today.
This is what he wrote in his commentary: "It is therefore necessary that we should be subject, from first to last [from the earliest of our days to the very last of our days], to the scourges of God, in order that we may from the heart call on him…" I love this little phrase: "…for our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity, so that we cannot make the effort to pray."
In other words, most of us don't ever really commune with God and depend on God when we are full and self-satisfied, when we are rich and deny him and say, "Who is the Lord?" So we need to be constantly reminded that we are not God. Our sea walls aren't high enough, our buildings aren't tall enough, our military is not mighty enough. Therefore, "Every now and then, God, thank you for specifically relocating my joy, because I am enfeebled by prosperity." Folks, we are enfeebled by prosperity, and we think we can control.
Some of you guys, because of your wealth, have higher sea walls than others, and I fear for you, because the storms are that much more devastating when they come. If you have no sea wall, if you realize that all you have is as fleeting as the sand castle you build 10 feet from the tide, then you know… "God, if you want this to survive overnight, you can do it. It would be miraculous, but you can do it." Whereas others are farther back and higher up, sea walls and stilts, so bigger waves come, and the fall is farther.
Fourthly, he says, "He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory." Do you know what really has saddened me over the years? What has saddened me is that a lot of people have thought that just a few people have supplied for this church, and because folks sometimes think they know things, they have scoffed at how God has worked miraculously through this body to do this in eight years.
I want to tell you something. This place, this ministry, has not been brought about by one pastor or one giver or five pastors and five givers. It has been done by the body of Christ that has run after him and many individuals who have done what God has stirred them to do. I hope that even as we continue, and part of where we're headed now in minutes is toward sharing with you where we are around us…
People have said to me, "Man! Tough times, Todd. Bad time to be finishing out your campus." I go, "It's the perfect time." I could not be more thrilled, because I've always known this has been about what the Lord is doing, but maybe now others will get that as well.
So, God, advance your glory through what you're going to do. And you know what, Lord? We're okay with whatever you choose to do. We're going to communicate, we're going to be faithful, but advance your glory and guard it. If you need to have us go forward by having certain members of our body die and move away…
I had one guy come to me not long ago who did just that. He said, "I made some really wise decisions when I was going through a tough time in my life to shelter money so I wouldn't lose it through broken relationships and other things, but I have to tell you something. I've also so thoroughly sheltered it that now, as I come to the end of my life…"
This is a very well-to-do individual who comes to Watermark. I didn't even know he came to Watermark until he was dying. He told me he was a part of this body and that he really wanted to be a part of what this body was doing, and he couldn't, because he had so thoroughly sheltered his money from broken relationships that he'd sheltered it from his heart which had been broken to do things for the kingdom. So we addressed that.
You know what? If every wealthy person was sheltered from what they were doing and God took them away from us, for whatever reason, I don't care. It's God who does these things. Those of you who think otherwise, I hope this recession reminds you that God does what he wants to do when he wants to do it, and we are pleased with that.
Lastly, "He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love." I think this is what's so great about a recession. We get a chance to really love one another. Really love one another. It starts, first and foremost, in community. If you're hurting, you have to get connected.
You have to share with other people in your body, just like many of you, hundreds of you, are already doing, saying, "Guys, this is our financial circumstance. This is the job loss I'm looking at. These are the monthly bills I'm looking at. Help me chew through this. What would wisdom have me do?" Your Community Group can then go together to find help.
We have groups of folks here who work with people through what's called our Charis ministry, which is just the Greek word for grace and help, where we help each other. We've said repeatedly there will never be a member who is walking faithfully with Jesus Christ at Watermark who will lack for food, shelter, and clothing. And we mean it. So as a Community Group, when you can't provide for each other, you guys come and say, "Here's a circumstance we think we need to respond to."
What we also have is a Moneywise team, a group of people here who will sit with you and help you really evaluate your resources and determine if we're stewarding them well and if sustaining you at the run rate that you are and the geography that you are and the house that you are with the bills that you are and the choices you're making is the wisest thing to do, but we're going to love each other. We're going to care for each other.
Paul Ritter and the Careers in Motion ministry here. There are folks every week who are in job transitions who are meeting together, praying together, networking together, helping each other. It gives us a chance to love one another, care for one another, provide for one another, move in with one another, and that will be good, because God does not tell us to go and be prosperous; he tells us to love one another. He tells us to set our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. And so we shall.
We need to be people who learn to say, "God, every day, when I wake up, give me today what I need. In prosperity or want, in abundance or little, what I need is a vision of you, an understanding of your kindness toward me, and the daily bread to be gracious with others. I need a spirit that will walk with you no matter what my circumstances are, and what I probably don't need are barns and high sea walls, because they become a strong and high wall in my imagination. I need you today, a love for your Word today, the food for my soul from your Word today, and the ability to walk with you. Give us this day our daily bread."
I'm going to make a little transition, and I just want to share with you that I am so grateful that some of you guys have taken the bread God has given you (often, for many of us, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much more than we need daily) and decided to steward that in kingdom purposes to make room for others.
So we're going to show you another one of these "Thanks for making room for me" videos, and then my friend Kyle Thompson, who's one of the guys who leads with us here, and my friend Charlie Shelby, who is overseeing what we're doing in terms of developing our campus here, are going to come and share with you.
Again, if you're a guest, this is family time. We have no secrets. You're welcome to stay, but if you go, "This is not relevant to me," we pray that all that happens is that Jesus becomes more relevant to you as you hang with us. Check this out and be encouraged.
Male: Since coming here about a year ago, I've been so impacted by the body of Christ. I can't come here without smiling and seeing 20 people that I love. You're making a difference in my life. Thanks for making room for me.
Kids: Thanks for making room for us!
Male: Through this time here at Watermark, God has been teaching me how to be a better husband, a better father.
Female: I came to truly know and understand and accept salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Male: Man, just have seen God do a work in my life and begin to heal not only myself but relationships with others.
Female: Having been through a divorce, I was left just not trusting God, and I came to Watermark. I remember Todd said something about college football from the day before, and it had me hooked. Once I continued coming here to Watermark, I heard about The Porch, and between Watermark and The Porch, I've done a 180 and am no longer walking away from Christ but just running toward him and trusting in his grace and love and mercy for all of us. So thank you, Watermark, for making room for me.
Male: Thanks for making room for me.
Female: Thanks for making room for me.
Male: Thanks for making room for us.
Male: Coming here and to DivorceCare has given me a place to come out of that isolation.
Female: I've really seen just changes in myself that I've needed to make.
Male: Nine years ago, I converted to Christianity. I was a former atheist. The Lord had used a guy in the gym who I met there to share Christ with me.
Male: Hitting middle school and high school was pretty tough. I started doing drugs and drinking, and I was always looking for something else.
Male: After that, I had some pain and some hurts and hang-ups here at Watermark and chose to walk away from my faith.
Male: It went from smoking pot to taking pills to doing cocaine to snorting heroin.
Male: The guy who led me to Christ nine years ago was walking by and just called out my name. I turned around and looked at him, and there he was. He said, "Hey, where have you been? I've been looking for you. What are you doing?"
Male: I just didn't want to do it anymore. I wanted something else.
Male: About a month later, after doing what I was doing, I was so tired of it. I called him and said, "Hey, my life is a wreck, and I need to meet with you. I need some help."
Male: I found out about Watermark through iamsecond.com. I was driving down the street one day, and I saw an "I Am Second" sign.
Male: As much as I said I hated his people and I hated church and I hated God, the one thing that I knew was so important was I missed Jesus Christ so much, because I knew what he did for me in my life.
Male: After meeting with a bunch of people, I've come to find that everybody has issues. Everybody has problems, and no matter how big they are or even how insignificant or small, there's somebody out there who wants to help, and God is always there.
Male: I thank you for making room for me.
Female: Thanks for making room for me.
Male: Thanks for making room for me…again.
Male: Six months ago, I was a drug addict. Fifteen days ago, I was an alcoholic. Two days ago, I accepted Christ into my life. So thanks for making room for me.
[End of video]
Prayer. What is it, after all? Reciting words from a prayer book? Presenting God with our requests? Or desperately crying out to Him in our time of need?<br /><br />In this series, Todd Wagner shares the one word that most accurately sums up the Bible's teaching on prayer: VACATE. Could it be that prayer is really about abandoning our own agenda and efforts and allowing God to lead. Or taking a break from our plans and trying out His?<br /><br />In this series you'll hear friends and theologians alike all testifying to the same truth: that life is found in being still before God in prayer. And that when we VACATE, we?ll find a right perspective on who God is and why we all are in need of a Savior.