If you have prayer concerns that you wish to have considered, please send them to Rev. Calvin Brown <cbbrown@bell.net>.

Recently, our PSALT Convenor, Paul Johnson, reminded us of the story Jesus tells from Luke 18 about the Pharisee and the tax collector. The point was made that this is the only Bible story where someone is criticized for giving thanks. The Pharisee gave thanks that he was better and more righteous than the tax collector. Jesus tells us that we should never compare ourselves as sufficiently righteous and better than others, but as Living Faith reminds us, we are at best one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. We have cause to live in humility.

The incident with the rich young ruler carries the same warning. Some commentators say that the story is about a young man who was seeking Jesus’ approval. He’d done everything right, but when Jesus confronts that attitude by calling for deeper commitment and not just rule-keeping, he walks away.

Pray that we will not walk away because the call to follow Jesus seems too demanding.

Resource: Matthew 19:16-29

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (NIV)

Prayer Discipline Of This Week

Begin each prayer time with this thought from Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Romans 1:20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been understood from what has be made, so men are without excuse.

Prayer Focus This Week

  • Pray that in this Christmas holiday season, people will hear the message of the Gospel and fall in love with the Saviour.
  • Pray that the PSALT Committee will have peaceful and unhurried holy days while the church uses new ways to share the story of redemption.
  • Pray that God will use the PSALT group to stir up the whole church to a new obedience to the ways of Jesus – the Christ.

Prayer Bulletin – December 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021

On December 21 (winter solstice), there was a phenomenon in our skies that some broadcasters referred to as the Star of Bethlehem. It was the apparent conjunction of the two largest planets in our solar system. Jupiter and Saturn combined to appear as the brightest and largest star in the sky. The wise men saw a similar star 2000 years ago and interpreted it as a sign pointing to the birth of someone destined to be a great world ruler. They arrived to enquire at King Herod’s palace, but no one there knew about it. Perhaps, they hadn’t even noticed the star. They called in the experts and religious leaders, who said that the holy writings confirmed the coming of the Messiah to Bethlehem. The king said that if they found anything, they should let him know. A ruler has to keep his ear to the ground, especially with rebels springing up in every city and town.

The status quo leaders played it cagey. If a new ruler showed up, they’d make short work in discrediting or dispensing with him.

In the midst of a worldwide, life-threatening pandemic, I wonder how many are looking up to see the star. I also wonder how many know the Maker of the star or the significance of it. The Psalmist knew that the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the earth shows forth His handiwork.

I hope God’s signs in His creation will help us remember to look to Him in our weakness, vulnerability, and time of need.

Resource: Matthew 2:2-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (NIV)

Prayer Discipline Of This Week

Begin each prayer time with this thought from Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Romans 1: 20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been understood from what has be made, so men are without excuse.

Prayer Focus This Week

  • Pray that in this Christmas holiday season, people will hear the message of the gospel and fall in love with the Saviour.
  • Pray that the PSALT Committee will have peaceful and unhurried holy days while the church uses new ways to share the story of redemption.
  • Pray that God will use the PSALT group to stir up the whole church to a new obedience to the ways of Jesus the Christ.

Prayer Bulletin – December 20 – 26, 2020

We pray for a blessed Christmas and a glorious New Year for you.

A text from Scripture not often focussed upon during this time of year is the words of Simeon. He was an old man filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit in his walk of faith. Jesus’ parents had taken the young Baby to the temple for purification – the rite that incorporates the child as part of the holy people of God. Simeon lived in hope and believed the personal revelation that he would live to see the Messiah – the Saviour. He lived for this moment and was content to move through death when it had occurred. But the Holy Spirit revealed to his parents something that neither he nor they expected of the King of kings. The Baby would be the cause of great pain and sorrow. He says to Mary, “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” We know how often in the life of Jesus that pain came through betrayals, disappointments, and misunderstandings, as well as the physical brutality he suffered, and in the end, even an unjust death.

In these COVID-19 times, perhaps, as we see the pain and sickness and sorrow all around us, we will see Christmas in a new light as well. Jesus and Spirit-led people like Simeon will help us to see the coming of Jesus in in a new light – so that the Bible will be fulfilled in us when it prophesies: “My eyes have seen your salvation … a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people.”

Resource: Luke 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (NIV)

Prayer Discipline Of This Week

Begin each prayer time with this thought from Peter: “Unto you, therefore, which believe, [Jesus] is precious: but unto them who are disobedient, the stone which the builders have disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.”

Prayer Focus This Week

  • Pray that in this Christmas holiday time, God will watch over and protect the families of those who, like Simeon, live to serve the Messiah.
  • Pray that the PSALT Committee preparing information for possible overtures may be led by the Spirit.
  • Pray that God may come in power to bring the church and nation to repentance as they consider important issues regarding the sanctity of life.

Prayer Bulletin – December 13 – 19, 2020

A sceptic once described life as “one darn thing after another and then you die.” We often laugh at that description, but there are weeks when it seems to have more truth than not. Perhaps the man who brought his son to Jesus’ disciples for healing felt that way when his son, who was suffering greatly by falling into the fire and then falling into the water, continued to have one thing after another torment him. Then there was the disappointment that even when he came to them, the expectation of healing was disappointed. Sometimes, the church does that. People expect to see in us the power of God at work, and yet, when they come for help, they find that we are no different than the rest of humankind. We may offer regrets and try some things like others do, or say a prayer, but the mercy and power of God is not seen through us.

This lack of power seems to disappoint and anger Jesus. He had taught the disciples how to minister like He did, and yet, as He says, they act like unbelievers. “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Jesus makes us followers for a reason, and He expects us to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us so that we can do the works of Jesus and usher in His kingdom.

I do not say this so that we will beat ourselves up for our small faith but so that we may seek to love as He loved and serve as He served. Many people in our churches and neighbourhoods need healing, and we need to be willing to risk opening ourselves to act in faith to heal them. Especially when we feel inadequate, like the disciples, we need to bring the hurting to Jesus, who will heal them. Why can’t we do it? Why can’t we drive out evil? Jesus says that it’s because we lack faith. The faith above all that Jesus has the power over everything – he has resurrection power and He says that same power can be at work in us. “Nothing is impossible for you.”

Do we really believe that, or are we still unhelpfully standing back and asking, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” The church and its people need to see faith more than ever. Let us be even more faithful than ever as followers of Jesus, because the need is great, the fields are white unto harvest, and the labourers are few. Let’s not just hear this and, like the early disciples, stand around filled with grief.

Resource: Matthew 17:14-23

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. (NIV)

Prayer Discipline of This Week

Begin each prayer time with this thought from John Calvin: “Your faith must be excited by prayer, and as you are slow and languid in prayer, you must resort to fasting as an assistance.”

Prayer Focus This Week

  • Pray that the PCC may come to deep repentance both in individuals and by systemic abuse.
  • Pray that the PSALT Committee will set the example of being close followers of Jesus and that all leaders and people will also seek to do the works of Jesus.
  • Pray that God will make a break through to heal the PCC of our stubbornness and judgementalism.