Week Three - April 2009 - Keith Ivester

No Need for a Hearing Aid

Text: Psalm 84:8 – “Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty”…….

This entire chapter is written for the director of music and is to be sung by all the musicians and singers. There must have been a need to remind the people to pray and keep their minds on the God who had set them free. These people were wandering from place to place trying to keep up their courage and this may have been the reason he wished them to sing and most important listen to what God was saying. They said:

1. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

2. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. This was a great reminder for the people that prayer was essential then and is essential now.

While Debbie and I were serving as youth & CE director in California/Nevada we were coming back from an appointment in San Diego in our van when we decided to stop in Los Angeles for a break. We parked and I got out and walked around the van to get the kids out. Debbie had slipped in the back to help our son and Carrie was in her car seat. Debbie didn’t know but she had slipped out of her seat and had come to the window of the door to look out. I didn’t see her and I opened the door and she fell out head first onto the pavement. As her head hit, it sounded like a brick breaking. I picked her up, held her tight and prayed, “Oh God, please help my baby”. We rushed her to the hospital and because of the pressure and swelling they were going to drill holes in her head to release the pressure.

When we got her home, we recognized that she had stopped saying dada and mama. We took her back to the hospital for observation and found she had lost her hearing and the ability to speak. We put her in speech therapy and I went three times a week to learn sign language.

After much therapy and her doctor trying to help her, on one occasion he out of frustration threw a ball against a wall and Carrie looked and said “ba”. I was elated! I said, “Doc, she will be ok”. His comment was “these type things happen”. I believed she would be healed. Today, Carrie can hear and talk as well as any one and is a senior at Lee University.

Now when I read these words, “hear my prayer O Lord my God, I am reminded that God hears and answers prayer and Carrie hears because of an answer to prayer. Remember: your prayer can be heard!

 

Keith Ivester

Administrative Bishop/Kentucky

Week Four - March 2009 - Bob W. Maggard

An Unexpected Answer

Bob W. Maggard - Kansas Church of God

As a young pastor I was relieved to have at last completed our building program and along with the congregation looked forward to the future this additional space would bring. The only hindrance would involve obtaining a permanent occupancy permit from the city. I was soon to discover the meaning of red tape. Obtaining the perm it would involve additional work to the HVAC system. Fortunately, this issue would be resolved quickly and at little expense.

However, along with the heating and cooling concern there was the requirement for hard surface parking, which would turn out to be the real issue. During the construction, heavy equipment had all but destroyed what little asphalt we called a parking lot. What was left included a mixture of gravel, dirt and crumbled pieces of blacktop. Though the city was patient, the requirement remained.

We were also informed the parking lot would need to be expanded (with proper drainage) to compensate for the additional number of people the new construction would accommodate. We were in need of thousands of additional dollars we had not planned for, nor did we have.

I soon met with the church council making them aware of this development, watching as their mood of celebration turned to real concern over where we would get the money. Over the next hour or two we discussed how the church family had given sacrificially to the building program for more than a year, while remaining faithful in tithing and missions giving. Now with the building complete, most, including the council, looked forward to having this money to spend on other needs. Though these men understood the circumstance, there was reluctance to approach the church body for further pledges (Those who have been through building programs can appreciate this).

As the meeting closed, this conclusion was drawn. The following Sunday I would explain the situation and share the need with the body, calling for urgent intercessory prayer. We had to have a miracle. Thank God for the prayer warriors!

On a Saturday evening, two weeks later, I was at the church praying and preparing for Sunday’s services. There was a knock on the outside door and when I went to answer there stood a man I had never met, who appeared upset. He asked if he could speak to the pastor. Inviting him in, he immediately began to weep and tell me his marriage had fallen apart. Earlier that evening his wife had said she could no longer tolerate his ways and their marriage was over.

After talking for a few more minutes we closed with prayer. As he prepared to leave, I encouraged him to attend the worship service the next morning and he should invite his wife to join with him. As I walked to the platform the next day I was pleasantly surprised to see them both, along with their son, sitting on the second pew from the front. When the invitation was given they stepped forward to accept Christ. I was later privileged to baptize and receive them into church membership.

As Paul Harvey would say, “Now for the rest of the story.” As Tom was leaving on that Saturday evening, he pushed open the door and looking back said, ”Preacher you need a parking lot.” I responded with something like “I know” or “we sure do” uncertain what he would say next. He then said, “Preacher, I own a blacktop company and I’m going to put you in a new parking lot for free.” A few weeks later a new parking lot had been installed, Tom’s family had joined the church, and the new addition was dedicated. Our prayers were answered.

In the toughest of times God still provides for His church and often in the most unexpected ways.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:19, “and my God shall supply all your need…by Christ Jesus.”

Week Two - April 2009 - Mitchell E. Corder

Prayer Principles from the Life of Jesus

Mitchell E. Corder

Text: Luke 3:21-22, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son whom I love. With You I am well pleased.”

 

Like you I have read this passage many times, yet many years ago I received new illumination of these verses as I read them in my private devotion time. This illumination opened up for me a new understanding of truth that literally brought transformation to my prayer life.

 

The setting here was Jesus’ baptism and this is the first recorded example of praying in the book of Luke. As Jesus prayed three things happened:

1. Heaven opened.

2. The Holy Spirit descended.

3. The Father spoke.

This represents three results we can experience personally when we make contact with God in our prayers.

Heaven opened – this is symbolic of God’s blessing. There are blessings from God that overshadow our lives when we pray that come no other way. As a result of this insight we are encouraged to pray daily for an “open heaven” over our lives, our families, and our ministries.

The Holy Spirit descended – this is a picture of the Holy Spirit entering and filling our lives. We know that prayer is the vehicle for Holy Spirit baptism but it is also the means by which we live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is in and because of prayer we are able to maintain communion with the Holy Spirit. It is in prayer that we invite the Holy Spirit to daily fill our lives.

The Father spoke – this is a reminder that God speaks to praying people. God speaks primarily to us through His Word. But it is an environment of prayer that we are able to hear His voice. As a result of the illustration in this passage, we are encouraged to anticipate God speaking to us as we speak to Him in our prayer time.

Week Three - March 2009 - Daniel W. Hampton

A LITTLE CHILD WHO PRAYED

In 1972 Ruth and I was serving as Associate and Youth Pastors in Griffin, Georgia at the Palace Street Church of God.

Our son Anthony was 23 months of age and our daughter Estona was 6 ½ months old. She had been sick for those months since birth. We would feed her the formula and upon completion of the bottle immediately she would regurgitate all she had eaten.

We had taken her to a number of Pediatricians but to no avail. We changed the formula time and time again but still the same results occurred.

Ruth and I would take turns staying up with her all night as she was constantly crying and in pain. Needless to say it was a very taxing and tumultuous time. We were at our wits end and didn’t know what else to do. We had exhausted all of our options and the doctors were equally frustrated.

It appeared we were at the crossroads of uncertainty. We had called on the church to pray and all across the country we knew people were praying for her. It seemed the more we prayed the greater the problem became but we continued faithful in prayer.

Ruth and I would hold her in our arms, walk the floor praying and believing God for a miracle. I remember as though it was yesterday: I had been up Saturday all night long, it was now Sunday morning and Ruth was seated in the den holding Estona in her arms. Sissy, as we called her, was very sick. We had prayed until it seemed there were no more words that could be said. Anthony had just gotten up and walked into the room to where I was and asked me this question, “Daddy is Sissy sick?” To which I replied yes son she is very sick. He then said to me “I want to pray for her.” He took his little hand, placed it on her and said, “Jesus heal my little Sissy.” Immediately she stopped crying set up in her mother’s arms and smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen from her. Ruth gave her a bottle and never again did she regurgitate. From that day on she was completely healed.

I learned that our prayers are not answered because we pray loud, long or lovely. They are answered when we become as little children before Him. Remember, children still move the heart and hand of God. Come to Him in prayer today as one of His little children. He will hear and answer.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder then, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:14- 16 NIV

Daniel W. Hampton

Illinois Administrative Bishop

Week One - April 2009 - Robert Moore

Touched for a Purpose

Matthew 8:14-15

All of us have crisis moments in our lives that serve as turning points and touchstones for the rest of our Christian experience. When I read this passage of scripture I’m always reminded of such a touchstone in my own life.

My dad was raised a Methodist in Jefferson and Sevier counties of Tennessee, While he was a teenager his parents were brought into the Church of God and the Pentecostal experience by way of a brush arbor revival they allowed to be held on their farm. Though my dad was a witness of these events he remained unconvinced and unconverted and went off to fight in WWII. My mother, whom dad met during his service in Italy, was raised a Roman Catholic but was much more open to the things of God. My parents sent me to church as a child but they did not start attending church until I was about fifteen and in a very rebellious frame of mind. Once in church themselves, they begin to pray earnestly for my salvation and that of my brothers and sisters. I remained, as my dad years before, unconvinced and unconverted. My attitude seemed to be; “When I was younger you would send me to church but not take me. Now, I’m just beginning to enjoy life and NOW you want to make me go to church. I love you, but I’m not sure I believe in God any more or that he has any real power in this present world.” God knows just how to penetrate our darkness and shine his light of revelation.

When I was about seventeen my mother become very ill, running a fever near 104 Fahernheit and was drifting in and out of consciousness. I loved this petite Italian lady and respected her relationship with God. I wanted to pray for her but felt it would not do any good because I wasn’t sure he even existed. In that moment God definitely had my attention. As my dad was preparing to take her to the hospital our family pastor, E.O. Byington, dropped by and suggested we first pray for mom. He gathered all of us around the bedside while he anointed her with oil and began to pray. While they prayed I watched my mom to see if anything was happening and I kept my hand on her fevered brow to see if there was any change. In a moment she blinked open her eyes and looked up at Pastor Byington and said weakly; “Daddy, why are you here?” My heart sank as I realized she was still delirious. In another moment however she shook herself and sat up in bed suddenly. She looked again at this Godly man and said; “Pastor Byington, I’m so glad you’re here! Has anyone offered you something to eat or drink?” It was all that we could do to keep her from getting right up from the bed to fix pastor and the rest of us our evening meal. I suddenly noticed that her head had grown cool to the touch and the color and brightness had returned to her eyes. She was instantly and completely healed during our prayer.

I was not converted in the moment of my mom’s healing. I was, however, ‘convinced’ that God was real and that He hears and answers prayer. In the years that followed, that one experience served to keep me close and ultimately moved me to make a decision to give my life to the Lord. It also became a story that I passed on to my own three sons. Even today, when I’m faced by circumstances that are bigger than life, it is one of many reminders to me that the Lord has often allowed me to be an eyewitness to His power and working. If He will come into a family bedroom to heal a dying mother he can and will give me the Grace to meet my immediate need. Everything He does is for a purpose and for His Glory.

Week Two - March 2009 - Ray Garner

Prayer - Our Family Foundation

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matthew 21:22 KJV

In our small Alabama town, my family began each day by rising early to pray. After a quick face washing and dressing at 5:00 am, we all knelt around the kitchen table to pray together as a family. We prayed for our nation, our community, our church leaders and the needs of everyone we knew. Invited guests and passersby who had spent the evening at our house also knelt around the table with us and prayed, whether they had planned to or not.  Prayer was the foundational principle that everything in our family was built upon.

I was exposed to the power of prayer and the results it could bring at a very early age. Many times our family was without food and had no money to purchase any. I can recall my parents praying for God to somehow make a way for us to eat and to send food to our family. I can even remember one time my mother praying for "stockings" as they were referred to back then. Those prayers became a reality a few hours later when several bags of groceries were left on our front porch. Not only was there food, but in the top of one of the bags sat two pair of stockings, just as my mother had requested. When God does something, He does not do it half-way or partially; He is a detailed God and He meets our EVERY need.

When my wife, Betty and I started our family 43 years ago, we too build it on the principle of prayer. Prayer has continued to be the foundational principle in our immediate family through the years. In 2004, while conducting a Camp Meeting service in Mississippi, I received word that my grandson, Grayson had fallen in the bathtub and was being rushed to the hospital. The wonderful people in Mississippi stopped the service and began to pray, email alerts went out across the nation and around the world. Grayson coded twice that night and it appeared we had lost him, but as people joined our family in prayer, God miraculously touched him. Within 24 hours he opened his eyes, sat up in the bed and began to speak to his mother and me. I believe in the power of prayer and have witnessed the evidence of prayer time and time again.

I challenge you today to believe and stand on Matthew 21:22. It is relevant and is a foundational principle for everyone who calls on the name of Jesus. And ALL things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

A. Ray Garner, Administrative Bishop
South Georgia Church of God