Saturday, 30 August 2014

Are you just a pew-warmer or are you praying for your pastor

This is an excerpt from last week's sermon by Pastor Johann Odendaal.
For the full sermon go to:

The pastor's have their responsibility in preaching the word in truth. and we the church members can simply come every Sunday and warm the pews, drink tea and go home.....  Really??

We as church members are also called upon to support. Your practical involvement has the potential not only to change your life forever, but also the life of these ministries and other that will believe, and respond on God's Word. The focus of your prayers for the preaching is like that of the preacher also threefold.

A) Pray for the preparation of the sermon. 
- Pray that your pastor and his message become one. It is our duty to as members of the body of Christ to pray that our pastor preaches with integrity. God hates hypocrisy. The major component of the strength of a sermon is the integrity of its preacher(s). The old testament deals extensively with the integrity of Shepherds. Jeremiah 3:15 " And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding."  Jeremiah 32:2 "Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attned to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord."
It is our task as members of the church to ask the Holy Spirit to convict a pastor of sin regarding the practice of the truth he seeks to understand and proclaim.

- Pray that your pastor could prepare uninterrupted. Pastors face many obstacles in the preparation of their sermons. It is a matter of Eph 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." That becomes a reality when he sits down to prepare. The interruption of  phone calls, emails, and any others means that might try to steal time from the one thing that has the power to make our Church stand out as a church seeking to be a true model of a biblical church- the preaching of the Word.

- Pray that your pastor will receive grace and illumination by the Holy Spirit to rightly divide the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can bring clarity of insight from the passage he deals with. It is a matter of Psalm 119:18. (Psalm 119:18  Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.)
Pray that for the glory of God and the edification of the church he will be an embodiment of 2 Tim 2:15. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

- Pray that the words your pastors will use in the outline of his sermon will be an effective tool for the Holy Spirit to convince and convict those who listen to the sermon. What the pastor desires for the Church is what the Psalmist said "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to the Lord."
His words must not be misleading or distracting but to bring light to the seeking soul. 

- Pray that your pastor will have insight into the difficulties and needs of the Church as he prepares his sermon. 

B- Pray for the delivery of the sermon. 

- Pray that people will show up for church. A pastor cannot preach for empty seats. We need to pray that people will be faithful in attending Sunday services. Our Church members' spiritual battles start the moment they wake up on Sunday morning. We can never take it for granted that there will be people. It is God the Holy Spirit that work in us to will according to His will. Phil 2:13 " For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Pray that the variety of obstacles and hindrances will be overcome so that the preaching venue(s) will be populated. Pray for yourselves that nothing will prevent you from coming.

- Pray that the people will show up with the right frame of mind. Remember that we are involved in a spiritual warfare. We can so easily be side tracked by bad relations and arguments that can even start where we park the car at the church building and then destroy our receptivity of God's word. Pray that your own heart be well prepared to receive His Word.

- Pray that God would guard us from any form of distraction during the preaching. It is so easy to be distracted by a crying baby, a cell phone ringing, a dead microphone, and many other things that might distract us. Bring this to God in prayer.

- Pray for clarity and power in the pastor's language. Power in the pulpit does not  come from a manuscript that is learned by heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit give your pastor freedom of speech and words to use as was the case with Moses in Ex 4:11-12. " Then the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind. Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."

- Pray that God will give understanding to those that hear God's word this week. Pray for alertness to hear God's voice and to make everyone attentive and eager to understand the preaching. Pray that God would prevent Satan to steal the Word of God as it is sown on the prepared soil of man's heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine His Word and allow those present to mentally keep track with the truths that are preached.

- Ask the Lord for the most effective and fruitful sermon your pastor has ever preached. This is really a bold request but it is also reasonable. Literally pray  what Paul commanded Timothy in 1 Tim 4:15 "Practice these things, immerse yourself i them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

C - Pray for the response to the preaching.
The spiritual attack on the preaching begins the moment the preacher said Amen. There are at least four specific items we can mention here in prayer.

- Pray that all of us will put the sermon into practice. The sermon does not end on Sunday. That is only the beginning. It is right here that we must ask what James 1:22 says - that all will be doers of God's Word. Ask the Lord that you will be the first to take the words of Christ seriously in Mat7:24-27. Pray specifically that everyone in the service will not walk away and be a hearer that forgets. James 1:25.

-   Pray that the sermon will not be compartmentalized. Don't just apply the sermon to one area of your spiritual life. Pray that the Lord will even challenge you to trust him in areas that might ask of you to leave your comfort zone in order to please Him.

- Pray that the application of the sermon would be contagious. Pray that the Lord will make you enthusiastic about what has been shared and that you will pass it onto others. 2 Tim 2:2 " and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."  Pray that you will be able to rejoice with Paul as he mentioned the faith of the people in Thessalonica - 1 Thes 1:8-9 "For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God."  Pray that everyone would become an ambassador for Christ.

- Pray that the sermon itself will be repeatedly delivered. Pray that sermons will be studied  and that the notes being taken or the CD's and MP3's that are send out will achieve its purposes to glorify God and extend His kingdom here on earth.

Praying like this will be the catalyst to transform lives, our Church and society. Let's be such a church.

Be praying my fellow brother and sister in the Lord. Be praying.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The court case

The court case

There I'm standing knowing i'm guilty
the full wrath should come down on me
Every thing I ever did is haunting me

My only hope is in the judge
- yes the same judge that just said
how guilty I am before Him
you might say 
that is so crazy

Well you know, the judge
is also the one who took the wrath
that was destined for me, on Himself
He paid the sacrifice
and now I'm free
free to do His will
to share His grace and love and truth 
with the world around me

The full wrath destined for me
He took on Himself
The life I was supposed to live
He lived for me
such grace upon grace upon grace

Riana Odendaal
August 2014

Birds announcing seasons and times

Slowly the winter cold seeps away
Small blossoms bring the hope of spring
joyful birds serenade the day
the soft calls of the burchell's coucal
makes us look forward to the first rainfall

In the dark velvet nights
stars shine so bright
with the cheerful night song
harmonizing plovers and thick-knees
and far off in the distance we hear so clear
the small nightjar gracefully calling
"Good Lord, deliver us". 

Spring melt into summer
more resonantly declared
by Woodland Kingfishers with pretty turquoise flare.
The sweltering hot days cooled down 
by scarily impressive thunderstorms

The soft pastel sunrise of a new day
announced by cheerful chattering guinea fowl

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Are we there yet? - The Christian Walk

Taurus Mountains in Turkey near Lystra

We are all on a journey
like Paul from Lystra to Troas
the sun beating down hard, 
the mountain steep, the valley so deep
 and the road longer and longer
We don't know what lies ahead
we can only but on God's grace ponder.

Strong winds blow, snowstorms, 
ferocious animals and robbers abound
small rocky paths and high cliffs. 
Staying in caves, hunger and thirst, 
I hope there is a waterstream near.
Seasons change, rains pour down. 
Step by wearisome step by wearisome step
inching forward but still not sure where.

Passing by Asia and Bithinia 
So much opportunity abound
But we can't share here to these folks so dear.
Lord, But why? we seem to think
yet we know to rather go forward
than to share the message of Grace here

My child, My ways are not Your ways
and My thoughts are not Your thoughts
Trust me, I have a great plan.
Carry on, on this road I gave you for now

Step by wearisome step 
We keep going forward
The Lord knows what and where to
He directs and sustains us
He is in control of the stars 
in the black velvet skies above
Surely He can direct our lives. 

Finally a sight of Troas,
we think we have arrived. 
My child, do you see across the bay
The Macedonian pleading for help
"Come to us, we need you here"

Immediately we set sail
with a new hop in our bodies so frail
On the Shabbat we went to the river
and met some sisters by the place of prayer
The Lord touched hearts, 
and changed whole households. 

In the jail we sang songs of praise
of our Lord's great mercy and grace
the earth shook, the door opened
and yet the Lord opened the door
for us to share His salvation to the jailer
all to the praise of His glorious grace. 

Proverbs 3:5 -6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

Acts 16

Riana Odendaal
August 2014

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Help, there's Ebola on my continent and war in the middle east and .......

Help, There's Ebola on  my continent and war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the IS is slaughtering people in Iraq and Boko Haram is wreaking havoc in Nigeria and there's earthquakes and and and....

In Philippians 4 we read : "do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." 

Whatever is true..... well it is true that there is an Ebola outbreak in West Africa and it seems they struggle to contain in. It is true that the IS (Islamic State) is slaughtering people, Christians, children and just about anyone whose face they don't like in Iraq, and Hamas broke the umpteenth ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, and there are various reasons to get upset about governments, and earthquakes do happen.
But Paul, when he sat in that prison and wrote those words didn't seem to panic so much about whatever it was that happened then. He wrote to other believers to not be anxious.

Maybe we got the story wrong here. Think on what is truth? or better... WHO is truth.
John 14:6. Jesus said to him, " I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

We need to think on Jesus Christ in all these situations that cause panic among us. God knows about the Ebola, and every single person that is slaughtered in Iraq, and just about anything else you want to put in here that is causing panic in your life now. God hasn't forgotten about us. He is still in control of everything. He is still the sovereign God, firmly in control of it all. He still cares about these people, and there is a reason why these things happening around the world touches our hearts. It is because it touches HIS heart. He wants us to do something about it. .... sometimes we can actually go and be like the Samaritan's Purse doctor helping out the patients with Ebola in West Africa, or speak up about the truth of what is really happening in Israel, or be a missionary to China or whatever tickles your fancy. We are all geared different. We can't all do the same thing, and we can't all go. even though it would be great. Some of us can be at home and still do something about all these things while we think on the Truth of all that is happening. PRAY.
Pray for the thing that is most on your heart, whether it be the Ebola outbreak, or any of the Muslim wars around the world, or earthquakes, or the ........... (fill in the blank)

Pray and put your hope in Christ.  Besides all the issues on this earth should cause us to look forward to heaven where "He will away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning or crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" Rev. 21:4. This one day when we are home with our Lord in heaven. So while we pass through here and things happen that cause us angst, let us talk to our Father about it.