Dreams at the first Christmas

Jesus was born at a time when there were no computers, fax machines, or cell phones. There was no text messaging or chat. Communication took days and sometimes weeks or even months depending on how far the news had to travel. Distance is no problem for God. If God wants to communicate, He can do it with or without human involvement. Such was the case at the first Christmas.

Joseph did not want to take Mary as his wife because he did not believe her story at first. An Angel spoke to Joseph in a dream to tell him that the baby Jesus was from God. Sometime after the baby Jesus was born, King Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus but the Angel again came to Joseph in a dream and warned him to leave and take Mary and Jesus and escape before Herod’s soldiers came. The 3 wise men were asked by Herod to tell him where they found the baby, but they were warned in a dream that Herod wanted to harm the baby, so they left by another way. After Herod died, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream to tell him it was safe to return.

God is always speaking. He can speak through others. He can speak through the bible. He can speak in many ways. The two questions are; are we listening and will we follow through on what we are told.

Prayer- a young man gets out of a seemling hopeless situation

In 1989 I rented an apartment with a friend whose family is from Iraq.  My friend grew up in America and thought of himself as an American. His father went back to live in Iraq and my friend finished high school here. His younger brother was too young to saty here without his parents, so he went back to Iraq.

Their father wanted to send the younger brother here to visit for his 21st birthday as a gift. The younger brother was born here, so if he decided to stay here it was no problem. The problem was the issue of being allowed to leave Iraq. That was when Sadaam was in the height of his power in Iraq. It di dnot look very hopeful for my friend’s younger brother to get out. We met with my brother, my friend’s sister and my sister-in-law to pray. We fasted and prayed for him to get out of Iraq. We looked to Jesus for His help.

The day came for the younger brother to leave. It was common for Sadaam’s government to sell more tickets than they had seats for on the plane. It was also common for young menr to not be allowed out of the country, so we had two issues to pray about.  When the younger brother went to the airport he was treated very well and allowed to board the plane. Our prayers had been answered. What is even more amazing is that five days after he arrived in Lincoln Sadaam invaded Kuwait. We sat in the living room and watched the morning news about what had happened. I told him that it was Jesus who had helped him to get out.

Prayer- a boy with a serious health crisis recovers

Several years ago I saw a story about a boy in the UK that had a brain tumor and his situation looked hopeless. I remember how I felt when I saw the news. I felt burdened for the boy as I am sure many did. I felt burdened to pray for the boy that I never met. I even went so far as to call the UK to some churches and ask them to pray. That burden in prayer stayed with me for a month. I did not see any updates and let it go.

A few years later I was working at Billy Graham ministries. I had forgotten about the boy until one day when I was reading a Christian magazine in the break room at work and saw the update. A surgeon in America heard about the boy and arranged to do a new procedure with a gamma ray scapel or something like that. The boy had the surgery and recovered and went on to be a normal school boy.

When we have those burdens to pray, we need to respond to them. We may not know why we have the burden. Sometimes we find out the results and sometimes we do not. There is one person who always knows the results and that is the one we pray to, God. Those burdens may stay with us for a while or for a short time, but they come from God who for some reason unknown to us chooses to work through our prayers. Our job is to PRAY and leave the results to God.

Prayer- Thankfulness/Gratitude- our attitudes show what is in our hearts

One day when Jesus was here on earth He healed 10 people who were lepers. Their disease meant social isolation and rejection. Lepers had to go to leper colonies to wait to die apart from their families. If others saw lepers walking close by they would yell out Lepers!! and throw rocks at them. Jesus healed all ten people. That instant their lives were radically changed. They could leave the leper colony. They could go back to live in dignity. He told them to go show themselves to the priest to follow their law’s teaching. After they did so, 1 of them came back to thank Jesus. Jesus made an observation worth noting. He said- “there were ten healed but only one returns to thank me”.

It is too easy for us to not show our gratitude. God is always at work. Every day God gives us the air we breathe. Every day God shows His love. 2,000 years ago God sent His only Son, Jesus, to be our Savior by dying on a cross. Think of the great gift. We do not deserve for God to forgive us, but if we come to Jesus, God will forgive us 100%. Do we show Him we are thankful? Do we even say Thank you?

In prayer we can begin the day by thanking God for His love and for Jesus. We can thank God for many things in our lives. The question is are we like the nine who went on their way and did not thank Jesus or are the the one who came back to say Thank you?

Prayer- Went to Romania in April 05 but did look like it in February 05

In February 2005 I had surgery to have my Gall Bladder taken out. I went into the emergency room in pain on a Friday night. I drove there much to the surprise of the ER personnel. They told me I needed to have my Gall Bladder out. I was on Morphine and IV antibiotics all day that Saturday. On Sunday morning I had the surgery and they removed me Gall Bladder atheroscopically.

One of my Pastor friends came to see me on Saturday. I was scheduled to go to Romania in April 2005 for their Easter celebration. I looked at Pastor Scott and said “I am still going to Romania”. I do not know what he thought at that moment. The surgeon had just come up before Pastor Scott did and informed me that they might have to do the surgery the old way which would mean an 8 week recovery time. I told him I had to go to Romania so do his best. He kind of looked at me funny. He probably thought it was the Morphine.

The surgeon was able to do the surgery by scope. I went home on Tuesday. I was back in church the following Sunday teaching my class. My simple prayer through the pain that the Morphine was barely helping went something like this- “Jesus if you want me in Romania this surgeon has to be able to do this with a scope and not the old way”.

I did go to Romania. It was a wonderful trip. I was able to share Jesus with a college group. I was able to preach their Easter Sunday service. I was able to see some dear friends. The gospel must go forth and as Jesus promised “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the kingdom of Jesus.

Prayer- a teenage boy healed through prayer

Count me in as one of the many who is skeptical of the “faith healers” on TV. Also count me in as one of the people who is concerned that in reaction to the “faith healers” the church in America does pray in faith often enough for the sick. My hope is that this story will encourage you as you pray for those who are sick around you.

Several years ago a teenage boy I knew was in the hospital. He had a infection and air bubbles in the fluid sac around his heart. It looked like he would need surgery. I was spending some time in prayer with Jesus and this boy came into my thoughts. I began to pray for the him and felt burdened to go see him. I walked into his hospital room and talked a little with him. I told him a joke but it hurt for him to laugh. I then told him I wanted to pray with him. I opened my bible, put my hand on his chest and read from Romans chapter 8 in the bible- “if the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to you mortal bodies”. The boy breathed out deeply and said “thank you Jesus”.

He had no more pain. The doctors did another chest X-ray and found the infection and the air bubbles were gone. He was dismissed that day with a prescription for antibiotics and a precaution. He went on to live a normal teenage boys life.

I want to say that their have  many I have prayed for that nothing happened. I would also like to say that there is nothing special about me. All I did that day was follow the leading of Jesus. Jesus did the healing. I write this to encourage us to pray in faith and leave the results to God.  Let us not shy away from praying for the sick because of the gross misconduct of others. Let us live as children of the light and show that light whether it is through visiting people in the hospital, praying with others, helping those in need, or serving in the church.

Prayer- God still works through prayer so let’s pray in faith

In the Bible it says “the fervent prayer of a righteous person  avails much”. Basically it means that when we live for Jesus and pray with faith great things can happen. The problem many times is that we do not pray in faith. I will never forget how several years ago when I attended a small church there was a young man who had a benign brain tumor. He was having problems with seizures and had to stay at home. He parents were Christians but he had not come to believe in Jesus yet. I felt a burden to pray and fast for him and asked others to join me. The pastor of that small church told me it was probably a waste of time and my time should be put to use elsewhere. My thought was-NO ONE IS A WASTE OF TIME.

A small group of us proceeded to pray for him. I went to visit him and pray with him several times. I read from the bible to him and shared my faith with him. He came to believe in Christ. He had a surgery that was successful. He went on to become very active with Baptist Student Union and helped many to come hear about Jesus. Sadly he did die some years later of something else, but he made some very positive contributions.  His father came into the furniture store store I worked at back then. He said to me in front of every one “You made a difference in my son’s life. Thank you.”

With God there are no  lost causes. With God there is always hope. With God all things are possible. We should never give up. We should always pray in faith. It seems to me that the church in America is weak because we do not pray in faith. We trust too much in our technology or planning and not enough in the One who has ALL POWER. God still works through prayer, so let’s pray in faith and leave the results to God.

Prayer- Thank you Jesus for this VAN

My little white car needed a lot of repairs and I was worried what would happen if it broke down. I do not make a lot of money, partly because I give away so many hours helping people who have little money. Private tutors can make a lot more money than I do, but my ministry is for people who many times have never heard about Jesus and some live in adverse circumstances. I was starting to think about the possibility that maybe it was time to end my ministry so I could make more money. To be honest, I was very discouraged. I asked people to pray for me regarding this issue. The past summer I kept wondering if my car would die and my ministry would be over.

Matt at church and Van 004Then on evening I received a message that a van had been found and I could pick it up the next day. I had thought it might be an old van and maybe I could drive it only on Sundays so it would last. I was SO SURPRISED!! A 2006 Chrysler Town and Country in good condition. It was a HUGE encouragement. In the Bible it says “delight yourselves in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. The key is to delight ourselves in Jesus. When we do that, our desires change to be what Jesus desires for us and others. I had prayed for new cars before but usually for ME and not thinking so much about how it could used for serving Jesus. For a long time a vehicle was something I took care of from my own ability. When I wasyounger, I wanted a sports car or an SUV. I never thought about getting a van let alone want one.

I think God does have a sense of humor. I am a single man with no children or family. What would I need a van for? I never wanted one before. Then about a year ago I began to think about how a van would be very useful in my ministry. I asked others to pray for me. Then one evening on September 25th I picked up my van from Jesus. I was stunned and could barely remember to say thank you.

If you are praying for something could I encourage you to pray for the Lord to help you to see what His desire for you is and pray for that? Try it and see what happens. Feel free to let me know in the comment section. First thing is to not pray from selfishness but to pray from a heart that wants to serve Jesus.

When Jesus shows up wonderful things happen, so let’s pray

In John chapter 2 we read about what happened when Jesus showed up at a wedding. Several thoughts come to mind. His being at a wedding shows He is interested in all the moments in our lives, not just Sunday morning. His mother knew who He was because she asked Him to help by a miracle which we can conclude from His reaction when He said, “my time has not yet come” which shows she wasn’t asking Him to go to the nearest wine merchant. The biggest lesson for me is the quality of what he did.

Wine was a part of their culture. We learn from this chapter in John that they served their best stuff first and then the cheap stuff after people had had some wine and food and would not notice it was cheap stuff. They ran out of wine. This was a terrible thing to have happen at a wedding back then. In America it would be like running out of cake before every one has had a piece. In other countries it may be running out of a special food. He told the servants to fill some empty clay jars with water. Water? No grapes? They filled the jars, big jars with water. He told them to take some out and serve it to the Master of Ceremonies. The MC tastes it and calls the groom over. He says, “every one serves the good stuff first and then the cheap stuff, but you have saved the best for last”

Here is the main point of this event. Whatever Jesus does for us is BETTER than our best. We may not always feel that way or think what happens in our lives is evidence of it, but it is true. When Jesus shows up wonderful things happen. We should pray that way with expectation of what He will do. We may not like the answer at the time. We may be surprised at what He does. We may have to wait-hardest answer to prayer. But we can trust Jesus that whatever He does is better than out best.

What are you praying about today? Whatever it is have faith in the one who loved us so much He died for us. He will do wonderful things in our lives.