Category Archives: Sermon Series

How Do I Deal With Unanswered Prayer?

When Jesus taught his followers to pray, he not only gave permission to bring our requests to the Father, (Matthew 6:9-13) he gave great latitude in what to ask for. (Mark 11:24) Oh the joy of answered prayer! It’s one of the sweetest thrills to know the God of the universe is interested in our needs and desires. But sometimes, things don’t go as we hope and the answers don’t come.  How do we deal with the frustration and disillusionment of unanswered prayer?

It’s hard to understand why our prayers would go unanswered. There is no blanket explanation, but we want to offer four possible reasons:

The request is off – Some prayers, no matter how well-intentioned, are simply inappropriate and a loving God says no.  We feel like the child whose parent says no to a third bowl of ice cream. Ice cream is delicious and we can’t imagine why anyone would ever say no. Our parents see past the moment into the future. We may not understand why God would say no, but our perspective is limited. Sometimes our requests are not the best thing for our life in the long run.

We are off – We are so desperately human and there is a laundry list of ways we can be “off” when we pray.  One is unresolved conflict. Jesus told his followers if they had an issue with their friend, they should go make it right before they came to offer their requests. (Matthew 5:23-24) Peter taught husbands to be considerate of their wives so their prayer would not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7) There is no point in agonizing over unanswered prayer if we are not willing to release bitterness, extend forgiveness and resolve the conflict in our relationships.

We live in a fallen world –Tragedies, accidents and disease are the tender reality of life on the planet. We face the consequences of our own sin and the consequences of others’ sin. The enemy is still active, but his years are numbered and when Jesus comes again he will make all things new. Prayers that seem to have been unanswered on earth will be vindicated in eternity.

The timing is off – Who wants to wait for anything? We live in an instant society that offers instant gratification. God is not intimidated by our impatience. Sometimes the answer is, not yet. During that delay God works on our character. We learn endurance, humility, patience and trust.  If you are waiting for an answer to prayer, don’t give up. Don’t quit! Keep praying. Keep seeking. Keep asking.  Every prayer is like a seed planted in the ground. It disappears for a season but eventually it will bear fruit.

Prayer doesn’t just change circumstances. It changes us!

If you would like someone to pray for you –  email prayer@shoreline.net

This is Part 3 in a series
Click here to read Part 2 How do I grow in faith?
Click here to read Part 1 Why is there suffering?

Mind Body Spirit – The Word

Whether it is an app on your smart phone, a file on your digital reader or an actual paper bound book, you need to open the Word of God if you want a thriving spiritual life.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8 NIV

God’s word nourishes us like good food nourishes our body.

I Peter 2:2  likens the Bible to milk that helps a newborn grow.

Hebrews 5:12 indicates there should come a day when we graduate from milk and fill our bellies with the meat of God’s word.

Psalm 19:10 tells us God’s word is sweet like honey.

(For the record, we haven’t found any references relating God’s word to vegetables. You’ll have to visit Pastor Laura’s blog for that information!)

God’s word is the tool we use to build our lives. It’s important that we interpret the word of God accurately, because any tool can also be misused.

Throughout history, people have taken bits and pieces of God’s word and used them to cause damage. Jeremiah 23:28-29  instructs us to speak God’s word faithfully. Like fire it can bring light and warmth. Like a hammer it can build and strengthen.

Hebrews 4:12 compares the word of God to a double edged sword. You get the picture.

Don’t stress about needing to be a Bible scholar in order to accurately interpret God’s word – just read everything through the lens of God’s love and grace.

God’s word is the framework for a life well lived.

Hebrews 11:3 says “the worlds were framed by the word of God.” God spoke and our wondrous universe came into being.  Don’t you want your attitudes, mindset, work, relationships and every aspect of your life to be shaped by our awesome, creative God?

God’s word shows us who we really are.

James 1:22-25 tells us the Bible is like a mirror. As we read our Bibles we see more than our reflection, we see the truth of who God created us to be.

Of all the metaphors for the Word of God, which one means the most to you today?

 

This is is Part 6 in a series

Part 5 – Prayer
Part 3 – Overcoming Depression
Part 2 – Renewing your mind
Part 1 – 3 Principles for Healthy Eating

Mind Body Spirit – Prayer

One of the most relatable books of the Bible is Psalms. Many of these amazing songs of prayer and praise were written by King David.

David was a man after God’s own heart. (I Samuel 13:14) He shepherded God’s people and worshiped with all of his being. He also took another man’s wife and had her husband murdered.

You want to talk about drama? David lived it. Injustice? He walked through the worst of it. Heartbreak over human tendency to sin and fall short? David experienced the depth of it. Gratitude bubbling up to overflowing? That too!

Through every mountain and valley moment, David modeled what it means to walk intimately with God in prayer.

He didn’t mince words. He spoke to God as a man talks with a friend and as one who recognized his need for God to move in His life and circumstances.

  • When the sting of rejection hit, he prayed with raw truthfulness:

    “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people…” Psalm 22:6

  • When trials came, he prayed for protection:

    “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.” Psalm 16:1

  • When thankfulness overflowed, he poured out words of praise:

    “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:3-4

If you read about his life you see he faced countless situations that brought fear to his heart. David was a fighter but there were moments he fled instead of standing firm in faith, and times he bypassed going to God and took matters into his own hands. Yet through all the crazy ups and downs of life, including his own mistakes, we see him turning to God again and again.

Here today, not much has changed. Our tendency is to rely on ourselves first. We fight. We flee. But our best life comes when make it a habit to go to God first in prayer, to set aside time to be real with him, to recognize our dependency on Him, to pour out our praise and remember we are never alone.

This is is Part 5 in a series
Part 3  Overcoming Depression
Part 2 – Renewing your mind
Part 1 – 3 Principles for Healthy Eating

Mind Body Spirit – Overcoming depression

Waking up is easy, getting out of bed is another story. One in ten Americans is struggling with depression. The emotional symptoms weigh them down like a lead blanket – sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless. There are physical symptoms too. The Bible doesn’t shy away from dark emotions. Moses, David, Job, Jeremiah and others faced depression. Their journeys are recorded for us in scripture. This week we look to the story of Elijah as model for overcoming depression.

Elijah was a prophet. He had just won an epic battle. But the mountaintop experience was followed immediately by a fight for his life. He was afraid, exhausted, tapped out emotionally and depressed.

He (Elijah) came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1Kings 19:4

God walked right in to Elijah’s darkness. Through his wilderness experience we find four keys for overcoming depression.

Take Care of Your Body

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 1 Kings 19:5-6

Eat healthy food. Drink plenty of water. Be disciplined about establishing sleep patterns. Get up and get some exercise. Take care of yourself. Your physical health affects your mental health.

Talk About Your Problems

 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19:10

You can talk to God about your problems. It’s not too much for him. Find a few trusted friends to talk to.  Visit with a professional counselor. Call the church if you need a referral to a counseling center in the Austin area. If you are struggling with hurts, habits and hang ups that are taking an emotional toll, consider joining our Celebrate Recovery groups.

Get a Fresh View of God

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper 1 Kings 19:11-12

When we feel depressed, we lose perspective. We feel isolated and alone. We forget that God is near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) Elijah experienced God’s presence and came to see him in a fresh new way.  Pray. Worship. Come to church and soak in God’s presence.

Do Something For Others

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 1 Kings 19:15

God gave Elijah an assignment. “Go back the way you came.” Do something for someone else. This is not go back to your old ways of coping but go back and reach out to someone else. It’s no surprise God uses the stories of our lives that lead to depression to bring freedom and hope to others. This is redemption. It’s what God does.

 

Part 5  – Prayer
This is Part 3 in a series
Part 2 – Renewing your mind
Part 1 – 3 Principles for Healthy Eating

Mind Body Spirit – Renewing your mind

Two salesmen trekked through the jungle to a remote village. The first wired back to the warehouse, “I’m coming home, no one wears shoes here.” The second had a different mindset, his message read, “No one wears shoes here, send the whole inventory!”

Your thoughts are powerful.

Thoughts determine actions. Actions become habits. Habits will shape your life.  And believe it or not, your thoughts are taking you somewhere. Negative thinking will limit your potential. Positive thinking will point you in the direction of your destiny.

Here’s the good news – you can change the way you think by renewing your mind!

And here’s how – RECOGNIZE, REJECT and REPLACE.

Recognize negative thoughts like focusing on past failures and weaknesses or feeling like a helpless victim.

Reject that way of thinking. Make a strong statement. “I am not defined by my past. I won’t let weaknesses keep me down. I refuse to live like a victim.”

Replace negative thoughts with the truth of God’s word.  Focus on the positive. Say what God says about you. “My past is forgiven and I have a new beginning in Christ. I will live in the present and trust God with today. I am empowered by the Spirit of God. I don’t have to do it all in my own strength. I am more than a conquer through Christ.  I choose to rely on him”

So take action today. Your thoughts and feelings will follow. You can act your way into a feeling faster than you can feel your way into an action.

Weekly Challenge: Change the way you think by renewing your mind.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This is Part 2 in a series.
Part 1 – Principles for Healthy Eathing

Mind Body Spirit – 3 Principles for Healthy Eating

Experts agree on a few things we can do to eat healthier. Here are three principles to follow:

1. Eat Real Food – In Genesis 1:29 we read, Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.” So eat or drink what grows on the planet – seed and herb bearing fruits and juices, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, sprouted whole grains, healthy oils like olive and coconut oil. Drink lots of water.  Your body made of 65-75% water. We recommend that you drink half of your body weight in ounces as a daily minimum.  Add more water if you live in a dry climate, workout, or travel. Eat more foods fresh, live and raw.  Eat animals that walk, fly or swim. Your body is like a bank account. The more good/real food you put in, the stronger and healthier you’ll be.

2. Don’t Eat Junk Food – If you want to have a healthy body, the easiest way is to cut out the junk! Here’s the problem: we take all this beautifully created real food and we mess with it. We bleach it, process it, preserve it, and inject it with additives, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and pesticides, then fry it to a crisp and call it food. But it’s not – it’s JUNK! Our bodies don’t even recognize it as food. All this added stuff is poisoning our liver, gall bladder, spleen and colon and clogging our arteries, giving us all sorts of diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that there is an undeniable connection between the chemicals in our food supply and the increase in these diseases.

3. Moderation – Our biggest problem concerning food in America is overeating. We need to use the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us called self-control! Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your moderation be known to all men…” Moderation helps us avoid overeating and addiction. Slow down. When you eat slowly it gives your body the ability to know when you’re full. You don’t have to deprive yourself. Give yourself a splurge meal or day. Eat smaller amounts. A little tastes the same as a lot!

Want the bottom line on healthy eating? Cut the junk and eat real food in moderation. 

This is is Part 1 in a series
Part 2 – Renewing your mind
Part 3 – Overcoming Depression
Part 5  – Prayer