This week marked the beginning of the Academic Calendar here on the Patten Campus. We are very grateful to the Lord for the work of Dr. Gary Moncher, Dr. Sharon Anderson and the many, many others who have worked with them (both past and present) to bring quality, rigorous, Christian Education to the City of Oakland for over 70 years!
Prayerfully, soon we will have a complete Day-Care Center, a Pre-School, a new Family Room here in the Cathedral, an expanded After-School program, and I am asking for the miracle of a tuition-assistance for those who are financially unable to pay the full cost at the Academy. Likewise, we are praying and working toward a powerful re-emergence of the Ministry of Higher Education focused extensively on leadership development.
Every Human Soul is profoundly important to God, and we will Love our City ONE soul at a time. However, from a STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE, the most important TARGET GROUPS in reaching any Community with the Gospel are the CHILDREN and YOUNG PEOPLE. I want to say that again…to restore, renew, and rebuild what has been devastated for generations: WE MUST REACH THE CHILDREN, TEENAGERS, and YOUNG ADULTS. Like everything else in the Kingdom of God, this is a partnership between Heaven and Earth. We carry the ark and God parts the waters.
This is one of the reasons that we pause throughout the year to focus ourselves on this strategic component of our mission. It is important for all of us to understand and embrace the ministry of the entire campus; and through that campus, the ministry to our community. We are here in this hour, for this season, in this city to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ and to live our lives as citizens of the Kingdom of God!
Therefore, my friends: students and teachers, staff and congregation, pastors and leaders, servants in the House of the LORD…
Ephesians 4:1 NIV84 - …I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
This week marks the beginning of the Academic Calendar here on the Patten Campus. At the end of our service today, we are going to be praying for the faculty, staff, and students who are beginning the Fall Semester and asking for the great Grace of Jesus Christ to rest upon His Servants! Afterwards, everyone is invited to enjoy the barbecue at the Student Center Plaza on the west end of our campus.
For over seventy years of ministry in the City of Oakland, and 50 years at this location, the Ministries of our Campus have always been expressions of FAITH, fostering an environment of LEARNING, and born out of a Heart of SERVICE. This service (ministry) to the Campus, to the Community, and to one another is an outgrowth of our Service to the Lord Himself. For the Child of God, Service is not simply a nice idea, a quaint concept, a sociological catch phrase; nor is it something that allows us to somehow feel more noble about having less pay. :-) Rather, service is the embodiment of our Faith because it is the expression of Christianity chosen by our Lord Himself. Jesus said…
Matthew 20:28 ERV - Do as I did: The Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. He came to serve others and to give his life to save many people.
It is very important, therefore, to recognize that Christian Service is not just an act of benevolence, social awareness, or religious discipline. Serving is part of the Christian Mission. We are called to recognize both the Brokenness of a fallen world and the profound hope given in our Redeemer: the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately, all of our service must be done in His name, for His glory, and to draw people into a living relationship with the living Christ. In its most fundamental capacity, SERVING is GIVING, and GIVING is LIFE.
Matthew 10:42 NIV78 – And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.
We have been talking about praying for our nation and community. Prayer is not given as a religious discipline or a metaphysical conduit. This is a Divine means in which the Ruler of the Universe has a conversation with His People. It is more than asking, it is basking. It is to bask in the Presence of the Living God and engage the world with His Heart, His Words, His Feet, and extending His Hands in the earth.
“Prayer is not given to get man’s will done in Heaven. It is given for God’s Will to be done in the Earth.” --John Maxwell
We pray with all types of prayer for all types of people. For our family and friends, our co-workers and colleagues, our enemies and our supporters. We pray for the Lost and the Prodigals, the Wounded and the Outcast, the broken and the frightened. Oh my dear friends, we have so much to do and so much to pray that the plans of our Father will be done in our lives.
God also commands that we pray for ALL of those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2). To pray for “all those in authority” is exactly what the Apostle Paul meant. Through prayer, we are actually involved in the governance and authority structure of our world! Remember, when Paul wrote those words, notorious and despicable Roman Emperors ruled the Land. So Beloved, no matter who is in leadership, we must remember to pray for all those who have authority in our lives, knowing that they answer to the ultimate authority: the LORD God Almighty.
Proverbs 21:1 NCV - The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases.
One of the reasons we are commanded to pray this way, is in order to live PEACEFUL and QUIET LIVES, with PURITY and GRACE…so that the Gospel will be proclaimed by both our WORDS and our DEEDS.
Oh Beloved, do not be discouraged. Do not be disheartened. The Lord is not only with us, but He will fulfill HIS GOOD PURPOSES in the Earth, in our nation, in our city, in our neighborhood, and in our lives. Just remember something Dr. Jack Hayford said over forty years ago, that I have kept near my heart for my entire ministry: “Prayer is Invading the Impossible!”
Habakkuk 2:14 NIV78 – For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
We have been talking about praying for our nation and community. Prayer is not just one word, one sentence, or one thought. It is more than the bowing of knees or raising of hands or elevation of our voice. Sometimes we behave as though prayer must be offered only ONE way; or even worse, we act as though it is the recitation of some sort of magical language that if said just the right way or with the proper voice inflection, then God will somehow move.
In 1 Timothy 2:1, the Apostle Paul doesn’t just say to, “pray.” Rather, He outlines four different parts, portions, types of praying…a PANORAMA of PRAYER that he expects Timothy and the Early Church to practice.
1 Timothy 2:1 NIV84 - I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--
There are several words for prayer in the Scriptures and four of them are used in verse one:
The Word of God not only tells us to pray in a multitude of ways, but also for a multitude of people. In fact, 1 Timothy 2:1 in the NIV says to pray for “everyone,” and another translation says to pray for “all humanity.” This is not just our church and family, friends, and personal needs, but God wants us to be positively involved in the lives of others by praying for them. “ALL HUMANITY” is quite a large group and it will even include those who behave as an Enemy to us and to the Cross; but like Christ at Golgotha, these are probably the ones who are most in need of our prayer.
This weekend, I am officiating at wedding of a precious young couple in New Jersey and then preaching at the Gateway Church in New York. I apologize that I will not be with you, but I am very grateful for the prayerful support of the Cathedral Congregation in all of our ministry endeavors. Dr. Hannah Harrington will be bringing a powerful message from the Word of God this morning.
We have been talking about praying for our nation and community. One of the great passages of Scripture regarding the role of God’s people in the spiritual life of a nation and community is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, where God tells Solomon:
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 AMP - If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
The Word of God tells us that we are responsible to pray for our nation and our community. Before there is forgiveness, there must be repentance. Before there is healing, there must be mercy. Before there is revival, there must be PRAYER! We must make prayer a PRIORITY in our lives and ministry. In 1 Timothy 2, The Apostle Paul gave instruction to Timothy concerning prayer.
1 Timothy 2:1 VOICE - So, first and foremost, I urge God’s people to pray…
John Wesley once said, "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer." Far too often, prayer is an afterthought…an “oh by the way, I guess I should pray about this.” We make our plans, write our budgets, negotiate our contracts, and preach our sermons…but have we prayed?!
Dr. Tobey Montgomery