This week and next at Wednesday Night Worship I am going to be sharing some of the things that God has been showing me recently in my quiet times and I think they are good lessons for us all to look at as well. As the previous two weeks the students taught lessons themselves on the spiritual armor of God and the fruit of the Spirit, these messages go hand in hand with them. As we think about how we are to love others and pray for them, here are some specific ways I want to do better at myself and wanted to challenge the students with as well.
1) Grieve Over the Sins of Others
Just as we are to grieve over our own sin, we should grieve over the sins of others. Too many times we instead judge, condemn, and get angry at the person over their sin. In Ezra 9:1-6 we see that the Israelites have once again returned to their same pattern of sin. They were becoming involved with people of other nations which God had warned them not to do because it was going to lead them to idol worship. This occurred over and over in the Old Testament and eventually led to the 70 year captivity by the Babylonians. After 70 years they began to return to their homeland and where we read this in Ezra 9 is taking place as the second group return home. So as this point they are beginning to repeat this same sinful pattern which leads Ezra to grieve. He rips his robe, pulls hair out of his head and beard, and sits in disgust. But then he gets on his knees and cries out to God. Ezra was not guilty of these sins, but he grieved because he knew how much the sin hurt God. Instead of condemning them or getting angry at them, he prayed for them. If you continue to read on in Ezra 10 we see that the people turn away from their sin and turn back to God.
2) Pray For and Thank God For Those Around You
We need to be in prayer for the people around us, even if we do not know what they need to be prayed for. How often are you going about your day and then randomly someone runs across your mind? I truly believe that this is God leading us to pray for them. The Apostle Paul wrote about half of the New Testament books and we see a common theme in his writings and that is that he prays for them and is thankful for them. Paul wrote letters of encouragement, letters to teach, and sometimes even to correct. In these there is almost always a theme of thankfulness and he mentions how he prays for them. We looked at just some of the books of the New Testament where Paul mentions this in the first few verses so we did not even look at others where he may have said it later in one way or another. We briefly looked at each of the following verses: Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Philippians 1:3-4, Colossians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 1:4.
So as we ended the night we spent some time in prayer and I asked the students to pray and consider the following questions:
-How much time to you spend in prayer?
-How much time do you spend praying for yourself vs praying for others?
-Do you grieve over the sins of others instead of condemning and judging them?
-Do you thank God for the people in your life and pray for them?