Help, I Want To Pray More

Last month I was sitting on a hill staring out at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world in Africa, Lake Victoria.  I was praying for my family, our church ministry, the leaders, my marriage and overall wisdom in every decision.  Many times God calls you to make hard decisions, sometimes that are unpopular but rooted in the word. God teaches us different things in different seasons.  In this season, He is teaching me to depend on Him more through prayer.  We must have a rich prayer life, These are prayers I am praying for you…

Praying Hands 5-23-14

“The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective ” James 5:16

God is not done with you.  No matter what you face it is for a season.  But when all else fails, you can absolutely depend on God.  It’s time to pray.

Four Prayers I am Praying For You…

#1 Your Faith – Jesus takes convicts and turns them in to converts.  That is right, this is what we are all about, restoring people in their relationship with Jesus.  He came that we would have faith and that He would die and be the ultimate sacrifice so we would have eternal life and know and follow HIM.  RESTORED!  This is our word.  Jesus rose from the DEAD and while pointing to Jesus, My prayer is your belief and dependence would increase that you would be able to take your eyes off the worldly results, temptations and pride and call out in the heavenly reality.

#2 Your Finances  – What we invest in we value.  I have talked to so many people these last two weeks who are hurting financially.  When you can’t provide for your family there is uncertainty, fear, confusion and even insecurity.  We need to continue to pray for God’s provision for the people of our community.  Especially the elderly, the disabled, the widows and the single moms.  When we begin praying these prayers God will move us to realize that we are to be generous and help one another through difficult times.  I love being a part of a church and community that believes in taking care of those who are going through rough times.  We do this because it is an example of the Gospel of Jesus in action.  Giving is not about a legalistic percentage, but a heart that is transformed as a reflection of the Gospel. A FAMILY takes care of one another and advances the Gospel with its finances. My prayer is you would have enough to live but not so much that you would depend on your riches.

#3 Your Focus  Be more afraid of missing an opportunity than failing.  Distractions will derail your life.  Jesus and the Gospel are what matters.  We are to be pursuing Him as our FIRST priority.  We are to serve others and love them.  Who has Jesus sent you to?  Take your eyes off yourself and you will begin to gain the right focus. The church is at it’s best serving the community, loving people, taking care of one another, pursuing the common good, sharing meals together and speaking out as a peaceful voice of reason.  My prayer is you would focus on the right things. 

#4 Favor of the People – We are HIS children – Let me say that again.  You have a seat at the table with Jesus and he calls you, “brother, sister and friend.”  I tell my children they bear my last name and they need to act like it!  When you realize whose family you are in and that the Father has lavished the greatest gift of love and favor on your life, it changes how you PRAY.  Through forgiveness of sins, repentance, privilege and honor to be called the church and a life in heaven with HIM, he has given us favor.  This changes our perspective.  We need to pray for the favor of God that he would be merciful and gracious, especially with those who don’t know Him yet.  My prayer is he would INCREASE HIS FAVOR upon you.

You refresh my heart and it is a privilege to pray for you.

This week at 217church week 2 of our defining moments series as we study Deborah: When Calling Meets Action Judges 4.

 

Defining-Moments-Week-2

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Josh

Four Prayers I Am Praying For You

Yesterday I went to my mailbox and there was a birthday card from a dear friend of mine named Lorin.  Lorin is a man in his 80’s who wakes up at 4:30 am EVERY MORNING to pray.  During that time, he prays for me EVERY DAY.  He prays for my marriage, my health, he even prays for my church family and my ministry!  There are days when I wake up and sense the strength of his prayers from 3,000 miles away calling out to the heavens incterceding for me.  I am convinced there is nothing more important I can do than pray for you, church.  Here is how I pray for you. Here is what you need to know…

Praying Hands 5-23-14

“The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective ” James 5:16

God is not done with you.  No matter what you face it is for a season.  But when all else fails, you can absolutely depend on God.  It’s time to pray.

Four Prayers I am Praying For You…

#1 Your Faith – Jesus takes convicts and turns them in to converts.  That is right, this is what we are all about, restoring people in their relationship with Jesus.  He came that we would have faith and that He would die and be the ultimate sacrifice so we would have eternal life and know and follow HIM.  RESTORED!  This is our word.  Jesus rose from the DEAD and while pointing to Jesus, My prayer is your belief would increase that you would be able to take your eyes off the worldly results and call out in the heavenly reality

#2 Your Finances  What we invest in we value.  I have talked to so many people these last two weeks who are hurting financially.  When you can’t provide for your family there is uncertainty, fear, confusion and even insecurity.  We need to continue to pray for God’s provision for the people of our community.  Especially the elderly, the disabled, the widows and the single moms.  When we begin praying these prayers God will move us to realize that we are to be generous and help one another through difficult times.  I love being a part of a church and community that believes in taking care of those who are going through rough times.  We do this because it is an example of the Gospel of Jesus in action.  Giving is not about a legalistic percentage, but a heart that is transformed as a reflection of the Gospel. A FAMILY takes care of one another and advances the Gospel with its finances. My prayer is you would have enough to live but not so much that you would depend on your riches.

#3 Your Focus Be more afraid of missing an opportunity than failing.  Distractions will derail your life.  Jesus and the Gospel are what matters.  We are to be pursuing Him as our FIRST priority.  We are to serve others and love them.  Who has Jesus sent you to?  Take your eyes off yourself and you will begin to gain the right focus. The church is at it’s best serving the community, loving people, taking care of one another, pursuing the common good, sharing meals together and speaking out as a peaceful voice of reason.  My prayer is you would focus on the right things. 

#4 Favor of the People – We are HIS children – Let me say that again.  You have a seat at the table with Jesus and he calls you, “brother, sister and friend.”  I tell my children they bear my last name and they need to act like it!  When you realize whose family you are in and that the Father has lavished the greatest gift of love and favor on your life, it changes how you PRAY.  Through forgiveness of sins, repentance, privilege and honor to be called the church and a life in heaven with HIM, he has given us favor.  This changes our perspective.  We need to pray for the favor of God that he would be merciful and gracious, especially with those who don’t know Him yet.  My prayer is he would INCREASE HIS FAVOR upon you.

You refresh my heart and it is a privilege to pray for you.

Which of these areas are you desperate in now?  Comment below, I would love to pray for you.

Josh

 

Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2010.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

 

 

 

Four HUGE Prayers To Pray

217church has existed for 4 years now and we have baptized 191 people! 4 years isn’t a long time, but we have an unprecedented opportunity and favor to be a church that makes an incredible difference in the lives of those in this community.  We are now as a matter of fact meeting in TWO communities where we are seeing people #livedifferently.  Both Hamilton and East Windsor are being impacted and this has all happened because of a move of God.  He has placed the vision of His church inside of a group of vision owners who are carrying out the call to be a “restored family sent on mission!”

four series_web24 years of ministry in central New Jersey

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17

But we aren’t finished yet.  We aren’t even close to being finished yet.  We will need God to move like never before in the life of our church and townships if we are going to accomplish what he has for us.  This means we are going to need to PRAY like never before.  As I was praying this week, I asked God to give me specific direction on how to pray for our region and our church.  I asked Him for his heart for the community and how he wanted me to intercede for the people.  Here is what he revealed to me through his Word.

Four HUGE Prayers for our community…

#1 Faith of the People – Jesus takes convicts and turns them in to converts.  That is right, this is what we are all about, restoring people in their relationship with Jesus.  He came that we would have faith and that He would die and be the ultimate sacrifice so we would have eternal life and know and follow HIM.  RESTORED!  This is our word.  Jesus rose from the DEAD and while pointing to Jesus, we baptized 16 more people last week!  Many of them were youth and teens. Why?  Our church is investing people, time, energy and love in the next generation.  Join me in praying that the faith of the people would INCREASE in Jesus!

#2 Finances of the People What we invest in we value.  We just concluded our Next Generation offering and you gave $82,000 towards the vision!  I have talked with more people these last two weeks that have lost their jobs and my heart goes out to them.  When you can’t provide for your family there is uncertainty, fear, confusion and even insecurity.  We need to continue to pray for God’s provision for the people of our community.  Especially the elderly, the disabled, the widows and the single moms.  When we begin praying these prayers God will move us to realize that we are to be generous and help one another through difficult times.  I love being a part of a church and community that believes in taking care of those who are going through rough times.  We do this because it is an example of the Gospel of Jesus in action.  Giving is not about a legalistic percentage, but a heart that is transformed as a reflection of the Gospel. A FAMILY takes care of one another and advances the Gospel with its finances.

#3 Focus of the People Be more afraid of missing an opportunity than failing.  We as a church are to be SENT ON MISSION as carriers of the DNA of the Gospel of Jesus.  It is what matters and what we are to be pursing as our FIRST priority.  We are to renew the community through serving it relentlessly!  This starts with the church.  Who has Jesus sent you to?  The most logical place to start is your own nuclear family, your co-workers and your neighbors.  These are the people we are to be inviting into our lives to share experiences with.  It isn’t about arguing or convincing them, but about loving them, having conversations, and showing them the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.  The church is at it’s best serving the community, loving people, taking care of one another, pursuing the common good, sharing meals together and speaking out as a peaceful voice of reason.  We have to focus on the right things. 

#4 Favor of the People – We are HIS children – Let me say that again.  You have a seat at the table with Jesus and he calls you, “brother, sister and friend.”  I tell my children they bear my last name and they need to act like it!  When you realize whose family you are in and that the Father has lavished the greatest gift of love and favor on your life, It changes how you PRAY.  Through forgiveness of sins, repentance, privilege and honor to be called the church and a life in heaven with HIM, he has given us favor.  This changes our perspective.  We need to pray for the favor of God that he would be merciful and gracious, especially with those who don’t know Him yet.  We are the church for people who aren’t here yet.

Starting March 9th, 2014 our church will begin a 40-day prayer focus as we approach the celebration of Easter.  The primary work of God in my life this year is PRAYER.  My prayer is that as a faith community, He would teach us how to pray and we would be willing to learn.

It’s been 4 years 217church!  I can’t wait to see what the next 4 years will bring!

Josh

 

Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2010.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

 

 

 

Our 200th Weekend as 217church!

200 weekends of being together!  I am so pumped to celebrate this weekend because it marks another milestone in our existence as a church.  Almost four years ago when we envisioned the church being a church planting church, we set out to establish a Blueprint for what a life following Jesus would look like in Central New Jersey.  Now, we are a restored family sent on mission of over 500 people learning to be the church with 2 weekend locations and 18 groups meeting weekly in homes in the community.  We are the church for people who aren’t here yet.  What is the most important way we could celebrate on Sunday? We NEED TO PRAY TOGETHER!  I feel like God gave me 3 specific instructions on how to lead my life in 2014.  The first one is:  LEARN TO PRAY.  (Don’t worry about the other two, I’ll tell you about them later.)  So we’re doing that this Sunday!

200th service sport 2-2-14

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven”  Nehemiah 1:4

The book of Nehemiah, where our vision comes for 217church, teaches us so much about prayer and how to pray and align ourselves with God’s heart. Nehemiah left a place of blessing for himself in the service of a king to go back and rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem.  The city was defenseless and in a place of desolation.  Their morale was low and their possibilities seemed limited.  THEN ONE MAN STARTED PRAYING.

4 Types of PRAYER That Will Change Your Life…

#1 Discernment – What does God want me to do?  Nehemiah was a master strategist!  He didn’t just do what he saw fit.  He actually was in continual conversation with God about every decision he had to make in His life.  When he faced opposition to his goals of rebuilding the walls, he prayed that his guards would be safe day and night.  (Nehemiah 4:9) God doesn’t want us to do what we want but He wants us to be able to discern His heart for every step of the way.  Ask God for discernment and he will surely give it.  In addition, notice that Nehemiah wasn’t the beneficiary of the rebuild wall.  There was a common goal and a common good for the people.

#2 Desperation What do I absolutely need?  Only you know if you are here.  Nehemiah was DESPERATE for God to rebuild the walls! (Nehemiah 1:4-5) If you aren’t here then my encouragement would be for you to find a vision to be desperate for.  A prayer of desperation will keep you up and night and occupy your mind so much that you will find it hard to think about anything else.  These prayers are a double edged sword.  When God answers you are on top of the world, but when you have to wait for an answer it can be the most difficult days of your life.

#3 Dedication Will you bless this?  (Nehemiah 1:6-11) Whenever something happens of accomplishment there should be a dedication prayer.  I happen to do this every day with my children.  On my way to take them to school we pray a dedication prayer.  We dedicate the day, the learning, the teachers, EVERYTHING to God.  My simple dedication prayer for my children is, “Lord give them a strong body, a sharp mind and a bold spirit.”

#4 Direction – Where do I go from here? (Nehemiah 2:9-18) When you pray for vision, you are asking God on behalf of your cause to give you clarity on how, when, where and specifically what to do.  Do not be afraid to pray these prayers.  Pray them boldly because He just might shout from heaven the answers and an actual series of events.  When God reveals the direction, you better be ready.  Then you MUST act in faith!

PRAYER is the primary work of God for the people of God!  Let your relationship with Him be deepened as you listen to His heart.

 

Josh

 

Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2010.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

 

 

 

Shhh… It’s A Secret!

Find out what the secret is this weekend at 217church! We just started a brand new series called “Worship: All or Nothing.” We are seeking God with all we have for Him to show us what it would be like for our whole lives to worship Him.

What would it look like to worship God in the plans we make in life, in the way we pray, in how we suffer, when we fear, and with our riches? This weekend is all about the place of prayer! So what and where is the place of prayer? Jesus teaches us that it’s a secret place, between you and Him. And this weekend, it’s time to find out what the secret is!

In scripture, Jesus teaches us how to pray. In the Sermon on the Mount He gives us a great word by word example of how to pray. We call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” While most Christ followers are familiar with it and can even recite it by heart, many of us struggle to really pray in the way Jesus exemplifies for us.

Perhaps even a greater challenge for many is even “finding the time” to pray. Before Jesus teaches us how to pray, He states very clearly that we first need to set aside a time and place to pray. He seems to make it very clear in scripture that we need to find God in the nothing, before He calls us into something. If we aren’t hearing from God then what exactly are we doing? 

Here are some reasons why the place of prayer is so important.

1. It is where God speaks

It is so hard to hear from God and what He is trying to show us when we are surrounded by all of our busyness. I have heard Christ followers say so many times “I have no idea what He is saying to me” to find out that some have not put themselves in a place where they can listen. Many of us go to God with plenty to say, but few of us go to God with the desire to listen. God speaks in the place of prayer, we just need to listen.

2. It is a place of rest

Tired. How many times have you heard from your co-workers, friends, family, that sentence, “I’m so tired.” When you are in the presence of God, you are re-energized. He fills you up with confidence in who He is and peace about what is ahead. If you need rest you don’t just need to go to sleep or go on vacation; you need to be in the place of prayer.

3. It is why we were created 

God simply created us to be with Him. When Adam was created in the beginning God said everything was “good.” How could that be? Not much was going on. There were no buildings, businesses, ferraris, nice homes, movies, tv, etc. Joy is not found in material things, joy is found in the Lord. Simply BEING with God, is what God calls good. When was the last time you were just with God for the sake of being with God? We were created to enjoy His presence. There is joy in the place of prayer!

My hope for you is that you would find the place of prayer in your life. And I pray you would keep that place a secret. Between you and the God of the universe who created you to WORSHIP.

Don’t miss the continuation of our new series, “Worship: All Or Nothing” this Sunday at 217church in Hamilton NJ at the AMC 24 Theater (Mercer County).  For directions and more information, visit http://www.217church.com/im-new/ 

 

Praying Desperate Prayers

We just celebrated 17 more baptisms at 217church! That makes 167 total baptisms in the history of 217. God is on the move and we continue to ask Him to have His way. From the very beginning we have prayed this simple yet bold prayer, “Not our will God, but your’s be done.” It has been amazing in the last 3 years to see what happens when God answers that prayer!

Have you ever felt like your will was getting in the way of God’s? As if maybe your plans weren’t God’s plans? It is very difficult to deal with that moment. It takes faith, courage, boldness, and most of all willingness to realign yourself with what God is doing. Following God’s plan for your life is not easy. Jesus knew this more than anyone.

Jesus finds Himself facing the hardest moment of His entire life while here on earth. He is about to go through with the crucifixion. If He continues to press forward it means imminent death on a cross, excruciating pain, humiliation, and suffering. It is His purpose for being sent to the world but it is extremely difficult for Him as He faces the reality of His circumstances.

Jesus tells the disciples that His soul is sorrowful; even unto death. But even in Jesus’ most desperate moment, He sets an example for all of us as Christ followers on what we need to do in the face of difficult circumstances.

Here are some practical ways we as Christ followers can go to God during tough circumstances.

1.  Find a place of prayer 

In numerous places in scripture it says that Jesus went away to pray. Jesus was always getting away from the commotion, the chaos, the noise, and the busyness of life. Jesus had a hectic schedule. He went from town to town on non-stop travel teaching the word and ministering the Gospel to the people. While it is clear that Jesus was always on the move, we also see that Jesus had a strong discipline of rest. For Jesus, the place of prayer was in solitude and silence on a mountain side or in the woods. Where is it for you?

 2. Come as you are to God

When you read Jesus’ prayer in the garden, you can almost feel His emotion. Jesus doesn’t shy away from the fact that He is afraid, unsure, and nervous. Jesus doesn’t go to God pretending or hiding how He is really feeling. He tells the God of the universe to consider another way of saving the world! That’s how real Jesus was when he went to His father. He was even more bold to say “not my will but yours be done.” God already knows how you are feeling. He knows you don’t know the answers. He knows you feel lost at times. God wants us to come to Him broken, so that His restoration power can begin to work in our lives!

3. Ask Him to take over  

Finally, Jesus leaves it up to God. He basically says “Ok God. I am willing.” He puts his faith in God and presses on. The second Jesus left that garden, there was no stopping Him. Why? Because when faced with a difficult circumstance, Jesus went to the Father and was assured that the Father was with Him. The less time we spent with God, the harder it will be to give things up to Him. The more time we spend in prayer with God, the easier it will be to put our faith in Him. Lay it all at His feet!

My prayer for you today is that you would go to God like Jesus did. Find a place of prayer. Come as you are to God. And let Him take over.

Prayer – Just Open Your Mouth

When it came to prayer, I have to admit, I never used to think I was very good at it.  It always seemed difficult for me and I always struggled with thinking prayer was for those really spiritual people who were obviously more in tuned with God than I was.  I locked the idea of prayer up in a group study or a public worship service.  Especially during extended times of prayer, the distraction and seeming competition of, “who can pray the most holy prayer” really began to annoy me.  But then I discovered something, God didn’t care how holy I sounded or how many really cool theological terms I used while I prayed.  He just wanted me to OPEN MY MOUTH! preferably in PRIVATE

Kneeling is a powerful position
Getting desperate enough to pray is right where God wants us.  He wants to teach us to open our mouths.  In the car, walking the dog, sitting alone in a coffee shop, in a park, in a chair on my deck.  It doesn’t matter where I am, prayer could happen at a moment’s notice.  As a church this is an incredibly important week for us because we are going to rediscover as a church that prayer is a primary work of the people of God and He wants us to talk to Him.

 

Restore us to yourself, O Lord that we may be restored.” Lamentations 5:21  (Jeremiah’s desperate prayer for the city)

Here are some simple benefits of Prayer…

  • CharacterGod wants to restore us to him through building our character.  Continual prayer builds character.  So many times we only pray when we need something.  Isn’t it annoying when the only time you hear from someone is if they need something from you?  That is called manipulation and usury. The more time I spend with Jesus, the more my character deepens and increases.  How you pray determines your character.  How you pray defines your relationship with God.  If you only approach God when you “need” Him, God is not your God, he is the last resort to bail you out.   OPEN YOUR MOUTH OFTEN, He will never grow tired of hearing your voice.  Your character depends on it.
  • Confidence – Can we just keep prayer simple for a change?  Here it is:  Tell God what you think, how much you love Him and ask Him what to do. The next time you are tempted to do a “performance prayer” slap yourself and remind yourself God wants you to come to Him as you are.  You can approach Jesus with confidence boldly!  It’s not about your Vocabulary but your VOICE!  OPEN YOUR MOUTH   “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
  • Clarity– Without the voice of God you will operate on the “best guess” system.  You will be lost, always living in the FOG of the next decision . You will look to others first, yield to popular opinion and then most often take the path of least resistance.  Jesus gives clarity and always is true to the Bible as the source of clarity.  In Jesus’ own words, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4  OPEN YOUR MOUTH AFTER you have closed it long enough to LISTEN to Him!

So what does this mean for our community?  This Sunday will be unlike any other gathering we have ever experienced at 217church.  We will have the opportunity to boldly approach Him through the power of Jesus as a community in unity and ask for some pretty deep stuff…Healing will happen this Sunday.

Our church is heading into a season of praying some desperate prayers!  We have so many decisions to make and God’s vision is getting clearer and clearer for us every day.  Jesus loves this community more than we can possibly understand and we are on a mission to show people Jesus…Something Big is about to happen and it starts inside your heart.  God wants to do something deep in you so he can do something HUGE through you.

Don’t miss this Sunday…

Don’t be shy, OPEN YOUR MOUTH!