First Presbyterian Church Blog

A Prayer Story From Connie Connally

As most of you at FPC know, my son Brendan is a missionary. He had his first extended experience with missions when he was eighteen and doing a “gap year.” During that time he went to the Brazilian Amazon jungle and assisted a British missionary family for about six months. He learned Portuguese, dealt with overwhelming humidity, and came to love and respect poor Brazilians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Brendan told us about a Brazilian fisherman with whom he spent a day on the river. The man’s son was a well-educated pastor, but the fisherman himself was illiterate. He was also a mature, dedicated Christian. Since he couldn’t read scripture, he depended on his church for Bible teaching, and his private devotional life was based solely on prayer. I’m sure he wished he could read the Bible; but nonetheless his faith was vibrant because he prayed.

This has stayed in my mind over the years. I have been a Christian since I was fourteen, and in my own devotions I’m much more reliable about reading Scripture than praying. I don’t know why this is; maybe it’s because I can intellectualize Scripture, but I can’t do that with prayer. Reading I can do with my head; prayer has to come from the heart. It’s deep work and often hard. But the Brazilian fisherman did it day after day, and he was known for his strength of faith. When we think about it, this is how millions of illiterate Christians have related to God, some of them very faithfully.

I’m so thankful to be able to read the Bible each morning. But I know that all too often I neglect the great gift of prayer, and I am probably not alone in this. During our Prayer Challenge this fall, I hope we’ll all grow as people of prayer. God is inviting us, calling us, and listening.


Behind the Scenes: The Context Associated With the Week 1 Verses

As mentioned previously, we will be providing a few brief notes based on the Zondervan Bible Commentary for the prior week’s scripture lessons that were used for the Love to Pray devotions. This approach is intended to reinforce what you learned one week by providing more in-depth information the following week. We hope that the combination of the book’s devotions, the six alternative verses of the scriptural passages, and the short commentaries will help you gain a greater understanding.

Week 1, Day 1 (Sept. 12): Psalm 16:11

Psalm 16 focuses on the writer’s affirmation of faith and his confidence that God will preserve him from an untimely death. Instead, the psalmist acknowledges that God is in relationship with us at all times, providing a constant presence our lives and ongoing blessings. Overall, this Psalm offers a prayer of thanksgiving, acknowledging that when God is our friend, he will preserve us.

Week 1, Day 2 (Sept. 12): Romans 8:26-27

God opens the door for our prayers. We do not need to knock because the Holy Spirit is constantly moving through us, being aware of both our conscious and unconscious thoughts and concerns. The Holy Spirit translates our inner feelings of inadequacy and yearnings into “groans” that God turns into relationship-building communications.

Week 1, Day 3 (Sept. 12): Psalm 34:1-3

This Psalm is an acrostic poem; the first letter of each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet which progress in order. The three verses in today’s devotion are a call by the psalmist for others to join him in proclaiming God’s greatness. The next two sections of the poem deal with God’s goodness and the practical implications associated with fearing the Lord.

Week 1, Day 4 (Sept. 12): Exodus 17:9-11

This passage offers the first time that Joshua is mentioned in the Bible, and it demonstrates how his role will replace the leadership of Moses. In this case, Moses remains on the hill alternating periods of prayer and non-prayer while Joshua leads the battle force. Only when Moses is praying are the Israelites successful. God listens to and answers prayers, and there are few more dramatic and direct indicators of this connection in the Bible.

Week 1, Day 5 (Sept. 12): Hebrews 4:16

Because Christ died for us, we can approach God’s presence without trepidation. God knows our name, and he welcomes us to have a relationship with him. Although we don’t deserve his love and forgiveness, this passage assures us that we can have confidence we will receive his grace and mercy during our times of need.



Sunday School Starts on Sunday, September 18: Where to Go

We have a spot for you!  Sunday School starts THIS Sunday at 9:15am. Here is where to go for classes:
 
Children
0 – 2 year olds- Nursery Room 204
2 & 3 year olds- Room 208
4 & 5 year olds- Room 211
Kindergarten- Room 307
1st & 2nd Grade- Room 314
3rd – 5th Grade Girls- Room 313
3rd – 5th Grade Boys- Room 302
 
Teens
Middle & High School- Gold Room in South Building (Drive thru History: The Gospels)
Adults
Living in God’s Presence- Middleton Parlor- Room 109
Prayer Class- Prayer Room (2nd floor in South Building)


40-Day Prayer Challenge Week 2 Begins on September 19

The devotions for Week 2 and their associated topics and Bible passages are shown below:
 
Sept. 19: The Necessity of a Clean Heart (Psalm 66:18-19)
Sept. 20: The Faith That Receives (Mark 11:22-24) 
Sept. 21: The Life That Can Pray (1 John 3:21-22) 
Sept. 22: Praying in Jesus’ Name (John 16:24) 
Sept. 23: Praying with Persistence (Luke 18:1)
 
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Differing Perspectives of This Week’s Verses

Here are the links for this week’s verses as presented in six alternate versions of the Bible. Hopefully, these reference sources will enhance your understanding of each devotion’s scriptural foundation.
 
Date Sept. 19 Sept. 20 Sept. 21 Sept. 22 Sept. 23
Passage Psalm 66:18-19 Mark 11:22-24 1 John 3:21-22 John 16:24 Luke 18:1
English Standard (ESV) Link Link Link Link Link
New International (NIV) Link Link Link Link Link
King James (KJV) Link Link Link Link Link
Contemporary English (CEV) Link Link Link Link Link
The Message (MSG) Link Link Link Link Link
New Revised Standard (NRSV) Link Link Link Link Link


Library Corner: Explore the Story of Ben-Hur

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During the past summer, the new Hollywood remake of the story of Ben Hur was in the news. But do you know the fascinating story behind the original novel? After meeting one of the most prominent atheists of the day, novelist Lew Wallace realized he really knew less about the Christian story than the atheist did. So he set about researching and writing a novel that would retell the story of Christ and his message of forgiveness and redemption. You can get a hard copy of the novel in our church library, or you can download the Kindle version for free. Or you can borrow from our library a brand new Blu-ray copy of the 1959 film version starring Charlton Heston. One of the classic Hollywood epics, the 1959 widescreen film won 11 Academy Awards!


2 New Adult Sunday School Classes Begin This Sunday Sept 18th

2 New Adult Sunday School Classes Offered

 

PRAYER   Sunday, Sept 18th – Oct 16th 9:15am

Prayer Room/South Building   Instructor: Annie Lockwood

This is an excellent class & you will benefit from it even if you didn’t attend last spring.  Join us as we explore prayer and experience the awe and intimacy of God which is ours through prayer; as we learn to listen for the still, small voice of God with the ear of our hearts; to talk with Him in the cool of the garden; and to encounter Him in the real day by day walk of our lives.

 

LIVING IN GOD’S PRESENCE

Beginning Sunday, Sept 18th – Oct 16th 9:15am  Books Available

Middleton Parlor/Main Building   Instructor: Matt Pickard

Dallas Willard (Former Philosophy Professor at USC and noted author of influential books on spiritual formation) and John Ortberg (Senior Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church) explore what it means to live well in light of God’s kingdom and His calling on our lives as His disciples. The class will revolve around DVD presentations by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg               followed by discussion of the ideas that were presented.

 



Woman To Woman Mentoring Sign Up Sunday

WOMAN TO WOMAN MENTORING SIGN UP TODAY

Kick-Off Begins Friday, October 7th 6:00pm South Chapel

Sign up Sunday before or after the worship service at 10:30am  in Fellowship Hall!

For questions contact Betty McCartney at bettymccartney46@gmail.com

 



Youth Group Sunday School Class Begins This Sunday

YOUTH GROUP SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS

Beginning Sunday, September 18th 9:15am Gold Room 

Facilitators: John West, Sonja West, Gregg Leach

If you are in High School or Middle School, come to Sunday School this Fall and explore the story, the history, and the meaning of the Gospels. This class is a great way to become better grounded in your faith. We will be using the new “Drive Thru History” DVD series The Gospels hosted by Dave Stotts, which was filmed in the actual locations where Jesus preached and performed his   miracles. Adults are also welcome to attend, especially parents of teens!

For more information contact Sonja West:  sonja@nutley.org

 

 



Bell Choir Retreat Sign Up This Sunday

BELL CHOIR RETREAT SIGN UPS

Bell Retreat begins Friday, Sept 23rd – Sunday, Sept 25th   Cost – $50.00

Start off the year with confidence. Perfect for new members. Meet in the church parking lot at 5:00pm

. Dinner will be at camp. Will return to church on Sunday in time to play in the worship service at 10:30am.

Sign up on SUNDAY in Fellowship Hall. Ages 5th – 12th grade.

Questions: Bell Director, Daniel Heath at 253-304-7373

 




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