Paying Attention to God

We have changed it up nicely for book four of the Blogger’s Book Study! Yesterday, Heredes introduced us to the first three chapters of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.

Let me tell you about chapters four and five. I have found myself tearing up several times as I read this book, because it is autobiographical, and the examples of God’s faithfulness are impressive. I can’t give you a “summary” – but walk with me now and we’ll pick up some gold nuggets!

The Greatest Discovery of All Time
Cymbala traces the history of prayer to Genesis 4:25-26. This was after Cain had killed Abel. It states that “at that time men began calling on the name of the Lord.” To pray means to “cry out,” to “implore aid.”
Throughout history, the great distinctive of God followers is that we call on the Name of the Lord. Satan’s strategy with God followers has always been, “Don’t call, don’t ask, don’t depend on God.” In fact, Psalm 14:4 defines the wicked as people who do NOT call on the Name of the Lord. The author puts it this way:

“The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we begin to lift our hearts to God.”

When there have been huge manifestations of the power of God (also known as “revivals”), they have always been preceded by people calling on God with passion. This is also true on a personal level. Cymbala shared the moving story of his teenage daughter, who, even as the Tabernacle was experiencing “success,” was very far from God. It was a two and a half year ordeal that ended miraculously when at the Tuesday night prayer meeting they called out to God on her behalf.

This chapter made me ask myself… Do I call, connect, focus my attention on God the way I should, and understand that He is really the ONLY answer?? Or do I allow myself to think that presentation, professionalism, etc. will substitute for prayer? Hmm.

The Day Jesus Got Mad
Mark chapter 11 shows us a very angry Jesus, ripping through the temple because it was being prostituted by commerce, and used for purposes other than what was intended.
What was the intended use of the temple? Jesus quoted Isaiah and shouted out that it was to be “a house of prayer for all nationalities and races”!
The point Cymbala makes in chapter five of this book is this:

“Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism. He is concerned not only whether we’re doing God’s work, but also how and why we’re doing it.”

Here then is the test for a church – if people leave a meeting talking only about how wonderful the message was, or how beautifully the singers sang, then it is not successful. But if they leave with a greater understanding of who God is, saying things like, “Isn’t God good” or “He really touched me tonight” then your purpose is fulfilled.

The church should have a sweetness in the air, an aroma of prayer. Prayer is the defining mark of God’s dwelling. In fact, the author points out that God launched the first church in an environment of prayer, as people did nothing but wait on Him. When the church calls out to God, that is when grace is released, and hurting people encounter a loving God, and they in turn learn to call out to Him. This is Paul’s description of this process (per Romans 10):

  • Sending leads to preaching.
  • Preaching leads to hearing.
  • Hearing leads to believing.
  • Believing leads to calling on the name of the Lord.

Calling on the Name of the Lord is why the church is here on earth.

“If a meeting doesn’t end with people touching God, what kind of meeting is it? We haven’t really encountered God. We haven’t met with the only One powerful and loving enough to change our lives.”
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9 thoughts on “Paying Attention to God

  1. The test for the church should be the test for my life. In my quiet time may I say things like "God, was awesome this morn" vs. "hey everybody, look what I got out of this." And when a prayer is answered, "God did it! It was God!" vs. "Boy am I lucky" Good review, barbara. thanks!

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  2. Thank you Barby for a great review. Prayer- so powerful, always needed.. There truly is power in praying to our Father. When we pray things happen.. BIG things. Good challenge, good reminder.

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  3. "at that time men began calling on the name of the Lord." To pray means to "cry out," to "implore aid."WOW. never thought about it that way. incredible insight. I see what you mean by not being able to just summarize. Great review. Thanks

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  4. "Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism. He is concerned not only whether we're doing God's work, but also how and why we're doing it."Powerful !!

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  5. * Sending leads to preaching. * Preaching leads to hearing. * Hearing leads to believing. * Believing leads to calling on the name of the Lord.AMEN !! thx Barby !

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  6. Thanks, Barby! I know I'm often guilty of not calling to God first thing. So many times we think we have to DO something. And when our hands are tied, we think "all I can do is pray." When actually, that should be the FIRST thing and is the most important and effective thing we could EVER do. As you quoted…"The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials." We are no match for him, but He who lives in us has already beaten him!! Thanks for the reminder!

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