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Monday, December 27, 2010

Prayer 101: How to Pray when You Don't Know How

Jesus gave us the greatest example of prayer (Luke 11: 2-4; Matthew 6: 9-13). This is what we call the Lord’s Prayer.


Matthew 6: 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Luke 11: 1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”

If you don’t know how to pray, use this prayer as an example/ template.
1. Say the Lord’s prayer all the way through once, listening as you speak, talking to God like He’s a real person (cause He is).
2. Go through each phrase and make it personal. Be specific; name names.
3. Say the Lord’s prayer all the way through again. Add whatever else is in your heart.
4. Spend at least a few minutes in silence. Listen to/for God. Overtime, you learn to hear/ recognize His voice
5. Before and/or after you pray, read the Bible. A good place to start is the book of John, followed by the book of Proverbs


We talked about this in depth in our Wednesday Bible study. We are studying prayer and the very first lesson dealt with praying the Lord’s prayer.
Consider the points below:

a. Our Father who is in Heaven
- Talk to God like He’s really there, because He really is.
- Start by stating your relationship to Him. Like every good father, God likes to hear his children say, “Daddy, I love you.”

b. Hallowed (holy) be Thy name
- Remember and say that God is holy. You don’t have to use the word “holy.” The point is to acknowledge up front that God is perfect & righteous so He isn’t going to tell you wrong or lie to you or even break His own rules.

c. Thy kingdom come
- “Thy kingdom come” is the first request in the Lord’s prayer. God promises repeatedly that He will establish His kingdom on Earth.
- Before you ask for things for yourself, ask God to fulfill the promises He has made in His Word/ the Bible.
- As you study God’s Word you learn the many promises God has made. Pray these promises. (You don’t have to go through them all.)

d. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
- The 1st request is about God’s stated promises. The 2nd is about His will.
- When you know God’s will, ask for it to happen in this world/ in your life.
- For example, you know that it is God’s desire that people be saved. If you know people who aren’t saved, pray for their salvation.
- You can also pray for big situations/ things that affect the larger Earth. For example, praying for government officials, for missionary work overseas, for social problems, for the military, for needs in a disasters situation.
- The beginning phrases in the Lord’s prayer have you focus on God not on yourself.
- The idea is to make sure you approach God the right way, not in a selfish way. God is not Santa Claus. He is not a genie who grants wishes. He is not a spirit you can control by using the right words or wording. He. Is. God.
- Prayer is a conversation with God Himself. Before you ask anything for yourself you need to be submitted to His will & direction.

e. Give us this day (day by day) our daily bread
- Ask for what you need.
- You have real physical needs. Don’t be afraid to lay them out before God. Ask Him.
- Remember that you‘re needs are not just physical. (Read Job 32: 8.)
- We get stressed and equate our stress with our stuff. The reality often is that we’re stressed about money, health, & relationships because we’re living sinfully in the way we handle our money, health, & relationships.
- Ask for what you need.
- Ask for what your family needs.
- Ask for what your church needs. (not necessarily in that order.)
- Yes, you can ask for wants, too. however, you have to keep in mind whom you’re talking to. don’t ask God to do something/ give something that contradicts who He is.
   o He’s our Father in Heaven: He wont’ give us what will do more harm than good. He sees all from above & knows in advance when we’re trying to hustle.
   o He’s holy: He won’t be an “enabler” for our sin. We can ask for mercy when we get ourselves into trouble. But, God will sometimes let us deal with the bad consequences of our bad decisions because we won’t change any other way.
   o His will is more important than ours: When what we want contradicts what God wants for us, we should submit to God’s will. Why? Because He knows better than we do.—There’s the whole trust in the Lord thing. (Proverbs 3: 5-8)

f. And forgive us our debts/ sins/ trespasses
- Confess your sins, repent, & ask God to forgive you.
- Tell God directly that you’ve been wrong. Tell God specifically how you’ve been wrong.
- Yeah, I mean give Him the list.
- Yeah, I know He knows. Again, He’s our Father. As a father, I know when my kids have messed up, but I still ask, “What did you do?” because I want them to be honest with me.
- Tell God Himself for yourself.
- You can confess to another person, but say you confess all your sins to me.  I am a pastor but I can only forgive you for what you’ve done to me and to mine. I cannot absolve you of the sin debt you owe God. No man on Earth can do that—doesn’t matter what his title is.
- If you cannot/ will not admit where you’re wrong, it means that you don’t really want to do right. If you don’t want to do right, why should God listen to your prayer. Ultimately, God wants you to be holy and in heaven. Your physical/ financial stuff is really secondary.

g. As we forgive everyone who is indebted to us/ As we forgive our debtors
- Here is a fact we don’t deal with. Jesus said in Luke 11 & in Matthew 6 that if we are not willing to forgive people who have done us wrong, then God will not forgive us for the wrong we’ve done.
- … Let that one soak in …
- The grudges you hold are holding you back.
- Forgive them so you can be forgiven. When you pray, speak forgiveness . Name names to God and really genuinely let it go.
- You may have to do this repeatedly, daily over time until you have really forgiven them. You’ll know when you can pray for them with the same enthusiasm you pray for people you like, when you are genuinely happy to hear that good things have happened to them.

h. Lead us not into temptation
- You know the things that tempt you. You know the stuff that’s hardest for you to resist.
- Name those things and ask God to keep you away from them and to keep them away from you.
- Also, note: We should ask God to keep us away from temptation, but sometimes God will choose to allow temptation in our lives. The Holy Spirit personally led Jesus Himself into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted (Mark 1: 9-13).

i. But deliver us from evil/ sin/ the evil one
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God won’t let you be in a temptation that’s too much for you. Everytime you’re tempted, He will give you a way out. Now, we don’t always take the out, but there’ll always be one.
- Even when temptation and trouble come, if you want to be delivered, ask God & He will make a way out for you.
- When you pray, ask for a way out of the sin in your life. God will make a way. Taking the out is up to you.

j. For thine is the kingdom
- Ending your prayer, you acknowledge why you’ve asked all this of God.
- Because God is the ruler of everything. He deserves your submission.

k. And the power
- You ask God because He has the power to make it happen.

l. And the glory
- You pray to God because He is entitled to credit/ glory for all the good things that have, do, & will happen in your life.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR (WHICH ISN'T ALWAYS A GOOD THING)

A man walks into work one morning with a bag of donuts in one hand, powdered sugar stains on his shirt, glaze glistening on one corner of his mouth.


As he clocks in, his friend say, “Jimmy, I thought your doctor put you on a diet. Man, you promised that you were going to give up the sweets.”

“Leave me alone, man,” says Jimmy. “I prayed about these donuts.”

“You what?”

“Look,” Jimmy answers, “You know my favorite donut shop is on the way to work. Well, instead of going another way to avoid the donuts, I drove past this morning. As I was passing by I prayed, ‘Lord, I’m going to go around the block, and if You want me to have some donuts, make a space free right in front of the door.’ Well, man, you know how bad parking is downtown; but sure enough after I went around the block the 12th time, there was an empty space right in front of the door.”

Jesus said in Matthew 7: 7, 8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

This applies not only to the good things of God, but to the bad things, too. If we keep asking for what we don’t need, if we keep looking/seeking in places we shouldn’t look, if we persist in knocking on doors for opportunities to do wrong—we will get what we’re after.

In 2 Chronicles chapter 18, the kings of Israel & Judah have decided to go to war against a certain enemy. They’ve already decided, but they ask God for “confirmation.” They consult a string of false prophets who all declare prosperity and favor. The one sincere prophet around at the time is Micaiah. The kings’ messenger pressures Micaiah to say what the kings want to hear (v. 12), and at first he does.

However, the king of Israel replies: (v. 15)“How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

This reply shows that he knows that “Yes” isn’t the true answer. He already knew that God doesn’t want them to go into this battle.

Micaiah explains: The Lord had actually declared that if the kings go do what they want to do, they are going to lose—badly. But, since they kept asking the question even though they obviously knew the right answer to begin with; God let someone else answer them.

2 Chronicles 18: 18-21…: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left.
And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’
[The spirit] said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’

Then most commonly denied thing about our sin is that we generally enjoy it. Because we like our sin, but we don’t like thinking of ourselves as sinners, we try to get God to tell us “It’s O.K.”

He won’t.

Because it isn’t.

But we keep asking. Like little children begging for another piece of candy.

“Daddy, can I have it.”

“No.”

“Can I have it now?”

“No.”

“Please, what about now?”…

God answers us clearly. We usually know when He answers —just like the king in 2 Chronicles 18 knew that God hadn’t really told Micaiah to prophecy prosperity on their war.

But, if we don’t like the answer, we pretend we didn’t hear/understand & we keep asking. God won’t lie. We won’t listen when God speaks truth, so God sends somebody else to answer us.

Enter the lying spirits.

Jimmy asked God for a parking space at the donut shop. Eleven times, God told Jimmy, “No.” Eleven times God offered Jimmy a chance to get out of there.

The 12th time it wasn’t God who answered. It was a lying spirit.

1 Corinthians 10: 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

At times we really are unsure, confused, overwhelmed and we need to hear from God. If we ask we’ll receive an answer.

You can keep asking/seeking/knocking if you want to. But when the answer changes, when you find the trouble you were looking for, when the door to sin opens to your persistent knock, remember—It ain’t Jesus answering.

When Jimmy finishes his donuts, goes into sugar-shock followed by a diabetic coma, no one should blame God for telling him it was O.K. to go where he went.

God didn’t.

It wasn’t.

If we receive the lie instead of the truth, we place ourselves in the hands of a lying spirit. Spirits speak directly to our spirit, and the lying spirit won’t just lie to you about the initial sin. The lies will continue & spread into more & more corners of your life.

One day, you’ll look up and wonder how in crap you got so far from the path God had shown you, why after all this time you still haven’t accomplished the task for which you were anointed.

You get what you ask for.

Monday, December 20, 2010

CENTERED (A Christmas Sermon)

The prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus was delivered hundreds of years before it happened, and it was delivered to one of the most evil kings in Judah's history. Why? What is the connection and the lesson that links Isaiah chapter 7 and Matthew chapters 1 & 2? It's all about finding your center. Listen & learn. A different kind of Chrismas message from Pastor Anderson T. Graves II, Hall Memorial CME Church:


Sunday, December 12, 2010

WHAT MAKES A WISEMAN WISE? : A CHRISTMAS SERMON

The magi (the wise men) visited the young Jesus. But, they went to Jerusalem. Jesus was in Bethlehem. If they were so "wise," why'd they go to the wrong place? The reason adds another layer of meaning to the story of the first ChrIstmas and prompts each of us to ask ourselves the question: What Really Makes a Wise Man Wise?



Friday, December 10, 2010

WHEN GOD IS SO GOOD, IT'S SCARY (A Christmas Message)

Sometimes the calling or blessing we sense from God is more than we bargained for. The people who were part of the drama that was the birth of Jesus dealt with this too. The Lord showed me the connections between the John the Baptist's parents, Mary, Joseph, & even Herod in a new way. Their stories reveal important lessons for us. Listen & learn what happens "When God is so Good, It's Scary."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? (or “PRAYER SUPPORT”)

How long am I supposed to pray for the same thing? How do I know when I've prayed enough? Why is my answer taking so long?

These and related questions are answered in a sermon that links Jesus' parable of the widow & the unjust judge with the prayer life of the Old Testament prophet Daniel.

Listen and learn How Much Prayer is Enough.


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I am Rev. Anderson T. Graves II, pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church, 541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, Alabama.  To stay updated as new content is added to our webpage, become a subscriber.  Go to the Subscribe button in th sidebar.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NO MORE WINKING, PASTOR

And I, for winking at you, discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punish'd.
---Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act 4, Scene


Exodus 32: 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
22 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),

In the play Romeo & Juliet, there was a character called simply “The Prince.” He was the top authority in the town. Prince knew that there was a feud between the 2 great families of the town, but he didn’t do very much to stop it. Oh, Prince fussed a little, and he issued a rule that no one else could fight; but he didn’t reaaaallly hold anyone accountable until dead bodies started turning up. Even then, he didn’t sit down face to face with the roots of the problem and dig down to the dirty root of the issue. Basically, it was to the Prince’s advantage to “wink at” the problems so business would go on as usual.

Yesterday a pastor friend of mine said to me, “In our zeal as pastors to fill the pews we have allowed some things that never should have happened.” Basically, he was saying that we’ve winked at discord & sin in our churches.

He was right.

Like the Prince in Romeo & Juliet, we pastors know when there are problems in our churches but to dig deep into the issues might disrupt the growth curve of the congregation. It might cause some strong tithers to cut back or to stop coming. These aren’t inconsequential concerns. Every true pastor wants to build a great church so that he/she can present it as something beautiful to God. This is our life’s purpose. This is the work for which God will hold us accountable.

We want to be able to show God the commas on our financial sheets & the pages of names on our church rolls. We want to hear Jesus say, “Good job, Rev.” So sometimes we “wink” to keep our numbers high.

It’s what Aaron did. He knew the people request for an idol was wrong. Exodus 32: 25 implies that Aaron could have restrained the people, but he didn’t. Aaron winked.

“Moses, it wasn’t my fault. I had the gold. (I had the financial numbers.) I had the people all asking me for god. (I was popular with a large congregation.) Everything else just sorta .… happened. I just winked and there was this….calf.”

Aaron was the designated leader while Moses was away. Moses responded to his leader by demanding “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!”

We can expect that the unconverted sinners in our congregation will sin. We can expect that the spiritually immature pew-member will fall from time to time. With them, we clearly & lovingly condemn their wrong while simultaneously showing grace by helping them, teaching them, and encouraging them in the struggle to do good. We don’t put them out for a single embarrassing act.

But, with leaders, we can no longer afford to be so tolerant. To whom much is given, much is required. It’s time to demand that church leaders, clergy & lay, to choose a side and stand on it.

It’s time for those who sign papers while pastor’s away to stop straddling the fence between righteousness & deception. It’s time for those who list themselves as “the other contact” when you can’t catch pastor, to quit shouting Sunday morning & cussing Sunday afternoon. It is time for us (pastors) to stop winking at the somewhat, slightly, kinda, not-quite-right GARBAGE our leaders do.

Hard as it will be. Risky as it is. It’s time for us to draw the sword of the Spirit and start cutting out some stuff (and some folks) from the ranks of church leadership.

“Well, dang, Rev. Ain’t that a bit ….aggressive?”

Yeah. It is. But it’s for the church’s own good.

Exodus 32: 35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.


Not the calf the people made. The calf that the leadership made.

What plagues have we endured in our churches because we have winked at sin among our leaders? Why are huge churches empty? Why are once thriving ministries now weak? Why are divorces more common than weddings? Why do couples openly live together and secretly get married? Why is it a struggle to convince a congregation to do ministry? Why do Christians look at you crazy when you ask them to do exactly what Jesus said we’re supposed to do? Why do we as a people make more money but have less money? Why are church memberships decimated by plagues of addiction, arrest, bankruptcy, internal strife, sexual sin, sexual abuse, jealousy, financial scams & scheming?

Why?

Because pastors wink.

I’ve watched this since I was a little, heathen boy in a country church. I’ve seen it as a young Christian trying to learn how to serve in his Savior’s church. I’ve looked at it as young minister and young pastor. I see it daily on the news. I’ve seen enough. My spiritual eyes hurt.

I’m through winking.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LISTENING FOR GOD

This morning I took a walk to hear God. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that I took a walk to hear "from God."  This morning I was fervently listening for God.

Early mornings before everyone else in the house wakes is my time for prayer and Bible study. Usually, I spend this time behind the closed doors of my home office. But this morning I took a walk.

As a pastor, husband/father, & educator, I'm constantly asking God to tell me what He wants me to say and how He wants me to deal with situations that come up; but this morning I wasn't praying for the Spirit to give me a Word. I just really needed to hear His voice, even if He had nothing specific to say to me.

You see, when I pray in the morning, I usually go through my prayer list (and pastors have a loooonnnnggg prayer list). Then I try to sit for a little while and hear from God. By this point though I'm watching the clock, because I have to get ready for work or church.

So, I deliver my report of praise, confession, intercession, petition, & supplication; closing with acknowledgment of the Lord's power and glory and the requisite "in Jesus' name, Amen." Then I ask the Lord to (quickly) give me His thoughts, orders, and approval for the day.

My prayer time had become more like a daily briefing with my Boss than an intimate conversation with the most important Person in my universe.

This morning, I didn't deliver my prayer-report as usual. I really, really listened. Like a traveller or soldier far from the One he loves, I called up God just to hear His voice.

He has such a beautiful voice.

It wasn't exactly audible this morning, but as Psalm 91 says:
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard
.

The morning breeze blew and I looked up into His heavens. To my left the sun was rising, just casting a soft, general light over the entire sky. To my right the moon, the little dipper, and a company of other stars still shown in the sky, some floating behind clouds illuminated by the rising sun. In that time, clouds, sun, stars, & moon all were God's voice.

He said (and I'm paraphrasing), "You think of sunrise as casting out the lights that illuminate the night, but it's not so. The lights that guide you through the darkness aren't meant to go away. That's why there is this time of transition when the lights for the night shine together with the brightness of dawn. Eventually daylight fills the sky in front of the other lights, but they aren't competing.  When day is fully come, those other lights remain in the background still just as bright and true. It's why astronauts blasting off in broad daylight pass the outer layer atmosphere and find all the stars of night there, shining."

When you go through a time of trial, of pain, of backsliding, of "darkness," and the Lord teaches you faith, patience, prayer, and endurance; you receive those lessons and they guide you through the night-season.

But the sun also rises and joy comes in the morning. In the full light of Jesus' blessings you learn gratitude, praise, confidence, and the mechanisms of favor.

Keep both the lessons of the night & the lessons of the day.

2 Peter 1: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,

7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

If you live only in the lessons you learn in trouble and forget what God has given you in times of peace you'll lack something. If in times of blessing you neglect what you recived of the Spirit when you had troubles, you can become spiritually nearsighted, even blind.

Remember everything God has given you.
Psalm 103: 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits.

If you ever come to the place spiritually where you feel like you are forgetting something, take a walk just before full dawn and just....listen.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS

We preachers are always telling you to read the Bible. At times we probably remind you of that teacher you had (or have) who would stop class to lecture you on the value of education. That’s O.K. It’s a comparison that doesn’t offend me. In this message the Lord opened up to me why I as a pastor feel driven to push Bible study so hard. In this Word the Lord laid out in a very practical, this-is-about-the-life-you’re-living-right-now kind of way why the Word of God is something you need to know.

Listen. Comment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

GOD: WHAT IS THE DEAL?

Sometimes people confuse me. We can be looking at same situation but coming to different conclusions. When what they do doesn’t make sense I ask, “What is your deal?” Well, when we don’t understand what God is doing or why God is calling us to do something, we can also ask “God, what is the deal?”

As an example from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah shos us, the really cool thing is that when we ask, “God, what is the deal?” God actually answers.

Listen to the message and you’ll see what I mean.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Am I Still Clay or Am I Already Pottery?


"Am I Still Clay or Am I Already Pottery?"
Weird question, huh. Is there even a difference? There is a difference. it is a significant to understand. It’s the difference between spiritual victory and defeat. It is th difference between blessing and a curse. It is the difference between God positive promises and God’s condmenattion?


Listen to understand the difference and why one of the most important questions you must ask of yourself is:

“Lord, am I still clay or am I already pottery?”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

LUKE 14 DINNER

What: Luke 14 Dinner for the Needy. Members will fill their plates and personally deliver and donate their Sunday afternoon lunch to the Friendship Mission Homeless Shelter.

When: September 12th, approx. 12:30 p.m. (immediately after the 11 A.M. service)

Where: Hall Memorial CME Church is at 541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, 334.288.0577; Friendship Mission is at 3561 Mobile Highway, Montgomery, 334.284.5391

Hall Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church calls on all tri-county area citizens to donate their Sunday lunches and dinner to those most in need on Sunday, Sept. 12.

HMCME is well-known for the delicious soul-food dinners we serve after special afternoon services. On Sept. 12th, after 11 A.M. worship service, we will pile food on their plates for a traditional Sunday meal – with a twist. Rather than enjoying the meal ourselves, we’ll get into our cars and caravan to the Faith Mission homeless shelter to deliver them to their fellow man. Along the route, meals will also be shared with the hungry who are on the streets.

We’re calling it the Luke 14 Dinner.

As we were preparing our church calendar and I was preparing my sermon, the Lord convicted us out of Luke 14: 11-14:
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Then He [Jesus] said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

We, the Church, have been blessed with so much. But we don’t have so that we can possess. We have so that we can share with others and serve God out of the blessings He gives us.

Monday, August 30, 2010

THE RISK OF INVITING JESUS TO DINNER

Usually I tell you how the audio of thes sermons begins. Let me tell you how this sermon ended. At the end of this sermon, during worship, Hall Memorial CME Church committed to cooking the kind of big soul-food church dinner we’re known for, but we’re not going to eat any of it.


On Sept. 12th, the members of our church will fill to go plates after church, get in our cars, and go down the strip where the addicts, prostitutes, & transients hang out; and we will hand our food to them.

Listen to the challenge from God that led to that decision.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MY GOD, OUR GOD, YOUR GOD

In 1 Chronicles 28 & 29 King David kickoffs the project that is his greatest vision: the building of the original temple in Jerusalem. However this ambition is not one David will accomplish, at least not alone. In dealing with this situation, David refers to “my God,” “our God,” and “your God.” What does he mean? What is the difference? What does this have to do with church, church folk, and your personal walk with God?


Listen well and hear the answers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

GOOD GRAPES OR STINKBERRIES

Isaiah chapter 5 opens with a song. The song is beautiful and prophetic. But, the one singing the song is not the prophet Isaiah.


The singer is God Himself. No, it’s not a song about God. It is a song by God.

God’s lyrics and His explanation of the song to Isaiah present a parable and a pair or prophetic possiblities. The message deals with our destiny historically, currently, collectively, and individually.

(One note: in this sermon I refer to the founding of the CME Church. I say the wrong year. The correct date is 1870.)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PRAYER- BIBLE STUDY LESSON #1

We’ve just started a new mid-week Bible study series at Hall Memorial CME Church. We are studying PRAYER. Our approach is the same as in every Bible study, rather than me, the pastor, telling you what you should do, we walk through the scriptures and together we see what God says we should do.


Attached are the study questions for the 1st lesson.

We meet, learn, and discuss on Tuesdays at 5:30 P.M. & Wednesdays at 6:30 P.M. Call 334-288-0577 or 334-318-3004 if you need directions to HMCME.


Click here to view the lesson (right click and save)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Show Your Work (Worship is the Answer)

In a high school math textbook, the answers to half of the questions are all in the back of the book. But, having those answers isn’t enough to make you a math whiz. The life God calls us to lead is a life of holiness. The question is “What doesholy life in the world as it now exists actually look like?” The Bible, like a good textbook, gives us the answer to this crucial question. And the Lord’s Word also tells us what else we need to “make the grade” of holiness.


This sermon was originally delivered at Hall Memorial CME Church’s Educator Appreciation Service.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

COVETING GOD'S JURISDICTION

This was not the sermon I had intended to deliver this particular Sunday. But after working through the night on something else, the Spirt convicted me that this was what the Lord wanted me to say. Somebody, maybe you, needs to hear it.

In Luke 12, a young man presents Jesus with a case for judgment. It is an estate dispute involving the man and his brother. Jesus' answer seems perplexing, as though Jesus is saying He can't handle the case because it's outside of His "jurisdiction." A closer look reveals quite a different and deeper truth, one that applies to each of us and to all of us.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hall Memorial CME Church mourns the loss and celebrates the life and salvation of sister Virginia Buckley.
The Homegoing Service will be Thursday, July 29th, at 11 A.M.
Thursday, July 29th, from 10 A.M. - 11 A.M., Sister Buckley will lie in state in the Hall Memorial CME Church sanctuary.

Stop Saying & Start Praying

The Holy Spirit pointedly convicted me  of a failing in my personal prayer life. It hurt, but that pricking of my heart turned into a message that, as I wrote, opened one of the most familiar scriptures in a fresh way. The Lord showed me a deeper view of the Lord's Prayer.  This much repeated prayer is more than a recitation or a formula. Listen and find out how much more.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IS YOUR MONEY A PRESENT OR A GIFT

Proverbs 3: 9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.


James 4: 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

We demand PRESENTS, trying to be just good enough for just long enough, to hustle what we want out of Santa. But once the PRESENT has been delivered…Oh, it’s on!

We pray for the GIFTS of God, and we pray submitting our desires to His will and seeking to align our requests with His name.

PRESENTS we use for our pleasure.

Spiritual GIFTS we use for God’s glory and to express godly love to other people.

PRESENTS we feel entitled to, and if the Giver is rich, we get offended if He doesn’t get us exactly what we want.

We are honored by Spiritual GIFTS because we understand that God, having given the ultimate gift of Salvation paid for by the ultimate price of His Son’s life, owes us nothing.

We consume and waste PRESENTS. We even trade our PRESENTS to others when they have something shiny that we want—all with no thought to how the Giver feels because, “It’s mine now. They gave it to me.” Or, sometimes, we hoard PRESENTS, never sharing, never enjoying, just collecting and guarding it while screaming, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

We cherish spiritual GIFTS. We study and nurture and increase our GIFTS. We find joy in our GIFTS only when we are sharing our GIFTS with the world and finding ways to make the GIFT glorify God more and more.

We only give a PRESENT back if we can get something bigger or better in return.

We totally and completely commit all of our GIFTS to the Giver. The moment we open and engage our GIFTS, we essentially sign them back over to the Giver.

PRESENTS run down, run out, depreciate over time, grow insufficient for us as we grow, diminish in the pleasure they bring, and ultimately rust, rot, get lost, or get stolen. (Matthew 6: 19, 20)

Spiritual GIFTS have no expiration date (Romans 11: 29)

Now---Handle your money like a GIFT from God, not like a present from Santa.

WHEN GOD TAKES CARE OF OLD & NEW

My Mama used to say to me, “Boy, when I get you, I’m gonna get you for old and for new.” Through the prophet Amos, God delivered the same message to His people Israel.  Listen to the Word God gave me for a recent sermon and find out why. You need to know, because God has a message for you, for me, and for all of his children to day. It is a message we cannot afford to ignore.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

21 PROVERBS FROM THE BOOK OF BUFORD

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 
2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,
4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Growing up, I thought that my father (Buford Graves) was waaaaaaayyyy too hard on me.  Now I'm a man trying to be a good husband, a good father, and a good pastor in a world that seems unequivocably committed to destroying the family, undermining the gospel, and opposing every good and right thing.  Now, I understand what my father was doing.  Buford did for me what Solomon tried to do for his son with the book of Proverbs.  He gave me the tools I needed for success in a world that would hold more opportunities and more perils than what Daddy had known. 

So, let me share with you just a few of the things my father taught me.  (I've had to clean up the original language quite a bit.) 

1. Just because it isn’t your fault doesn’t mean it isn’t your responsibility.


2. A man who won’t work isn’t a man.

3. Nobody cares how you feel. They care what you do.

4. Get your tail out of bed, there is work to do; and it’s not going to do itself.

5. Half-doing it is the same as not doing it.

6. Do right by everybody. You don’t know who they know.

7. Mind your own business.

8. Never spend your last dollar.

9. Quit crying.

10. However bad things may get, if you own some land you’ll never be homeless.

11. Nothing and nobody makes you run when you’re in your own yard.

12. In an organization, find out who can say, “Yes,” when everyone else has said, “No;” and

“No” when everyone else has said, “Yes.” Meet that person.

13. If you stab somebody in the back, expect somebody else to shoot you in the head.

14. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But mostly keep your mouth shut.

15. Know where the exits are.

16. Protect women. Protect children.

17. Listen to old folks. They didn’t survive that long by being stupid.

18. Things don’t always go your way.

19. If you carry a knife, keep it sharp.

20. Keep gas in your car.

21. Don’t be stupid.

Monday, July 12, 2010

IF THE WORD SAID IT, GOD MEANS IT

Let me tell you about the time my father cussed me out on the way to church… That story introduces a message about expectations, truth, gasoline, interpretations, and the narrow path to God’s blessings.

REAL PASTORS WITH REAL POWER

There are pastors in name only, and then there are “real” pastors. The difference is the difference between being supposedly power-ful and being actually power-filled. Learn what that means in this message Pastor Anderson Graves delivered for the pastoral appreciation of our dear friend Rev. Pierre Primm of Garners Chapel CME Church.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Do You Like Being Bad?

I was watching the movie Spiderman 3 with my nephew.  Although I've seen this movie a dozen times, I noticed one particular line I had never caught.  There's a climactic fight scene in which the brightly uniformed hero is fighting a black-suited version of himself.  The villain in black (called Venom) is actually a regular guy who is under the influence of a powerful entity from another world.  (Already seeing the spiritual parallels
aren't you?)

Spiderman calls out to the man inside the monster. He offers to help him, to free him from the influence of the evil entity from another world. "Let it go," pleads Spiderman.


The man inside the monster responds, "I like being bad. It makes me happy."

In the end, the man chooses to be destroyed with the monster rather than to be separated from its power and its pleasures. (Revelations 20: 10, 15)

You see, the way the Venom monster controls the regular guy inside is by forming a bond with him and then amplifying the worst traits the person already possesses.

James 1: 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Some people get saved because the see the beauty and promise of Jesus's love and they just love Him back.  Others only come to Jesus when they see the ugliness and doom in their Christ-less lives.    However, the sad truth is that some of us just like being bad.

I grew up in the church.  I had heard the gospel preached, taught, sung, and explained hundreds of times before I finally gave my life to Christ at age 22.   Why'd it take me so long?  Because I liked being bad.  It made me happy.

Until I found myself in the dark, crying, lost in the pointlessness of all the garbage I had piled up in my life, I was content to live in sin.  Addiction counselors call it "hitting rock bottom."  The Psalms calls it being of a broken and contrite spirit. 

In my time of brokenness the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the lessons I had been taught on Sunday mornings.  As I lay on the very rock bottom of my life, God honored the prayers of my parents and my grandparents.    Being bad no longer made me happy.  I didn't like myself being bad.  I surrendered to Jesus and he delivered me from my bond(age) to the devil and to my own sin.

The saddest truth is that some people won't stop being happy with being bad before it's too late.  In the end the monster from the other world (the devil) will be destroyed in fire. 
Before his time comes, our time will come and we must each make the choice in advance: 

Will you let Jesus help you?  Will you let go of your sin?  Will you come out of the darkness?

or

Do you still like being bad?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Praise On. Praise Off.: A Lesson in the Power of Praise from "The Karate Kid"

On the closing night of the youth revival at Goodship Missionary Baptist Church, God sent gave a powerful Word through Pastor Graves.  The message was a lesson in "The Power Praise Works in You."  Connecting the battle of Jericho and the original "Karate Kid,"  the message offers explanation, encouragement, and challenges especially for those who wonder when they will receive all the promises they hear about in church.
There is an answer.  There is a Word.  Hear it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stop the Sin. Don't Stop the Praise.

How does God respond when we do the wrong thing with good intentions? With humor, truth, and poetry centered in the Word of God, Pastor Graves explores this question and connects a conflicted moment in the life of King David to our own everyday struggles.  Listen to this message, delivered for the youth revival at Goodship M.B. Church.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MIXED MESSAGES

A single mother had twins, one boy and one girl. As the children approached their teenage years the mother called the girl into her bedroom.

Mama shut the door and said, “Baby girl, I want to talk to you about men. There are some things you need to understand.”

Mama didn’t realize that her son was listening at the door. He could hear them but not always clearly. Nonetheless, the son learned as much from the conversation as the daughter.

To her daughter, Mama said, “Boys are going to try to have sex with you and every other girl they can. That’s all boys want. Girl, they don’t care about you as a person. They just think of you us as something to please them. There’s no point in expecting boys or men to care about you. They only want one thing.”

Through the door, what the son heard Mama say was, “Boys are to try to have sex with every girl they can. That’s all boys should want. Don’t care about a girl as a person. Just think of them as something to please you. They don’t expect you to care about them. Only want one thing.”

Mama continued talking to her daughter, “I know this may be hard for you to accept, but you need to know what it means to be with a man. I don’t want you to have sex, but you’re probably going to be a fast little something. So don’t you come up pregnant, because if you do, the boy’s gonna leave you. You can’t expect a man to stay around and take care of you just because you get pregnant by him.”

What the son heard was, “I know this may be hard for you to accept, but you need to what it means to be a man. I don’t want you to have sex, but all girls are fast little somethings. If one comes up pregnant, you gotta leave her. She won’t expect a man to stay around and take care of her just because she got pregnant by you.”

“And if you have a baby,” continued Mama to her daughter, “I’ll help you. I won’t trust you to take care of my grandbaby, so I’ll handle everything. You just try to enjoy the rest of your youth.”

The son heard, “If you have a baby, the girl’s Mama will handle everything. You just enjoy your youth.”

Mama continued talking to the daughter “And the boy who gets you pregnant, you can put him on child support if you want to, but I don’t want him coming around here sticking his nose in my family’s business.

What the son heard was, daughter “When you get a girl pregnant, if she doesn’t want you to, you won’t even have to pay child support. And nobody wants you to come around to see about the baby. Your child is not your business.”

Mama said, “You don’t need a man to take care of you.”

The son heard, “You don’t need to care of your woman.”

Mama said, “ You don’t need a man to help you raise your baby. “

The son heard, “A man doesn’t need to help raise his baby.”

Mama said, “Men are no good.”

Son heard, “You are no good.”

Mama said, “A woman just needs to find a rich man and get all she can while she can before he leaves her.”

Son heard, “Act like a rich man and get all you can from a woman before you leave her.”

Through the door separating the male from the females, the young man listened. The ladies on the other side didn’t understand how their conversation was being filtered and fed to the young man on the other side.

As they grew up, the daughter remembered this talk, and she lived her life according to the advice she had been given.

The young man did the same.

For generations we have been delivering these messages to our daughters, never thinking that our sons were listening, too.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PRAYER FOR REVIVAL

Revival services at HMCME are next week, but services are not enough.  We want and need something more than just programs to reach the level of ministry to which God has called us as individuals and as a church.  We need genuine revival.  An overview of the major revivals in the Bible, showed me something convicting. 

Biblical revival did not occur because the people of God asked for revival.  Biblical revival occured because the people of God repented and then started living the way they should have been doing all the time.  Using the revival and rebuilding of the city and house of God in the book of Nehemiah as our template, we are praying for genuine revival. 

A Prayer for Revival is a prayer of confession. Rev. Doug Perry and I are at chuch each evening in the week leading to Revival, confessing and praying in the pattern below.

Scripture Prayer (personalized from Nehemiah 1: 5-11):


“I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the [members of Hall Memorial] Your servants, and confess the sins of the [members of Hall Memorial] which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.


We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses [and the apostles].


Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to [this] place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’


Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.


O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant [us]:

• Cleansing from our sins;

• Deliverance from our conceits and grudges;

• Hunger for Your Word and diligence in the study of Your holy Word;

• The spirit, work, and fruit of evangelism;

• A deepening relationship to Your Holy Spirit;

• A deepening of the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit;

• Growth in number and spiritual maturity of this congregation;

• The increase of souls saved;

• The increasing work of effective life and soul changing ministry in the world;

• A revelation of ourselves to ourselves that we will seek to be changed by You for your better service.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Conclusion of Touching the Untouchables: DENYING THE DIAGNOSIS

Lepers lose fingers, toes, entire limbs, eyes, ears. In the advanced stages, leprosy leaves its victims maimed, handicapped, and scarred with boils and open wounds, sometimes so badly that the lepers are no longer recognizable for the person they were.

But, leprosy does not directly attack limbs or eyes. The bacteria that causes leprosy does not, on its own, cause disfigurement. It doesn’t directly attack flesh or muscles. Leprosy attacks the nerves in these extremities and desensitizes them. The nerves no longer register and report cuts, bruises, wounds, and the pain of infection in the limbs. So, a leper, cast outside of the city, in the dangerous and dirty leper colonies rife with debris and garbage, accidently scratches his leg on a piece of metal. However, he doesn’t feel the cut.

Unless he has committed to a routine of self-examination, he never looks for new cuts. He doesn’t feel it. He doesn’t look at it. He doesn’t want to know, because he feels just fine.

He says, “There’s nothing wrong with me.
“I’m not like these ‘lepers’ out here.
I’m not sick.
I feel just fine.”

All the while, his leg is wounded. Then it gets infected. The infection is ignored, because he feels just fine. The infection worsens. The leg dies. But still, the leper pretends that everything is alright. After all, if something was seriously wrong, his leg would hurt. Wouldn’t it?

The infection spreads. The tissue die. The joint between leg and body scab over. One day, the leper literally wakes up and his leg falls off.

Gruesome, isn't it?

But, this is what happens in the church.

We no longer feel pain when our members are wounded by sin, especially when they are wounded by their own sin. We are no longer pained either the spiritual pain or the physical suffering around us.

1 John 3: 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

We say that we are well, that we have the love of God, the grace of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, but if we were to examine honestly examine our live, we would find as many scars and festering wounds inside the church as we would find outside.

Jesus said of the church in Laodicea, “…You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelations 3:17)

In Matthew 9: 12 He warned the Pharisees, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

In the church, we claim to be clean, but are we really? In the church we profess to be spiritually whole and healthy. But are we?

We meet and worship. We get our praise on and our pray on. We hear the preacher and shout, “Amen!” We leave the church house feeling just fine. Yet, when the pastor calls for people to go out and touch the untouchables, we don’t want to go and we don’t feel like we need to go.

Their problems, their pain does not touch us. We “ain’t feeling them.” And we think that’s because
“There’s nothing wrong with me.
I’m not like these ‘lepers’ out here.
I’m not sick.
I feel just fine.”

John 9: 39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

If we don’t hurt when young people kill each other over the color of their baseball caps, we have become desensitized. If we are not bothered when Christian marriages break up, then we have become desensitized. If their sin does not prick our spirit and awaken a desire to do…something, then we really ought to examine ourselves. Because if we in the church are desensitized to the spiritual uncleanness outside the church, it may be because we inside are infected as well.

If we are infected, and we continue to pretend that we are not, the infection will spread and our parts, our members will die spiritually and fall off.

James 2: 15-17 warns If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

This, I believe, is what has happened in so many churches. We do not serve others because we do not recognize the need to confess our sins. We do not confess our sins, so our relationship with God remains broken. Because our relationship with God is broken we cannot receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit as He would guide us and gift us. We feel nothing and misinterpret the absence of pain as the absence of sickness. We continue to live unrepentantly unloving lives. We deny the Spirit’s conviction, the diagnosis that we are in fact wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

So our members keep falling off.

The treatment is Biblically simple.
James 5: 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

We must be willing to confess our sins, to acknowledge our uncleanness, to receive the Spirit’s diagnosis and then His healing.

And, while we are being healed, we must be consciously sensitive to the pain caused by spiritual uncleanness. We must be willing to touch the untouchables.

Matthew 8: 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

As we touch the untouchable with the love of Jesus, we will discover that God is healing our infection too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

REVIVAL

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.------ 2 Chronicles 7: 14, 15



“CONFESSION CLEARS THE WAY FOR A GREAT HARVEST” is the theme of our SUMMER REVIVAL, June 6-11, 2010.


This celebration kicks off with Homecoming on Sunday, June 6, 2010, at 3:00 P.M.

The Revival continues with worship services at 7 P.M. nightly Monday – Friday, June 8- 12th.

The Word will be delivered by a series of dynamic pastor-teachers:

HOMECOMING Sunday, June 6th, 3 P.M.
Rev. Dr. Letitia Watford.
Murdock Chapel AME Church,
Pike Road, AL &


Monday, June 7th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Frederick Harris
Abraham Baptist Church,
Montgomery, AL

Tuesday, June 8th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Dan McCall
Macedonia Baptist Church,
Prattville, AL

Wednesday, June 9th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Tony Longshore
St. Paul CME Church,
Gordonville, AL

Thursday, June 10th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Dr. Lynn Hargrow
Phillips Temple CME Church,
Phenix City, AL

Friday, June 11th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Gerald Hudson
Holly Springs CME Church
Bassfield, Mississippi

Be our special guest for the services of your choice. Bring your family.  Bring your church family.  This Revival promises to be a powerful time of praise, worship, testimony, ministry, and the Word. We look for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit.

For more information, call, email, or send me a message on Facebook.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II