Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Pray???

Sometimes I dig through my files and find something interesting. This post is one of those interesting things. To me anyway. The Holy Spirit has been moving in our membership concerning prayer. I think He led me to this article. The only thing is, I am not sure who to give credit to. It looks and sounds like my writing. It seems a bit like an unfinished sermon. But I may have gotten the idea(s) somewhere and simply can't remember where. I does sound a bit like Paul Miller's new book, "A Praying Life", which I have recently recommended. So let me credit Paul with inspiring me. Let's pray!

Why Pray?

Why should God answer our prayers when all we want to pray for is what we want. We aren’t interested in God doing whatever He wants. We are far too consumed in our own plans to bother with God’s plans.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray – Our Father who art in heaven-
Hallowed be thy name.

I. First of all, we are to see God as our Father.
A relationship to a Father is one that involves obedience, for the Father knows best.
We are His children and being a part of his family, we are to be intimately involved in a family relationship. And you can’t have a healthy family relationship without talking. And that is what prayer is…Talking to God.
When we have an emphasis on prayer, we first need to ask the question, why is the church not interested in talking to their Father?
Something is desperately wrong when the church is not interested in praying. And you can’t say it isn’t so, when the prayer meeting is so sparsely attended. Very few Christians are really interested in praying. Usually when a special prayer meeting is called in churches today, and this includes our church, you might have one or two show up, if any at all. You can make excuses and boast about praying alone, but if there was much praying alone, there would be more power and more seeing God at work.
It must amaze our Father that so few pray so little. Is 59:16 speaks about God wondering….
He wondered that there was no intercessor. It amazed God. Why do you think that is?
Perhaps because He is such a mighty Sovereign who reigns over all of the universe and who has given exceeding great and precious promises to His people and they fail to take him up on it. He has said,”Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, I will give it to you.”
That is amazing. That is astonishing, Yet we fail to pray
Why do you think so many Christians are defeated and bound by sin.?? Because we pray so little.
Why are so many in the church often discouraged and depressed? Because we pray so little.
Why are so few brought out of darkness into His marvelous light? Because there is so little prayer going on.
Why is our church not on fire for God? Because we pray so little.
And our prayers are very weak. There is little agonizing in prayer nowadays. Has the church forgotten how to agonize in prayer? Is our spiritual temperature so cold that all we know to do is intellectually rattle off a few requests that seem good to us. Where is the crying out to God, the weeping of the saints for lost sinners and family members, the wrestling with God and labouring in prayer until God hears and answers our prayers?
We have forgotten how to talk to our Father. The King of the universe. We have turned Him into a passive and helpless ruler of past times who is impotent to shake our world right now.
I am not out to criticize, and not to condemn, but to encourage the church to take hold of God like never before and ask Him to do the miraculous.
We have allowed Satan to defeat us and to blind us from facing the question of prayer.
He will do anything to keep us from praying. And he has. And we are not.
Jesus said, to pray…Our Father. He cares for us. He wants the best for us. He wants to work mightily, but He has commanded us to pray. He works through prayer. The Devil is quite happy if we do anything except prayer, because God has ordained that prayer is how He will work.
Jesus instructions were perfect. Talk to Him as a Father. Ask great things of Him. He has promised to answer. Through the mediating work of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can now come before our Holy Father and have an intimacy we never dreamed possible. We are encouraged to come boldly before the throne of grace.. God wonders that we do not talk to Him. God wonders that we do not pour our hearts out before Him in prayer and ask great things of Him.
Our prayers are so small. And God is so big?
Have we no more time to talk to God? Have we allowed our lives to fill up so that we are too busy to spend much time with God? The one who holds the keys to everything. The one who is the Door?
He said,”If you shall ask anything in my name, that will I do.” Yet we fail to pray fervently. He promised that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. And He has made us righteous, yet we fail to pray fervently. We fail to pray with any passion. We say that we are in love with the Lord, yet we fail to show any passionate love to the Lord in our prayers. Are prayers are like so many recitals attempting to get the formula right. And they are so dead and lifeless.
How do you learn to pray? By getting alone with your Father and talking to him. He is your Father in heaven, Jesus said. Not that He is limited to heaven, but that He is in heaven, over all. He is the God of all existence and able to move mountains and seas, and is willing to do it if we just ask. That is what He said, and He is no liar.

Sometimes the thing that keeps us from talking to the Father is sin. We have hidden sin in our lives and it keeps us from prayer. Afraid to approach God to honestly lest he take our secret sin from us. Lest He bare our hearts and cause us to come clean with Him in repentance, never to again be able to enjoy our sin.
Sometimes the thing that keeps us from talking to the Father is that one has never been born again. Our Father. Is He. Then why are you so uncomfortable talking to Him? You don’t know how? How do you learn? By doing it. That’s the only answer I have. You learn to pray by praying. So get to praying, and allow your Father to do whatever He wants with your life whenever He wants to and know the thrill of asking Him for great things.
Not the things of this world. Not money, and cars and stuff. I am talking about spiritual things. Things that really matter. Things that last for eternity. That is where the real adrenaline rush comes in. Enjoying a life above the shallow sphere most people spend all of their lives. In the hollow pursuit of earthly pleasures and comforts.
Jesus says we can come to our Father, and say “Father, who is over all.
Your name is Holy. I can’t approach you on my own merit. But in Jesus name I can ask you to move in a mighty way to accomplish your purposes in my life.”
Hey, by the way, what other purposes in this life are there for you? God has a purpose for you. And finding out what it is and getting caught up in the enjoyment of seeing God fulfill that purpose in your life is the most thrilling thing you will ever know.
The Christian life is not a boring uneventful life when you live it God’s way. If you try to stay in control, it certainly can be boring.. Because after all…what can you do????
Nothing. That’s what. And if that is your thing…staying in control of your own life, then go for it. It’s not for me. I want to know the adventure of following Jesus Christ. Yes, sometimes He is silent. Because He won’t allow you to put Him in a box and call upon Him like some genie in a bottle. But if you want to know what real Christianity is like then pray like Jesus instructed us.
II. Your kingdom come. That’s just the problem isn’t it? We have our own little kingdom all set up and if God’s kingdom should take over it would ruin everything. We want our comfortable little lifestyles. We don’t want our feathers ruffled. Let’s face it church. We are so unrelevant today it’s a wonder any young people ever darken the door of our church at all. I know I wouldn’t if I was a lost young people. Hey, maybe that’s the way you want it. All neat and tidy. Everybody sitting next to each other in church and we can then go back to our comfortable lives without so much as a new wrinkle.
We are more worried about whether Bro. Bob is going to do songs that we approve of today than we are concerned about the souls of the young people sitting around us. If we were just to go back to singing the old bar tunes Luther and the Wesley’s used it would be just fine. Even if it did run some kids off. We know what’s best for this church.
What is palatable to our ears. After all, we have a corner on what’s most pleasing to God.
Listen. Jesus didn’t come to make things tidy. He said that He came to bring a sword. And He did, and He is still swinging it. He said that he came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother. A persons’ enemies would be those of his own household. Because whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
But no cross-bearing for us. Don’t ruffle our family. Don’t ruffle our feathers.
Not thy kingdom come, but bless our kingdom is what we really think.
At least it’s how we pray. Lord bring anything but the sword. Not that way, but my way.
We draw a little circle around ourselves and pray, thy kingdom, all out there, but MY kingdom in here. And My kingdom in this family. And in my household.
Would to God that He would be the sword and so spiritually wound us and devastate our kingdom that there would be nothing but spiritual desolation and despair, compelling us to get real with God, cry out to him, and pray, Lord….bring on the kingdom in me.
Rule in me. Rule in my life. You call the shots. Whatever you want from me today, you do it… And if you do…Hang on.

III. Lord, Your Will be done.
Lord, what do you want from me today? What are you going to do in me today. Who are you going to bring my way today? More work to do on me? A word of witness that you want done? Someone that needs to be ministered to ?? Whatever you want Lord. You call the shots. Your will be done today and everyday.
What if it is God’s will for you to pray? And it is. He was said it over and over and over. And why do we not? Because we don’t really want God’s will in our lives. If we really wanted God’s will in our lives we would do what He asks us to do, and first and foremost, He wants us to pray. He wants us to cry out to Him . To call to him and He will answer us and show us great and mighty things which we know not.
But we are quite satisfied with our own ways and our own resources thank you. Otherwise we would certainly be a people of prayer. Why do I preach like this you suppose? It is because we are in such imminent danger of fading into the history of dead churches who were impotent to affect anything as far as God’s kingdom goes because they were too self-involved to pursue God passionately in prayer.
Once you get the gears going in a church it is fairly easy to keep it going. Just don’t mess with the status quo. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t bring any of “those “ people into our church and mess it up. We have such a great control on our churches nowadays it is a wonder anything for God gets done at all. You can call it of God al you want, but if God didn’t initiate it, it is not of God. It is time for the church to pray, Lord, You will be done. No matter what the cost. No matter where we have to go. No matter what you want to do. We are ready. Your will be done. Not Bob’s will be done, not Scott’s will be done, not Kurt’s will be done..Not Will’s will be done…….Elder Will Jackson you know. But God’s will be done. Make it as radical as you want Lord. We are ready for Your kingdom to come down and takeover your kingdom. We have not done much with it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Bilbical View of Marriage

Someone has once said that a man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.

If you don’t know where you are going, you will get there quickly. Nowhere.

When thinking about a successful marriage, we have to examine our own thoughts about it and why we got involved in the first place. To be sure, there will be something tainted in every aspect of our inquisition, but overall, there needs to be a clear intention to find God’s own purposes in our married lives.

To begin with, unless we have a correct view of God’s original intention, we will not be able to understand how we have gone wrong, if indeed we have. And we probably have.

To have a correct view of God’s original intention would be impossible if we did not understand God.

In fact, just as an example, look at Genesis 3.

1. Who was the conversation the serpent and Eve were having about?

God – Elohim
It is interesting that Satan does not call Him the Lord God. Jehovah Elohim.
The name which is used thoughout the Old Testament and which is the personal name by which Adam and Eve knew God.

First, Elohim is used in 1:1 through 2:3, concerning creation, then in v,5, the use of the Lord God, Jehovah Elohim calls into mind the caring God, the loving God, the God who would cause it to rain on the earth He created and who created this man out of the dust.

But the serpent uses the term Elohim, which is also the term Eve used in this conversation.

2. Why is this important?_____________________________

Because the point of Genesis is not about building a successful marriage. It is about God and who He is.

A Biblical View of marriage does not mean that you are going to be able to fulfill your dreams. God is in the business of shattering dreams. Let me repeat that.

The fact that Eve’s failure to consult her husband, resulting in her referring, as the serpent did, to “God” and not the “Lord God”, illustrates for us the difference in the attitudes of those who are in marriage to see what they can get out of it and those who are in marriage because they believe that God has ordained it for them.

What is the difference? Here it is.

You can either live your life hoping that life is fair, and God is good, all the time, and that He will certainly let you fulfill all of your wonderful dreams.

Or you can fall down before the Lord God, trust Him, and obey Him because He knows what He is doing and you don’t.

3. Now, what is the purpose of your marriage?_________________________ Your marriage is for God’s pleasure.
That’s right, everything that God created is for God’s pleasure, and you are a part of that.

God takes great pleasure when a couple is functioning the way that God intended them to, which we will get to next week.

God takes great pleasure in His own work, so when your marriage is working like it is supposed to, God delights in it. How is your marriage working right now?

Remember this. God does not run His world on the principles of fairness, success or dreams.

We need to get rid of our culture affected propositions if we are ever to find God.

Now, was the reason for God commanding Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree that was in the midst of the garden apparent?
No. It was not apparent.
Calvin said, “Very dangerous is the temptation, when it is suggested to us, that God is not to be obeyed except so far as the reason of His command is apparent.”

The whole tragedy of Genesis 3 is not that Adam and Eve fell, plunged the human race into darkness and got kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

The tragedy is that the advantages and blessings that the Lord God had given to them were abundantly sufficient and they ending up losing confidence that that was true, and thus dishonored God by their self-centered disobedience.

Everything was beautiful.

You remember this. Satan always says of God - ”Not sufficient.”

The way we get to thinking like this is that our marriages and families become the thrones of our lives.

When the only one who should rightfully occupy that place is Jesus Christ.

I am not here to teach you how to have a happy successful marriage. My job is to teach you that God has a purpose for your marriage and that purpose may be to crush you.

Part of what God sometimes does in a marriage is to use the differences in our mates to humble us and to mature our character into Christ-likeness. And that pleases God.
And no matter how far you may go in success or fulfilling your dreams, if God is not at the center it will only be smoke in the wind.

What is God’s purpose for your marriage?? To glorify Himself. That both we and others would glorify God for who He is.
First of all, marriage. What a great idea. And it is God’s idea. And it only works God’s way. And when it works God’s way, he is pleased and He is glorified.