Happy Monday Church!
I enjoyed worshiping with you this Sunday as we reflected on 9/11 and also considered the greatness of God in light of our present circumstances. The challenge by Mark Batterson to ask "How big is God--really?" was powerful and effective. Is He bigger than cancer, income, broken relationships, and addiction? Is He greater than no degree, a flat tire, or an old elementary school with asbestos, ancient boilers, and galvanized pipes?
I think if we are honest, it is not often His power that we deny, but rather His interest in us.
If I asked "Do you believe God can lead a person to salvation?" You would answer "Absolutely."
If I asked "Do you believe God can lead your sister to salvation?" You would answer "Well, He could. But I don't know if He will."
Why is there a difference? Because you lack confidence that He hears you and cares enough to get involved.
But I'd like to challenge that. Consider these two passages of Scripture:
What I gather from this is that God's will is for all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth and that if I pray according to this, I can confidence He hears me. All in all, I believe that if our hearts' deepest desire is for God's plan to be fulfilled, His desire is to work supernaturally in line with our request. You see, God has called us to co-labor with Him. The Church as the hands and feet of Christ are meant to bring the Kingdom of God to bear here on Earth as it is in Heaven. We are Plan A. God provided the means by which His Kingdom could come through the Cross and Jesus' Resurrection, but that's the beginning of the story. That was the introduction to what comes next. Jesus is continuing His work through the Church.
In Acts 1, the Disciples ask if Jesus is going to restore the kingdom to Israel. This is their short-sighted way of asking "Is this the end of all things? Will You now kick out the Roman government and take your place as King, establish your rule, and judge the nations with us by Your side?" But Jesus says "No, that's not how it's going to play out. Instead, I am going to give you power through the Holy Spirit to bear witness to my rule and reign. You will do things that will be seen by others as signs pointing back to the truth that I now reign. What you do in My Name will be done, substantiating the truth that I am King and I am Lord of All. And then there will be a day I will return and we will judge the nations together."
So this is where prayer comes in. We pray to bring about His Kingdom and Reign... to establish His Kingdom and point others to Him.
That's also why I believe most miracles in the New Testament occur outside of a church, surrounded by unbelievers. Out of the 31 healing miracles Jesus performed, how many happened in a synagogue?
All the rest were OUTSIDE WITH PEOPLE.
We need to both be the Hands and Feet of Jesus and the instrument of intercessory prayer for God's power to be manifest.
Maybe it's like ground troops. One one hand we are physically fighting the battle, but we also have radio communication with Command. There is no way I could do as much damage as a squadron of A-10 Warthogs or F-22 Raptors. But I have the ability to bring about that same level of change through my communication with Command.
Here is a cool story about Command coming through:
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church... And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him... And the chains fell off his hands... he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying...Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” Acts 12:5, 7, 12-15 ESV
I love that last part "You are out of your mind" because even the Early Church Believers didn't believe in the power of prayer! It's like when my friend's Kaleb and Kim prayed for a elderly Scottish woman in Aberdeen, Scotland and her hand she hadn't opened in three years was opened. She asked "What's happening!?" And they replied "I don't know!"
So, last Thursday we went on a prayer walk. We sought to ask Command for some help on the ground. We prayed for businesses, job loss situations, conversations between Christians and others, for jail inmates, for our county government, and for our city mayor. We touched buildings, we paused when we felt led, and we brought our children to pray too.
But the funny thing is... it was really hard.
We had 10 minute stops at certain destinations and I am telling you, ten minutes of petition to God is a L-O-N-G time... at least for those of us who are out of shape. And that would be me. I couldn't believe how many times I looked at my phone, got distracted by cars passing by, and found excuses to talk to someone. I think I have weak prayer muscles.
The good news is that I have had weak muscles in the past, and the best way to strengthen them is working out. You know, the big secret to getting in shape is not working out really hard, it's working out consistently.
What's better, to run three miles, barf, and lay in bed for three days every week or walk one mile every other day? Is it better to go two days with no meat and all salad, only to go bananas on a quart of Ben and Jerry's Friday Night--or commit to one soda a day?
I want to be strong in prayer, because I believe it is the second half of our mission--and the more powerful half. But I am weak in prayer right now. Which means I need to work out consistently.
Come join me.
9:30am Sunday Mornings in the North Classroom.
6:30pm Thursday Evenings at various locations around Wabash. This week we meet at the front lot of NJCC.
Pick a time, a place, and a subject. Put a reminder in your calendar. Do this for 21 days. Even if you miss a day, pick up where you left off. You can do it!