June 18, 2017 My mother’s phone call – my files – Dave Barry on Fatherhood
Prayer for Holy Spirit power and revelation
INTRODUCTION – One of the disciplines the Holy Spirit led me to practice many years ago is daily praying through a portion of our church directory . So for instance this morning I prayed for all of our individuals or families whose last name starts with T-Z. And one of the many things I pray for each of you every week is that you will grow in the joy of being a co laborer for the harvest with Jesus. One of the things Jesus promises to do in and through the life of every person who is born again by the Spirit of God is to make them what He calls a “fisher of men (or women)”.
And surely one of the greatest joys and privileges we can have in this short life on earth is being used by Him to help others come into a relationship with Him, and thereby be delivered from the wrath and judgment of God that justly awaits every person who chooses to ignore this invitation to relationship.
Sadly there are people all around us who do not understand that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son – that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” They do not understand how serious the cancer of their soul that the Bible calls sin is, nor do they understand its tragic eternal consequences.
They do not understand that the only solution for this potentially eternal estrangement from God that all of us experienced for some period of years is the spilled blood of God Himself on the cross as a forever acceptable payment for our sin, and as a supernatural daily means of cleansing from the effects of sin.
And finally they do not understand that such an amazing expression and display of grace and mercy and sacrificial love on God’s part demands a faith response on their part. It is not enough to just intellectually acknowledge that God delivered His Son over to the horrors of the cross for us. We must personally own it and most of us never did until someone helped us see the necessity of a personal faith response to what Christ did on the cross for us.
As sobering as the spiritual blindness and darkness that people all around us are bound up in is, the power of God is far greater. And that’s what I want to talk to you about this morning – because only the power of God will suffice for the battle we are in for the souls of men and women, young people and children.
As we continue to learn from the apostle Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth, I would like to have you turn in your Bibles to I Corinthians chapter 2, vs. 1-5.
Those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and King have the distinct privilege of being His instruments to help others come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord and King. And because that is a supernatural process that requires their being supernaturally delivered from the slavery to sin and the spiritual blindness that Satan has brought about in their lives, God’s power must be accessed.
So in the remainder of our time together this morning – I want to share some steps we can take to grow in our experience of ministering in the power of God.
Here’s the first step: 1. Never tire of honing in on the message of the cross. Paul wrote in ch. 1 vs. 18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This word or message of the cross may seem foolish to some, but it drips with life and hope and power for deliverance and transformation for others whose hearts are beginning to turn to Christ;
2:2 “determined” Why did Paul say this? because it is human nature to talk about less offensive things, or to talk about ourselves, or to get off on tangents like politics, etc. Paul came to a place in his walk with the Lord where he determined before the Lord, he would not waste his life and others’ eternal destiny talking about lesser things. (Bless with this determination)
Only the message of the cross when it is embraced in faith has the power to deliver a person from the domain or kingdom of darkness and transfer them safely and securely to the kingdom of God.
Why is there such power released in the message of the cross? Perhaps because no other message gets to the root of our problem, which is our sinful nature and our bondage to sin; and no other message speaks to the solution of the root of our problem, which is the blood of Christ shed on the cross.
“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us – a crucified God – must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.” John Piper
second step 2. We need to Proclaim Christ as boldly and plainly and singularly as we can. I Cor. 1:23, 24; 2:2 more of Him, less of us needs to be our cry in our interactions with unbelievers;
Listen, Jesus didn’t just leave us teachings; He offers us Himself – the Living Teacher! His teachings are not the solution. He – the Risen Christ – is the solution. His teachings are not the Way – He is the Way! There is not some formula to walking in power; He is “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Most everyone in the West today knows Jesus Christ was one of the most dynamic and influential religious leaders and teachers ever to walk the earth. But beyond that – most of what they think – or think they know about Him is wrong. Ours is the privilege of introducing Him as He really is as He gives us opportunity.
Many people who observe us live godly lives in our communities and work places assume until we tell them otherwise that we are good people trying to follow the good book. They do not understand that Jesus is risen and reigns on high and yet lowers Himself to relate to men and women. And that He is our friend and shepherd in the now!
3rd step 3. Get cleansed of the lie that you have to be polished, eloquent and together to be used by God, and recognize the power of the word of God. I Cor. 2:1-5
A. Personal Weakness – times in my office – gone out to prayer walk and witness and literally saw no one – at least that was possible or appropriate to interact with – – all primed and ready; other times run into someone not primed, not ready, unexpected, tired, and yet God worked because He didn’t need my perfection;
A weakness I know a number of us grapple with is the limited availability we have to interact with unbelievers because of heavy demands on our time and energy. But again God is not limited by such things. He just asks us to be ready and obey when we are available and He opens a door. We may only lead one or two people to the Lord in our lifetime, but one of them could become a great evangelist. I don’t know who led Billy Graham, or Bill Bright, or Luis Palau or Greg Laurie to the Lord, but someone did.
B. Power of the Scriptures – “Is not My word like fire? Declares the Lord, and like a hammer, which shatters a rock?” Jer. 23:29 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb. 4:12
Ex. of Dawson Trotman’s daughter – Dawson Trotman was the founder of the Navigators – a man who had a huge impact on men like Billy Graham and Bill Bright. While in Navy, he would lead men to Christ and start Bible studies helping them grow in the faith. After getting out of Navy he and his family lived in San Diego and would often have sailors from the base there over for dinner. He had a practice of having everyone around the table at some point recite a bible verse (ideally one they had memorized in the last 48 hours) – whether they were born again or not! One evening they were going around the table and his 3 year old daughter was sitting with them. When it was her turn, the sailor to the left of her started to recite the only verse he knew assuming she was too young to do so. She glared at him, he shut his mouth, and she began to recite John 3:16 with her 3 year old language limitations. She especially struggled with saying “whosoever” and really had to work at getting that word out of her mouth. The man next in line did not know Jesus and that was the only verse he knew and he had known it since a child. But it had never meant anything to him until this little girl kept (unintentionally) emphasizing “whosoever”. Then the Holy Spirit opened his eyes and helped him realize Jesus truly died for him and wanted relationship with Him. And he turned his life over to the Lord at that point. Lesson: the little girl was very weak in language pronunciation, but the Holy Spirit used the power of the word of God to open this man’s heart and eyes and ears to His truth.
Jesus in His preaching and interaction with people quoted them often; Peter in his first sermon or address to the crowd that gathered upon hearing the Galileans speaking in a variety of unknown tongues quoted Joel 2; and Psalm 16; and Psalm 132, etc.; Paul quoted them; 850 x’s Jesus and N.T. writers quoted O.T. scriptures
4. Recognize the role prayer – both yours and others for you – plays in releasing the power of God. Ex. of David Brainerd – was a missionary to the American Indians. Tough childhood – his father died when he was 9; and mother five years later. Struggled with health issues – especially in his late teens and twenties to the extent that he died when he was 29. Those weaknesses were added of course to the fact that in his beginning years reaching out to the Indians, he didn’t know their language. And many of these tribes were plagued with drunkenness and debauchery. But David Brainerd was a man of prayer unlike many we have known in American history. One day he was preaching to the Indians and his interpreter was so drunk he could hardly stand up. But scores of Indians were saved through that sermon due to the power released through prayer and the preaching of Christ and the cross.
Billy Graham really was not a good preacher. His sermons were all over the place. But because of his prayer life, and the prayer devotion of his staff, and because he would never do a crusade in a city unless the church in that city came together and devoted itself to prayer for a period of time before the crusade began – – God used him mightily every time he preached.
Paul praying for others to experience God’s power in Ephesians 1:19, 3:16, Col. 1:11;
Paul requesting prayer for his own witness – Eph. 6:19 – “and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make know with boldness the mystery of the gospel”
Col. 4:3 “praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned.”
The importance of using prayer lists with names of unsaved neighbors, co-workers, relatives, friends’; Opportunities for prayer: Pre-service prayer meeting; worship night at McCabes house this Wednesday; our home group next Monday night; Community wide prayer meeting on 25th at 6:00 at our church Spontaneous prayer with a friend
“Prayer is the only omnipotence God grants us!” R.A. Torrey
“Our true aim must not be to work much and have prayer enough to keep the work aright; but to pray much, and then to work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to men.” Andrew Murray