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Monday, September 26, 2016

WHAT DO WE TELL THE CHILDREN

Many, if not most of you have heard Andy Stanley's humorous warning, "You are scaring the children!" Northside Baptist Church no longer allows the video to be seen because of copyright claims, although over two hundred thousand people already saw it. Here is a portion of Andy's admonition.
“All of you who are 45 and older, look up here.
Many of you have grown weary and lost heart and the reason is–you have fixed your eyes on a political system… and you are growing weary. And you need to knock it off. And I’ll tell you why… because you are scaring the children!
But what do we tell our children in these days? Let me suggest that we tell them to pray.
From this you and they may hopefully ask, "If we begin to pray as we have never prayed, will that solve all the social and political problems of our day? Will that restore our nation?"
God might indeed do that. He will certainly do that eventually. But I am not certain that He will work that way immediately.
If we look back in history we do not always see revival leading to complete restoration. Instead the awakening often prepared believers bring Him glory in terrible times to come.
A great prayer awakening swept America in 1858. Did that end slavery, the great moral and political division in our country? It did not. In three swift years the nation was thrust into a great civil war in which more Americans died than in either of the world wars.
If it did not prevent such a catastrophe, what was the point? Well, many thousands died  and went to heaven instead of hell. Many came home crippled or blinded with a spiritual strength to face the difficulties. Our country was able to pick up the pieces and go on. I don't think that would have happened without God in the lives of many.
In the mid-twentieth century would a prayer revival in Europe have prevented the rise of the NAZI regime? I don't know. But I do know praying people were able to help hundreds of thousands of children and others escape from the horror of the Third Reich. Many horrible things happened in those days. But there were also many with God given courage to oppose power of evil in their day.
I don't want to promise that we will not pay a terrific price for our sins as a nation. And like Daniel and his godly friends, righteous people will share the judgment. But we can be prepared to love and minister to people, and give great glory to God whatever happens in our country. And who knows what God will do, if we begin to pray as never before?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Priestly Prayer

Hezekiah became king of Israel after the death of the wicked king, Ahaz. Ahaz had led the people to turn away from the Lord to worship Baal. After he was installed as king Hezekiah led the people to return to the Lord. That year they cleaned out the abandoned temple to celebrate the Passover for the first time in years. But they had to postpone the celebration because too few of their priests were consecrated before the Lord. But they finally had the most wonderful celebration they had ever had. The last verse of 2 Chronicles 30 tells us about the ministry of the newly consecrated priests. "The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God healed them, for their prayer reached heaven, His holy dwelling place."
Did you know that God is calling you to a priestly ministry? Our nation needs healing. God has put you in contact with people who need spiritual healing. But most of you are aware that this calling requires more than you can do or be. But you need to know that God provides the primary things  you need to be a priest of God.
You need A higher Priest.
On the cross Jesus prayed even for those who were crucifying Him. "Father, forgive them." That prayer is at the heart of the will of God for the people around you.
Right before the cross Jesus being a priest to His disciples, told Peter that despite his pride, he was going to deny Him three times. Then Jesus said, "But I have prayed for you. And when you return, strengthen your brothers.”
Wouldn't it be powerful assurance  to know that Jesus prayed for you. He has and He does. As Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17, He also prayed for us who would believe in Him through their word. And Hebrews 7:25 says Jesus continues intercede for you before the throne of God. When you pray for your neighbors relatives and friends, you can know you are joining God in interceding for them. The Lord has planted you in their lives so you would join Him in praying for them.

You need A higher Righteousness.
When Hezekiah became King the priests had to be consecrated before they could serve. Nothing is more important to prayer or any other ministry than holiness. When Abraham interceded with God on behalf of Sodom, he appealed to the righteousness of God. "Surely the Lord of all the earth will do what is right." And he appealed to God's love of Righteousness. He asked if God would spare the unrighteous, if there were fifty righteous people in the city. And God said He would spare even the unrighteous because of the righteousness of fifty people.
"What if there were five less than fifty?" Abraham continued to bargain God down. And God agreed that He loved righteousness so much that He would spare the unrighteous because of the righteousness of ten people. But there were evidently not even ten righteous people in that wicked city. At that point the Lord ended the conversation with Abraham and Abraham went back home. Why do you suppose that was? I am of course not sure, but I suspect this was the reason. If Abraham got down to asking God to save the city for one righteous person, was his nephew Lot really righteous? Even Abraham was depending upon the righteousness of God. Romans 4:3 quoting Genesis 15:6 telling us Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Are any of us holy enough for our righteousness to be counted for others? Not eternally. There is only one person who was that righteous, Jesus. He died in our stead so His righteousness would count for us. Whatever you are praying for others, you are appealing for the righteousness of Jesus to be applied to their lives.