The Power Of Prayer

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

INTRODUCTION

Tonight our aim is to deal with verses 14-15 but I pasted them all so you could see that the subject of this section is PRAYER. Randolph Tasker said: “There is no situation in the life of faith in which the believer cannot resort to prayer.”

  • In verse 13–James mentions “Hardships.” In times of difficulty, we can pray.
  • In verse 14–James mentions “Sickness.” When we are sick, we can resort to prayer.
  • The Greek word in verse 14 {astheneō} means more than sick. It means to be weak, impotent, diseased, feeble, needy and helpless. Granted, sickness induces most of the above: sickness can make one weak, impotent, diseased, feeble, needy and yes helpless. But we could become weak, helpless, feeble, impotent and needy with the passing of time or the lack of resources.

This text has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by our Catholic friends and our Pentecostal friends. From this text the Roman Catholic get the doctrine of EXTREME UNCTION or last rites. When a person is no longer conscious to make confession and get absolution, the priest does it for him/her.

Our Pentecostal brothers take this text as a formula for healing all manner of sickness. This is not some magic formula for healing the sick and it gives no basis for Extreme Unction.

It is however: AN INJUNCTION FOR THE CHURCH TO HAVE AND MAINTAIN A PRAYER MINISTRY.

I. THE CHURCH IS TO BE A PRAYING CHURCH

  • Acts 1:14–They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
  • Acts 2:42–All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals and to prayer.
  • Acts 3:1–Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.
  • Acts 4:31–After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

It is well documented, the NT church was a praying church.

II. THE CHURCH HAS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER THROUGH PRAYER

  1. Do you know anyone that is enduring a difficult time? I’ve had three people approach me this week with broken hearts; two of them are drug related. In our tiny church we have families that do not eat together or get together over the holidays. Families torn a part by jealousy and envy. There are families divided over the settling of estates, perceived favoritism, jealousy, drugs, divorce. I cannot think of one family is this church who does not have problems. PRAY FOR THOSE ENDURING HARDSHIP.
  2. Do you know anyone who lives alone. Loneliness is a form of sickness. Could you make some time for those who live a lone. Go visit them and have prayer with them. They will love it.
  3. Do you know anyone that is sick? Visit them, have prayer with them. They will be thrilled.
  4. Do you know anyone who is weak, feeble, powerless, hurt, heart broken, needy or helpless? The helpless need your help–the heart broken need to know that someone cares.

I’ve tried to form the habit in my later days of asking a waitress after she takes the order…”We are about to pray over our food, is there anything we could pray for you?” I’ve had a few to be taken back and hesitate for a moment but I have not had one to say, “I’m good, just pray for yourself.”

Our son has a the wonderful gift of expression compassion while interceding in prayer. When we are visiting together in the hospitals, I call on him to pray. He visits our Senior Adults every month or so and has prayer with them. They love him. Pray is a ministry. My heart breaks that we cannot see this wonderful truth. You don’t have to be gifted; so long as you care.

III. THE KEY TO AN EFFECTIVE PRAYER MINISTRY IS TO PRAY AND PRAY IN FAITH.

I know that a prayer ministry is available to you: I don’t have one doubt but we must pray in faith. Verse 15… The prayer offered in faith will heal the sick…

You do not go into a home and say, “I know you are hurting and I want to pray with you but I do not believe that God hears and answers prayer. I hope you enjoy the sound of my voice but as far as this prayer making a difference in your life…I don’t believe it will.”

If you cannot pray in faith, you don’t have a ministry.

CONCLUSION

The thing that distinguishes Elijah was his faith.  Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Elijah believed that every prayer counted: he believed that every word counted. I write most of my prayers. It helps me concentrate and incorporate scripture into my prayers. I still have copies of prayers I prayed 30 years ago. There are in note books, boxes, every where. Every time I put a prayer in my prayer box or chest, I do it as an act of faith.

I have seen three mountains fall into the sea this week. I am no Elijah by any stretch but I believe in prayer. I believe every prayer is heard, every prayer is answered and every prayer counts.

 

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Till He Appeared

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 2:1-11

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a Ruler will come from you
    who will be the Shepherd for My people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the Child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The beloved Christmas Carol, O Holy Night, was written by Placide Cappeau (October 25, 1808 – August 8, 1877). He was a French poet and wine merchant. It was later put to music by Adolphe Adam. A local clergyman ask Cappeau to write a poem for Christmas. Even after the poem was set to music, it was rejected by the church and did not become popular until years later.

Today, I want to take the time to read this great poem and then we will listen to it in song and perhaps hear some things we have never heard before.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born…

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men from the Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever…

There is one phrase I want you to listen for, “Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.”

{Play Josh Groban’S version with scenes from the NATIVITY}

Someone was interviewing a Seminary graduate and they ask him, “If we call you as our pastor, what would be your purpose?”  Without a moments hesitation, he said, “To change the world.”Yes,” said the interviewer, “ultimately that is our goal but what is your immediate goal?” He said, “To change the world.”

Actually, this should be every believer’s purpose.

Getting back to O Holy Night and that second line“Long lay the world in sin and error pinning.” We don’t use the word pinning any more but it was word that was used when I was young…we referred to a person pinning away. It simply means, that a person has lost hope and is slowly dying. It may be due to grief, sickness, an unrequited love. It is basically a state of hopelessness. Now, lets put the entire phrase together…Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till HE appeared and the soul felt its worth.

  • We were stumbling in darkness–until He appeared.
  • We were lost, like sheep without a shepherd–until He appeared.
  • We had no hope–until He appeared.
  • We had no joy or peace–until He appeared.
  • We had no freedom–until He appeared.
  • We had no Christmas–until He appeared.
  • We had no Easter–until He appeared.
  • We had no ministries of mercy–until He appeared.

Jesus changed everything and continues to change lives today. But whereas Shepherds and Wise Men celebrated His birth: Herod tried to kill him and the Jewish religious leaders did not even pursue the lead. They were not even curious about this new born King of the Jews. Later, they would reject Jesus all together.

Why so much hatred for Jesus? I think the answer is found in John 3… “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

CONCLUSION

Great story in Our Daily Bread last Wednesday. A p0liceman stopped a woman because her child was not in the required child’s seat. Legally, he could have written her a ticket but that was the last thing she needed. Instead, he asked her to meet him at a department store where he bought her a child’s booster seat. The mother was going through a difficult time and could not afford a seat. Although she legally deserved a fine, she got a free gift instead. An act of kindness from a policeman.

That’s us folks, we deserve a fine, a penalty, punishment but because of God’s mercy we got a gift, the greatest gift–Salvation through the LORD Jesus Christ. Let Jesus change you world this Christmas.

 

Why We Don’t Sing

PRAISE: Why we don’t sing.

Scripture

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.

~James 5:13

INTRODUCTION

I want us to look at several translations of our text:

  • KJV–Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
  • NASB–Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.
  • NIV-Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
  • NRSV-Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
  • CEV- If you are having trouble, you should pray. And if you are feeling good, you should sing praises.

The two key words in the Greek are kakopatheō [to endure hardship] and euthymeō [to put into good spirits, to cheer up, make happy]. You will note it is the root word for enthusiasm. Just as it is natural to pray during times of affliction and trouble; we should sing to express our joy and enthusiasm.

James 5:13 raises two issues in the modern church, at least the Western church. [1] PRAYER meeting have grown increasingly unpopular in the later days. So when it comes to grabbing the horns of the altar, we aren’t doing so well. The NT Church was a praying church. Do you think we are a praying church? [2] The second issue is PRAISE. Are we a singing church? You may not know it but congregational singing is a problem in the United States and Western Europe. People are singing with enthusiasm and joy.

This got me to thinking and so I went on line and was shocked to fine articles everywhere on this subject. I thought it was a DBC problem but it stretches far beyond DBC. After reading a dozen or more articles; I came up with TEN REASONS we don’t sing.

  1. NO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. In the grand old hymn, “We Marching To Zion” [Place of worship] Isaac Watts penned these words, “Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God but children of the Heavenly King may speak their joys abroad.”
  2. MOTIVATION is huge. We have a lot of carnal or immature Christians.  We refuse to sing because we either don’t like the song, or the music, or the worship leader. We are trying to worship music instead of the One who created music. We get all caught up in what we want and lose sight of what would please Christ. Worship has absolutely nothing to do with me or you or our taste. You have missed the entire point. [Some had this as #1]
  3. FAMILIARITY with the music or song. This was on every list I found and I have to agree that it makes a huge difference. New music should be introduced through the choir and or other vocalist but not as a congregation song. We can’t sing it if we don’t know it.
  4. SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: Singing makes us feel vulnerable and very few are mature enough to risk vulnerability. I have the front pew all to myself: no one sits by me because no one wants to but we have plenty of space so it is not a problem. I am not going to stop singing because I have a horrible voice. People make fun of me in public but I have no quit singing. My singing doesn’t offend Jesus and He is the One I am singing to and for–we have to get over ourselves. If you have a professional voice, you may be singing to the wrong audience.
  5. PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SING. Some people don’t sing anywhere because they don’t like to sing. They will not sing if we send them to Sing Sing, the correctional facility in New York. They had rather be incarcerated than to sing, even if they are in Sing Sing.
  6. ATMOSPHERE: You can’t grow tomatoes on the North Pole. If the spirit and the people are cold, it hard to find a song that will break through the ice. No Worship Leader can get backsliders to sing.
  7. CONGREGATING: If our sanctuary extended for a mile, we would have folks on the back row. We avoid sitting up front or close and it hinders our singing. We are too spread out.
  8. BACKGROUND MUSIC: Tapes, band or instrument too loud. Most people are not going to make any effort to compete with a machine. If we play “drown out” with the musical equipment, we win. The congregation will shut down.
  9. NOSTALGIA: So many my age are dreaming about the way things were when we were growing up. We are rebelling against the changing culture. Give it some thought: our rebellion and pouting in church will not effect the dramatic changes that are taking place. We have to live in the present. Things are never going to be the way they were: face up, grow up, and man up.
  10. LEADERSHIP: Are they excited? Are they engaged? Are they connecting with the congregation and that includes the youth?

Very interesting TOP TEN but I would like to make some personal observations as to why don’t sing.

  1. We don’t put singing in the context of Worship. It is one of the highest forms of praise, but we don’t seem to have any enthusiasm when it comes to praise. When you understand that singing is worship, it changes your entire perspective. The biggest change in singing from my childhood until now is “Professionalism.” We don’t encourage people who can’t sing to sing. We encourage those who can bless us or in some cases entertain us but it is not about us. I can’t sing professionally. My tone quality is horrible and I miss notes right and left but I sing because I am singing to an audience of ONE. Professional tend to sing to the audience. Worship is not about praising or pleasing the audience.
  2. We are too easily distracted. We are not focused. We get side tracked by styles, rhythms, beat, loud, soft, traditional, contemporary. It is almost to the point that we want to singing to be directed toward us. What do I want? What do I like?
  3. We are spoiled: affluence has made us soft and selfish.
    • We can’t appreciate victory because we haven’t been engaged in battle.
    • We can’t appreciate light until we can caught in the darkness.
    • The flip side of joy is sorrow and we known little sorrow.
    • The early church was persecuted yet they sang: we haven’t been persecuted. Some years ago, I attended a VOICE OF THE MARTYRS conference in Huntsville. A pastor from North Korea spoke. He said the most shocking thing about the Western church is that we don’t sing.
    • Most blessed nation in history and we don’t sing.
  4. We don’t understand that the world is watching. The word euthymeō  [cheer, enthusiasm] is used only three time in N.T. Luke uses it twice in ACTS. Paul on trail before Felix and Paul on board the sinking ship. In both cases, Paul displayed euthymeō . What a witness for Jesus. They say the Nightingale sings its best music in the darkest part of the night. This is what impressed the Romans, Christians singing as they were being fed to lions. No one in the pagan world could explain why Christians sing in the darkness.

Conclusion

I Peter 3:12 reads, The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil. Psalm 30:5, Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

We have a great Savior, a great salvation and a great future: why shouldn’t we sing? Better still, how can we not sing? As Dr. Vance Havner once said, “We are witnessing a miracle in reverse: the same gospel that once made men shout is now putting men to sleep.” We are unexcited about Jesus–that is a miracle in reverse.

 

Sin In The Streets and Seats

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard He was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind Him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing His feet and putting perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”

50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

I think I could preach a series from this passage but due to the time, I simply want to share some simple statements of truth and then draw a couple of conclusion. Primarily today, we will be thinking about sin, our own personal sin. With that in mind, please listen to the following statements…

  1. There is a danger in getting close to Jesus: you may find out more about yourself than you want to know. The flip side is: if your are curious to know the real you–Jesus, and only Jesus can help. It is a terrible waste to live a life time and not know who you really are.
  2. Simon the Pharisee saw the woman as a “Sinner” but he did not see himself as a “Sinner.” Our pride makes us prone to see the sins of others while ignoring our own.
  3. It is not the amount of sin in your life; it is your awareness of the sin in your life that counts. The woman knew she was a sinner, Simon was not aware of his. Because the woman knew who she was, she understood who Jesus was and she worshipped. Simon didn’t worship Jesus, He didn’t even show common courtesy. He may have admired HIM as a teacher but that is all. It makes you feel sympathy for the Simons of this world.
  4. Simon’s sin was arrogant pride–the woman’s sin was prostitution. Which of these two sins does God word condemn the most? Some times our sin of pride, contempt and despising other is greater than the sin we despise in them.
  5. Simons sins were private–the woman’s sins were public. Simon had the Eastern mind set: if you don’t get caught, it is not sin. This makes a difference with man but with God all sin is black and ugly.
  6. How much sin do we have to commit to be a sinner? If you break one law, doesn’t that make you a law breaker?

CONCLUSION

Have you ever ran up a tab or credit card bill that you couldn’t believe when the bill came due. “Something is not right about this,” you uttered but the more you check, the more you realize the bill is correct. This is what makes credit cards dangerous. It makes spending too easy.

Something similar has happened with our sin. Since there is pleasure in sin and it is first nature, we sin without realizing how much we sin. What I am saying is that we sin more than we realize. Simon didn’t think of himself as a sinner but Jesus knew his heart: [1] He had contempt for others [2] He measured men but he refused to minister  to men[3] He jumped to a reckless conclusion: the woman’s sins were much worst than his own. [4] Though he thought of himself as spiritually superior to others; Jesus reveals otherwise.

God’s word often refers to judgment as a “His Cup of wrath,” each time we sin, another drop goes in the cup. So here is the bottom line. There is more in our cup than we can deal with. We have a sin debt that we can not possibly pay. Some may owe a billion, some ten billion some a hundred. The amount of the debt is insignificant–The point is: none of us have the ability to reconcile the debt. This is where Jesus comes in: He paid our sin debt.

I believe that his woman had heard Jesus before and she repented of her sins: she came to the banquet to express her love and gratitude. I think  Jesus was giving her assurance…If Jesus says Your sins are forgiven”–your sins are forgiven. If Jesus says,  your faith has saved you–you are saved. If He says go in peace–you can go in peace.

If Jesus says “It’s so, then is so because He said so. It may not appear to be so, the devil may declare it not to be so… but it is still so because Jesus said so.” Our Salvation is based on the integrity of Jesus.

I know I am a sinner. I know that I have committed a lot of sin but I am not aware of all my sin and neither are you. I don’t know exactly how judgment is going to work. I have a feeling our sins will be recognized and perhaps displayed. I do believe we will be pardoned by the blood of Christ but I have no doubt that we will be held accountable.

One way or the other, we all need Jesus.

The First WMS

THE WMS…WOMEN’S MINISTRY SOCIETY

TEXT: Luke 8:1-3, NLT

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with Him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

INTRODUCTION

In Luke 8 Jesus kicks off a tour of towns where he moves through towns and villages preaching the good news. As a point of emphasis, Jesus usually entered these town one day and departed the next. This reminds us that some opportunities are very brief. There is one redeeming factor, if a person missed Jesus while He was in town, they could seek Him out.

Jesus takes two groups along with Him on this mission: one is male {Disciples} and the other is female. Luke mentions three: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Mark adds Mary mother of James {son of Alpheus or James the less} and Salome. We believe there were at least three Mary’s in the group and that doesn’t include Mary the Mother of Jesus who probably joined them before their final trip to Jerusalem.

Mark 15:40-41

 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Notice: both gospel include “Many Others” so we don’t really know how large this group was. In preparing the message, I discovered something that I had never noticed. Both Luke and Mark use the same Greek word in reference to these ladies. In the NLT it is contribute in Luke 8 and in Mark, it is minister. It is translated: Ministering by all the old translations, some of the modern translation say Contributing, Providing and Helping. Here is the point of interest: the Greek word is diakoneō. Do you recognize this word, you should. It is the word for Deacon. When you go to word deacon in I Timothy 3:12, the word is diakonos. As you can see the only difference is in the ending. Diakonos is a noun and diakoneō is a verb. Men are nouns and women are verbs.  The root word diako means to run errands. The general meaning of the word is “Servant.” Serving others is one form of ministry.

TRANSITION

I could talk about this a month but I am going to squeeze the message into five brief point which I think you might remember. The WOMEN’S MINSTRY to Jesus SOCIETY is made up of women who….

I> THEY WERE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR THEM.

We know more about Mary Magdalene than the others so we will use her for an example. Mary had a serious mental condition that was associated with demon possession in the ancient Jewish world. It may be a form of demon possession but what I want you to understand is that the Mary Magdalene’s are still among us. People who’s minds are disturbed, they battle gross insecurities daily and they have no peace. Jesus healed her mind and saved her soul and she never forgot what He had done for her. Mary and the other were serving out of gratitude and love.

II> THEY WERE HUMBLE SERVANTS.

The word  diakoneō  means they took care of his needs. Prepared His meals, washing his clothes, waited on HIM hand and foot. They were complaining like the modern liberated woman–they were thrilled to serve.

III> THEY WERE GENEROUS WITH THEIR MEANS.

This group of women contributed to Jesus ministry financially. I doubt that Jesus took up an offering although there is nothing wrong with taking an offering. I would imagine that the ladies keep a tab on things. Working through Judas the Treasurer, they gave money as it was needed. Why would the Son of God need financial support? Listen to Paul’s words to the Philippians…2:5-6

Although He existed in the form of God, {Jesus} did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

The Greek word  is kenoo from which we get kenosis the doctrine of divine emptying. In order to be our SAVIOR and High Priest, Jesus had to experience what we mere humans experience. Yes Jesus created the earth and all the silver and gold is HIS. What about the Apostles, what about Joe David and myself. Do we have the power to reach up and pull money out of the sky? Can we transform a hundred dollars into a million?       ..  which     I

This is not God’s way, He wants us to live by faith and take support from those we have blessed. A lot of people don’t like it but it is God’s way. Do you think these women had any regrets: “I just wish I hadn’t given so much to Jesus and His disciples.” What kind of reward will they have in heaven? I’m going to go out of the limb and say, “A big one.”

IV> THEY WERE FAITHFUL

We are thankful to Mark for telling us about these women being at the cross. They never abandon their ministry. They did not stop following They were with Him in death and waiting for the resurrection.

V> THEY WERE JESUS LOVERS

Jesus loved them in a personal way and they knew it and they were compelled to love Him in return.

Prayer

TEXT

 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.

~James 5:23, NLT

INTRODUCTION

James uses two words that are rare in the N.T. The only other writer to use them is Paul. The first is kakopatheō, to suffer hardship or affliction. It can refer to physical suffering but not necessarily. It can refer to difficult circumstances.

Paul uses this same word twice in 2 Timothy. In 2:9, Paul said, “Because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.” Then again in 4:5, You should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. I love the Good News Translation of this verse…But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God.

The Second key word in verse 13 is euthymeō, to make cheerful, to gladden, to be  joyful and of good courage. You can tell by looking that his is the root word for enthusiasm. We will deal with it next week, LORD willing.

Tonight we are going to focus on James 5:13a,  Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.

James has spoken previously about the sins of the tongue and over reacting to adversity. When we, believers, encounter hardship, we should pray, not curse, no blame or judge but pray. Prayer should be our first response not our last resort.

TRANSITION

I. EVERY BELIEVER SHOULD CULTIVATE THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER.

Prayer for the believer should be as natural as breathing. We should pray until prayer becomes a habit. This is a distinguishing mark between the believer and the world. It is natural for the world to blame, to point fingers, to make excuses, to curse, swear, pitch fits when things don’t go their way but Christian should immediately turn to God in prayer. Prayer should become such a habit that we do it without thinking about options.

  • Sometimes we try to fix the problem ourselves.
  • Sometimes we turn to the world.
  • Sometimes we throw money at the problem.
  • Sometimes we rely on education–books, tapes, etc.

God is the last resort for the world: they will pray but its only we they feel like they have no other options. We pray when we experience a 9/11. There are no atheist in a fox hole. In John’s revelation of Jesus Christ, in the last days, the rebellious, the unrepentant will prayer: they will pray for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them. They will pray but only as a last resort.

Looking at several translations, I have put together a montage that is very encouraging–In any among you are in trouble, afflicted, suffering, enduring hardship, sorrowful, hurting, sick, or sad let him pray. The bible is an amazing book: none of these translations are wrong: the Greek literally means to endure hardships of all kinds. So when TROUBLE, SICKNESS, SORROW, HEARTACHE, HARDSHIP, AFFLICTION or ADVERISTY of any sort come…PRAY!

II. EVERY BELIEVER SHOULD APPRECIATE THE PRIVILEDGE OF PRAYER.

Do I have an open door to the Governor or to the White House? No! I am totally blocked. I can’t even talk to my local congressman. They will not personally respond to my mail. There are people who have an open door. They are not peers. They are lobbyist or billionaires: either way, they represent big money. Money talks to politicians which is why all of them leave Washington rich. They are there to serve us supposedly, but they serve themselves.

What I am saying is you could get access to congress or the White House if you had enough money. This open access that we are talking about comes with a very high price tag. I am fairly certain that the president would open his door to you if you made a 50 million dollar contribution to his library. Of course none of us have that kind of money and we will never have access. The point is, access is costly.

Have you considered the price that Jesus paid so that we could have access to the Throne of Grace. Jesus opened the way for us by suffering a humiliating and agonizing death in our behalf on the cross. The price He paid was His blood.

What kind of change would come over us if we could grasp this one truth. You can talk to your Heavenly Father 24/7/365 because Jesus opened the way by His death on the cross. This makes Joseph Scriven’s hymn come to life….

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

The natural man does not have this privilege. The question is: to we appreciate this privilege or do we abuse this privilege?

III. EVERY BELIEVER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE PUPROSE OF PRAYER.

I confess that prayer has many purposes just as there are many kinds of prayers. But I want to talk about the one alluded to here in James. When you practice prayer as a discipline, it becomes a habit–then over time, it becomes a passion. A passion is something you do from your heart, something you love.

There are not many but there are a few in every generation: people who are passionate about prayer…people who love to prayer. They don’t have to discipline themselves to do it, they are drawn to it. Does an Auburn or Alabama fan have to discipline themselves to see the game on Saturday? No sir, they are drawn by a mysterious power to a TV set or stadium somewhere.

We all do what we love and we do it with enthusiasm, same word used in James 5:13, Are any of you enthusiastic? You should sing praises.

We will say more about enthusiasm next week but do you see the sequence. We discipline ourselves to pray, maybe a minute a day or five minutes. Then prayer becomes habit…then it becomes a passion and we feel drawn to prayer…we want to pray…we love to pray. Then prayer becomes or knee jerk reaction to everything. In good times we pray, in difficult time we pray because that is what we do, it is what we love. Then we become enthusiastic and cheerful, even in difficult times.

Someone came up to me after a COLS recently and said, “I want to thank you for all you did,” and then I said something stupid, “I really didn’t do anything other than pray.” Dr. Jack Taylor quote on prayer changed my life. Dr. Taylor said, “We Baptist want to pray and get on with the business: we don’t understand that prayer is the business.”

CONCLUSION

Paul had some type of mysterious ailment, no one can’t identify this thorn in the flesh but whatever it was, Paul wanted to be rid of it. Paul, the great Apostle, Missionary and Prayer warrior prayed three times and ask God to remove the thorn. Each time, God said no! Paul was praying for his circumstances to change but God had something else in mind, He wanted to change Paul. God put the circumstance in place that would help Paul grow spiritually and bear much fruit.

You are probably familiar with the cute little adage: God answers every prayer: yes, no, and you must be kidding. I like the adage and I believe it bears some truth but there is a deeper truth. No prayer or prayer time is a waste: God indeed answers every prayer…

  1. After it is interpreted by the two Priest–the Holy Spirit in our life and Jesus in Heaven…in other words after deciphered by the Holy Trinity.
  2. Thus God’s answer rarely matches our expectations. What we ask for could be bad for us or even good but not necessarily the best. Sometimes God’s withholds so He can give us something better.
  3. Time in prayer is never a waste of time. You insult the Father with such thoughts. I don’t do commercials so my wife records the Hallmark Christmas movies and then we watch them together. It is a special hour that we look forward to what if she heard me tell some one that an hour with her is a waste of time. Do you think she would be hurt?