This morning I preached at Jubilee, and the audio is now available to download. I spoke about the distractions that life going well can bring us, and how to counteract this. God was merciful and many responded to ask God to help us to strengthen our prayer lives. Two also responded to the call to respond for salvation or rededication. Praise God with me for a great morning, which when I think about it makes me feel humbled by the way God blessed us.
Here are the notes I preached from:-
The sun and the wind were arguing who’s power was greatest the wind proposed this test “See the man walking on that road the one who can take his cloak shall be determined most powerful.” Since the wind devised the test he chose to go first. He blew very hard but for all his bluster the man only cluched the cloak the tighter. The sun was now offered his chance. The sun smilled down on the man and soon he began to grow warm by and by the man removed his cloak and sat down on a log to enjoy the sun. When the man arose he forgot that he had left his cloak lying on the log and happily continued on his way. .
Moral: Adversity makes one more determined to hold to what protection he has while prosperity can easily loosen his grip.
PRAYER is that protection. When all is well with us, we are tempted quite simply not to pray!
When life is Good, when the sun is shinging down on us, when prosperity comes our way, when we are healthy, wealthy and content, a danger bell should ring in our ears.
If suffering is the seed causes faith to grow, well-being can cause it to whither away.
This is why many of the great saints of the past speak of almost being tempted to pray for troubles. For trouble is Gods megaphone which wakes us from our comfortable bed of slumber.
Listen to what this blogger shared a couple of years ago-
A BLOGGER ADMITED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO-
I haven’t prayed in nearly two years. Not seriously, fervently, spontaneously, and personally, anyway. Here and there I have led the church or a church group in prayer, and I have sat down and prayed with people who needed comfort, but I have not devoted any real time to communication between me and God alone…..
…for nearly two years I have brought Him few requests of any kind and none of a personal nature. During that time, I have made decisions based on my own reasoning, solved problems using the tools at my disposal, and generally tried to change the things I could, accept the things I could not, use my rational abilities to discern the difference, and in the process generally lost all sense of God’s presence in my life.
Sunday night, however, I prayed. I prayed seriously, fervently, spontaneously, and personally. Lying wide awake at 2:38 a.m. next to a beloved wife suffering through two full minutes of dry, racking coughs through which she could barely breathe, I realized anew just how powerless I am and how pointless it is to go through life not leaning on God. So I began praying silently. I prayed for healing for my wife. She kept coughing, but I prayed anyway. I prayed for an elderly friend of ours experiencing health problems. I prayed for Todd. I prayed for a friend of mine going through seemingly insurmountable marital problems. I started praying and the floodgates opened, both in my prayers and in my tears. I realized that even though I had lost the feeling of God’s presence in my life, He had of course never left me.
What are the dangers of life being good that cause our prayer life to wither away?
1. I was Forgetful in the busyness of life
We tend to forget what life used to be like. Before God blessed us. Life was tough then, we prayed then.
I know for me, I remember a time when I got a job I loved. It sucked me in, filled too much of my time, took too much of my emotional energy and enthusiasm. There was little left for my wife, children or my God. O I still prayed but it had none of the fervor that my prayers have had when times have been tough.
Often we pray in times of trouble focussing on God then the trouble really starts when we get answer “didnt I do a good job in that interview” instead we should be saying “I am grateful for what God has done for me which I DO NOT DESERVE”
LEARN in time of prosperity, remember the God who did it- what is your speech like?- tilts to “I did this… I I I should be God God God
prosperity is as much a test as adversity. People fail this test more. disappear froom church or cell too busy
-God does it two weeks they are complaining- they think they did it…..
We as a church pray for growth, when the church grows, do we think “what a good church” or “what an amazing thing God has done for us”?
We need to remind ourselves of what God has done for us! We should always have a sense of wonder that he has done for us – Paul puts it this way in
1 Cor 1:4-5 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him………”
To forget to thank God is to forget that it was His grace that got you where you are – we DIDNT desever it, so what makes us forget to thank Him for it?
2. I was complacent about the future
I know that in that time of my life, I foolishly believed that life would stay that way. I forgot that these days few of us stay in the same job for ever and I invested too much in that one job. God was gracious to me, and did not desert me, nor did he allow me to get fully sucked in, but looking back I know that job was too important for me. I had forgotten that the job would pass, and that when I am on my death bed I am unlikely to say I wish I had spent more time at work. In my complaceny I was in danger of neglecting what really matters- my God my family and the church IN THAT ORDER.
I thought, as we all do – there will be more time one day -when this project is over. These days I still love my job, but I approach it in a very different way mentally and emotionally. I will NOT let it take the place of my three priorities, even tho the nature of things means that I may be spending more time doing it than manything else. I guess its like sleep- we spend a third of our lives doing it but which of us would say we lived to sleep? Like sleep, work is something we have to do, in order that we are able to do the things that really matter in life.
“We assume that the future is ours and that it will be like the present” Mark Dever
If life is good, there is little to pray for if we assume it will always be this way – or so it seems to us! The truth is that most things in life hang on a far more slender thread than we realise and we do well to remember it!
A job, a relationship, a life will all one day come to an end.
William Knox put it this way in a poem entitled “Oh, Why Should the Spirit of Mortal Be Proud?”
The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven,
The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes, like the flower or weed,
That withers away to let other succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same things our fathers have been;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen;
We drink the same stream, we feel the same sun,
And run the same course our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers did think;
From the death we are shrinking our fathers did shrink;
To the life we are clinging our father did cling,
But it speeds from us all like the bird on the wing……….
‘Tis the wink of an eye; ’tis the draught of a breath
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud;
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
JOHN DE LA GRANGE who died in 1402 went even further and had the following written on his tombstone “SO MISERABLE ONE why are you proud you are only ash and will revert as we have done to a stinking cadavar food and titbits for worms and ashes”!
According to Mark Dever this is “Typical of what was written on tombs – people were aware of passing nature of this life and not afraid to talk about it”
By contrast we seem to have an arrogant degree of presumption about the future…
James puts it this way in James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
The future is NOT ours, it is someone elsese! IT belongs to HIM not unclaimed territory! He is sovereign, everything we do is at his permission. Each breath is at Gods kind indulgence!
I HAVE TO KEEP MY HANDS OFF THE FUTURE – any plans I make must be tentative!
Being obsessed by future plans is often a failure to appreciate the blessings of the present – yesterday is past, tommorrow is still to come FOCUS on TODAY. Dont only look to the future. LIFE IS NOW!
When we die, what will we have accomplished that is of eternal significance?
We have to pray for the future, it isnt ours yet!
The danger of complacecy is that we forget that life is an active JOURN EY it isn’t passive we aren’t passengers. We Might not arrive at the destination we want to. We have to take steps
A gift from God should make u dedicated to God and determined to serve him……
use whatever the gift is for God
If God gives yous a job, dont turn up late….It is useless to pray to God for a job then when you get it not take care of it both by working well, and praying for it that God will help you to succeed.
It is useless to pray to God for a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend and then when one arrives treat it callously and carelessly and fail to give it the time to mature and grow casting it aside at the first sign of trouble. Without hard work no one ever got married, and with prayer you have a far greater chance that your relationship will work. take care of it by committing it to God and not taking it lightly…..
I was being sucked into a desire for more. I wanted that promotion, that payrise. They always say that “just a little more” money will be enough for us. The truth is it wont be. Dont be so caught up with things at expense of God “our desires if left unchecked by an abiding awareness of God will always cry out for more” do we seem excessive- in purchases, or feelings, etc…. keep self in check. We get too excited about something……
If our focus shifts to the giddy heights of what the world can offer us we will get swept off our feet and fail to be of any use to God.
Ironically, God DOES want us to desire more- more of him!. More so we can be more of a blessing to others not so we can simply enjoy the fruit of our labours
Also, he wants us to be reaching for the more of his purposes in the world.
But in our desire to make a mark on life, to make an impact we often drift away from the central point of life- GOD who is the anchor that stops us from getting into unreality
I know that I had forgotten to focus on my priorities
WHERE DOES GOD RANK IN OUR LIST OF PRIORITIES IS THERE COMPELLING EVIDENCE THAT GOD IS YOUR PRIORITY
What about your family?
What about the church?
I wonder, if there was a court convened, would I be found guilty of being obsessed with God, my family and this church?
READ PS 131
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Sometimes we just need to calm down and let God be God
Quiet your heart before God, empty yourself of your “great plans”, humbly cast yourself on him, and cry out for his purposes to be fullfilled in your life, as his purposes are fullfilled expect great success. We will be entrusted with a job to do as a result, that will bring glory to God. As you kill your dream, God may give it back to you but as HIS dream. The businessman returns still with a hunger for success but tempered by the knowlede that God is calling him to accomplish other things with his life as well- like honoring God in his work and thru his family and in the church……
“When we cease to hanker for the world we begin hoping in the Lord” Spurgeon Prayer is a process and that the end of that process, the reward is God’s presence, prayer is a journey and the destination of this journey is God himself
It is this kind of PRAYER that is the antidote to all the dangers that success brings us spiritually-
Jonh Piper said Praying continaully is staying focused on God as a way of life.
THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT COMES IN HUMILITY TO SEEK THE GIVER NOT THE GIFT
in James 4:2-9
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions…….But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
It is the kind of prayer that does not focus on getting my passions and my needs met but rather on drawing near in humility to God that will change the world. That kind of prayer does lead at times to tears for a while as we realise what a mess we have made of our lives- esp in just drifting purposelessly along in good times. But such Godly sorrow leads us to repentance which leads us to the joy of forgiveness.
Humility is best expressed through prayer.
Dont let your life fail thru lack of humility and thru lack of prayer
Play your part in building this amazing kingdom of God!
page 24 of humility
What is Gods plan for us in prayer?
His plan is that our prayers will unlock a great blessing and a great victory here on earth, that goes far beyond you and I and our lives!
Piper: “Not only has God made the accomplishment of his global purposes of salvation hang on the preaching of the Word; he has also made the success of the preaching of the Word hang on prayer.God’s goal to be glorified in a world full of white-hot worshippers from every people and tongue and tribe and nation will not succeed without the powerful proclamation of the gospel by people like you and me.And that gospel will not be proclaimed in power to all the nations without the persevering, earnest, global, faith-filled prayers of God’s people. This is the awesome place of prayer in the purposes of God for the world. They won’t happen without prayer.”
Piper : “God was pleased to make worship and prayer and fasting the launching pad for a mission that would change the course of world history. Is there not a lesson there for us?”
“My aim in this message is to leave i
n your mind the strong impression and the firm conviction that the victory of God is coming, and that it will come by means of your prayers” John Piper”
The big vision of Christs coming huge kingdom, should saturate us, and make us see that our small lives can have global impact! Are you chiselling a stone, or building a cathedral?
Piper: “Do you ever cry out to the Lord, ‘How long, 0 Lord, how long till you vindicate your cause in the earth? How long ’till you rend the heavens and come down with power on your church? How long till you bring forth victory among all the peoples of the world?’The answer I have heard when I have called on the Lord in this way comes from Luke 18:7- when his people CRY TO HIM DAY AND NIGHT for the vindication of his cause among the nations.”
Keep humble, but keep pressing on for more!
The world happens to every one of us, only some of us happen to the world.
People fall into three camps- do nothing flow with life
-those who rashly react crazy decidions
-the proactive who have a sense of destiny and shape the world around them
Shaping the world can only come about through prayer
Will YOU rededicate yourself today to the kind of prayer that works in ALL Situations of life?
Maybe you need to pray for the first ever time!