Monthly Archives: August 2012

Prayers that Get Results Part 2

Peninsula Community Church

Displaying the Life Of Christ – Prayers that Get Results Part 2

August 26, 2012

In last week’s message, we dealt with the subject of “Prayers That Get Results.” We noted that God longs and desires for us to pray and that when we are obedient to God, we know His word and desire to honor Him we will see our prayers answered. We also noted that God is not looking for perfect people but people who are perfectable by being humble and teachable. We were also reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. He does things at times that defy human logic and reasoning. And finally, we stated that when our prayers are not answered it does not mean that He loves us less nor does it mean that He loves us more when He does answer.

Let’s read our text again.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

When we pray there are times where it appears that one’s prayers are not answered in the way or the in the time we think. Today we will look at the reasons our prayers might not be answered.

The first reason our prayers might not be answered is that we praying for things that are outside of God’s will. This can include two things. For one our prayers may not being answered because we are not praying at all. It is God’s will for us to pray. James 4:2 – You do not have because you do not ask. We must never reach a point where we believe that our prayers are not important or vital to the cause of the Kingdom. So, we must pray over the small things and the large things. I have heard people say that this is such a simple thing why would I pray but through prayer our faith is built. If you are not praying, or asking for answers how can your prayers be answered.

At other times we pray for things that counter God’s word, His character or His ways. I think of two things to illustrate this concept. The first is when Michelle and I were looking to purchase a house on Long Island. We had one lady tell us that we should find the house we wanted and every day go and stand outside that house and ask God to give it to us. The problem that I had with that was how was God going to answer our prayer when someone lived in the house. Instead, we asked God to direct us to the house we were to have and He did and it was more than we needed or wanted.

A second illustration is found in two people who came to me that had fallen in love. The problem was that they were married to other people and not to one another. They asked me if it were alright for them to pray that God would work it out so that they could marry each other which would mean they would have to divorce their spouses or have some other issue occur in order for them to be married. This was certainly outside God’s will and beyond scriptural authority.

  • John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
  • 1 John 3:21-22 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

The second reason that our prayers may not be answered is that our motivation in praying is based in lustful and prideful desires. You see God knows our hearts and motivation better than we do ourselves. He judges our hearts and He knows when we are asking for things out of a selfish motivation or a lust for things that we cannot have. God is looking for humble hearts and teachable spirits to use and move through. Remember this word lust is more than sexual desire it also represents desires and passions that are out of control and when we desire things that are beyond our grasp.

  • James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The third reason our prayers might not be answered is that we show no diligence to do our part to assist God in answering the prayer. We are praying for a new job but we have not looked for a job. We want God to heal our marriage but we are not willing to do our part in making our marriage better. We want a better job but we are not willing to take the classes and gain the knowledge that we need to make this happen. Doing these things can be just as much of a step of faith than anything else we do as you can step out in faith and God will do the rest.

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

The fourth reason we might not have answered prayer is that we have secret, unconfessed, habitual sin in our hearts. When we are being rebellious toward God and we have failed to walk in forgiveness our prayers may not be answered. These does not mean that God will not hear their prayer but He can use the unanswered prayer as means to get their heart.

  • Psalm 66:18 – If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
  • 1 Peter 3:11-12 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The fifth reason we might not have answered prayer is that we are putting God in a box by not allowing God to be God. There have been times in my life where I know that God has called on me to be very specific in my prayers and there are times where my prayers have been so specific that even God could not answer them. You see God’s expanse is greater than any that we know or comprehend. I know of one young guy that had a list of 100 things he wanted in his mate and he said that He was praying or her to come his way but the problem was that every time he dated a girl if she did not meet all 100 requirements he would break up with her and move on to someone else.

  • Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The sixth reason why our prayers are not being answered is that there is discord at home and in our relationships.

  • Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  • 1 Peter 3:7 ikewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Let me illustrate this in this way. If you are having an affair, it is not wise to pray for your marriage to be strengthened if you are not willing to break off the affair and confess your son. If you are addicted to pornography and you pray for purity you must be willing to confess and set up parameters that will help prevent turning to such issues.

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Prayers that Get Results

Peninsula Community Church

Displaying the Life Of Christ – Prayers that Get Results

August 19, 2012

In the final moments of John’s writings, we see that John takes a moment to focus on the subject of answered prayer. John Piper, pastor and author, says that “it is amazing to know that the sovereign God of the universe and of all creation has ordained that prayer causes things to happen that would not happen if you did not pray. It is a staggering thought to know that we can affect the course of events and issues of life when we pray.” In fact John Piper continues by saying that “if we do not avail ourselves of prayer and therefore bring about change through our prayers we are foolish.”

Let us read our text together:

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

The first fact about prayer is that God desires and longs to answer our prayers. God has been referred to as the Father figure. A loving dad does not want to mistreat his children or withhold from them the things they need. Neither does God, the Father. He desires to answer our requests for prayer. This is borne out throughout scripture.

  • Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
  • Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
  •  Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
  • Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.    

 The second fact is that the one who is obedient to God, knows God’s word and desires that His will is done will see answered prayer. If we are rebellious and disregard God’s word and His will God is not obligated to answer our prayers. Too often, we can be guilty of having an entitlement mentality which says that no matter how I act or live I will demand this or that and expect God to give it even though I have not been obedient to him or His word. But God’s answered prayer comes to those whose heart is after God and desires to fulfill His plan. Throughout scripture there is what has been commonly called the “If” and “Then” principle. It simply means that if we obey God’s word then we will receive the reward promised by that word. Now let me issue a word of caution here. The problem with this teaching is that it can lead to legalism and guilt. Legalism is that we do things so that God will do things for us or we do things to put on front or façade when our hearts are far from God. Or we can live in guilt when there is no known sin or shortcoming and yet God chooses to delay the answered prayer. When we love God and we know God’s word these principles should be a supernatural/natural part of our live.

  • John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
  •  1John 3:21-22 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 
  • James 5:16B The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

The third fact about prayer is that God is not looking for perfect people but people who are perfectable in prayer. David is one such illustration of this concept. He had blown it big time and yet he was able to offer one of the greatest prayers in the Bible as found in Psalm 51. What God is looking for is humble and teachable hearts where He can do great things.

  • Psalm 51:16-17 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • James 4:6-10 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. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
     

The fourth fact is that God’s ways are always greater than our ways and at times His ways go beyond our ability to comprehend or understand. There will be times that we can do everything that we are supposed to. We can pray the right prayers. We can live rightly before God. We can be free of habitual sin. And yet God will choose to answer our prayers in ways we cannot imagine.

  • John 9:1-7As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
  • John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 
  • Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In the final analysis, God’s desire is to answer our prayers. It is His desire that we pray life changing, event alternating and future transforming prayers for His glory. And at the same time, knowing that the possibility exists that God will do above and beyond what we are able to imagine or ask, for His glory.

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Eternal and Abundant Life

Peninsula Community Church

Displaying the Life Of Christ – Eternal and Abundant Life Through Christ

August 12, 2012

As we take a look at this last chapter of 1 John we see that John focuses on Jesus’ work on the cross and the eternal life that comes from a personal relationship in knowing Christ. He does this so that we will have the assurance of our faith and our commitment to Christ.

1 John 5:6-11 This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

John begins this passage by countering one of the prevalent false teachings of his day. There were many teachings being circulated through the church during John’s time. The Gnostic thought of the day was that Jesus could not be the Son of God because all material things were evil and spiritual things were good so the two could not exist together. A second thought was that Jesus did not become divine until His baptism and since Christ, the Son of God, could not die his divine nature departed from him before the crucifixion. Another teaching of John’s day was that Jesus was just a ghost and that he was not real. Others simply denied that Jesus was incarnated as the Christ.

As a result of this John throughout his writings countered these teachings. In John 1 he states that in the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word became flesh. This is a direct correlation to Christ’s birth as the son of God by way of the Virgin Mary. In 1 John 1 John states that “the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you eternal life.

There must be no doubt that Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man. He came fully as man and God to die for us so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. John clarifies this and assures that his readers understand that Christ is nothing less than the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary.

In this passage, John states that the Spirit, the water and the blood all serve as a testimony to who Jesus is: In a matter of law a defendants witnesses and the evidence for and against him is critical. In a court of law even on credible witness is enough to effect the trial positively or negatively. In Jewish custom the law required that there be at least two witnesses to bring a case to trial.

The Water – The witness to who Christ says he is in the water which represents the fact that Jesus was born as the Son of God through the Virgin Mary. The water here also points to the initiation of Christ’s ministry at his baptism. In both of these cases the water testifies to the fact that Jesus is the anointed one who came to redeem all of mankind.

The Blood – The second witness is the blood of Christ which was shed for us so that we might have eternal life. Without the blood there is no salvation for there needed to be sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin. Christ as man and as God took on our sins and nailed them to the cross so that we would not have to carry the penalty of sin upon our shoulder.

The Spirit – The witness to Christ as Savior is the testimony of the Holy Spirit whose s role is to point to Christ and to glorify Christ.

Christ’s main purpose was to give us eternal life and an abundant life. The salvation which is in Christ includes deliverance from numerous, varied, immense, unending evils. It is deliverance from “perishing.” It includes also restoration to numerous, varied, immense, unending blessings. It is the enjoyment of “eternal life.” (John MacArthur, The Love of God: He Will Whatever It Takes to Make Us Holy).

John Piper had this to say about this passage. “John sums it all up in the word LIFE. He who has the Son has life! Eternal life is not just the extension of all the frustrations and half-joys of this life. When Jesus finishes doing his thing, every frustration will be gone and every half-joy will be full. As he said in John 10:10, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” If you HAVE the Son, it means that anything that infinite love and infinite power and infinite wisdom can do for your good will in fact be done for you.”

Closing – Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp as the Knapp home was having a large pipe organ installed. The organ was incomplete, so Mrs. Knapp, using the piano, played a new melody she had just composed. “What do you think the tune says?” asked Knapp. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”, answered Fanny Crosby.

The hymn appeared in the July 1873 issue of Palmer’s Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany, a magazine printed by Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Palmer of 14 Bible House, New York City. It appeared on page 36 (the last page) with complete text and piano score, and indicated it had been copyrighted by Crosby that year. It is not certain that this was the first printing of the hymn, but it certainly helped to popularize what became one of the most beloved hymns of all time. Although she was blind she knew the fullness that came from experiencing eternal life: life given freely and fully by the Father.

Blessed Assuranc

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

 Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

 

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The Love and Obedience Connection

Peninsula Community Church

Displaying the Life of Christ – The Love and Obedience Connection

August 5, 2012

 1John 5:1-5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

As we review this passage this morning there are a couple of truths that bear our discussion.

The key principle in John’s writing is that those who have been born of God will love each other. It is interesting to note that as we read this passage that we see that our love for God is expressed in our love for others and our love for others is expressed in our love for God. This love is a natural/supernatural outworking of the work of God in us and through us. The fact is we are family and even though we may not always agree or see eye to eye we will love each other because the Father calls us to. For some, that is a hard truth to follow because you may not have experienced real authentic love in your family. Perhaps, there has been hurt and pain rather than peace and love but God’s ideal of family is one where family members genuinely love each other.

I felt what many of us experienced at Chick-Fil-a on Wednesday was a sign of how we live that kind of love out in our lives. No one was standing up to condemn gay-marriage or homosexuality. No one was preaching. The consensus for me is that believers were taking a stand for freedom of speech and for righteousness by supporting Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A. Those who attended all commented that there was a sense of peace and safety in the building.

The test of who we are in Christ and whether or not we are a passionate follower of Christ is how do we past the test of loving God and loving others which is evidenced by obedience to His commands. Once again we are reminded that when Jesus was about asked about what the greatest commandment would be (Matthew 22:34-40), He stated that all of the law and the prophets can be summed up in two concepts: Love God and Love others. This does not emphasis one above the other but they are of equal importance. Notice that the Ten Commandments are divided into two sets. One set is focused on our relation to God and the second set is focused on our relationship with others.

When we are passionate followers of Christ, we hold in high regard our love for God and for those around us. As we look at this challenge to love others we are confronted with the truth that to truly love others we must have a personal relationship with God. Otherwise our love for others is thwarted and becomes based on selfish attraction and not God’s plan for love at all.

The commands of God are not burdensome because the focus is on God’s love as a motivator. Think about it for a moment. Look at the things that come so much easier for you than other things. There are things in the ministry that I love and there are things in the ministry that I do not love. What I have found is that when I love to do something I jump right to it and get the task done. When I love what I do I accomplish the task with ease.

When my son was a teen, I remember him always being late for school, for church and for almost everything that we did together as a family. It was a fight to get him out of bed and into the shower. But I also remember one Saturday that he was going to an amusement park with his girlfriend’s family. At 5AM I hear a noise downstairs. I went down to find my son showered, dressed and eating breakfast which he made on his own. I looked around to make sure that this was not someone else sitting at our table that morning. Why did this occur, he was in love….

When we love God, we love others and obey God’s commands we set ourselves up to become overcomers in Christ. And how does that work. We overcome because of faith and trust in God’s plan for our lives. We trust that his plan of love in action and obedience to his commands brings about a freedom and joy that is remarkable. This does not mean that we do not have problems in our lives. It does not mean that our circumstances will change. But it means that spiritually, emotionally and mentally we will not walk in a defeatist attitude but one that gives glory to God and one that expresses our love for God. Look at what John and Paul have to say about being overcomers.

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

1John 2:13-14 – I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

1John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1John 5:4-5 – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Romans 8:35-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

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