“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 KJV
Greetings and welcome to ACDK Worship on this Sabbath Day. Brothers and Sisters I greet you in the Name of our God the Father, Yahweh, Christ Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We worship here as family. And as with family, we care for one another, support one another, and pray for one another. This is scared ground.
Lord, we come to your throne of grace in a time that is stressful due to COVID-19, our political divide, the loss of jobs and income, other health concerns, and the stress of trying to stay true to our values, morals, and faith in a world that cares not. We look to your wisdom contained in Your Word for the water of life. Quench our thirsty souls with the living water of your Word and Salvation, Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 11:2-11 (Revised Standard Version)
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ’Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
"What Do You Hear and See"?
A pastor tells the following story:" I served a rural Indiana church as a student. In reading the minutes of the. church council some years ago, I came across the following: Elder Smith recommends we hire Mr. Johnson as our student minister. He has a background in music and a history of outstanding youth work. Music and youth are two areas of church life where we need improvement. Eighteen months later there was another entry: Elder Jones made the motion that we fire Mr. Johnson, our student minister. The man spends too much time working with the kids in the church and it seems all we do is sing during the worship service. We need more preaching and someone to work with the older people.”
Mr. Johnson didn’t know what to expect from his church council. He tried to please them in one area, and they changed their expectations of him. John had the same problems with Jesus. John had preached that the Messiah was coming, he told the people to repent, to change their ways, or they would go to hell. But, then Jesus comes and his preaching is one of compassion, one of love, and John doesn’t know what to expect. SO, he tells his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Jesus if he is the one, if he is the Messiah, if he is the one who is coming, or should we look for another?
John had doubts about who Jesus was. Are you the one? He wasn’t sure Jesus was the one. He wanted to check it out. As he sat in jail, he struggled with what he had heard about Jesus. He questioned, he had doubts, he wondered.
He might be thinking, "Lord, where did I go wrong? I did what I thought you wanted. I said what I thought you wanted me to say. You told me that Messiah was coming. But where is he? Where’s the fire, the ax, the judgment he’s supposed to bring? And why, if he’s here, would he let me stay in this place? I’ve heard rumors about this one called Jesus. I thought I knew my cousin pretty well. I remember that day in the Jordan when I baptized him. What a glorious day. I knew it was all beginning then. God’s whole plan was being put into play. But, where is he now? Why isn’t he doing what I said he would do? Is he really the one or should I look for another?
What Child is this who lay to rest on Mary’s lap sleeping? What child?
Wondering, having doubts, is that okay? Do we shy away from these questions of doubts ? As Christians do we say doubts, questions of faith are wrong?
Paul Tillich points out that God does not stand aloof, apart from our questioning; rather God is in the struggle of doubt, making himself known through it. Doubt therefore is a vital part and element of the faith which justifies.
In the book, "A sign in the straw" Pastor Richard Hoefler asks, "Who of us have not cried out with John, ’Are you the Christ, or shall we look for another’? When life gets tough and we see innocent people suffer. The bad so often succeed while the good fail. When we face a world locked in the death grip of one meaningless war after another; when we witness the destruction of nature as greed and desire for comforts drain the earth of her natural resources; when we choke on pollution and stumble over wrecked lives of people struck down by drugs and alcoholism; who can help but cry out, ’If you are the Messiah, why this? Must we, shall we, look for another?’
He asks again,"When will we learn that faith does not have all the answers? Faith is a risk. Faith is a life of trust, not of certainty and security God never promised answers to all our questions. God never promised life without stress. He promises and gives only himself, with all the dangers and risks of personal encounters.”.:
He states further,"Our hope? Not faith without doubt, but faith within doubts. Not the answers we possess but who possesses us. We may doubt God, but God never doubts us. We may not know God but He with absolute certainty knows us. This is the gospel. This is our life. This is the love that will never let us go."
So John had his doubts, he questioned, he wondered, but he did not stay with those doubts, he sought answers. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one!! If He was the Messiah.
And look at the answer Jesus gives. He says:
"Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
Jesus answers John’s question, not with just words, but He tells the disciples what has been done in the name of Jesus. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, etc. The good news of God has been brought to the earth. Jesus came not with the grim news of just repentance, but with the good news of the gospel which says you are forgiven, you are to be made whole, you are cleansed.
Frederick Buechner says the following in his book, Peculiar Treasures: "Where John preached grim justice and pictured God as a steely-eyed thresher of grain, Jesus preached forgiving love and pictured God as the host at a marvelous party or a father who cannot bring, himself to throw his children out even when the spit in his eye. Where John said people had better save their skins before it was too late. Jesus said it was God who saved their skins, and even if you blew your whole bankroll on wild living like the Prodigal Son, it still wasn’t too late. Where John ate locusts and honey in the wilderness with the church crowd, Jesus ate what he felt like in Jerusalem with as sleazy a bunch as you could expect to find."
Jesus was telling them, "Look around you at the evidence, and decide for yourselves. What does the evidence show? Have the blind received sight?" What about the blind man Jesus met on the road? Making a paste from the dust in the road Jesus touched his eyes and his vision returned. Ask him, "Is he the one?" And ask the millions of others who have been blind to the truth about themselves and about God, but who’ve found that Jesus opened their eyes. Ask them, "Is he the One?"
Jesus did not fit John’s expectations, but Jesus said loud and clear through His actions that He was indeed the Messiah. The world was changing, God’s great plan of salvation was unfolding in the world, and John did not understand at first.
I wonder what John thought when his disciples did return with the news about Jesus? Did he now believe with certainty that Jesus was the one? Did he see the gospel of salvation unfolding upon the earth? Could he sense the hope, the life, the salvation that Jesus was bringing to all people? I hope so.
But some people cannot see God’s redeeming work in this world. They cannot see the changes that people make.
At a early morning Bible Study someone remarked: "If God would take one of the towns down-and-outers and change that person over night, it would do more to convince us of his presence than anything I can think of."
And the pastor present remarked, " What about Bob."
Bob had been an alcoholic, hopelessly so, He had drunk himself out of a job, out of a family, out of the town’s respect. Then a new preacher was assigned to the Methodist Church in that small town. He and Bob struck up a friendship, and through his influence, Bob started going to A.A. meetings, soon he was sober. After 3 years, Bob was back at work, back with his family, back in church. When I knew him 10 years later, he was a leader in the community, a lay speaker in his church, and a successful businessman.”
God had been working, redeeming in Bob’s case, but because it happened over a period of years, people missed it. But indeed, God dealt with Bob as a whole redeemed person, redeemed his soul, his relationship with his family, his job, and redeemed his relationships with everyone in town."
God is indeed redeeming the world. Sometimes it is in front of us that we cannot see the forest for the trees. We must stop look, feel and experience God’s redeeming work all around us.
And sometimes, God uses us to do that work. Sometimes He uses us in the most unassuming way. In the mere presence, the touch of a hand God uses us to redeem people and situations.
Joseph Baylys wrote a book entitled The View from a Hearse after he experienced the death of 3 children. He says this: "I was sitting, torn by grief . Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did. Someone else came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat with me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go."
Mr. Baylys recognized God in the presence of his comforter.
What Child is this who lay to rest on Mary’s lap sleeping?
The Saviour, the Messiah!!
Lord, help us to see you at work in the world. Even when all seems lost and that evil abounds all around us, we know you are still at work. Let us not be so filled with hubris that we think that we are the only ones who can redeem the world. Let always remember that out of the worst situations You bring goodness and salvation.
We lift up in prayer two members of Sister Rita’a family, her Uncle Donnie and her cousin Lily. Lord you know the needs in these two lives and you know what is best. We ask that you do for them what they need and that You fulfill the needs in their lives. Amen.
Please post any prayer request below.
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20 KJV.
Greetings and welcome to the ACDK Sabbath Worship on this Saturday, the Sabbath day.
Brothers and sisters, I greet you in the name of our God, the Father, Yahweh, Christ Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, The comforter.
We Worship here as one family, we care for one another, support one another, and pray for one another.
This is sacred ground.
Our Father, we come to you in prayer today to thank you for all that you do for us. We humbly thank you for our lives as we have them, blessed by you. We thank you for the meals we eat, we thank you for our jobs and our cars, our homes, your money you put in our bank to supplicate our financial needs. We are so very grateful. We pray for our country, our politicians and our President, that they all follow you and do the right thing for this nation. We pray for us as times are getting darker and more evil as the day passes. Lord we pray for swift justice against those who stole our election and have been relentless in attempting to put our nation in chains. We thank you for your guidance through the Holy Spirit and your comfort in rough times when it seems there is no end in sight. Deliver us, oh Lord. Liberate us from being overcome by the wolves and devoured by their evil deeds. Amen.
Okay so today there seems to be a lot to cover, so let's get to it.
The Power of Prayer.
There are now and have been many Christians who have had a hard time with prayer early in their walk with God and they ask themselves, "Why do I feel like it isn't working?" Or "Why doesn't God answer me?"
Or, "Why does John or Jim get all these awesome blessings and I haven't got one?" Which is just some of many examples.
Or many may ask the reason of prayer and what exactly does it do, and what exactly are we supposed to expect, and so on.
In this sermon I hope to be able to shed some light on this. It's a lot to cover, but not everyone likes a novel to read so I will keep to the point.
Okay so let's go over some keys to effective prayer.
1. How to pray.
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus Himself teaches about prayer. Backing the verse to Matthew 6:5 gives an even better viewpoint on this subject as the whole scripture states;
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Pausing there, we see right away what not to do according to Jesus' word. Jesus is instructing that some people, and in this case the scripture is referring to the religious leaders of the time wanting to be seen as holy by praying in public which was an attention grabber and a self righteous act. Jesus teaches that prayer is not a public style but a private communication with God. If you pray in public or only where others are only to be seen, for others to notice how "Holy" you are, then that indicates that your real audience is not God.
Moving on Jesus in Matthew 6:6-15,
Jesus goes on with the instruction.
" But when you pray, go in your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of many words."
Now by no means did Jesus say that you can't pray in public or in front of folks at church. It's about what is in your heart. Are you praying because you need it or are you pretending to be a good believer when you have been sinning all week?
Are you just trying to look important?
What Jesus means here is keep it simple. There is no need to Yammer on and on, nor do you need to go into a weird trance or dance with snakes. A relationship with God is very very simple. God knows your heart before you do. He knows your needs before you do because God had your life planned out before your birth. He has an answer to every decision you make in life good or bad.
You make a good dec
ision, he has a good solution, and if you make a bad decision he has a lesson for you. It's all pre-planned! Your life's journey of success or failure hinges on your decision making in life. God gives you a choice and a chance every time, but no matter what, he has prepared a zig for every zag. But he prefers you make the right choices not the bad ones.
In Matthew 8, he goes on.
"Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Which is why I say He has a plan for you already laid out.
He goes on in Matthew 9;
"This then, is how you should pray;
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory amen.
For of you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Mark 9:29 gives an obscure look at one key to prayer, stating;
"This kind can only come out by prayer."
Well, what does that mean?
Jesus's disciples faces tons of difficulty during the years of active service, and those difficult situations only could be remedied by prayer. You see, prayer is the key that unlocks faith in our lives.
Effective prayer needs complete dependance upon God and complete faith in God/ a complete surrender and trust in God to answer our prayers.
Prayer demonstrates our complete reliance on God. And there is absolutely no substitute for prayer in situations that seem impossible. If you just believe God will show you he is there.
Moving on, what do we pray for?
The answer is simple. What ever you need.
2. When to pray
All the time, if you can help it!
If you haven't prayed in a long while, that probably means you have a distant relationship with God. Prayer isn't just a way to ask but you can speak to him in general as well. Still praying but a kind of different type of prayer.
Regardless, the more you pray the closer your relationship gets with God and it will foster a closeness you will never want to lose from God.
3. Don't let guilt keep you from praying.
" Then Samson prayed to the Lord;
"O sovern Lord, remember me.
O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the philistines for my two eyes. Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on one and his left hand on the other, Samson said;
"Let me die with the Philistines!"
Then he pushed with all his might and down came the temple on all the rulers and all the people in it. This he killed many more when he died than when he lived. "
You see, in spite of Samson's past, God STILL ANSWERED HIS PRAYERS regardless of what he did. God definitely answered his prayer and gave him more than he thought he may get. The point is, God is always there waiting for you to talk to him and ask him if things because God wants that relationship with you. God wants to care for you because God loves you. No matter what your past consists of.
4. What to expect.
Expect your prayers to be answered. But remember that God answers prayers in his own time. Remember the scripture that says 1000 years is worth a day and a day is worth 1000 years?
Response on your prayer may be anything from instantaneous to taking literally years waiting on God to move in your life. Most of us and by most I mean 99.9% of us have been along most of that time spectrum. But prayers are answered according to God's plan and when or if he can open that door for you. Most of the time the reason you are still waiting is because of what you are asking for.
Just like a parent, depending on what you are asking is what response you will get.
For instance if what you are asking for may be harmful or grossly non productive in your life God may say no. So that prayer will never
be granted. But sometimes he grants prayers that do harm to teach you and help you grow.
Mostly to get you right with him. And vise-versa, you may ask for something good but again it's His devine descretion for your life.
5. Don't be surprised when God answers.
Romans 1:9-10 states;
"God whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His son, is my witness how constantly I remember you, in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you."
When you pray continually about a concern, don't be surprised about how God will answer you! A prime example is Paul. Man he had it bad! Paul prayed to go to Rome to teach the gospel there. Quite risky due to Roman rule. When he arrived in Rome he was a prisoner, he got arrested, slapped in the face, bit by a snake, imprisoned, shipwrecked, what didn't happen to this guy, right?
It shows is God answers prayers alright!
Although he answers our prayers sometimes with a different direction, timing and ways you don't see coming because of his plan for you. Which brings us to:
6. Be careful what you ask for.
The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said;
" If only we had meat to eat!
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
The manna was like coriander seeds and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar.
They cooked it in a pot or made it onto cakes. And it tastes like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down."
So every morning the Israelites had a miracle right in front of them as soon as they opened their tents I. The morning. Manna on the ground. Free food from Heaven! But after a while that got old with the Israelites. They asked for meat as they felt manna was not good enough anymore. So God gave them what they asked for. But they paid for it when a plague struck the camp.
When you approach God with a sinful attitude, you may still get what you want, but you will get more than you bargain for.
7. Be careful what you promise in prayer.
In Samuel 1:1-11 we see that Hanna was wanted a child so bad she struck up a bargain with God. Now God decided to take her for her word and she did pay dearly but to her credit, she stuck to her end of the bargain rather than face any possible wrath for not following through on her promise. Even though she went through serious trials of discouragement. A hefty lesson she learned indeed!!!
8. God hears everyone!
"Know that the Lord has set apart the Godly for himself;
The lord will hear when I call to Him."
The Godly are those that are faithful to God.
Remember that the Lord loves you very much and wants to have a relationship with you that is fruitful so you will learn of Him and of His ways so that you too may grow and bear fruit and teach another child his ways of love and peace.
Prayer is what you make of it. One thing for sure is God IS there. He is waiting for you to give him a chance to prove it.
It took many people literally the majority of their lives to finally surrender and bend a knee to God and I know for many that letting go of control of our lives and giving it to God would be like letting go of a steering wheel and letting the car go wherever and what happens, happens. That can be an unnerving thought. But trust can be earned and built over time. That's what a relationship is with God. Trust built over time. The letting go of the steering wheel scenario is how most look at it because that's all they see. Is the overwhelming elephant. Well how do you eat a whole elephant?
One bite at a time.
Let is pray.................
God we thank you for this wonderful day and I thank you for this opportunity to teach others the word of God and the meaning of his love for us. As the new week
begins I pray for a great work week for all the family and quiet houses for all. Father please heal any that need your healing today, and speak wisdom to those asking of wisdom from you. Give strength to those that need it and make them stronger for the next storm in their lives . Again we pray for our President and like minded politicians and lawmakers that we prevail against the evil among us in government. May God save our beloved republic and may God bless our beloved family and friends.
Please post any spoken or unspoken prayer requests down below.
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